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Free Gardening Information - Tips, Tricks and Plant Care Techniques

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Pros and Cons of Xeriscaping

Article written by Tim Smith



Xeriscaping is a strategy of growing that requires the least amount of additional irrigation to sustain plants. It uses naturally occurring species that have adapted to the amounts of rainfall available in the region. Using these plants saves water for other uses and also helps to reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides used for gardening and landscaping.

Understanding Xeriscaping

The word “xeriscaping” comes from “xeros,” the Greek word for “dry.” Thus, xeriscaping provides a landscape for dry environments, with the most efficient use of water resources. Essentially, the concept encompasses the idea of water conservation through the careful use of creative landscaping. It includes using native plants that have adapted to the particular region, the use of stones and gravel to reduce water use and careful design to maximize the use of water flow on the property.

Pros of Xeriscaping Your Property

Any property can benefit from the use of xeriscaping principles with:
  • Less water consumption – This result is of particular benefit in some areas of the country where water is scarce.
  • Lower water bills – With the increasing price of water, many homeowners appreciate lower water bills that result from xeriscaping their property.
  • Lower maintenance – Xeriscaped property needs less maintenance and allows you to spend more time enjoying your property and less time caring for it.
  • Less need for pesticides and herbicides – Xeriscape plants have the natural ability to withstand local insect and weed invaders, so fewer chemicals are needed and less harm is done to the environment.
  • More hospitable environment for birds and wildlife – Reduced use of chemicals makes a healthier environment for birds and other wildlife on your property.
  • Increased property values – Xeriscaped properties mean less maintenance and a healthier environment, two significant factors in the value or your property.
Cons of Xeriscaping Your Property

Not all homeowners are excited by the xeriscape concept and voice a number of disadvantages:
  • Xeriscaped properties require planning – Many homeowners dislike having the extensive planning required by xeriscaping and prefer a more free-form design.
  • Plant selection is more limited – Restricting your choice to water-saving plants can feel too limiting for homeowners that are accustomed to great variety and large amounts of blooming flowers.
  • Xeriscaping can be more expensive – Plants may be more costly than common varieties offered at nurseries and home improvement centers.
  • Plants require more caution – Some xeriscaping plants like cactus and agave have sharp, serrated leaf edges that can be hazardous to children and pets.

For more landscaping and gardening ideas check out Modernize.


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How To Make a Vertical Flower Garden on Poles

Now that spring is here and you are ready to go out and do some gardening, here is a way you can go out and kind of spruce up some of your outdoor space with a really cute vertical flower garden that is put on wooden poles or dowels. This is a really neat way in which you can add some great floral accents to your garden area without using a bunch of space with those big pots or big flower boxes. This is a great way to utilize small spaces as well. This technique can be used well for even a small front or back porch where you don't have much space but what to have a little bit of a garden.

Before you begin you should know that this should take you around an hour to do. So, if you are considering taking some pots and painting them first to add even more color, you should paint them the day before so they will be dry when you need them. By the way you can make these vertical gardens as tall or as short as you want and you can make as many of them as you need. It's also a great project the kids can help with.

Things you will need to make your vertical flower garden:
  • Wooden pole or poles/dowels. Make sure they are at least an inch across because they need to hold up under the weight of the flower pots. You can find these at any home and garden center.
  • 4 clay pots for each pole (the amount depends upon how many little vertical gardens you want to make). The hole in the bottom of the pots need to be bigger than the poles.
  • A minimum of 10 zip ties, this is extremely important.
  • Flowers of your choice.
  • Good potting soil.
  • Paint if you are going to make the pots more colorful.

The instructions here are for a porch with a railing so the pots and poles can be secured. However you can do this on the side of your house or you can have a big pole and put it in the ground and build up from it. It's all up to what effect you are looking for. You also can paint your pole or poles and zip ties to match the color of your pots.

Take your pole and measure and cut it to fit nice and snug under your railing if putting on a porch. You can do this by putting the poles between the slats of the porch if you don't have any space in front of them.

