How to Design the Garden You Want

May 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

There are many different ways of designing your garden and it is important that you choose the one that is right for you, your family and your lifestyle in general. Using your available resources (money, time, plot, strength and skills), you will want to make something that:

- is well built and safe – you don’t, for example, want to have to rebuild features after a couple of years, let alone install paving that becomes dangerously slippery or build an unfenced swimming pool or water feature where small children may subsequently be playing

- does what you want – if you want to sunbathe by the house then it’s not a good idea to build a patio in an area that is always shady or overlooked

How to Design a Garden

How to Design a Garden

- makes you happy – if you and anyone who uses your garden likes it and it doesn’t annoy anyone else (for example, your neighbours – by stealing all their light) that is all that really matters. People’s tastes will always differ and fashions change over the years, but choosing the things and plants you like, successfully put together in the way you like, will give you the best opportunity to enjoy your garden and your gardening. What William Morris said of houses could equally well apply to gardens: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’

- possibly, but more likely nowadays, is environmentally friendly and encourages biodiversity.

Even if you take on an established garden, it is still worth taking time to consider how well it suits you and your needs. You might find that while you do want to make some changes, these can be phased over time. Most changes involving structural features, such as patios and paths, can be done at any time when there isn’t a hard frost that will prevent mortar and cement from setting, but changes involving plants are usually best carried out in spring and autumn.

However, you may not have inherited an established garden in good order. You may have bought a new house and even a new house sitting in a sea of builders’ rubble and mud! Or you may have taken on a completely overgrown or unsuitable garden. In these cases, the planning stage is vital if you are to get a good return on your efforts.

- Ideally you should make a scale drawing of the plot, taking into account the factors such as soil, aspect, etc. If you like drawing you will enjoy this phase. If you don’t, on a sheet of paper roughly draw the shape of the garden and mark where you want the principal features to go. At this stage, it is enough to write ‘lawn’, ‘bed’, ‘patio’, etc. When you mark it out on the actual site you will get a much better idea how it will look. For a precise style, such as a formal garden, your planning will need to be more detailed.

- Once you know what you want, mark it out in the garden using pegs and string, sand trickled through a funnel, or a garden hose. You will need to take account of the height of any features and how large your plants will grow.

For many people it is unlikely that the whole plan will be executed immediately, and there is no harm in creating your garden design bit by bit as long as you are still following an overall scheme that will eventually bring the whole garden together. In fact, putting your plans into practice in stages is often a good thing as it allows you to make alterations – what you have mapped out on paper does not always turn into the reality you expect. Whatever changes you make, it is important that the garden has a unified structure and is not simply a collection of disjointed elements. It will work best if you design it so that the different areas lead into one another – paths, arches, curved beds and even steps all provide good linking features.

You can alter the feel of your garden without making major structural changes. Using color is a good way to achieve this. Hot colors, such as reds and oranges, will make flowers stand out and the garden seem lively, whereas strong blues will make it feel cooler and soft shades, such as mauves, pale blues and pinks, will make it soothing and restful.

Here are some features you may need to take into account in your garden design:
- tool/bicycle/car storage
- patio
- barbecues and eating areas
- washing line
- rubbish areas (household and garden)
- compost bins
- bonfire site
- play area
- summer house/conservatory
- water features
- swimming pools
- paths
- areas for pets
- trellis/pergola
- anything to increase privacy and reduce noise
- containers
- trees
- kitchen garden
- area for cut flowers
- herb garden
- greenhouse.

Making Accurate Cuts With a Sliding Miter Saw

March 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

Making Accurate Cuts With a Sliding Miter Saw

Making Accurate Cuts With a Sliding Miter Saw

For making accurate cross-cuts and angles. the basic miter saw is premiere. There are two separate kinds of miter saw, the electrically powered and the manual saw. What achieves the accuracy of cuts is the blade that is suspended on rollers while being held in a metal guide.

While the manual miter saw was formerly used mostly for framing, the power saw is replacing it for most operations. With the power saw the blade drops onto the wood for a quick chopping cut which is cleaner and more accurate. Since the wood being cut is pressed firmly against a fence, this sharp cut is very clean.

The angled cuts can be made in 1 degree increments on most miter saws although most models also have several preset cuts at 15, 30 and 45 degrees since these are the most common cutting angles.

