Furnishing Your Summer Garden

OK. You’ve decided what veggies, flowers, shrubs, etc. to put in your gardens. Now here’s another decision to make.

What furniture are you going to put in your garden? You know, people will be coming over to visit and perhaps on a

nice day you’d like to sit in the garden and sip a drink and chat. You’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into your

gardens. Wouldn’t it make sense to put at least that much thought into the furniture as well?

 

Yes, you could always watch the ads that come out on Saturday and check out the best buys you can get. Or, better

yet, why not do some real research into this.  After all, you don’t want your furniture to look faded weeks after you

put it in your garden. And, how long will those plastic chairs last before the elements turn them into cracked and

dangerous seating for your family and friends?

 

The furniture, just like the flowers and other plantings should be a personal choice.  How long will it last? What

material will stand up to the constant rays of the sun? The wind? The occasional heavy rainstorm?

Once you’ve decided on the material that the furniture should be made of, consider how many you’re seating

and what kind you are seeking. 

Are you a member of a large family? Are Memorial Day picnics at your place? Do you like the Adirondack

style of chairs? Is there someone in your family who has always wanted a hammock to stretch out on and read

the paper? Do you have sunbathers in the family who would like to have a full lounge chair to catch the sun’s

rays?

 

Once you’re “armed” with all this information, it will be easy to head for the stores to see what’s available.  Above

all make sure you choose furnishings that YOU will enjoy.

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Gardening and Landscaping Pitfalls

Creating a summer garden is something we can all learn to love. Unfortunately, what we don’t really take the time to check out are the items we should avoid when we create a summer garden. Our end result will be much better if we learn the pitfalls of summer gardening first. Sometimes these painful gardening and landscaping lessons can be learned from observing the mistakes of others rather than our own personal experiences.

How many of us have landscaped for our neighbor’s enjoyment or engaged in a little “one upmanship” on our street? If you are the kind of person who spends a great deal of time outdoors this is a wonderful and healthy thing. However, if you are a typical family that spends a lot of your time inside your home looking out, you will want to plan carefully to make sure that your time spent outside results in a good return for your effort. Plan to plant your garden in area which is readily visible from within the living areas of your home. After all, it is YOUR yard, not the neighbors. Shouldn’t you be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor at time of the day?

Be careful that your lawn does not appear cluttered. Use the dimension of your lawn to gauge the size of your summer garden. If your home dimensions are large, create gardens that blend with the size of the landscape. Another possibility is to plant several gardens which lead into one another creating a relaxed area which fits the home’s landscape. On the other hand, too much of a garden planted on a small lot will look cluttered and in need of attention. Perspective is the key here and plantings that are appropriate to the amount of land available should be carefully chosen. Pay close attention to the climate zone as well. Your gardening and landscaping efforts may look like something from a gardening magazine for the first month, but will they last the whole season?

Make sure you have a plan for your summer gardening and landscaping designs.  This is the most important phase of your summer garden. Without it, the design of your summer garden may be doomed to failure. The end result of your energies will be very evident if you invest the largest portion of your time in the planning stage.

When plotting out your summer garden be sure to keep in mind the long-term consequences of your planting plan. If spending a lot of time with high maintenance plantings is not in your future, it makes no sense to purchase flowers which require a great deal of attention. People who produce brochures go to a lot of trouble to entice you into buying their products. Be sure to select plants according to your summer garden needs – not because you think they look great in the catalogs.

Keeping all these factors in mind as you sit down to plan your garden will result in a garden which matches both your personal tastes and the amount of time you plan to put into keeping your garden in great shape. Remember that even though there are summer gardens that require a little less maintenance than your neighbors, there is still no such thing as a “no maintenance” garden. Plan to spend some time and effort in your garden to keep it looking sharp and in good order.

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Catalogs Galore!!

So, I’m sitting here with a huge stack of gardening catalogues and my mind starts to wander.
My father, who gardened for the majority of his life, was also an architect. Needless to say, his gardening plans resembled the floor plans a sub-contractor might follow in building a new structure. There was something very comforting about working with Dad on the whole layout. We both knew that if we stuck with “the plan”, that garden would be symmetric, and the flow would be just perfect. My mother, an art teacher and artist, would assist with the “Palette” of colors. She loved yellows and greens and bright purples – all the colors that could be easily found in nature. Her eye for color and his eye for design melded into the most beautiful gardens and I learned much from their guidance.
One of their best kept secrets was that they started small. A few plantings here, some hostas in an especially shaded or partially shaded area there sparked off by splashes of color to bring out the most beautiful hues at different times of the day. As each spring came, a few more plants were added to these humble beginnings.
My folks also loved to cook, so Dad went to great pains to design and build an herb garden just off the kitchen deck. That garden was surrounded by stepping stones so that no matter what the weather conditions, he could step back to any area and choose thyme, Italian parsley, basil, mint, rosemary or sweet marjoram to include in the evening’s dinner recipes.
As I turn back to my array of catalogues, my mission is clear – carry on the traditions that my parents so tenderly nurtured – start small and plan for the future.

