Thursday, 18 December 2014

5 Steps to Help Your Trees Weather the Winter Season

For many landscape owners, the winter months aren't an active time. If you too stop working on your yard during winter and keep your trees at the mercy of the weather, many may either not live or get severely damaged in the harsh cold weather. To ensure sporting a healthy landscape during winter and help your trees weather the season of stormy winds, cold Bay Area temperatures and frost, here are five easy steps that you can use:
  • Mulching: You can apply a thick layer (about 2’) of mulch around the tree’s drip line to give the roots extra warmth and a layer of protective insulation against the freezing temperatures. Such a layer will also help restrain water loss. However, you shouldn't pile up the mulch to touch the tree trunk or cover the crown.
  • Managing the irrigation cycle: Winter winds in the Bay Area often tend to dry out the soil. The resultant lack of water can produce stressful conditions, similar to drought, for your trees.  In case the ground freezes, the trees may become even more desiccated as the roots will no longer be able to absorb moisture. Therefore, you need to take adequate measures periodically to ensure that your trees are hydrated through the winter months. This will let them enjoy vitality and health in the long run.
  • Trunk protection: If you have young trees in your landscape that are sensitive to frost, you can provide them extra protection by covering their trunks with a protective geo-textile material, black polyethylene or burlap material. You may even throw a flannel sheet or a light blanket over the tree in the evening, ahead of the nights with a frost warning. You can remove the cover the next morning as the weather warms, thus letting the trees get their fair share of sunlight. Apart from offering your trees and their trunk a protective shield against frost damage, such covers can also keep them safe from destructive hungry wildlife.
  • Proper pruning: In winter, the structure of your trees becomes visible much better than they are at other times. Many landscape experts suggest pruning your trees in winter due to this reason. However, if you are pruning deciduous trees, you should wait till late winter to prune the likes of Cherries, Birches, etc. that tend to bleed. Deciduous fruit trees and flowering trees should be pruned before their buds swell. This is also the best time if you want to make massive reduction or big cuts in your trees. Ideally though, you should protect the structural integrity of your trees by restricting your pruning to removing just the poorly developed branches and dead wood. Pruning your trees such as Pine during dormancy is a good way to beat pests and prevent diseases. Since the sap flow is dormant during this period or remains stored in the root system until the weather becomes warm, there’s no sap drip to attract harmful pests or give breeding ground for the spread of disease pathogens and active bacteria.
  • Be careful while stringing outdoor holiday lights on trees: Many people string small outdoor holiday lights throughout their trees to help keep the branches warm before frost hits. However, doing this isn't easy, especially for large trees. What’s more, you have to be careful to avoid the lights touching a branch. Else, the bark may burn and get damaged if you leave the lights on for too long. Pests and insects will flock to such a damaged bark, and fighting them will be an uphill task.

Winter is a difficult time for your trees. However, you can help them withstand the frost and cold with some pro-active care and planning.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

7 Things to Know About Retaining Walls

While designing the landscape of your garden, sometimes you may have to manage or utilize sloping yards. Leveling the ground with other parts of the landscape may not be feasible in such cases as it will cost you a lot of time, effort and money. If you have slopes in your garden or backyard, you can utilize them to create different ground levels that are connected with beautiful stairways or other types of landscaping features. Building a retaining wall to use slopes is a good way to enhance the beauty of your yard and add a personalized touch to it at the same time. These walls are usually used to prevent the erosion of an embankment or hold back material on a particular side. Retaining walls can be installed where neighboring free-standing walls have a bizarre junction between them or in areas where a sloping bank would have otherwise slumped.

To build retaining walls of different types such as freestanding, dry-laid, or short flagstone, you can use different materials including stacking, concrete, brick, loose masonry and wood. While some are easy to build, some may be complex and time-consuming. If you are planning to build a retaining wall in your garden, here are seven things that you need to know:-
  1. Back fill in several layers – It is important to back fill in multiple layers to ensure a solid structure. Make sure you do it with increments of 8, 10 and 12 inches, against the wall. It’s advisable that you compact it well to avoid having a sunken wall in the future.
  2. Take your pick from different materials – Stone, brick, timber and concrete are some of the most common materials used for building retaining walls. Stone is often preferred for the rustic look that it offers, but it is a little more expensive as compared to the other materials. If you need a formal and dignified look, brick can be a good choice. You can try building a retaining wall with timber as it is way cheaper and easier to handle than other materials. You may even opt for stacking or loose masonry to build a sturdy retaining wall.
  3. Get the design done by a professional – A retaining wall is not just a fence wall. Since it has a complicated construction process, it is advisable to hire a professional who will design the structure of your wall.
  4. Use cap-block finishing parts – Consider putting blue stone caps on the wall and cementing it. This way, you will be able to back fill dirt right up to the top.
  5. Install a gravel base In case you are building a retaining wall to hold back the soil which slopes down to it, it is wiser to install a gravel base. You can do it with a filter fabric and pipe. This will help you direct the water to your preferred route.
  6. Maintain the right level – You should check each block of your retaining wall for alignment and level. This will help avoid shimming the blocks to make incremental alterations. It’s advisable to start with a level foundation as it will help you do the job smoothly.
  7. Consider creating a curve – If you don’t want to build a straight wall, you can try creating a curve. An easy way to do it is by placing a garden hose along the spot where you want to build the wall, and dig about four inches in front, following the hose’s curve.
By keeping in mind these seven things about retaining walls, you can set up one to add definition to your landscape.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

How to choose pavers for your patio?

Patio pavers are brick, stone, or modular concrete units that are used to create outdoor living spaces. They come in a range of colors, sizes and shapes. Although they may cost more (upfront) in comparison to a wood deck, pavers need much less maintenance. When looking to choose suitable pavers for your patio, here are some factors that you must consider:

Climate:

What is the climate like in your city? Some pavers are more resilient to extreme weather conditions such as hot and cold while others are gentle. Hence, it is important for you to take climate into consideration, particularly if you live close to the sea. Stone pavers work best at places that face severe weather conditions. In case you live in a place that is mostly hot and sunny, choose pavers that reduce glare. Concrete works best in such conditions.

Color and style:

When choosing the style and color, make sure you select a design that matches your house. Patio pavers can either be traditional or contemporary. While bricks offer a formal look, stone provides an informal quality. Choose a paver pattern and shape that suits best.

Analyze each material:

It is wise to mull over the negatives and positives of every material. Patio pavers are available in clay, natural stone or concrete. Brick pavers created out of clay are an extremely popular option. You can place these comparatively versatile, durable pavers in several different patterns. Concrete pavers, on the other hand, are less formal but stronger than brick pavers. A stone patio is the most robust of them all and has enough power to last for a lifetime. They offer a rugged, "old-world" look. However, they may get slippery during the rainy season.

