Garden Designs Tips

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How can I make my garden eco-friendly?

Wildflowers for the Garden

In an era of growing sensitivity to environmental challenges, wildflowers can play an important role in the garden.

Wildflowers have a bad reputation because they compete with the gardener’s chosen flowers. Often, wildflowers compete so well because they are better suited to the environment than the flowers purchased from a nursery. Does it really make sense to raise cardinal flowers in an arid climate? Does it make sense to plant azaleas in clay soil? Sure, it can be done, by wasting water and wasting money on soil amendments. But doesn’t it make more sense to work with Mother Nature?

There is no shortage of lovely indigenous wildflowers that can be assets in the garden. One man’s weed is another man’s cultivar. In the United States, for example, goldenrod is often dismissed as a junk plant, growing amidst the untended brush. But that North American native is highly regarded in Europe, where it often sells for stiff prices in nurseries.

When planning your next flower garden, consider including -- intentionally -- a few wildflowers. Consider coneflowers for sunny spots, wood asters and native ferns for heavy shade, California poppies for drought-prone, low-nutrient soil. To get ideas about what wildflowers will work in your area, simply be observant. If yarrow is thriving along roadsides in your neighborhood, the odds are that it will do well in your garden, too.

Think outside the box. And you may just spend more time appreciating your garden and less time struggling to keep it alive.


Reduce Your Lawn

Grass requires a lot of care in order to look good. It requires fertilizer, weed control products, lots of water, and frequent mowing, making it one of the most high-maintenance items in a yard.

To make your home (environmentally) greener, eliminate some or all grass. In its place, try planting low-growing herbs, a wildflower meadow, or an edible garden (more on that later). Another option is to replace your grass with a water feature or woodland landscape.

Depending on how your lawn was cared for in the past, you might want to used raised beds or heavily amend the soil. Don't forget that plants take up whatever's in the soil.

What is a monochromatic color design?

Monochromatic Color Design In Flower Gardens

A monochromatic color design in flower gardens is when you choose a single color and all of the flowers you plant are in that single color line. For instance, if you choose blue, to have a monochromatic color design you would choose flowers that range from light pastel blues to shades of navy blues, to intense dark blues.

What plants are good for color contrast?

Plants with Silver Foliage Add Color Contrast

If you are using lots of dark, glossy green foliage in your garden, tuck in some silvery lambs ears, silver mound artemesia and dusty miller for dramatic color contrast. Silver foliage brightens flower blossoms and is an ideal accent color for green foliage.

How can I have a small pond on my patio?

A Pond for Small Places

Are you looking for a way to add a small pond to your patio? Wine barrels are an easy way to create small water features. Simply insert a rubber liner into a half barrel, with a one inch overlap at the rim. Drill a hole near the barrel's rim for overflow. Place bricks or other flat rocks in the pond for plants to rest on. Add water lilies and sweet iris for color and oxygenation. The exterior of the pond can be painted any color, using good marine paint. Voila! You have an instant pond that is ideal for small places.

What should I include in my Feng-Shui garden?

Elements of Feng Shui

The successful feng shui garden has a sense of balance to it. There should be reflective surfaces, such as a pond or gazing ball and wandering paths should flow from one area to the next. Doorways, such as arching trees, pillars, or a gate, should invite visitors into different parts of the garden.

What is a good companion plant for hostas?

Companion plants for hosta

The big, rounded leaves of the hosta plant look wonderful with quite a few other plants. Some of the best companion plants for hosta are tulips, yucca, lilies, ferns and daisies.

How can I spice up my late summer garden?

Adding Color to Your Summer Garden

During late August, most summer gardens are brown and dull looking. However, with a little effort, you can help your gardens beat the summer blahs. To keep your summer gardens in bloom, you should:

1. Plant fall blooming perennials like mums and asters. Many of these plants will start blooming a bit early.

2. Cut back summer blooming perennials to encourage them to bloom a second time in late summer.

3. Start some of your favorite summer blooming annuals a few weeks later than normal so they are still blooming in August.

How much humidity do Bonsai require?

Humidity for Bonsai

To do well indoors, bonsai plants need a high humidity level. To increase humidity for your bonsai, simply set the pots on pebbles in water filled trays. The evaporating water will help keep the humidity level high. To pelp conserve moisture, use moss as mulch in your bonsai containers.

What can I do with that boggy corner in my yard?

Bog Garden

If you have a really wet, slow draining area in your garden, don't fight it, use it! Sink a pond liner into the wettest area, puncturing a few holes around the perimeter for draining. As the liner naturally fills with excess water, you can plant it with bog loving plants, such as the pitcher plant and elephant ears.

What can I use as a border planting?

Use Dianthus for Border Planting

Are you looking for some great perennials for border planting? Dianthus are really sensational border plants. Even when they aren't blooming, their ruffly silver-green foliage is striking. Their low growing habit makes them ideal for use at the front of the garden bed.

Should I recycle my algae?

Recycled Algae?

When you clean out your pond, don't throw that icky green algae away. Instead, recycle it into your garden. Algae contains essential minerals and nutrients that will really enrich your soil.

Can you give me tips on an interesting vine for my porch?

Vines for Porches

A vine can really help soften the sharp angles of a porch. However, not all vines are safe for porches. Vigorous growers can sometimes damage your home's structure. Even slower growing vines can cause some problems, so keep a close eye on any vine that grows on your home.

Try passiflora cerulea, or passion flower, over the porch railing or scrambling up a trellis. This plant has brilliant blue, cream and violet coloration against gorgeous green leaves and is easy to care for. Other good choices are akebia and clematis vines.

How do I pick the best site for a pond?

Siting a Pond

A garden pond or water garden needs some sun for blooming plants to look their best. However, siting ponds in full sun is asking for algae problems. The ideal site for a pond is a location that receives between four and six hours of direct sunlight. Also, if the site is a low-lying area, you may have to raise the edges to prevent run-off from flooding your pond.

What is a good contrast plant for Japanese anemones?

Contrast Plants for Japanese Anemones

Japanese anemones have attractive blossoms, but they can be a bit gangly. Contrast plants that help hide the anemone stems work best. Hosta, silver mound artemesia, ferns and grasses are some great contrast plants.

What color palette is effective for my garden?

The Monochromatic Garden

One of the most effective garden types is the monochromatic garden. Using different shades of a single color can really look striking. Try an all blue, red or yellow color palette. For contrast, try adding non-blooming plants with silver or white foliage to the planting beds. These foliage plants don't take away from the overall impact. Instead, they actually enhance the single colors, making them clearer and more intense!

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Sheri Ann Richerson
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