Archive for February, 2009

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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