Monday, June 28, 2010

Common Mistakes In the Landscape


Plan to Avoid Mistakes 

Too often I have had to undo, redo, or constantly maintain a section of the landscape simply because I did not follow some practical advice.  So let me share with you a few mistakes I've made. Live and Learn!

Mistake 1 - NO PLAN   Keep is simple and pace yourself.  I got ahead of myself several times by thinking too large.  Your yard is yours.  What do you need?  What do you want? What entertaining do you do?  Do the kids need room to play soccer?  Do you need storage for tools.  As these uses become clear, THEN you can start. 

Mistake 2 - TOO MUCH LAWN  As a landscape feature lawns suck resources.  Lawns use 30% of treated water.  Shallow roots do little to stop erosion.  Lawns absorb only 10% of rainfall.  The average homeowner spend 40 hours a year on mowing and trimming his yard.  And an acre of turf costs that homeowner $400 -$700 a year. 

Mistake 3 - NOT PROPORTIONED  When we moved into our current home, we could not get into the front door unless we backed into a four foot high yew.  The front of the house was buried behind taxis so high that we could not tell we had a brick home.

Mistake 4 - TREES TOO CLOSE TO HOUSE  We have an 'L' shaped entry to the front door.  I told a landscape designer that I wanted a 'dwarf' weeping cherry tree.  Needless to say, I didn't get a 'dwarf' but a full size weeping cherry.  In a few short years, the tree was hanging off the gutters, rubbing the roof, and made a very dense screen from my kitchen window to the front yard.  Remember, plants grow!

Mistake 5 - IVY  Never let ivy grow up frame houses.  Moisture and insects can ruin clapboard siding.  Even on brick or stone facades, ivy can cover windows, and attach to gutters.  Yearly pruning is a must.

Mistake 6 - ONE DIMENSION  Plantings should be layered. Put tall plants to the rear, then shorter ones closer in front.  One dimensional planting are boring, have no rhythm, no flow.  Since curb appeal has a monetary value,  this kind of mistake can cost you money.

This small, but well proportioned bed is very appealing.

Mistake 7 - TOO MUCH   When I first started this garden, I collected plants.  If I didn't have it, I got it.  A little bit of this, a little bit of that.  Each trip to the garden center rendered a new plant, a different color, a new variety.... and very soon we had chaos.  Nothing went together.  No patterns, no groups, no pleasing views.  We had color overload. And nowhere for the eye to rest. 

The remedy is to group plants.  Mass plantings are visually pleasing and use fewer varieties rather than more. 

The photo on the left is showing a planting featured by Home Depot.  HGTV provided the photo of the caladiums and bench.  The mass planting of one type of plant is easy on the eye.

One other feature I have to caution all of us.  Less is more.  Keep accessories, statues and art objects to a minimum.

Mistakes can make gardening chores overwhelming with constant pruning and transplanting.
Mistakes can limit the use of the space.  And unless you have very deep pockets, the money these mistakes could cost you is huge.. 

Unity, and order will bring about that peaceful, appealing area you want in your yard.

Thanks for visiting today.  Let me know about a mishap from which you learned.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Accessories - That Added Element to the Garden

Accessories in the Garden

Children are featured in my garden. Just like gardens, children offer a new beginning, and endless possibilities. 

Small benches invite small ones to sit and enjoy.  (Ok - maybe not this bench!)

Over the years, we have added This and That to the Garden.  

Found these lovelies when our twin grand babies came along.

Fairies live here quietly. 

So quiet, this cat can't find them.

Reflection - Through this door  - to the past or to the future. 

The Gargoyle sits watch. The concrete orb was hubby's creation and the driftwood offers some architectural interest. I've set up this vinnette to fill in an area where hypertufas, being low to the ground, needed a little attention. 

I've tucked these guys among the plants.  They offer just a bit of interest and occasionally a smile.

Yah, I'm lookin at you!

I say the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio.  It was breath taking.  So when I saw these glass picks at the local import store, I couldn't resist. 
This metal sun was embellished with green marbles at the eyes, and the wood frame is mounted on a 12' birdhouse pole. 

By taking the eye upward, the trees, and vines are featured. 

This hose guide was embellished with a wire and bead flower stem.  The guide itself is made from two copper pipes. The smaller one is driven into the soil, and the larger one slips over to spin as the hose crosses it.  With the attached stem, no one trips.

Curtains hide the metal patio supports and give this 'room' a feel of enclosure.   The mirror and wall art reflect the garden - doubling the peacefulness of this setting.
Thanks for stopping by today.  Relax in your space. Enjoy. And Envision all the possibilities.Leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Insects and Disease In the Garden


As an organic gardener, I like to remind myself that I’m looking for insect control, not insect eradication. If the plant health is not in jeopardy, or there is no huge crop loss, I will choose these remedies before any other.

