Archive | Landscaping

Great Plants for Edible Landscapes

There are hundreds of edible plants that would look perfectly lovely in a landscape, but some of them work better than others. Many plants won’t look very good later in the season, for example.

Some of them quickly turn dark and lose their leaves. You want plants that taste great, but keep their appearance long enough to be a practical part of your landscape. It’s no good to build plants that lose their looks in late summer into your landscape design!

Here’s a look at some of the best choices for edible plants for landscape design. We’ll mostly be including plants that require minimal care and look attractive, while providing something very edible:

‘Golden Streaks’ is a variety of mustard that has heavily serrated leaves in a beautiful golden citron color. It has a very mild taste, slightly sweet. This is a striking plant that has a wonderful flavor.

‘Hansel Hybrid’ eggplant is a stunning plant. It has a two-foot-tall plant that produces huge clusters of fingerling eggplants in a delightful deep purple hue.

‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil is a one to two foot basil plant with absolutely gorgeous variegated leaves. The leaves are a rich green with a fringe of white. It tastes like Greek basil, but the appearance is wonderful in a landscape!

‘Purple Peacock’ broccoli is a hybrid cross between broccoli and two different types of kale. It has a purple stem and loose, purple head.

‘Violetta Hybrid’ pak choi is an amazing variety of this Chinese green. It has lovely purple leaves that are packed with more nutrients than many other types of greens!

‘Red Popper’ is a type of miniature bell pepper. The fruits are only about one to two inches in diameter and are very sweet and delicious. You’ll love the way these bright red peppers look against the rich, green foliage!

‘Sweet Lace’ grapes are a small, patio-sized variety of grape. They have very pretty leaves and produce pretty white grapes in September. These can be grown in containers, and they can also be trellised easily. They make a beautiful accent to a fence or wall.

‘Red Veined’ sorrel is a variety of this classic wild green. It has light green leaves with a truly spectacular series of red veins all throughout. The taste is very sharp, so it’s best in salads with mild greens. This one is particularly striking in appearance.

‘Purple Mizuna’ is a fabulous type of greens. They have a very tangy flavor, and grow very quickly. Mizuna greens are already quite attractive, but this purple variety is particularly nice.

‘Mittistone’ is a summer-crisp lettuce of the loose-leaf variety. The leaves are green with red speckles. It is a sweet, crisp lettuce variety that tastes as amazing as it looks. It matures quickly, and looks just as beautiful in your yard as it does in a salad bowl.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

An Introduction to Raised Bed Gardening

Raised bed gardening is a way of growing plants inside beds that are raised up above the normal level of the soil in the garden. They’re typically housed inside a wooden frame, generally rectangular. The soil may be mixed in with tilled soil underneath, or it can simply be new soil placed on top of untilled ground.

There are many great benefits to growing plants in raised beds. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to harvest more produce from the same space. Raised bed gardens can actually double or even triple the amount of produce harvested from the space! This is due to the fact that the square footage needed for pathways is reduced considerably, and more space can be devoted to the plants.

Another great benefit to growing in raised beds is the fact that you can improve your soil conditions more readily, and you can even grow plants in areas with extremely inhospitable soil. If your garden is typically very sandy or you have a lot of clay, it can be difficult to grow much in it. But if you create a raised bed, you can simply put your own purchased or created soil mix into the frame and grow your plants in that.

Weeds are also much less of a problem in the typical raised bed. Because the soil is confined, it’s much easier to spot any weeds that do pop up, and the weed seeds in the existing soil are buried under far too much soil to sprout in most cases.

The frames can also be built with a bottom and placed on tables so handicapped and elderly people can reach their plants to care for them more easily. This is a major benefit for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to properly care for a garden.

This type of gardening was made popular by Mel Bartholomew in his book and television series called Square Foot Gardening. He developed a system that requires about 80% less space than traditional types of gardening.

Instead of being just a standard raised bed, the bed is divided into sections that house plants of various sizes. It uses special soil mix that is free of weeds and is ideal for growing almost any kind of plants. It uses less water, is all organic, and uses far fewer seeds than traditional gardening. His system claims you can produce 5 times more in the same space of a traditional garden.

