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A Better Weekend Gardening Experience

It's vital to start the process of having a hassle-free garden. This article gives you that first step and helps achieve some sound understanding of what you face as a weekend gardener. Our goal is to create a garden that practically takes care of itself.

Unlike my neighbor, Fred.

Fred never found a way to escape the prison of responsibilities and hard, never-ending work required by a high-maintenance garden.



If you want to avoid Fred's fate, you need to start by making a critical examination of the maintenance of your yard and garden.

Start by taking a stroll around your property and make note of how much time you take to tend to various areas.

• Which plants require the most care, right now?
• Are there areas that please you and take less care?
• Are there some areas that you love so much that no matter how much maintenance they take you'd not want to change them?
• Can you visualize any areas being scaled down in size, or that can be improved with a low-maintenance design or gardening technique?
• Where is the problem weeding area?
• Which is the most difficult mowing area of your lawn?

In my book: "The Weekend Gardener"- The Busy Persons' Guide To A Beautiful Backyard Garden, I present very specific ways to combat your problem areas as you think critically about the current maintenance problems you must take into account. Take this tour with a critical eye and a notebook. Make some notes to yourself about what you see, what you imagine, and what you are currently faced with.

As you do this preliminary overview, remember it is okay to consider what you "hate" to do in regards to gardening work. We want to get rid of these areas first and foremost.

Everyone has a different take on this subject. Some hate mowing the lawn, others actually enjoy the exercise and like getting out in the sun. Some find weeding tedious, others will enjoy the process of grabbing weeds by the fistful and yanking them forcefully out of the ground. I have a cousin who has actually been found to wonder into neighbors yards yanking the critters up (much to the surprise and cheerful appreciation of his neighbors) after he had run out of them in his own yard.

So, part of your ‘yard tour' is to make note of the areas that require work; how you feel about each one, and listing which are particularly time-consuming.

Once you're done, take your list and make a check mark (!) next to those items that you intend to keep no matter how much maintenance they may require. Then put a question mark (?) Next to the ones you enjoy looking at, but are nonetheless high-maintenance and take too much work. Later you will discover time saving techniques you can surely apply to many of these problem areas.

Now plan on making your aim to eliminate those areas left UNMARKED. You'll want low maintenance ways to turn these areas into sources of pleasure, instead of drudgery. However, you can't DO anything to lessen the strain until you first SEE the problems out there in your yard. So do this tour as a first step to achieve true joy and freedom in your gardening experience.

A Beginners Guide To Garden Bridges

Garden bridges could be just what you need to turn those mediocre garden areas into something quite splendid.

Just because you dont have huge, elaborate gardens does not mean you cant accentuate what you do have with l garden bridges. Garden bridges could be just what you need to turn those mediocre garden areas into something quite splendid.
 
Garden bridges can add a touch of country or formal design to a garden. Small garden bridges are easy to find. There are many garden bridges that you can find in garden centers or home improvement centers. One of the best places to find small garden bridges may be online. There are lots of sites that have many ideas for small garden bridges.
 
If you are good with a hammer and nails you may even be able to make your own garden bridge. Plans are available at building stores and at online sites. You will find many choices for garden bridges at these online sites and you can also see photos of many different bridge styles.
 
A garden bridge can be a big benefit for your garden space. A small garden bridge will look attractive in a smaller garden and draw attention to a specific area.
 
You can choose the right small garden bridge if you do a little planning ahead of time. If you have a smaller garden you will want a smaller garden bridge. Look at the space you have and decide where a bridge would fit in. Consider more than one area and then choose your favorite.
 
There are some lovely gardens that are small in size but large in beauty because garden bridges have been added in just the right places.


A beautiful garden is a work of heart

There is immense satisfaction in creating your own garden plan -- the satisfaction derived from relaxing or entertaining in the garden as well as the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

How do you begin to create a garden space that is unique to you? Here are ten simple steps that will help you move effortlessly through the process.

