Growing Japanese Red Maples

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/30/2013

The Japanese Red Maple is a popular tree that originate fro Japan, but it a popular choice all voer the world. They are often grown for their attractive colors and leaf shape. These are very popular trees, however they can be rather costly.

The Japanese Red Maple is a smaller tree, rarely growing past 33 feet tall. The shape of the tree is often a dome like form. The leaves are palmately lobed with five, seven, or nine pointed lobes. The tree produces small flowers as well; these have reddish purple sepals and five whitish petals. The seeds require stratification to germinate.The Japanese maple tree has a lot of genetic variations. These variations can cause different leaf shape, size, and color. The tree has been around since before the 1800’s, with the first specimen coming to England in the 1820’s. The tree was favored because of its small size. These are a popular choice for bonsai trees as well.The Japanese Maple has different growing conditioned based upon the particular species. Some species prefer to be in the sun, while others prefer the shade. These trees make great ornamental focal points, and are a good choice for borders. They have non-invasive and compact root systems. They need to have well drained soil, and they grow best when they are not overly fertilized. These trees are also great options for container growing.

These trees require very little pruning when it comes to caring for them. Be sure to remove any dead branches. Sometimes gardeners choose to artfully shape their trees, and this will require some constant maintenance to keep the shape. You may also choose to thin out the branches, and this should be done in the winter months.When you bring a red maple home, it should be planted right away. It needs to be planted in rich moist soil. The only exception to this is if the weather is hot and dry, then it is best to hold off on planting. Plant your tree in a container in the meantime and keep it in a shaded spot. Making sure the garden site is properly prepared will help to create a strong tree. Make sure you follow the planting instructions so you do not harm the plant.

The best season to plant a red maple is in the spring because it takes awhile for the tree to put out roots. Planting early in the spring will allow the roots to have time to spread before the cold weather hits. Trees may not experience very good growth during times of extreme temperatures, this is to be expected.

When it comes to caring for the tree, during its early years, it should be watered weekly with 1 ½ inches of water. Even once the tree has matured; make sure it receives water, especially during the hot summer months. Be sure not to over water though, as this can cause the leave to lighten and droop. Fertilizing is also a good idea, but during the first growing season the fertilizer should be a slow releasing one. There should be an area of mulching around the base of the plant, weeds and lawn should be kept 2-3 feet from your maple tree.

A maple is a wonderful ornamental tree, perfect for a stunning focal point for a garden setting because it is a smaller tree and it can be shaped. The rich color is a perfect addition to an ornamental garden.
By: Susan Soler of the Team

Potted Plants Create Creative Garden Accents

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/25/2013

A creative and beautiful garden design does not need to be a complicated endeavor, in face a well groomed lawn, a few thoughtfully placed ornamental trees, and some beautifully planted containers is certain to make your landscape stand out! Placing some lovely potted planters around your setting makes for stunning garden accents in a traditional and stylish way.

Depending on the style of you garden, these accents can be used to compliment the theme, as well as create striking contrasts to your setting. Creating these potted wonders is not a difficult process, although when choosing plants it is best to create dimension. For example pair spiky plants with cascading flowers as well as some medium sized plants. The contrast in the plants adds an aesthetically pleasing appeal, creating an instant focal point wherever you choose to place it.

Garden Accents may include anything from statuary pieces to water features, but a garden planter is a new trend of garden planters. They add interest and lovely splashes of color and design, perfect for a well maintained landscaped. This trend is perfect for individuals who do not want to break up a beautiful lawn for flower beds or vegetable gardens. It creates a more classic look, with wide open greenery and interesting and mixed containers placed around the area.

Virtually anything can be planted in containers. Plant shrubs in square containers and line a property border. Line a patio setting with bright colored foliage to create a graceful and inspiring setting. Adding trailing greenery to a container, like ivy, creates a truly enchanting and magical touch. After all, a planter of this sort is a mini-garden, and should include a variety of plants, not just one single type.

Containers are wonderful accents because they can be planted according to the needs of your landscape. If the location of one container will be in the shade, plant according to that qualification. This allows the garden to thrive, because it is planted for its specific needs and conditions, unlike a flower bed that may get sun or shade or a mixture of both, limiting what can be planted, or risking plants not doing as well. Vegetables or fruit trees can also be planted in containers; these can be used as decorative features, or can be kept out of site and used for food growing only.

The garden planters you choose need to be the right size for the plants. You want to make sure that there can be enough soil for all the roots to grow and thrive. There also needs to be enough space for them to spread out, as well as enough nutrients for all the plants. Be sure that these containers have proper drainage, and b sure to check the container gardens often for water. Garden planters will need more frequent fertilizing and watering because they are much smaller spaces than in ground gardens.

