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Spring Landscaping: Organic Garden Ideas

Spring is the perfect time of year to update your landscape design by planting new perennial plants, adding to the visual appeal by putting up a gazebo or a water feature, and sprucing up existing plants and shrubs. Landscaping increases the curb appeal of your home and serves to create an outdoor space you and your family enjoy.

Whether you are new to landscaping or looking for new ideas to add to your lawn or garden, spring is the perfect time to get started. Some plants, bulbs, and flowers do best when planted in the spring. Color is an essential part of the visual appeal of your landscape design, so the first step is deciding what colors you want to add.

Bulbs planted in the spring will be ready to bloom throughout the summer months. There are a few tips for planting bulbs to ensure that they grow strong and healthy. The depth you plant the bulb should be approximately two and a half times the depth of the bulb. So, if a bulb is two inches tall, you would plant the bulb about five inches below the surface. Most bulbs prefer well-drained soil, so avoid any soggy areas in your yard. Compost will help nourish your bulbs, so add a few shovelfuls of compost to the area where you will do your planting.

Hardy bulbs that do not require extensive maintenance to do well include:

  • Chinese Ground Orchids—these orchids only grow to about 18-inches in height and do best in shady areas. They come in purple, lavender, and white and will eventually develop an entire colony.
  • Hardy Begonia—as the name implies, these bulbs produce a low maintenance flowering plant that reaches approximately two feet in height. These Begonias can survive cold winters and come back to bloom year after year.
  • Oriental lilies—these beautiful flowers make a great focal point in your lawn or garden. They come in a broad range of heights and colors and will need to be staked as they grow. The flowers they produce are heavy, and they will need extra support.

Perennial flowers, in a riot of colors, scream that spring is finally here. Pansies are a classic favorite, used in beds, containers and window boxes. They can take full sun or partial shade, and last well into the depths of summer. If you have a woodland theme, the Bloodroot perennial is a great choice. The plant produces a white flower that lasts well into late spring or early summer, and thrive in shaded areas.

If you have never tried organic gardening techniques, this year is the perfect time to give it a try. One of the many benefits of organic gardening is that it makes sense to leave some part of your outdoor space vacant to allow wildlife to thrive. Leaving an area wild means less work, but adds a place of visual interest with no effort. Birds and insects that will thrive in this area will help pollinate your plants, and they will reduce pests that cause damage.

Other organic gardening ideas include:

  • Use three inches of mulch in organic beds. Mulch serves to keep weeds from growing, retains moisture in the soil and nourishes your plantings.
  • Consider the bio-intensive technique for a gorgeous look, or if you are planting in limited space. Biointensive planting places all plants close together, which prevents weed growth and saves water. Do your research about what plants thrive in tight confinement. You can combine things such as Tuscan Kale, Swiss chard, beets, and colorful herbs. These combinations give your garden a unique look while providing delicious organic food.
  • Water conservation, or even restrictions, are critical considerations in some areas. An organic, environmentally friendly way to water plants is to recycle a pretty bottle by filling it with water, then turning it upside down quickly and shoving it into the soil. The water will slowly leak out, providing a constant source of slow watering.
  • Use recycled cardboard to choke out weeds in your garden. Clear your space, cut the cardboard to fit your area, then layer with mulch and compost. The best part is that the cardboard will decay, nourishing the soil as it does.
  • Be creative in creating containers for your garden. Old boots, no longer needed handbags, wine crates, or salvaged wood can all be turned into one-of-a-kind containers that are budget and environmentally-friendly.
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Small Garden Patio Ideas

Having a small outdoor space such as a patio garden can still let you create an enjoyable outdoor oasis with creativity and some space-saving landscape design ideas. Whether you want a retreat for relaxing, reading, or having coffee with a friend, or maybe you plan on hosting intimate dinners on a small patio. In order to make the most of your outdoor space, you need to start with a vision of what function you want the area to fulfill. Once you know how you want your outdoor garden to feel, you can pull together the pieces that work best with the space you have. All gardens should start with plants, so here are some tips to help you find the best planting ideas for small spaces.

