Posts Tagged garden

Ideas for Organic Weed Control

Southern California has gorgeous weather year-round, which means we get wonderful flowers, bountiful crops, and lots of weeds.  Here are some organic weed control ideas for your yard:

If it’s your lawn that’s getting weedy, try these ideas:

  • Keep your lawn mowed.  This means the weeds can’t get too big and cannot develop seed heads.
  • Compost and/or fertilize.  Keeping your lawn fertilized and healthy allows your grass to fight any encroaching weeds.  Just make sure that if you area using manure, it’s been well cured to kill off any weed seeds before you use it.  You don’t want to add to the problem!
  • Overseed your lawn.  It’s not the time of year for it, but if your lawn is patchy and weedy this year, try overseeding in fall or winter for a better lawn next year.
  • Aerate.  If your lawn has never been a happy one, consult with a landscaper and see if you may need to aerate it.  Some weeds can live on dense, clay soil, but grass has a hard time with this kind of soil, so won’t be able to prevent weeds from taking over.
  • Find an organic weed and feed.  There are products you can buy which actually are organic, and help your lawn while harming the weeds.
  • Yank ’em out.  This is always an easy way to organically get rid of weeds.  Try to pull them up and get their roots out of there.

If it’s your yard or garden which is getting weedy, try these ideas:

  • Compost and/or fertilize.  This helps in three ways:  1. The fertilizer and/or compost will leach nutrients into your soil which will help your plants grow strong and fend off parasites and weeds, 2. Adding content to your soil structure can make your soil nice and crumbly – perfect for yanking out weeds without pulling a muscle, and 3. The compost prevents light from reaching the weeds, killing them off.
  • Pour boiling water over the weeds.  If you have just a few weeds, or the weeds are pretty isolated, try pouring boiling water over them for a few days.  Experiments show that this can kill them.
  • Get a sharp hoe and cut them off just your topsoil.  A sharp hoe can go a long way toward cutting weeds out of your property.
  • Spread corn gluten meal over areas where you’ve already pulled up weeds, and you don’t want them to return.  The corn gluten meal is supposed to stop new seeds from sprouting – so don’t plant seeds in those beds, just plants that have already been started.
  • Find an organic weed killer.  There are several you can find in garden stores which are organic.
  • If your yard is taken over by weeds and you have no idea what to do, try this: Rake out as many weeds a possible.  Wet the soil.  Cover it with plastic for about six weeks.  The heat and sun will kill the weeds, leaving you with soil that can now be planted.  This is best done around late spring/early summer.

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Brightening up your yard

Right now is a wonderful time to plant.  Here are some ideas on flowers and veggies to plants, as well as ideas on brightening up your yard:

– Use brightly colored pots in your yard.  You can put your plain ol’ pots in some brightly colored pots or, if you have clay pots, paint them.

– Line your walkways with bright plants, like pansies, marigolds or nasturtiums.  You can also plant pretty local Southern California flowers like California lilac, godetia, pineleaf penstemon or hummingbird trumpet in pots around the yard, or in your yard.

– Now’s a great time to plant your garden veggies and herbs.  You can plant tomatoes, basil, cucumber, snap peas, and more.

– Install string lighting through your trees and bushes.

– Put a fountain, pond, waterfall in your yard for the sparkly, running water sound.

– Install window boxes, put boxes on any handrails, and put pots on your hardscape areas.   You can also install pots on your fence railing so pretty flowers can peak over your fence.

Here’s to a beautiful Spring!

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Fruits and Vegetables

I am growing fruits and vegetables in my garden this year, and I was wondering how to get the biggest bang for my buck.  Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1. Install sprinklers. There is no way I, personally, have time to go out every day to water my peas, tomatoes and cucumbers. They would die a sad, sad death if I didn’t have sprinklers. So, if you want a pleasant, producing yard and don’t want to pave it all over, get sprinklers installed.

2. Mulch. I over-mulched and had to uncover some of my poor sprouts, but now they are happy and growing.

3. Make sure to do things which attract bees. I planted sunflowers next to my corn, strawberries in a bucket next to my cucumber (but not in the same bucket), marigolds and other flowers in the ground next to the buckets containing my peas. This might be a bad set up for you – I have a big garden area where I can experiment with landscaping. So, check with a local landscaper to discuss what will work for you.

4. Thin out any straggly looking bits. Don’t let your plant waste energy on something that’s half dead, or not well-developed. Thin out any dying leaves or tiny fruits or veggies so that your plant can use all its energy developing larger, more delicious fruits and veggies.

This also works for keeping your blooming plants blooming and beautiful.

