Other Factors in Garden Creation

So now you’ve picked out what type of garden you will have, what the
location will be, and what kind of fertilizer you need, now is the time to
really get started in choosing your garden environment. First you’ll want
to choose what your garden barriers will be. What will separate your
garden from the rest of the world? Next you’ll want to choose the
decorations and support for your plants. Often some kind of metal mesh is
necessary to keep your plant standing up. You will also want to choose how
much soil and fertilizer to buy, and how to arrange all the plants in your

Choosing a border is actually a fairly important step in getting your
garden started. It might not actually affect the well-being of the plants,
but having a garden is a fairly aesthetic ordeal for many people anyways.
So usually you will want to choose between metal and wood. You can stack
up boards around the perimeter of your garden, and give it a rather nice
cabin look. If you’re looking for a more modern look, you can obtain some
metal lining at your local home improvement store for rather cheap, and
installation is medium difficulty.

Finding something nice-looking to support your plants can be a little bit
more challenging. Sometimes a short metal pole can work well, but often
for plants such as tomatoes you will need a wire mesh for it to pull
itself up on. You can find these at any gardening store, usually
pre-shaped in a sort of cone shape ideal for plants. The plant just grows
up through it, and usually it will last until the plant is grown enough to
support itself. After that you can take a pair of wire-cutters and just
snip it free.

Deciding how much soil to buy can be slightly easier. Look up information
on your plants and find out the ideal soil depth. Then dig out that much
from your garden, take the measurements, and find out the exact amount of
cubic feet of soil that you will need. Go to the store and buy it,
preferably adding on a few bags just so you can replenish the supply if it
compresses or runs out. If you live in an area where the ground is rough,
dry, and barren of nutrients, then you might even want to add a few inches
of depth to the original recommendation.

Arranging the plants is rather important to the success of your garden.
I’m not talking about some kind of feng-shui thing, but depending on your
watering, some plants might hog all the water and leave the other plants
high and dry. Some plants have longer roots than others, and are more
aggressive in the collection of water. If you place one of these plants
next to a plant with weaker, shorter roots, it will quickly hijack the
water supply for itself, and choke out the other plant.

I hope I’ve led you to realize that placement isn’t the only important
thing about a garden. There are many other factors that might not seem
very significant, but spending a proper amount of time considering them
could change the outcome of your garden. So if you’re working on building
a garden, use and reference you can (the library, the internet, and
magazines) to look in to some of the factors I’ve mentioned.

Gardening Experience

It all started a few weeks after I moved in to my first house. I was
excited just to have my own grass to mow, since I had been in apartments
and condos for quite a while. In between plans to paint walls and renovate
the inside to exactly how I like, I thought it would be a good idea to
start a fruit garden so that I could have some fresh produce and put my
yard to use. At that point I didn’t really know anything at all about
gardening. But still in my spunky youthful years, I decided I didn’t need
help. How hard could it be to start a garden and grow stuff? After all, it
happens in nature all the time and nobody even has to do anything.

I already had a grassless patch in my yard where it looked like the
previous owner had attempted a garden. But any attempt they had made
turned out to be an utter travesty. The area was full of rocks and weeds,
with no signs of any agreeable plants. I spent several hours of work
spread over several days to clear out the entire area, leaving nothing but
dirt. At that point, however, I didn’t realize the difference between
“dirt” and “soil”. I was dealing with barren, hard, nutritionless, and
unforgiving land.

I made some attempt at making my garden look nice; although I think even
Martha Stewart would have had difficulties. I took some stained boards
that were sitting in my basement (quite convenient, no?) and used them as
a border for my garden, to keep out all the pests that couldn’t jump more
than a foot (I figured I would be safe from lawn gnomes). I used the pile
of rocks I had collected from the garden to make a creepy shrine looking
thing in front of it. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that.

I went to the store that very day, and picked out whatever looked tasty.
Strawberries? Sure! Watermelon? Yeah! I hacked away a hole in the
rock-hard ground and poked the seed in. After that, I think I watered it
faithfully every day for several weeks before realizing that it was not
going to grow anything. But even after I had that realization, I continued
to water in hopes that my seeds would pull a last minute sprout on me. But
I knew there was no hope, and I was heartbroken. After all those hours of
pulling up weeds and tossing rocks into a pile, I had no fruit to show for
my labor.