1. Identify WHY you want a garden.
How will you use it? Who else will enjoy the garden? Remember that you may not be the sole inhabitant, so get input from all family members on how your outdoor space will be used.

2. Do a little dreaming.
Now that you know why you want a garden and how you intend to use it, let your imagination play with all the possible features in your special space. A little dreaming will uncover those attributes that will put your personal imprint on the garden.

Also decide whether you want a formal or an informal garden. Formal gardens are highly structured, divided by a strong central axis and cross axes. Informal gardens have a more natural look with strong, flowing curves.

3. Make a list of "must haves".
What items are essential? Listing your needs up front ensures that your final plan won't be missing anything important. Do you need a retaining wall? A privacy fence? A path to the garage? More parking space? Do children need a place to play? What about pets?

Walk around your property and make note of everything that is essential. Your final design should balance dream features and "must haves" to create a satisfying and functional space.

4. Evaluate what you already have.
To get where you are going, it helps to know your starting point. Is your space large or small? Is the site flat or sloping? What is the climate? What type of soil do you have? How much water is available and from what sources? What are the predominate views?

7 Timeless Garden Decor Practices

7 great garden decoration tips!

Are you looking for a way to add to your garden decor? Want something everlasting, nature-based or stylized? There are many things that you can add to your outdoor living space to make it comfortable and inviting and still provide you with few hours of work on maintenance. Here are 7 ways to add decor to your garden.



Tip 1: unadulterated Is Best. When adding products outdoors, from furniture to statuary, you should always look towards the most organic of products. When you do this, you'll allow for something that fits within the landscape, not something that sticks out in it.

Tip 2: Flow Is Essential. If you have a large garden or landscape, you can create a flow throughout it to make it a much more livable and organic environment. For example, a pathway leading through the garden is important as it provides for a way to move through the area enjoying all of the principle sights along the way.

Tip 3: Overboard Isn't Good. Over crowding a space with too much decor or even too a multitude of plants is bad business. Instead, look for a more nature-based landscape component. Overcrowding plants can cause them to eventually die or take over the entire garden. To much decor can make it look cluttered instead of lavish.

Tip 4: Use Lines. Lines from your home or your edging can help to create a lovely look within the garden. The roof line of the house can be a line that leads the eye to something excellent at the end. Use the lines that you have to create a flow to the eye.

Tip 5: Charm Means Theme. While you don't need a specific theme throughout your garden decor, you should look towards the same or similar offerings. For example, if you place a white metal table under your trees to produce a restful place, make sure that the chairs that go with it match it. Add a white picket fence or other matching pieces to tie certain areas of the garden together as well.

Tip 6: Uphold it. a large amount of of the aspects within a garden are going to need some upkeep. If you pull your weeds, don't let this be overshadowed by the fact that you haven't washed that white possessions in a year. Keep up on broken or misplaced items as well. Within the duration of harsh winter months, make sure to put as much as possible in storage that can be broken.

Tip 7: Garden decor is not done without the look for lovely patio items. Allow it to mesh with the settings that you have created too. For example, in a woodsy area, look towards an organic, lovely product such as teak to keep it looking as if it belongs there.

The aforementioned points can help to contribute to a lovely and fashionable garden decor that is everlasting, easy to manage and a welcoming place to call your own.


7 Reasons to grow your own organic vegetable garden

Seven reasons are given to grow our own organic vegetable garden

During the last decades there has been a change towards mechanization and homogenization of farming, which uses pesticides, additives, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and mass-production techniques. All this is clearly affecting mankind's health, and new diseases are spreading rapidly amongst humans and animals (bird's flu being the most recent one). 

The World Health Organization produces reports to show how the use of chemicals and other products on food, coupled with the manufacturing processes involved, are actually a threat for our health. 

