Holly Tree

Identifiying a Holly

A full grown tree can reach a height of 15m and can live for over 250 years. It has smooth, thin bark which has many small warts that are brown in colour, with darker brown stems.

The dark green leaves are oval shaped and glossy. Young trees have very spikey leaves. As the leaves mature they lose their spikiness and become smoother. They are also much more likely to be smooth in the upmost parts of the tree.

Holly trees have a dioecious reproductive system; this means that the male and the female flowers are found on separate trees. The white flowers have four petals and develop into scarlet berries once they have been pollinated; these can stay and remain on the tree during winter and throughout.

Interesting fact: the holly berries are guarded by mistle thrush during the winter, stopping other birds from eating them

Significance to Wildlife

Because holly tree foliage is so dense, they provide optimal nesting prospects for birds and the dry leafs under the tree provide shelter for hedgehogs and other small mammals.

Pollinating insects such as bees use the flowers to collect pollen and nectar. There are numerous caterpillars from butterfly and moths that eat the foliage, such as the holly blue butterfly, as well as the double-striped pug, holly tortrix, yellow barred brindle. Deer may also eat the leaves at the top of the plant since they are usually smooth there; it is mainly for a winter source of food.

Birds will eat the berries and they can also be an important source of food in the winter but they may be eaten by dormice and wood mice.

How we use holly

Holly timber is very white and heavy with a tough and fine grain texture. It has many uses but works particularly well for making furniture and for use in engraving work; it is usually stained and polishes up well. The wood burns extremely well and is often used for firewood. You will often find the wood is used for making walking sticks as well.

We still use holly branches to decorate our homes with wreaths during Christmas.

Threats

There are a few pests and diseases affecting the Holly tree including holly leaf miner which causes extensive damage to the leaves and quite often defoliation. They are also susceptible to dieback caused by holly leaf blight.

Hot Tub Landscaping

Hot tub landscaping does not only make your yard appear more pleasing, it can also add to your privacy. The appropriate vegetation, for example bamboo, can provide a natural screen that blocks neighbors from having a view on your relaxation time in the hot tub. It also helps you to forget your own surroundings. A lattice fence allows vines to grow and provide you with much wanted privacy, or even dense shrubs can provide the same. What you need to do is find options for your hot tub landscaping and you will soon enjoy the benefits of extra privacy.

Different aromas drifting through your garden will definitely enhance your surroundings and your life. That is the reason why there is a huge market these days for aromatherapy candles, essential oils, perfumes and sprays of assorted varieties in order to help comfort folks with the use of scent. Nevertheless, for your relaxation all you require is your hot tub and fitting landscaping to provide you with wonderful fragrances while you are soaking. For instance, roses near your hot tub will fill the air with the scents of the blossoms, enabling you to breathe in subtle flowery scents while you’re in your tub.

Some hot tub landscaping faults to avoid are: avoid thorny flowers and fruit trees close to your hot tub. You don’t want to get a thorn in your foot and fruit trees have a propensity to attract wasps, which you most assuredly don’t want close by. Find a kind of rose that does not have thorns for your hot tub or pick another flower altogether.

Remaining with a single theme will simplify things. This will create a final, integrated look and reduce the number of plants you have to choose from. For example, an Asian theme will call for bamboo and other related plants, while a country theme will have rose trellises at least. Whilst planning the desired hot tub landscaping project, be sure to keep an eye out for not only greenery, but flowers that will add color in addition to succulent plant life to your desired theme.

Preparing Flower Beds for Winter

Plant Debris

One of the essential tasks of winter preparation is to remove dead heads and plant debris from the flower beds. Not only does this make the flower beds look better but it removes many of the winter hiding places for insects. This debris should be thrown away, not thrown in the compost pile.

Organic Material

Once the annuals are removed, you’re ready to add organic material to the soil. This can be manure or compost. If you chose to use manure, you can find bags at your local gardening center, or you can check with nearby farmers. Just be sure it is “aged” manure–not fresh.

Compost is easily made from kitchen scraps and soil. You can have a compost pile, use a compost barrel, or simply work the material directly into the flower bed.

You’ll want to use a rotary tiller to incorporate the organic matter into the dirt. While it may be tempting to buy a large tiller, if you have bulbs, you’ll want to use something more delicate. There are several smaller-sized tillers on the market. If you use one of these to work your way around the bulbs, you’re less likely to ruin your spring flowers.

