Archive for the 'Gardening' Category

How to Enhance Your Backyard with Garden Statues & Stepping Stones

Garden statues and stepping stones can do a whole lot to your backyard space or your garden. When planning a garden or landscaping makeover, consider using garden statues and stepping stones. They come in many different forms, shapes, sizes and colors. Here you will learn of different kinds of garden statues and ways to incorporate those and stepping stones in your garden or backyard to enhance your lawn décor overnight!

Some popular garden statues you see are garden gnomes. Many gnomes are silly little old men doing things such as mowing the lawn, sleeping in the grass while while ‘working’ or holding their grand – baby in his arms. Garden gnomes are a great way to add some color and humor.

Another form of garden statues you’ll find are the very popular cherub(s) garden statues and little boy/girl garden statues. These garden statues are popular because they are so cute! You can add them anywhere in your garden and they are sure to look inviting.

Some other fun forms of garden statues can be Disney characters, solar light garden statues, frogs and other kinds of wild life garden statues. Some garden statues come in the form of welcome signs or yard markers (for example by the mailbox, the corners of the driveway, etc.). Have fun with your garden statues; the possibilities are endless!

Stepping stones are another great way to add a personal touch to your backyard. You can use them functionally as actual paths to walk on or you can use them to purely decorate an area that may be difficult to do anything else with . Stepping stones are great because they are so easy to decorate with; you just place them where you want them and that’s it, you’re done! You can put stepping stones right in the grass to make a path or in an already landscaped area of rock or wood chips. Either way, stepping stones are surely easy to deal with.

Stepping stones come in different sizes and materials. They are often made of concrete, natural stone, resin and /or polyresin. Some garden stones come versatile with a hook to hang as a plaque. You may choose to do this when choosing d ecorative stepping stones. For example, some decorative stepping stones come with a beautifully painted picture of hummingbirds or butterflies on them. When using these decorative stepping stones for your backyard you may want to consider using them for decorative purposes only or where they will be stepped on very little . When choosing stepping stones for the sole purpose of walking on from a day to day basis then you might want to choose stepping stones that are smoother on the surface than the pretty textured and painted ones to avoid damaging them.

Incorporating stepping stones with garden statues in your backyard is easy and easy to maintain. No watering, no staining, no maintenance. Once the stepping stones and garden statues are in their places, you’re done! You can now enjoy the beautifully landscaped garden you have always wanted for little or no up-keep at all. Garden stones and statues also make the perfect gift for a friend in need of a landscaping makeover. With the selection made available today, you will find something for anyone!

Best Container Types for Growing Tomatoes

If you have enough space, you can easily have a big garden to grow your tomatoes in. However, not all of us are that fortunate with space, but would still love to eat fresh and home grown tomatoes. Well, there is a good option for such people: containers. Pots or containers give you the wonderful option to plant your tomato seedlings and place them in a corner of your house where they can receive enough sunlight. However, choosing the right container type is one thing that should be carefully done if you want to get a good harvest. Here are some tips and ideas that you can use to pick the right container type and successfully grow tomatoes in containers.

The size is probably the first thing you will need to consider before picking your container. Tomatoes need adequate space so their root system can grow easily. So, a small and shallow container will not work for this plant. What you need is a five gallon pot that can provide enough space for the roots to grow.

So, now you know the ideal size for the containers and it is not necessary to stick to just traditional pots and containers that you would use for growing flowers and vegetables. There are a variety of buckets, pails, and window boxes that you can choose from.

Plastic and fiberglass are considered to be the best for growing tomatoes. This is because they do not dry out quickly and we all know that a dry soil is not good for healthy growth of the plant and for ripening of the fruits. Also, since you need big size containers to grow your plants, they can prove to be quite inexpensive. Plastic containers also do not crack easily and this is why a five gallon bucket could be a great option for growing tomatoes.

You can also look around the house and find something that can be successfully used to grow tomato plants. These could include half wine barrels or wooden packing cases that you do not need any more.

What you should keep in mind while recycling old things lying around the house is they should be made of a non-toxic substance and they should provide adequate drainage at the bottom. Mostly these recycled products will not have a drainage hole at the bottom and in such cases you will need to drill one at the bottom. The hole should be big enough to drain out excess water, but it should not be so big that the soil keeps falling from container through the hole.

If you have pots and containers lying around the house that are not being used anymore and can be used for planting your tomato seedlings, you should scrub and clean them thoroughly. This will ensure that no soil-borne diseases or pests are present in these pots. You will then need to add fresh potting soil to the container for tomatoes.

