12
Apr

The good life: landscape your garden with these tips

One of the best things in life is having a high quality landscape garden. There’s not a lot of Peace of feeling of heading into the garden on a nice summer’s day and it being so organised and all of you beautiful. He really can make you feel good whilst just sat around the barbecue enjoying the beautiful ambience. We’re going to take a look at some of the best ways to achieve ambience without breaking the bank and hopefully you’ll be able to pick up some ideas and tips on how you’ll landscape your own garden and improve your own lives. Let’s not waste any time and get started with the perfect landscape garden that’s gonna improve your life.

Planting in volume always gives a sense of fullness in your garden.

One of the most off putting things is simply having one plant. It’s gonna stand alone and doesn’t really feel all that interesting. I start contrast if you put a few of those plants together then all the sudden it feels like you have a bit of a patch and it creates a feeling of a sense of fullness. This will be one of my top tips in the garden, definitely more plants is better. There’s no such thing as less is more in gardening.

Take full advantage of garden furniture to improve the comfort and ambiance of your garden.

Without a shadow of a doubt something like some nice rattan furniture garden furniture will make a big difference to the overall lifestyle that you need in your garden. And open bear piece of land isn’t really all that enjoyable without some furniture and it to spruce things up. You can get something credibly amazing furniture for your garden these days. I definitely head over to Garden Toolbox and take a look at their garden furniture range because it’s quite amazing to see just how modern than sleeper garden can be.

Why not try to make your herb patch look elegant too.

One of the best things about garden is the edible plants to grow. Why not try to make you herb garden feature? Herbs can actually flower and really amazing. If you take an example being the Chives. It has a lovely looking flower and although once hits flower it’s not the best of eating, it certainly does look really nice. You also only have to look at a Rosemary bush to see that they do look quite attractive. Having her garden would definitely be a great way of landscaping your garden. Especially if that her Gardens extremely accessible and right next to the barbecue. It would be like just pulling off your fresh herbs and heading straight over and putting it on the barbecue, what could be better?

Landscaping is all about dividing your spaces in the garden up successfully.

One of the best ways to get the real feel of the professional landscaper without breaking the bank is drawing up a plan that involves compartmentalising your garden. It looks super cool when you break up your garden and have one area say as the barbecue zone. You didn’t have another area that planting, and then another area that’s perhaps a jacuzzi and a summer house.

Try to make your garden as three-dimensional as possible.

Another great tip for your garden landscaping and improving the life and comfort in your garden is trying to make your property three-dimensional. By having different layers and levels you create visual stimulation. This is one of the best tricks of professional landscapers using and I wouldn’t hesitate to have planting boxes and steps wherever possible. Another great way of increasing the amount of shapes in your garden by perhaps having a raised jacuzzi and bathing platform.

Aside from all of these really great ideas to improve the feel and comfort of your garden there’s loads of different techniques out there and I really suggest that you basically try to get creative and make something interesting in your garden. Ultimately what looks good in your garden and makes you feel good about life really comes down to you yourself. If you like what you’ve done then that’s all that matters really so don’t hesitate get into the garden and get some work done.

5
Apr

Creating A Lawn From Seed

Why seed? Making a new lawn from seed is the cheapest and easiest way but does take longer than turf and is not for the impatient or instant gardener. Different types and qualities of seed are available for different situations, and seed will keep until weather conditions are exactly right for sowing – unlike turf which needs laying promptly.

Step 1: Preparation

Autumn is the best time to sow a new lawn as the soil is warmer and seed germinates quicker. Autumn rains avoid the need to water and the lawn will be ready to use the next summer.

Preparation begins about three months before sowing by completely clearing weeds and vegetation, and any rubbish and bricks. Remove pieces of buried wood as these will produce toadstools when rotting down.

Step 2: Dig over

Break up the soil by digging to at least 225mm (9in). Break up any compacted soil well if you suspect poor drainage.

If the soil is poor add well rotted manure or compost. If the soil is heavy add lots of grit to improve soil structure and drainage.

Test the soil with a soil-testing kit. The ideal soil pH is between 5.5 and 6. If your soil is very acid (below pH 5) apply ground limestone at about 50g/metre squared (2oz/yard squared) to correct.