Allow your creativity to run free as you make these amazing creations for your setting! With some careful research regarding the needs of the plants you choose, these garden accents are certain to bring unimaginable joy and personality to your landscape. Part of the fun is in choosing what plants to add, and watching them grow, filling in the containers, creating impressive focal points!

By: Susan Soler of the Team

Secrets of the Perfect Water Fountain

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/23/2013

No matter what kind of fountain you have in your backyard, your are still bound to be envious of your neighbors water fountain if you don’t know a few secrets of maintaining and installing a fountain.

One of the most important things about installing a fountain in any area is ensuring that it has a proper base to sit upon.  Cast stone fountains cannot be placed directly on dirt.  The weight of a cast stone fountain can cause it to sink over time if you simply place it within the garden.  It is always best to install the proper base first such as gravel or brick pavers or even concrete.  This allows a solid place for your fountain to stand for many many years. Placing the proper base under for your fountain is also very important because a fountain cannot flow properly if it is not leveled during installation.  Just like hanging a picture, your fountain will look “off”, if it is not leveled at installation time.  It is important that when you are installing a fountain that has multiple tiers, that you check to make sure each tier is leveled.  If it isn’t leveled, water will not flow from tier to tier properly.  The best way to do this is by taking a standard level, and placing it across each bowl in the tier to make sure it is level.  In the event that it is not level, you can easily use plastic shims, which are often provided by the manufacturer of your cast stone fountain, underneath the pedestals between tiers to keep the fountain level.  These shims will easily be hidden by the water within the bowl, and no one will ever know your secret!

The next secret to creating the perfect visually appearing fountain is clear silicone.  Yes, you heard us right, clear silicone.  You may be thinking, wait, the stuff I use in my bathroom?  Yes! Think of it this way, you often use silicone in a shower or tube to ensure that water does not seem behind tubs or shower walls and cause mold.  Therefore, clear silicone is designed to repel and redirect water.  This can easily be used in a cast stone fountain to create perfect water flow.  Many different manufacturers actually use silicone to create the perfect flow of water at trade shows and the like.  If you have a tiered fountain, that despite being level you can’t seem to get to flow the way you want, simple use your finger, along with a dab of clear silicone to create small teardrop like spots of clear silicone on the edges your tiers or any part of the fountain that you want water to avoid.  By using this technique, you are able to direct water flow exactly where you want it.  We do advise that you be very careful with the clear silicone on your cast stone fountain, a little bit will go a long way.  It is also very important to make sure the area you are applying the silicone is dry before placement and also has the proper amount of time to dry before turning the water feature back on.

The last secret is the pump.  Manufacturers include a pump that they feel provides the correct water flow for a specific fountain.  Many of these pumps are adjustable.  This means that you can control the amount of water that is getting pushed through the fountain.  If your fountain is quiet, but you want it a bit louder, it may be helpful to simple make sure that the pump dial is turned all the way up for maximum flow.  If a pump doesn’t seem to be providing the desired water flow, it is always possible to replace your pump with a new pump that has a greater gallons per hour.  If you are looking for a new pump, it is always important to make sure that the size of the pump will still fit within your pump housing. Simply measure your old pump first, to ensure proper dimensions are found in the new pump.  It is also important to remember that if you do replace your included pump with a stronger pump, you may experience excessive splashing causing your fountain to run dry and the pump to burn out or causing a slippery surface around your fountain which will not be good.  So before you switch to a larger pump, make sure that you won’t be causing unwanted splashing as most manufacturers do include the pump they feel provides the water experience they had desired to see.

Owning a fountain is a wonderful experience and a few tips from the trade can help make any fountain the perfect visual appearance.

By: Susan Soler of the Team

Transitioning Small Outdoor Spaces to A Garden Oasis

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/18/2013

Planting in herb pots like these allows even the smallest space to grow vegetables!

Many people face the challenge of a small outdoor space, making it difficult to design an outdoor space. Even if your outdoor space is no larger than a strip running along the side of your home, it is still possible to create an outdoor room that can be both enjoyable and relaxing.

Turning the narrow alley between your home and the property line into a serene setting can be easily done with a little hard work and accessorizing. The idea is to add plants that will not overtake the area and can be easily maintained. For example if there is a fence, plant trees along the inside of the fence to block out the view of the neighboring property.  The Japanese maple is a good choice for this job. In between the maples add crepe myrtle or ferns, just be sure to keep these well pruned. Creating a mosaic pathway down the center of the alley is a good idea, allowing for narrow planting on either side. Adding a bench along the path and a nice sittingarea at the end of the property creates a landscape that is both useful and attractive, making the most use out of a tight spot.

