Tips For Creative Home Garden Landscaping

January 16, 2017

If you’re looking for a way to make significant changes to the look of your outside space you want to first look at the bigger picture of the area with which you have to work and consider the factors that you need to take into account such as things that you can/ cannot change and do/don’t want to change. Factors would include geographical location, buildings, large trees or bushes, rocks, water placement, shape and gradient of the outdoor space, etc.

Once you armed with this information you can work out what you need to do to bring about the look and feel you want to achieve. You might not always need to carry out major landscaping changes. Minor changes can give you stunning effects.

Adding an outdoor water feature to your garden area can give your home a whole new look and feel. There are water features that will fit any size area and installation limitations with which you may be faced. It may be a modest or prominent outdoor water feature but either will add a whole new dimension to the space and although moving water might be needed for some outdoor water landscape designs, it’s not required in all instances.

Fountains are a good choice in water features if you are looking for something that will require minimal work, Fountains come in a variety of themes, shapes, sizes and complexities. You can select something simple for a small patio space but if you have the space you can position a large complex piece to create a focal point in the center of a large garden. Fountain and pond installation is relatively simple if you already have water connected and running to the spot. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions to build the fountain and attach the water supply. Not all fountain kits come with extra hose or connectors which may be required to attach the fountain to your water source. These connections would probably differ according to your water supply.

If you already have a body of water such as pond on your property, you can just add a fountain kit to it to change its look.

Ponds are simple to add to your property whether you have a small odd sized outdoor space or an acre of garden. All you need for a small area is a basic pond kit, some stones and a small plastic pond from the home improvement store. For larger ponds you might need to excavate the space with a backhoe.

In a typical small space like a home garden, features like whether the garden is flat or on an incline, its layout and the position of the house and outdoor buildings can affect the whole feel of the garden. Additional factors to consider would be climate and availability of water or whether you are trying to recreate a garden theme that is outside the norm for the area (which will be a lot of work) such as an English style garden in the desert or a cactus garden where there can be ice and snow. For more practical and less radical garden recreation your garden space can be enhanced with strategically placed planters, garden stairs, and a water element.

Around the outside border of your patio area place planters to give the feel of a boundary between it and the great outdoors beyond! Consider creating a concrete, stone or other sturdy patio structure if you do not have an outdoor living area and position planters strategically around the edge. Collect and use interesting and unusual containers such as wine barrels or more conventional concrete, terracotta or glazed ceramic planters. Arrange them in decorative clusters at the edge of the patio. Grow decorative grasses, ferns, peace lilies and other lush, bushy plants to bestow a more natural feel to your patio and give it a soft border.

A steep grade is a challenge in any home garden but it can also be an opportunity for stunning visual landscape. Put in a twisting narrow stairway down the hill surrounded by terrace garden beds that are separated by retaining walls. Select plants and stagger your planting to create the impression of descending from a hill or mountain top into a lush forest. Plant flowers and low hedges in planters near the top of the hill. The advantage of planters here is that if they can moved for a “holiday” when they are in their off season and replaced with plants that are in full growth and flower. Follow these with plants that increase in size, such as hedges, fruit trees, and bamboo. At the bottom, install large trees that are appropriately sized to your home garden space.

Gardening is one of the most popular pastimes everywhere in the world. There seems to be a very special magic that is woven by daily puttering in their yards, expressing their creative colorful outdoor home garden landscape. For those with limited space, there may be restraints that you need to overcome but beautiful outdoor spaces can be created on even on the smallest balconies. You do not need complexity to landscaping a small outdoor space for it to be beautiful. The simplest effects can look stunning.

Plant border plants around your garden beds or use some landscaping feature like a rock wall or planters. Use stone, small evergreens or ground cover perennials that you can train into the desired shape. English thyme is a useful fragrant low-level ground cover that can create beautiful borders. Creating borders give a more formal feel but also gives a feeling of “difference” between inside the area and out. Even if the garden itself isn’t planned, the border creates a simple and easy landscape feature.