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A Terrarium As An Indoor Garden

A Terrarium as an Indoor Garden

If you love the look of plants indoors but don`t have the time
or knowledge to take care of them, there is a solution. The answer is a terrarium. This is a self-contained plant that, when you have closed the lide, establishes its own habitat. Using a jar, fish tank or other container you
the plants inside create their own eco-system – all you do is enjoy
it.

The choices for terrarium containers are truly endless. Many people choose to use
a smaller aquarium with a lid but any glass jar or other container will also work nicely
too. When choosing plastic make sure that it is clear or you won`t be able
to see the plants inside. When starting out with your container be sure to check for leaks before adding anything. In order for the terrarium to thrive you need the water and
moisture to remain inside. Keeping a good moisture level is crucial to this mini ecosystem. You also won’t want the dirt to filter through your container and onto the floor.

Make sure that all the plants you choose all thrive in similar conditions and like this humid environment. Some more popular plants to put into a terrarium are carnivorous in nature, like the Venus Fly Trap, sundew, or pitch plant. Or you might want to try rain forest plants like chamaedorea palms, small ferns or
fittonia.

Terrariums are typically low-maintenance, indoor gardens that need indirect sunlight and remarkably, no water is needed after the first watering . Using the heat from inside the
terrarium causes the water to evaporate and condense on the lid falling back down to re-water the
plants. This process works continuously to keep your plants alive. If you find there is too much water
present, you’ll need to vent the terrarium. Just open the top of the lid a small amount to allow moisture to escape. It is wise to keep an eye on the soil`s moisture level – make sure it is not too wet or dry.

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Creating a Summer Garden On A Budget

When planning for a Summer garden, decide how much you’d like to spend BEFORE you actually start your project. By ignoring this step, you risk spending far more than you will actually need. If you plan with a budget in mind, and purchase only those items specically needed for your plans and needs, you are much more likely to find that your summer garden is more budget friendly than the vast majority of other summer gardens you may see in your neighborhood.  Hopefully the advice in the next few paragraphs will help you find the tricks to cutting the expense of a summer garden. It will help you find budget friendly ways to build the summer garden of your dreams, without breaking the bank in the process.

Whatever you do, do NOT buy what you do not need. It doesn’t matter how good it may appear to be – if you do not need the product, don’t buy it. Seeds, tools, and various other items look great in the catalogs you receive in January and February. However, beware of elevated costs – where shipping is involved. Try using the money you might have spent on these items on something that could pay off in the long term; i.e. a composter or a tiller that can be used year after year.

If your list of garden materials costs more when, all is said and done, by shopping online compared to purchases of the same items purchased locally you really haven’t saved anything at all. Look into the prospect of supporting small,local businesses wherever possible. You may find they are more likely to bargain, barter, and even throw in freebies when they know there’s a good chance you’ll return to buy more – or better yet, bring some of your gardening friends with you on your next visit.

Check your local government offices for composting sites where you can dump or pick up free composting materials. Many communities offer these services free to residents and may even have pick dates for larger items such as felled trees or other waste collected after a storm. Compare the expense of purchasing these materials commercially. You may find that the savings can be significant over the course of a summer.

Find out if there is an exchange group among gardeners in your area. You may find that there are gardeners wishing to exchange plants with you. This is a great way to acquire new plants and increase the color and texture interest in your summer garden. Along with the trade in plantings, you can pick up extra suggestions on where these plants did well in their previous “home” from the actual person that grew them. This is a great way to make new gardening friends and perhaps new neighbors who have moved in over the long winter months. You can share a passion, be physically active, socialize and save money. It truly is a win win situation for most gardeners. 

Selecting plants that are native to your area for your summer garden will make the job much easier. They have already aclimated to the heat, humidity, winds and other factors of the region. This is a huge part of gardening that is often overlooked. There is always the risk that non-native plants may not survive due to excessive temperature, pest and moisture variables. Even in the best of circumstances there are added costs incurred when pesticides and additional soil amendments are needed. Keep costs down by selecting plants that due well in your climate zone and those that are locally grown. This isn’t to say that you can’t have an exotic plant or bush here and there. If you absolutely can’t do without that ONE non-native plants, then go ahead and plan them into your garden. However, when planning a garden from scratch, make the majority of your plantings native to the area.

The local classified ads and free-recycle programs are a good place to find used garden tools that are still in good condition. There are many reasons why people will sell or give away their garden tools and you may be surprised to find quite a bargain on these. You don’t need “designer” tools to play in the dirt. As you get farther along in your planning and planting, you may find that you will need a specific tool, but mostly shovels, rakes and a hoe will do perfectly fine. When properly taken care of, these tools can last quite a long time and knowing that you got them for nothing makes it all that much sweeter. You also might find a few free plants available through at these sales too.

Remember that mulching saves time and money.  The mulch saves money by holding the moisture in. This lowers the time and cost involved in weekly watering and eliminates many of the weeds that crop up-which cuts down on your weeding time. For most of us, weeding is not the #1 favorite garden activity.

By using all the suggestions mentioned above you should be able to save a good deal of money in the planning and maintaining of your summer garden. Remember to take advantage of the gardeners in your area. Some of them have been doing this for a long time and can offer a treasure chest of suggestions and ideas to help make your garden a truly satisfying experience.

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Gardening

This site offers ideas on gardens, garden planning, planting and harvesting both plants and vegetables.

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