If you have space for a few pots or even a small piece of land, it is a wise decision to grow your own organic vegetable garden. Today I'm presenting you with seven reasons for doing this:

1. You will have no additives in your vegetables. Research by organic food associations has shown that additives in our food can cause heart diseases, osteoporosis, migraines and hyperactivity. 

2. There will be no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers used. These chemical products are applied to obtain crops all the time regardless plagues or weather conditions, and affect the quality of the vegetables. Besides, pesticides are usually poisonous to humans.

3. Your vegetables will not be genetically modified (GM). Antibiotics, drugs and hormones are used on vegetables to grow more and larger ones. One of the consequences of this practice are vegetables which look all the same and are usually tasteless. Besides, we end up consuming the hormones that have been used on the vegetables, with the potential risks for our health.

4. Eating your own organic vegetables will be much more healthy for you. They will not contain any of the products or chemicals named above, and they will be much more natural than any ones you would find at the supermarket. Your health will not be at risk because you will then know that nothing has been added to your vegetables.

5. Your own organic vegetables will be much more tasty. The use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics make vegetables grow unnaturally and take the taste away from them. With organic vegetables, your cooking will be enhanced as their flavour will show fully.

6. Organic farming is friendly to the environment. Because you won't use pesticides or other equally harming products on your vegetables, you will not damage the soil or the air with the chemical components.

7. When you grow your own organic vegetables you are contributing to your own self-sustainability and the sustainability of the planet. Small communities have been founded where members exchange products that they grow naturally, thus contributing to create a friendly and better place for us all.


In the end, eating organic products only means that we do not add anything else to them than they would naturally have. As you can guess, additives, fertilizers, pesticides or hormones are not components of naturally grown food. To better care for your health, grown your own organic vegetables -and a few pots is all you need.


5 Quick Gardening Tips to Save You Money

It’s easy to spend a fortune every year creating a beautiful yard. These five tips can help save you money in both this, and future gardening seasons.
It’s easy to spend a fortune every year creating a beautiful yard. These five tips can help save you money in both this, and future gardening seasons.

1. Plan your vegetable garden according to what your neighbors are planting so you can share your vegetables when they’re ready for eating. Often I’ve had too many of one kind of vegetable I couldn’t give away because my friend’s were ripe at the same time. 

2. Select perennials rather than annuals for your flowerbeds. As they multiply each year, cut them back and exchange with your friends so you both have lovely gardens and save money at the same time.

3. Compost your kitchen scraps, as well as your coffee grounds.  The end result is much better than any potting soil you can ever get buy from a nursery or hardware store. The price is right, and this is definitely recycling!

4. Instead of using mulch, try pebbles or small rocks in your garden as ground cover.  This will save you lots of cash since you won’t need to buy mulch in the spring and fall of every year. 

5. Spend more money now by purchasing better quality gardening tools and you will save in the long run.  They will last for years, saving you dollars because you don’t need to replace them every planting season.  Same goes for gardening gloves- make sure you buy the best you can afford so they last all season.

Happy Gardening!

5 Must Know Tips For A Better Looking Landscape

There is no doubt that when landscaping one wants to save money, as well as have an attractive property. Not only can landscaping help you beautify your home, but it can also provide a source of satisfying exercise in the fresh air. When you take care of your yard on your own, it is possible to save money and to improve your physical conditioning. But if the landscape turns out to look bad, then that is so much time and money wasted. However, it is possible to ensure a better...

There is no doubt that when landscaping one wants to save money, as well as have an attractive property. Not only can landscaping help you beautify your home, but it can also provide a source of satisfying exercise in the fresh air. When you take care of your yard on your own, it is possible to save money and to improve your physical conditioning. But if the landscape turns out to look bad, then that is so much time and money wasted. However, it is possible to ensure a better-looking landscape by following a few tips that can help you take better care of your yard.