So, feeling dejected and betrayed, I logged onto the internet and searched
for a guide to gardening. I quickly ran across a site that led me to
realize the true skill required for gardening. It was then I learned about
soil consistency, nutrients, ideal watering conditions, seasons, and all
those things. After I read up on my area and how to grow fruits, I learned
exactly what to do. I learned how to get the ideal soil, when to plant the
seeds, how much to water, etc. Just a night of browsing the internet and
printing off sources, and I was totally ready for the next planting season.

If you’re in the position I was, and you’re just itching to start a new
garden… I urge you to learn from my mistake. Make sure you do plenty of
proper research on the types of plants you’re trying to grow, along with
the climate. Spend money on good soil, good fertilizer, and good garden
tools. Hopefully you don’t have to go through the emotional disaster that
I went through.

Improving Your Garden by Adding a Fountain

A great way to spice up your garden is to add a water feature. These can
be both soothing and aesthetically appealing. I’ve found that there’s
nothing more relaxing than sitting on a bench next to my garden and
listening to my fountain while I read a good book or do some studying.
Putting in a water feature is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive, and
will add immensely to the pleasantness of your garden. Also, the
maintenance level is minimal.

Usually, people install fountains for the benefit of the natural ambience
it provides. For some reason, being around a gorgeous scene of water gives
you a positive energy. This is also good if you practice Tai Chi or some
form of yoga or meditation. The constant drone of the water is exactly
what most people need to concentrate on what they are doing. Even if
you’re not into that kind of stuff, just being in a garden with a fountain
has a sort of meditative quality to it, even if you’re not trying to do
so. I recommend it to anyone.

When you first decide to put in a fountain, you need to put great care
into picking out one that will go well with the rest of your garden. If
you have any other decorations, you want to consider if it goes well with
your motif. Does the fountain you’re considering stand out in your garden
like a sore thumb, or does it look like it was meant to be there? If
you’re like me, you can’t naturally tell whether the fountain will be a
good addition to your garden just by looking at it. So my solution was to
bring my sister (a natural at fashion design and that kind of stuff) along
with a picture of my garden to the store. I was able to get her expert
opinion, as well as see for myself what it would look like. By doing this
I was able to pick a beautiful rock fountain that goes marvelously with
the rest of my garden.

However, I still had a slight problem with supplying my fountain with
power. You see, my garden isn’t very close to my house. I thought it would
look pretty tacky to run an extension cord across my yard, so I had to
come up with another solution. I discussed my situation with a Home Depot
employee, and he quickly found me the exact solution I needed: an
extension cord meant for being buried! All it took was a few hours of
digging a small trench across my yard, and I had power to my fountain
without an unsightly cord running across my yard. After I got over this
little hitch, my fountain plan went beautifully.

So if you’re looking for a way to make your garden a more classy and
beautiful place to be, I hope you consider installing a fountain. The
whole process is surprisingly inexpensive, and I think that you will be
very happy with the results. Having a fountain in your garden is not only
soothing, but it also adds a lot of character to an otherwise bland
garden. Remember, gardens are not just for giving us vegetables! A garden
is a place to go when you want to retreat from the outside world and dwell
in your own thoughts with no disturbance.

Picking a Healthy Plant

When it comes to getting started with your garden, you have two choices; planting seeds, or buying entire plants. Both have their own benefits. If you plant seeds and care for them every day, you will find it is a much more rewarding experience when you have a full, healthy plant. However, this method is a lot more risky. I can’t tell you how many seeds I’ve planted and never seen any trace of whatsoever.

If you choose to buy the plant from a nursery and install it in your garden, it reduces a lot of the work involved in making it healthy. However, I have found in the past that many incompetent nursery workers will absolutely ruin the future of the plant by putting certain chemicals or fertilizers in. I have adapted to this incompetence by learning to choose the healthiest plant of the bunch. Here I will discuss some of the techniques I use in my screening process for plants.

It may sound superficial, but the one thing you need to check for on your prospective plants is how nice they look. As far as plants go, you can truly judge a book by its cover. If a plant has been treated healthily and has no diseases or pests, you can almost always tell by how nice it looks. If a plant has grown up in improper soil, or has harmful bugs living in it, you can tell from the holey leaves and wilted stems.

If you’re browsing the nursery shelves looking for your dream plant, you want to exclude anything that currently has flowers. Plants are less traumatized by the transplant if they do not currently have any flowers. It’s best to find ones that just consist of buds. However if all you have to choose from are flowering plants, then you should do the unthinkable and sever all of them. It will be worth it for the future health of the plant. I’ve found that transplanting a plant while it is blooming results in having a dead plant ninety percent of the time.