The system divides each square foot into a grid, based on what type of plants you wish to grow in that section. If you want to grow a large plant like broccoli or cabbage, it would take one entire square foot, so that section wouldn’t be divided at all. If you want to grow radishes, you might section that square foot into sixteen separate spaces, each one housing a single radish!
Other similar systems have been brought out. Cubed Foot Gardening is very similar to Square Foot Gardening. The creator of this particular system is Christopher O. Bird, and he credits Mel Bartholomew for creating the original system. Bartholomew even gave the system an endorsement!
You don’t have to use a grid system at all. You can use a raised bed to plant a wildflower garden or an herb garden with no definable organization. This works just fine. You don’t have to restrict yourself to a grid-based system if you don’t want to. Raised beds are very flexible!

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

Choosing Plants for a Raised Bed Garden

The type of plants you choose for your raised bed will obviously be based on things such as your zone, the availability of sun in your garden, and your own personal preferences. But we’re going to talk about how to choose vegetables for your raised beds in a general way.

First of all, you should be sure to plant only those vegetables your family actually likes to eat. Sure, those golden beets may be beautiful, but do you eat beets? Do your kids like beets? Is your spouse going to run away screaming if you try to serve them? You should only plant varieties that you actually believe your family will truly enjoy.

The easiest plants to grow in raised beds include beans, Swiss chard, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, and radishes. These plants are all great for beginners. Herbs are also generally very easy to grow. You should choose some of these easier types if you’re new to raised bed gardening or to gardening in general.

If you want plant vegetables that reach maturity very quickly, you can choose varieties that are better for this purpose. Some of us can be very impatient. If you hate waiting around to harvest your first vegetables, you can try radishes, spinach, lettuce, beans, beets, squash, cucumbers, carrots, and peas.

If you prefer to get your plants out as early in the season as possible, you should choose varieties that are especially good for early planting outdoors. Some varieties you can plant four to six weeks before the last frost include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, parsley, peas, and spinach.

You can plant beets, carrots, radishes, and Swiss chard up to four weeks before the last frost. You’ll be able to plan beans, corn, summer squash, and tomatoes on the date of the last frost. And you can plant cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and winter squash about two weeks after the last frost date.

If you want to extend your growing season as late in the year as you can, you should choose great fall vegetables. You can harvest beans, Swiss chard, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, squashes, and tomatoes up until the last frost.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots, lettuce, and spinach can all be planted just a few weeks before the last frost and will have time to mature before the frost hits. And you can plant lettuce and radishes up to a week before the first frost in many areas!

If you’re a beginning gardener, you should probably stick to those plants you can grow during the normal growing season. You won’t want to get too complex or too complicated when you’re just starting out. You should stick with the easier varieties, and plant them during the normal growing season.

Also, be certain to choose varieties that grow well in your area. You should check your USDA zone chart to be certain a particular variety of plant will grow well in your area. Don’t pick varieties that won’t grow in your area, no matter how tempting they may be.

And be sure to choose varieties that will grow under your lighting conditions. If you have a very shady yard, don’t pick vegetables or herbs that need full sun. You need to work with the conditions available to you, especially if you’re just starting out.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

Flower Gardens as Part of Landscaping

Landscaping is the process of designing the look of the exterior natural décor of a piece of property. It involves the way things like rocks, trees, flowers, and other natural elements work together.

Flower gardens should be a beautiful, peaceful place that people will be excited to view and be a part of. They should be elegant and stylish, or fun and sassy, or whatever suits the personality of the person who will be spending the most time there.

You’ll want to be sure that the flower garden you plan blends well with the rest of your landscaping. You’ll also want to ensure that the garden is not only aesthetically pleasing to the owner, but also to any visitors who might see it.

Landscaping generally requires certain elements. For example, color, form, scale, texture, and line all play an integral role in effective landscape design, and the same is very true with regards to flower garden design, as well.