When planting tomato plant in a container, you should put some soil at the bottom and then set tomato plant in, so the roots and the stem are buried. You can then just fill in the potting soil around it till about one inch below the rim of the pot. Water it thoroughly and set it in a location where it can receive some good natural light. So, now that your tomato plant has been planted in a container, its time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Jimmy Casperson is a tomato growing enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on choosing tomatoes container visit Growing Tomatoes resource.

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Once planted, herbs benefits are immensely useful in so many ways. After an herb has grown and flourished, now is the time for harvesting. Timing is the critical factor. Can Herbs Survive your Green Thumb?

The best time to harvest your home herb garden is right after the leaves are dry from the morning dew and right before the flowers open for the day. Calm, dry midsummer mornings are a perfect time to harvest your herbs. Remember that the essential oils from herbs dissipate on overly humid days. Too much moisture while harvesting herbs produces fewer essential oils. The wind and hot heat can affect the essential oils as well; so timing is very important.

After you have chosen the perfect day for harvesting, next make sure to inspect your herbs for insects or damaged leaves. The herb will need a fair amount of foliage for re-growth so make sure you do not harvest no more than a third of the herbs foliage at any given time. If you are going to use a fresh herb straight from the garden, always clean them first before adding to a recipe. You can do this by placing the herbs in a bowl of fresh cool water. Do not run the herb directly under a faucet. If you have a large quantity of herbs you can always clean them in a sink. To drive away insects without damaging the plant, add about two tablespoons of salt to the water. Once clean, remove them from the water and dry them in a salad spinner.

When preserving your herbs for later use, you can either dry them, freeze them or even preserve them in a medium. To dry herbs, remove any foliage from the base of the stems and then bunch 6-12 stems together and fasten with a string or twine. Hang the bundle, away from sunlight, in a cool dry place. To dry individual leaves, place them on a screen for a good airing. Turn them often so they dry evenly. Other methods have been used in the past such as dehydrators, ovens or microwaves to dry herbs but have usually produced unsatisfactory results. The heat from the appliance dries the herb too rapidly so the herbs end up loosing their natural oils. The old fashion way works the best.

A fairly simple method of preserving herbs is to freeze them. First cut the fresh herb into about ¼ inch pieces and lay on a flat cookie sheet lined with waxed paper; then place the sheet in the freezer. After they are frozen, bunch them together in baggies and return them to the freezer for use at a later date.

A medium is usually used to preserve herbs. White vinegar for instance can be used as a cover on mint, tarragon or basil. Using this method will preserve the herbs for several months. To make a flavored salt as well as preserving your herbs at the same time, alternate layers of fresh herbs between layers of salt while drying. The salt draws the moisture and flavor from the herb. Once completely dried, separate the brown herb from the flavored salt and store both separately in airtight containers, preferable one that does not let the light in.

There are many different types of herbs for many different purposes. Each herb has it’s own unique characteristics as far as their use, harvesting, chopping or preserving them. To get the most out of your particular herb that you are interested in, research it well.

This is but a small excerpt from my latest e-Book: Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening Here! If you’d like to learn more about the wonder of herbs, sign up for my free mini course.

Successful Gardening!

Kali S Winters

Vegetable Garden Layout

Your vegetable garden layout will depend upon what vegetables you intend to grow, the planting space available and if you would like to opt for companion planting. When I first started growing vegetables, I planted my sweet peppers in between my tomatoes and cucumbers. Well, I ended up having to supply extra water to my peppers because the tomatoes and cucumbers stole all the water due to their larger root system. Peppers have smaller roots.. So here are some helpful tips on how to layout your own garden and start planting vegetables.

Sit Down and Plan

Before choosing a layout you need to decide on what type of vegetables you would like to grow and where you would like to plant them. Here are some other factors you need to consider for your vegetable garden layout:

* Garden Space * Amount of Light in the Space * Drainage System * Soil Amendments * Type of Vegetable * Additional Space (if needed) and of course the root system of the actual vegetable itself!

You should also think about whether you want to grow one type of vegetable like lettuce and tomatoes or if you want one type of vegetable with different varieties, such as romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce. Research the amount of light and space each vegetable requires for optimal growth.

Make a list of vegetables you want to plant and find out the plants requirements, then compare it with the garden space you have available. This should give you an indication of where you are able to plant each particular vegetable in your allotted space.

Choose your Garden Layout

There are three basic vegetable garden layouts: rows, beds and the “potager” style.