Always check the roots before you plop down the money to purchase the plant. Of course if the roots are in absolutely terrible condition you will be able to tell by looking at the rest of the plant. But if the roots are just slightly out of shape, then you probably won’t be able to tell just by looking at it. Inspect the roots very closely for any signs of brownness, rottenness, or softness. The roots should always be a firm, perfectly well formed infrastructure that holds all the soil together. One can easily tell if the roots are before or past their prime, depending on the root to soil ratio. If there are a ridiculous amount of roots with little soil, or a bunch of soil with few roots, you should not buy that plant.

If you find any abnormalities with the plant, whether it be the shape of the roots or any irregular features with the leaves, you should ask the nursery employees. While usually these things can be the sign of an unhealthy plant, occasionally there will be a logical explanation for it. Always give the nursery a chance before writing them off as horrendous. After all, they are (usually) professionals who have been dealing with plants for years.

So if you decide to take the easy route and get a plant from a nursery, you just have to remember that the health of the plants has been left up to someone you don’t know. Usually they do a good job, but you should always check for yourself. Also take every precaution you can to avoid transplant shock in the plant (when it has trouble adjusting to its new location, and therefore has health problems in the future). Usually the process goes smoothly, but you can never be too sure.

Installing a Drip Irrigation System

If you’re looking for ways to keep your garden watered without wasting too
much time and money, you’ve probably gone through a lot of options in your
mind. Maybe you’ve considered a sprinkler, a hose, or a good old-fashioned
watering can. All of these methods might be convenient, but most of the
time you will end up wasting water on plants that don’t need any more. If
you live in a drought stricken area like I do, you know that every bit of
water counts. I ended up getting a drip irrigation system. I haven’t
regretted this decision at all.

When you install a drip irrigation system, you can choose one of two
varieties: above ground and below ground. The above ground version drips
small amounts of water continuously onto the ground, and allows it to soak
in. It is all regulated from a pressure controller, which ensures that the
water just comes out at a drip instead of a spray or a stream. These
pressure regulators are very inexpensive. The whole drip system can be set
up with a pressure regulator and a garden hose with holes poked in it
(although it is ideal for you to get a pipe designed for this type of use,
I’ve found that the hose method works acceptably).

The underground system is a bit more of a pain to install and maintain.
But if you’re really into the aesthetic aspect of your garden and don’t
want any visible watering system, then you might consider it worth it.
It’s essentially the same as the above ground version, only a small trench
is dug for the hose or pipe prior to any planting. This allows the water
direct access to the roots for the most watering efficiency. Plus, you can
impress your neighbors by having a beautiful garden without ever going
outside to water it! They’ll be baffled.

To choose between the two systems, you need to take several things into
account. Do you have the same plant layout year round? If it is always
changing, you probably won’t want to bury your hose. It can be a pain to
dig it up and re-align it with all your new plants every year or so. Even
if your plant layout never changes, you need to consider how much you
really mind seeing a hose in your garden. If it really bothers you to the
extent that you’re willing to work for a few hours to get rid of it, then
by all means bury it. But otherwise I would suggest staying above ground
if for nothing else than the convenience of repairing and rearranging.

One of the main advantages of the drip irrigation system is its
efficiency. Instead of spraying large amounts of water willy-nilly like a
hose does, it makes the most of your precious water by putting it exactly
where it is needed. It can also provide your garden with constant
watering, instead of just having to go thirsty whenever you’re not around
to water it.

So if you’re looking for an easy, cheap, convenient, and efficient
alternative watering method, you should go out to the gardening store
today and purchase the necessary items to install a drip irrigation
system. I think you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to maintain a
garden after you have it.

Maintaining a Compost Heap

Many people who maintain gardens have a large amount of organic waste, from grass clippings to leaves and dead plants. Unfortunately, many waste money and time having these wastes transported to a landfill. It isn’t just a waste of good compost; it’s a waste of everything that goes into the process of transporting it (the garbage man’s time, the money you pay for the removal, etc). It is truly a travesty.

All this garbage that people are trying to get rid of can be a better supplement for your garden than any fertilizer or chemical. If you properly facilitate the decomposition of all of the garbage, it will alter chemically until it is in such a state that it can be nothing but beneficial nutrition for other plants. Therefore you can turn all the stuff you would have thrown away into top grade fertilizer for your garden.