Remove Bulbs

Depending on what zone you live in, you may need to dig up your bulbs and store them inside for the winter. Check with your local extension service for their recommendation.

The first step is to cut the foliage down. Leave 3 to 4 inches above ground to help you locate the bulbs. Now you can dig up the root ball. Shake off as much dirt as you can. They don’t have to be washed-with-a-hose clean, you just want to get the majority of the clumps off. As you pull the root ball apart, you’ll want to check for signs of rot.

Lay newspaper out on your garage floor and spread the bulbs out so they can dry for a day or two. Remove the remaining foliage from the tops. Now you can store them in a cardboard box or paper bag for the winter. Make sure they don’t touch while in storage. Packing them with sawdust will help.

Unique Look With Desert Landscaping

To start with you will need to do quite a bit of planning. Because the land is not the best and the climate may be difficult, it does need a lot of thought. You need to have some idea on what look you want to achieve too and then see if it is at all possible to achieve this.

To get some inspiration and ideas try searching around on the internet and look in magazines. The hardest thing you will be faced with is coming up with a design that will suit your landscape. However, because the land is more awkward you should not let it stop you from finding a great design to transform your garden completely. You will need to bear in mind about what space is available and also you need to consider your budget too.

Your desert landscape may have big boulders or rocks scattered everywhere so you may want to replace them with something else. You may want to try using colored rocks which give out a bit of extra charm and they can look extremely good too. They can come in many different shapes and sizes to give a great combination. In order to help soften the rocks up, you can always add original desert plants around them.

You may not be aware of this but it is actually possible to have a garden in a desert landscape. You will need to do research on what plants and flowers will survive and grow in the climate you are in though. To make the garden look impressive it is a good idea to put the lower plants at the front and the higher ones at the back.

With the desert being quite dry and hot, a water feature would also come in quite handy and it tends to look extremely classy as well as adding charm. It is a fun and creative way to make your desert landscape look completely different to how it was before.

So, if you have a desert landscape that needs something doing to it, use a bit of creativity and do some research in order to transform it. Do not let the climate and heat stop you from enjoying your landscape as it can be overlooked.

Planning Vegetable Garden Plot

There’s never only one style of garden that works for everyone when it comes to vegetable garden planning because every gardener and their gardening wants and needs are unique. The type of soil you’ll be using, whether you’ll be sowing directly in the ground or using raised beds, how much sun and shade your garden area will get in a day, what types of fertilizers and supplements you’ll be using and what types of foods you’re looking to grow will all play a part in how your garden plan and your garden location is set up.

Settling on the best part of your yard for a garden is the first step. You want to look for an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunshine a day at a minimum, and has good drainage. The majority of plants will grow just fine if they have at least 6 hours of sunshine a day, and some food plants can even do well in partly shaded areas. Once you’ve decided on the location of your yard where you want to place your garden, next is deciding if you will be directly sowing into the ground or using some type of raised bed system. If directly sowing into the ground, prep the soil by tilling it and have it tested to find out what type of amendments if any you would need to add to make the soil hospitable to food plants. Raised beds are a bit simpler, just purchase some good garden soil and fill the beds. Most soils that are purchased are already fertilized and amended as needed, but a simple soil test can tell you if there are any additional amendments you’d need to add to your purchased dirt.

Another important factor in deciding where to place your garden is how close it is to a water source. You can’t always depend on the rain to provide a consistent and adequate source of water, so ensure you are close enough to a well or a water hose is long enough to reach the planted area without much hassle. Additionally if the garden is too far from a water source you may consider building a rain barrel out of a food grade 55 gallon jug for watering needs. Water is essential for your plants to grow strong and healthy and produce abundant crops for harvesting. If you’re interested in learning how to build a rain barrel, here is a good tutorial that shows you how.

So now you know where you want your garden, you’ve taken the steps to prep the soil or add the raised beds. Now that you’re done with that you need to decide what type of plants you want to grow. Always grow something you will actually eat, or that you can give away to someone who’s in need. Sometimes people are surprised by the amount of food that can be generated from a small amount of plants that do well. Unfortunately sometimes this food goes to waste because there is too much food, all of it couldn’t be given away or the growers don’t know how to can (put up) what they harvested. Start small on your first garden and get a feel for what you’re growing and how much time/effort it takes to not only grow but maintain, treat, debug, harvest and prepare the foods you’ll be growing.

