Posts Tagged mulch

13 Ways to Get your Yard Ready for Winter

The weather is becoming more chilly!  So, before winter weather really sets in, here are 13 tips for getting your yard ready for the colder weather:

#1. Aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn.

#2. Remove any dead tree limbs or plants.

#3. Use that compost pile by mulching your yard.0rainbarrell

#4. Plant a “cover crop” like clover on bare areas or over a garden that won’t be used.

#5. Cut back on your watering, but don’t cut it off.  It sure isn’t raining every day just yet!

#6. Transplant anything you want to move and plant anything else you want in the ground.  Remember, if you have particularly hard soil, be sure to dig a larger hole than the area of the plant – and be sure to loosen plenty of soil all around the planting area.

#7. Add winter flowers to your border.

#8. Clean out your pond, stream, fountain, or other water feature.  Also, take a look at your water feature equipment and see if anything needs to be replaced.

#9. Add any fallen leaves and chipped branches to your compost pile.  iStock_000009122825XSmall

#10. Move any outdoor furniture into your covered porch or into its winter storage area.

#11. Clean out your gutters and make sure they are directed properly.

#12.  Consider getting a rain barrel for your gutter system.

#13. Keep that bird feeder and bird bath stocked.

Here’s to a beautiful yard – all prepared for winter!

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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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Making a Gorgeous Veggie Patch

It seems like vegetable gardens can be pretty boring places – if delicious.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, making your vegetable garden prettier can actually help it thrive.  Adding flowers, as well as additional little details can help transform the space into a place to be enjoyed.  Here are some ideas:Bright Veggie Garden

– Location, Location, Location

Picking a pretty location for your garden makes the space that much more enjoyable.   This can be challenging if you don’t have much yard, but a small hillside or a little spot that overlooks the rest of your yard can work great.

Another idea is to pick a spot that is nice to look at from inside your home or from your back patio.

– Make an Entrance

Even if you have a little garden, you can make it beautiful by adding an entryway.  This could be as simple as installing a picket fence with a little gate, and as glamorous as installing a terraced walkway with an arch at the entryway.

If you don’t have enough space to install an entryway, try adding ornamentation which makes your veggie patch pop.  You can add little gnomes, a birdhouse or birdbath, or even a bench that overlooks it all.

– Add Flowers 

Don’t just grow veggies or fruit in your veggie patch.  Try growing flowers.  You can grow lavender – which is fragrant and pretty – as well as a useful herb, or plant bright flowers like California Golden Poppies, daisies, magnolias, sunflowers, and more.  You can even force tulips and plant them – which is the perfect flower this time of year.

Another idea is to allow some of your vegetables to flower – or stagger their planting so that they flower at different times.

– Raise the Beds

Raised beds make your garden look neat and orderly.  Additionally, they provide natural walkways between beds.

If you have a hillside home, raised beds are great for keeping the soil where you want it, while still planting on your hillside.

– Think with Color

Vegetables can be other colors besides just green.  Think with both taste and color when you pick varietals.  Additionally, if you want to add flowers, try for colors that will pop and catch your eye.  Not only will you enjoy them, but the bees will too!

– Brighten up with Pots

Sometimes you can add a little color just by adding bright pots to your yard.

– Cut Down on Weeds, Use Mulch

Using mulch helps your vegetables, and has the added benefit of making weeds easy to pull.  One thing to think with when you use mulch, however, is that you should try to pull any weeds before laying it down and if you choose manure, make sure it is fully cured as sometimes weed seeds can survive the digestive system of an animal.

– Attract the Right Animals

When you have a natural yard, you want to attract birds to eat the bad insects off the plants.  Utilizing some native plants, and providing areas for birds to perch and bathe goes a long way in attracting the birds you want to your yard.

Additionally, flowers and staggering your plantings so they bloom at different times will attract bees as long as you have sweet, fragrant, and bright flowers.  You need bees to pollinate things like tomatoes and squash – so cultivate a garden that they will enjoy.

Here’s to a fruitful vegetable patch!

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Planning for Spring

This time of year is fun for planning out and preparing for your springtime plantings.  With the current chilly weather, here are some ideas to keep you occupied in your yard:Flower Borders

1. Cover up any beds that don’t have anything growing in them with mulch or cardboard.  Also, if you still have any weeds growing, they should be slowed down, so get them pulled up and out of your beds.

2. Make sure your trees are trimmed back for full growth next year.

3. Take a look at your yard.  What are your plans with it next year?  Do you need to plant hearty succulents?  Will you be trying for a California native garden?

4. Make sure you have lights in areas that are useful to you, or in areas that you want to display.

5. If you have an area you aren’t sure about, consider adding a water feature or make it a gathering space for your friends and family.

6. Finally, sit back and relax with something warm and watch the rain fall.

Here’s to a green winter and spring!


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Water Conservation Questions

We want our plants to look beautiful and produce gorgeous flowers, or delicious fruits or vegetables.  Water is a key ingredient to making this happen.  But sometimes, we get advice that seems impractical or hard to follow.  Here is a little Q&A that hopefully will answer some of those questions:

Q: How do I tell how many inches of water my yard is getting?

A: It’s a bit of a math trick, but here’s a good way to calculate how many inches of water your yard gets:

-Multiply the number of inches of water you are supposed to provide to your yard by .6.  This will give you the number of gallons per square foot you will need to provide.

– Multiply the above number by the square footage of your garden. This will tell you how many gallons your whole garden will need.

– Water systems have inefficiencies.  To compensate for them, divide the gallons needed by .85 for drip or .7 for sprinklers.

Find out how many gallons of water your system provides per minute, and you will be able to calculate how long it will take to provide your yard with the inches of water it needs.

Q: When is the best time to water my plants and lawn?

A: Water your plants in the morning.  Midday watering causes the water to evaporate.  Watering at the evening can be done if you have a drip system.  If water gets on the leaves, fungus can be encouraged to grow.

Q: I have patches under my trees where nothing ever grows.  Should I leave the exposed dirt alone, or can I do something to prevent evaporation?

A: Open ground often allows water to evaporate before it has a chance to sink in – even under trees.  A good solution for this is planting shade friendly plants, planing along the dripline of your tree, and covering any exposed ground with mulch to keep the water in and the soil nutritious.  However, do make sure to keep the mulch off of the tree trunk.

These are some tips and ideas.  We’ll continue on in a future post.  Here’s to happy and nutritious plants!

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