Flowering Cherry Tree Makes Excellent Umbrella

Flowering Cherry TreeWell, it’s April and our Cherry tree is in full bloom! It’s just beautiful this time of year. This one is a flowering cherry tree so it doesn’t bear fruit (it’s kind of like the ones you see this time of year in Washington D.C.).

It got its shape because the leader branch was damaged in a storm and began to grow forward instead of up.

Visually, it makes a wonderful “umbrella” over the entrance to our back yard. And while the flowers don’t last, the leaves continue to provide shade for our guests all summer long. It really is a wonderful tree to have!

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Outdoor Garden Decor Adds Plenty of Personality

Yes, flowers are nice, but sometimes you just need something a little more. A centerpiece that you can masterfully plant flowers around that draws the eye to a spot of color or a special place. That’s where outdoor garden décor comes into play.

This is a small area of our yard where we have a stone garden statue. And around this piece of outdoor garden décor Jeff has decided that pink is the color for this area. So in the spring, there are lots of pretty pink Azaleas and Rhododendrons. It’s a splash of color that you just can’t miss.

Jeff actually has these little statues all around the yard. In a container gardening area, you’ll find small lion statues peeking in our door, surrounded by containers of beautiful flowers. Then there’s another centerpiece of garden statues and fountains that make for excellent bird watching as they bath and play in the water.

Even if you have a small space garden, you’ll find that it becomes much more interesting if you add a little outdoor garden décor. And things like sea shells and small cherub garden statues can even be placed in a square foot garden to add that little something more. So what are you waiting for, there’s lots of interesting things you can do in just a little space to make your garden outstanding!

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New Home Landscape Design Software

How many times have you gone out into your yard, took one look at it, and just shook your head because you just didn’t know what to do with it? Sometimes figuring out the landscaping can be the hardest part of gardening. I also know it’s the easiest part for some people.

My husband, for instance, has very good vision. He can look at something inside or outside and rearrange it in his head. He can “see” it perfectly before he even begins to rearrange things.

Me, I guess I’m a writer! If you tell me what you’re going to do, I just can’t visualize it! I don’t know why that is, or how it works, but it can be frustrating at times because I can’t give him an opinion on what I think about his ideas.

Well, at least there’s hope for us to both have a vision in the landscaping area because I found this new landscape design software where we can draw it all out before doing any digging or re-arranging. You can design your landscaping, or redesign your entire back yard (or even design your own home!). The possibilities are endless!

The software has “drag and drop” functionality which makes it really easy to use. It’s probably hard to imagine just by reading this, so why not take a look at the pictures of what it can do at the site. You’ll never be left scratching your head again!

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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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Cottage Garden Landscaping

cottage_garden.jpgEach kind of garden has its own function. A flower garden, for example, features vegetation that decorates the area around a house or building. Vegetable gardens provide vegetables for food.

Another kind of garden is called a cottage garden. Originally, they were created for crops. They were immensely useful to stave of starvation of poor workers during the 18th and 19th century.

But hardship did not dampen the workers’ pride. They started to throw handfuls of seeds randomly throughout the garden. Soon, flowering plants sprouted and gave the garden its aesthetic beauty.

Cottage Garden Landscaping Components 

Today, cottage garden landscaping features a mixture of helpful and ornamental plants. In this type of garden, there are more useful plants that are used for food, medicine or animal forage, than decorative ones. The ornamental flowers are added as an afterthought to brighten up the garden.

The idea of cottage garden landscaping is to plant useful and decorative plants in a small area. Unlike cottage gardens of the past, today’s cottage gardens are designed to be pleasing to the eye by carefully arranging ornamental plants, herbs, vegetables and other ornaments. Vacant lawns are quite small since most of the space is attributed to vegetation.

Cottage garden landscaping involves the construction of paths. These are important components in a cottage garden. They are usually straight and they often have a garden island in the middle. The materials for these paths are subtle. Such materials include crushed gravel and old bricks. Pieces of broken pots or terracotta tiles are used to line up the edge of paths and garden beds.

