31 May

Design Ideas for Kids Friendly Backyards

Why the big boys have all the fun. These practical and kids friendly backyards show a lot of potential for turning your backyard into a fun house for the little ones. No, you do not have to compromise on your favorite plants, landscape design or barbecue spot. There are plenty of opportunities for integrating a small swing, a little fun house, a sandbox and a dedicated area for kids to play.

Browse these simple and practical examples of kids friendly backyards for your inspiration.

28 May

Carex eburnean: The Bristleleaf Sedge

Carex eburnean is a versatile plant. Commonly grown as a tough ground cover, this nice little plant performs very well under shade or sun and in moist as well as dry areas. You can grow it as a ground cover, companion plant in a rock garden or as alternative to ornamental grasses in Xeriscape. It can also be grown as a nice specimen plant in containers.

Image from Houzz.com

Carex eburnean or Bristleleaf sedge forms small mounds of needle-shaped tufted leaves. The plant can grow up to 8 inches and width. The soft tufted leaves of Carex eburnean hide a very hardy and adaptive plant that does not require much maintenance. Typically, it performs very well in a slightly moist but well-drained alkaline soil under partial shade. However in urban settings, Carex eburnean can adapt to different growing conditions. When grown in urban settings Carex eburnean can be used to fill spaces where most plants fail – under shady trees, lands that are not frequently irrigated, and soil that is too sandy to grow your favorite plants.

Flowers, though not prominent appear in spring followed by formation of small, fluffy seed heads. Carex eburnean is propagated from seeds and division of rootball from spring to autumn.

Common names of Carex eburnean are: Bristle-leaved sedge, Ebony sedge, and Ivory sedge.

25 May

Best Indoor Plants for Air Purification

Indoor plants have multiple roles to play. They purify the air, add color to a dull office, and get you in the mood for work. Back in the 1980’s, decorating offices with houseplants became a trend across North America and Europe. Its goal? To improve the air quality in a room full of people with cost-saving benefits in mind.

Indoor plants are natural air purifiers that can help alleviate the symptoms of migraine, asthma, brain fog, and hay fever caused by an allergic reaction to certain pollutants. To help you get started, read some of the best indoor plants for air purification below:

4 Best Natural Air Cleaners

1. English Ivy

Don’t let its invasiveness fool you, because when installed indoors, English Ivy plants can actually remove traces of formaldehyde in the air. It requires little maintenance and it grows fast vertically, which makes it a good ornament to spacious offices. However, it’s a part-shade and part-sun plant so make sure to this English Ivy still gets a bit of sun exposure.

2. Jade Plant

The best indoor plant for your office desk, Jade plant has an amazing longevity that may as well surpass you in this lifetime. It is a flowering plant with symbolic meanings such as friendship, money, long-life, and good luck, based on feng-shui principles. What’s more, Jade plants can thrive under medium-light conditions and they need not be watered constantly.

Indoor Plant - Jade Plant

3. Peace Lily

Another flowering plant distinctly known for its seashell-like spathes. It is a low-light plant that can remove benzene, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may originally come from cleaning products. However, do note that its poisonous leaves can harm your kids and your pets. It is advisable to place it only in an area that is off-limits to these potential victims.

4. Boston Fern

Popular among household owners, Boston fern has been proven effective in eliminating xylene, formaldehyde, and benzene pollutants circulating indoors. However, growing this type of plant species requires a bit of work like feeding them monthly during the rainy season and weekly during the dry season. Nevertheless, when done correctly, Boston ferns could help you purify the air you breathe significantly.

Being a natural air purifier, potted plants are definitely cheaper than air-conditioning units with air cleaning capability. And this is not a new concept in this day and age. Many people have just not given much attention to it until NASA and some scientific studies confirmed recently that plants can indeed filter out some toxins and pollutants in the air.

24 May

15 Ideas for Beautiful Fence Wall Designs

Fences serve many purposes. They can be used to: define borders of your property, keep invading animals away, and serve as privacy screen, architectural element or an extension of your landscape design.

Today we are exploring some interesting experiments with fencing wall designs. These experimental designs reflect potential of using various materials, styles and sizes to turn otherwise ordinary fences  into beautiful design elements.

1. Beautiful use of steel blades to form a nicely patterned, secure and durable fencing wall.

 

2. Very unusual and creative use of acrylic bars to form a nice fence. It does not provide privacy but it surely looks neat and attractive.