Level the site, breaking up large lumps of soil and removing stones.

Step 3: Firm the soil

Thoroughly firm the ground by walking slowly over the site on your heels. Lightly rake level.

Top dress with a general all-purpose fertiliser, either Grow more or an organic equivalent. You’ll need about 50g/metre squared (2oz/yard squared). Lightly rake in.

Wait a few weeks for the inevitable weed seedlings, then spray with weed killer. Repeat until clear.

Step 4: Sowing

Obtain an appropriate seed mix. You can choose an ornamental, hard-wearing or shade tolerant mix. Calculate the area of your new lawn and buy sufficient seed at a sowing rate of 40g/metre squared (1.5oz/yard squared), which is approximately one handful per metre squared (yard squared).

Choose a day after rain but when the surface is drying out. Gently rake over to loosen the top surface.

Mix the seed with dry soil or sand to spread further. Divide the mix in half and sow the complete area with one half moving from right to left. Then sow the other half moving from front to back, to ensure even coverage. Sow by marking out squares and scattering handfuls at a time or hire a seed drill.

Step 5: Protect from birds

Lightly rake over the surface again to cover some of the seeds and protect from birds with plastic netting – or use fleece for speedier germination. Alternatively, criss-cross the area with black cotton held about 150mm (6in) above ground level between canes.

If no rain falls within a few days use a lawn sprinkler to gently water the surface. Once the seeds are growing well, remove netting.

When the grass is about 75mm (3in) high make the first light cut but remove no more than the top 1/3 of the growth. Continue cutting as normal thereafter.

5
Apr

How to Grow a Green Garden

How to Grow A Green Garden: Use Fewer Resources With These Earth-Friendly Gardening Ideas

A green garden is more than organic. It has many earth friendly features.

Selecting Plants for the Green Garden

  • Native plants are the preferred choice for green gardens. These are adapted to local growing conditions. They thrive with minimal watering, fertilisers, and pesticides. Natives also minimise the risks associated with exotic, introduced species, which can become invasive.
  • Become aware of the invasive species in your region so you can avoid buying them. Some nurseries still sell ones that are known to be invasive. Those that can self-sow and become naturalised are the real issue. Examples include barberries, silver maple, and privet.
  • Invasive species differ from one area to another. For example, purple loosestrife has naturalised in many parts of the Northeast.
  • Select organic seeds and plants whenever possible. These are available from various sources.
  • If you live in a drought-prone area, choose plants that can survive with minimal watering. There are many excellent cultivars of succulents available. One need not sacrifice beauty in order to be green.

Watering the Green Garden

  • Be frugal with water. Plant drought-resistant species, and install a rain barrel or cistern.
  • Use grey water for landscapes if this is allowed in your municipality. An example is water from baths and showers. If you wash dishes by hand, this water is also safe for plants provided you pre-rinse the dishes to remove food and crumbs.
  • Lawns are water hogs. Limit the area devoted to grass. Replace all or part of the lawn with ground covers, perennials, and low growing shrubs.

Rain Gardens

  • Create a rain garden to collect runoff during rain storms. This is done by excavating a depression or creating a ditch to capture the runoff. Plant this area with water-loving species, such as willows and alders. These plants can absorb lots of rain water.

Green Container Gardens

  • For green container gardens, choose carefree plants that can withstand dry conditions. Examples are moss rose and Mediterranean-type herbs.
  • Choose eco-friendly pots and planters made of wood from sustainably managed forests.
  • Other green containers are made from various kinds of recycled or renewable materials. These pots use coir (a coconut by-product), straw, rice and grain hulls, recycled plastics, and recycled forest by-products.
  • Once the plants are in the containers, add a layer of organic mulch, such as pine bark mulch or nuggets. This will keep the potting soil moist.
    For potting soil, use peat-free alternatives. A number of brands contain sustainable materials, such as bark chips, compost, and coir.

pesticidesPesticides and Fertilisers for Green Gardens

  • Choose natural or organic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers. Examples include BT for caterpillars, baking soda-based fungicides, and insecticidal soaps.
  • Instead of chemical herbicides, use organic mulches to help control weeds. When a pre-emergent is needed, apply corn gluten in early spring to smother weed seeds.
  • Use pesticides only when necessary. Choose the least toxic option. Apply as directed on the label.
  • Compost and leaf mold can provide nutrients for plants, reducing the need for fertilisers. Use the proper amount of fertiliser. Over-fertilised plants are more likely to attract pests.
5
Apr

Honey Bees Need You

Probably if you think back to just a few years ago it will seem gardens positively hummed with bees from spring to autumn but today this is rarely the case. It has been well reported that bees are in a dramatic decline and latest figures from the British Beekeepers’ Association suggest that nearly 20% of the UK’s honey bees died last winter.