Know your soil type. Some plants thrive in soil with more acidity, and others prefer a little more alkali. Additionally, sandy soil and clay soil, as well as the presence of a loamy soil, can make a difference in what types of plants will thrive in a landscape. You should have your soil evaluated in order to determine what types of vegetation should be planted on your property. When you purchase plants that will succeed in the soil conditions present in your yard, then you make a wiser money decision, and you end up with a more attractive landscape. If there are plants that you would like to use in your soil, but the soil is not quite ideal, it is possible to improve the soil to proper conditions. You need only add mulch or peat, or to add crushed limestone or clamshells, depending upon what you hope to accomplish. As long as there is not a great difference in what you have and what you hope to achieve, it is possible to make soil adjustments to be more accommodating.

Understand how much space each of the plants need. There are some plants that require more room for their root systems than others. If you choose one plant that tends to grow everywhere, and you do not have adequate space, you will find that your other plants may be crowded out or that they may choke and die. Also, make sure you understand the spacing requirements for between plants. Many shrubs and small trees need to be planted at least three to four feet apart to have enough room to grow.

Use native plants in your landscape design. One of the most effective things you can do to ensure a good-looking yard is to make use of native plants. Find out what plants grow best in your area, and what plants are indigenous to the region. This way you will already be ahead, in that you know that the plants you choose are adapted to the climate. You will not have to struggle against natural inclinations to keep your landscape looking beautiful. If you due use non-native plants, assure yourself that they come from a place that shares a climate similar to the one in which you live.

Plan your landscape around different blooming times. Different plants bloom at various times throughout the year. If all of the plants in your landscape are at their most attractive all at the same time, then your yard will look beautiful for a few weeks each year, but quite possible ugly the rest of the year. One way to help avoid this is to choose attractive bushes and shrubs that look good green, but also have some sort flower. However, it is a good idea to stagger plants among each other. Plant tulips and crocus among later-blooming plants so that in early spring the bulbs bloom, and then when those flowers’ time is up, the next plants will be in bloom. In this way the cycle of your landscape is in keeping with the seasons, and looks attractive all year round.

Use wood chips around shrubs, bushes and trees. Wood chips can help the ground around shrubs, bushes, and trees look more attractive. Not only do the chips cover the ground (often looking better than dirt), but they also help keep in moisture, repel weeds, and provide natural food as they break down. Likewise, attractive groundcover like chicks and hens placed around trees and shrubs can make the area more interesting and pleasing to the eye.


3 Easy Tips for Successful Container Gardening

Here are three easy things to do to guarantee a successful container garden - no matter the plants you're growing



Here are several tips for creating a wonderful hanging basket or container this summer.  The first is to use an artificial soil composed mostly of peat moss.  Good soils such as Fafard or Pro-Mix use perlite, peat, and other ingredients to produce a soil that will not compact over the summer.  Real garden soil compacts and turns into concrete under the pressure of regular watering.  And when it does, plant roots stop growing because they require good open spaces to move into and absorb nutrients.  Hard, compacted soils do not grow good plants so do not use real soil in your containers.  I re-use my artificial potting soil from year to year.  I dump it out of the pot. Chew it up with a shovel to cut up all last year’s roots and add approximately 10 % by volume of compost. The compost increases air spaces and gives plants a boost in healthy nutrition.

Feed your plants weekly.  Nitrogen, the engine of plant growth, is water soluble and as you water your containers from the top the dissolved nitrogen is leaving from the bottom.   I use a fish-emulsion liquid feed with seaweed to provide all the trace nutrients my plants require and recommend it highly.  You can use any liquid plant food (like Miracle Grow or Shultz) to promote growth.  Compost tea is the Cadillac of liquid plant food and if you make your own compost tea, your plants will respond with bigger and better blooms as well as increased vigour.

And finally, no matter the size of the container, it is important to soak it all the way to the bottom at each watering.  Continue watering until water emerges from the pot bottom.  This ensures the roots can reach all parts of the container and grow properly.