Maintenance:

It is very important to take repair and maintenance into account when choosing a unit. Stone pavers, if laid with spacing, may attract weeds to grow among them. You will have to remove or prevent the wild plant. Brick pavers tend to chip or crack the most, so you will have to replace some of the bricks over the years. Concrete pavers, on the other hand, can endure damage but may need the occasional replacement.

Cost:

It is very important to consider the cost. If you’re low on budget consider using concrete pavers. They are the most reasonable followed by brick pavers and then pavers made of stone. Talk to at least three vendors about the prices before settling for one.

Concrete pavers have the ability to completely transform your patio. They offer years of beauty and durability. There are several different styles available to match just about anyone's taste. Although, you can install these units on your own, it is best to leave the job to a professional. There are several landscaping and patio installation teams in California that do not just lay down the pathway for you, but also help you choose the right type, color, and size of pavers. One of the best ways to find out about such professionals is to search online. Most providers have a website displaying their services and skill sets.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Landscaping ideas for businesses

Although landscaping is essential for homeowners, it can also make the difference between failure and success when it comes to your business. An exquisitely landscaped corporate office can encourage prospects to stop by, but poor landscaping can send the same customers to your competitors.

How to choose the right landscaping design?

Keep your business and clientele in mind:

When making a blueprint, it is important to keep your clientele and the nature of your business in mind. Your choices should be customized to meet the expectations and needs of your customers. For example, the landscaping choices of a high-end luxury clothing store will be very different from a dollar store. Expensive retailers should invest in beautiful landscape elements, such as exotic shrubs and flowering trees, to attract and please wealthy buyers.

Keep maintenance costs in mind:

Designing a landscape without taking the ongoing maintenance cost into consideration is a bad idea. No matter how well-designed or stunning your landscape might look, the flowers will have to be watered, grass will require mowing, and the trees will have to be pruned. It is important for business owners to not just factor in the initial cost, but the monthly maintenance cost as well.

Another great idea is to use green technology. For instance, entrepreneurs can incorporate native or local plants in their designs, use drought resistant shrubs and trees and use landscape elements that will help in reducing soil erosion.

Hardscaping elements:

One of the best ways for business owners to decrease maintenance costs is to complement hardscaping elements such as boulders and rocks with traditional design elements such as shrubs, flowers and trees. Such elements can be spectacular, but they are also easy to maintain. By using them in the overall design, business owners can reduce maintenance costs without compromising on beauty.

Walkways:

A simple concrete sidewalk from the office to the road can reduce the overall impact of the lawn. Destroy the plain walkway and replace it with materials such as, railroad ties, flagstone, or wood rounds. Adding extra-large trellises or plants near the walkway completely transforms the landscape design.

Apart from wood rounds, stained and cut natural stone pavers are also classy options for front walks. For a more budgeted option, however, you can use gravel. Also, if you’d like to include a path across a garden area, use natural materials such as mulch and sand to create low-cost walking areas that add to the flow of the landscape.

Lighting:

Business owners can easily add interest and depth to their current landscape design by changing or adding lightings. A variety of effects can be achieved through the placement of lights. For instance, underwater lighting can create a beautiful otherworldly glow. Apart from this, hanging fairy lights on branches and around tree trunks can have a tremendous effect on your landscape at night.

Business landscaping can include anything from a cobblestone walkway to an arched bridge that leads to the establishment. Landscaping can certainly add to the personality of your physical office. However, it is very important to choose a design after close consideration and after speaking to a landscaping expert.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

How to hire a professional landscaping expert?

A garden is a complex of aesthetic and plastic intentions; and the plant is, to a landscape artist, not only a plant - rare, unusual, ordinary or doomed to disappearance - but it is also a color, a shape, a volume or an arabesque in itself. - Roberto Burle Marx

A well-designed landscape does not just enhance the value of your property, it also increases the livability of your house. A beautified home offers peace and tranquility amidst all the chaos. However, to really make the entire project possible, you will have to choose a landscaping expert carefully. The decision to hire a professional can leave you confused and dazed. Here are some traits you must look for when shortlisting a professional:

Training and education:

Your first criterion for selection should be qualification. All good landscaping contractors have formal training and education. There are several landscape associations that offer opportunities for aspirants to continue education and some even have their own rigorous certification programs and professional standards.

Knowledge of plants:

An experienced landscaping experts will know how to choose the right plants for a given location. They will also know what plants are illegal to be used in the state.

The right tools and resources:

All good landscapers use state-of-the-art tools for the job. These contractors have a range of gadgets to handle different kinds of tasks. They also have connections with other affiliate businesses such as hard goods providers and nurseries to complete the project at hand.

Function and beauty:

Good contractors will always build something that is pleasing to the eye and is functional at the same time. The professional will start off by creating a thorough blueprint of the design so that the space is utilized effectively.

Regulations:

All good landscape contractors have the right permits and insurance. They'll also know what shrubs and trees can't be planted at specific locations, such as, under power lines. They know what permits are required for specific activities, such as using insecticide.

The Right kind of contractor:

There are mainly two kinds of landscaping professionals. Ones who work with the existing landscape, and others who work to change the landscape. Maintenance professionals can be unlicensed or licensed. They only take care of the maintenance of an already existing landscape. They have limited ability to perform installations of shrubs or trees.

When it comes to hiring a landscaping expert, interview a few professionals before deciding on one. Ask them to send you sample pictures of their work. You can also request them to see a portfolio or a brochure. Ask if they have any projects published in books or magazines, or see if they can direct you to finished projects that you can visit. In the end, invite the promising contractors to your property so that they can give you an estimate. Make sure you are clear about what you want from the landscape architect by communicating your ideas and expectations. Choose a professional with whom you can connect easily.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

How do experts plan outdoor landscape lighting?

Lighting does not just enhance the features of the garden at night but also adds to the safety of the area by deterring intruders in the dark. Perfectly placed lighting is also versatile enough to light up outdoor events such as, large parties and fancy romantic dinners. However, to achieve great results, it is best to make a carefully planned, cost-effective and efficient outdoor lighting strategy that defines desired results and clear objectives.

Here is how experts plan outdoor lighting:

Mapping out the landscape

Experts start off by sketching the area they want to illuminate. They include the trees and plants, doors and windows, pool areas, patio as well as the driveways and walkways.

Choosing the zones

The next step to planning is always choosing the right zones. Lights can be placed along the driveway, at the patio, in artificial water bodies like ponds, at the corners of the house, or under big, old trees. Accessible lights can also be placed at the back and front doors of the residence.