Color is perhaps the most important part of designing a good flower garden. You should have flowers in a variety of different colors, but those colors should complement each other well. If the colors clash, it will hurt the entire look of the flower garden.
Form is another important aspect of landscaping and flower garden design. The form of the plants will play an integral role in the overall look of the garden. If you choose only bushy flowers, or only spiky flowers, then your look will be somewhat bland. It’s important to have a very good mixture of plants.
Fences are a good way to play with the lines of your flower garden. Various types of fencing can help with the horizontal and vertical flow. The eye should always flow as naturally as possible around a landscape, and the patterns should be somewhat natural.
The size of the plants can be crucial. You’ll need to have larger plants in the back, gradually moving to smaller plants in the front. If you try placing smaller plants in the back, you won’t be able to see them once the larger plants reach full height!
Other features of a flower garden can also be very important. Water features can really help pull the natural look of a flower garden together. A pond or waterfall can make a very serene area in the middle of your flower garden.
Walkways beside and through flower gardens can come in a variety of styles. Stone, pebbles, sand, cobblestone, brick, and other walkway styles can be beautiful with different types of flowers. You need to see what works best for your yard.
Don’t forget to choose flowers that match the existing landscape of your yard. If you have a lot of tropical plants in your yard, then you should consider having a lot of tropical flowers, as well. If your garden is a traditional English garden, then birds-of-paradise or orchids might not look so well at home. Always go for a theme to ensure pleasant continuity.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

Using Perennial Vegetables for Landscaping

Planting perennial vegetables as part of your landscape is a great idea, because it helps you make maximum use of your space. Instead of hurting your beautiful landscape by tearing up your lawn to plant a traditional garden, you can simply work your food plants into your existing landscape.

You can use a wide variety of perennial vegetables and herbs as part of your landscape, and they can be just as beautiful as traditional landscape plants. Perennial vegetables are great, because you don’t have to replant them each year.

You plant them once, and with a small amount of ongoing maintenance, you’ll have a beautiful landscape and fresh food every year. Perennials need to be planted in good conditions right from the start.

If you plant annuals in poor soil or a bad location, you’ve only lost a single year. But if you plant perennials improperly, you’ve wasted a plant that could have grown for many years.
First of all, be sure you plant your perennials in a good location right from the start.

Check the required growing conditions for the variety before you plant it. Make sure you choose a spot that has the proper amount of sunlight for the plant. Don’t forget to take into account the potential growth of any other nearby plants! If you plant something in a sunny location, it might be shady in a year or two if surrounding plants grow larger.

Be sure to prepare your soil before planting. It’s much easier to modify the soil before planting than it is to make corrections later. Be sure the soil has the proper pH levels and nutrient levels, and make certain your soil will support the correct moisture level for the plants. You’ll need to be certain to have the right balance, because different plant varieties require different types of soil.

Another thing to keep in mind is your zone. Some perennial plants won’t be very tolerant of extreme heat or frosts, so care in this matter is essential. The point of planting perennials is to have plants that return each year. If they die completely in the winter, they won’t return in the spring, so be sure you get your zone correct.

There are many perennial herbs that make a great addition to an edible landscape. Many types of mint are perennial in a lot of zones. They have beautiful foliage, and some of them have very pretty blossoms. Other perennial herbs that are ideal for landscaping include French tarragon, lavender, chives, Greek oregano, English Thyme, garlic chives, lemon balm, and sage.

A lot of vegetables are quite attractive, and can be very nice in landscapes. Perennial varieties of chard, beans, and broccoli are all great for landscapes. Asparagus, sorrel, fennel, ginger, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, rocket, and sorrel are all great choices.

You can also use other edible plants for your landscaping. Fruit trees are an obvious choice. Many fruit trees have absolutely stunning blooms. Cherry trees, apple trees, and plum trees all have lovely blooms that will make a great addition to your landscape. The fruits they bear can also add an amazing color and style to your yard. Having bright red cherries and golden apples can really enhance a landscape.

Posted in Landscaping, Perennials0 Comments

Why Raised Beds Make Gardening Easier

Raised beds make gardening easier in many ways. They help you solve difficult issues with your soil, they aid in controlling pests, they improve the amount of produce you can harvest in an area, they’re great at reducing weeds, and they help conserve water.

Any plants that love well-drained soil can benefit from being grown in raised beds. You don’t have to raise just vegetables. You can also easily grow herbs, fruits, and flowers in raised beds and make your job easier.