The more traditional layout style consists of planting seeds in a row. This type of arraignment would either mean planting one type of seed in a row or different seeds in a row. Regardless, the style is in a row formation.

A similar layout and a more popular approach is the raised vegetable garden beds. This bed type is similar to the rows style but on a smaller scale. The layout allows access to the plant beds from all sides. The beds are raised off the ground with some being as high as 3 feet. This is particularly convenient to avoid stepping on the beds which tends to pack down the soil, making it difficult to dig and aerate in the spring or fall. Plant beds are great ways to maximize a garden space and you can even use raised beds for easier gardening.

The most decorative style of layout is called the “potager” which means kitchen garden in French. This layout is described as geometric which allows you to layout your garden in circles or arrange plants by color or even food type. Gardens like these often contain vegetables, flowers and herbs planted together.

Companion Vegetable Planting

The idea behind companion planting involves planting different kinds of plants together so that they help each other grow. A perfect example of this is planting beans, corn and squash together which were commonly done by Native Americans. While the corn gives the beans a place to climb, the beans gives its three companions nutrients in the soil and the squash serves as a shade to the roots of the plants beside it. This not only prevents weeds from growing, it also saves up on water.

Other great companion vegetables are onions, which scares slugs and aphids away, tomatoes, which grow well with carrots and basil, which improves the taste of tomatoes. Another example is horseradish and potatoes which when planted together give your potatoes protection from disease.

Companion vegetable planting is certainly worth considering when vegetable garden planting. My new book, “Holistic Herbs~A Beginners guide to Herbal Gardening,” has a complete vegetable companion chart. You will get the chart for free along with 6 other bonus books when you order my book Here!

Successful Gardening!

Kali Winters

When & How To Prune Rose Bushes

If not properly pruned, rose bushes can develop into a large tangled mess and produce small, inferior blooms. If you would like to grow an attractive, well shaped, sizable rose bush that produces large lovely blooms, then follow the rose gardening tips outlined below.

Pruning your rose bushes at the right time of year can be just as important as how you prune. Rose bushes go dormant during the colder months and should not be pruned until they come out of this stage. This could be as early as January in warmer climates or as late as April in colder regions. In colder climates, it is best not to prune until all traces of frost has disappeared.

Another important aspect to consider when rose bush trimming is the proper use of hand garden tools. A good set of pruning shears as well as good quality leather garden gloves, is a definite must have. The shears must be sharp, otherwise you will risk tearing your stems instead of just cutting them. A well lubricated, fine toothed, sharp, cutting saw is ideal to use on the older, much larger stems.

You never want to cut your stems straight across. Always cut at an angle between 40 to 65 degrees. Additionally, make sure that the shear’s cutting blade is on the underneath side of the stem in order to produce a clean cut. Always cut upward. This way, any injury to the plant will be on the upper part of the stem. Try to make all cuts at about one quarter inch from a strong outside bud union or eye, the eye is where the new growth stems form.

It is also a good idea to have some type of sealer or pruning paint to seal the larger cuts. Just apply the pruning sealer to the cut ends immediately after shearing. This will aid in the healing process and it will also help keep the insects out as well as eliminating any possiblity of disease.

Take special care in the amount that you prune at any given time. This will all depend upon what you are trying to accomplish and on how well established the plant is. Moderate pruning, leaving 5 or more stems of up to 24 inches in length, will produce a large bush with nice, moderately sized, blooms. Light pruning, stems 3 to 4 feet in length, will produce an even larger bush but with smaller blooms on shorter stems. Light pruning is good for new or weaker plants. Heavy pruning, 3 to 4 stems from 6 to 12 inches in length will produce the largest, showiest blooms, however if the plant is too new or weak you may end up reducing the plants life span. It is best to wait until the rose bush has matured when applying the heavy pruning method.

When pruning roots, remove all suckers. Suckers are shoots that grow from the root stock. This is different from the grafted bush. Suckers may eventually take over the plant completely and kill the bush, so it is very important that they be removed.You can recognize a sucker when you see that it is coming from below the bud union and by the different leaf form and color. Always pull the sucker off rather than cutting it as cutting will stimulate growth again. Pulling if off causes the wound to form a callous.

Additionally when plant pruning, cut out all weak, spindly and deformed stems, and if possible cut out branches growing toward the center of the bush. If stems cross each other, remove the weaker one. Proper shaping and pruning makes for a lovelier bush and allows proper air circulation which will produce a much healthier plant.

This is but a small excerpt from one of my bonus books which you will get free when you order my ebook: Holistic Herbs ~ A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening. Learn more about Disease Free Roses!