On a compound miter saw the blade can also be angles so as to cut a beveled egde to the material. While the basic miter saw just drops the blade straight down, the sliding saw has the blade mounted on two tubes so that the blade can also be pulled along horizontally for a longer cut per stroke.

Most power miter saws now have a laser sight which accurately shows exactly where the blade is going to cut into the material. A blade guard is critical to safe operation. This guard is spring loaded so that it always covers the blade except for when the wood pushes it up as the blade engages. When the blade is raised, the guard drops back to cover the teeth.

Another feature that helps with the cutting accuracy is the dust bag. Collected piles of sawdust can throw the blade off so this bag collects it as the cuts are made to keep the surface clear. With a well-maintained miter saw it is very hard to make a false cut and ruin materials.

How to Grow Fruit Bushes in Your Kitchen Garden

November 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

Although fruit bushes take a little time to become established and need attention and netting, the taste of home-grown gooseberries, redcurrants and white currants (all of which grow on a single stem) or blackcurrants (growing on a group of stems) is so delicious you may well decide to grow them. Green and red gooseberries, for example, are totally different from the fruits usually available in shops as you can (unlike commercial gooseberries) wait to harvest them when they are perfectly ripe.

All bush fruit does best on well-drained, but not dry, soil in moderate, damp climates with enough sun to ripen the fruit. Avoid frosty and windy sites. Typically, bushes should be set around 1.2-1.5 m/4-5 ft apart, perhaps a little more for blackcurrants. Mulch around the base in spring and be careful when weeding since many are shallow rooted. Pull up suckers carefully as they form.

Fruit Bushes

Fruit Bushes

Various formats are available but standards or semi-standards are probably the easiest because the branches are clear of the ground, making weeding and harvesting simpler. Late autumn or spring is the best time to plant, preparing the soil well and putting in everything but blackcurrants (which can go slightly deeper) level with the old soil mark.

Home-grown gooseberries are worth the effort. They need potash in winter or spring. Prune in the winter to make an open centre to the plant, to make picking easier and to reduce the chance of mildew. Cooking gooseberries can be picked in late spring or early summer, but leave them longer on the bush to ripen for eating. Mildew can be a problem so keep the bush well ventilated and cut away any branches the moment they begin to look powdery, or plant the resistant strain Tnvicta’. Other diseases include rust, grey mould and honey fungus.

Red- and white currants
Red- and white currants are botanically similar and easy to grow. They fruit on old wood and should be pruned in winter, but they are unfussy and will produce fruit whatever you do to them. Currants should always be picked as bunches rather than individual fruits, starting in early summer although they will not fully ripen until late summer or early autumn. Aphids and leaf blister can affect the plants but are not usually serious.

Blackcurrants are different from the other bushes. They are multi-stemmed, more sprawling, and take up more space in the garden unless you choose a compact variety. They need to be planted so the old soil mark on the stems is 5 cm/2 in below the soil level, as this will encourage growth. You should then cut the stems back to one bud above the ground. This will mean you do not get a crop the first year but it will provide a better framework for the bush.

Prune in autumn or winter, keeping the center open and, since blackcurrants fruit on the previous year’s growth, cut away any old or badly growing branches at the same time. Take out one-third of all fruiting stems each year, leaving no branches more than four years old on the plant. Unless you are going to eat blackcurrants immediately, they must be dry when you pick them. They will be ready to pick in summer and, with tougher skins, will keep better than red- and white currants. Mold, aphids and occasionally honey fungus can cause problems.

How to Create a Perfect Garden Patio

November 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

A patio may form part of a larger garden or take up the whole area of a small one as a courtyard. Building a patio as part of an existing garden is a big task so it is important you get it right first time.

- Position the patio correctly. The most practical place may seem near the house, but consider other options – it may be nice to walk down a path and either sit in a totally secluded area or look back at the house. Either way, it needs to be easily accessible and well lit if you are considering sitting out in the evening. Take into account when you will most use the patio and whether you want it to be in the sun or the shade.

Garden Patio

Garden Patio

- Make the patio as large as possible. You need to be able to fit a table and chairs on it and still allow room to walk around. If you find it is too large, you can always fill it up with some big containers.

- If the patio joins directly to the lawn, make the level slightly lower than the grass as this will make mowing much easier. The level should be higher than surrounding flowerbeds to prevent earth overflowing.

- The edges of the patio can be softened or modified by planting.

