28 Jul

How to Make the Most of a Small Lawn

They say good things come in small packages, and that’s definitely true for lawns. For one thing, they’re easier to maintain than large lawns, and it only requires a little of creativity to work around the challenges a small space presents. Here’s how to make the most of a small lawn if that’s what you have…

Also see: Top Tips for Landscaping a Small Lawn

Work out your priorities: First of all, decide what you to do with the space. Have you always fancied trying to grow your own vegetables, or are you harboring ambitions to be a green-fingered Mother Nature type that can cultivate even the most exotic species of flower? Whatever the case, be clear about your requirements, and don’t be afraid to sketch it out to help solidify your ideas in your mind. This will help you to plan out the space to ensure it ticks the right boxes.

Look at where the sun is: Next up, you’ll need to spend a little bit of time looking at the amount of sunlight your yard receives. It will depend on the way your property faces and the time of year, but just be mindful that you’ll need to make every square inch count if you don’t have much space to begin with. So, put sun-loving plants where the rays linger for the longest portion of the day, and plan something creative with parts of your lawn that are shadier.

Buy once, buy well: If you’re planning on sectioning off a portion of your small lawn for a patio, for example, (a great idea if you know you’d like to spend significant amounts of time dining or relaxing outside), don’t be tempted to buy cheap paving stones. Instead, buy them once and buy them well – good quality paving stones will last for years if you look after them well, and considering you only have a small area to cover, you’ll find that even the best quality paving stones are very affordable. The same is true for decking, or any other material you want to use to maximize your outdoor space.

Invest in the right tools: On a similar note, make sure you’re investing in the right tools to look after your lawn. For example, a small lawn won’t need a large, cumbersome power mower. Instead, you can probably just use a reel-action push mower, which is much lighter and will probably be easier to store away too. Likewise, if you like to use lawn feed, look for one that’s designed for small areas so that you don’t overwhelm the area you have.

Lawn-Boy Lawn Mower - Best choice for a small lawn

Lawn-Boy 177-32 Lawn Mower is simple yet gives surprising mowing experience. Probably the best available option for a small lawn. You can buy it online.

Grow vertically: A small lawn means you’re unlikely to have enough space to plant everything in the ground. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have all the flower beds and herb gardens you’re hoping for. The solution is to simply grow vertically – fill your space with climbing plants to add interest and texture to your small lawn, and consider planting blooms in pots that are hung from your fences or walls – you’ll get an awful lot of color and greenery into your yard by doing this.

Use of vertical space in a small lawn

 

Use mirrors: Yes, really! Mirrors aren’t just for indoor use. When you place them outside in your small lawn, you’ll find that you make the lawn look bigger by reflecting it. Tuck mirrors behind a trellis or on a fence at the far end of the lawn to cleverly create the illusion of size, and just be careful to take note of where you’re placing it… you won’t want to reflect ugly drain pipes for example. It’s also worth hanging a mirror relatively low to the ground if you don’t want to interrupt a bird in flight. And remember to hang a mirror out of the sun – you don’t want to risk a fire in your yard, or your neighbor’s!

Using mirrors in a small garden

 

Select your flowers carefully: Finally, give some careful consideration to the plants you want to put in your lawn. Flowering shrubs are low maintenance, but it’s worth paying attention to what time of year they’ll flower and for how long so that one plant is beginning to flower as the other one is reaching the end of its season. Also, you can create depth and interest by adding plants of varying heights to help make your narrow lawn borders look a little thicker.

Also see: Best Flowering Shrubs to Grow in Your Lawn

24 Jul

Gazebo Design Ideas for Gardens and Landscapes

Planning to build a gazebo is your garden? Browse these beautiful gazebo design ideas for building a perfect outdoor living space.