5 Steps To A Better Lawn And Garden

Your lawn and garden should be a source of pride and beauty. You don’t need to spend lots of money on expensive items. A little commonsense and thought can go a long way in any garden.
If you’re lucky enough to have a lawn with a good topsoil base, much of the hard work of keeping a lawn beautiful is already done for you. But many of us do not have this luxury, and besides, even with a good topsoil base, you still have to work hard to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.

1. The best time to mow a lawn is when it is cool and dry. Wait for the morning dew to dry off, and before the afternoon heat takes hold. Alternatively, late afternoon or early evening following a watering in the morning is also a good time.

2. A hedge is a much better boundary divider than a fence. It will provide better privacy and keep pets and children in – or out. It will attract birds to its shelter, and provide a great backdrop for plants and flowers.

3. Bring the beauty of your garden to you; plant hyacinths near walkways and doors. Their magnificent perfume will swamp the spring air and make your garden really come alive.

4. Add your garden to non-garden items, such a lampposts and mail boxes. Surround these items with flowers planted to take advantage of the earliest to the latest flowerings. You could have white snowdrops, purple and gold crocus, blue hyacinths, and various colored tulips. You could also surround the posts with rocks to provide added interest.

5. Simple, but effective weed control can be achieved on your lawn by mowing often during spring. This will prevent dandelions spreading by eliminating the yellow blossoms and preventing seed formation. Mow high during late spring and early summer. This will allow grass blades to shade the ground, and will help prevent crabgrass from sprouting.

Your lawn and garden should be a source of pride and beauty. You don’t need to spend lots of money on expensive fertilizers and herbicides, or fancy lawn furniture and ornaments. A little commonsense and thought can go a long way to making your lawn and garden a much better place.


5 Tips For Shooting Winter Landscapes

Some of us, regardless how harsh the weather gets, will brave the tough elements in search of the crisp winter light. Planning well in advance will help make your trip more enjoyable.
Winter brings out the toughest elements in our climate, with many people putting away their camera bags ‘till early spring. But, if you do put away your camera you are missing out on the raw beauty that this magical season brings. 

Here are a few tips to make the trip more enjoyable.

1. Wear the right clothes: It’s very important to wrap up warm when out shooting winter images. The winter season brings the toughest elements, so if you are planning to spend a few days out and about always be well prepared. 

2. Watch the weather: It’s very important to know what the weather is going to be like. You don’t want to travel for a couple of hours and then hear a weather report that tells you that: the weather is wet for the next few days.  During the winter months the weather can dramatically change in a matter of hours. 

It’s always advisable to let someone know where you are going and which route you’re planning to take. If you do get injured or ever caught in a storm someone may be able to help.


3. Carry only what you need: Carry only the essentials. You don’t need to upload your camera bag with every piece of equipment you own. If you are going to be out taking pictures all day you are much better off going as light as possible.  Carrying a light load will also help preserve energy.  You could be climbing icy rocks or crossing snow filled hills; a warm flask would serve you a lot better than a third camera. 

 
4. Look for detail: Snow, ice and frost bring out texture and atmosphere in most subjects.  The early frosty morning is an ideal time for close-up photography. The frosty morning also brings out patterns in our landscapes.  

Take care where you place your camera: if you are taking pictures early in the morning try placing it at oblique angles to the sun - this will give your images strong shadows. This will also add mood to your landscape images.  Once you have found the perfect spot pay extra attention to foreground interest as this will  add depth to your image.

5. Expose carefully: Snow and ice are extremely difficult to expose properly. Snow usually confuses your cameras metering system or your hand held light meter. When you take a light reading from snow you will automatically get an underexposed image. The meter will record the snow as grey. 

Now is the time to start bracketing your shots.   If you bracket your shots add 1 - 2 stops of light to compensate for your light meter reading. Using an 18% grey card, which I described in a previous article, should also give you a perfect light reading.


