How To Know What To Plant In Your Garden

what to plant in your garden

How To Know What To Plant In Your Garden
By Christina Lane

How do you figure out what to plant in your garden? There are a number of deciding factors that you can use to figure out what will be the perfect plants to grow in your garden. Some of them are things that you can do nothing about, such as your particular climate. Others such as availability can still allow you to get that particular plant, but with a little help. There are many online sites that can cater to finding you a plant that you may not be able to find locally for your garden. But doing your research, as with in anything, will be what pays off for making your garden all it can be.

A first time gardener should take the time to research what particular growing climate they are in before picking out plants. It is relatively easy to find this out by going to the USDA web page for the growing zones. Once you’ve confirmed which zone you live in it will help tell you what plants you can grow. But there are variances, a family that lives in Vergennes, Vermont is in a zone 5, but plants from neighboring zones such as zone 4 or even zone 3 can be sometimes be grown in that area. It’s just that those neighboring zone plants may not do as well as in their normal area. If you check out the USDA map and simply click on your state you can easily find your specific zone.

If you don’t grow your plants for your garden yourself from seeds, then you can check with your local nurseries to see what they have. Some hardware and lawn and garden stores will carry garden plants too; so that may be a good resource for you. But if you do grow your plants from seed the sky is the limit as to what you can try. Some plants that aren’t designated in your zone may be a harder grow and require more TLC; but it can be really fun to try. There are a number of seeds available in many of your local stores for choosing from. You may find them at: hardware stores, lawn and garden stores, nurseries or even your grocery and drug store. But if you’re looking for something specific, check out some of the tried and tested online seed stores.

But the biggest deciding factor in what to grow in your garden should be based upon space and a poll of the family members within your house. If you grow a garden full of say… turnips and nobody in your home eats turnips then, well… that’s a waste. But polling your family is a great way of getting them involved in what to grow in your garden.

Gardening is a great stress reliever along with allowing you to provide food for your family. Find more tips on gardening at LanDavi Farms . You can also find books, links and more tips on gardening at their sister site LOL Lane’s Online Lawnsale.

What To Plant in Your Garden?

Apartment Gardening – Starting the Right Way

apartment gardening

Love Apartment Gardening


By Jill Smith

You don’t have to sacrifice your love of gardening just because you’re living your big city dreams-or maybe you’re a total gardening newbie. While it’s lovely to have a spacious lawn and plot ideal for growing your own flowers, veggies and herbs, the reality is that gardening doesn’t actually require a lot of space. In reality, it doesn’t even require a lawn or yard at all. Urban or apartment gardening is spreading like weeds, and tucking into your studio or flat for the winter is the perfect time to get your garden in order.

An added bonus of apartment gardening is that it can be very therapeutic. There are many upsides to city life, but the downside is that it’s challenging to get back to nature. Too much time in the urban jungle can lead to stress and generally feeling blue, but the peaceful, nurturing ambiance of a garden can provide great therapy. Here’s how to get your apartment garden blossoming (and get spring started early).

Define “Garden”

Container plants can be just as fruitful and enjoyable as those grown in a garden. Whether you have a small balcony, patio, roof or even a windowsill available, there’s some part of your apartment that gets natural sunlight. The type of plant that will flourish in your apartment depends largely on where you live, the temperature and availability of sunlight. However, popular apartment gardening plant choices include peppers, small tomatoes, lettuce and Farmers Long Japanese eggplant.

Start by choosing the right site for your plant demands in terms of sunlight and protection from wind. Warm-season veggies like tomatoes need a minimum of six hours of sun per day and are vulnerable to hot winds. However, ferns and other shade lovers need some safeguarding from the sun and are ideal for apartment dwellers who don’t get much natural light.

Prep Your Container

You can match the container’s design and colors to your decor; just make sure a drain hole is at the bottom. Add a simple screen to keep the soil inside> Include a saucer to collect extra moisture that leaks out. Buy a size larger container so the plant has room to mature. Vegetables do best in containers that are 14 inches in diameter. Use potting mixture that is fast draining while still holding in moisture. Your local garden center will be happy to advise you of just the perfect soil and nutrients.

