18 Nov

5 Steps for Growing Lush Green Lawn from Scratch

There is nothing like a secluded, lush green lawn in your home for summer retreats. However having a grassy green and manicured lawn is not as easy job – it requires good preparation and a lot of patience especially when you are growing it from scratch.  Today, we are featuring a few tips for creating a lush green lawn from scratch.

1. Check the soil

First and the foremost step is to check the pH of soil. Ideally, it should be near 6.5. If the value is lower than 6.5, add lime to the soil before hoeing it.

If you soil is too sandy, add well-rotted garden compost and manures to the soil (check out our tips for improving sandy soil). If you soil has poor drainage, add gypsum and organic matter to improve it.

2. Prepare the Soil

Hoe your soil extensively to make sure that it loose and properly tilled. If you want to install an automatic sprinkler system, this is the right time. Rake the soil tediously to remove rubble, weeds, stones and lumps of soil.

How to Grow Lush Green Lawn from Scratch

Image by Russell James Smith (flickr)

3. Spread Seeds

Once the soil is ready, spread seeds equally and evenly all across your lawn area. It is recommended that you divide the whole quantity (ask your seed supplier for correct quantity of seeds for your lawn area) into two parts. Add sand to each part; it helps spread seeds evenly. Spread the first lot of seeds in one direction, and then the second lot at the right angles to it. Once seeds have been spread, rake them lightly before watering the area. Depending on your budget, you can also lay ‘ready-made’ turf. It established quickly and does not have bare patches.

4. Dampen the Soil

For best results and successful germination, keep the soil moist all the time. If you are staring in warmer months, do not allow the soil to go dry.

5. Pamper Your Lawn

Once seeds have germinated and started covering the ground, spot bare patches and seeds them again until the entire areas has been covered. Occasionally fertilize the soil as poor soil would have more weeds and less healthy grass.

Do not mow your lawn vigorously before the grass has established and the entire area of your lawn is covered properly. Keep regular maintenance and enjoy a lush green lawn for years to come.

05 Nov

Easy to Grow Rockery Plant: Cotyledon ‘Pig’s Ear’

Cotyledon is a genus of wonderful succulent plants for gardens, rockeries, landscape designs or just as ornamental houseplants. These hardy succulents offer a lot of variety to choose from – small pot plants, tall leafy shrubs, evergreen ornamentals, beautiful hanging plants, and miniature plants for window gardens. Cotyledons are known for their fleshy leaves and beautiful flowers that make them stand out in any garden or landscape.

Native to South Africa and parts of Arabian Peninsula, Cotyledon require grow best in temperate and dry climates where they receive just sufficient water to survive. These plants are capable of storing enough water in their succulent leaves to survive spells of drought. Leaves of most species of Cotyledon have powdery surface that helps retain water by preventing evaporation and blocking harsh sunlight.

Cotyledon Orbiculata, Pig's Ear

Cotyledon Orbiculata, Pig's Ear, Image by Mollivan Jon

Cotyledon Orbiculata or Pig’ Ear is the most popular species of this genus which is widely grown by commercial nurseries as ornamental plant. This beautiful plant produces grey-green leaves with red or pink margins in pair. Orange, bell-shaped flowers grow in summer on long stalks.

Cotyledon Orbiculata can be grown in landscapes, rockeries or just as ornamental container plants. It propagates easy from cuttings and requires moderate watering in a well-drained soil. Protect from overwatering.

11 Sep

Lovely Foliage Plant for Gardens and Landscapes: Acanthus

Acanthus is a genus of perennial sub-shrubs that are grown for their ornamental foliage and flowers. They are quite showy plants and can be recognized easily in a landscape for their glossy-green leaves. Originally native to the Mediterranean region, Acanthus has inspired several architectural designs and patterns in the Greek and Roman culture. One can easily recognize and relate several architectural motifs in ancient Roman culture with beautiful foliage of Acanthus. In fact, Roman and Greeks revered this plant and used it as a decorative plant.

Flowers on Acanthus plants are borne along long stalks (up to 2 meters) that stand out in plantation. Flowers are usually white or cream with a hint of purple.

