Summer is something we all want a little more of. When it comes to spending as much time outside as we want, often just a splash of rain makes us feel like the car just isn’t up to service and we have to stay in. Getting out of this habit is hard to do when the wind is swirling outside and there’s far too much damp in the air! Yet, there’s no better place to try out your natural ambitions than your garden.
Just because we’re still in winter doesn’t mean we can’t be dreaming of those summer rays, ice creams in the mid afternoon, lounging at lunchtime, and most importantly: how our garden is going to look. And this has plenty of advantages to it! When it comes to hobbies, gardening is one of the most healthy ones to take up, as you’re outside often and getting your hands dirty, meaning you’re never going to be still. Sounds perfect for that summer feeling already, doesn’t it?
Imagine all the parties you could host, the family barbecues, the scavenger hunts that can get the kids interested… So if you’re wishing more vegetables, fruits, and flowers on yourself, here’s some things to be done. Take a few hours out on a sunny day to try out a few of these tips; your landscape will thank you for it!
The General Upkeep of Rules
When you have a garden space to work with, you need it to be practical and pretty at the same time. You can do that easily with a few considerations to start off with.
Make sure any paths you have are wide enough to walk down, and keep any overgrown plants trimmed back from disturbing the walkers. Similarly, if you have an outside space that isn’t equal in its height considerations, make sure you put some steps in that ascend in a way that isn’t impossible to get the leg reach for! You want people to easily stand up and stay standing when they’re spending an afternoon in your space, so make it practical to stroll around without losing your breath, and don’t go too wild without any direction to work with!
Summer-y Flowers You Can Plant in Winter
To start off your summer paradise garden, it’s time to include a little bit of the feeling of summer nostalgia into what you’re currently working with. And don’t worry, there’s plenty! Winter is a time in which you can cultivate plenty of plant life, but often people don’t understand that. Of course you can wait until spring to try and open up your bedding options a little more, but you might as well paint yourself a pretty picture now with a few seeds from the gardening center.
Yet, there’s a lot of color you can inject into an otherwise frozen landscape with some hardy flowers and a bit of the right soil. Something like Pansies will be a much welcome addition to your pots and boxes, and they can be planted anywhere you think could use them. They also flower a lot longer than any other kind of winter flower, all the way into the spring!
You could also try out some Primrose flowers, as they no longer tend to just flower during the spring. Plant them now and you’ve got plenty of new colors and scents to explore when you’re outside; or you could even just seed some in your window box to have a lighter and brighter conservatory.
Use Symmetry to Your Advantage
This is one of the most basic principles of landscaping, but it’s often something people miss out on when they’re designing their garden. Nature itself has a lot of symmetry to it, and by recreating that in our own plans, we can make our gardens look a lot more balanced. So always strive to have mirroring to your space, but make sure you still plant the things you want to see!
Try duplicating any moves you make on each side of a garden, and particularly surrounding walls or pathways. Yet, you don’t always have to have the same plants or objects on either side of the area, just similar looking plants and flowers to keep the space similarly occupied. So it’s really no bother if you can’t pick up another version of that brown clay pot from the shop that was on a reduced to clear sale!
Humans tend to like order around them, but this can be created in any way you can think of. The same kind of plants on either side? The same colors? Trees to frame the two back corners of the fence? Whatever you’re working with, try to keep it balanced.
Create an Area to Socialize
When you’re outside in the garden, you’re going to want a place that’s warm and dry to stand in, with something firm and non muddy underneath you. This is where you can set up a table with a parasol to hide from the sun under, enjoying crisp drinks and your food uninterrupted by bees and wasps.
One of the best ways to do this is to build a deck, as they’re easy to keep clean and protect from the weather. Get some decking builders in your backyard to have a professional job made of your reclining area, and it can even be cheaper due to the amount of experience in working with the materials!