When it comes to watering keep in mind that with apartment gardening more watering is required. Sometimes, if the weather gets exceptionally hot and/or windy, watering numerous times per day may be necessary. A thorough and even watering is required to ensure the drainage holes are reached. With fertilization, a bi-monthly liquid option during growth season is an easy method to use.

Easy Apartment Gardening Tips

Most importantly, choose a plant that you will truly enjoy. whether it’s the aroma of rosemary or miniature limes doesn’t matter. What matters is if you like it or not. It’s always best to choose plants which are naturally local. They’re already attuned to the environment (this is less important if you’ll be keeping the plants indoors). Be forewarned-those whimsical fantasies of moving to the suburbs will likely be squashed when you have the best of both worlds in your city apartment. Still, there’s something magical about caring for a living thing regardless of location.

Jill Smith is the Director of Digital Content Marketing for Be Locally SEO. She enjoys writing helpful online content that both serves as a resource to the public while helping small businesses improve their internet presence. For excellent gardening advice for all types of gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah, see [http://www.millcreekgardens.com/soils-and-soil-conditioners/]Millcreek Gardens or a local plant nursery near you.

Jill Smith works for Be Locally SEO.

Apartment Gardening

Designing Your Garden

designing your garden, garden design

Designing Your Garden – What Makes a Good Garden?

By Sandra Pullman

Garden design is a very personal thing and is often an expression of your personality. What I like, you may not and vice versa. Some people like neat and tidy gardens where there are no surprises, others love the thrill of winding paths, lots of different plant material and not knowing what is around the corner. There are three main styles of gardens formal, semi-formal and informal. They can then be divided into many types of gardens and that depends on what you would like. In designing your garden you can be intimately tidied to the style of your house as in example of the grand French chateaux where the geometric patterns of the garden mimic the geometric construction of the house or it can have no connection to your house at all.

Some people are lucky and have this innate gift of knowing how to design space, making it a pleasing place to be in. Others don’t have this gene and find it very difficult to visualize how the space will work. To create a good design it is important you understand that design is about managing space and people moving around it. The core of good garden design centers round patterns and the space within these patterns. By using geometrical shapes, circles, triangles, rectangles etc. you can achieve a unified feel to your garden. So you need to think about ground patterns and movement around your garden. Where would you like people to go? Ground patterns can be achieved with the use of bricks, paving and plant material such as cut grass etc.

Formal gardens are symmetrical and geometrical and are strict in terms of repeating patterns and plant materials on either side. It is very controlled, plants are clipped, shaped, manipulated regularly and today is often suitable for small gardens like court yards. Urns, balustrades, stone, gravel paths, parterres, formal pools and framed views are all part of the formal garden. There are no surprises, you know what to expect.

Informal designs are asymmetrical and not as regimented. Plant material is allowed to spill over the structural elements such as walls, steps and paths. Plant material is allowed to self-seed and wander around the garden. Informal garden design is softer, full of surprises thus you don’t know what to expect.

And semi-formal is the combination of the above two. Usually it is the built structures such as retaining walls, paths and steps that are formal and the informal element is the plant material which is allowed to spill over them, softening their hard outlines.

Within these three types, there are many different styles of gardens to choose from such as contemporary, Japanese, Mediterranean, cottage, courtyard, kitchen garden or secret garden.

Contemporary is a modern style that likes to reflect the surrounding but also use a wide range of plant material. Form and texture of foliage are as important as flowers. Hard landscaping is woven into geometrical shaped buildings; all of which flow into the wider landscape. Plants are used as focal points to highlight the architectural forms.

Cottage was a late nineteenth-century ideal to return to the simple cottages of the country. They were planted with hardy bulbs, flowers, fruit bushes and herbs and vegetables. They were geometric, colors were harmonized and luxurious as plants grew well as they were heavily manured regularly.