6 Indoor Plants That Love The Dark: A Tip From The Garden Center Nursery

It was a long search that took me more than ten years. But finally I found it - the indoor house plant that will brighten up the end of a corridor 5 meters from my front door. The Aspidistra, commonly known as the Cast Iron plant, has graced the drawing rooms of many an otherwise drab Victorian English manor, and now graces my suburban Sydney brick home.

Many gardening experts describe the Aspidistra as one of the toughest and most adaptable house plants. Its long blades o...
It was a long search that took me more than ten years. But finally I found it - the indoor house plant that will brighten up the end of a corridor 5 meters from my front door. The Aspidistra, commonly known as the Cast Iron plant, has graced the drawing rooms of many an otherwise drab Victorian English manor, and now graces my suburban Sydney brick home.

Many gardening experts describe the Aspidistra as one of the toughest and most adaptable house plants. Its long blades of slender dark green or variegated dark green and white leaves shoot straight out from the soil but in clumps and up to 75 cm in height and 15 cm wide.

It is such a low maintenance plant much like an even-tempered woman who does not need any fussing over but still maintains its sweet nature. It needs very low light, average temperature and humidity and just occasional watering.

Other plants that do not need much light

Low-light plants are usually defined as those that can survive in 25 to 75 foot candles - that is, a spot that is 4 to 5 metres from a bright window, just enough light to read by comfortably, but where artificial lighting switched on by day would give a brightening effect.

You can easily find the Aspidistra in your local garden center nursery. In addition, five other plants that will suit very low light situations are the following:

Aglonema (Chinese Evergreen) which are among the few plants that prefer only moderate light and adapt well to low light. It has large dark green oval then tapering leathery leaves later developing a caney base.

Drachaena deremensis varieties (also know as Happy or Fortune Plants) which are slender leafed and usually white variegated. The Drachaena family are caney plants crested with decorative rosettes of straplike foliage.

Holly fern which adapts to low light and Boston fern a fishbone type of fern that will remain in low light for many months but need a spell in brighter light to rejuvenate.

Neanthe Bella or Parlor Palm which is more suited to low light situations than most palms.

Sanseviera (also known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) which stands low to very bright light has waxy, erect straplike leaves usually with cream-colored margins and an unusual banding of the grey-green center.

If you are finding it difficult to find a plant that will brighten up that dark corner, why not try one of these hardy and lovely favorites of mine?


8 Tips To Get Your Kids Enjoy Home Gardening

Dirt has always been one of the kids' best toys, so home gardening could just be one fun activity for your children. Excite them by allowing them to pick whichever plant they want to grow. Here are some tips to help you make your little ones become enthusiastic with home gardening.

1. Choose the right plants

Kids will more likely choose plants and flowers with bright colors, so have a load of varieties of plants. Examples of bright flowers are zinnias and cosmos; these ...
2. Starting seeds

Give your children the freedom to help you with the staring seeds. Some seeds might be too small for the tiny fingers, but their digits can be of help in covering them with dirt.

3. Home Gardening Memoir

To last the kids' enthusiasm until the plants grow, make them create a home gardening journal. This activity will allow them to use their imagination to sketch on what the plants will be like and write down when they placed in the ground the seeds and when they first witnessed a sprout pushing up.

4. Make sure that the garden is somewhere very visible for the kids.

 Before you start home gardening, pick a spot where the kids often play or walk by. Every time they see and pass by their garden, the more they will sight changes. 

5. Dirt playing

Always remember that children are fond of playing with dirt or mud. They can help you ready the soil, even if what they are only doing is stomping on the clumps. To make home gardening with the kids more fun, you can provide them with kid-sized tools to make home gardening very engaging for them.

6. Your kids own the garden

A picture of each plant will enable the children to foresee what the flowers will look like. You can also put your child's name on a placard, so everyone can see that it's their garden.

7. Playing with the water

Playing with water is right up there with playing with dirt. Look for a small watering can that they can use to water their garden. You can show them how to let the water go right to the roots of the plants. Hoses want only trouble. They are simply formidable for little hands to control.