Types of lighting

Once the areas have been marked, the next step is choosing the lights. Ground-level floodlights can be focused on a tree or wall fountain. One can also use motion-sensor lights for dark corners of the landscape that lead to the house. Underwater lights can be used in a swimming pool or garden pond, while solar lights can line the patio hedges and driveway.

The power source

One of the things experts take exceptional care of is using the right power source for the lighting. Solar-powered lights work well during the summer but during winter or rainy months of reduced sunlight, electrical power is utilized as an alternative. Professional landscaping experts also anticipate the power consumption and look into energy-saving lighting bulbs that provide the same intensity of light but use less power.

Budget

Before buying fixtures or making a definite strategy, landscaping experts sit with their clients to define a budget. It is a good idea to have a definite budget in mind. Installing lighting systems and the monthly costs of consumption should always be taken into consideration.

Keep the lighting versatile

Always plan for a versatile solution that helps to create a different ambiance, if need be. Installing landscape lighting can certainly be a DIY project for a handy homeowner. However, it is best to leave the entire process to an expert. Professional landscaping experts have the experience to execute almost any kind of concept that an owner may have in mind. These people also have the skills and tools to install the fixtures perfectly. The best way to search for lighting experts is to scour the internet. The Web can offer plenty of options in any given area around the United States. Interested owners should call few of such companies. If they find someone suitable, they should request them to visit the house to assess the entire area and evaluate the potential expenditure that landscape lighting may require. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Why won't some Plants Bloom?

Every gardener, whether experienced or a beginner, has had trouble many times to get their flowers to bloom. No matter what you do, there seems to be no solution to fix this problem. Don’t worry or feel bad if your plant refuses to flower. There can be various reasons for it to behave this way. To initiate the appearance of buds, there may be some type of process or stimulus to go about it. Here you will learn why plants flower before you understand the process of getting them to flower.

There is only one purpose for the existence of flowers and that is pollination. The showy and attractive blooms are meant to attract animals and insects to do their work for them. For example, a bee visiting a flower to get nectar but at the same time it carries some of the pollen of that plant to another unwittingly. So this results in plants getting productive and fruitful.

Take a look at some species of plants listed below and learn why they don’t bloom at the said time.

Hydrangea – These beautiful shrubs act stubborn and won’t bloom because: They may have grown too much in shade. They may have been pruned at the wrong time of year. The flowers would have frozen during the cold months and then quickly defrosted during spring season.

Wisteria – These gorgeous flowers produced by the queen of flowering vines has a wonderful fragrance and grows quickly. It can also be a shy bloomer and may not bloom for a variety of reasons like: They may be pruned in early summer after the flowering period. They would have been given too much fertilizer which causes them to put all their energy into the growth of leaves. Their flowers would have frozen during the cold months and then quickly defrosted during spring season.

Lilac – These great looking shrubs have wonderfully fragrant flowers. But at times they don’t reward with blooms because: They may have been grown in shady areas. Lilacs need lots of light and need to be kept in places with full access to sunlight in order to produce blossoms. They may have been pruned in early summer where their flowers are removed before they open.

Bougainvillea – These vines may be shy to produce blooms for a variety of reasons like: They may have been grown in shady areas. Bougainvilleas are sun worshippers and need lots of sunlight in order to produce blossoms. They may have been watered too much in winter which only produces a whole bunch of leaves but zero flowers. They may not have been given the right amount of fertilizers during spring and summer where the most number of nutrients is needed for them to grow.

Dogwood – These trees light up your yard and garden with beautiful blooms but they may not be producing the required amount of flowers because: They may be old to stop flowering well. After a span of 30-40 years, Dogwood trees don’t produce blossoms. On the other hand, they may be just a few years old and not mature enough to produce flowers. Disease and insects may have stressed the tree to the point where they stop flowering. You need to watch for wilted shoots, spotted leaves, or holes in the bark for signs. They may not have been given access to light. If you have planted them in fully shaded areas, move them to brighter spots in order to get blooms.

Daffodil – These flowers add colors to the yard or garden. There are some reasons why their bulbs are not flowering like: The leaves will absorb energy for the next year’s flowers. So you need to grow them in a bright spot and prevent cutting their foliage. Wait until they turn yellow. The bulbs may be too wet which would have caused them to rot. This stops the flowering process and the bulbs then die. Sometimes, older clumps may be crowding the new ones to thrive and grow. You need to dig them during the summer season and place them 6 inches apart from each bulb.

Tulip – These flowers put on a great spring show in your garden landscape. They come in a wide variety of colors and are real show-stoppers. They don’t bloom properly because: They are similar to daffodils as even their leaves will absorb energy for the next year’s flowers. So you need to grow them in a bright spot and prevent cutting their foliage. Wait until they turn yellow. They have a short life and will bloom only for the first few years before the bulbs begin to exhaust themselves. Small critters like deers and rabbits love the blooms and will eat the flowers right off the stem. So protect your buds with fences or natural repellents.

Rose – These elegant flowers lend beauty to a garden. They don’t produce flowers for reasons like: They are grown in fully shaded area. So grow them in full sun as they don’t flourish in less-than-bright spots. Some Hybrid varieties may have been grown on another rose’s roots. So if the hybrid plant dies, the root plant takes over. These are not good bloomers so it is best to replace them. Disease and insects may have stressed the plant to the point where they stop flowering. Watch for brown, yellow, black spots and other symptoms.

Hibiscus – These flowers are showpieces owing to their size and color. There may be reasons why they don’t produce gorgeous blooms like: They may not be getting sufficient sunlight to acquire energy and produce flowers. They may be pruned too hard. The flowers bloom during a new growth cycle, so don’t cut off the young branches where flowers can bloom. They may be improperly fertilized. The plant is a heavy feeder so it’s important to have a rich soil and fertilize it regularly.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Power Perennials for your backyard