Mediterranean is not limited to one particular area but is defined according to hot summers and low rainfall. They encompass entertaining areas, shade, good views and dramatic shadows. Hot colorful plants are used and lots of lush green foliage plants to create a cool atmosphere. Plants need to be drought tolerant. Evergreen plants are popular because they cast shade on hot days. Walls are white washed to reflect the sun, pergolas built to create shade and use terracotta pots. There is often a water feature and water provides cooling vibes.

Japanese gardens encompass religion and Japan’s cultural history. Japanese gardens are very symbolic often the symbols relate to nature. Plants are ‘tamed’ and there is an emphasis on evergreen trees and shrubs. They are very controlled and often minimalist. True Japanese gardens are contemplative a place of meditation and great calm.

Planning

If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start when designing your garden, I suggest you break it up into areas called rooms thus dividing one big space into several smaller spaces. For example: there is the front garden, the side garden and the back garden. Once you have decided where they begin and end you can then divide each of those areas up again. For example in the back garden you could have the entertaining area, the grass/children’s area, the utilities area (includes the compost heap and shed), the pool area and the vegetable/orchard area. Once you have defined the areas/rooms you can tackle one at a time, thus making a huge project into several smaller projects.

The Three Planning Stages

To create an interesting and exciting garden there are 3 sets of plans (may be four if you need an engineer’s structural plans) you need to devise:- Site Analysis Plan, Concept Plan and Planting Plan, usually all drawn to scale.

The First Steps

To design a garden that works there are several things you need to do before buying plants and planting them. If you follow these steps you are more likely to have a successful garden.

Site Analysis

It is important to make an inventory of the area you are designing. Things to include are:

  • Levels – steep/flat
  • Aspect – North/south
  • Sun/shade
  • Sun Summer/Winter
  • Shadows
  • Existing trees and buildings
  • Wind
  • Views – good and bad
  • Soil conditions
  • Entrances – Front/back doors
  • Power lines
  • Underground cables and pipes
  • Clothes line
  • Fences
  • Sheds and garages
  • Paved and unpaved areas
  • Patio/BBQ
  • Lighting
  • Drainage – runoff of storm water

Once you have noted the above, it is now time to really start designing your garden by drawing up the space. You can draw it roughly (not to scale) but eventually you will have to draw it to scale. Start by measuring the area you is designing, draw it to scale i.e. 1:100 and put all the above points onto your drawn plan. All these influences need to be drawn on paper, so that you can gauge any trends. For example there might be a paved path from the back door to the garage, but everyone takes a short cut across the lawn, creating a desire line. No – one uses the paved path. So perhaps pave the desire line and make it the official path.

The next step in designing your garden is the concept plan and this is the plan where you put down your ideas. It can be as wild and as adventurous as you like. Forget cost, enjoy your creativity. This is the stage where you put down your dreams of what you have always wanted. Later on, you hip pocket will decide for you whether you can have them. Anything is possible, so don’t be shy, dream away. Again this can be roughly drawn or to scale, it is up to you.

The third and final plan is the planting plan and it is preferable that it is drawn to scale as this allows you to know exactly how many plants you will need. It incorporates all the ideas you have decided upon and shows you how the finished garden is going to look. It is the road map which will guide you to building your new garden.

There may be a fourth plan if your site is steep or you are having major elements built, as you may need the advice of an engineer.

Points to Consider

Think about your soil conditions, is it heavy clay or light and sandy? What plants will grow in these conditions? Are some areas boggy and some always dry?

Sun conditions

The sun is higher in the sky during spring and summer and shadows are shorter. Whereas in winter, the sun is lower in the sky and casts longer shadows. So a plant might be in full sun in summer and complete shade in winter. Can it tolerate this? Also think about the conditions the plants require. Are they full sun plants like roses or shade loving plants like azaleas?

Wind

You also need to think about wind direction. Which way does the prevailing wind come from? Screens and hedges are one way of managing this problem but what problems are they going to cause? Making the block feel narrow, casting shadows etc.? It is important to know because some plants don’t like wind and it is no good putting the BBQ/entertainment area in an uncomfortable spot.

Views

Views out your window or from your garden are very important. Some are intrusive while others are desired. If you wish to block out flats/neighbors etc. you may need to put in a higher fence or a hedging screen of some kind. Or you may want to design your garden to enhance the view of the mountain, ocean etc.