Next take two zip ties and attach them very tightly to your pole or poles at the bottom around an inch up from the bottom of the pole. The ties need to be very tight so they don't slip down the pole when the flower pot is resting on the ties. After you have them in place you can then take your first pot and push it down to where the zip ties are and then tilt the pot just slightly to your left. Don't cut the ties yet, that's done at the end. Don't let the pot slip out of position before you get the dirt in it. It is easier to position things before the dirt.

Now put the soil in the first pot and then add your first flower. Make sure the soil is packed down tight around your flower. Make sure to put the flower in the soil at the same angle that the pot is tilted. You don't want to plant it pointing straight up in the air.

Next you will put two more zip ties right above the first bottom pot. This first tie is going to anchor the lip of the bottom pot and the second zip tie will anchor the next pot you put on the pole. Now you are ready to add the next pot and make sure that it rests on your highest zip tie and then tilt this pot in the opposite direction of your first pot. This one isn't going to be as sturdy as the first one until you get your soil in so hold it in place. It's a good idea to ask someone to help if you think you need help while you are filling it with soil. Once you've done this you can put in the next flower and continue on up the pole adding more pots, soil and flowers to whatever height you have chosen, alternating each pot as you go along.

Once you have finished adding all the pots and flowers that you want on your pole or poles you can then cut all the ties on the pole so they don't stick out because this would be unattractive. Put a little bit of wood glue for extra support on each tie if you feel more secure about it.


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Exotic Japanese Garden Design Ideas

Japan is well known for its charming, disciplined and stunningly planned gardens. Many people shy away from attempting to recreate such elegance in their own backyard but as this video shows - it is completely doable! You just need the right plan, the right tools and the confidence and perseverance to see it through.




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Creating Your Own Raised Garden Beds

A really popular trend right now is having raised garden beds in your garden. There are a lot of different reasons why people prefer this type of gardening. One is that it lets you have total control over the soil and it is an ideal option for those gardeners that have yards that are plagued with bad soil or not the right kind of drainage. Also the border that is provided around the raised garden beds adds a nice clean look as well as a very modern look to any garden, it will also keep kids and pets from trampling through the flowers or vegetables you might be growing. They are also easier to maintain because they are raised and this means there is a little less bending and less strain on the back. Creating your own raised garden beds is actually pretty easy and if you set your mind to it you can have it completed in one day.

The first step you will need for creating your raised garden beds is to find an area of your garden that you want to put them. You want a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. If you want a small family garden you might want it to measure 4ft by 6ft and then mark that perimeter with a chalk line. This size is just an example, it can be any size that you want it to be.

Once you have marked it out you will want to dig out the space designated for the raised garden beds. Even though your garden is going to be above the lawn you still will need to remove the grass from the area. So you will need to take a shovel and shovel away all the turf and a couple of inches of the soil in order to create a plot for your garden.

Next you need to have some gravel and pour a thin and even layer of it onto the plot you just dug out. This gravel is going to help suppress the growth of any weeds as well as grass. Flatten all of it down by walking on it to make a level foundation for your raised garden beds or bed.

Now you need to build the garden frame. Take a drill and some wood screws to connects boards together into a rectangular shape. Make sure they are the same size as the measurements of your garden plot you just created. You will need to screw in five screws that are about an inch apart from the outside of your 6 foot boards into the edges of the 4 foot boards making sure the corners are flush.

Take the frame you have created and put it on the plot and if then you can either make the plot a little bigger if the frame is too big or add back some turf if the frame is too small. You don't have to worry about redoing the frame itself. Once you have the frame down, take some of the turf you dug out and pack it around the outside of the frame to create a nice secure fit.

Once your frame is secured you can then take your garden soil or compost and put it in the frame. The 6 x 4 frame in these instructions will hold about 24 cubic feet of soil. Make sure to fill the frame up to within one inch or so of the top of the frame.

Now you are ready to either transplant seedlings or just sow seeds in your raised garden and enjoy the rewards once the garden grows and produces flowers and or vegetables.