Perennials are plants that thrive and grow for more than two seasons. The top portion dies during winter and re-grows from the same root system during spring. There are many varieties of perennials that keep their leaves throughout the year and offer groundcovers or attractive borders. Here is a list of tough-as-nails perennials that can add some flower power to your landscape.
  • Daylily – These plants will blossom beautifully in sunny spots and are practically indestructible. They are insect, drought resistant and easy-care perennials that form large clumps. They offer a variety of colors and bicolors and should be divided every three to four years.
  • Buddleia – These plants commonly called the butterfly bush, will produce an abundance of nectar-rich, fragrant flowers during the whole of summer.  They are flowering shrubs which die back only to grow bigger and better the following spring. The flowers bloom in a variety of colors like blue, white, red, pink, purple, lavender and yellow when planted in sunny spots. They look their best in containers or in flower borders.
  • Russian Sage – These plants add a burst of color to your fall or late summer garden. Native to Central America, these perennials thrive in hot, dry conditions. Their eye-popping flowers with a bluish-purple tinge paired with fragrant, silvery foliage appear during the mid or late summer season and retain their colors for many weeks.
  • Hellebore – These plants burst into full bloom during the winter season. Their spirit lifting flowers excel in shade gardens owing to their white, rose, pink, green, yellow, purple, bicolored or spotted colors. Often called Christmas Rose or Lenten, they bring an inviting aura into all the dark corners of your landscape. They also make wonderful companions for flowers like Scilla and Narcissus. The plants are rabbit and deer resistant.
  • Sedum – These plants almost require no care so, make sure to put them on top of your gardening shopping list. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Even though scrappy looking, they won’t die out during heat, drought, winter cold or infestation. Dragon’s Blood sedum is an excellent choice as it makes for an excellent groundcover for sloping areas. They are fast-growing creepers with pretty green and red foliage. They should be grown in sunny spots with a bit of partial shade.
  • Baptisia – These plants also called False Indigo can live for many years, even decades. A shrub-like perennial, the plants develop graceful and beautiful stalks of white, blue, yellow or purple flowers during the early spring season. The plants look terrific even when they are not in bloom owing to their pretty looking blue-green, pea-like foliage.
  • Coneflower – These plants are hybridized perennials that are found growing in the wild on the American prairie. They grow best in the sun, but can tolerate some light shade. Their colors vary from traditional white, yellow, orange, red and purple shades. They are grown as single-flowering forms and also as double or triple petal packed varieties. They are attractive to butterflies and birds and will bloom during early summer and fall season. 
  • Peony – These gorgeous plants are sun lovers which will bloom for decades. They get bigger and better each year. They are available in a variety of colors, shades and flower forms which includes singles, doubles, and semi-doubles. They are ideal choices for fresh cut bouquets owing to their sweet-smelling flowers.  They bloom during the months of May and June. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to Choose Gardening Tools

Many homeowners make the mistake of buying too many gardening tools that they don’t need. When you head down to the local nursery or garden center, the choice of gardening tools on display can get confusing and bewildering. The fact is, you only need to buy the ones that are most important. Gardens can be well looked after with just a handful of tools. There is no necessity to spend a lot of money to fill your tool shed with every gardening gadget under the sun. There are basic tools that will benefit most gardeners like: a strongly made fork, a sturdy hand trowel, a square blade spade, a stirrup hoe, watering cans, a garden hose, a bow rake, a garden fork, a leaf rake, hand pruners, a hand cultivator and a wheelbarrow. Here are some basic tips to let you choose the right gardening tools that prove useful and are high-quality in nature to last a lifetime.
  • Firstly, make sure you have all the tools listed at the beginning of this article. If you have lots of shrubs, hedges and trees, you can invest in shears, hand saws and bypass loppers.
  • Make sure you buy only high quality tools. You can choose stainless steel tools because they are easy to clean, long lasting and don't rust. But they are a bit expensive. A good alternative to stainless steel ones are those that are made from carbon fiber steel. They are durable, sturdy and easy to sharpen.
  • Before you buy your gardening tools, thoroughly inspect them to see if the shaft is straight and the wood grain is even. Hold the tool to check if it’s too heavy or light for the job you intend to use it for. Don’t buy tools with painted handles, as the paint is used to disguise lower quality wood. Buy handsaws, loppers and pruners with replaceable blades.
  • Don’t buy tools that have no use for your garden. Make a list to determine which tools need to be replaced.
  • Many tools will do several jobs at the same time. In that case, put back tools that has only one use, for example a bulb planter. That’s because you will probably own a tool that will do that specific work and several jobs as well, for example a trowel. There may be tools that will work well with only one specific job, like a weeder. In this case, it is worth buying it because it makes weeding the lawn easier.
  • Buy ergonomic tools if you have physical limitations. They are innovatively designed to reduce stress on joints and muscles. Cutting tools with rubber bumpers will absorb shock when you make a cut. Tools with longer shafts and handles will increase leverage. They will also prevent you from stooping over as you use them with the exception of hand tools. If you have weak hands or arthritis buy shears, loppers and pruners with a ratcheting mechanism. They will multiply your strength and make cutting easy and efficient. 
Warnings and Tips
  • Soil tends to cause steel blades to rust over time. Make sure you clean your tools before storing them.
  • Oil and sand wooden handles with linseed oil at least once a year to remove rough spots, splinters and nourish the wood.
  • Steel blades need to be oiled with linseed oil a few times every year to prevent rust.
  • Use loppers and bypass pruners on live wood instead of anvil style ones. Anvil style tools should only be used on dead, dry wood as they crush branches and stems rather than make a proper, clean cut. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Growing a Garden That Will Attract Life

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better – Albert Einstein

As from the quote mentioned above, Albert Einstein understood that every living thing on this planet has the right to revel and enjoy in the company of nature. All of us as homeowners have a little bit of nature in our very own backyard. It would be nice to give back to the earth’s tiny creatures by creating a space that they can use for food and shelter. A home garden is the ideal place for attracting wildlife every season. Nature’s pollinators are birds, hummingbirds and butterflies. They visit your yard for nesting and food and in return give you a garden full of their colors, sounds and new life. You will get wildlife in your own backyard if you make the effort to provide food, water and a place to nest. It’s important to know what kinds of plants will attract birds and butterflies in your garden. Take a look below to know what kind of plants to plant and simple gardening rules to keep in mind to have some wildlife visiting your yard in the days to come.

Attracting Butterflies

Some varieties of plants attract a specific species of butterflies. A butterfly has a complex life cycle of four stages where two of it requires different host plants, one for laying eggs and one for food. If you want a wide variety of species to visit your garden, you have to do a bit of research on plants and their bloom time. Bright and beautiful colored butterflies are a pleasing and welcome sight to your garden. They make your garden attractive and are also useful in pollinating your flowers.  You need to plant varieties that will serve the needs of all the life stages of the butterfly. Here are some tips to follow to have your garden swarming with butterflies in no time.
  • Use native flowering plants - Butterflies and native flowering plants depend on each other for reproduction and survival. They have co-evolved over time and if you want them visiting often, make sure you plant native flowering plants that are local to your specific geographical region. Native flowering plants are known to provide butterflies with the nectar from flowers they need for food during their adult and caterpillar life. Another important factor is to plant specific types of colors as adult butterflies are attracted to yellow, red, pink, orange and purple blossoms that are clustered or flat-topped with short flower tubes.
  • Plant different flowers for continuous bloom - Butterflies need nectar throughout their adult life span. You need to plant different varieties of flowers with different blooming stages. If one plant stops blooming, then another one begins to give butterflies continuous food source.
  • Use plants with good nectar sources – All types of plants with good nectar sources should have access to full sunlight. Adult butterflies generally feed only in the sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. If your garden doesn’t receive adequate sunlight, try adding plants with good nectar sources to the vegetable garden.
  • Don’t use insecticides - Insecticides are marketed to kill insects and this includes butterflies. They should not be used anywhere in your property if you want to attract butterflies to your garden.
  • Feed the caterpillars – Caterpillars won’t grow into butterflies if you don’t feed them. They feed on only a limited variety of plants. If you plant different varieties and give caterpillars their food source, there are increased chances of attracting uncommon and unusual butterfly species. Most caterpillars will not cause leaf damage to plants.
  • Provide a place for rest - Butterflies need a place to rest and bask in the sun. This is because they need to warm their wings for flight. You can place flat stones in your yard to provide ample space for orientation.
  • Give butterflies a place for puddling - Butterflies often partake in puddling, where they congregate on mud and wet sand to drink water and extract minerals. To encourage puddling, you can place moist sand in a shallow pan and insert it into the soil of your garden.  