Once you’ve decided what you’ll be growing it’s time to dive into your garden planning and get things placed in the best locations. Plants that grow tall are best kept in a part of the garden where they won’t shade other vegetables you’re growing. This can best be accomplished by keeping most of the bigger and taller plants toward the back which will most likely be the northern most part of your garden. Plants such as tomatoes are good candidate for this type of location.

Also consider companion planting, which is planting beneficial plants next to each other. Some examples are planting tomato next to basil, or green beans at the base of the corn stalk. Tomatoes benefit from basil by the basil repelling the tomato hornworm and basil can also enhance the flavor of tomatoes. Planting green beans that vine right next to a corn stalk provides the beans with a natural trellis and the beans affix nitrogen into the soil that benefits your corn, you can even add squash plants to the same bed as the corn and beans. Squash plants can deter raccoon’s from demolishing the corn since raccoon’s don’t like how the prickly squash leaves and vines feel. These are just two examples of how companion planting can work for your garden. There are other examples of companion planting such as onions, garlic and leeks planted with nightshades such as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, as well as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower being planted with carrots.

Once your first year of planting is over, setting up your garden plan for the following year is a good fall/winter activity. Keep a schematic of what you planted where during your first gardening season. This will help you remember where you planted specific plants so you can ensure you don’t plant the same plant in the same location to following year. This is called crop rotation and it can benefit your garden by preventing the soil from harboring fungal spores, diseases and/or bacteria that can gain strength and become a problem if the same plants are planted in the same spots year after year. Crop rotation will also keep nutrients balanced in the soil and keep the soil healthier. Crop rotation is not a 100% fix all, but it can go a long way in helping reduce the chances of these problems happening.

Choose Heirloom Tomato Seeds

  • Many gardeners do so for the flavour of the crop. This applies specially to tomatoes. Heirloom vegetables have been saved for decades and even centuries because they are the best performers in home and market gardens.
  • Heirloom vegetables are likely to be more nutritious than newer varieties. However, opinions differ on this point. Certainly it is claimed that some of the orange and black or purple tomato varieties are higher in antioxidants then modern varieties. In the past vegetables were grown organically and today a growing voice of opinion favours organic methods to produce nutritionally dense food crops.
  • Most varieties of Heirloom tomatoes don’t ripen all at once. The plant continues to produce fruit throughout the season until stopped by frosts. Hybrids produce their crop over a shorter span of time, an advantage for commercial growers.
  • Unlike modern hybrid varieties, heirloom tomatoes come true from seed. This enables you to save seed from your crop to grow next season and to exchange with other growers, a cost-effective way of trying other varieties.

Creating a Successful Hydroponic Garden

The first tip is to make sure you are fully equipped with the knowledge of how hydroponic systems work. A lot of people fail because they simply do not understand how plants grow in a water-based environment. For example, one primary reason for failing is due to the incorrect input of water. It is extremely important that you get the right balance of nutrient and water. It is also important to select the right plants. One should note that a hydroponic gardening system is not suitable for every type of plant. Some plants grow faster than others when placed in aquatic environment.

The second tip to creating a successful hydroponic garden is to make sure that environment variables are set at optimal levels. One way of doing this is by making use of specialized garden tents. These tents can help with controlling variables such as temperature, light intensity, and humidity. It is extremely important to change water on a regular basis. If you keep using the same water then that can lead to plant growth issues. It is also vital that you change the nutrients at least once per week. If you keep using the same solution over and over then they will no longer be beneficial.

The last tip is to pick the right system. There are several hydroponic systems one can select. For example, beginners can go for a wick system. This particular system is pretty simple as it does not require special devices such as pumps and aerators. One simply has to put the plant in a large pot and utilize a special mat to ensure that the nutrients are being absorbed by the roots. Other systems you should also be aware of include deep water culture systems and top drip systems. Top drip systems are essentially recycling systems. Nutrients from a reservoir tank fall into the plant through a special tube. Once the nutrients have been absorbed, the solution returns to the reservoir tank. If you make use of these tips then you will have a great start to creating a successful water-based garden.