Acanthus Mollis, Ornamental Foliage Plant

Acanthus Mollis, Image by meggle (flickr)

How to Grow Acanthus

Acanthus is easy to grow and maintain. These ornamental perennials are grown best under share or filtered sunlight. Young plants requite regular watering, however, once establish they do not require much attention. Most species of Acanthus have long tap roots making it difficult to root them out. Since these plants are quiet showy and noticeable in size, it is recommended that you do not grow them near low growing plants. Acanthus is best grown as border plants or as background foliage plants in a landscape. These shrubby plants can be propagated from cuttings. Among all species, the most cultivated is Acanthus mollis, which is also known as Bear’s Breeches. Other popular species are: Acanthus spinosus and Acanthus hungaricus.

Acanthus spinousu is recipient of Award of Garden Merit by The Royal Horticultural Society.

05 Jul

How to improve sandy soil organically?

Soil, being the basic component of your garden, determines quality, health and volume of growth you can have in your garden. Hence before you start experimenting with anything else to make your garden lush and thriving, it is a good idea to spend some time and effort to improve your garden soil. The following are a few tips to improve sandy garden soil.

Lush Home Garden

Lush Home Garden, Image from topdesigninterior.com

A sandy, light and granule soil is good for growing a wide range of plants. However, too sandy soil can make your gardening experience a tough job. It drains off moisture very quickly and forms a crusty surface preventing essential moisture from getting down to the roots. If you are living in coastal areas or near mountain range, you probably have a higher proportion of sand in the soil.

Improving sandy soil is not very difficult but it does require a lot of organic portion added to it. You can add well rotted compost and manures to correct the sandy soil. If you are preparing ground for plantation, the best way is to dig the organic matter into the soil several weeks before plantation.

If you already have an established garden with sandy soil, add gradual layers of organic matter as mulch. As a layer breaks down and becomes part of the soil, add a new layer and allow it to break down and become part of the soil. This continuous process may take some time to form a perfect soil however the results are satisfactory – lush and thriving garden.

19 May

Beautiful Betel Nut Palm Tree, Areca Catechu

Areca Catechu also known as betel nut tree or betel palm is a tall, slender and elegant tree that bears strong fragrant flowers and popular betel nut. Originally belonging to Philippines and Malaysia, betel nut palm grows in the long tropical belt of Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Betel Nut Palm Tree, Areca Catechu

Areca Catechu, Image © Bngishak on Flickr

Areca Catechu makes a graceful, tall tree with dark green leaflets. Normally, a betel nut tree gains a height of 20 meters or more (up to 30 meters) with a crown of beautiful trees on a slender trunk of just 45 cm. The grey stem of betel nut tree has ring formations caused by fallen leaves. White flowers are followed by orange drupes commonly known as betel nut (though it is not actually a nut). Dried nuts are used for fragrance and flavor in Paan. It is estimated that about 50,000 tonnes of betel nut are consumed annually for chewing with Paan all over the world. The extract from betel nut is supposed to have digestive and anti-depressant properties but could be addictive and toxic.

How to Grow Betel Nut Tree

Betel nut tree is extremely easy to grow in warmer climates. It requires regular watering (mostly moist soil) and bright sunlight but does not survive colder climates. Areca Catechu grows well as ornamental plant in containers or as indoor or outdoor landscape tree.  As an indoor ornamental plant, Areca Catechu grows slower and requires less water.

03 May

Create Your Garden Design in 5 Minutes

Creating and designing your garden landscape like a professional is just as easy as click-click-click. GardenPuzzle is a smart software application that allows you to design your garden layout before you actually start digging and planting trees and plants. Thus, you can imagine how your actual garden would look like.

GardenPuzzle

You just have to define your climatic conditions and desired layout plan, the application suggests suitable plants and allows you to design your garden with simple mouse clicks. You can download and install GardenPuzzle on your PC as a desktop application or use it online in your web browser for free.