Attracting Birds

To attract birds to your garden, you need plants that produce seeds or nuts for them to eat. For a water source, install a small pond or bird bath and for a nesting area, install a bird house. These can provide for pretty landscaping elements in your garden with a visual point of interest.  There are probably hundreds of plants and trees that attract birds. To determine which is best for your garden and region, do some research before planting them.

Hummingbirds in particular, are drawn to the color red and they really like perennials. You can plant something fragrant and bright with attractive perennials if you want them in your garden.

Some of the plants and trees you can install in your yard to attract wildlife are:-
  • Honeysuckle Vine
  • Eucalyptus Tree
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Red-Hot Poker
  • Yucca
  • Iris
  • Beech Tree
  • Lime Tree
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Crabapple

Friday, 27 June 2014

How to Desert Landscape Your Yard

If you live in a dry, arid region, you would want to save on water and grow plants that contribute to your garden or lawn. This is where desert landscaping comes in. It can be a challenge for gardeners to use resources carefully and choose the right kind of plants suitable for arid conditions. There are many varieties of trees and plants that require more water in an average growing season. However, desert landscaping is simple if you have a plan in mind to showcase your designing skills to get the best result.

You can create a beautiful oasis, by planting drought-resistant plants throughout your landscape. This adds color and texture to the landscape. The myriad flowers and plants will liven up your outdoor space. To emulate a natural desert feel to your garden, choose plants that have desert colors like brilliant reds and deep oranges. A good example of such plants include: cacti, oleander, joshua trees, palm trees and pampas grass. Add a personal touch by choosing suitable hardscaping features and outdoor accessories that will portray a desert theme.

To help you desert landscape your yard, follow these simple tricks and techniques listed below for best results.
  • Think about the look you want to create and also the area availability. You can use plants or choose other elements like rocks and boulders to create a desert effect. Your landscape will look good with or without plants.
  • If you have decided to incorporate plants, then choose varieties that can survive and thrive in arid and dry conditions. Drought tolerant ones are your best bet. With the high demands set by the climatic conditions of your region, these type of plants are the only ones which can live upto your expectations. Good examples of drought tolerant plants include Baja fairy ducter and Desert spoon. The former has red, tassle like flowers that bloom during summer. It lasts through fall by providing a fern like foliage that gives off vibrancy and texture to your desert landscape. The latter accentuates the landscape by providing a strong architectural shape and grows up to 3 feet in height. It produces spiky clumps of green and blue foliage. As its name suggests, its spoon based shape and tiny, curved teeth borders along the foliage margins and makes for a commanding landscape presence.
  • Whatever plants you have decided to use, make sure to place them in areas where they need the right amount of sunshine and water and contribute to the aesthetic layout of your yard. You can put smaller plants close to doors and walkways and larger plants close to your house.
  • To enhance the appearance of softscaping features like flowers and plants, you can pair them up with hardscaping features like rocks and boulders. They will enhance the appearance of plants and flowers and will also create a centrepiece for your overall landscape. Meandering rocks can be used to create a pathway or border through your garden. A rock garden can also be installed for plants to grow. Boulders of various shapes and sizes can be placed in strategic spots in your yard for natural looking formations that will create a wonderful effect for the viewer’s eye. You can also spread gravel to make walkways and pathways that will connect areas of your home together. To create a feeling of walking over desert, lay crushed pebbles or granite. Crunchy, highly textured and yet soft underfoot, granite and pebbles look attractive in both small and wide paths.
  • You can install a drip-hose system for plants that need to be watered regularly. Take care to wear a proper (word missing) with long sleeves and gardening gloves when working with desert plants. This protects you from getting nasty cuts on your hands and arms from plants like the cactus.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

How to Paint Landscaping Rocks

Add a touch of earthy charm to your garden or yard by installing painted landscaping rocks. What makes them different? Well, every rock has a different color and varies in size and shape. This adds to the visual appeal of the flowers and plants that grow in your outdoor area. There is nothing like personalizing your landscape design to make it more special. This can be done by simple painting your landscaping rocks. Your garden will look dressed up with year-round brilliance. It is not very time-consuming and can be a fun and inexpensive family activity on weekends. You can use tones of different shapes, sizes and textures from places you visit and your garden to create imaginative forms, cheerful looking rock borders, whimsical creatures or anything that strikes your fancy. Pain them with bright, vibrant acrylic colors that will last for many years.

To get started, all you need is some creative flair, patience and a few simple supplies.
  • Take a bucket of water and add 1/4 cup of laundry detergent. To make sure the soap is completely dissolved, swish the water around with your hand. Take the rocks to be painted and scrape or brush off moss or accumulated dirt on the surface. Then wash them in the soapy solution with a sponge or scrubbing brush until they are squeaky clean. Rinse them well with clean water.
  • Leave the rocks out in a sunny area to dry completely before you apply paint. For quick drying and best results, clean your rocks the night before or early in the morning to let them dry in the hot afternoon sun.
  • Spread some old newspapers over the area where you will be painting. This prevents spills and paint spots on surfaces.
  • To match the patterns and colors of your plants and flowers in the garden, choose suitable colors for your rocks. You definitely want colors that are bright and vibrant. Let your imagination do its work. You can also paint words on them like “Peace” or “Dream” with an earthy hue in the background. Ask your friends to sign their names on rocks you paint to create a colorful “Friendship” garden.
  • Protect your face and eyes with goggles and a mask before applying an acrylic finisher. You need to spray clear sealant on your landscaping rocks. This is done to protect the artwork from the environment and harsh elements. Take care to coat the entire painted surface several times. Allow the paint to dry between every fresh coat.
  • Make sure you leave the rocks to dry completely at least for 10 hours or overnight depending on the climate. Humid conditions take longer than drier conditions.
  • When you’re done, clean up the work area. You can store the leftover sealant and paints in a dry, safe place, away from children and pets. Clean your paint brushes, dispose of the used detergent solution and the used newspaper. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

7 Deadly Sins of Landscaping

What constitutes the term bad landscaping? It may be following gardening practices that are too outdated or undertaking bad planting techniques that does no justice to your landscape. Everything changes over time and this includes gardening trends too. It was considered bad landscaping to grow vegetables in the front yard a decade ago. But now, there is a new gardening trend that prefers showcasing an edible garden in the front yard as it brings out the color, vibrancy and aesthetic appeal of the outdoor property. So what is “in” and what is “out”?