Tim Lovett, President of the BBKA, makes the point that ‘similar losses of livestock in other areas of farming such as beef or dairy sectors would be rightly seen as disastrous with dramatic effects on food prices’. Bees are just as important to our food supplies as animals. Without them plant pollination would be seriously affected and would result in shortages of food for both humans and animals with estimates that one third of human food supplies depend on bee pollination.

Lord Rooker, then a DEFRA Minister, said ‘the UK honey bee population could be wiped out in 10 years’, and this phenomenon is not just confined to the UK, it is happening worldwide.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was first identified in California in 2006 and is differentiated from other mass bee die-offs by the sudden loss of the entire bee colony with seemingly healthy bees abandoning their hives. No dead bees are found and the colony never returns. Strangely no other insects are interested in taking up residence in the empty hive.

Possible Causes of CCD

There is an aon-going debate amongst experts, as to the causes of this problem. The Soil Association believe there is a strong case for banning the use of a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids that were first used in the mid 1990s which is when the first bee disappearances occurred. It is thought the chemicals damage critical parts of the bee nervous systems, impairing their ability to communicate, find their way home and fight infections. Several European countries have already banned these substances including France and Germany. The French ban came into effect in 1999, five years after the first use of the chemicals in 1994. In 1996 French beekeepers reported that a third of their bee colonies had been lost but by 2006/07 the losses were down to a more manageable 10%.

What We Can Do To Help

There are three main factors to consider when choosing plants for bees:

firstly choose single-flowered varieties as bees ignore plants with double flowers.

secondly choose a range of plants that will provide nectar and/or pollen from March to October when bees are most active.

finally use large clumps annuals and herbaceous perennials to help bees find them more easily, so conserving vital energy.

As a general rule of thumb choose plants from the Allium family, along with mints, beans and flowering herbs. Daisy-shaped flowers are particularly popular with bees so consider plants such as Asters, Sunflowers, Rudbeckia and Echinacea and bees will find many tall plants irrisitable like Hollyhocks, Larkspur and Foxgloves.

5
Apr

Tilling Your Garden: A Bad Idea? It May be Detrimental to Disturb All That Soil

One thing that all gardeners admire is a nicely-turned plot of soil. They yearn to plunge their fingers into fluffy loam; they love to scratch long, straight furrows through pulverised dirt so they can plant all those seeds they purchased from their favourite catalogs. Truth be told, most gardeners (if they were certain no one was watching) would probably shed their clothes and wallow in the stuff.

A tilled garden is a badge of accomplishment. That patch of dark, raw earth shows the neighbors that an expert is at work. Every time a new year comes around, gardeners can hardly wait until the snow retreats so they can fire up their multi-tined mechanical beasts and roll the soil over.

But they may be doing more harm than good.
While it is probably worth cultivating those specific areas where crops will be sown, there are some good reasons to limit the amount of soil one disturbs in the zeal to dig from horizon to horizon:

Tilling may actually encourage the growth of weeds in a garden

Weed seeds in deeply-worked soils survive longer than those in shallowly-worked plots. The more soil that gets turned upside down, the larger the number of dormant weed seeds that rise to the surface…where they germinate and grow. Some weed seeds can survive for decades—and possibly centuries—under the soil. It’s reasonable to leave them there.

Soil is a complex, multi-layered ecosystem

Soil is an interdependent blend of living and non-living matter. Mixing it up is akin to sending a fleet of bulldozers through a rainforest; it takes a long time for natural processes to reestablish some semblance of order.

