Thinking Ahead: Start a Compost Pile Now

By: admin | Posted on: Oct/11/2016

Smart gardeners can emulate farmers by thinking several seasons ahead. With fall upon us, leaves plentiful in many of our yards, and creating a compost pile is easy to do. More importantly, it’s something your garden will love come spring!


front-compost-pileHere’s what you need to have to get started:


1. A plot of ground at about 4 feet by 4 feet. You need enough space for the pile to develop its own heat and break down the materials over time. A separate canister is not necessary.


2. Dried leaves. Chop them up with a lawnmower first and be sure you have most of the larger twigs or other materials out of the pile. If you don’t have enough leaves from your own yard, you can use straw or even shredded newspaper.


3. Organic material such as livestock manure. You can get this at your local farm supply store or garden center. You can also add in your own other organic materials, such as: fruit and vegetable peels or scraps, used coffee grounds and filters, and eggshells.


Now you’re ready. Mix together about 30-parts leaves with 1-part of the organic material, alternating in layers on your compost pile.


As you build the pile wet it with the garden hose so that the texture of the mixture is about the consistency of a damp sponge.


You will have to turn the pile in three weeks time. This makes for a great outdoor workout on a cool fall day, and provides the aeration for the compost. Wait 3 more weeks and then turn the pile over again.


Before you have a first hard freeze, cover the pile with a thick layer of straw or an old tarp, weighted with stones or bricks.


Then when spring comes, you’ll have your own compost made from the decomposed material ready to add to your vegetable or flower gardens. Feeding your plants with natural compost is easy to do, saves money and gives you a head start on your planting season. Posted by Jean Widner.

The Top 5 Considerations in Hiring a Landscape Designer

By: admin | Posted on: Oct/03/2016

If you’re looking to work with a professional landscape designer for a major overhaul of your home or yard, there are some key considerations to discuss in advance before agreeing to a plan. Here are the top five details to settle before work begins.

1. Lifestyle

Take an honest look at your lifestyle now and for at least the near future. Are you just beginning your family, or have the kids grown and gone and you’re now thinking about downsizing? Consider how much you like to use the space to entertain and how you will use the space year-round. Lastly and most importantly, be honest about the amount of maintenance you’re willing to do. Once you have this picture clearly in mind, be sure you list this out and communicate these goals to your landscape designer.

2. Think Green

As organic gardening becomes more popular and even necessary, your designer should be knowledgeable and able to guide you on options for your lawn, including even false turf if you’re a grass lover or have pets. Also be sure you think about possible water saving features as many parts of the country have long-term issues around this problem.

3. Go Native

Your landscaper should be able to give you good advice on working with native flowers, shrubs and trees. Keep in mind the long-terms needs for soil regeneration and an organic focus on managing pests using integrated methods. A great many plant selections can complement each other toward those goals.

4. Hardscape

The landscape design should always begin first with the hardscape installation, as this is how your yard connects to your home. Be sure you talk through with your designer all of the walls, ponds, patios or decks in detail. Be sure you have good flow throughout the whole yard area with paths, and ample accommodation for proper water drainage and any retaining walls. Lastly, be sure you can envision your personality in the yard with room to accent it with outdoor furniture, fountains and other accents to give it character that’s meaningful for you.


5. Investment

Your budget needs to be realistic with your end goals. Again, think not just about the immediate work that needs to be done. What other maintenance costs will there be? In choosing your plants, water features, ponds or other elements, think about how will things look five or ten years from now. Before any work begins, your designer should provide you with a written estimate. Be sure this includes all specific details of the work to be done and reasonable time-lines for completion. 


Hiring the right landscape designer is a big decision. Making sure that all of the above clearly agreed to will insure you have a successful landscaping project that improves the value of your properly and gives you and your family a place to enjoy for years to come. Posted by Jean Widner.









Create spectacular fall color with mums

By: admin | Posted on: Sep/27/2016





The autumn season marks the wonderful change in foliage colors! It also often marks the loss of your beautiful spring and summertime flowers. This should not discourage you from adding exciting color to your garden setting, in fact, fall flowers offer beautiful colors as well, the most popular fall flower, of course, is the chrysanthemum, often called the “mum”. These plants are relatively low maintenance, drought resistant, disease and pest resistant and easy to grow!


Mums are the perfect way to decorate your garden setting for the autumn season, while adding beautiful splashes of color at the same time! It is best to purchase a variety of colors and sizes, allowing you to better decorate the landscape. Consider placing them in decorative pots and urns out in your yard, on your porches and patios, they can even be used indoors!


The best part about mums is that they can be wintered through and return the following year, making them a cost effective plant. Just be sure to lay down mulch to protect it against freezing winter temperatures. Once the frosts have turned it a blackened color, you can cut the mum back to within one inch of the soil level. The area should be mulched it a level of 3-4 inches, as this will protect your plant from the harsh winter temperatures.


The plants should begin to reemerge in the following spring, at this time remove any old stems. Begin feeding the plant with fertilizer once a month until August. Pinch off the plants in early spring, as this will encourage the plant to bush out. When the plant reaches 4-6 inches, remove 1-2 inches of the new growth back. After this, once the plant has grown another 3-5 inches, you can pinch it back again, by 1-2 inches. Pinching should cease in mid-July. This tedious task will be greatly rewarding in the fall when your mums are a stunning bush with robust beautiful flowers. Mums should be divided every two years, in the Spring.