If the attractive setting is not what your goal is, but a vegetable garden, we have a solution for this problem as well. Even in an apartment setting, or small yard a vegetable garden is not out of the question. Vegetables should be planted close together, as this will maximize the space. In typical gardens plants are spaced further apart so you can work between the rows to better care and maintain the plants. This is not the case for small gardens, as all the plants can be easily maintained from the outside edges. Be sure to pay careful attention to creating perfect soil, as this will make your plants and stronger in a small space.

You can also consider container gardening. This allows form you to garden indoors as well. Containers can be moved easily to suit your area. Make sure the pots are the right size for plants when they reach their full size. It is always best to use a potting soil over regular dirt. Dirt can carry disease which can harm your plants. You can plant tomatoes, onions, squash, carrots, lettuce, herbs, peppers, and basically any type of plant in this method. If you have a very tiny area like a patio or balcony, consider patio tomatoes placed in planters or even small herb pots that can actually also be brought indoors like basil or oregano that will make meals extra fresh and delicious.

Container gardening can move in a vertical direction to save space as well. For example containers can be placed in shelves, or on fences instead of placing them all on the ground. Cucumbers and squash can be trained to grow up a trellis, while cherry tomatoes can be hung and grown upside down. These are simple ways to grow vegetables without taking up too much space.

You can incorporate a small garden into your landscape in other ways as well, like adding a tomatoes plant between two bushes, or growing vine vegetables up a the side of a wall by using a trellis. Leave vegetables like cabbage and lettuce can be used as decorative floral arrangements as well, perfect as border plants. Many herbs and spices also have pretty flowers that can add an attractive touch to your setting, allowing them to serve duel purposes.


By: Susan Soler of the Team

Adding Ornamental Grasses for Aesthetics

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/16/2013

The addition of ornamental grasses can add an elegant and exciting accent to your garden setting. They are a great addition to your fall landscape especially as the flowers and other plants die back. Ornamental grasses are beautiful to watch as they sway in the breeze, and they also create a soothing sound.

Ornamental grasses are beneficial for many reasons.  Grasses give motion to your landscape, attract birds and are fairly disease free and easy to grow. These grasses are not attractive to deer and other critters, so they will not be eaten off. They require very little maintenance. These grasses are a great feature for any landscape, whether you use them in containers and decorate the setting or plant them directly into the ground. Ornamental grasses offer a year round interest!

Ornamental grasses fall into many different types. There are subtle fescues, eye catching miscanthus, fountain grasses, and switch grasses. No matter what varieties you choose there are some important things to consider when choosing ornamental grasses.The first important consideration is the growing habitat for the grasses. Some grasses will grow in clumps that get larger over time, while others spread out, becoming invasive if not tended too. A clumping species is a good choice if you want the grass to be self contained. If the goal is to fill in a particular area, the spreading type is a good choice.

The next consideration is the growing season. There are cool and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses do best in cooler temperatures, growing in the spring and fall, and well into the cold weather. Warm weather plants do well in the summer, beginning to grow as soon as the weather turns warm, but some of these may not do well in winter conditions depending on your area.

Ornamental grasses come in a variety of colors as well. This is important to consider. The colors range from green, blue, red, and some even are speckled or stripped with whites and yellows.  These grasses look even better when the flower and seed spikes rise up with foliage in reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and silvers.The size and shape of the grass can be an important factor depending on where you want to place the grass. There are six inch mounds and there are also mounds that can be ten foot mounds. Clumping varieties are easier to shape than the running varieties, as these become dense mats. You cannot control the size of the grasses by pruning, so make sure you choose a grass that fits your size requirement.

If you live in an area that gets hit hard with winter weather conditions, you will want to know the hardiness of the ornamental grasses and how they survive during the winter before you buy them, no sense in purchasing something that will die. If the goal is a perennial grass, then avoid any non-hardy grasses.

When it comes to growing and tending for these plants there are some key conditions which need to be met. Read the labels of the plants to make sure they will thrive in your area. Ornamental grasses need good soil to drainage that is fertile. These grasses should never be left to get soggy. Grasses do best in full sun. Slow release fertilizers should be used in the spring to feed the grasses, this should be plenty, you do not want to overfeed or the plants become too leafy. Grasses should be planted in the fall or spring, and may take up to three years to reach their mature state.

Ornamental grasses add a wonderful touch to your garden setting, perfect to accent stunning flowers, or to line a garden path. They work well in containers also, making them a great patio arrangement as well!
By: Susan Soler of the Team

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