- If you want to change the position of an existing patio, wait a few months – the previous owners may have had a logical reason for siting it where they did, such as getting the evening sun, etc.

Courtyards need to be carefully designed because on a small scale every detail is important. In large gardens it is often possible to disguise unattractive features, such as an old shed, while in a small garden any fault will tend to stand out. There are advantages to gardening on a small scale though, and as enclosed courtyards can be very sheltered you may find that you can grow a greater range of plants than on a more exposed site in the same area. Small gardens can be given a greater sense of space by using a few tricks:

- Plant the beds with a mixture of tall and short plants.

- For privacy, trellis with climbers does not take up as much room as a hedge and does not block out as much light as a tall fence or wall. A good combination is to have a fence or wall up to 1.6-1.8 m/5-6 ft and then trellis on top.

- An arbour will provide privacy and a certain amount of shade depending on how thickly you train the plants over it.

- Lighting can be used to create illusions of greater space.

- Formal water features usually work better in small spaces, and the sound of flowing water can enhance the peace of a city courtyard.

- If you want to plant a tree, bear in mind what its roots may do to surrounding buildings and where it will cast shadows.
- Trellis, mirrors or even trompe-l’oeil can create the illusion of a greater area of garden, but these features must be positioned carefully to be effective. Always try to position mirrors so that they reflect part of the garden rather than the people in it. You want to create the impression of more space, rather than more people!

How to Create a Wildflower Meadow

October 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

Meadows are quick to create because they contain a high percentage of annuals, but they are hard to maintain as the delicate balance of plants can easily be disrupted. It is important to remember that most meadow plants flourish on relatively poor soil.

To make a meadow from an existing grassy area, stop mowing and introduce traditional, robust, wild flowers. Depending on the size of the area and your budget you can use plug plants or seeds. Whatever you do, don’t dig up wild plants but try to source local species as they will naturalise more easily. To create a meadow from scratch is often easier in the long run as you can replicate the poor soil which meadows thrive on naturally.

How to Create a Wildflower Meadow

How to Create a Wildflower Meadow

- In the autumn remove any grass or plants, taking away about 10-15 cm/4-6 in of soil at the same time. This is likely to be the most fertile and may be too rich for your meadow.

- Break up the soil below and remove any weeds such as dock or thistle. It may seem strange to weed an area that is going to be left wild but while it is getting established your meadow will need tending to ensure that the wrong sort of plants don’t take over.

- In spring gently flatten the soil as you would for planting grass.

- You can now plant plugs or scatter seed. In practice a mixture of the two is usually best with the plugs 15-20 cm/6-8 in apart and the seeds in between.

- Meadow seed mixes are easy to buy and will give you a good balance of plants. They are available for different soils and come in a range of colors (pastel, bright, etc.). Typical plants are poppies (Papaver), love-in-a-mist (Nigella), campion (Silene), cornflower (Centaurea) and meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense).

- Rye grass (Lolium) seeds are useful for filling gaps.

- Yellow rattle (Rhinathus minor) is also a useful annual plant to help maintain the balance of plants in your meadow. It germinates at exactly the same time as many of the stronger grasses start to grow and takes much of their water and nutrients, thereby preventing them from becoming too rampant. Luckily it is an attractive plant in its own right with pretty yellow flowers and rattly seed heads.

How to Create a Sense of Privacy in Any Garden

October 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

Fences and walls
These are probably the most common types of boundary. Most fences are relatively cheap and easy to construct and do not take up too much room, while a bushy hedge can easily encroach a metre or so into your garden. Fence panels with trellis on top work well. The fence, if the posts reach the top of the trellis, gives solidity and the trellis offers privacy and support for climbers without losing too much light (once boundaries are above eye level more is lost in light than gained in privacy by going much higher).

Since fences and walls last a long time, choose new ones carefully – their style and material should be both in keeping with the house and garden, and be strong enough – wooden uprights need treatment to prevent rot and to be buried in metal sleeves or concrete. Walls need good foundations, damp courses if they adjoin a house, and copings on top to prevent erosion by rain.

How to Create a Sense of Privacy in Any Garden

How to Create a Sense of Privacy in Any Garden

Strong winds will push over a completely solid fence so ideally about 40 per cent should be left open, letting wind through but slowing it down enough to prevent damage. More privacy can be offered by creepers. Fences should be treated annually to prevent rot but, if this isn’t possible (e.g. where climbers grow), at least check every spring and autumn that they are still in good repair and firmly fixed in the ground.