Also see:

Gazebo in backyard
Wooden Gazebo Design Idea
Modern Gazebo - outdoor living
Poolside Gazebo Design Idea
Large Gazebo
Custom Design Gazebo
Small Gazebo Design
Gazebo Design Idea
Gazebo / Cabana
Gazebo / Log Cabin
Gazebo in Garden
Gazebo in Japanese Garden
Lovely Gazebo
Gazebo in Landscape Design
07 Jul

Eco-Friendly Pest Control for Your Home

There is no doubt that insects are an important part of the world’s eco system, so we should probably not simply try to kill them all off. This does not mean that you should find yourself pinned to the chair because a family of spiders is standing in the middle of the floor. It also does not mean that you should have to throw out a ton of food items because ants have found their way into your kitchen cupboards.

You want to make sure that insects stay outside of your home. Doing this successfully, involves using pest control. But what about the problem of using chemicals? We have already mentioned how killing all insects is bad for the ecosystem; you may be concerned about pest control chemicals, for the same reason. Many pest control experts actually offer services that are more environmentally friendly than was previously the case; you can find out more about eco-friendly pest control service. If you would rather try your own eco-friendly methods first, here are a few ideas.

Eco Friendly Pest Control

Eco-friendly Pest Control / Image via flickr

Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is simply a collection of fossilized remains of a species of algae. The remains consist of hard and sharp pieces which are microscopic in size. These pieces damage the exoskeletons of the insects that may be tempted to invade your property, killing them. You only need a thin layer of diatomaceous earth to do the job and you can sprinkle it wherever you choose, as it’s perfectly safe.

Mint Leaves

Mint is harmless to humans, but ants and flies do not like it. All you should do is scatter a few leaves around where there is a potential problem of infestation, and the culprits should be deterred. As an added bonus, mint gives your home a fresh and clean scent.

Soap and Water

This may sound like a really simple solution; but it can work. You just need to fill a spray bottle with a soap flakes and water solution, then point at the bugs you want to get rid of, and spray. The soap in the mixture damages the exoskeleton of the bug. The water then gets inside and the bug drowns. It’s as simple as that.

Keeping out Termites with Sand

Termites that invade from underground can be deterred by using a barrier of sand. They cannot tunnel through the sand in the same way that they can tunnel through earth. You can use sand around the foundations of your property, in crawl spaces and in any other area that may be susceptible to termite activity.

Nematodes and Termites

This may sound a little gross, but you can actually kill termites using a different type of creature; microscopic worms called nematodes. They are just pumped into areas where there is a problem with termites and they then kill any termites which are present.

You can use any or all of these solutions to try and rid your home of a pest problem. If you have any issues doing so, do not be worried about calling in the experts. You can discuss any concerns about chemicals with them, before any treatment is started.

05 Jul

A Beautiful Example of Contemporary Garden Design

Bricks, concrete blocks, pebbles, rocks and stones are material for contemporary landscapes and gardens. These contemporary materials are used to design gardens and landscapes that are low on maintenance yet high in water efficiency. The whole idea is to cover the ground with ‘hardscape’ elements to reduce evaporation and retain moisture. The hardscape is filled with drought-resistant or water-efficient plants. Hardscape elements also minimize the need to control weeds and use pesticides by naturally controlling weeds and preventing pests.

See more information and resources on water-efficient garden designs and a list of water-efficient plants.

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Designing Beautiful Xeriscapes

Also browse these beautiful examples of contemporary garden design by Folia Horticulture + Design.

10 Jun

Top Tips for Buying Indoor Plants

When buying indoor plants, make sure that you pick a healthy plant that is great in shape, has no signs of disease or damage, and is ready to be transferred to the intended environment.

When you are buying indoor plants, make sure that you understand their growing conditions and have sufficient space to provide them. Once you have decided what indoor plants you want to buy, make sure you select the best available indoor plants available in the garden center. The following tips for buying indoor plants will help you select the best plant and avoid costly mistakes.

Tips for Buying Indoor Plants


  • Look for healthy foliage and sturdy stem. Avoid plants with drooping leaves or foliage showing signs of discoloration. Do not buy plants with damage or weak stem. Look for firm stem with no signs of damage.

  • If you are buying a seasonal flowering plant, pick the plant with lots of unopened buds. Avoid plants that are end of their flowering cycle.