Here is a brief summary of my experience with GardenPuzzle

  1. To get started with your new garden layout, choose scenery (back yard, lawn etc.)
  2. Choose Scenery in GardenPuzzle

    Choose Scenery in GardenPuzzle

  3. Define the type of ground (fertile, dry, acidic etc.) and climatic conditions (your country, state and hardiness zone).
  4. Describe Garden Conditions

    Describe Garden Conditions

  5. Now that you have basic layout of your garden, you are ready to go ahead and start designing your landscape.
  6. Basic Garden Layout

    Basic Garden Layout

  7. Based on your selection, GardenPuzzle would display suitable plants for your climate. You can select from a variety of Conifers, Vines, Perennials, Trees, etc.
  8. Plants in GardenPuzzle

    Plants in GardenPuzzle

  9. Set surface type: Leaves, Grass, Lawn, Brick, Meadow, Planks etc.
  10. Surface Type

    Surface Type

  11. Add bridge, arbor, trellis, fences, garden furniture etc.
  12. Garden Equipment and Furniture

    Garden Equipment and Furniture

  13. Now ‘plant’ trees, vine, shrubs as per your choice. You can filter plants by size (large, small etc.) and type (vines, herbaceous etc.). GardenPuzzle provides complete information on habit and culture of plants that you choose so that you can select appropriate plants for your garden.
  14. Plant Data

    Plant Data

  15. Save your project and see how your garden would actually look like.
  16. Garden Deign with GardenPuzzle

    Garden Deign with GardenPuzzle

Some of the features are not available in free version of GardenPuzzle.

01 May

How to Transfer Plants in Your Garden Landscape in 4 Easy Steps

The worst you can do to your newly purchased plants is rushing ahead and planting them in the ground. Of course, you are keen to see those plants growing in your landscape but this enthusiasm could hurt your plants. Ideally you should prepare both the plants and the ground before you start the job.

Today, I am sharing some of the steps that I follow to transplant my plants into the landscape.

Planning the landscape

Whenever you want to plant trees in your landscape, first make sure that it is suitable for your climatic conditions. Also observer you landscape (garden, lawn etc.) and visualize how the plant would actually look like when it reaches it potential. Imagine how it would grow (some plants have columnar growth, some grow as woody shrubs, some are evergreen and some deciduous).

Imagine how your new plant would accompany others. Make sure that it does not intrude in to adjoining plants or is subdued by its neighbors. Every plant requires some ‘private space’ to grow healthy.

How to Transfer Plants in Landscape

When to buy new plants for the landscape

Do not purchase plants until you are ready to transfer them in the ground. Keeping plants sitting in their containers for a long time could be bad for the plants, especially when you do not have proper space and required environment for those container-bound plants.

Select healthy plants from your nursery and make sure that they are already established in their containers (not transferred from the ground or another container). Also make sure that the plant is suitable for your climate, lighting and soil conditions.

The day before the job

Water the ground thoroughly the day before planting to make sure that the soil is a little damp. Also water the plant thoroughly to make the transplanting easy for you and the plant.

The best time to transplant is early morning or later afternoon. Do not transplant in the heat of the day, especially in summer.

How to transplant them in the ground

Dig a hole that is at least twice the size of the container of the plant. Add some rotted compost as base for the plant. Also add some organic fertilizer and cover it with a layer of soil. This would make a perfect mixture for the plant to establish and grow roots.

Take care while removing the plant from its container. Be gentle and avoid damaging roots of the plant. Some old container-bound plants are hard to remove from their containers and you might have to cut or break the container. Root-bound plants are hard to remove from their containers. Keep this point in mind when purchasing plants for your landscape.

After the plant has been positioned in its new place, fill the hole with soil and rotted compost. Do not pack the soil in hard neither keep it too lean to support the plant. Some plants might require additional support, provide them with stakes.

Lastly, water the plant and well and try to keep the soil moist until the plant has established itself in its new place.

Native plants do not usually resist transplanting, however exotic plant might be sensitive to transplant and not bear the shock. Make sure you understand all the requirements of such plants.

17 Dec

10 Amazing Examples of Espalier – Tree Art

Espalier is art of pruning and training trees or shrubs usually against a wall or trellis to form symmetrical and flat geometric shapes.  Training trees into flat, two-dimensional shapes has more value than just decoration of walls and gardens. Espaliered trees are perfect for lawn and gardens with limited space. When grown against walls, they reflect sunlight and protect the wall from heat waves.