Hedges take up more space than fences or walls but provide a very good barrier and block out noises, such as passing traffic. If you are planting from new, the main decisions are whether the hedges should be evergreen or deciduous, formal or informal. Hornbeam or beech leaves turn brown in autumn without falling, providing interesting winter color. Informal hedges often take up more room than formally cut evergreens, although flowering shrubs like berberis can make attractive rather loose hedges.

Plants for a new hedge shouldn’t be too big or planted too close together. Smaller plants (up to 45 cm/18 in) will settle in quicker and grow faster in the long run. For most hedging plants 90 cm/ 3 ft is about the right distance apart – they will do best planted in early winter so that their roots can become properly established before the top starts growing in spring. Until established (at least three years), you will need to water your hedge and keep the base free of weeds. Afterwards, the only maintenance needed is pruning – trimming it at least once a year.

Things to do Before Hiring a Landscaping Company

March 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

Do you plan to have some landscaping work done for your home or your business office? Perhaps you have already found a landscaping company that you are already interested in hiring.

Before you jump into hiring this landscaping company there are some things that you must first take into consideration. Below are some steps that you should take before you ever sign a contract with a landscaping company.

Things to do Before Hiring a Landscaping Company

Things to do Before Hiring a Landscaping Company

Work history examples

When you have a company in mind to hire you need for them to be able to present you with some examples of their previous work that they have performed for other homeowners and business owners. The company should have previous photos of their work that they have done for past clients. When you see these photos you will be given a better idea of the style that this company works in and this will help you in determining whether or not you really want to hire them.


Before any professional landscaping company allows you to hire them for a job they should present you with quotes for how much it will cost you for them to complete the job that you want them to do. When estimates are taken the company representative that you are working with should be able to explain to you their plan for getting the job done.

It is very important for you to know the exact amount of money that you will be spending for them to landscape your lawn.


Getting references for such a big job like landscaping is something that is quite important for you to do. For the most part there are not too many people that call up the references that are offered but they are made available so that the customer will feel more comfortable about the business being one that is trusted.

Description/drawing of what you want

The landscaping company should have a clear precise understanding about what you want done to your lawn. If you are talented in drawing then perhaps draw what you want on paper and give it to them. If you prefer not to draw it then you can just basically explain to them what you want and where you want it in your yard.

Make sure that the company you plan to hire is able to complete the landscaping job that you want; they should have enough experience to complete various different tasks.

How to Purchase a Garden Hoop House

December 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

Growing your own food is the best way to provide for your family in difficult times. The increasing cost of food has placed a strain on many families. As a result, they are not very limited in terms of what they can afford by simply taking a trip to the grocery store. When you find yourself in need of a source of food that is inexpensive and reliable, it would be a good idea to invest in a garden hoop houses.

The cost of this investment would be very inexpensive if you are looking for options that are cost effective. In fact, you may be able to get a working system in place for just a few hundred dollars. However, making this investment would ensure that you have a means of growing food for many years to come.

How to Purchase a Garden Hoop House

How to Purchase a Garden Hoop House

Simply find a space on your property that you would like to use for the purpose of having your own food supply. After you have located the perfect place, you want to consider the size that would be best for your garden hoop house. The option that you select would depend on what you want to grow and the amount of food that your family requires.

Things to Consider When Shopping:

- Cost of investment

- Ease of installation

- Amount of space available

- Goals for growing

- How much you can afford to spend

- Quality of materials

- Ease of use

When you purchase a garden hoop house with all of these things in mind, you will have a much easier time finding the perfect option to meet your needs. There are many affordable options on the market today. In general, it would be best to go with something that would offer you additional space in order to grow a larger variety of items. It is important that you invest in a system that uses the best materials on the market today. When you take this approach, you would not have to worry about not being able to use the hoop house in the future.

There are many reasons that a garden hoop house would be a great addition to your home. After you find one at a price that would fit your budget, you would be very happy with all that it would be able to provide to you. This simple investment can help you to limit the cost of food that you would pay for many years to come.

Reasons to Purchase:

- Maintain ideal climates

- Extend growing season

- Increase yield

- Save space

- Grow a larger variety of foods

If you are someone that would like to begin growing your own foods, you would find that your results are directly related to the tools that you use in order to attempt to secure your own source of food. One of the best ways to keep the cost of food down for your family would be to invest in a hoop house and begin growing all of your own foods.