Container Plants

If you do not have much green space to work with, you might want to use container plants for your outdoor garden patio. Container plants are easy to manage and care for, and the containers themselves can serve as décor pieces. Container gardens also make it easy to move them around and change the look depending on your mood or how you want to use the space.

 

Border Plants

Do you want to plant a border around your patio? Using foliage as a border allows you to define your patio space while adding greenery and color to suit your taste. Plants that do well as borders include:

  1. Tri-color sage—good for drier and sandy soil and likes full sunlight. Tri-color sage gives a splash of color year-round, and in the spring and summer, the lavender blooms will attract butterflies to your patio.
  2. Moss Phlox—a hardy and low maintenance plant that is drought tolerant makes a lovely border that does not require much work. It generally blooms in April and May and does well in full sun while tolerating sandy and rocky soil.
  3. Sweet Alyssum—known for its fragrant blooms, this plant thrives in many climates and is drought tolerant. It thrives best in full sun, except in scorching sun. In the hot sun, planting in partial shade will allow you to enjoy the fragrance and beauty of this border plant.
  4. Create a gorgeous border using herbs —combine thyme, oregano, English lavender, and sage to make a border with visual interest and a practical function of having fresh herbs on hand. Herbs have an added advantage of suppressing weeds, making your border easy to maintain.
  5. Consider a water feature to add interest and serenity to your space. You can find water features that will fit almost any sized garden patio area, so find the one that works best with the space and vibe you want to create. Flowing water is beautiful and relaxing and can also attract birds, wildlife, and hummingbirds to your patio.
  6. Add a fire pit or chiminea for cool evenings and to extend the amount of time you can use your outdoor living space. There is little that is more relaxing than a crackling fire on a cool evening. Fire adds a natural gathering spot for gathering around, and invites you to enjoy cool autumn days outside.

 

Ambiance & Landscape Lighting

 

Now that you have made your decisions about plants and borders, you can move on to creating the ambiance of your outdoor living space. The next step in creating your space is to pick out the furniture you want to use to entertain or enjoy your patio. It is important to choose the most comfortable furnishings for your outdoor space. Even on a small patio, you want to consider adding a table for outdoor dining and chairs that invite you to put your feet up and stay awhile, or curl up with a good book.

To complete your look, use landscape lighting to illuminate the masterpiece you have created. Solar lights come in many styles and shapes and will reduce any worry about electrical malfunctions. Use soft illumination around the edges of your patio to define the space and add additional lighting for the table and around the chairs. You can choose the romantic look of string lights, the elegance of coach lamps, or any combination that suits your needs.

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Tips

Easy Tips to Landscaping Your Garden

Your lawn is the first impression someone gets of your home and your lifestyle. It gives them an idea of the kind of person you are and the kind of house you keep. Therefore, your landscape design should reflect your personality and what you value most.

 

Determine Your Needs

The first step to designing your landscape is to determine its primary usage. Your yard should reflect your lifestyle. If you have children who need room to play, you need to have amble grass and plants that are not too fragile. If you have a green thumb and want a garden, consider if you’re going to grow food, flowers, or a mixture of both. If you want a low maintenance landscape design, consider plants and shrubbery that require little upkeep. Your needs will help you decide the layout of your landscape.

 

Flower Bed Borders

If you want to tidy up your flower beds and create a clean, polished look, consider adding a flower bed border or retainer wall. Flowers bed borders are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to add sophistication to your landscaping. You can get creative with the kind of brick or stones you use and showcase your personality with bright colors and intricate designs. A border also creates a barrier for plant roots and helps prevent soil erosion. It also helps keep weeds at bay and stops turf grass from growing into your gardening space.

 

Islands

Island beds are freestanding garden plots that are usually surrounded by grass. Many homeowners choose to add “islands” into their front yard to create a colorful focal point. Island beds should be visible from all sides, so consider this when selecting your location. It’s also essential to understand the purpose of your island. Are you trying to fill up an empty plot of grass or obscure an unpleasant view? Island beds in the center of yards can also make your yard appear larger.

