How to Grow Moss in Small Space Gardening

We have a space on the side of our house where Jeff’s is slowly growing a sort of secret garden. There are currently a lot of plants, a stone walkway, and then a space between the walkway and the fence. He used to have grass planted in that area, but it was hard to mow because it’s only the size of a couple lawn mowers. And weed-eating it didn’t exactly give it the most groomed look. So he decided to grow moss.

At first he asked the neighbor if he could use some of the moss from his back yard, so he planted patches of that in the area. But that looked like it was going to take a while to fill in the area, so we figured out how to grow moss for this small space garden. Here’s the “recipe” to grow moss:

You will need:

  • a blender
  • some moss
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • can of cheap beer (or buttermilk)

Put about a handful of the moss that you want to propagate in the blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend just long enough to break down the moss.

Then spread the “soup” over the ground or on rocks where you want the moss to take over (use a spatula for rocks, a small shovel would work for larger areas). Then wait and watch your moss garden grow! I’ll put pictures up when it looks a little better.

Note: The first time Jeff learned how to grow moss he broke my good blender! This time he went to a thrift shop and bought a cheap blender to mix up his concoction. This is a MUCH BETTER idea! And, of course, that cheap blender mixed up about 10 batches of this moss soup and is still in working order.

I wonder if I could still make Margareta’s in it? Hum. . .

Backyard Landscape Design Ideas

Getting back to nature can be a rejuvenating experience. But nature doesn’t have to mean exploring the forest, you can bring nature into your back yard with a few creative backyard landscape design ideas.

  • Jeff was working in a small area in our backyard this weekend and here’s what he came up with. It’s simple, but will grow into something very colorful.  He has:
  •  Two Weeping Willow Trees,
  •  A pink Camiela  (in the back),
  • Purple heather for color,
  •  A bluish green plant (I’ll add the name when I find the stickers),
  • spiked ornamental feather grass,
  • nice garden statue to look at until everything grows.

Jeff can get pretty creative when he is thinking about backyard landscape designs, even in our small spaces. It’s nice when the landscaping gives you a feeling of peace and comfort.

As you can see, landscape design includes many elements. For example:

  • the area (sun or shade)
  • design
  • weather

The overall look will depend on the owner’s taste. Some people want the effect of water (pools, waterfalls, etc.) and some like rocks, stones, etc.

But to create a very natural feel, you must use plants to create the total effect of the landscape. It should not be just any plant; it should be the most appropriate plant for the area and climate.

Choices for Backyard Landscape Design

1. Groundcovers
These plants are indispensable to a landscape as they can serve as backdrops for trees, shrubs, etc. There are many types of groundcovers to choose from.

Sun-Loving Plants
Sunny areas are considered problematic. Many plants do not like direct sunlight. Juniper groundcovers and hardy perennials are very helpful in resolving this problem.

Shade Plants
These plants cannot stand the heat of direct sunlight. They should be used in areas that are not exposed to the sun except for short periods of time. Most of the shade-loving plants are low-growing or mid-sized.

Many flowering plants attract birds, butterflies, bees, etc. It is important to choose plants that grow pollens. Plants like Bee Balm, Hollyhock and Red Columbine attract hummingbirds.

The garden can be made aromatic by using foliage plants. The lavender perennial plant’s flowers provide therapeutic scent. At the same time, it serves as a beautiful border.

2. Wet Plants
Some landscapes come with wet areas like artificial ponds or waterfalls. To avoid leaving it bare, plants that thrive in wet soils are used to give beauty and natural effect.

3. Repellent Plants
More than coming up with a good landscape, it is also necessary to maintain it and keep it free from intruders. Some plants are able to repel pests like the deer. Some ornamental grasses and flowers are used for deer control. This same area last year was growing Marigolds. Slugs are not supposed to like Marigolds, and neither are mosquitos. It worked like a charm, but Jeff likes to get creative – he comes up with different garden landscaping ideas every year.