Successful Gardening!

Kali Winters

Rose Bush Care

Rose bush care doesn’t have to be difficult, but you just need to know a few simple rules before you begin the growing process. Maintenance with your car is important to keep it running smoothly, so it only makes sense that with something as beautiful as a rose bush will need some upkeep as well. Proper rose bush care includes the proper location for planting, fertilizer, sunlight and adequate water. Roses need to be planted in a spot where they are going to get nearly a full day of sunlight; shade is not beneficial for any rose bush. Just as humans need enough sunlight and Vitamin D, rose bushes need sunlight in order to grow.

The best rose bush care means that you want to give your rose bushes the best in fertilizer. Fertilizer for rose bushes doesn’t just include potting soil mix or top soil, but you need to be sure that you give your rose bushes a phosphorous rich soil bed. The best soil you can use for rose bush care is a mix of top soil, “bonemeal”, and natural compost. Top soils can be found at any garden center, and if you aren’t sure just ask the workers there to see what they recommend.

Bonemeal is just what it says; crushed bone, and it’s finely ground down so you can mix it in with your top soil. Natural compost is just a mix of dead leaves and foliage that naturally occurs over time. This happens when leaves fall to the ground, or it can be residue from cut grass, and dead blooms and branches from other plants around the rose bush. These are all good sources of phosphorous rich soil you can use in your rose bush care.

Proper rose bush care requires regular maintenance, so take care in the first year and be sure that the dead blooms are being plucked on a regular basis. The leaves should be allowed to fall from the bush naturally, so don’t pluck them. This should be done once a week depending on the condition of your rose bush. If you have to pluck them too quickly, then your rose bush may have other problems. Be sure to examine your rose bush on a regular basis as they can get a fungal disease and would need further care.

When spring time rolls around, you will need to remove any mulch that is left over from the winter season. Winter destroys the mulch bed, and all these materials should be removed in a timely manner. Any new roses that haven’t established roots yet, meaning any new plants should be planted once all of the dead mulch has been removed. It is important that your roses have good, fresh, strong mulch so that your rose bed is protected from elements. As the much dies, it no longer has the ability to protect your roses carefully.

Pruning is also another important part of your rose bush care. It is important that after the winter season you do some major pruning for your rose bushes. It is also important to shape them so that they don’t grow out of control. Some rose bushes tend to climb, and when they grow too large they can weigh the rest of the rose bush down. When pruning them, be sure to not only prune away the dead stems but take good care in giving your rose bush a beautiful shape.

Summertime is the best time for you to plant your potted roses, so be sure to wait for this climate change to do this. During the summer season, your rose bush care will go up a notch, with taking extra care to look at your dead blooms a little more frequently. Sever humidity and hot temperatures can really affect your rose bush, so look at your rose bush carefully during the summer season.


Jack Pollard is a rose bush care expert. For more information on rose bush care , visit

Basic Tools For Gardening

Nearly every gardener has some type of lawn and garden tool, it’s nearly impossible to have a garden without them. The type of lawn and garden tool you use will obviously depend on the size and extent of your garden, what you are able to handle, if you want to spend a lot of time in your garden to get the job done quickly, and finally, how much money you would be willing to spend.

While many gardeners do not have expensive or high-tech gardening tools, all of them have some type of gardening equipment for cultivating. Tools for cultivating can include both hand held tools and power tools. The type you buy depends upon how serious of a gardener you are. Gardening hand tool include your everyday items such as shovels, spading forks, rakes, trowels, and diggers. They can all be used to get a garden ready for planting and are relatively easy without too much emphasis upon strength for operation. Other tools include a wheel cultivator, pickax, and mattock.

While gardening power tools are a little more expensive than hand tools, they really cut down on the hard labor. The most essential piece of gardening equipment is undoubtedly the tiller. The tiller will break up the ground and get it ready for planting, chop up any debris, and help mix in fertilizer and compost. If you don’t want to spend the money on a tiller you can hire someone or rent a tiller for one time use. Other power tools that are very popular include chippers, garden shredders, and chain-saws.

If you have shrubs, hedges, or small trees in your yard, pruning tools are a vital piece of gardening equipment. Pruning shears are good for branches about ¾” in diameter, while lopping shears can handle branches from a half inch up to about 2 inches. Pole pruners are on a pole and can reach branches about 15 feet above ground. Hedge shears and pruning saws are both larger, more heavy duty pruning tools for the serious gardener.