At the end of the day, landscaping your garden is going to depend on your preferences and availability of materials. If I can give you only one tip it is this: Once you have taken stock of the land and its features, Plan. Come up with a theme for your garden before you plant. Unless you have enough space for clearly defined garden “rooms” have an overall theme. Maybe you would like a garden featuring mainly plants with yellow flowers or leaves, for example. Other theme ideas include a butterfly garden, a knot garden and a herb garden. None of these require much space, Plan them on paper first so that your garden goes in correctly the first time and you don’t have wasted materials and plants, or time.

 

Why Start A Home Garden?

January 16, 2017

Are you tired of being cooped up inside? Tired of the kids doing nothing but watching TV and video games? Then maybe you should get started planning a garden for this spring. Everyone has time for a small garden, even you. The trick is to start small and have a source of good information for beginners. Now you can go to your nearest home supply store and buy a container with some soil and seeds and you are ready to get started. You can find everything you need to know by searching the internet for home gardening for beginners. Here are some things to consider if you want to start a garden.

Nothing tastes better than a ripe tomato picked fresh from the garden. The tomatoes we purchase in the stores are mass produced with no regards for taste. I can still remember the first tomato (Tiny Tim) I ate out of my first garden. By planting a home garden this spring you will be able to find out what a real tomato tastes like.

Tired of seeing your family members sit in front of a video game or TV? Maybe planting a small home garden will get your children outside in the fresh air and get their hands into some dirt for a change. “Families that garden together grow together.” Even young children enjoy having a garden section they can call their own. I know as a child I still remember going to the garden store to pick out tomato plants for my section of the garden. Working and learning outside as a family is a great experience that that will last a lifetime.

If you have a stressful job or life you might want to consider planting a garden this spring. There is no better way to forget about your problems than working out in nature. You will get lost in the wonder of nature and unwind from the stress of your life. The exercise will also be good for you. Although, if you are new at this I would start with a small garden so you do not over commit for time and physical commitment. Gardening can be cheaper than paying mental health professional.

I believe the US food supply is relatively safe after working in the agriculture industry for many years. It is very satisfying to know exactly what was involved in the production of your food. I know many families that have special needs children who are responding well to organically grown foods. Obesity has become a major concern for both adults and children. Most nutrition experts are encouraging an increase in everyone’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce from your garden encourage a vegetable friendly menu.

Now is the time to start thinking about raising a garden this spring. You can get outside with the family or maybe get outside away from your family to raise your own bright red juicy tomato that tastes like a tomato. Your completely safe nutritious vegetables will also provide you with a relaxing hobby that will allow you to learn new things. If you would like to get started but do not know where to start make sure you check out this website dedicated to home gardening for beginners.

Richard E. Godke is a lifelong gardener since age 8. He studied agriculture and taught high school horticulture. He spent almost 20 years working as a County Extension Agent in three states where he educated farmers, home owners, and youth in the areas of production agriculture and home horticulture. Godke has trained adult Master Gardeners and school-age 4-H members in every aspect of gardening, as well as establishing community gardens. He has introduced two daylily varieties with the American Hermerocallis Society and has served as a national certified national daylily exhibition judge. Godke has started http://homegardeningforbeginners.org/ dedicated to answer questions and assisting people in starting home gardens.

Soaring Food Costs? How About a Home Garden?

January 16, 2017

Calculating the cost of raising a 4 by 4 foot small home garden is similar to budgeting for a large farm. A farmer amortizes (averages) the cost of the land over several years because the value of the land is not depleted the first year. Calculating the cost of the garden is the same concept. There are large startup costs like soil; raised frame beds and fabric cover costs that need to be averaged over several years or the life of the investment. One needs to understand and explore the cost of a small home garden before you start. Here is a sample budget for a small 4 by 4 foot raised bed garden (for beginners) to get you started. You can use these numbers to calculate a larger garden but for newbies I recommend this size.

