Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gardening Article: Creating a Critter-Friendly Garden

Not all critters that may wander through your garden are bad. Some can actually benefit your garden by fertilizing flowers and plants, by keeping bad bugs away and by making your landscape more attractive. Cut down on your garden maintenance by planting flowers, shrubs and green plants that attract the right kind of animals to your garden.

The Garden Guest List

Where are several animals that get along well with garden plants, you may not enjoy having all of these creatures in your garden. Choose among species on the guest list for help keeping pests out of your garden, but don't feel like you need to have all of these animals in your backyard.

Ladybugs - Not only are ladybugs pretty to look at, they actually eat bad bugs, including aphids. If your roses have suffered aphid infestations in the past, consider getting ladybug help. While yarrow, scented geranium, coriopsis and cosmos attract ladybugs to the garden, you can find "ready to go" ladybugs at your local garden center.

Bees - Honey or otherwise, bees are responsible for pollinating many plants and flowers. If you keep cucumber, melon, squash, eggplant, berries, fruit trees and many other plants, the more bees you attract, the better for your garden! Bees enjoy herbs like thyme, mint, clover, lavender, rosemary and hyssop. As a bonus, you can harvest the herbs for culinary use.

Birds - Birds can be good, but if you have too many you may lose out on fruit and veggies as a result. Nonetheless, birds do eat insects that are bad for the garden. A birdfeeder will certainly draw birds to your yard, and high trees that are perfect for perching or nesting will also attract birds.

Butterflies - Butterflies are so pretty that you may enjoy simply watching them. Buddleia (commonly known as butterfly bush) will draw these winged creatures to your yard, as will clethra, dogwood, witch hazel, honeysuckle, lilac, yarrow, milkweed and lavender.

Lizards - Lizards in the garden? Since they eat irritating pests, they’re beneficial. They like berries and nectar-producing plants, like honeysuckle. Rock and wood piles make natural homes for lizards, so consider landscaping around these.

Frogs - Frogs do double duty, eating both insects and insect larvae. You'll need a wet or boggy area, either natural or manmade, to attract frogs to your garden.

The Critter No-Shows

There are certain animals you definitely do not want in your garden. These include:

  • Rat
  • Mouse
  • Opossum
  • Mole
  • Gopher
  • Chipmunk
  • Squirrel
  • Deer
  • Rabbit
  • Snails and slugs

How can you keep the bad guys away without the use of chemicals that will also deter good creatures? Consider fencing off important garden beds. Chicken wire will keep the big critters out while allowing bugs and birds to fly over or crawl through. Certain compounds deter these animals. Slugs dislike eggshells and copper, so put pennies or crushed eggshell in the garden. Rabbits and deer dislike bloodmeal, so spread it around the yard.

The more time you spend in your garden, the greater your likelihood of noticing some of your garden's new occupants. And the more helpful creatures you attract to the garden, the greater potential for plant health and higher yields of your favorite flowers, fruits and veggies.

Image courtesy of stockphotosforfree.com.

About the author: Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master's degree.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gardening Article: Painting a Picture of Your Dream Garden

Most gardeners and even aspiring green thumbs have fanciful visions of what their dream garden would look like. Without the constraints of cost, space and a lack of free time, most gardeners would adore fleshing out their current space into something fit to be a photographer's muse. But it's those constraints that force gardeners to pick and choose what’s most important — or so they may think.

While some limits are hard to overcome, creativity goes a long way in the garden. Colors, plant combinations, foliage types and other factors can all be manipulated to change your garden space and bring it closer to your ideal conception. It's worth any gardener's time to do some research and create a comprehensive idea of what their dream garden would look like — with that vision in hand, you can proceed with working toward that goal. Here are some considerations to help you in that pursuit.

Focus on Garden Colors and Foliage

The visual aesthetic of a garden is one of its important aspects. Bright colors offering great contrasts with one another will be a great installation in your yard. You can complement these bold colors with lush green foliage that serves as a visual backdrop—consider trees as well as shrubbery, but don't use too much shade in the garden area, and remember to choose plants accordingly.

When you're looking for the best color combinations, red and yellow often seem to stand out. You can pair these colors together in a variety of ways, from bold red and yellow tulips to more sedate wildflowers of the same color. Or, for a more offbeat, but visually striking pairing, consider the fiery spires of the celosia paired with a yellow butter rose. Allow yourself to experiment with different combinations to give your garden the precise feelings you’re seeking.

Consider Garden Curb Appeal

How your garden looks from a distance should matter, especially if you might eventually sell the home. Some landscaping in and around the garden area can give it a more open, cultivated feel, and these features will be more evident from a distance than the individual plants. Also consider adding trellises, stones and other garden accessories to diversify the textures and features. And when choosing plants, consider ones that will attract favorable wildlife, particularly birds. A birdbath can look impressive on its own, but add a small bubbler in it and the pleasant noise will drown out nearby traffic and attract birds at the same time.