Utilities and Service Lines

You also need to be aware where your services and utilities are; things like clothesline, overhead power lines etc. If you damage the gas, telephone or electricity lines, you are liable to pay for their repair.

Principles of Designing Your Garden

To create a well-designed garden, it is important to put the right plant in the right position. This means considering the cultural requirements of the plant. For example putting a full sun plant such as rose into a shady position isn’t going to work, because the rose won’t be receiving the right amount of sunlight for it to grow. The idea of good garden design is to follow this philosophy, using the placement of plants to create mystery, tension and surprise by using tricks of the eye, colors and textures.

Tension, mystery and surprise make a garden interesting. One way to create these is to use hedges, low walls, screens, paths, steps to make individual ‘garden rooms’ with tension points that captures your attention on the way. For example a narrow oblong garden can be made more interesting if you can’t see the back fence – that there is a feature (plant or statue etc.) that obscures the fence. It also becomes more interesting if the path way is narrow then opens up into another room. A winding path adds mystery to the garden if you can’t see what is around the corner. Surprise comes when you go around the corner and discover a focal point.

A focal point is something like a seat/statue/water feature that leads your eye directly to it. For example – a pergola that has a statue at the end of it. The statue is the feature and is the reason why you look/walk to see it. Another example of a focal point is a pathway leading through a door that is open and shows a vista of the wider landscape.

The success of the focal point can depend on the how successfully the ground patterns lead you there. If the paving encourages you along this path thus creating some tension and mystery, you are more likely to follow the path to see what’s there because you have become inquisitive. Narrow paths encourage you to walk quickly and not to dilly dally along the way, whereas wide paths say stroll, take you time, and look at the surrounding vegetation. A gentle curve can be negotiated at speed, but a tight curve can’t be so people slow down as there is risk involved. Paving is used as a directional tool says don’t walk that way, but walk this way. Edging bricks say don’t step over this – this is a boundary. Paving can also be used to reflect the ground plane of the house or other shapes in the garden.

Long narrow gardens have a strong directional emphasis that needs to be broken up. Square plots are static. To solve these problems the space’s shape needs to be changed. A circular design distracts the eye from the straight lines of the boundary fence. You could also use a series of rectangles using the boundaries as part of the design.

Another method is to turn the garden onto a 45 degree angle. A long diagonal line will immediately create a feeling of space. The paving near the house could be done on an angle and high light the diagonal line of the entire garden.

Gardens with a dog-leg in them can utilize the bend by using tension, mystery and surprise to lead you around the corner to a focal point of some kind.

Unified space is created by controlling the movement around the garden. It is the way areas are linked together by paths, bridges, pergolas, steps and terraces that determine whether a garden is successful. Careless placing can ruin the flow of the garden. If you wish to direct someone’s attention to a particular point then there must be a clear reason in the design for following this pathway.

Ground levels are very important when designing your garden. If a slope is too steep to walk down safely, steps may be needed and if the entire block is on a slope, the whole area may need to be terraced. What material you use is also important. Steps should not be of slippery materials and gravel may wash away. The surfaces need to be flat otherwise they could be dangerous and people will not want to walk along them and instead they may create a desire lines.

Levels help to create interest and ‘rooms’ in a garden because you move from one place to another by steps/paths/etc. Allow your levels to gently flow into one another and keep them simple. Don’t over decorate them. A slope up from the house will appear foreshortened whereas a slope down from the house will appear larger.

Choosing Plant Materials

There are 3 types of gardens:- the plants man, the garden designer and the gardener’s (mix of the first two). The plants man gardens consist of lots of singular plantings, unconnected and often rare and difficult to source. The garden designer’s garden consists of plants that are tried and tested – they use plants that they know and how they perform. The gardener’s garden has learned that their favorite plants can be more effective if planted in a scheme.

When choosing plants you must consider what the conditions are of your garden. There is no point putting alkaline tolerant plants in acid soil or vice versa. It won’t work! You need to think about what your plants you have chosen require moist soils, dry soils, shade, sun, well drained, boggy soils. If you do your research correctly and place your plants in the right position, you are well on the way to a successful garden.