Usually compost is maintained in a pile somewhere in your backyard. Usually the thought of a compost heap brings disturbing images to ones mind; heaps of rotten garbage emitting a horrid odor. However, if you maintain it correctly you’ll be able to produce great compost without producing an offensive odor. When I first began my compost pile in an effort to improve environmental health, I made several major errors. These included preventing the pile from the oxygen it truly needed, and keeping it to dry. It ended up decomposing in a very non-beneficial way, and producing an odor so foul that I had government agents knocking at my door.

When you are choosing your spot where you will be putting all of these materials, you should aim for a higher square footage. Having a really deep pile of compost is not a good idea, because generally the deeper sections won’t be exposed to anything that is required for the process to work. It is better to spread it all out over a large area. If you have a shed or a tool shack of some sort, it is a possibility to spread it over the roof (with boards to keep it from falling off, of course). I have seen this done several times, and it helps keep the pile out of the way while still maintaining a large square footage.

A compost heap can consist of any organic garbage from your yard, garden or kitchen. This includes leaves, grass, any leftover food that won’t be eaten, or newspaper (no more than a fifth of your pile should consist of newspaper, due to it having a harder time composting with the rest of the materials). Usually if you have a barrel devoted to storing all of these things, it will fill up within several weeks. It is quite easy to obtain compost, but the hard part truly comes in getting it to compost.

After you have begun to get a large assortment of materials in your compost heap, you should moisten the whole pile. This encourages the process of composting. Also chop every element of the pile into the smallest pieces possible. As the materials start to compress and meld together as they decompose, frequently head outside and aerate the pile. You can use a shovel to mix it all up, or an aeration tool to poke dozens of tiny holes into it. Doing this will increase the oxygen flow to each part of the pile, and oxygen is required for any decomposition to take place.

If maintaining a compost pile sounds like something that would interest you, start considering the different placement options. The hardest part about maintaining a pile is choosing a spot that provides enough square footage without intruding on the rest of your yard or garden. While usually you can prevent the horrible odors that most people associate with compost heaps, it’s still not a pleasant thing to have to look at whenever you go for a walk in your garden.

Mulching for Free

I’m sure that if you are reading this, you have used some form of mulch during your gardening career. However, you probably didn’t know that there are many other options for organic mulching that you can explore. These days, many gardeners are discovering new sources of free mulch that has been there all along; an untapped resource. These include clippings from a lawn, or woody prunings from other plants in your yard. You will be surprised by how beneficial all these things can be, and how often the opportunity arises to use them.

Many gardeners have taken to spreading out their excess grass clippings across the rest of their yard. You may think this will look tacky, with big piles of grass just sitting in your yard as if you were too lazy to rake them up. However, if you spread them out enough then you won’t even be able to tell that there is an excess amount. Leaving the extra grass on the yard acts as a sort of mulch by preventing evaporation and weed growth. With this extra water, you won’t have to water nearly as much to keep your grass green. When I started leaving my grass clippings, I had to adjust the frequency of my sprinkler system because I was worried my yard was getting too much water!

If your garden is in more need of mulching than your yard, it is not unheard of to rake up all the grass and transport it to your garden. By making a small layer around the vicinity of the plant, you’ll apply all the same benefits from leaving it in your yard. My yard is rather green on its own, but I often have trouble with my plants staying green and healthy. So, rather than leave the grass clipping in my yard, I move them all around my plants. It is just a matter of choosing what your highest mulching priority is.

Sometimes, our pruning activities will lead us to have an amazing amount of branches and twigs. If this is the case, you should consider renting a wood chipper to put all of those branches to use. After one day of intense pruning, you would be surprised at just how many branches you end up with. Rather than throw these away, you can turn them into a huge amount of mulch for your plants. However, if your pruning has not left you with that big of an amount, you should bundle it all up and save it to add onto the next batch. This is because the chipping machines can be slightly expensive to rent, and you want it to be absolutely worth it!

Over time, all organic mulches need to be replenished. This is because they will naturally decompose in the conditions of your yard. Usually you can tell for yourself just by looking at it, but sometimes it can look perfectly regular but still have problems. If you start to notice any poor plant growth whatsoever, you should replace your mulch. Always keep in mind that during the process of decomposition, your mulch will use up the valuable nitrogen in the soil. Without this, the plants will be missing a key nutrient. There are several types of fertilizers available on the market that are specifically designed to deal with this problem.

The use of mulches in the yard and garden is something everyone should try. Not only can it save lots of time by reducing the amount of garbage you have to transport out, but it increases the healthiness and integrity of your plants by putting that so called garbage to good use. So if you think you would be able to save a good amount of branches and twigs for chipping, or if you think that you are ready to stop raking up all your grass clippings, then I think that mulching is for you.