Another important aspect of cottage garden landscaping is the presence of garden accessories. Wooden arches, for example, are built so that climbing plants can grow on them. Picket fences are used for bordering the garden. Sometimes, even weatherproof furniture is placed in a cottage garden.

In cottage garden landscaping, even the most mundane items are used for decoration. Items such as rustic water pumps, weathervanes, sundials and figurines are quite common. The aim is to generate a sense of peacefulness of past times.

Of course, the most important things in cottage garden landscaping are plants. Most gardeners choose fast growing plants so that the garden will look dense. Self seeding plants are also grown to spread the dense effect. A nice touch would be to add scented plants to bring fragrance into a cottage garden.

Truly, cottage gardens are one of the most practical types of garden that a person can make. With it, a household can save money, use the plants and decorate their homes at the same time.



Climbing Ivy, Good or Bad for Walls?

It’s not uncommon to see Ivy crawling up an outside wall of a house, and/or spreading itself over an entire wall so I decided to find out if this was a good thing. 

Ivy has tiny suction cups for roots that attach themselves to the surface they are crawling on in order help spread out.  If a building is in good shape, and doesn’t have a lot of lose bricks and mortar, this should not be a problem.  In fact, it can actually protect the wall from the elements outside.  However, if there are loose pieces of brick on the wall, the ivy will get into the loose areas and cause more damage.  Also, if there are windows, the ivy can get heavy and the roots could possibly damage any woodwork that is around the window frames.  Ivy can also hold moisture against the house, which will cause damage on an untreated wall.

I guess the answer to my question is not easily found.  If you’re going to use Ivy as a wall covering, be sure the wall is in excellent shape, and not made of material (like wood) that holds moisture.  Also, those little suction cup roots are almost impossible to remove, so if you are going to paint that wall, definitely do it before you start the ivy!

You might be better off with a nice Wall Plaque or Egyptian Statue!


Landscaping with Ponds and Plants

This is a lot to consider when you start to think about landscaping, or re-landscaping your yard, and it can be a little scary after seeing how many different books and magazines there are to investigate before you start.  However, it is important not to let fear of the project hold you back.  You need to start somewhere, and hopefully this little piece of advice will help you get a quick start.

 You definitely do want to read a lot and look at pictures before you begin a project, but remember; this is your backyard and you are free to do with it what you want.

The main thing to be concerned with when planting different plants is to make certain of their growing requirements. Do they require a lot of sunlight, a mix of sun and shade, or mostly shade? Other than that, let’s get started.

The biggest and most dramatic feature you can add to your backyard is a pond. Put in a waterfall and enjoy the relaxing sounds of water while you sip lemonade and read a good book.  Ponds are great for pest control too!  Put in a few fish and they will eat mosquito larva.

If a pond is in your plans, do this first. It will be the focal point and you can begin your plantings later.

A pond is not hard to build. Plan your layout and get some white spray paint or chalk and layout your design. You can use one of the plastic pre-shaped pond kits if you like, but you can never really get the natural look that you can with a liner.

The hardest part will be digging. The tedious part may be laying out the liner to try to remove most of the wrinkles. The fun part will be filling the pond with water and, later, stocking the pond with fish.

Put in some water lilies and, if that’s the only thing you get done the first year, who cares?! This will be dramatic and will definitely bring you lots of relaxation as well as pride. Plant it near where you spend most of your time. Don’t hide it away at the back of your yard.

When the pond is finished, pick areas around your yard and plan the location of your plants. Notice the sunshine at different times of the day. That’s what will determine the location of your plants in each area.

Unless you have a lot of time and money, you probably won’t be able to plant your entire backyard in one season. Start with one area and till it up. Plant a few plants and space them out somewhat. This will give you a chance to mix in some plants next year. You can see what the plants look like and decide if you need more color or more of the same plants. Next year, you can experiment again and add or subtract plantings as needed.

One more important point, and this may seem basic, but some people get so excited when they are planting that they forget the basics, so I’ll remind you now.  Plant short plants in front and taller plants in the back.   See, so simple. . . You can plant a few sections at a time and add more each year. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in four or five years without breaking the bank.

You’ll soon have the perfect backyard haven, hopefully complete with a garden pond.  Can you tell that I love those ponds?