There are a number of techniques and methods to train and transform shapes in to flat espaliers. With a little practice, you can craft interesting shapes out of your shrubs and trees. Get started with some simple espalier techniques given here.

Here are a 10 amazing examples of espaliered trees for your inspiration.

Espalier plants

Image via willowbrookpark.blogspot.com

Espalier Art

Image via apartmenttherapy.com

Espalier tree

Image by Marie Richie

Espaliler Fruit Tree

Image by Graham Bould

Espalier

Image via frogview.com

Espalier formation

Image by Mike

Espalier Apple Tree

Image via ubcbotanicalgarden.org

Flowering Espalier Tree

Image via giverny-impression.com

Espalier form

Image via pleach.org

Beautiful Espaliered Tree

Image via frogview.com

If you need further information on designing and caring for espaliers, I would highly recommend Karl Pieber’s book: Espalier Fruit Trees for Wall, Hedge and Pergola.

26 Nov

3D Modeling Tool for Landscape Designers

Today, I came across Google SketchUp, a free 3D modeling tool for architects, landscape designers and gardeners. Google SketchUp is quite simple to use and does not require specialized training as you need for major CAD based 3D modeling software. SketchUp is a handy tool for converting your creative ideas into virtual reality. It allows you to design interesting landscapes in a 3D environment quickly and intuitively – thus you can create, revise, improve and experiment with landscape designs in a paperless environment. That means, you save a lot of time, effort and of course, paper that comes from tress.

With Google SketchUp, you can also ‘preview’ your landscape design and imagine how it would actually look before making actual changes to your landscape or purchasing plants for your landscape garden.

The basic version of Google SketchUp is free and provides a reasonable set of functionalities. You can also purchased Google SketchUp Pro for advance options. For details, see http://sketchup.google.com.

Here are a few examples of landscape designs made using Google SketchUp.

home landscape design

By Susan Schlenger - landscape-design-advice.com

house landscape trees

By Stuart Mayhew - www.landesign.com.au

ideas for landscape design

By Stuart Mayhew - www.landesign.com.au

landscape design example

By Trent Biltoft - www.pentastudio-ny.com

landscape design example

By Trent Biltoft - www.pentastudio-ny.com

landscape idea

By Stuart Mayhew - www.landesign.com.au

residential landscapes

By Stuart Mayhew - www.landesign.com.au

See more examples in Google SketchUp Gallery.

12 Nov

25 Examples of Amazing Topiary Art

Topiary is the art of clipping and pruning twigs and foliage and craft different shapes such as geometrical shapes, fanciful hedges and corporate logos. Topiary has been in practice since the days of the Romans who introduced well crafted design elements in their gardens. Topiary is still popular around the world and there are a number of famous gardens dedicated to the art of topiary. Topiaries can also be used in small lawn to create interesting hedges, dividers or shapes.

Plants  used for designing topiary are usually evergreen and woody shrubs or small trees that produce dense foliage. Some of the suitable plants for topiary include: English Ivy, Ficus Pumila, Rosemary, Thyme, Boxwood, Cypress, and almost all yews and hollies.

Examples of Topiary Art

The following is a collection of some amazing topiary art produced around the world. All images are subject to copyrights of their respective owners.

animals topiary

Elephant Family Topiary

topiary towers

Towers

topiary wall

Topiary Wall

Topiary F1 Racer

Formula 1 Racer

animal topiary

The Peacock

topiary ivy heart

Topiary Heart

topiary sculpture

Topiary Sculpture

topiary gardener

The Gardener

topiary logo

YES Logo

topiary lion

Topiary Lion

topiary happy man

Happy Man

topiary hand

Topiary Hand

topiary balls

Balls

topiary palace

The Palace

topiary gardener

The Gardener

topiary garden

Topiary Garden

topiary disney

Disney World

topiary character

The Face

topiary car

Lee Car

topiary bus

Flowers on Wheels

topiary bull

The Bull

topiary places

Maize

topiary animal

Elephant Family Topiary

topiary clouds

Clouds

topiary hedge

Hedge