  • Carefully watch buds, under the leaves, and tips of new stems for insects. Do not buy plants that carry bugs. Also watch for eggs and larva. If you have already brought home an infested plant, immediately isolate it from other plants and treat the affected plant.

  • Make sure that plants roots of the plants are not growing out of the pot. Roots growing out of the pot suggest that the plant has been potted in the same pot for a long time and it would be difficult to transfer it to another pot and that transferring the plant to another pot would put a lot of stress on the plant.

  • Always pick smaller indoor plants. Not only they cost less but also adjust easily in their new environment. You can also prune and train smaller plants to your desired shape. Buying smaller indoor plants also gives you freedom to fit them easily in available space.

  • Check the soil carefully. Make sure that it is not soggy or very dry – clear sign of neglect.

  • Do not place your new plants under direct sunlight. It is advised that new plants should be kept under indirect sunlight for a few days so that they can adjust to their new climate. If you are buying flowering plants, place them in the spot that is best suitable for them so that they are not stressed in the process of acclimatization. Flowering plants, when not provided with the right climate, may shed their flowers and buds immediately.

  • When buying indoor plants, make sure they are handled carefully during the transit. It is advised that they are properly wrapped and provided sufficient support during transfer.
03 Jun

5 Best Medicinal Plants to Grow in Your Garden

There are so many cosmetics, herbal extracts and natural products in the market that you can use for various healing effects and medical benefits that they offer. Most of these plants are not very hard to find at your local. You can also buy these plants online and easily grow them in your own garden.

Here is a list of some common and easy to grow medicinal plants you should try.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is used for preparing various face packs and masks. Aloe vera gels are great source of Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, and E. Apart from these vitamins, it also has minerals like iron, zinc, copper, sodium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Just extract the gel from its leaves and apply it directly on face and hair for that shine. Old tissues of your skin are rubbed off and newer ones generate with this application of gel and that’s how you get a fabulous skin. Sunburn spots and dark circles or for that matter any kind of dark spots are alleviated with this gel.

Lavender

Lavender has many healing properties. It can not only improve your skin but also your mood and sleep disorders. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant gives you a blemish free and scar-free skin.

Rose

Rose petals are a great source of Vitamin C and that ensures that you have a soft and smooth skin. As a toner, rose water, is used since a very long time. It alleviates rashes and inflammation.

Tea tree

Tea tree has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Tea tree oil is an important ingredient in many skin care products available in the market because it enhances that natural glow of the skin and also removes dark spots.

Chamomile

Infusing the chamomile petals in your tea would bring in a massive change in your state of mind and body. It also rejuvenates skin as well as acts as an effective relaxant for sending you to a sound sleep.

28 May

Lovely Indoor Foliage Plant: Balfour Aralia

Polyscias balfouriana, commonly known as, Balfour Aralia is a beautiful foliage plant known for its attractive leathery foliage. Though a bit hard to find in horticulture marketplace, it makes an excellent indoor plant that does not require much maintenance. Originally from tropical regions of the Pacific, can be grown in bright and slightly humid spot near a sun exposed window where it receives plenty of indirect sunlight in the morning and occasional watering.

The plant is characterized by round, leathery, dark green leaves that look like dinner plates thus giving the plant its common name – the Dinner Plate Aralia. Variegated varieties of Balfour Aralia with gold and cream leaf margins are also available.

In its native climate, it grows up to 12 feet or more but it takes many years to attain that size. When grown indoors, it grows slowly and can be easily pruned and trimmed to keep it in desired shape. In fact, Balfour Aralia makes an excellent subject of bonsai.

Balfour Aralia

Balfour Aralia / Image via jardin-secrets.com

How to Grow Balfour Aralia

Balfour Aralia benefits from a well-drained soil and occasional application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. The plant is prone to root-rot when over-watered therefore it is advisable to neglect on part of watering. Water generously when the soil is completely dry and then allow the soil to dry before next watering.

Balfour Aralia, Foliage Plant

Balfour Aralia, Foliage Plant / Image via pdiplants.com/

For healthier growth, make sure that your plant receives at least 2-3 hours of indirect morning light. A good shower to keep the leaves clean is also advisable.