4. Grasses
These are also helpful in the garden. There are varying kinds of grasses, the ornamental type and the functional ones.

Functional grasses are those that are used in the background. Lawn grass is an example. It serves as an outdoor carpet.

Ornamental grasses appear more to aesthetics. They are used for decoration and for landscaping just like flowers. These can be mixed with trees and shrubs or can stand alone.

Yes plants are beautiful. Your backyard landscape design should put the appropriate plants in your selected areas. Then they will thrive, and everyone will feel like nature is just a backdoor away.

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From Container Garden to Lilac Bouquet

Make a Lilac bouquet and learn how to trim your Lilac Bush.

lilacbouq2.jpgI received another nice bouquet from Jeff last week.  It’s a Lilac Bouquet!  It was on the table when I came home and I had to look twice to see if he had actually bought the flowers.

This time he mixed two Red Tulips in with it,and some other greens from various trees and plants around the garden, and some white flowers (I refer to them as “snow”).  We had enjoyed the Tulips in one of our Container gardening pots for some time, so this was an excellent way to get just a little more time out of it.

I always hate to pick the flowers in the garden (which is why I told him he should do it).  And, guess what?  I received another bouquet this week!  More Lilac’s!

According to Jeff, it’s good to prune them down a little as they are growing, so new flowers can come out.  Then, when they all start to die down, remove the dead flower clusters, pruning them just above a node (where the leaf joins the stem). 

You should also remove older branches that might be crowding in, or crossing over others.  Cut these at the base of the shrub, just above the soil (yup, all the way down to the ground!).  Also purne any weak looking branches, and/or broken spindly looking ones.

This way, you’ll have a beautiful Lilac tree next year, and can enjoy that first lilac aroma of the spring.

You Should NOT Fertilize or Prune When. .

When the summer sun starts beating down, some people think that it’s the perfect time to start pruning, but that’s not the case. As the temperature rises, plants actually grow slower, so there’s not as much need for fertilizer, or pruning. In fact, if you prune when it’s too hot, the plant might get sun burnt from too much exposure to the hot sun.

Also, when you do fertilize, water your plants first, and then put the fertilizer on. This prevents burning the roots because the first water that you put onto a dry plant goes right through the soil and to the bottom of the plants roots. If you are using liquid or crystal fertilizer (like Miracle Grow), only use half of the recommend amount. The manufactures directions are usually a lot more than your plant really needs, but it will keep you coming back to the store for more!

Wayside Gardens



Mulching – What you Can and Cannot Use

Do you need an inexpensive way to mulch your vegetable garden or Rose Garden?  Well, just look around, you can use almost anything that you find in your yard for mulch. 

You can use grass clippings, spoiled hay, straw, newspaper (well, that’s in the yard when it’s first delivered, maybe?)  The one thing you may not want to use is fireplace ash.  Ash can damage growth for roses and other plants, so it’s good to stick with more natural things.

Before you use grass clippings and other yard debris, let them dry for a couple of days to slow down the decomposition. This will deter the heating you would get in a compost pile,  and be sure the clippings are not up against the stems of the plants – that can cause rotting.

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Creating a Butterfly Garden

In order to attract butterflies to your garden you need to provide for them what they need. Generally, butterflies look for two things in a garden, food and host plant where they can lay their eggs.  If these two things are present in your garden your chances of attracting butterflies greatly increases.  

Keep your garden design simple. Butterflies are attracted to large massings of similarly colored flowers.  It has been shown that they prefer pink, purple, red and yellow flowers.  Create a garden which will bloom from spring until fall, this way you’ll attract all season long.  

A successful butterfly garden provides those flowers which are suited to their eating habits.  Since butterflies need to land in order to eat, they prefer flowers with large flat petals or those flowers which are tubular.  They also like to warm their wings on cold morning so providing large flat stone in a sunny spot may draw butterflies to the gardens.  If fact, as a general rule, butterflies prefer sunny locations.