The height and spread of your plants also needs to be considered. Tall growing plants are placed at the back of the garden bed, graduating down to the low plants. Remember some plants send up flower spikes that may be much larger than the plant itself, so they need to be positioned according to their flower spike height. Some plants are bushy so don’t forget to leave sufficient room for them to spread. They may need annual pruning to keep them in check.

Color

Another trick in the designing tool bag is using color. Color is the sensation of illumination which is light. The way colors inter-react with each other depends on their position in color wheel. Manipulating color is great fun and can create all sorts of illusions. Colors are divided into 2 groups primary red, yellow, blue and secondary green, violet, orange. Secondary colors are made of combining two primary such as mixing blue and yellow together to create green. You can make a space look cold or create distance by using pale and brown colors. You can also make a space looker bigger than it really is by using warm colors such as oranges, reds or yellows. If you want to make a space look closer to you, again use warm colors. As reds, oranges or yellow are very busy colors to the eye, it is a good idea to intersperse white flowers or grey foliage plants to calm the visual scene down. White and grey also intensify blue and pale colors.

One thing to remember about the Australia sun is that the best time to look at our gardens is in the late afternoon when the sunlight is not as strong. Our hot sun tends to fade our flowers colors and the glare at mid-day tends to wash the color out.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about designing your garden, divide your space up and take it slowly, completing one section at a time. Don’t start another part until you have finished the section you are working on and very soon you will have a beautiful garden. Remember gardens are ephemeral, it is a process that is forever evolving. You never really finish.

See my next article On Creating a Gorgeous Garden and Living with Pets

Sandra Pullman B.App.Sc. (Hort) Hons. Burnley-Uni Melb. Visit my website for “down to earth”, good quality, reliable and practical advice explained to you in layman’s terms. I also run gardening courses for beginners. Check out my website for upcoming class dates and locations. All your gardening solutions are one click away! gardenpatch.com Or check out my blog site: sandisgardenpatch.blogspot.com There you can ask me questions.

Article Source: Designing Your Garden – What Makes a Good Garden?

Designing a Perfect Garden

designing a perfect garden

Steps to Designing a Perfect Garden

By Linsey Evans

Designing a perfect garden is not just the ability to create a beautifully illustrated plan, although this is one of the many outputs of the garden design process and arguably the most exciting. A garden designer’s role is to find creative, practical solutions to the many technical challenges presented by an outdoor space. A good garden designer can make a garden that is useable and suitable for a specific set of requirements as well as being beautiful and a pleasure to spend time in.

It would not be possible to describe fully how to design a perfect garden in a single article. A great deal of training and experience is required to understand how to obtain the correct ratio of mass to void in a garden design scheme, or how to create rhythm in a garden design, or working with shapes to ensure the garden flows and feels comfortable to use. So, the following paragraphs outline major steps in the garden design process and I will go into more detail about each phase in separate articles.

1. Decide on the requirements for the garden

Before considering aesthetics it is necessary to understand the practical requirements for the garden such as how it will be used, by whom and who will look after it. Answering a series of questions is the best way to arrive at the requirements. These are the kind of questions that need to be answered to arrive at the requirements:-

• How much time is available to look after the garden?

• Will a professional maintenance company/garden be looking after the garden?

• Will the garden be used by pets or children?

• Does the garden need to cater for elderly or disabled visitors?

• Will the garden need to cater for users with mobility problems?

• Will the garden be used for eating and entertaining?

• How many people will want to use the garden at one time?

• Is the garden owned by a keen, knowledgeable gardener?

The aim is to arrive at a list of requirements which forms the basis of the design process.

2. Get inspired

Experienced garden designers know the value of regularly looking at all forms of art and architecture in order to keep their ‘visual vocabulary’ up to date and get inspiration for their designs. Inspiration can come from a shape in nature like an old, gnarled tree, an architectural detail on a building, a combination of shapes and colours in a painting, almost anywhere if you are looking with a creative eye.