 

3. A practical use of bamboos to form a defensive fencing wall that serves it purpose and still looks elegant.

 

4. Use of steel wires and wood to create a beautiful living fence. You can grow your favourite plants along this beautiful and low-cost fence.

 

5. Another creative idea for putting a low-cost yet elegant fence that can be modified to adjust to different heights.

 

6. When security is a concerns, use a taller and sturdy fence wall like this one. It also features a lockable entrance.

 

7. A modern and practical kids-friendly fence wall with a chalkboard.

 

8. A plain yet fence wall design idea for modern urban homes.

 

9. A nice fence design made of birch tree sticks, and recycled metal wires and panels.

 

10. Creative use of steel bars to design an architectural element out of a practical fence.

 

11. Panels of steel sheet also give a simple and rustic design element to fencing wall that nicely integrates with the landscape.

 

12. Another use of metal sheets to design a unique and lovely fence wall that supplements the landscape.

 

13. Consider this ‘peekaboo’ fence that breaks up the monotony and unfriendly looks of a long, boring wooden fence.

 

14. Practical use of metal posts fencing that serves it purpose well and yet confirms with visual continuity between the private property and the open landscape beyond.

15. Even a traditional wooden fence can be made beautiful with sensible use of plantation.

22 May

Top Tips for Gardening in a Small Backyard / Patio

Gardening in a small backyard or patio can be challenging – what plants should you select for all-seasons interest, how should you arrange your plants for best display, and how should you integrate your favorite plants with your day-to-day family activities – this article answers all of these questions.

Also see: Simple & Beautiful Deck Design Projects

What plants should you grow in your small backyard/ patio?

Plants come in many sizes, colors, and textures. And they all have their specific requirements. Because you cannot make major changes to your backyard or patio, you should select plants that can easily integrate in your existing settings – soil type, space, sunlight, and effects of changing seasons.

Small and enclosed spaces tend develop their own microclimate with higher level of moisture and retained heat. Therefore it is important to select plants that are hardy and require less maintenance.

Plants in enclosed backyard or patios are more likely to transfer insects and diseases to other plants. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep a vigilant eye on insects and immediately isolate infected plants.

When buying a plant for your small backyard or patio, carefully consider its growing habits and the room that it would require in coming years. Some plants have columnar growth and do not spread much, some remain solitary but produce heavy foliage, some plants develop clumps and require more space than others, some plants do not attain much height, some shed their leaves in fall, and some are evergreen. Make sure that you plant them in the right place in your backyard or patio. Plants with columnar growth can be used to form a background for plants that attain medium to low height.

Usually low-growing shrubs and bushes make nice plants for small backyards. There are a plenty of flowering shrubs that do not need regular pruning and produce attractive foliage and flowers. Small empty spaces can be cultivated with ground covers.

Mix and match plants for all-season interest. Combine annuals, perennials, small trees, and flowering shrubs. Visit your local garden center and you will find many species with foliage that change colors throughout the year. You can also find interesting accent plants that add architectural interest to your garden.

Top Plants for Growing in a Small Backyard or Patio

  1. Cycas revoluta for interesting and evergreen foliage.
  2. Plumeria, when you need a small tree with lovely and fragrant flowers.
  3. Angel’s Trumpet for stunning and fragrant flowers.
  4. Agaves and Euphorbias for year-round interest.
  5. Bamboos for evergreen foliage.
  6. Canna for nice and colorful foliage.
  7. Mandevilla for nice trailing branches and attractive flowers.
  8. Boxwood for evergreen and hardy foliage.

Top Examples of Small Space Backyard / Patio Gardens

18 May

Ornamental Grass for Containers: Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a popular ornamental grass for growing in containers as well as in garden landscapes. This lovely grass is commonly known as Ribbon Grass because its green leaves and beautifully stripped in contrasting white or cream.

Ornamental grass for containers

Phalaris arundinace ‘Picta’ / Image by F. D. Richards

How to Grow Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ makes a nice choice when you want to cover slopes or empty spaces in your garden landscape. It spreads quick and easily when grown in a sunny spot and provided with moist soil. Therefore it makes a nice ornamental grass when grown around ponds or under shady trees (it grows slowly under shade).

Like most ornamental grasses, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can be easily divided from rhizomes. The best time of the year for planting ribbon grass is spring or fall when you can take out healthy rhizomes from the root zone and plant them in to the ground or containers. If you do not have plenty of space to accommodate this spreading grass, grow it in containers as evergreen ornamental plant. Otherwise invasive, ribbon grass is easy to maintain and control in containers. Usually a 5 gallon container is a good size. When allowed to grow freely in the ground, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can grow up to 3 feet in height and spread from 3 to 4 feet across. Be careful when you are planting ribbon grass with other plants because of its rapid spreading and sometimes invasive root system.