Based on the space you’re working with you can even create a split level, with your socializing area beneath the rest of the garden in the shade and away from the harshest weathers. It means your plant materials won’t get as disturbed by all the people dancing back and forth across your space!
Got a Smaller Garden?
When it comes to having a small garden, you’re going to have to depend on minimizing everything you want to plant in your space. You’re not going to have any breathing room, nevermind the kids having a place to play otherwise! However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make as good use of the area compared to people with bigger gardens.
Smaller gardens need to make much more use of the sun, as this dictates where your plants should go and only go. The rest of the space can be used for that brickwork you’ve been meaning to lay down since you moved in, or the greenest lawn you’ve ever seen in your life.
Even if you only have a window box or a small greenhouse to your name, it can still be the prettiest sight you’ve ever seen in your life! If you have a bit more space than the window pane to your name, you can repurpose a garden pallet into a planter for your herbs of multiple types. Stick some blackboard sheets on the front and you can chalk the different names in and out whenever you use up a certain seed.
Don’t Forget the Front Garden!
When it comes to having curb appeal, this is where you could shine! Of course, seeing as we’re still in winter now, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do, but in fact there’s plenty of planning to be done. And this is also a place where symmetry really comes into its own!
Plant some flowers, or wall climbing plants either side of the door to frame it, and make sure they’re equally balanced on either side. Keep the path to your door central, and try not to pave anything around it (it’s just a lot more upkeep at the end of the day!). You can easily fill in the rest of the space with stones or shingle material, which can still be easily walked on and become a place to park the car.
Depending on where you live, there might be a general theme amongst front gardens, so make sure you’re workin within that as well. If your neighborhood is firmly balanced into the green side of things, get some nice hedges or spiralling bushes to frame the front of your house. Or if there’s little plant life amongst you, place some pots down with subtle colors in them onto the rest of the paving. Your front garden is your area to shine, so take care of it!
It’s Your Space to Work with!
Your summer paradise is right around the corner if you want it bad enough! Do whatever you want with your garden, and add a little harmony to your space by incorporating some of the tips above. You can even rope the kids in to having some fun playing in the mud in the backyard, and include their ideas within the bulk of your gardening plans.
On the other hand, you could go completely wild with your space and design it however you want to. Or maybe not even at all! Creativity comes in many forms, and there’s no better adventure than digging your way through overgrown plants to find that one dog toy you lost months ago.
Preparing Your Garden for Winter, How to Do It Like A Pro
Preparing garden for winter is important if you don’t want to have Herculean gardening tasks when spring comes. After abundant activities your garden has been through from summer, there will be so much left to do to tidy up.
This article covers all the necessary gardening steps before winter sets in. The steps are simple so you don’t have to be a professional gardener to follow.
How to Prepare Your Garden for The Winter
#1 Clean up your Garden
Uproot all dead and dried plants. Leaving the dead plants will harbor disease-causing organisms. Slugs and snails will feast on a dead organic matter; they will damage your seedlings when they proliferate.
Remove all weeds. The weeds have the ability to seed rapidly during winter. When spring comes, you’ll be surprised with a hundred weeds if you don’t remove them now.
Rake all the scattered leaves and store it. These leaves can be used for mulch or compost. You won’t have a supply of dried leaves in winter so take advantage of the fallen leaves.
Do not add diseased leaves and plants to your compost because they will spread the diseases to the soil and to other plants. Let them be collected by the municipal garbage collector or you can burn them.
Do not remove all plants. Leave a few to provide shelter and food for overwintering birds and beneficial insects. Plants with large flowers like purple coneflowers, sunflowers, and zinnias are ideal for butterflies and bees. Echinacea and Rudbeckia are great for bird food.
#2. Protect garden beds using cover crops
When you leave your soil bare during winter, you are endangering it from erosion and loss of nutrients. You can protect the soil by planting cover crops.
Planting cover crops before winter will improve soil fertility. It will also protect your garden from cool-season weeds and prevent soil erosion. All of these will ensure that you have the best seedbed when spring comes.