Deep tilling can spread pathogens and pests

Symphylans, small soil arthropods that feed on and injure the roots of many crops, get distributed more deeply in tilled soil, thus expanding their potential range for damage. While some scientists feel tilling reduces the numbers of symphylans, newer studies show that these pests feed on fungal strands in soil (as well as the roots of plants); tilling destroys those fungal strands. Without the fungi to eat, symphylans turn to crops’ roots instead. Why not hedge one’s bets, and till only those areas that will be planted?

Roto-tilling is not a green practice

Lawnmower and roto-tiller engines are notorious air polluters (and they’re usually pretty noisy, too). The longer they spend sputtering around in yards and gardens, the more obnoxious belching they do. And, with the price of gasoline reaching astronomical heights, why would anyone want to burn a single teaspoon more fuel than is absolutely necessary?

Roto-tillers are not user-friendly

Even the best-designed tiller is going to grab some rocks and roots along the way. Anyone who has been dragged behind a tiller when it encounters an immovable part of the planet knows the sensation of suddenly parting with their upper extremities. Add to that the numbness that persists in one’s hands after a few hours of chasing a tiller around a large garden, and a sensible person gets the message: The less time spent attached to a tiller, the better.

As more Americans strive to augment their menus with home gardens, and as experienced gardeners become more responsible stewards of the earth beneath their feet, they might all do well to consider this advice:
Thinking of tilling your whole garden again this year? Don’t do it!

5
Apr

Improve the Environment – Compost: Cheap Fertiliser from Household Waste

Sir Albert Howard
Sir Albert Howard

Modern composting techniques have developed from the pioneering work of Sir Albert Howard (1873 -1947) one of the fathers of the organic movement. Sir Albert’s books “An Agricultural Testament” and especially “The Waste Products of Agriculture” demonstrated the value of composting.

Sir Albert developed the Indore method named after the Indian State in which he perfected his practice. This method remains the basis for most aerobic composting.

The Indore method is a “batch” composting method, that is, the compost pile is made at one time from materials gathered together for the occasion. It is made of layers of rough organic matter – that is coarse material ( these days often called the brown material) followed by a layer of fresh green stuff such as grass, weeds or leaves and topping this a layer of manure, soil urine and wood ash or lime.

The layers are not too thick and are repeated until the compost pile is complete. One suggestion is that the layers should be about 4 inches (100 mm) for the bottom, 3 inches (75 mm) for the middle and 2 inches (50 mm) for the third.

The Indore Compost Pile had urine soaked soil as a manure but also suggested thin layers of local field soil to help develop the army of microorganisms that would do the work. Practice has found that layers of soil are not vital.

Composting

This type of compost is aerobic – air works through it – and becomes very hot. The heat helps kill pathogens and facilitate the first stage of breaking down the hard fibrous parts of plant material. Because of the need for oxygen, turning the pile was advocated.

Many compost makers suggest using a special drum that can be turned or having a three-bin system so that the compost is turned from one into the next and then into its final resting place.

By using some coarse material, oxygen is trapped within the pile allowing the heating up process making turning unnecessary. Recent experiments have shown that turning is not important in the household style compost as there should be plenty of air trapped within to allow the heating process. In fact, heat may be lost during the turning process. What is necessary, is to thrust a pole or crowbar down into the compost a few times during the building to create three holes through the compost. These should be enough to permit air to the pile.

Something nitrogenous is needed to supply initial food for the army of mycorrhiza and bacteria that will work the compost. Howard used urine soaked soil scraped from the floor of cowsheds. Most of us will not have that. Human urine can be used as can horse, cow or fowl manure. These, too, may be difficult to obtain in a suburban environment in which case dried pelleted manure or blood and bone from the store will be fine. If using these do not be overly concerned about the thickness of the manure layer.

Some authorities maintain lime is necessary to reduce acidity. Others believe that compost is generally quite satisfactory without it. It is not usually worth making a special effort to purchase lime and it can be omitted. Similarly if one has wood ash it can be a valuable addition but it is not necessary.

When using leaves or fresh grass clippings take care not to allow them to form a dense impenetrable layer but tease them out and mix with coarser material to allow air to circulate.

Compost making seems difficult but with little effort and expense a perfect organic growing medium is produced.