Here’s to a beautiful and delicious summer!

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Seeking Inspiration

Sometimes you have to go out on an adventure and get inspired.  I recently went out horseback riding in Topanga Canyon and was so inspired by both the natural beauty and the homes with their great landscaping.

Now that I’m inspired, I’ll pass on some ideas I had to you:

1. Exploit natural beauty and heat tolerant plants.  When I went horseback riding, there were gorgeous lavender, cactus, poppies, and other beautiful plants all over the place.

2. Bring the beach inland.  Get a beach feel with Creeping Red Fescue sod, palm trees, and more – much like this landscaping company did.

3. Install a garden. Do you love flowers or homegrown veggies like I do? Install raised beds or clear out a garden space.

4. Add a water feature. Fountains, ponds, etc. can be easy to install –  depending on the water feature. More complicated water features should be installed by a professional landscaper.

5. Go wild! Try some creative landscaping. Go quirky and show your personality!

So… here’s to a gorgeous, inspired landscape!

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Time to Get Gardening

I’m sure you haven’t been neglecting your garden all winter-long.  But, chilly weather and rain makes gardening a chore rather than a pleasure.

While the weather in April is always iffy, it’s a great time to start a garden.  There are sunny days, a little humidity and it’s generally ok outside.  Additionally, spring is the time when plants want to grow.

My favorite kind of planting is from seed. This can be kind of tough because if you don’t follow the exact directions on the seed packet, you won’t get the results you expect.  For example, I got lazy with my lettuce and didn’t thin my lettuce bed after my seeds sprouted.  Consequently, my seed beds were an impossible tangle when I did get out there.  I ended up clipping off some sprouts and eating them in salad (they were pretty yummy), then turning the rest over and planting starts.

But, if you decide to follow simple, written directions, you’ll be ok.

Here are some great plants to start from seed now:


Arugula, Lettuce, Spinach, Basil, Parsley, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Corn, Peppers… and more.

(Note: If you want to try something different, check out lemon cucumbers.  They are weird, yet delicious)


Calendula, Nasturtium, Sun Flowers, Daisies, Wildflowers, Zinnias, Petunia, Morning Glory, Bougainvillea… and more.

You can always just buy starts to plant from as well, but seeds are fun and kind of magical.  They’re especially great if you have kids in your family – or have family who act like kids.  It’s a great project to give to kids to show them patience and gives them some idea of where food and flowers and such come from.

One word of advice: If you are going to sow directly into the ground, make sure to put some kind of screen over the plants until they are established.  Otherwise, birds are likely to make off with you tasty/pretty treats.

Additionally, if you have chickens you may think a great way to get manure directly to your sprouts would be to let them wander the yard and fertilize at will.  Don’t do this.  They are birds and will scratch up your seeds and eat them.  Same goes for your plants in any growth period.  Your best bet is to spread straw through the chicken coop and let them fertilize that, then compost it and spread it around.

If you’re unsure on where to set all these plants up, you can start most in pots, then work with a landscaper to get the ideal spot picked out and set up properly in your yard.

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Links that Help Your Garden

It’s still wintertime. There’s snow on the mountain tops and green on the hillsides. But, as I’ve said before, spring is coming and your plants need feeding and possibly a bit of a boost.  Here are some great links to aide you in giving your yard the boost it needs:

Feed your plants with B1 vitamin boosts for transplanting or for plants which are looking limp or brown.

Add fertilizer to your lawn or garden to keep it bright.

Enter environmental microbes into your landscape to naturally help things along.

Augment your soil with compost.

Finally, here are some additional easy ways to help out your lawn and flowers.

Here’s hoping you have a gorgeous yard, year round.

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Seasonal Landscaping

I was driving down Candy Cane Lane and it struck me that some people really enjoy decorating their yards for holidays year round. This means you really have to keep in mind what sort of landscaping would be appropriate. If you have waves of lawn, poking holes in it to put up seasonal decorations might be detrimental and frustrating as, as soon as each plug grows back, you’re just going to want to stick something else in there.

In looking at well decorated homes, I was saddened that most people were in fact completely destroying their lawns. I tend to see this around Halloween too, with fun decorations smashing and poking holes the an otherwise well tended lawn.

If you really enjoy decorating for each season, a hard-scape and small, well designed gardens are most likely your best bet. Additionally, you want clean, even and well-lit paths. Finally, some shrubs or trees would benefit you so you may decorate with lights and/or hanging other fun things in the branches.

You can even set up your landscape to cater to your desire to put up fun decorations, but including sufficient outlets on exterior walls, putting things which need holes dug in dirt – and later filling the hole created with flowers, and you can even have hooks and things installed so that you may put your fun and festive decorations up more easily – and make them less likely to be blown about by the wind.