Examples of cover crops that survive the winter are winter wheat, hairy vetch, crimson clover, and winter rye. For northern states, winter rye and hairy vetch are ideal.
#3. Repair greenhouses
It is important to repair greenhouses and other structures in your garden before winter sets in. If you fail to fix problems before it snows, it will become worse.
Replace any broken parts. Check that hinges are working well. Pour oil on all moving metal parts.
#4. Add compost and mulch
Remove the old mulch from your garden beds. After the beds are clean, add 1-2 inches of compost. Then top it up with a thin layer of mulch.
The mulch will prevent weeds from growing. It will also disintegrate throughout the winter to add nutrients to your soil so they’re ready for planting when spring comes.
#5. Prune perennials
Perennials like Bearded Iris, Blackberry Lily, and Columbine are best pruned before winter so that new leaves can sprout out better after the cold season. These plants don’t handle snow well. They’ll thrive better without their leaves during winter.
#6. Clean and oil your tools
Your tools have done hard work during summer. Before storing them, it is important to clean and oil them so they’ll be ready for garden work when winter is over.
Never store your tools wet. This will cause the tools to rust and will lessen the life of your tools. Wash the tools to remove soil and other debris then thoroughly wipe them dry.
Even when they’re clean, metal tools are still prone to rust. To protect your tools from rust, wipe them with oil using a cloth. Apply a thin coating of oil on all the metal surfaces of your tools.
#7. Wrap Up
Fall is not a time to relax from your garden work. Though the labor is not as tedious during summer, you still have to do them to ensure that your garden is in its best condition for the next planting season.
Preparing your garden for winter is all about cleaning up but leaving necessary plants for beneficial insects to survive. Protective measures for your soil, gardening equipment, and tools are also important to settle before winter.
Did you find this tutorial useful? Let me know what you think in the comment section.
Image via Pixabay
There are few pastimes as potentially rewarding as gardening. No matter what’s happening in the world at large socially, politically, or culturally, humans will always love getting out into nature and making things grow as they always have.
No war and no fashion trend has ever been powerful enough to stamp out the basic appreciation of spending time cultivating green, growing things.
Here’s a look at some of the ways in which gardening can boost your health and wellbeing starting today.
It’s hardly a secret that most people just don’t get enough exercise. With the growing prevalence of severe health issues related to sedentary living, from obesity to diabetes and cardiovascular disorders of various types, it’s more important now than ever before to find ways of squeezing exercise into our daily routines.
Gardening is a fantastic way of getting that exercise, as it can be as much or as little of a workout as you’d like. For someone who still has a long way to go with their fitness, they can take their time and pace themselves while mowing the lawn and clearing patches of land at once, with regular breaks to enjoy the sun and fresh air. You could even lighten your load further by picking up one of Mark’s top 5 picks for leaf-blowers.
For the fitter gardener, any number of sweaty and high-effort projects can be taken up on short notice.
A shocking number of people today are deficient in vitamin D, which should hardly come as a surprise when you consider the fact that we humans get the vast majority of our vitamin D from exposure to the sun.
With people sitting in front of TVs for their leisure, and in front of computers for their work, any moments which we can grab which put us out in the sun are to be cherished. Needless to say, avoid getting burned, but don’t shy away from any UV exposure. Believe it or not, your body needs it.
Vitamin D is essential for proper hormone production and bodily function, and getting it from a pill isn’t as effective as getting it from the sun.
Satisfaction and wellbeing
The average office worker in the 21st Century rarely ever sees the fruits of his labour or has a real motivation to feel proud at the end of a busy day. Where, once upon a time, businesses were smaller and more direct, and life was unmediated in many of the ways it is today, our current situation finds us operating as cogs in vast machines we can barely comprehend the complexity of.
Gardening allows us to work directly on something we will see the benefits of. When you plant a seed and nurture it, you will have the satisfaction of seeing something grow up from the soil.