 

Island spaces look best when plants of varying heights and colors are planted. Typically, homeowners choose to place the tallest plants in the center of the island and taper off in elevation as you move towards the edges. It’s essential to understand the bloom time of the plants you choose to place in your island bed as you want them to all be in bloom at the same time. If you live in a region with a harsh climate, consider adding decorative rocks and stones to your island to create an aesthetically pleasing winter feature.

 

Waterfeatures

A simple water feature can transform and tie together your entire landscaping design. Flowing water is a calming presence in any yard and can make your outdoor space an oasis of tranquility. Running water also attracts wildlife, so you can expect to see an increase in birds, squirrels, and other animals enjoying your backyard. Waterfeatures also improve the air quality around your house while reducing noise pollution.

 

Consolidate Annuals

Annual flowers need to be replanted every year, where perennial flowers come back each season. While annuals are short-lived plants, they tend to stand out in terms of color and design and are excellent accent pieces to incorporate throughout your landscape design. If you love certain annuals, consider putting these plants in standalone planters in highly visible areas of your yard to maximize their visual impact while they are in bloom. It can be tiresome and costly to plant new annuals in your flower beds each spring. Standalone planters reserved for annuals you love can cut down on your gardening time and add pops of color to areas of your yard that wouldn’t usually have them, such as by the front door, on a patio, or under a windowsill.

 

Walkways

Walkways are a great way to reduce foot traffic on your grass and connect points of interest. Walkways can be built using concrete stepping stones, decorative bricks, crushed stone, etc. depending on the purpose of the walkway and your budget. Walkways pull design elements together, so consider creating paths to showcase some of your favorite aspects of your outdoor space. Many homeowners choose to create pathways between patios and backdoors or between flowerbeds. If you are planning on using stone, gravel, or any other “loose” material, consider installing metal edging to keep it from overflowing into your garden or yard.

 

Creating an aesthetically pleasing outdoor living area can drastically increase your ability to entertain and enjoy the warmer months. Landscaping is typically an element of design most homeowners overlook. However, quality and well-maintained landscaping has the potential to increase your property value, create a lasting first impression of your home, and ultimately make your backyard a more pleasant and relaxing place to be!

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Keeping Your Plants Warm During Winter

The winter months can be brutal on plants. Hopefully, you researched your zone and planted plants designed for Hamptons landscaping. Even if your plants are meant for the frigid winters of the Hamptons, there are steps to take to protect them during the winter cold.

The coastal climate of the Hamptons calls for unique preparedness measures for your lawn and garden. Though the weather remains temperate for most of the year, the Hamptons frequently receive heavy, wet snow. The snow usually does not last long, but the weight of the snow can do damage because its weight can break fragile branches and stalks.

Vulnerable plants include young plants, plants that were relocated late in the season and all plants during prolonged spells of snow and ice. Garden care for the landscape during the winter months should include:

  • Burlap sacks—Burlap sacks can be placed over the plants during hard freezes. The advantage of using burlap sacks is that they are easy to put on and take off during the winter months. Store them with your gardening supplies, and slide them over your plants when the weather turns brutal.
  • Add mulch to your soil in late autumn, or even at the first freeze. Why? Because adding mulch too early in the season invites an infestation of rodents that can damage your lawn. Waiting to apply mulch allows it to do its job of acting as an insulator to keep the soil warm, and retaining moisture, without worrying about inviting mice and moles. Mulch protects the delicate root systems of your plants and should be a part of your standard garden care.
  • Use landscape fabric designed to hold in warmth during the winter months. Fabrics like this will also help prevent weed growth in your beds.
  • Use frost protection cloth, which is sold in wide rolls. The fabric is easy to use and can cover wide swaths, such as hedges or beds. The fabric can be re-used when the next hard freeze rolls in.
  • Lighting designed to give off a small amount of warmth is also a popular trend in Hampton landscape design. The lighting can be arranged to do double duty in making your landscape aesthetically pleasing during long winter nights, while also providing enough warmth to keep plants safe from the cold.