Here are 7 deadly sins that garden lovers must avoid when remodeling their landscape. Save yourself from the worst gardening transgressions that many fall prey to.
    1. Growing the wrong plants – Just because some flowers and shrubs are pretty doesn’t mean that they belong in your garden. You need to take the “nativist” approach to gardening. This simply means that you need to take into consideration the type of region you live in and your living conditions. This could mean taking note of whether you live in dry, humid, pleasant or cold weather and the type of sunshine that you get every day. This could range from hot/warm and sunny, filtered light or shade. Get help from a landscaping contractor to help you choose what kind of plants will work best for your garden.
    2. Cutting grass too short – One myth that’s going around is that the shorter you cut the grass the lesser you have to mow the lawn. You will do more harm than good as scalping the lawn leads to ugly bare patches. This will invite pests, insects and make it susceptible to diseases. Cut the grass differently for every season. During summer, keep the blades a bit long so that when the lawn is watered, the moisture stays for a longer time. During winter, cut the grass a little shorter than normal so that the sun rays can get into the soil.
    3. Using harmful chemicals to fertilize – A big no-no is the use of harmful pesticides to keep weeds, insects and diseases at bay. You should organically fertilize the lawn by using naturally made concoctions.
    4. Planting in the wrong place or too deeply – Always make sure that your plants get plenty of sunlight. Planting in the wrong place will not give proper results. Choose plants that look lustrous throughout the whole year. If you are planting trees, consider how much space they need to thrive and grow. Another common mistake is planting too deeply. This will kill the plant as there is no air circulation in the root system which causes root rot. A good rule to follow is to dig the exact height of the container from which it came.
    5. Using the wrong tools and wrong size pots and planters – Buying quality gardening tools will ensure safety, efficiency and productivity. Some important tools to keep handy are gardening gloves, safety goggles, a solid shovel and rake. Keep them organized and clean at all times. If you need extra equipment, you can also rent them out from your hardware store. Don’t plant in wrong size pots or planters. You can also house a small or medium size plant in a big pot to allow it to grow with lots of room. However, don’t put small plants in very large pots as it will cause them to sink down into the soil. Repot them if you find the roots sticking out at the bottom.
    6. Going overboard with ornamentation – Avid gardeners may make the mistake of dumping too many items for ornamentation in their landscape. This can be a major source of distraction for the natural beauty of your outdoor space. Make sure that any softscape or hardscape feature fits into the context of the overall design and plant materials.
    7. Not accounting for wildlife – Protect your plants by making sure that there is proper fencing or wires around. You can even plant some bitter tasting ones to prevent deers or rabbits from making a meal of your sweet smelling flowers. To stop other critters like raccoons, squirrels, rodents, etc from destroying your produce, apply some chemicals around the surrounding vegetation to act as barriers. For a safer approach, you can even use bleach or cheap men’s cologne. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Best Flowering Trees for your Garden

Trees are versatile, perennial plants that fit into any type of landscape whether it’s urban or rural, contemporary or cottage themed. They can be difficult to choose and maintain because they live for over a lifetime or more. Trees add character to your landscape. The first years of their growth are the most critical, so you need to protect them. Trees can do unique things for your garden apart from providing shade and structure. A row of small trees can serve as a living fence or can be trained into decorative patterns for aesthetic appeal.

Flowering trees and shrubs are the best choices for this season as they add vibrancy and color each year. Whether you like white flowering trees, pink flowering trees, or small flowering trees, here is list of the types of flowering trees and shrubs to help you envelop your garden in blooms every year.

Eastern Redbud

The Eastern Redbud is a multistemmed, small, handsome, understory tree that has a 20-30 foot rounded crown and reaches 20 to 30 feet in height. The flowers bloom in early spring that has a reddish purple bud to a breathtaking rosy-pink. The leaves are heart-shaped and emerge after the flowers. The leaves turn an attractive yellow in fall.

Flowering Crabapple

The Japanese Flowering Crabapple is a small to midsized tree, which ranges in habit from low mounds to narrow, upright or weeping trees. During the spring season, flowers bloom in pink, white or red colors with a wonderful fragrance. During fall, apples in red, orange or yellow colors grow from them. They have attractive branches that are revealed in winter. Choose newer varieties that hold their fruits right into the cold seasons.

Southern Magnolia

This Southern Magnolia tree is planted for the purpose of enjoying its large, shiny, evergreen leaves with fuzzy undersides, beautifully fragrant, creamy white flowers that bloom in spring and red fruits during fall. It reaches to a height of 60 to 80 feet and 30 to 50 feet in width. Since they are large trees, you need to plant them away from swimming pools or walks, where the litter can get unsightly.

Flowering Dogwood

The Flowering Dogwood gives a visual treat during winter as it is a spreading tree with horizontal branches. The size varies with every climatic condition, but the typical height is 20 to 40 feet with the same width. During fall, the leaves look distinctive in their reddish purple color. Fruit looks a beautiful glossy red but the late spring flowers are insignificant. They are however surrounded by four attractive pink or white bracts.

Shrub Rose

The Shrub Rose is a family of rose hybrids developed by David Austin in the 1970s. They are a cross of hybrid tea roses and other modern varieties with the traditional old garden roses. They possess a unique combination of the form and fragrance of old roses with the hardiness, strength and long bloom season of modern hybrids.

Forsythia

The Forsythia is a sunny indication for the start of the spring season. It is an arching, upright, deciduous shrub that has beautiful, bright yellow flowers in early spring. Some branches shoot upwards while the others have a tendency to arch.

Pee Gee Hydrangea

The Pee Gee Hydrangea is one of the latest blooming and hardiest hydrangeas. During the summer season, it bears large, cone-shaped white flowers. The flowers then gradually turn reddish brown and hang on till winter. Most hydrangeas are less than 10 feet tall but they do have the potential to reach up to 15 feet tall and be pruned as a tree. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Frontyard Landscaping that Earned us Love – Los Altos Project

That’s another feather on our cap! Happy to announce that we are now the proud recipient of Angie’s List Super Service Award for 2013. And, our happiness is immense when we have a happy client talk about us.