Hot Tub Gazebo Plan

A hot tub gazebo plan will add a stylish shelter to enjoy using your hot tub all year round no matter what the weather. You can choose a hot tub gazebo plan that is open all around with just a roof for minimum protection, you can have a hot tub gazebo plan that includes screening, or you can have a fully enclosed hot tub gazebo plan for maximum protection against wind, rain, and snow. Whatever you decide, you will never be sorry you decided to add a hot tub gazebo plan to your backyard.

You can have your hot tub gazebo plan made out of many different types of material. You may opt for a hot tub gazebo plan that is made of metal. You may decide on a vinyl hot tub gazebo plan for easy care and maintenance. Most people prefer a wooden hot tub gazebo plan. They can be pine, oak or most popular of the wood is cedar. Your hot tub gazebo plan made of cedar will weather and age to a lovely silver gray.

You may decide to purchase your hot tub gazebo plan from an Amish company. You usually can’t beat the quality and craftsmanship you will get if you purchase your hot tub gazebo plan from a company that carries Amish products.

You can customize your hot tub gazebo plan in many ways. You may want to add ornamentation, flowers, decorative edging, or even a cupola on the roof. Feel free to use your imagination and see the beautiful results you can achieve with a hot tub gazebo plan. You are sure to be a hit with all your family and friends, and they will want to visit you often to take advantage of the relaxation they will find when you install a hot tub gazebo plan in your outdoor world.

Backyard Landscape Plan

For instance, if you put a flowerbed or shrub in the middle of your backyard, will that hinder your children from playing various games? You want to encourage your kids to play at home and to invite their friends to join them, so it’s important not to do anything that will adversely affect the space where they usually play.

Another example would be planting a shrub along a route that someone in the family likes to walk on a regular basis. It can be something as simple as the route to the mailbox, or something as elaborate as a path that someone likes to walk every afternoon to commune with nature. Either way, planting something that alters their enjoyment of that simple routine wouldn’t be a good idea.

You may also want to consider what adding a particular landscaping element would do to enhance your family’s living experience. Would adding a hot tub to a proposed new deck be something the family would use enough to justify its expense, or would it be enough just to add the deck and use it for barbecuing and getting together with friends?

You might also think about future additions to the family when making your landscaping plans. For example, even though your own children have grown up and moved out of the house, you might think about adding a sandbox to your landscaping project, so your grandchildren will have a place to play when they visit over the weekend.

As you think about what you might like to incorporate into your new landscaping project, it’s a good idea to start keeping a folder where you can stuff pictures or ideas. You might also want to keep a journal, jotting down ideas of possible additions that come to you from time to time. When you finally sit down to create your formal plan, you can dig these out, and you may be surprised at some of the things that caught your imagination as you mulled over your landscaping project.

Regardless of what you finally decide to include in your landscape remodeling project, it’s important that everyone in the household be considered. It’s their home, too, and they have the right to be given the maximum amount of opportunity to enjoy it.

Landscape Drains

The first thing that you want to remember when it comes to landscape drains is that you should have them put in as soon as possible, hopefully as you are installing whatever items you decide on. The biggest mistake that many homeowners make is that they wait until after they get the landscaping in to even start thinking of the drainage system that will be needed. By doing this, you may notice that after a long rain your yard has become completely saturated with water. You must remember that lawns can sometimes act like a sponge. This basically means that after your yard absorbs a certain amount of water, it will not be able to handle anymore until the “sponge” is dried out.

Having the right drain in place before you have to deal with this situation is obviously the best way to prevent it. Landscape drains will act as a way of diverting the water away from your yard, and channeling it elsewhere. The way that this is done is by strategically placing drains that will lower the water down and away from your landscape.

When you are installing any landscaping drains you will want to make sure that they remain hidden, to not detract from the image your yard is portraying. The best way of doing this is by taking all of the available options into consideration, and then figuring out which one will work best with your specific landscaping layout.

If you are looking for an excellent solution you might want to consider French drains. These landscape drains add a nice touch of quality to the outlying borders of your property. Another type of drains that are quite popular are ones that reside below the surface. These sub surface drains are installed so that after the job is complete, you will never be able to see them again. This is a wonderful option if you want to install a drainage system, and then never have to think about it again.

Landscape drains offer many positives to any home owner. In addition to the methods that they use to rid your yard of excess water, these drains will also help to cut back on the amount of moss that will grow due to moist conditions. And don’t forget that by having a good drainage system you will cut back on the chances of your basement being flooded during heavy storms.