Starting a Backyard Garden with Raised Beds and Pots

You can start a backyard garden with raised beds or pots. Home gardening is the number one hobby in the United States.  Is there anything more satisfying than walking out your back door, picking a juicy red tomato and enjoying that sweet fresh flavor? It is a rare treat and for most of the country it is only something we get to experience in July, August and September, but it sure is worth it.  When you go to the grocery store in the dead of winter and the tomato package says, “Vine Ripened and Tastes like Summer”, don’t you believe it!

There is nothing quite like producing your own fresh food and it is very easy to do.  No matter what size your backyard may be, or even if you just have a patio or deck, you have room for a garden by building raised beds, pots, window boxes, or just about anything that will hold soil. raised beds in backyard

First, you must decide how much space and time you may want to devote to your new project.  Like most new endeavors, starting small is a good idea, and as you learn from experience you can grow and grow from one season to the next.  If all you have is a patio or deck, you should consider what we call “container gardening”.  This is nothing more than something like a five gallon bucket or maybe a whiskey barrel or maybe a used wheelbarrow.  Even an old bathtub would do the trick!  Just fill them with clean composted soil and you are ready to plant.

If you have a little more space, raised beds are the way to go. These are constructed with organic pressure treated lumber and range in size from four feet wide, one foot deep and to as long as you would like (10 to 12 feet is most common).  It is important to limit the width because you must be able to reach the center of the bed without stepping on the soil.  If you are going to use raised beds, it is a good idea to put pencil to paper and figure out how large an area you are going to work with and how many beds you want to build.

Because your garden is new, this will be your best chance to fill it with clean weed free soil. If you are just doing container gardening, you can purchase bagged soil at any nursery or garden center.  For raised beds, you will need to have soil or loam delivered by a local landscape service or mulch supplier.  You will need approximately 3/4 of a cubic yard for each 4×12 foot bed.  Make sure you specify composted loam for vegetable gardens.  Upon delivery, mix in a small amount of peat moss to lighten up the soil, about 5%. Fill up your containers or beds and you are ready to plant. Raised bed gardens

Herbs are quite easy to grow and don’t require much space, which makes them  ideal for     container gardens.  Select whatever varieties you commonly use such as dill, thyme, parsley, chives, sage, oregano, etc. Many herbs are perennials, meaning they will grow back year after year without replanting every season.  Chives are wonderful because a small bed will come back to life early in the spring and require very little  maintenance.  Many herbs that you plant in containers can be overwintered inside and returned to the patio the following spring.

Regarding vegetables, tomatoes are an obvious choice along with cucumbers, lettuce and peppers. These four items alone will provide you with salads all season long.  Green beans are very popular too and with staggered planting, you will be able to harvest them for several weeks in a row.  Onions grow very well throughout the United States and should be planted as “sets”.  These are just immature onions about 4 inches tall that have been commercially grown for transplanting to home gardens early in the spring.

Farmers Markets will have many varieties of plants to put in your new garden.  Plant whatever you like, but let’s get going.  Spring is here and it’s time to get dirty! You will find a great selection of herbs and some perennial vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb at Greenwood Nursery (www.greenwoodnursery.com). Place your order as early as late winter for shipping at the right time for your area.

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How to Start a Compost Program in Your Garden

Are you ready to start a compost program?

Anyone who has a garden should be composting.  It is very easy to do and the benefits are numerous when it comes to enhancing the soil and producing quality fruits, flowers and vegetables.

composting bins
Compost bins in the garden.

By definition, compost is the humus like material that results from the decomposition of organic matter.  When we grow and remove healthy crops in our gardens, we also remove many of the nutrients in the soil.  For sustainable agriculture to thrive, even in a small backyard garden, we must replace what we have taken out of the soil.  Good compost consists of elements that are essential to productive gardening, such as nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, etc.

The most basic type of composting is simply a pile established near your garden.  There are two components required to start your pile.  So called, ‘brown” materials laden with Carbon such as fall leaves, dried grass clippings, dead flowers, old corn stalks and even shredded newspaper make up part one.  Part two consists of “green” materials loaded with Nitrogen like vegetable kitchen waste (excluding meat), animal manures from chickens, horses, cows, etc. and fresh grass clippings.