In raised bed gardening, the soil is usually put into frames that are about three or four feet wide and any length. The soil is generally enriched with compost, and is added to a frame made of wood or other material.

The plants in raised bed gardening are planted much closer together than the plants in a traditional garden. This allows the plants to conserve moisture and also help block the sun from allowing weeds to germinate and grow.

Raised beds can be used to extend the growing season, making it easier to start seeds outdoors earlier, and grow later in the season. This is a great way to get even more produce out of the area in a season.

If you have soil problems in your garden, you can use raised beds and just bypass your own soil completely. If you start with completely fresh soil, it doesn’t matter what type of soil you had in your garden to begin with.

Another great benefit of raised bed gardening is the fact that the gardener doesn’t walk on the soil in which the plants are growing. This helps prevent the soil from being packed down, so the roots can grow through the soil more readily.

You don’t need to till the soil under a raised bed if you don’t want to. This is very beneficial for people who can’t afford a tiller, or who aren’t physically capable of handling a piece of machinery like this.

You won’t have to water raised beds as often as you would a traditional garden. The soil in raised beds is designed specifically to hold on to water, so you can water less often and in smaller quantities. This is great for conserving water and saving money.

Frames can be built on top of plywood bases, and then raised to any height. This allows handicapped and elderly people to easily reach their plants to tend to them. For people in wheelchairs, this could be one of the only ways they can garden well.

Diseases and pests are easier to control in raised beds. Since you’re starting with fresh soil, it’s less likely to be contaminated with diseases that could infect your plants. If your plants do become infected, you can simple dispose of the soil in that bed and start again from scratch.

And pests are easier to control, because plants are in a more confined area. This makes it much easier to spot potential problems, and it also makes it easier to get rid of potential problems before they take over your entire garden.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

Common Rock Garden Plants

If you’re going to have a rock garden with plants, the first step is choosing the right plants for you and your area. Probably the most important factor you’d want to consider when finding the right plants is the USDA zone.

The zone tells you how cold your coldest days would be and if a certain type of plant that can tolerate such temperatures. The only real information you would need to glean from the zones is that if you’re in an extremely cold area then you should choose an “any zone” plant. The other areas are probably going to be close enough for your needs.

Another concern should be the amount of sunlight you would get for the area. It does no good to put a plant in your garden that requires a lot of sunlight if it’s going to be in the shade. That’s just too much work to go through for it to die.

Finally, you should probably try to avoid using poisonous plants as they could have undesirable results for your garden and your family. Some plants are good all year round and in any zone. These plants are great because they can be added to any garden.

These include Basket of Gold and Green Carpet. Basket of Gold can also survive with only about three hours of sunlight but Green Carpet doesn’t need very much sun at all. Some plants that require a lot of light include Dwarf Yarrow, Stonecress, Rock Jasmine, Catsfoot, Rockcress, Sea Pink, Alpine Aster, Ice Plant, Whitlow grass, Mountain avens, Sulfer Flower, Spurge (poisonous), Alpine Poppy (poisonous), Dwarf Baby’s Breath, Evergreen Candytuft, Oregano (which, of course, is an herb so it’s good for cooking), Pasque Flower, Soapwort, and Speedwell.

If you have around three hours of sunlight per day then you can go with Sheep bur, Pinwheel, Carpet Bugle, Windflower (poisonous), Alpine Columbine (poisonous), Aubretia, Creeping Bellflower, Snow in the Summer, Alpine Pinks, Shooting Star, Hens and Chicks, Fleabane, Cranesbill, Trumpet Gentian, Coral Bells, Lewisia, Lithodora, Penstemon, Phlox, Northern Jacobs Ladder, Primrose, Saxifrage, Stone Crop, Cushion Pink, Blue Eyed Grass, Snowbell, and Woolley Thyme.

Of course, if you have no real sunlight available, then you can use Rockery Orchid and certain varieties of Northern Jacobs Ladder, Primrose, and Hens and Chicks. If you want really tall plants, then consider the Pinwheel, Windflower, Alpine Columbine, Shooting Star, Sulfer Flower, Coral Bells, Evergreen Candytuft, and Lewisia.

