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Unique Lighting for Your Outdoor Design

Unique Lighting for Your Outdoor Design

There is truly nothing like a warm, sunny day to enjoy any outdoor space. All the colors of the grass, trees and flowers are so vibrant with the sun reflecting off every inch of the area, creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Wouldn’t it be lovely if this same vision translated over to the evening after the sun has set? While the colors aren’t as dynamic as the daytime, every outdoor space can be instantly transformed to evoke the pleasant feelings and view you get from your outdoor space in the daytime.

 

All it takes is just enough lighting to create a translucent, calming and romantic setting in your outdoor space. We have all seen the staple tiki torches and the citronella centerpieces that adorn almost every backyard, doubling as a mosquito and insect repellent, but exploring other unique lighting options can really add originality and character to any nighttime environment.

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Avoid These Classic Gardening Mistakes

Avoid These Classic Gardening Mistakes

Amateur or not, every one of us has made a mistake while trying to perfect our garden or landscape design. There is a lot of mixed messages out on the internet advocating one thing over the other but there are a few often overlooked factors that could contribute to the overall outcome of your garden.

 

One of the first things we all learn about plants is that they require water to survive. As incremental this is to their existence, there is such as thing as over-watering your plants. In essence, it is possible to drown your flowers and plants. Plants need to be given ample time to dry in between watering or risk falling victim to root rot. Root rot occurs when the excess water makes it difficult for the roots to get the proper amount of air, causing them to decay. Stick to watering your garden in the morning right when you get up. It is best practice to avoid watering in the heat of the day or in the evening. The early morning watering allows the plants to retain the necessary amount of water to get through those hot and sunny days and also allows for enough time during the day for the water to evaporate and prevent from collecting on the leaves. Remember, excess moisture is actually bad for your plants.

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Pesky Garden Trespassers

Pesky Garden Trespassers

After months and planning and preparation to create a beautiful garden or develop an intricate landscape design, you discover that you are not the only one that is taking advantage of all the hard work you have put in. So how do you recognize these pesky trespassers and eliminate the problem? Not all insects are bad, but when it comes to your garden, you will have many trespassers that can range from harmless to destructive. It is critical to recognize what type of pest your dealing with and the possible damage they can cause to your garden.

 

It’s no hidden secret that the larvae of various flies, moths and beetles feed within the leaves of plants. The end result of this is an assortment of discolored surface smears and streaks on the leaves. These little guys are known as leaf miners. While the zigzag transparencies aren’t exactly detrimental to the plant, they can look like a disease or even be mistaken for early signs of the plant dying. We don’t want to condone insecticide for this problem since it is considerably cosmetic damage. The easiest way to control this is by removing the leaves that have been affected. This will take care of the physical appearance of the plant while also eliminating any leaf miners that are still present.

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Landscaping on a Slope

Landscaping on a Slope

There are some advantages to having a home situated right at the top of a hill. Prime among them is drainage: such a home is very unlikely to have a problem with water under the structure or sitting around its foundation, because all the water should flow downhill to one side or the other. There are a few major challenges resulting from such a lot, as well. Perhaps the most important among them is how to landscape the slope to achieve a low-erosion, low maintenance and yet beautiful solution.


On the front of the home, if the slope descends fairly steeply to the street, you will certainly be building a path with stairs into the slope. It’s best to incorporate stone that’s native to your area and to make sure that the exposed stepping surface is flat enough not to trip up a visitor. You can ease passage and create a nice look by allowing the stairs to wind gently up the hill, following its high points so that water runoff goes into the plants and not down the stairs to create a slipping hazard.


Surrounding the stairs, it will be important to plant the area fairly thickly with low-maintenance plants that are well adapted to your climate and soil conditions. Those will vary by location, but may include some relatively small trees that like rocky soil, ornamental grasses, salvias (including some common sage), and small rock plants bordering the stairs. If you live in an area that will support it, where winter temperatures rarely drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit and you have a small area on the hill relatively sheltered from wind, add a bay tree (Laurus nobilis) and some oregano as ground cover. You’ll have most of an herb garden right there where you can pick some on the way up the stairs to make dinner.

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Naturalization in the Plant Kingdom

Naturalization in the Plant Kingdom

In the clamor for native plants in the residential landscape, it is easy to forget the origins of some well-beloved plants. Just as the national discussion of immigration in the United States centers on the current immigrant population that’s viewed by some as consuming resources that ought to be reserved for citizens, the push for native plants in the landscaping and gardening worlds is focused on recent ‘immigrants’ that are considered invasive species.

There’s no question that kudzu, English ivy and the like, though introduced for what seemed at the time to be decent reasons, adapted to a new environment like a Roman general engaged in empire building. When they are let loose on woodland or countryside, they invade and conquer. However, there are other non-native species that have become naturalized – citizens of a new land, as it were – without becoming invasive in the new territory. Before jumping on the all-native bandwagon, it’s worth at least considering what would be given up.

In the American South, a number of the classic species are naturalized plants that have been here so long, it’s as if people have forgotten that they ever immigrated. Crocuses, the first flowers to bloom as winter fades, are native to the Mediterranean region and the Caucasus. Daffodils, which follow them in the early spring, are native to Europe and North Africa. And the perennial bloomers in the height of summer, daylilies, hail mainly from China and Japan. The only native hydrangea is the deciduous oak leaf hydrangea, and similarly the evergreen azaleas are typically naturalized. Among flowering trees, pears are European, some cherries are native but many are European, and the classic crape myrtle is native to China and Korea.

The same story spans the United States. And recent research such as that reported in the July 2014 National Geographic indicates that many naturalized plants and animals do more good than harm in their new homes. After all, with climate change proceeding, the non-natives may survive when the natives cannot. And species survival may trump other considerations.

The most enlightened form of landscape design at the moment may be to emphasize natives but to include naturalized non-invasive in your plant selections. I know few Southern gardeners who would be willing to give up the use of host as in their shady areas, yet host as are all native to Asia. Fescue grasses are naturalized in the United States. And a number of plants have both native and naturalized species.

That roses and magnolias are mixed in this way is a reminder, perhaps, that our Earth is not so very large a planet. These introductions may date back to seeds transported on air currents across Pangaea or may simply have been made so early that we cannot now distinguish at all between native and naturalized. Either way, it is a good reminder that in the plant kingdom as in humans’ dealings with one another, it may be more valuable to concentrate on our commonalities than our differences, and to stop asking those who look just a little different, “Where are you from?”

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