Look at materials, interior and exterior. Textures and patterns in wall and floor tiles, stone cladding, marble mosaics, etc are a great source of inspiration and can result in a piece of detailing that lifts the garden design scheme out of the mundane. Visit landscaping supply yards, reclamation yards and interior design suppliers like the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour in London.

Visit some gardens, look in gardening books and magazines, go to some garden shows like the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Flower Show and look at the show gardens.

3. Take the site survey

Take a thorough site survey and analysis. Measure the house including the position and height of all doors and windows. The survey should show steps, drains, manhole covers, chimney breasts, and anything else that will affect the final garden design.

A garden is rarely square or flat. Use triangulation and offsetting to plot in the garden boundaries, and the location of all plants, garden features and buildings. Make a note of things outside the garden like overhanging trees or a fabulous view as they will affect the eventual design of the garden. Survey any level changes in the garden and mark these clearly on the survey.

Take a soil sample for analysis. It’s important when planting to know what the ph level (acidity or alkalinity) of the soil in order to choose the correct plants. Some plants prefer a soil that is more acidic and others will only grow in a more alkaline soil. It is also necessary to identify boggy places, shaded areas and other potentially troublesome parts of the garden.

A note must be made of what lies beyond the garden boundaries. If the garden overlooks a great view this can be used as part of the new design – this is called ‘borrowing’ the view. However, if there is something ugly outside the garden like a derelict building, or the garden is overlooked by neighbouring properties these will need to be screened out as part of the garden design.

The site survey must be drawn up to scale, in ink on a piece of tracing paper large enough to show clearly the new design and put in labels – most gardens will fit onto an A1 sheet.

4. Designing the perfect garden

Using the requirements and site survey the new design is created using a series of interconnected geometric shapes. The final design should create a pleasing picture on paper and each element that comprises the design should be the correct size for its intended purpose. For example, if the terrace needs to seat 6 people for dinner it must be large enough to hold a table of the correct size with room to pull out chairs so that people can sit down and stand up comfortably.

The design must addresses any sloping parts of the garden. If flat spaces are required for lawns, seating areas, etc and the site is sloping retaining walls will be required -these should be shown clearly on the plan.

The new design should be drawn to scale in ink on a piece of tracing paper. Everything must be labelled clearly including wall heights, paved areas, lawn, edgings, pergolas, planted areas, walls with their heights, water features.

5. Choose construction materials

Select materials for constructing each area and make sure these are labelled on the plan. There are many different construction materials available and these vary greatly in price and quality. Research DIY stores, garden centres, and landscape and building suppliers to find materials that suit the intended purpose, and fit the budget.

6. Create the planting plan

A planting plan is required that shows the location, type and numbers of plants clearly labelled with their Latin names for each planted area of the garden. Planting should comprise a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, herbaceous plants and bulbs that will give a year-round display of colour and scent. The plants give the garden structure and that important quality of seasonal change.

7. Create the construction plan

The construction plan helps remove margin for error and ensure the garden is constructed correctly to a high standard. The construction plan is a technical drawing that shows contractors how to construct specific features in the garden such as steps, pergolas, fences and retaining walls. It should contain details of required paving patterns and sections showing how paving is to be laid, how footings for walls are to be constructed, how edgings are to be laid.

8. Create the setting out plan

The setting out plan is another technical drawing that enables landscape contractors to construct the garden accurately. This plan shows the dimensions and location of all features in the garden. The central point of any circular features such as seating areas and lawns will be shown as a measurement from a fixed, measurable point such as the corner of the house. This plan will also show angular dimensions, wall heights relative to finished paving height, and the finished ground level of any terraced areas.

The setting out plan enables landscape contractors to quickly mark out the garden before they start building the garden. This allows them to check there are no errors in the design or survey and that the design will fit correctly into the space. It enables adjustments to the plan, if necessary, before construction work starts, thereby avoiding expensive mistakes further down the line.

Linsey Evans is a garden designer who specialises in designing sloping gardens and tricky spaces.

Visit the Linseysgardens Web site today and get in touch if you need help designing your garden.

Designing a Perfect Garden