The Challenges of Shade in the Garden

Whether you're overexposed or are struggling to get your plants enough sunlight, the amount of shade is an important consideration. Lighting is sometimes overlooked as an aspect of garden care, but the location of your garden will determine how successful its plants are. Choose a garden plot carefully and keep in mind how the daily sunlight will affect the plants you’re able to grow. Remember that you can plant trees to provide shade if your garden is getting too much sun and the plants are struggling.

Investing in Yard Privacy

If you'd prefer to enjoy your garden in relative privacy, a fence—particularly a wood privacy fence—will keep intruding eyes out of your area. You can also consider cultivating thick shrubbery as a natural hedge, if you want to keep appearances as natural as possible.

Follow a Garden Style Guide

If and when you've settled on a garden style, seek out a guide to help you create that space. Garden guides for cottage, country and Japanese gardens are all easily found in stores and online, and they can help you form your space by showing aspects you might have overlooked.

Gardens can be as simple or as complex as you'd like. If you're only interested in learning to grow some plants or flowers, you might not need to invest a ton of thought into the garden as a cohesive unit. But if you want to maximize its value and aesthetic qualities, do your homework and piece together a space that will be greater than the sum of its parts.

About the author: Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master's degree.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The LAShop - Patio Furniture Wood Market Umbrella Review

The LAShop.com was kind enough to send me a sample of their outdoor furniture to review. I chose their Wood Market Umbrella for the review. The LAShop.com sells a wide variety of unique and quality products, including a number of outdoor and gardening products at great prices.

I received the Wood Market Umbrella via UPS, it was packaged in a long box covered in plastic and securly wrapped. When opening the package the Wood Market Umbrella was in excellent shape, the material was sturdy and the green color was the same as the photos of the product online. The wood pole was made of heavy wood, painted brown and felt of a substantial weight, and the umbrella material was lightweight but sturdy. The patio umbrella does not come with a stand, you must have a patio table with stand for the umbrella.

I placed the umbrella into my patio stand and the pole was slightly smaller but fit perfectly once I tightened the part of the stand to hold the umbrella. Opening the umbrella was easy to do and the coverage of the patio table was perfect! There is a handy rope that helps you raise and open the umbrella, and there is a metal piece you place at the top underneath the umbrella that keeps it in place. The spokes under the umbrella are attractive and sturdy, holding up well to the coastal wind here on the north coast. I often use my patio table for plants I'm rooting and also for picnics in summer on the deck. There was plenty of shade over the table and the umbrella will come in handy with the drizzles and showers we experience here on the north coast of California.

The package included:

  • 1x 8 Feet High-Quality Umbrella
  • 1x Top Finial For Umbrella
  • 1x Bottom Pole

Features:

  • Umbrella available in Green, Red, Tan and White.
  • 8 Feet in diameter.
  • Solid wood poles unscrew at middle for easy and compact storage.
  • UV protective and anti-fade polyester.
  • Water-proof canopy for outdoor scenery & breeze enjoyment even when drizzling.
  • 8 firm ribs construction, the most stable support to the canopy.
  • Attractive matching air vented top.
  • Firm supporting nail fixed on pole when stretched.
  • Pulley and rope for convenient lifting and lowering.
  • Finials of each rib wrapped with cloth to assure stability and best stretch.
  • Can be mounted on your existing stand or in the middle of tables if holes available.
  • Tool free erection and retraction.
  • Perfect for garden, gazebo, sandy beach, pub street, business street, lakeside fishing and more.

The list price for this 8 foot patio umbrella is $73.99, LAShop.com's sale price is $59.99, saving you 19% on the purchase.

I found the Wood Market Umbrella is well-made, colorful and easy to install and use. I recommend LAShop.com's Wood Market Umbrella as a good quality outdoor product that will be a great addition to your back yard furniture and will beautify your garden area.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Deer Resistant Groundcovers

Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.

Deer will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough, so be prepared to see nibbles on your plants if food is scare. Here are some plants and shrubs that will help keep the deer from being interested in eating them. Low growing heathers are a good choice because they always look good with only a trim of old flowers off the stems, they tend to be strong growing shrubs. Kramer’s Rote is a beautiful green leaf heather with abundant pink and cream flowers that looks good all year long and grows about a foot tall and twice as wide. Catnip may float cat’s boats but deer do not like the aroma of this plant. Blue Wonder is a dwarf catnip that grows about a foot tall. Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is another choice for planting that deters deer and always looks good in the garden. Lilyturf (Liriope spicata) is an ornamental grass that grows only 1 inch high and produces a spikey flower when blooming. Low growing herbs such as Thyme are a good choice for gardens and less appealing to Deer. Wooley Thyme (creeping thyme) is a good choice for a thicker version of thyme with a wooley texture that forms a wide mat when growing, keeping weeds down and looking attractive beneath the base of other plants. Lambs Ear Silver Carpet is a perfect low growing ground cover, give it a lot of room to grow. This non-flowering Lambs Ear creates a thick carpet of silvery shaped leaves that crowds out weeds and makes a great easy care groundcover for hard to plant areas.

Stumble Upon Toolbar