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Great Garden Party Decorating Ideas

Not many people think about having a garden party when it comes to outdoor parties. They usually think about backyard BBQ's instead. But it might be something that you might want to consider having to change things up a bit. Sometimes it is nice to do something that is a little more elegant than what you normally do when it comes to outdoor entertaining. Here you will find a few garden party decorating ideas to help get you started.

Garden Inspired Centerpieces – You can make edible centerpieces by using colorful square tins that are filled with baby carrots, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, fresh asparagus or any other type of fresh vegetable that will add color. Then offer some creamy dips such as an herb dip or ranch for on the side.

Floating Flowers Platter Centerpiece – Take platters, add some small bowls and votive candles. Add water to the bowls and float peonies or any flower of your choice in the bowls and set on your tables where your guests will be sitting.

Checkered Moss Centerpieces – Add some fun and lushness to your tables by taking a galvanized metal planter you can get at any garden center, add some fresh potting soil and get two shades of Irish moss and then create a checkerboard pattern. You can later plant the Irish moss in your yard.

Stone and Moss Centerpieces – Get some cushion moss and put it on outdoor tables and then set some stones on top of the moss to make a natural and pretty centerpiece for your table. You can also place votive candles along the sides of the moss down the length of the table.

Herb Centerpieces – This is especially easy if you already have your own herb garden. Just take the overflow of your herbs and put the extra in small bowls. You can include dill, rosemary, mint, basil, thyme, flowering herbs, some edible flowers, just use your imagination.

Silk Flower Lights – You can use this for both day and night garden parties. You just take some Christmas lights and then cover them with silk flowers of your choice then use these lights to decorate the garden party area. During the day they are strings of pretty flowers and at night they add some radiant light for an evening garden party.

Simple Free Floating Centerpieces – Take some small bowls with water and simply add flowers from your garden such as roses, phlox or nasturtiums. They make wonderful small centerpieces for your tables.

Outdoor Pillows – Add a little charm and comfort to the outdoors by adding some brightly colored throw pillows. You can buy them with vinyl covers already or just take some small pillows and some vinyl tablecloths and cover your own. Place around the garden on chairs and benches.

Herbal Sodas – Use 7 Up or Ginger Ale for example and add sprigs of whatever herb you would prefer, good examples would be mint, basil, thyme, tarragon or lemon verbena. They decorate the sodas nicely and add wonderful fragrances as well.


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Creating an Indoor Garden With a Cactus Dish Garden

If you don't have much space indoors but you are still looking for an easy way that you can create a great indoor garden look in your home or apartment you might want to consider creating for yourself a cactus dish garden. You can have a small grouping of cacti or even a larger bowl that is spilling over with a nice array of succulents you can discover how to bring a little bit of nature inside with an indoor garden.

When you combine different kinds of cacti and succulents the arrangements can really look beautiful because of the different range of shapes, colors and textures you can find in these kinds of plants. You can easily create your very own desert landscape. The possibilities are actually endless and are only restricted to your own imagination, so be creative.

When it comes to the succulents, they offer an indoor garden geometrical form and some unique beauty all on their own but they really compliment each other when you plant different ones together in the same dish, bowl or pot. Experiment with different kinds of succulents to create a beautiful and interesting design in any room.

You will need a variety of supplies to get started:
  • Make sure to get some very fast draining sandy mix. Often you will be able to find cactus potting mixes at your local garden center and this will work well for both cacti and succulents.
  • Find the right kind of shallow container that you think will suit the design you might have in mind. Both cacti and succulents have rather shallow roots so the container only needs to be about three inches deep. The container also does not need to have drain holes if you use cactus potting mix.
  • You will also need a small trowel that you will need to fill the cactus dish with the potting soil.
  • Have a small and clean paintbrush on had. This will come in handy to help you clean off the plants once they are planted in your indoor garden.
  • Don't forget to buy some small decorative pebbles and rocks for the top of your cactus dish garden.