Plants kept in containers, such as on decks and lining walkways, can be especially vulnerable to the effects of cold. In addition to the suggestions above, you can also re-arrange container plants so that they are protected from predominant winter winds. Plants in smaller containers can be kept in garages and garden sheds to keep them safe from the cold.

Winter winds from the north are dry and can make it challenging to maintain a healthy moisture level for your lawn and garden. The northern winds of the winter should be considered when designing your landscape, with natural barriers used as often as possible. You can also use plants and hedges that can withstand wind and do not need as much moisture in areas that are openly exposed to winds from the north.

Your other options for wind protection include windbreaks. You will see these frequently built on oceanfront properties. If you cannot construct a windbreak, then use anti-desiccant sprays that coat the plants with a long-lasting film of wax, latex or plastic-like material. The anti-desiccant sprays allow the plants to breathe while still giving protection from evaporation.

Protecting your plants from the harsh drying northern winds, combined with quality mulch applied at the right time, will go a long way in keeping your lawn and garden beautiful year-round. Add in winter lighting designed to give off enough heat to keep snow accumulations off any delicate plants, and you can have a landscape that is easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing during the winter.

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Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid During the Winter

In most climates, winter can be hard on the landscaping you have worked so hard all year to maintain. To protect your grass, trees, plants and shrubs from the hazards of winter, these are the landscaping mistakes you want to avoid.

  • If you are new to an area or new to caring for your lawn, a critical mistake can be not understanding the zone where you live. Zones determine what type of plants, trees and shrubs will thrive. Planting for the wrong region can be a costly mistake if you decide to landscape your property without understanding the care the various plants and trees will need and if they are suitable for your particular zone.
  • Leaving grass clippings and fallen leaves on the ground over the winter. Foliage left on the ground mixes with moisture to form the perfect place for mold and fungus to thrive. Mold and fungus can not only leave you with unsightly patches of dead grass, but it can spread to the rest of your lawn or nearby shrubs and plants. Rake your yard well during the fall, but also continue to rake sporadically through the winter as foliage continues to fall to the ground.
  • Many people make the mistake of stopping watering during the winter months. Winter is not always synonymous with moisture, and in the absence of rain or snow, landscaping can suffer from a lack of water. Continue to water your for as long as it remains green, and water fruit trees and shrubs until temperatures drop to freezing.
  • Most spring bulbs are planted during the fall and early winter months. If you do not have them in the ground before the first freeze, you will not have the beautiful sprouts you want for the spring months.
  • Pesticides and weed killers require temperatures above 60 degrees to work. Using them around your r property in colder temps means you risk harming your plants for no gain as they will not be effective against pests.
  • It is tempting to store tools as usual after the last use of the season. Unfortunately, this often leads to accumulations of rust and other damage over the winter months. Make sure to clean, dry and oil your gardening tools before you store them over the winter.
  • The winter months are a great time to plan any changes and updates you plan to do to your landscaping. If you wait until spring to decide what you would like to add or change, you are missing out on valuable time to research and plan.
  • Most lawn maintenance and care slow down during the winter months, but the winter months are when you need to do any heavy pruning. Pruning when the plants or trees are dormant makes pruning less traumatic. Light pruning in the summer is fine, but winter is the time to do heavy pruning.
  • Another common mistake in winter landscaping is having nothing evergreen or blooming during the winter months. Most zones have winter flowering plants and shrubs that are suitable. If you fail to include any of these in your landscaping, then your property can look stark and barren during the winter months.
  • Change your lighting scheme for winter. In the winter months, the nights are longer and warm lighting around your property can help dispel the gloom. You also want to move lighting to different areas. After all, you do not want to spotlight a particular tree that might be glorious in the spring but is leafless and stark in the winter.
  • Winterize young trees and shrubs. Winter can be brutal on young trees that do not have heavy bark and a deeply established root system. Failing to wrap the trunks in a light colored burlap can leave these young trees and shrub supsceptible to frost damage.
  • Skimping on mulch is another critical mistake to make as winter closes in. Mulch can help protect your plants from the hazards of freezing temperatures, and helps them maintain vital moisture over the winter months.