Some nectar plants include: Aster, Butterfly Weed, Ironweed, Purple Coneflower, Sumacs, Joe-pye-weeds, Milkweeds, Black-eyed Susan, Phlox, Cardinal Flower, Sunflowers, Sweet Pepperbush, Coreopsis, Verbena, Goldenrod, Blazing Stars, Butterfly Bush and Pickerlweed.

Along with food in the garden, butterflies require a place to lay their eggs.  While not providing this won’t completely discourage butterflies from visiting your garden, you’ll have more success if you do.   The caterpillars which are produced by butterflies need food to survive.  Since caterpillars can’t travel far, butterflies will lay their eggs on plants which they will use as food. Most species of caterpillars are particular about the type of plants they can eat. If the egg was laid on a plant which caterpillars can’t eat, the caterpillar hatching from that egg will not survive.

Some host plants include: Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Cherry, Yellow Poplar Spicebush, Sassafras, Birch, Elm, Hollyhock, Artemisia, Snapdragon, Heliotrope, Aspen, Poplar, Aspen, Hollyhock, Rose of Sharon, Blue Lupine, Viburnum and Honeysuckle.

Many native trees and other plants found in and around our yards are host plants for caterpillars. However, there are a variety of plants that can be included in a garden that are excellent host plants. 

One issue some gardeners find somewhat troublesome is the fact that though they’re successful in attracting many butterflies, the caterpillars eat the foliage of their garden plants.  One solution to this problem is to plant a small separate garden with butterfly attracting species of plants or to place those plants which attract butterflies toward the back of the garden.

Creating a garden which attracts buutterflies has positive effect on the environment; you’re providing a new habitat for butterflies and well as beneficial insects and other wildlife. While butterflies will thrive and will benefit the most from your efforts you’re also providing years of enjoyment for both yourself and visitors to your garden.

Tim Hallinan is a landscape designer and builder in Massachusetts. Visit his garden resource website for all kind of helpful information. For more garden guides visit


Butterfly Mix

How to Choose the Best Plants for your Square Foot Garden

The following article on choosing plants for your Square Foot Garden, or any garden, should be center stage in your design process.  If you’ve been thinking you need to know more about how to choose your plants, here’s your opportunity. Don’t just plant, plant the right stuff!

Many times we buy plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. Before buying plants carefully examine your garden to see how much sun and shade it gets, whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your aspect is sheltered or windswept. You’ll then be equipped to go and buy the best plants for your situation; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas, sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts. Be sure to take note of what kind of containers you have also, you’ll want to get a variety of lengths of plants if you are doing any container gardening.

 But wait! Test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Is the soil acid or alkaline? Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow.  You can alter the soil’s pH level, but it’s much easier to simply plant for the soil you have, and save yourself that trip to the garden supply shop.

If you find yourself confused by what you’ve read to this point, don’t despair. Everything should be crystal clear by the time you finish.
Now you are ready to plant. Well – almost. Will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy ‘one of everything’ your garden may seem rather spotty. Group plantings are organized, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest.

Before planting out, place your chosen plants around the garden bed, or in their containers if you have some container gardening in the works, to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. Tall plants should go to the back, or the center if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from trees. The roots of trees are fiercely competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers.

The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Imagine the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted side-by-side if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Many flower plants have silver, gray or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value.  And don’t forget, if you want to attract Butterflys or Hummingbirds, you’ll need to read the section on this site about Butterfly Gardening to get the right colors.

 Sometimes it’s tough to sort out all the details related to the right plants, but I’m positive that with this advice, you’ll be able to make a much better decision when you chose plants for square foot gardening, container gardening, or any other gardening needs.  And, you’ll definitely want to check out Nature Hills Nursey for your plant needs.  They have such FAST Shipping, you’ll almost have your plants sooner than if you battled the crowds and traffic to go down to your local hardware store — and you’ll get much better prices too! 

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