Move Your Plants From A Greenhouse To A Raised Bed

November 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

When you use your greenhouse to provide your family with organic fruit and vegetables all year round, you can also grow plants in raised beds during the spring to autumn season if you use varieties that can cope with those changes of weather conditions.

A raised bed is designed to make gardening much easier than adding your plants directly into your garden where you will need to bend time and time again to the floor and back. With a raised bed, you may not need to bend much at all.

Move Your Plants From A Greenhouse To A Raised Bed

Move Your Plants From A Greenhouse To A Raised Bed

Looking after your raised beds

You can choose to build a basic raised bed quite easily or you can purchase one ready-made and have it delivered to your home. You need to have your bed targeted from north to south so you can gain the maximum amount of the sun’s rays during the middle of the day.

You will need to cover it with netting so the birds don’t come and devour your plants before you have grown suitable fruit and vegetables.

Potting plants in a greenhouse

When you have planned your timescales correctly, the plants you have potted in your greenhouse will be ready to move to the raised beds just as soon as the spring season arrives and the final frosts have disappeared. There’s no rush to move your potting plants away from your greenhouse, but the sooner you do, you have the opportunity to grow more organic fruit and vegetables in your greenhouse across the summer season, perhaps fulfilling your need for some exotic fruits that you wouldn’t be able to grow outside in your garden.

The big move

Once your plants are ready for the big move outside, the first task is to get them used to the outside temperatures. You can complete this first stage of the move by taking the plants outside for a short period each day so that they are exposed to the changes in temperature and air movements. You should avoid exposing them to dramatic changes, so you might need to have a look at the weather report first.

You can ensure that your young plants are protected from birds because they will become a meal quite quickly if they are not covered sufficiently.

When the time comes to finally move your plants from the greenhouse to the raised bed you will need to firm the soil around them and water the whole area well to ensure that the roots are particularly moist. For the first few days you will need to keep a watchful eye on your young plants so that if any problems occur you can solve them straightaway. Growth will be slow in the first couple of weeks because the roots will be trying to re-establish themselves in their new home.

If you are new gardener, you might have to learn a little about trial and error for the best time to plant out your seedlings that you’ve raised indoors in your greenhouse. You will have some successes and no doubt, some failures, and it may not be your fault, but purely down to the weather changes, that kill off some of your plants quite quickly.

Use a Snow Thrower to Clear your Sidewalk

May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Gardening 101

In areas with significant amount of snow, people in general have a shovel and spend quite a lot of time clearing off the snow from their sidewalks. That should not be a problem for those in excellent physical shape, unless you have a larger driveway and several sidewalks. Sooner or later, you will definitely not going to enjoy this activity anymore and you’ll get a snow thrower.

The machine will ease your life as it will clear off the snow without much effort from your part. You just need to operate the snow thrower.

Use a Snow Thrower to Clear your Sidewalk

Use a Snow Thrower to Clear your Sidewalk

Snow throwers can be classified in two categories: one stage and two stage snow thrower. The first one is the most common choice for most people, while people with home renting services and with responsibilities to the tenants, will probably prefer a two stage snow blower.

The one stage snow thrower uses one rapid impeller, which gathers the snow, which is then discharged through a chute into a chosen area. As these machines are rather light, they are not suitable for major snowfalls.

On the other hand, with the use of a two stage machine, the snow is removed in two stages. The machine is equipped with an auger that first fragments the snow, which ends up in the impeller and it is discharged through a chute. Such a snow thrower is best suited for areas with heavy and frequent snowfalls.

Use it wisely, and a snow thrower will turn out to be a true life saver. You can choose from various different reliable manufacturers, such as Toro, John Deere, Honda and Sears-Craftsman. It is preferable to purchase a snow thrower, when they are on sale, at the end of the season.

When considering buying a snow thrower, there are a few things to keep in mind, which refers to the machine’s throwing distance, clearing width and also the amount of snow that is able to handle at a time.

Be careful

When handling a snow thrower, it is very important to protect yourself with eye goggles and ear protection.
Keep in mind that snow blowers are bladed tools, and as such are potentially dangerous if they are not used as they should be. In case the machine jams, just turn off the engine and unlock the clutch.

However, do not attempt to clear the jam with your hand. It is safer to use a broom handle or some stronger stick. The failure to follow these procedures can cost you a finger or two.

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