Long Term Costs The long term investment items that need to be amortized over three years are: 8 – 2 cubic feet bags soil at $8 each = $64, 1 - raised bed plastic frame kit 4 ft. X 4 ft. X 6 in. = $40, 1 -10 lb. bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer = $8, and a 10 X 10 fabric cover = $15. The total cost of these Items are $123.00 divided by 3 years = about $41 annual cost. If you don’t have the money to invest in these long term costs here are some ideas that can greatly reduce these expenses. Composting your own soil is simple, easy and cheap but takes time and knowledge. Begin by collecting grass clippings and leaves you can make a compost pile that can produce high quality composed soil (black gold) in 6 months. The composting process will reduce the volume by 75% so it will take a lot of material and time to save the cost of purchased soil. If you are handy with a saw and hammer you can save money by making your own raised bed. You can buy dimensional lumber, cut it, (some stores will cut it in 4 foot lengths), paint it, nail it and you have a low cost raised bed. You can save even more money by reusing lumber. In my neighborhood the unpainted wood privacy fencing is being replaced because the bottom 6 inches has rooted off. In most cases you can cut out a good 4 foot by 4 inch board that can be painted and nailed together for a raised bed garden for a very small investment. A fabric cover is something that you can live without but the benefits of an earlier planting date and an organic way to control insects make the cover a worthy consideration.

Annual Costs The reoccurring annual costs are: 8 packets of vegetable seeds X $3 = $24, 4 plants X $2 = $8. So an estimated annual cost for a small 4 by 4 foot garden would be about $32. To save money on these costs you can save seed from vegetables you buy (heirloom tomatoes) or plants that go to seed in your garden (basil) and plant them instead of purchasing seeds. This will only work with non-processed, non-hybrid varieties and is not recommended for beginners. Starting seeds indoors before the planning season can save you money, again not recommended for beginners. By growing you own vegetable plants you can choose varieties that are not available in the stores.

Other Costs and Benefits I do not calculate a labor or water cost for raising a garden. Using the square foot gardening method cuts down on watering and weed control because the plants are so close together the weeds are shaded out. If you want to calculate labor you can figure about 15 minutes a week in a small garden. The more gardening space you maintain, the more efficient you become per unit, but beginners should always start small. In most cases people who garden consider their labor cost as a method of getting outside and getting some exercise. The free labor that you contribute will also provide a learning venue for children or grandchildren, plus the freshest, most flavorful vegetables you will ever eat.

For many years the cost of food has been so cheap you could not justify the raising vegetables strictly on dollar cost. Now with the high cost of food it is more economically feasible to raise vegetables at a profit. The cost of starting a small raised bed 4 by 4 foot home garden will be approximately $123. Long Term Cost + $32 Annual Costs = $155 is the total first year cost. The next 2 years it would only cost $32 a year. The amortized (average) cost over 3 years is about $73 per year not including labor. Every family is different and you will need to calculate your own costs and benefits of raising a garden.

I have developed a home gardening budget spreadsheet at http://homegardeningforbeginners.org/garden-budget/ that allows you to put in your own estimated costs. Remember you can save money by building your own frame, composting your own soil, and collecting your own seeds. Gardening will become even more popular as the price of vegetables sky rocket.

Rick Godke is a lifelong gardener since age 8. He studied agriculture and taught high school horticulture. He spent almost 20 years working as a County Extension Agent in three states where he educated farmers, home owners, and youth in the areas of production agriculture and home horticulture. Godke has trained adult Master Gardeners and school-age 4-H members in every aspect of gardening, as well as establishing community gardens. He has introduced two daylily varieties with the American Hermerocallis Society and has served as a national certified national daylily exhibition judge. Godke has started http://homegardeningforbeginners.org/ dedicated to answering questions and assisting people in starting home gardens.