There’s a primal joy in nurturing growing things and seeing them develop. It’s a timeless and simple joy which can add immense satisfaction and wellbeing to our lives.
Gardening is a window to a simpler and more holistic aspect of life; one which we seldom get the chance to encounter.
Tips for Looking After Your Lawn Naturally
When it comes to the outdoor areas of our home, there is often a focus on organic gardening and on using natural, repurposed, and sustainable materials to dress up or entertain in spaces. However, it is important to remember that lawns always need to be taken care of, too. After all, your lawn is likely one of the largest components of your back and/or front yard, and needs to have attention lavished on it just like you would on your flowers, shrubs, and trees. If it is time for you to get your lawn looking its best, read on for some top tips you can follow today to care for it naturally.
One of the prime ways to get your lawn looking lush is to feed it. Like any other living organisms, grass does better when it receives nutrient boosts. When you mow your lawn, you typically end up removing key nutrients in the process, so it is important to replace them if you want to see good growth.
It is recommended to add fertilizer to your lawn at least once a year, although it is best to use in both spring and autumn (and other times as you think it is required). If you want to stick to a natural regime though, try to steer clear of chemical-filled feed, particularly because so much of it can end up not just in your yard but also running off into rivers, lakes, oceans, and groundwater.
There are numerous types of lawn fertilizers you can choose from. If you want to reuse elements you already have in your yard, consider leaving some clippings on your lawn occasionally, or spreading some of your compost around. It is often best to choose an organic lawn fertilizer for optimum lawn care, because that way you will know your grass is getting all the essential nutrients it needs. For example, make sure any product you purchase contains ingredients like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous.
Before you buy or spread around any fertilizing agents though, make sure you read the labels. The amounts you need to use can vary quite substantially from product to product, plus there are also products which are best suited to particular types of grasses. The amount you need to put on your lawn will also be affected by the quality of the underlying soil in your yard, so it pays to test this.
Another prime way to care for your lawn is to mow it regularly. Even in times where your grass isn’t growing particularly quick, it is still good to trim it back as this can help to thicken it up. You will find that mowing often, but only taking off a small amount of grass at a time, is the best option to help your lawn thrive.
This is especially true of the hot months of summer when leaving some more length on the blades can help the grass to withstand dry periods. During winter, you can crop off more because this will give more sunlight the chance to get down to the crown of the grass, but remember never to cut off more than a third of the length in any one mow.
Raking and Aeration
Another job that lots of people don’t complete enough is raking up fallen leaves and other debris that’s covering the lawn. This is particularly important during and after fall, when you can end up with leaves everywhere. Your grass will thank you for getting rid of this covering since it can actually be smothered by leaves when they get wet and stick together to form a mat. This occurrence not only makes it hard for water, fertilizer, and sunlight to get through, but also makes the spread of disease around your lawn more likely.
Aeration is also a key task and is best done at least once, if not more, every year. When you aerate your lawn, you punch holes into the soil underneath the grass and extract out the plugs of dirt. This allows more oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach down to the roots of your lawn.
While you are no doubt conscious of wasting water, it is necessary to help your lawn to hydrate throughout the year, particularly during times when it hasn’t rained for quite a while, and/or when your location has been experiencing very high temperatures.
To decide if it is time to do some watering or not, take a close look at the grass around your yard. If you can see some blades wilting or starting to curl up, this will likely mean the soil is drying out. As well, if you notice your lawn has taken on a bit of a blue-gray tint, this is another sign it’s parched.
Green living is really great fun in principle. You get to save money, save the environment and save your health. But in reality, our modern lifestyles and homes simply don’t make it easy. There are too many obstacles to overcome, and few of us ever really get started. Even fewer of us make any substantial changes that we could reap a lot of benefits from. But if you are determined to start growing some of your own food, there are a few essential checks you need to make first.