"Tim turned our formerly ragged and neglected little front yard in to the showplace of our neighborhood! Our dream was to have a rainbow of plants throughout the seasons and put as many as we could have in yard with two large, shady oak trees. We also wanted to hide a neighbor's bordering dog fence, have a lawn put in under the oak trees and have a watering system installed. Because Tim didn't immediately respond to our Angie's List email, I thought he might be too busy to take us on, but luckily he had only delayed contacting us because he couldn't give us his full attention until the following week. When Tim came out our house, he was extremely responsive to our ideas, never forcing his expertise on us. Tim looked at the sketches we had worked up and we spoke for about 45 minutes, then Tim went outside to survey and measure. When he came back in he had written up a detailed proposal and a quote for our job. He said his team could start the following week and then he invited us to meet him the following day at a huge nursery to pick out plants.

Fast forward two weeks. The workman did a superb job and Tim's design for the space totally worked. Tim kept in constant contact to answer questions and to make sure we knew what was happening, and our yard is the latest buzz of the neighborhood! Tomorrow he'll be providing us with a plant map so we can learn all the names of our new plants and he'll show us what we need to know to about the very sophisticated, but easy to operate, sprinkler system.

If I can attach pictures to this review I will, but if you want to see the result just drive by our place in the day time. We plan to do the back yard once we have saved some money and won't consider working with anyone but Dooling!" Clifford T., Los Altos, CA

We did one of our most recent landscaping projects for Clifford Thompson’s frontyard over at Los Altos, CA. He was a great client to work with and also served to be a great source of motivation all through the project.

Thompson wanted his little front yard to be colorful with rainbow plants complementing a couple of oak trees. His other requirement was to hide the neighbor’s dog fence. Simply, he wanted a lovely lawn with a proper water system installed for the purpose.

He has been excitedly with us all the way clicking photographs of the work we did, and he made a web photo album out of the landscaping project.

 
Thompson was very eager to kick start his yard landscaping. We chose to deck up the shady area under the oak tree that is exposed to partial sunlight. The place seemed perfect to grow a number of colorful and seasonal flowering plants.

We dug trenches for a combo automated watering sprinkler & drip irrigation system surrounding the area.



Here is how we fulfilled Thompson’s requirement:  A row of bushes to cover up the neighbor’s fence.



And, this is how it turned out to be! The row of flower bushes masking the fence and the potted flowering plants in the arrangement.



 
Finally, the new lawn bales were ready to be installed and Thompson’s front yard garden is now all set for its colorful and gracious look! We take this opportunity thank Thompson who dedicated his time in clicking many wonderful photographs like the above till the end of the project.

What else can you ask for than a satisfied client who appreciates your efforts? This goes a long way in making you serve better! 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Accentuate your Outdoor area with Garden Planters

Your home may be the most beautiful looking building in your neighborhood; but, if your outdoor landscape and garden looks worn out and weak, then it will definitely affect the overall look of your property. The one aspect of landscaping that should not be neglected is planting the right kind of trees, shrubs and flowers.

To make the yard or garden your pride and joy, add interest to your decorating space with garden planters. Many contemporary homes have installed planters in areas like the balcony and entrance way to get the best first impression. A popular decor item that adds quality and brings out a welcoming effect that offers comfort and appeal throughout the year are garden planters.

Take pleasure in your very own private calming oasis and say goodbye to overgrown garden beds. Garden planters come in a wide variety of styles and can be used for flowers, plants and shrubs. You can choose the ones you need to complement your outdoor decor.  Apart from style, color also needs to be taken into consideration. Planters are available in every kind of material like wood, iron, concrete, ceramic, metal, lightweight resin, etc.

Eco-friendly materials are also the rage for making garden planters as they can be used throughout the landscape and provide beauty and a contrasting appeal that is truly unique and exceptional. Choose a planter that will withstand all kinds of climatic conditions as they will be placed outside your home the whole year round. Shop you’re your kind of planters that have drainage holes as it is an important feature.

Escape into the majestic side of nature, by installing outdoor planters for your garden. Here are a few simple tips to help you decide where they will derive maximum aesthetic value and appeal for your outdoor area.
  • Gardens: Add variety to your flower and vegetable garden by using planters. Pots look good for smaller areas that can be also be taken inside during winter. Place pots and planters in your outdoor landscape along pathways, walkways, edges or amidst the other plants.
  • Patios and Decks: For decks and patios, you can install a few planters around the set perimeter to really transform your outdoor space. To create visual variety, you can work with different shapes, sizes and styles. Create intimate, smaller sections for large open spaces by using plants as dividers.
  • Front Porch: The best way to greet guests to your front door is to place some beautiful pots with flowers on your front porch and steps. Make sure that you don’t overfill or underfill your entrance with flowers and plants. Determine the space in that area to place the right amount of planters. Pots that are too small can get easily lost visually and pots that are too large makes it difficult maneuver around to reach the front door.  If there is uncertainty about the size, then buy a combo of small to medium size pots that can be moved around to suit any space.
  • Window Frames: Enjoy visual beauty indoors and outdoors by using window boxes to plant flowers near the window. A small herb garden or tiny flowers in clusters will do the trick. To keep them healthy and beautiful, place them in areas which have partial shade or good sunlight.
  • Hanging: Hanging planters and pots are the epitome of beauty as they look like colorful jewels hanging in interesting places to create focal point. You can hang them from garden hooks, branches, or the roofline of a porch or covered patio. Hanging planters create striking displays so choose plants and flowers that can be used specifically for hanging that purpose. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Encourage Gardening for Kids

Partner with nature to work magic with your fingers. Gardening is one outdoor activity that always springs a lot of surprises as it is fun and educational. You don’t have to achieve horticultural perfection every time you garden. Just enjoy it as a hobby and encourage kids to explore the priceless bounty of nature’s treasure chest. You can see the anticipation of children in gardening as they pull out vegetables from an edible garden; bite a carrot or see them create colorful bouquets of their handpicked flowers from the garden bed. Whether it’s discovering a new germinating seed, watering plants or making mud, there is a magnetic attraction between children and the garden.

There are fond memories associated with gardening as many people relate to invaluable time spent with their parents or grandparents who encouraged them to become a friend of the soil. They were the ones who inculcated the habit of playing outdoors and explore nature around them. Planting and play go hand in hand for children of all ages. Even a toddler can be taught proper garden etiquette, such as where to walk in the garden, water plants and pick produce. They also learn the consequences of good hard labor especially when they do weeding, cultivating and watering. Apart from that, they also learn to be patient and wait for nature to take its own course.