Insecticides will kill off beneficial insects too.

Cabbage worms - Use self-rising flour from your pantry.

Put flour into a paper bag and poke holes in the bottom. Sprinkle over plants in early morning when worms are actively eating. As the temperature rises, the ‘self-rising’ flour will swell the worm!!

Slugs - A shallow lid with beer placed under vulnerable plants will lure slug in – and they won’t come out!

A half and half mixture of ammonia and water sprayed on slugs will kill the slugs and the ammonia will convert into nitrogen which your plants can use!

Mix One cup coffee (strong) to 10 parts water and spray around base of plants and over the leaves. The caffeine is a killer!

Root crop and bad bugs. Cut a potato in quarters and bury pieces around root crops such as carrots, and radishes. The bad bugs will go toward the potato and you can remove the bug infested potato in a few weeks. (To easily find potatoes, inset a skewer and let top remain above soil level)

Eggs of squash bug

Squash bugs are difficult to control. Clear any debris from planting area before planting. Use a mulch of newspapers and hay and cover bed tightly with row cloths. Remove before female blossoms appear for pollination to occur.

Squash Bug

Diatomaceous earth and neem oil have some effect on this pest.

Some companion plants for squash are catnip, tansy, radishes, marigolds, nasturtiums, and mint.


Tomato Caterpillar

Remove these by hand (gloved) and give cardinals a tasty treat!
This is the way nature takes care of its own.

White fly infestation on cabbage leaf, with hover fly eggs, and hover fly larvae chowing down – not on the cabbage, the white fly!

Hover fly
The Hover fly lays its eggs on plants. When the larvae hatch, the larvae feast on hundreds of aphids a day.

Remember, insecticides kill all bugs.

Diseases on Plants and Remedies

Fungicide/Insecticide Remedies

3 T baking soda

2 T Murphy Soap

2 T Canola oil

2 T White Vinegar

2 Gal. warm water
Mix all ingredients and apply with a spray dispenser until foliage is completely wet. Do not spray on bright sunny days, as sunlight can burn leaves

Blossom end rot on tomatoes  
.(An organic fertilizer of calcium nitrate may be added to limit blossom end rot in small gardens)

Consider a strict watering regiment in the vegetable garden to eliminate some over and under watering problems such as blossom end rot.

Effective Watering Practices
Water plants twice a week: strawberries, lettuce,
Onions broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and peas

Water once a week: peppers, beans, corn, squash, cucumbers and eggplant

Water once every two weeks: Tomatoes and melons

To prevent cracking, when plants are really producing a lot of fruit, increase watering of tomatoes to once a week.

Fungicide for Tomatoes
1 tsp baking soda
1 T vegetable oil

1 T dishwashing soap

1 Gal water

Mix all ingredients well. Apply with a spray dispenser until foliage is completely wet.

All Purpose Insect Spray

1 garlic bulb

1 T cayenne pepper

1 QT water

1 T liquid hand soap

1 small onion

Chop garlic and onion. Add cayenne pepper and water. Steep 1 hour. Add soap. Spray on plants. Solution may be stored in refrigerator for 1 week.

Spider Mites

One Ounce Salt in One Gallon Water
Dissolve salt and spray.

Chewing/Sucking insects, Mildew, Leaf Spot, Rust, Spore Disease
(This one is great!)

3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion

1 tsp HOT pepper

1 quart water

Steep in water for 10 minutes and strain out solid particles. Solution may be diluted 1:4 with water. Spray onto plants.
Solution for aphids, asparagus larvae, black spot and scale insects

Steep 10 tomato leaves (chopped) and 1 onion (chopped) in ½ Cup of alcohol for one hour. Apply with a swab to insects.

Scale infestation

These pest seem to be able to invade and destroy our gardens.  Just remember that random spraying with pesticides may actually increase the problem.  Even these home-made remedies can't distinguish 'good' bugs from 'bad' bugs. 

Green Lace Wings, are a beneficial.  They eat eggs and larvae of insects.  Invite birds to your garden to help control insects.  And hand picking bugs can go a long way to keep damage of plant material to a minimum.

Plants that are spaced so that air can move around the leaves will reduce disease. Remove debris to prevent soil borne illnesses from splashing back onto plants.  

Some simple maintenance can bring in a bounty of fresh produce that is free from chemicals and looks great.!

Thanks for visiting today.  What homemade remedies you have used? I'd love to hear from you.