Start your pile by laying at least six inches of brown material on the bottom.  On top of this add a few inches of the green materiel.  A good ratio of brown to green is about 4:1.  Keep this brown/green layering going until your pile is about four feet high and make sure you keep the whole thing moist.  The pile should be in a sunny location as the heat will accelerate the decomposition process.  The only real work involved in developing a productive pile is that you will have to “turn” it every couple of weeks with a fork in order to aerate it.  Don’t be surprised if a little steam escapes as you turn the compost over.  This is a good thing which occurs when the raw materials begin to decompose.

How to Compost
Fresh ready to use compost.

If you are diligent about maintaining your pile it will produce the humus like product we are looking for in a few weeks.  It will also look neat and be odor free.  If you have limited space or are concerned about appearance, you should look into composting bins which are available at most garden centers and do it yourself stores.  These keep the materials contained and some actually are mounted on rotating wheels making aeration very easy.  Simply rotate the drum full of decomposing materiel a half a turn every week and what was on the top is now on the bottom.

Get into composting and you will be doing the environment and your garden a lot of good.  Locally grown, sustainable and organic…it’s the way to go!

Don’t forget plants for your beautiful new compost from http://www.greenwoodnursery.com/.

How to Maintain Flowering Shrubs to Avoid Excessive Growth

You delight in your thriving garden or yard because you spend a lot of time gently nurturing and providing the TLC it needs to be beautiful. Once plants, trees, and flowering shrubs have taken root and established themselves, the rest is about enjoying your garden and maintaining it to keep its attractive appearance in order and avoid excessive growth.

Caring for Large Flowering Shrubs

Use hand-held pruners on larger perennials such as Buddleia, better known as the Butterfly Bush. Cut off the old blooms to keep them flowering beautifully throughout the summer. In the winter or early spring, prune smaller Buddleia back to almost ground level because these plants bloom on new wood each year.

A gorgeous garden shrub that is available in several colors is from the Hibiscus species also known as Rose of Sharon. Prune dead branches back each winter to shape shrubs, and prepare them for the next growth season.

Lilacs are cooler climate shrubs that reward you with early spring blooms and make a pretty hedge. Once the flowers are spent, prune them back to shape them and remove the deadwood. Know that as lilacs age they may grow up to 20-feet tall.

Shrub roses like Carefree Celebration Rose make beautiful hedges that start sending out their orange blooms in spring, and they will continue flowering until the first fall frost. Another good choice is our fragrant Knockout® Sunny Rose. You will want to prune your roses in late winter or early spring for shape and to remove the old canes. Throughout the growing season, deadhead old flowers to keep roses looking neat and encourage new blooms.

Caring for Medium Flowering Perennials

Perennial shrubs like salvias and coreopsis bloom best throughout the season when you regularly deadhead the flowers by either pinching them back or using pruners or garden scissors. Butterflies and honeybees love Pincushion Flower or Scabiosa, which prefers the same treatment, and is perfect growing among your medium height garden plants. Every couple of years, these perennial shrubs should be divided to avoid excessive growth and create more plantings.

Our online plant nursery offers many affordable garden plants to beautify your yard. Greenwood Nursery invites you to explore our site and sign up for our information packed newsletter. We are proud to offer superior garden plants, and our customer service department is always happy to answer any of your questions, so contact us today.

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Butterfly Gardens Create Colorful Beauty and Provide a Habitat for Caterpillars and Butterflies

Butterfly Gardens Provide Habitat, Perpetuate Gardens, and Help to Conserve Flora and Fauna

Several times a week, I am asked what one thing I might suggest another person do to help the environment, conserve gardens, and/or improve the general landscape of our community.  Time and again, my suggestion is that the singular best and simplest way to make a positive impact on the environment is to cultivate a butterfly garden.  More often than not, though, that suggestion is met with this response: “I don’t have the foggiest idea how to start butterfly gardening — you’ll have to help me.”

The truth is, there are few things I enjoy more than introducing others to the art of planting gardens to attract butterflies.  With so many challenges facing the lives of pollinators, any help home gardeners, civic organizations, and even companies or municipalities may provide the diverse butterfly population is worth the time, effort, and investment.

Butterflies are Gardeners, Too

The most important factor in developing your own butterfly garden is choosing plants for butterflies.  Not every flower assures your garden will attract butterflies, but certain plants are natural choices for specific butterflies who will either lay their eggs upon the leaves or feast upon the nectar.

