Landscaping Doorstep

Jazz Up Your Front Garden

You can give your home a more welcoming look by adding flowers to the front garden: whether in flowerbeds or lining the walkway to your home, vibrant flowers will be a pleasure for the eye. They will enhance your visitors first impression of you and your home.

The Power Of Trees

You can use trees and bushes to line your home’s porch or front garden to great effect. You should always maintain them properly to keep them neat, and can use fruit trees and dogwoods for their beauty and relaxing fragrances. You may, however, want to avoid planting trees that lose their leaves near pathways as they could become rather slippery in the fall.

Spruce Up Your Porch

Depending on the size of your porch you can add various pieces of furniture such as benches and rockers to enhance the feel of warmth and comfort. You can also increase its appeal with plants of various colors and sizes, and even train decorative climbers to accentuate railings and arches.

Curb Appeal

Don’t forget to pay attention to the walkways, and ensure they are rubble-free, in good state of repair and clean. This will make your sidewalk more appealing and safer, too. Be creative with the materials used, such as ornamental boulders or concrete as a main feature.

Water Features

Adding a pond or small fountain can enhance the sense of calm, but make sure your plans are not over ambitious as the result could be overpowering. You can also brick or stones to add even more interest to the feature.

Make Flower Borders

Perennials are considered the mainstay of the mixed borders. Though some are short-lived, most live for years increasing in number. Each winter they die down, then spring comes and up they spring.Some bloom just once and briefly, while others may bloom, if dead-headed (removing the spent flowers), for months and months. Although there are perennials you never disturb, for example – peonies; most, however, need dividing every few years.
If you only have one mixed border, you probably would like to have flowers throughout the growing season. Choose plants that are lovely for more than just a week or two. If there are any gaps (no blooms) in the border, you can fill with annuals or other flowering plants in pots. Flowering shrubs and remontant (repeat blooming) roses add color to the background.

The border should be at least 10 feet wide. The plants should be planted in drifts of odd numbers . The plants should vary in height from low to high. To keep the border from looking like a stairway to heaven , vary a few drifts throughout the border with a drift of shorter plants in back and a drift or two of taller plants in front.

You may have borders using all types of color schemes. If you have 2 borders, you may choose to have one border of cool colors, and one border of hot colors. You may also have the border begin with cool colors and gradually increase the intensity of color until the other end has hot colors. Some people enjoy doing their borders with just once color, using different shades and tints. Some are happy with using two colors of which they may be two complementary colors, such as red and orange, or contrasting colors, such as red and green.

Many people use three or more colors. Using color is a tricky thing with plants, particularly if you use different seasonal color schemes. Out of the blue two plants that are neighbors and should not bloom at the same time all of a sudden clash, because of strange weather. Use color to achiever unity. At the same time, shake things up a bit to create tension. This is a fine line. But all borders need a touch of pizazz to arouse your neighbors’ envy to shades of green.

Pruning Effects New Plant Growth

Heading back will stimulate more new growing points. It is a known fact that the terminal bud secrete a growth-inhibiting chemical which move down to the lateral buds. These chemicals prevent the new lateral buds from growing, when cutting back the chemical is no longer available so the lateral buds start to grow. Usually, the buds just below the cut develop more, they in turn will start to manufacture the growth-inhibiting hormone to help prevent the growth of lateral buds farther down the branch.

Flowering shrubs are pruned by thinning out at different levels within the plant and cut the top back. Remove one or two branches all the way back to the ground. This will stimulate new growth from the root system which will help form a new plant. Don’t continue to prune at the same level year after year. If pruning continues at the same level over time a thick outer shell develops shading the inside of the plant, without sunlight the interior branches die. When damage occurs to the evergreen foliage and it dies a big brown-dead area will result. Since the interior of the plant has no live green foliage, the plant will look pretty bad. Don’t prune Japanese Yews and Junipers beyond where there are no green growth. Japanese Yews and Junipers are needle evergreens and they will not grow new foliage in areas where there no green needles. When plants become too large remove the old plants and re-plant. Select the right mature sized plant for the site. Remember, low maintenance is the best answer.

If most Holly broadleaf evergreens and Azaleas are cut back below the green growth, they will re-grow new foliage. Holly broadleaf evergreens are a big part of the landscape in the south. I have seen large holly plants cut back within 18 inches from the ground and re-grow into a new plant. It will take at lease two years before it will look like a shrub again. Some light pruning is required to re-shape the plant into a nice shrub.

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.