The first thing you need is the time that you can commit to the effort. Food doesn’t get any fresher than when it is plucked from your own garden moments before cooking. But that’s not what takes the time. What costs you dearly is the maintenance of your vegetable patch. The digging, weeding, and endless battle with pests is often too much to invest in. This is a pity because the health benefits here are enormous.
This pic is from Pexels
Why not get your kids involved? If this became part of your quality time with the children, then you’re not trying to free up any more elsewhere. Children love digging about in the dirt, and they especially enjoy the idea of carrots and potatoes growing under their feet. If you’re growing organic, then there are no harmful chemicals to worry about in the soil. Encourage them to wash their hands regularly at the tap to stay safe.
Unfortunately, it is so easy to make a mistake with organic growing. You might not be able to certify your home plots as organic, but you do at least want peace of mind there is not likely to be contaminants there. The best way to approach this is to use professional companies like Chem-Free Pest & Lawn to manage your garden for you. This keeps things organic and still keeps pests at bay with a preventative plan in place.
If the rest of your garden is organic, then little is around you that might contaminate your veggie plot or pots. It’s safer for the kids when they play too. And having someone come in to look after your garden, gives you more time to enjoy the benefits!
This pic is from Pexels
Not every garden gets enough of the basics. The basics for growth are water, sunlight, and warmth. The problem is that the weather systems of late tend to deliver too much of sum and not enough of others! You can control the environment in which you grow your produce by using a greenhouse. This also controls the weeds, the pests, and prevents contaminants. If you’re keen to become a food grower, this might be the best option to help you succeed.
Growing your own food isn’t impossible if you’re prepared and ready for it. You might buy some extra equipment, and you might need to approach it as another part of your household routine. Of course, the rewards are enormous for you and all the family. What will you grow?
This is a collaborative post with Yourorganicchild.com
Just like the vast majority of parents out there, you probably like letting your kids out into the garden as much as possible. The fresh air, space, and being close to nature are all beautiful things that can help your little ones thrive, after all. However, is your garden actually as safe as you think it is? Some significant dangers are lurking in every backyard in the country, and unless you are making regular safety checks, it can be easy to miss the most obvious things. Let’s take a look at the garden dangers you need to be watching out for.
Bacteria isn’t just restricted to the inside of your home – there’s plenty outside, too. Legionellosis bacteria, for example, can be deadly and can occur in any place in your garden that is damp, such as decorative fountains, water features, hot tubs and even potted, watered plants. The scary thing about this nasty bacteria is that you don’t even have to get wet – you and your family could end up breathing it in via microscopic water droplets that float in the air. It’s worth getting any source of water tested once in awhile by a professional – experts suggest at least every couple of years.
There are other inherent dangers with water features in your garden, too. Drowning is, unfortunately, a lot more common than you might think, so if you have a hot tub or pool, find out more about pool covers and try and find the best one for your garden that ensures your kid’s safety. Consider your ponds, too – perhaps fit a grate over them until your little ones are old enough to take care of themselves.
We all love the idea of having trees in our garden, and the kids will love them too – especially if they can climb them. However, you need to keep a close eye on the health of your trees. They can fall a lot more often than you might think, and if they catch a disease, they can often get weak – starting with the branches. And if your children are climbing, even the nursery rhymes know what happens when the little bough breaks.
I’ve written before about the dangers of sandboxes, and you might be surprised to hear about their problems. Most play sand contains materials such as crystalline silica, which can cause an incredibly dangerous and incurable lung condition called silicosis. Play sand also contains a substance called asbestos tremolite, which, as you can probably work out, can lead to asbestos-caused lung cancer. No one wants this for their kids, of course, so when buying play sand be very careful about its ingredients.
We all want our children to experience wildlife close up, but we should also be careful about educating them about the dangers. Bees, wasps, and some types of flies can all cause nasty stings, of course. But depending on where you live, you might encounter everything from venomous snakes through to bears in your backyard – would your child know what to do in an event like this?
So, let everyone know – what dangers do YOU have in your garden?