Archive for Gardens

Designing a Drought Tolerant Yard

This time of year is usually filled with chilly weather and rainfall, but so far it has been dry and warm here in Southern California.  This may lead to some strict rules regarding watering ever-thirsty lawns.  So, instead of adding to the problem, here are some ideas for a drought tolerant and beautiful yard:

Go native:  Penstemon Husker's Red

We have so many wonderful native plants here in Southern California – and because they are native they are perfectly suited to our weather.   Some really wonderful plants are: Baby Blue Eyes, Black-Eyed Susan, Buckeye, California lilac, California poppy (our state flower), Calliopsis, Chaparral, Desert Evening Primrose, Fir, Fried-Egg Flower, Godetia, Hollyhock, Hummingbird Trumpet, Joshua Tree, Lavender, Penstemon, Ribbon bush, Sea Pink, and Sedum.

Plants that are used to our climate and the cyclic droughts we have can survive better with less water than plants from areas that get a lot of water.

Plant succulents: Stonecrop

Succulents and cactus are a natural fit for our desert-y climate. They hold in water for a long time and can survive in hot, dry weather.  Some great cactus plants and succulents for the yard are: Agave, Aloes, Bunny Ear Cactus, Campfire Crassula, Desert Rose, Golden Barrel Cactus, Hens-and-Chicks, Macho Moca Mangave, Star Cacti, and Zwartkop.

Utilize artistic arrangements: iStock_000010193902XSmall

Don’t just use plants to decorate your yard. Try out gorgeous rocks, arrange outdoor art pieces, or set up a dry fountain and plant it with succulents. There are such a huge variety of stone, brick, cement, and even metal materials you can use to make your yard look amazing without having to water it.

Even if you don’t go grass free, you can find many water saving tips and suggestions here.  Here’s to some rainfall this year!

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Planting Somethings Beautiful and Delicious

Usually this is the time of year when many start thinking about the shape of our yard and how they want it changed.  It’s always nice when plants serve a dual purpose and when you think about the shape you want your yard to take, consider planting something both pretty and edible.

“Kitchen gardens” and other terms often make one think of a traditional English garden or some kind of a garden patch, but that doesn’t need to be the case.  Check out these techniques for planting food that both look and taste great:

1. Use edibles for a border. Plants like cabbage, kale, chard, strawberries, mint, sage, or lavender all make a gorgeous edible border.

2. There is something romantic about a vine growing up a wall or around a fence.  Coax some edible vines up your garden wall.  There are plenty of great food plants that look nice and grow on a vine.  These include: eggplants, cucumbers, grapes, peppers, tomatoes, zucchinis and peas. Bright Veggie Garden

3. Enjoy something yummy and some shade from a fruit tree.  Great trees are: lemon, lime, orange, peach, apple, and many others.  There are many other trees with edible flowers or seed pods like redbud or bottlebrush.

4. Plant a ground cover of food plants or herbs.  Instead of growing grass around pavers, try something edible like strawberries, lingonberries, cranberries, wintergreen, thyme, mint, and prostrate rosemary.

5. Line your walk with edible bushes.  Plants like blueberries, Barbados cherry, loquat, elderberry, and hazelnut are all delicious and beautiful additions to a yard.

These are just a few of the ways you can rearrange your yard this year.  Here’s to a gorgeous and delicious front or backyard.

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Five Last Minute Tips to Spruce up your Yard

With holiday season in full force, you may have been concentrating completely on decorating your interior, getting menus together, and wrapping presents.  If you take a moment to look at your yard, it might need a little pick-me-up.  Short of calling your local landscaper, how can you make it look more welcoming?  Here are five easy, quick tips for you to do before your guests begin to arrive:

Tip #1: Clean up.  This may seem obvious, but give your yard a quick once over.  Rake up any leaves, pick up any garbage that has blown on to your lawn, and trim off anything dead in your yard. Pink-white senecio cineraria

Tip #2: Plant something bright.  Are there some spots that are tough to look at in your yard?  Distract attention by bringing color to your borders and popping some pretty flowers into those empty beds.  Some good plants for cool-season color in Southern California are: cineraria, pansies, candytuft, heath, primrose, snapdragons, English daisies, calendula, cyclamen, hellebores, cool-season poppies, ornamental kale, ornamental cabbage, and more.

Tip #3: Decorate with potted plants.  Don’t have time to get on those hands and knees and plant some flowers?  Try decorating with lovely pots and pretty plants.  You can add any of the above flowers to draw the eye to your front porch, line your walkway with potted plants, or prop them in an empty flower bed to bring it a little cheer.

Tip #4: Cover bald spots.  Warm up chilly ground with some pretty mulch – bark mulch can often dress up some bare ground and make the ground healthier for next year!Light wrapped tree at Twilight

Tip #5: Bring your tree outside.  You may have a gorgeous, dressed-up tree indoors.  Celebrate the theme by dressing up a tree or two that is sitting outdoors.  There are fun, outdoor bulbs you can use, outdoor string lights and so much more.  Additionally, you can add some pretty boughs and wreathes around your yard, along handrails, or even on dividing walls or your fence.  Don’t limit the festivity to the indoors.

Here’s to a wonderful – stress free holiday season!

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Simple Landscaping Ideas

Sometimes the best looking landscape is the one with the simplest design.  When we look at magazines and see great landscapes, they are usually several simple ideas put together and made into a cohesive whole.  So, here are some simple ideas you should consider when taking a look at your own landscape:Trellis

– Think within a specific color scheme.  Whether you are looking at hardscaping or plants, you can consider basic color schemes.  For example, if you love red, you can work that in to your yard with bright zinnia, poppies, celosia, or an accent tile or stone.  Keeping the color consistent will help your yard look more pulled together and cohesive as a whole.