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a low-maintenance grass. It is generally a pest-free grass that requires regular watering and light pruning in midsummer to encourage fresh growth.

03 May

Gardening by the Poolside – Practical Tips

Gardening by the side of an outdoor pool not only adds life and serenity to the environment but also gives you many option to introduce privacy, shade, and seasonal interest to the landscape. Today’s posts gives some handy tips on gardening by the poolside.

  1. Select low-maintenance, evergreen plants. They do not shed a lot of leaves. Deciduous plants shed a lot of leaves that clog filters.
  2. When space is not an issue, grow plants at least 4 to 5 feet from the pool to keep debris and soil from contaminating the pool.
  3. Pools create a micro environment – moist and humid. Carefully consider plants that can easily adjust to this type of climate.
  4. Mix and match small trees, shrubs, ground covers, and seasonal bloomers to design a balanced landscape by the poolside.
  5. Small trees are best for creating some shady spots where as shrubs and bushes can be planted for introducing interesting foliage and texture.
  6. Use bushes or small trees to create privacy screens.
  7. Creepers and ground covers are helpful in filling empty spaces and keeping debris and soil from washing away with rainwater.
  8. Some succulents make nice accent plants and can be easily incorporated in your landscape design. Most of them are low on maintenance and last long.
  9. Use ornamental grasses. There are many ornamental grasses that can grow to short and medium height and add delicate, feathery texture to the landscape. See examples of landscaping with ornamental grasses.
  10. Use pergolas, and trellises, oversized planters to introduce artistic element and structural depth to the environment. See examples of modern trellis designs.

Besides a long list of plants to grow by the poolside, here is a list of some unusual and interesting plants that you should consider:

Shrubs & Bushes to grow along the poolside

  • Kalanchoe beharensis – hardy and evergreen bush known for its distinct looks and unusual foliage
  • Loropetalum chinense – evergreen shrub with fringe-like flowers that appear in spring and summer.
  • Pelargonium trifidum – low-growing shrub with sprawling branches and brittle stems. The leaves are succulent and aromatic. When provided with proper support of a tree or fence, the plant can grow up to 1 meter.
  • Alluaudia procera – a really striking succulent shrub grown for its ornamental value.
  • Breynia disticha – makes an excellent plant for borders where it grows as a small shrub (up to 4 feet) and produces beautiful foliage of green, white and pink colors.

Small trees to grow by the poolside

  • Schotia brachypetala – low-maintenance small tree with attractive evergreen foliage and large clusters of spring flowers.
  • Amherstia nobilis – though hard to find, this low-maintenance tree produces very attractive and unusual flowers.
  • Brownea coccinea – evergreen plant that grows into a small spreading tree and produces nice foliage and flowers.
  • Nymania capensis – Evergreen shrubby tree known for its beautiful, rose-pink and papery seed pods that look like Chinese paper lantern.

Ornamental grasses to grow by the poolside

Accent plants to grow by the poolside:

Examples of Gardening by the Poolside

01 May

Lovely Accent Tree for Cold Climates: Larix decidua ‘Pendula’

Larix decidua 'Pendula'

Larix decidua ‘Pendula’/ Image by Kurt Andreas

The tree featured today is Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ – an excellent accent tree to grow in for year round interest. Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ or Weeping European larch, as is known commonly, offers many interesting features: soft, fresh green, needle like foliage that turns into golden yellow in autumn, interesting sculptural branch structure in winter when it sheds its foliage, and attractive, exfoliating, and nicely textured bark on the trunk.

Spring is the best time of the year to appreciate the beauty of this lovely tree. It is the time when nice green foliage covers pendulous branches of the tree. The pendulous branches of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ form a nice mound of foliage in cascading fashion. Autumn changes the color of delicate foliage from green to golden yellow making the tree stand out from its neighbors.

Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ grows slowly but eventually makes a nice accent tree. The best time to plant it is spring or fall. Young plants can be started in containers but they would eventually need to be transferred into the ground. The best place to plant Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ in a garden is a sunny spot in a well-drained soil. The tree does not require frequent watering and should be irrigated only when the soil has dried completely. A mature tree of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ can grow up to 12 feet in height.

If you like Larix decidua ‘Pendula’, you should also consider Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’.