Egg-laying butterflies instinctively choose plants that make proper hosts for their offspring.  While some gardeners cringe to imagine caterpillars munching holes through the leaves of their prized garden citizens, those gardeners who have selected specific butterfly plants in hopes of creating a butterfly garden of their own understand that the loss of a few leaves devoured during the larval stage is a small price for the benefits that the pollination-assisting butterflies deliver for the gardens in general.

Feasting on nectar gathered from flowers, butterflies provide invaluable assistance to flower-bearing plants.  Flitting from one flower to another, the butterfly pollinates the flowers, encouraging the propagation of the plant species.  Laying eggs on this same plant or another, the butterfly ensures the propagation of her own species.  This is the natural order of things.

Meanwhile, what horticulturists know and the general gardening population is coming to understand is that the role butterflies play in gardens extends far beyond the beauty and entertainment they provide.  Promoting pollination in gardens, butterflies help to ensure, too, a natural, organic escalation in produce yields from a variety of gardens.  Furthermore, wherever caterpillars and butterflies reside, birds will be attracted, too.  Acting as a food resource as well as a pollinator, butterflies attract birds that will consume large quantities of a variety of insects, many of them considered garden pests and potentially harmful to humans if not kept in check.

Butterfly resting on butterfly bush flower
Butterfly resting on butterfly bush flower

Six Ideal Butterfly Plants

Among the plants hopeful butterfly gardeners should consider incorporating into their own butterfly gardens are:

Native to the United States, these butterfly plants are better choices for a number of reasons, including environmental adaptations, pest resistance, and relationships to butterflies whose habitat is local or who pass through as they migrate far distances.  Selecting  all of these native plants simplifies any approach to butterfly gardening as the  the diversification of heights, colors, and flowering seasons the collection represents ensures a diverse range of butterflies to be attracted and a broad attraction season.

Bringing these flowers together in your own garden space, you’ll accomplish more than effective butterfly gardening. Your efforts will result, too, in increased wildlife habitat, promotion of food and flower plants, and conservation of flora and fauna.  Considering all this, it is easy to understand that developing a thriving garden designed to attract and host butterflies truly improves the world.

Check out our instant butterfly garden packages for ease and convenience.

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How Ground Cover Plants Help to Flatten the Landscape

The process of fattening out a landscape with ground cover plants is not difficult if the proper procedures are used. For this project, various things will be needed, such as different kinds of plants depending on the season.

The Benefits Of Flattening An Area With Ground Cover Plants

When an area is sloped, water runoff and soil erosion will be an issue. In addition, the moisture retention will be uneven. A sloped landscape is also tough to mow. The bottom of the slope is usually where water will travel and stop. Because of this, plants will have growth difficulties. Plants cannot grow well in areas that have too much moisture. This is just one reason why a sloped backyard might be flatten with garden plants.

How To Flatten A Landscape

Before tackling this project, all vegetation must be removed from the sloped area. If there are any plants that are worth keeping, use a shovel to dig them up. After the plants are removed from the ground, place them in pots and water them. After the plants have enough water, place them in a location that has shade. If there are no plants worth keeping, consider buying new affordable garden plants from an online plant nursery.

All digging must be handled effectively and efficiently, so contact local utility companies to inform them about the digging locations. A representative will visit the project location to provide information about buried water pipes, power lines, and phone lines.

An entire layer of topsoil should be removed while digging. Topsoil is a dark soil, and it covers the top eight inches. This soil should be placed into a pile. Next, place the subsoil at the bottom of the slope. Place the soil in the best locations to make a slight slope. The slope should be away from any buildings in the area. Use a rake to make the surface smooth.

You will also need a lawn roller. A lawn roller is available at any hardware stores or rental companies. Use the lawn roller over the ground to compact the soil. If there are any depressions, use a shovel to fill them with more subsoil.

Use an eight-foot long two by four on the slope at the top. The board should run down the slope. Use a level on the board to ensure that the board is level. The distance from the lifted end and the ground must be measured. The grade is correct if it is two inches. Once these procedures are complete, water the area to settle the soil.

Proper landscaping knowledge is very value. We want our readers to learn something new. Sign up for our free newsletter to receive weekly gardening tips and landscaping ideas.

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