You need to keep the children area of your garden plain and simple. It should be of a manageable size, about 6 by 10 feet. Begin planting seeds of a few varieties and assign tasks to your children depending on their age and interests. They also learn that the path to better nutrition and health lies just outside their front door. This helps them respect the produce as they realize that the fruits, flowers, herbs and vegetables come from a natural source out of their own labor. Gardening also offers fresh air and exercise, something that you can’t get indoors. It also promotes therapeutic effects and improves gross motor skills.

Gardening brings about positive experiences and memories in a child’s mind without much effort. It sustains their curiosity and interest to explore things that they are not familiar with. For example, kids learn that earthworms are not harmful creatures but are actually friends for their garden, as they fertilize, aerate and enrich the soil with nutrients. They also learn the importance of planting and cultivating organic produce which are free from toxic chemicals. All who partake in gardening would have had individual experiences that taught them a lot about nature. They also learn from their mistakes and celebrate wonder all around their own little gardening world. A seed in garden promises of what is to come in the future, which is of course the biggest lesson to be learnt by the young and old alike.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Top Houseplants to Grow Indoors

Did you know that houseplants improve the quality of air we breathe indoors? A recent NASA research found that plants absorb the air pollutants to the soil and purify the air we breathe. There are different varieties of plants that are capable of removing certain volatile chemicals and substances from the air. They create an aesthetically pleasing living environment and also provide clean, fresh air to breathe. There is also 50-60 percent less airborne bacteria and molds found in rooms that have plants. The origin of having houseplants comes from the Tropical Rainforests, which have evolved over millions of years ago. During the process of evolution, these plants culture microbes in and around their roots— this helps them degrade complex organic structures found in rainforest debris and leaves.

People tend to suffer from chronic respiratory infections because of the presence of polluted indoor air. That is because the air found indoors is approximately ten times more polluted than the air outside. According to the EPA, indoor air is ranked among the top 5 owing to health hazards.  The most common type of indoor pollutants found indoors is formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, chloroform, acetone, ammonia, trichloroethylene, etc. All these substances are found in everyday household items like paints, adhesives, varnishes, nail polish removers, cosmetics, paper towels, cleaning products, gas stoves, carpets, drapes, upholstery and so on. So if you have a houseplant, you live in a pollution free zone! Here are a few plants and their uses for you to pick the right one for your space.

Lavender – A naturally de-stressing plant that produces natural oil to help in calming and relaxing your mind. If you have problems sleeping at night, you can put a pot of lavender on your bedside table which will help give you a comfortable sleep. The natural oil emitted by this plant’s linalyl esters creates a wonderful, soothing smell.

Geranium – A joyful and happy home is what every family desires. This plant with tiny flowers of warm, deep colors create a sense of joy for the people around. They aid in keeping our senses happy and alive.

Rosemary – This plant has medicinal properties useful for healing minor ailments of the body like fungi infections, muscle pains and digestive problems. What’s more, it is used as a cooking herb to flavor various types of dishes like gravies, roasts, soups and stews.

Orchids – This plant is a natural air-purifier that cleans up the air present inside the home. The plants come with different colors which relax the mind and are also used as flower centerpieces in living and dining areas to be admired by all.

Hydrangeas – This plant emits a scent that soothes the senses and brings a soft, calming effect to the mind. They are simply irresistible owing to their adorable flowers which exemplify and highlight their simplicity and lightness.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

How to Prepare your Garden for Spring

Spring is nearly here and it’s time to start preparing your garden for the most awaited season of the year. Dust off those gardening tools, start planning on fun things to plant and welcome new life to your outdoor space.

Start with a Plan

Before getting started on your garden, you need to think about what look you would like to achieve for your outdoor space. Make a checklist of the flowers, trees and shrubs you planted last year and then improve on that look by adding new perennials.  Maybe you can add a vegetable patch to grow your own herbs and vegetables or improve the overall design of that area by installing additional colorful containers and pots.

Go Green

Try to make the change in your environment by shifting from chemical gardening methods to organic gardening. You can use a compost pile in your garden, use natural fertilizers and collect rainwater from your gutters to water the plants.

Get your Garden Gear ready

To preserve your garden gear and get them ready for spring, rub linseed oil on their wooden handles and then scrub the rust off the metal parts by using a wire brush. It is important to take special care of your pruners as it is used to cut plants. Clean them with turpentine and then with denatured alcohol. Oil all the movable parts and sharpen the blades. To prevent the transfer of diseases from one plant to the next, keep a disinfecting spray handy with your pruners.

Service Your Lawnmower

You need to get your lawnmower up and running for the first few days of any outdoor work in the garden. Have the carburetor cleaned, blades sharpened and the fuel lines flushed. To make them pollute less and more efficient, clean the engine frequently.

Clear leaves away from Perennials

To prevent leaves from covering and smothering the emergence of new perennials, it is best to chop them up and use as compost. They may be great soil amendments but when they get too big, they will create a heavy covering for plants or get blown around in the wind.

Pull the weeds and fertilize

During the winter, the weeds would have germinated during the fall and would have grown when every other plant was dormant. So pull them up before they flower and go to seed. Just before spring, use organic fertilizers for the soil. This helps the growing process for shrubs and perennials. Too much fertilizer is better than none at all.

Test Your Irrigation System

Check your hoses for watering plants and make sure they are set up early before use. If you have lawn sprinklers, then test them to check for any malfunctions.

Enrich the Soil and lay the Mulch

Feed the soil with manure and compost and mix it well for a depth of 18 inches below the ground. Then add a two inch layer of good quality mulch for your flowering beds and perennials. This helps in keeping the ground from drying out, regulating moisture fluctuations and adds organic matter and nutrients as the soil breaks down.

Plant vegetable seeds indoors

Spring is the right time to get started on planting some seeds indoors in containers and pots. Place them near windows for bright sunlight access. Choose the seeds you want to plant. Vegetable seeds are the best bet like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers as they germinate well in plastic trays with plastic covers.

Start sowing and protecting seeds

Plant seeds that thrive in cooler weather conditions like onion, leeks, parsley, spinach, shallots, oregano and peppers. Using drought tolerant plants can enrich your garden. They are lavender, aloe, lavender, rockrose, honeysuckle, Black-eyed Susans, verbena, coneflower, Artemisia, garlic, yarrow, salvia and Russian sage. Protect your seeds from hungry birds before they have a chance to sprout. Cover your garden with mosquito netting or by hanging old CDs in the bushes. They will reflect light and scare away birds from that area. You can use plastic milk containers for pots.