If short plants are what you’re after, then Sheep bur, Creeping Bellflower, Hens and Chicks, Trumpet Gentian, Dwarf Baby’s Breath, Green Carpet, Rockery Orchid, Stonecrop, and Woolley Thyme are up your alley.

No matter what your region and your climate you should always be able to find suitable plants for your rock garden. And if you make sure you match up your sunlight, temperature, and water requirements, then you should just about always have a maintenance free rock garden for your yard so that you and your neighbors can enjoy it. If you spent enough time planning, you could even start matching colors for your garden and create an even better eye-catching display.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

Planting Your Water Garden

watergarden

Water gardening requires proper planting conditions, just like any other kind of gardening. You need to be sure to have the correct soil, a good location, and quality plants. But there are special considerations for water gardens that are different from traditional types of gardens.

You’ll have to deal with considerations such as the depth of the water, the temperature of the water, and how to keep your plants and animals safe during the winter. Most aquatic plants seem to do better in a heavy, loamy, clay-based soil.

You can’t use standard potting mixes, because they are far too light, and they won’t hold on to nutrients for very long. The soil you plant your aquatics in should be damp. You’ll fill your container about 2/3 full of the soil.

Water lilies should have their rhizomes placed so the growing tip is pointed to the center at a bit of an angle. The growing tip usually has eyes, a bit like a potato. This way, it can grow across the center of the container.

After you have the rhizome place properly, you’ll cover it with soil so the tip is just slightly above the soil level. The exception is tropical water lilies, which are planted in the center of the container.

Lotuses are also planted in the center, but their rhizomes are very delicate and should be handled carefully. Emergent and submerged plants should be potted by putting some soil into a pot, centering the plant in the pot, and covering its roots with more soil.

Once they’ve been potted, you need to cover the soil with about ½ inch of small gravel. This helps keep the soil from clouding the water and also from eroding away. Once you’ve properly potted your plants, they should be submerged to the correct depth.

You can place bricks underneath containers to help bring them to the correct depth. Check the planting instructions for each plant to see what level the plants should be submerged to. Water lilies generally grow best at a depth of about 12 to 18 inches above the top of their container.

The pot could be placed at a shallower depth at first, and lowered later as the plant grows. The more sun the pond gets, the deeper the container can be placed in the water. Tropical water lilies need to be at 12 inches depth if possible, but they can grow in only 6 to 8 inches if they have to.

Lotus plants only need about 4 to 6 inches of water over the top, and emergent plants generally only need a couple of inches of water over them. You can adjust the height of the various plants by placing bricks or inverted pots underneath.

Be careful not to over-fertilize your water garden. This can lead to an algae problem. You can use slow release tablets or some sort of granular fertilizer. Several different types would be acceptable, including 5-10-5, 12-8-8, 10-6-4, and 20-10-5.

You should fertilize every month from spring until August. Tablet fertilizer is generally the easiest to use. You simply have to push the tablets into the soil. Most aquatic plants won’t do very well in cold weather, so they need to be over-wintered.

This means you’ll need to take some precautions to ensure your plants aren’t killed by ice and freezing temperatures. For very shallow ponds, this will mean the plants need to be brought indoors for the winter.

They need to be kept above freezing, but below 50 degrees so they stay dormant. Be sure to keep the roots very moist at all times until spring. You can also remove rhizomes from their containers and store the plants in moist sphagnum moss inside plastic bags. Tropical water lilies must be stored in an aquarium tank with a lot of light at about 68 degrees.

Posted in Featured, Landscaping0 Comments

Edible Flowers in Edible Landscapes

Most people grow flowers strictly for their aesthetic value. Not many people realize that there are a lot of flower varieties that can be eaten. Flowers can bring amazing flavor and color to salads, and make stunning decorations for cakes and other dishes.

Flowers can also be used to make teas, and their flavor extracts can be used in cakes, frostings, candies, and other foods. Many flowers are also very good for you. Roses are very high in vitamin C, especially rose hips.

Nasturtiums and marigolds also have a decent amount of vitamin C, and dandelion flowers contain both vitamin C and vitamin A. If a flower isn’t poisonous, it’s considered technically edible, but not all edible flowers are tasty.