As a final note, even if you don’t go all out and decorate for each season, a bit of hardscaping can go a long way to fun, festive outdoor activities. It’s pretty cold and wet right now, but on a dry day you can enjoy the cooler temperatures by having an impromptu outdoor barbecue, or chatting around a fire pit. Additionally, if you’re like me, you might like a covered porch, where you can go outside no matter the weather and enjoy the outdoors.

So, here’s hoping you enjoy this blustery season!

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Fall is Here

There are about a million pumpkins in front of the grocery stores, yards are full of gravestones and haunts, kids and adults are shopping for a costume… fall has officially arrived.

So, what does this mean for your yard or garden?  Beyond, of course, more leaves in the swimming pool.

Unless you are going for a dead, creepy, messy garden look for Halloween, get rid of all the dead stuff. I know I said this in a previous post, but it remains true. Now is the time to pull up dead plants and rake up all those dead leaves. I know we don’t have a ton of fall color in Southern California, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t trees that shed their leaves. Bag all that up and use it for compost or send it out in the yard waste bin. (If you do want to compost it, I’d recommend deciding on the size and location of your pile. If you want it out in the yard and not in a container of some sort, consult with a local landscaper for the best place to put it so it doesn’t mar your yard.)

Another good idea is to reseed and aerate your lawn if you have dense soil like that common to the Thousand Oaks area.

Now is a great time to start up any landscaping projects as plants go dormant in cooler temperatures – and though it’s been pretty warm, the weather is cooling down, so it’s the perfect time to get your old plants dug up and your yard re-modeled for a gorgeous spring.

Finally, tis the season to have exciting lawn decorations with pumpkin, corn, squash, bales of hay and spooky surprises for that day where kids around the US go begging for candy.  So, decorate to your heart’s content.  I have to say my favorite decorations when I was a kid were those houses which went all out and really got into the season, weather it be with a cute pumpkin patch or a scary graveyard, so think about what you want your yard to look like this Halloween and have fun with it!

Here’s hoping your yard is not filled with fright this October. 🙂

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Why Hire a Landscaper?

Many people feel it’s smarter and cheaper to do as many things themselves as possible, especially when it’s a “honey-do” task like fixing a squeaky door or repainting a room.  This “do it yourself” attitude is often taken toward landscaping projects.

So why hire a professional landscaper?

1. Do you know how outdoor plumbing and drainage systems work?
Usually, sprinkler systems of some sort are needed when installing a landscape. Even if everything was pre-installed, the landscaper needs a good understanding of water drainage and what kind of plants will best benefit from the slope or grade of your land. If you don’t have an understanding of how water works with your land, it’s important to get a professional out to help you. Otherwise, some plants end up drowning while still others die due to lack of water, or harmful mold grows in your yard.

2. Do you understand plants, what kind of sun they need, how much water works for them, if they are natural to your area, etc?
Some landscaping is hardscaping , which does not require much, if anything, in the way of plant knowledge. But, if you are putting any greenery or flowers down, it’s important to know where they should go in relation to the sun, how much water they require, what kind of soil they should go in, etc.  If you do not have that knowledge, it’s important to consult a professional who does.  That way, things that are supposed to bloom will actually do so.  Also, an understanding of plants helps when some plants overcrowd others – like bamboo.  Your landscaper will have tips and suggestions on how to position these plants to best benefit your land. 

3. Does your vision seem too ambitious or overwhelming?
Your project might seem to you like you’re trying to rival the Gardens of Babylon, when in all likelihood you’re just trying to make your yard pretty.  A professional landscaper’s job is to make the crazy dream of yours a reality, even if it involves installing a koi pond and an English vegetable garden. 

4. How much work do you want to put in on your yard?
Obviously, if you’ve chosen a large landscaping project, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.  Do you want to plan and install every aspect of this project?  Do you have the skills to do so?  If not, do you have the resources and understanding to hire a skilled worker who just does the specific thing you need and does it well?  Often, professional landscapers and landscaping companies do have these resources at their fingertips while the average homeowner does not.

5. Finally, do you understand how to maintain your gorgeous dream yard for years to come?
A real professional will answer all your aftercare maintainance questions so that you or your gardener can keep your peaceful patio, stunning swimming pool or glorious garden pristine and perfect for many years.  They can also help you out if something is not quite as you envisioned it and give it that final polish of professionalism.  This is their job, so you’re allowed to make sure it’s perfect.

I hope this helps you on your pursuit for the perfect yard.

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