Posts Tagged gardening

How to Make Your Favorite Landscape Work in Southern California

Southern California has some great native plants and is generally an excellent place to grow many warm weather and even some tropical plants.  But what if you or your loved one are from Maine, England, Alaska, or Ecuador?   How do you capture the feel of another state or country, while living in SoCal?  Here are several tips to make it work:

– Examine the climate where your ideal yard is from.  This will give you an idea of how to sort out issues like too much sun and too little water.  For example, if you want an English kitchen garden, you’ll needs plenty of water and possibly some shade for the more delicate plants.  If you are looking for a tropical feel, you will need more water and possibly a greenhouse for the plants that need that intense heat.

– See if there are replacement plants which you’d be okay with.  For example, Forget-me-nots are not particularly inclined to grow in hot weather, but you can get blue pansys, California Blue Bells,  Gracias Sage, Desert Sage, Wooly Blue Curls, and many other native wildflowers.

– Use pots.  Pots are fantastic.  They allow plants to be moved around – so if you have some plants out in the winter that should be shaded during summer, you can just move them around.

– Utilize your shade.  There are shade plants which will make your California garden feel as if it’s been transported from the old world.  Find any shady spots and plant there.  Ferns, strawberries, and other plants peaking out from under a tree or tall bush can make your yard feel like home.Wild Roses

– Find plants that do well here and in your ideal garden.  Probably the most common flower to any garden – Southern and Northern – are roses.  Roses do well in our climate as long as they have plenty of water and are properly pruned and fertilized.

Making your ideal landscape work is a matter of balance and planting the proper plants in the areas that work best for them.  This can be a tough process, and often is something a professional landscaper can give you excellent advice on.

Leave a Comment

Calling all Bees, Butterflies, and Lady Bugs

If you live in a place like Pismo or Malibu beach, you’re pretty likely to see butterflies throughout the year.  But what about more inland cities like Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills or Simi Valley?  How do residents get a chance to enjoy gorgeous and beneficial winged insects?  Here are some ideas:Honey Bee Polinating Sage Blossom

Get rid of dead or dying plants

Beneficial insects are attracted to bright, healthy plants that will produce plenty of pollen or nectar, or which haven’t been damaged too thoroughly by harmful insects like aphids.  Make sure to prune back dead foliage, remove dead plants, and find out if your plants that seem to be dying can be saved or if they should be removed.

Plant bright flowers with nectar or pollen in them

Butterflies and bees are attracted to areas where they can feed themselves and their fellows.  Try planting vibrant flowers like: marigold, lavender, blood flower, brown-eyed Susan, echinacea, salvia, yarrow, penstemon, salpiglossis, dahlia, scabiosa, gallardia, zinnia,  aster, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, lantana, bee balm, borage, sunflower, alyssum, lion’s tail, coneflower, and many more. Butterflies

There are also herbs that can be used both to attract pollinators and can be used in the kitchen.  Some of these are: fennel, oregano, garlic chives, sage, mint, mustard greens, and thyme.

Plan your garden

You can attract friendly insects with gardens big and small, but usually there is a reason you wish to attract them.  Maybe you enjoy watching butterflies flutter and bees buzz.  In that case, you’ll want your garden landscaped with areas for you to sit down and watch.  Maybe you’re planting pollinators to help with your tomato plants or a peach tree.  In this case, you’ll want to discuss how best to position the plants that attract beneficial insects so that they buzz on over to the plants that really need pollinating.

Take time to enjoy it all

In this hustle and bustle world, it may be hard to find time to contemplate the flowers or watch the bees and butterflies do their thing.  But make sure to make time to enjoy your yard.  Why else have a gorgeously landscaped space which attracts beautiful little insects?

Here’s to a summer filled with bright blooms and beneficial insects.


Comments (1)

Last Minute Mother’s Day Ideas

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day!  While I hope you thought of your mother early enough to get her a present, her are some last minute ideas that may be great for an entire gift, or just icing on the cake!Mother's Day Concept

Plant Flowers

Every year you buy your mother cut flowers or some other short-lived gift.  Why not buy your mother plants that will continue to remind her of your love for her?  Buy some flowers or flowering plants and either plant them around her yard, or put them in pretty pots and give them to her.

Favorite picks: Love-in-a-puff, Lilac, Lavender, Roses, Morning Glory, Sunflowers, Artichokes, Aster, Catmint, Forget-me-not, Coneflower, Salvia leucantha, Hyacinth, Bee Balm, and Zinnia.

If your mother is very particular, take her to the nursery with you on Mother’s Day and buy her the plant she’s been yearning for.

Help Her in the Yard

As we get older, yard work gets harder and harder.  Take the time to help your mother out in the garden this Mother’s Day. If she is an avid gardener, but her knees or back pain her, discuss installing raised beds and help her do it.

If you can’t help her on Mother’s Day, or have other plans with her, give her an IOU that she can cash in at any time for yard work.  This gives you and her future reasons to spend time together.

Get Her Yard Landscaped

If your mom doesn’t want to have to deal with her yard anymore, pitch in on getting her a professional landscaper.  This may mean she wants to hardscape over the back, or get sprinklers and sod installed for the grandkids.  Either way, it will make her time at home more enjoyable and create a place that you can visit and enjoy alongside her.

Fireproof Her Yard

With the recent fires alarming people all around Southern California, helping your mom create a fire-proof environment gives her the gift of a nicer yard and you the gift of peace of mind.  Some fire proofing actions are:

  • Pull dead leaves, weeds, and branches
  • Get her sprinkler schedule consistent
  • Turn her compost
  • Clean up the back area – especially around a firepit or barbecue
  • Clean out any ponds or water features

Pick a Bouquet from Your Own Yard

Explore your own yard for flowers that can be arranged into a gorgeous bouquet.  You might get a better group of flowers than you would have found in the store!

Here’s to mothers everywhere!

Leave a Comment

Landscaping Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year again.  The time when we all rush around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to find that last-minute gift for that one special person.  Here are some gift ideas for those people in your life who love their landscaping:

– The gift of a water feature.  It’s not impossible or even too late to get that water feature they’ve been eyeing.  If the gift is for a spouse or a parent, you might be inclined to go all-out and actually get the feature installed before the end of the year.

– Buy a live plant.  I love live plants, because I can then keep them and, eventually, plant them.  This time of year rosemary in the shape of a pine tree is popular – or even forced bulbs.  Daffodils in December give a fun feel, and make for a unique gift.

– Give them an “IOU”.  Promise to mow the lawn, install a pond or garden with them in their yearly replanting or some such activity.mowing lawn

– Help them with a project.  Almost every home owner – and even some renters – has their own yard project or yard work.  Find out what your friend or family member is most suffering from in their yard and rectify it.   This gift ideas range from giving window boxes to a cousin who lives in an apartment building, to installing planters in your parent’s yard, to getting that fire-pit installed for your significant other.

– Decorate their entrance for them.  If you know someone with a drab or dark entrance, help them out.  Replace their light bulbs in their walk-way lights, or add festive cheer with a wreath or garlands.  This is a thoughtful gesture for a close friend who is about to have a party or lots of family over, and is tearing their hair out with the strain of it all.  Helping someone with their holiday burden is a great gift and helps restore holiday cheer.

– Finally, give a gift to yourself.  Have you been wanted a new entry way, or to install a native garden – but just haven’t had the excuse, ability or time?  The holidays are a great time to get yourself and those you may live with a little gift – and make next year that much more fun.

Happy Holidays every one!

Leave a Comment

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.

Leave a Comment

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.

Comments (3)