Just keep in mind that you should be absolutely certain what you’re eating, because some flowers have poisonous look-alikes! You should never eat flowers if you have hay fever, asthma, or other allergies.

Never eat flowers that have been sprayed with any type of pesticide. And be sure to choose only blossoms that haven’t wilted. Remember, even edible flowers should be eaten in moderate amounts.

Some people may still have minor reactions to large amounts of edible flowers. Some common flowering plants should NEVER be eaten. Lily-of-the-valley is highly toxic, for example. Other flowers that shouldn’t be eaten include hydrangeas, azaleas, daffodils, wisteria, lupines, hyacinths, castor beans, rhododendrons, sweet peas, clematis, bleeding hearts, oleander, and calla lilies.

This is just a partial list! Always carefully research any flower before eating it, and even check varieties of the same type of flower. For landscaping purposes, you should probably concentrate on perennials.

Now let’s look at some of the very best blooming plants and flowers for landscaping. Remember, these are all perennials, since our purpose is creating landscaping:

* Dianthus comes in shades of red, white, and pink. It tastes similar to cloves.
* Daylilies come in many colors and taste a bit like squash or asparagus.
* Red clover has pink or red flowers that taste delicate and sweet.
* Tulips are mild and sweet and come in many different colors.
* Violets are slightly sweet, slightly sour. They come in pink, white, purple, and blue.
* Chives have beautiful pink globes of blossoms that taste very much like onions.
* Bee balm has pink, red, white, and lavender flowers that taste a bit like tea.
* Hollyhocks are slightly bitter and come in many colors.
* Borage tastes a lot like cucumbers, and comes in blue, purple, and lavender.

Perennials will continue to come back year after year, without the need for replanting each year. This is a very important part of landscaping, since landscaping should require only minimal maintenance.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments

Maintaining a Raised Bed Garden

After you’ve built your frames, you need to mix your soil and put it into the frames. If you like, you can use about 25% soil from your own garden as a base. Then you can add in equal parts sand and compost, and be sure to check the pH balance of the soil to be sure it’s within the range needed for your plants.

You can elevate your raised beds to provide extra protection against small animals. You can cover bottom with chicken wire to help keep out small animals, and you can cover the tops with bird netting if you have a problem with birds eating your produce.

If you’re worried about weeds in your raised beds, you can mulch with good organic bark mulch. You can also use black plastic or weed guards, but it probably won’t be necessary. Most raised bed gardens don’t have a lot of trouble with weeds, and those few weeds that do appear are usually very easy to get rid of.

If your plants happen to be attacked by a disease from the soil, you can get rid of the soil in your beds and start all over. You wouldn’t be able to do this in a standard garden, where you’d have to wait for two years to be sure the disease had been fully eradicated.

Raised beds are typically quite simple to keep moist. You’ll only need to water the raised bed, so you can save a lot of money on your water bill. You can also buy drip irrigation systems or soaker hoses that will water your plants for you. This can be better for your plants than watering from overhead, because it can help prevent diseases and fungus.

During the heat of the summer, your raised beds may dry out faster. This is due to the fact that the boards that make your frame get very hot, and can dry up the soil. If this happens, you’ll need to water more often than usual. This can be beneficial, though. The extra heat produced by the boards can help you plant earlier, and extend your season longer.

It’s very simple to maintain your raised beds. You need to add organic material to the soil in your raised beds every year in the early spring, before you plant anything. This will help ensure the plants will have adequate nutrition.

When your raised beds aren’t in use in the winter, you can add a layer of crushed leaves over the top of the soil. This helps protect the soil, and also helps provide a bit of organic material for the soil.

If you have a disease infestation that comes from the soil, you should remove all of the soil from the bed and dispose of it, starting from scratch with new soil. You’ll need to be sure to get rid of as much of that soil as you can.

You may need to add more sand or organic material occasionally to ensure proper drainage. If your soil is drying out too quickly, or staying wet for too long, you’ll need to adjust the makeup of the soil.

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on the material you used to build your frames. If you’ve used untreated wood, this is especially important, because it can rot quickly.

Posted in Landscaping0 Comments