Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Outdoor Spaces–Important to Homeowners

Homeowners are making outdoor spaces more and more livable.  The health and wellness of the family is the important factor driving  the homeowner’s decisions on all types of purchases.  Today’s Garden Center Magazine has determined that even though the number of backyard vegetable gardens has dropped since 2011, 53% of homeowners still grow some vegetables or fruit. The majority of homeowners are extending the ‘natural’ products they will be seeking this year.
Young families and seniors are well aware of the dangers of chemicals on their food, and in their yards. According to Garden Writers Association Foundation (GWAF),  nearly twice as many gardeners plan to skip the chemicals and purchase organic products. 
Although 62% of those in the survey were somewhat concerned with the environment, but about one-fourth of those folks were also somewhat concerned with pest control.
When pest intrude on the outdoor space, the enjoyment of that space is compromised.  That concern drives buyers to seek ‘insect and disease resistant’ plant material.  Many growers are stepping up with new cultivars that speak to this issue. From roses and Monarda, to Lungwort and phlox, the disease resistance of powdery mildew and blackspot  is bred into many plants.  And investing in quality plants that will be less fussy and more durable has the gardener interested. Plant growers and landscape professionals all want the same thing – a satisfied customer.

chart for low maintenance

The organic garden is becoming more user friendly, and plant breeders are responding with new plants.  However, native plants, whether perennials, shrubs, or trees, have an inherited resistance to insects and diseases. Using native plants, the gardener can reduce fungicides, insecticides, and water usage.

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Another garden practice to lower use of chemicals is to plant plants in the right place.  If a full sun plant gets 6 – 8 hours of sun, it is less likely to suffer and weaken the plant making it susceptible to diseases and insects. By the same token, plants that require moist, shade will not do well in a sunny border that dries out regularly. Do not plant too densely, for air needs to circulate around plants to reduce molds and fungus growth. These considerations are key when the gardener wants to reduce maintenance in the garden and yet have a outdoor space that is pleasant and beautiful.


Although Native plants do not need extra nutrients added to the beds, the modern, savvy gardener knows that the soil is the key to healthy plants. Many ornamentals do need soil that is rich in nutrients, and drains well.  Adding organic material to the soil is realized in the form of compost, natural mulch, and organic fertilizers.
How%20Compost%20HappensHow-Mulch-Works chart

These applications of compost and mulch need only to be applied once a season.  The nutrients breaks down slowing and evenly, eliminating start and stop, irregular growth that can lead to leggy, weak plants.  And the mulch will greatly reduce weed seeds from germinating, reducing the use of herbicides. No weekly weed pulling, and reducing the number of fertilizer applications a year opens up more free time.
Reducing the maintenance in the garden opens up leisure time that can be spent in the extended outdoor space.  The health and wellness of relaxing is important to many. And who doesn’t like to relax, at lease a little.?  relax in green space

Health and Wellness is a trend that is well worth the buyers consideration.  The value of plants outweighs the high maintenance of more finicky ones. Read labels and pick the brains of garden center associates, as they will be able to point you to those plants that will be a valuable part of your outdoor space. As a garden coach, I can give my local gardeners a working plan for a low maintenance garden that is beautiful.  Folks in SW Ohio, can email me at, or
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