Other popular species of Polyscias include:

Polyscias ‘Fabian’ (Fabian Aralia) grows scalloped dark green leaves on a woody trunk.

Polyscias fruticose (Ming Aralia) grows feathery leaves and makes a nice small tree for growing outdoors.

Alert: The leaves of Balfour Aralia are poisonous for pets.

15 May

How to Care for Amaryllis in Your Garden

Amaryllis are beautiful flowers that, if cared for correctly, will bloom year after year. They have a magnificent, exotic appearance and are best known for featuring red or red and white blooms. Although they do come in other colors such as purple, pink and yellow and some varieties are even multicolored. These colorful flowers are grown from bulbs and Amaryllis is the more popular name for what is actually the Hippeastrum bulb.

Amaryllis are easy to plant and of all the flowering bulbs, they are the easiest to bring to bloom. While they are ideal for any garden, they also make fantastic houseplants and have become popular gifts at Christmas because of this.

Amaryllis

So, you have your Amaryllis bulb, now what do you do…?

Ideally you will plant it between October and January, they will then flower from winter to spring – generally within six weeks of planting. Amaryllis bulbs are tender and need warmth to grow therefore it is best to plant them in pots – in nutritious compost – and start them indoors, to avoid the frost. The Amaryllis should be grown in a pot only slightly bigger than the bulb itself, with two-thirds of the bulb remaining above the surface.

You should begin to water sparingly – then, as the new leaves develop, start watering regularly avoiding excessive watering while not letting the compost dry out.

Amaryllis should be placed in full sun – they will grow in light shade but they tend to develop better in brighter light – but remember to turn the pot regularly to avoid the stalk growing towards the light. You should feed your amaryllis bulb every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer and stake larger flowers as they start to grow.

Once the flowers on the initial stem have faded, cut the stem back to the bulb and another should grow and flower.

So, when can you move Amaryllis into the garden?

Firstly, as soon as the plant starts flowering it should be moved to a cooler spot to help extend the flowering period. Then, in the summer, once the last of the frost has passed, it can be moved outside. When choosing where to place it in the garden remember that Amaryllis should not be in intense sunlight, instead look for a semi-shaded position.

Once outside you need to be aware of and on the look out for slugs and snails! Similarly, if you find that your plant is flowering this could be down to growing in conditions that are too shady, or under-watering during the previous summer. But, this could also be due to attack from fungal disease or bulb pests.

You may be tempted to start pruning but you don’t need to do this until the leaves turn yellow (around late September) – then you can cut them back to around two inches from the top of the bulb. Your Amaryllis will need re-potting every two to three years in January to March – after flowering.

Amaryllis will be a great addition to any garden and if you care for them properly, you will be able to enjoy their pretty, colorful flowers for months and years to come.

03 May

Best Specimen Plants to Grow in Your Garden

Specimen plants are usually grown in gardens and landscapes to create focal points. These plants are often characterized by unusual form, bold colors, attractive flowers, or lovely foliage. Best specimen plants have year-round foliage, compact growth and low maintenance needs. When grown indoor, small specimen plants can be used to brighten up small spaces by creating focal points or create dramatic effects by placing these plants at strategic spots. When grown outdoors, large specimen plants can be used to fill spaces or create permanent displays.

Some of the best specimen plants that are always at the top of my list include:

Colocasia esculenta – A nice specimen plant grown for its large, attractive foliage.

Taro, Best Specimen Plants

Pennisetum setaceum – Commonly known as ‘purple fountain grass’ is a beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum'

Pennisetum Setaceum ‘Rubrum’, Image by Matt Lavin

Miscanthus sinensis is a bold, upright and attractive grass.

Miscanthus Sinensis Grass

Miscanthus Sinensis, Image via Wikipedia

Acer palmatum or ‘Japanese Maple’ is a small tree with interesting and colorful foliage.

 

Dioscorea elephantipes is a beautiful specimen plan known for its unusual form.

Best Specimen Plant - Dioscorea elephantipes

Pachypodium lamerei or the ‘Madagascar Palm’ is another beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

unusual plant pachypodium lamerei