– Don’t fret about bare spots.  Instead of worrying about bare spots in your yard, utilize them by placing a piece of art, a water feature, or a bench over that spot.

– Don’t worry about mixing and matching.  Mother Nature mixes and matches all the time and comes up with meadows filled with flowers or mysterious forests.  Try it yourself by utilizing different types of plants and hardscaping materials.  Just try grouping like things together as much as possible.

–  Create private spaces.  If you have a bit of room in your yard, you can get a simple, private space designed for you- separated by a low wall or a hedge.

– Install islands of plants or hardscaping.  Reverse the usual borders by making your grass a boarder for a hardscaped retreat or colorful island of plants.

– Have fun with textures and geometry.  Exploring different types and sizes of plants, as well as a variety of hardscaping materials can lead to an organic and interesting look you can’t get with a plain grass lawn.

– When in doubt, try something traditional.  If you aren’t sure what to do with that wide open space, plant a lawn there.  You can mix and match type of grass, add in flowers, or create an island later on.  Sometimes keeping things traditional opens up the space to more fun ideas later on down the road.

These are just a few of the many simple and interesting techniques you can utilize for your yard.  Here’s to a gorgeous yard filled with fun and laughter!

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8 Ways to Dress Up Your Yard This Season

This time of year is full of wacky weather in Southern California.  The plants in your yard don’t know whether they should die off and get ready for winter, or stay alive and keep on reaching for the sun.  Either way, it’s a good time to inject a little fun into your yard.  Here are eight ways to make your yard the place to be over fall and winter:

1. Surround your firepit, fountain, or other hardscaping feature with seasonal color by placing miniature conifers in a burgundy bowl or pot and placing them in likely spots around your yard.  You can always plant them in your yard next year, or keep them as bonsai-type trees for next year’s holiday season.

2. Welcome company with bright lighting along each pathway.  If you don’t have lights installed, try a temporary fix by placing tea candles in glass holders along your walkways.christmas decorations

3. Add a potted boarder to your existing border.  You can place poinsettias, cyclamen, and other bright plants along your boarder in seasonally colored pots.

4. Don’t settle for just one potted flower at your entryway, group pots with a variety of flowers to welcome friends and family for the holidays.

5. Mulch up any bare spots in your yard.

6. Take cuttings and create your own garden wreath.  Or, if you aren’t particularly fond of arts and crafts, use existing plants in arrangements throughout the house and on your outdoor furniture.

7. Use cushions in seasonal colors to accent your outdoor furniture.  It’s still warm enough to enjoy your yard with friends and family, so keep your outdoors decorated with seasonal items.

Here’s to a healthy, bright yard over the holidays!

 

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10 Ways to Create an Entryway that Pops

With family occasions like Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and others coming up, it’s important to make your visitors feel right at home – starting with their entrance into your house.  Here are some tips to creating a gorgeous, welcoming entryway to you home:

1. Trim down or replace any overgrown shrubbery.

2. Make sure your walkway and entrance are well lit.

3. Showcase your home.  Keep your front yard open so your home itself is visible and not hidden.

4.  Make your yard noticeable.  Flowers with bright colors, a unique walkway, interesting lighting, all add up to a home that gets noticed right when company drives up.

5. Add some curve to your flower borders.  Curved flower border

6. Keep the front of your home clean.  Don’t just clean up for guests on the inside of your home, cut back dead branches, sweep up dead leaves, pull out any dying plants, and make your yard look good.  Not only will your home look better, you’ll help keep the space fireproof.

7. Give the outdoors some scent.  Plant jasmine, lemon trees, magnolias, and more to give your guests a fragrant walk up to your yard.

8. Add pizazz to your yard with ornamental grasses, art installations or natural accents.

9. Fix up your walkway.  Your front walk is the path to your front door.  Fill in any cracks, seal the concrete, or get it completely redone with an accent rock or brick.

10. Add color.  Don’t be afraid to plant something that changes color or which has unexpected pop in all seasons.

Here’s to a vibrant front yard and some very happy holidays!

 

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Going Lawnless

Wide grass lawns aren’t really native to Southern California, and are often water suckers.  One way to solve water issues landscaped gardeninevitable to a lawn is to remove your lawn and do something else with the space.  Here are a variety of ideas and tips for “going lawnless:”

1.  Plant up with natives instead of grass.  Once your natives are established, you won’t have to water them nearly as much as you watered your lawn.  Some lovely natives are:  Lewisia, Penstemon, Thrift, Yarrow, Apricot mallow, Checkerbloom, Blue-eyed grass, Iris, Monkey flower, Lilac, Bearded tongue, Beach aster, Snowberry, and more.

2. Install and enjoy hardscaping.  Hardscapes can be filled with natural beauty by utilizing pots or borders, and it’s very easy to maintain.  Not only that, handscapes make great gathering places for friends, family, barbecues, and more.

3. Make your space a veggy patch or herb garden.  Growing your own food is rewarding and can be really fun for the young ones!

4. Install a waterscape.  Adding a pond or fountain can make your backyard feel like a haven of natural beauty instead of a flat, green, water-sucking expanse.  Water features can block traffic noise, and they can get you off the hook for getting your kid a pet (by filling a pond with fish or some such animal).

5. Plant an orchard.  You may not think you can make your yard into a shady haven of natural beauty, but you can.  Planting and establishing trees can take a lot of water, but they give a great reward and last for a very long time.Rake Chips

6. Take some time to repair your soil with mulch over winter, then try planting some of your favorites.  You can make your yard into a gorgeous place for butterflies, birds, and more by smothering your lawn over winter and planting something completely different in spring.

Here’s to the perfect yard for your needs!

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