Before you start planting your indoor garden make sure that you have all the right plants together and then sit them together in the container before potting soil is put in. This way you can see how they all look together in the container. You will need to give the indoor garden some focus so try using a couple taller plants to give the arrangement a focal point. If the garden is going to be against a wall in a corner of the room then put the taller ones in the back. However, if it is going to be in a more central location and viewed from all four sides you should put the taller plants in the center of your arrangement.

When you start putting the plants together make sure that you don't overcrowd them. You want to be able to show off the different contrasting plants so give them a little bit of space which will also give them some room to grow.

To put it all together, take the container and fill it halfway full with the cactus potting mix. The take each plant out of the pots they came in and place them in the new container one at a time. Just use your fingers to help spread the roots over the potting mix you laid down in the container.

After you have all the plants in place, in the arrangement you want them in you will then add more of the potting mix and fill up the container. It is important to make sure all the plants are sitting in the container at the same depth as they were in their original containers. Then just very lightly pat down the potting mix around each of the plants and leave around ½ inch of space below the rim of your container. This is to allow for watering the plants.

Take the small paintbrush and gently remove any potting soil you might have gotten on the plants during the planting stage.. Make sure to brush off all the succulent leaves and between all the cacti spines.

The last thing you will do is to add some small stones or pebbles on top of your soil when you are finished planting. This will give the indoor garden a more finished look and it will also fill in any gaps there might be.

When you are done planting it is important to water just the succulents with room temperature water. You should wait a few days before you water the cacti and then only very lightly for the first few waterings. Remember that cacti need much less water than the succulents.


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Botanical Gardens and How to Create One of Your Own

Botanical gardens are beautiful and are usually filled with a variety of different local plants along with a variety of plants that can be found in different parts of the world. They often have collections like tropical, perennial flowers as well as herb gardens. Often they have plants that will attract butterflies and other beneficial insects such as bumblebees. Botanical gardens can display a mix of different plants that will help to create a space of beauty that is always changing every time you walk through them. Usually these gardens are specially created for the public to visit, but there is nothing that says you can't design your own, in your own backyard.

Here are some of the things you will need in order to create one of your own botanical gardens:
  • A blueprint
  • Perennial plants of your choice
  • Flowering shrubs you prefer
  • Evergreen shrubs
  • Spring blooming bulbs
  • Flowering trees
  • A variety of annuals
  • A variety of containers
  • Edible flowers and herbs

First you will need to decide on the different plants you want that will thrive in botanical gardens by basing it on the region and the amount of sun that your garden space receives. You should try to pick low maintenance plants that are both drought and heat tolerant in order to make a successful establishment of plants. You also will want to pick a few exotic plants in order to make a collection within the garden.

Next you should draw up your own blueprint or an outline of the design that you would like to have for your garden because this will let you make any changes you might decide on during the process of planting. You should make sure that you grow flowers that are for each season to make sure that your garden will always be in bloom.

Once you have finished the blue print and have gotten the area ready for planting it is a good idea to plant the perennial plants first, these are plants that will come back each year and grow taller and stronger each time. These should be planted at the back of the garden and use the tallest first working your way forward to create a layered look.

Next you should plant flowering shrubs that will come out in winter to early spring so that you will have different colors and textures in your garden. Plants like hellebores, winter Daphne and ever greens will provide great color during the usual colorless landscape of winter.

The next thing you will want to plant will be the spring blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils which will give your garden color after winter. You can place these around trees, shrubs and even the walkways of your garden.

Next you can put in a few flowering trees such as cherry trees and add them as focal points for your garden. Also include specimen trees that will provide your garden with shade. Annual plants can be added in pots for transitory seasons in order to fill in any bare spots in the garden. Use a variety of different interesting and colorful pots and then you can change out the plants in these pots all during the year to add new color and design all year round.

Finally don't forget to plant edibles in garden pots things like colorful vegetables and herbs or you can use raised beds in botanical gardens as well. Just make sure that there is the right amount of light and the soil can be manipulated easily.

It might be a little bit expensive to start one of your own botanical gardens but once you have it started and on its way, you will find that it was well worth it.


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