Mums add wonderful flair to your fall décor. When paired with pumpkins and scarecrows, your landscape is sure to be the envy, and possibly copied, by all your neighbors! Mums are a hardy plant, that is perfect for adding color during the fall season! Posted by Jean Widner.

The Best Ways to Use Garden Statuary

By: admin | Posted on: Sep/18/2016

Adding statuary to your garden and outdoor living spaces adds character and a personal touch to your garden décor. You can use them as a design focal point to draw the eye, or help create a specific atmosphere. To help give your area the feel you desire, consider the following ideas in selecting your items.

1. Less is More

If you’re looking for one specific focal point to function as a piece of art in the garden, give it drama by landscaping the area around it. If the item warrants it, consider using a pedestal to visually raise up a smaller piece. To use the landscape around it, plant shrubs or flowers in a circular or other formal arrangement in the yard, making sure no taller plantings block the view.

2. Pick a Theme

If you are looking to create a personal space to reflect an interest, such as a Zen-style Asian collection, then there are many styles to choose from. Religious themes are abundant, as well as angels and other items to reflect upon. Other ideas can be to create a gnome village with our selection of gnomes, gnome homes, and gnome features. Grouping these items together will create an interesting or humorous focal point for all who view it.

3. Color Grouping

If you’re looking to collect a number of different items together, then keep the area from looking dis-jointed by choosing statuary that is all from the same company and colors. This will keep your statuary cohesive and not distracting, allowing your eye to rest easily on each piece in the garden but able to still view the area as a whole.

4. Againg Your Statuary

Many concrete and cast stone statues come in different colors or patinas to help give them an aged look in the garden. However, if that isn’t enough or you have an existing piece you wish to create this effect with, here’s how:

Create a moss appearance by mixing together one part clay, one part fresh chopped up moss, one part diluted fish emulsion, and three parts water. This solution can then be painted onto the statues. The moss will stay here, and begin to grow, as the fish emulsion will feed the moss.

5. Personalized or Memorials

Creating a space to honor a loved one can be very rewarding. Think of plants or trees to incorporate that were meaningful to that person, or help you remember them fondly. There are options to create a personally engraved bench or plaque as a memorial. Analyze the overall balance of any and all items used in one area to keep it peaceful and restful.


Enjoy the beauty a statuary focal point or scene will bring to your garden setting. These exciting ideas can help give you the garden look that you have been hoping for. Posted by Jean Widner.

Birdbaths Give You Birds All Year Long

By: admin | Posted on: Sep/13/2016

Water is the key element to attracting birds into your landscape. Water will draw birds into your yard for bathing and drinking. Birds rely on a dependable water source to survive. A birdbath is a decorative way to draw in wild birds, creating an ornamental feature for your setting at the same time. A birdbath, in conjunction with bird feeder and homes, is the perfect way to attract birds!


The best birdbaths to choose are small and shallow baths that actually mimic naturally forming “bird baths”, like puddles. These are the best type because they are not too deep, as some cast stone birdbaths can be, or too slippery as glazed baths often are. Look for a bath that is easy to clean and will not break easily. Make sure it has a gentle slope and is relatively shallow so birds can wade into the water and bath without being in danger.


Birds prefer baths that are at ground level. If a birds feathers get too wet they cannot fly off if danger approaches. The biggest risk to ground level bird baths is cats. If there are cats that ravel around in your neighborhood, you may want to consider placing the bath in place near bushes or trees so the birds can easily escape to safety. They should also be placed in the shade, as direct sunlight can cause the water to warm and grow stale. It may even be a good idea to set some small stones or gravel in the bath to provide for more secure footing and a place to stand that is not directly in the water.


Birdbaths do not need to be put away in the winter. In fact, birds need the reliable water source all year long! You can consider including a heating element to your fountain, but ice will not deter the birds from drinking, as they are able to garner water from ice, icicles, and even snow. In fact, sometimes if there is a heated element to the fountain and can pose a bigger threat to the wildlife. In the winter, consider placing large rocks in the basin, or long sticks over the bath to prevent the birds from bathing in freezing temperatures, allowing them to only drink.


There are many birdbaths that are offered with temperature controlled settings, or you can consider and immersion heater for your existing birdbath. Just be sure to never add antifreeze to your birdbath, this is poisonous, and can kill the birds. If they bath in this substance it can cause matting of there wings, not allowing them to fly, causing hypothermia and death as well.


For the winter months, do not keep the bath totally full. However, in the summer make sure the bath is filled often, as the heat can cause evaporation. It is also a good idea to change the water frequently; this keeps it fresh and clean, and curbs the growth of algae in the bath. It will also keep mosquitoes from laying their larvae in the baths. If any of these substances do begin to grow, the bath will need emptied and thoroughly cleaned with running water and a stiff brush. Changing the water daily will also keep the bath free of bird dropping or dirty feathers that result from the birds.


Birdbaths are a great way to draw in the local wildlife and with a little extra care and maintenance can be used all year long. This will keep the birds in your setting, because they have a constant supply of water! Posted by Jean Widner.


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