Since your plants must be watered in order to survive, and lets face it, it doesn’t rain whenever we want it to, gardening equipment for watering is a must have. The one thing you can’t get along without is a water hose, everything after that is optional. Many gardeners use sprinklers or a drip irrigation hose. There are even timers you can purchase for sprinklers or drip hoses, if you are willing to drop the extra cash.

Gardening without gardening equipment would be a nightmare. Sure there are some people who enjoy getting a little dirty while they plant their gardens in their backyard, but even those types of people have the most basic of gardening tools, like a rake or a hoe. Gardening equipment is a part of gardening, just as important as the dirt and the seeds.

Successful Gardening!

Kali Winters is a Herb Gardening enthusiast and author who spends much of her time teaching others how to setup and maintain amazing Herb Gardens. Grab a copy of her latest book, “Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening” Better yet, learn more about gardening in general Here!

Flag Day – When is it – What is it – and where did it come from?

Flag Day is observed by Presidential Proclamation on June 14 th of each year. Every American however, knows that the Fourth of July is the countries birthday. Then one might ask why “Flag Day” is in June? The American flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in the First Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777. The resolution read:

“Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

Although there are several historic accounts of who thought of Flag Day and how it became an annual celebration, BJ Cigrand is generally recognized as being the first to establish an event to honor the US Flag. In 1885, Cigrand, a schoolteacher in Fredonia Wisconsin, arranged for his pupils to observe June 14 as “Flag Birthday”. For many years he continued to be an advocate of June 14 as “Flag Birthday” or “Flag Day “. On June 14th, 2004, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.

Over a 10 year period after Cigrand began his tradition, schools, organizations, and local governments in many areas began to recognize and celebrate June 14, as Flag Day. In 1894, the governor of New York directed that the Flag be displayed on all public buildings on June 14 th . During the same year, the “American Flag Day Association” was organized in Illinois to promote the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14, 1894, due to the work of the Association, 300,000 children in several Illinois cities participated in the first general public school celebration of Flag Day.

After three decades of state and local celebrations, President Woodrow Wilson, on May 30 th , 1916, established by Proclamation, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. For many years, Flag Day was celebrated in various communities, but it wasn’t until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

According to the Congressional Act of 1949, the week of June 14 is designated as “National Flag Week.” During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week. The flag should also be displayed on all Government buildings. Some organizations hold parades and events in celebration of our national flag and everything it represents. It’s also a time to remember and honor military men and women who defend our flag and our country.

Synthetic Grass And Its Counterparts

It is important to know the different parts of synthetic grass to truly understand if it is the right choice for you. What many people do not know, is that synthetic grass is made up of several parts to be able to feel like natural grass. Plenty of research and engineering has been made over the decades since it was first introduced. Research is still being conducted today for synthetic grass to operate efficiently and effectively with people and the environment. The major improvements in today’s synthetic grass are unparallel to what it was before. The improvements in synthetic grass have been able to mimic the feel of natural grass all while preserving the advantages that synthetic grass has over its predecessor. All of this would not be possible without the details and parts that were researched and engineered to make up synthetic grass.

The most important part of synthetic grass is the blades of the grass. Obviously, the blades are not made up of natural grass, so what are they? The blades of the grass are made of polyethylene. Polyethylene is a lightweight thermoplastic that is chemical and moisture resistant. The chemical resistant feature is why it was chosen for synthetic grass. High concentrations of lead from older synthetic grass have posed major concerns within the community and consumers. However, tests have been made that fail to find high concentrations of lead in polyethylene. In addition to its chemical resistance, the moisture resistance makes it environmentally beneficial because it drains faster than natural grass. Polyethylene is also beneficial to pets. Unlike natural grass, polyethylene does not absorb any pet waste or urine that causes discoloration. With polyethylene, pet waste can be easily washed or cleaned with water or disinfectant without bacteria growing overtime, while maintaining its vibrant color.

The second most important part of synthetic grass is the infill that is used to keep the blades of the grass upright and provide the necessary cushion. In the past, synthetic grass used rubber granules made up of crumbled recycled tires. You would think this would be an excellent choice, since it is being recycled and reused. However, after intensive research, they have found that these rubber granules were made up of heavy metals and chemicals that were highly toxic. Furthermore, the rubber granules black color absorbed an increasingly amount of heat from the sun that would make the temperature of the synthetic grass rise significantly. After researching for another alternative, many synthetic grass companies have come up with a solution. One of the latest technologies in infill is “durafill.” Durafill, like polyethylene, has the ability to eliminate bacterial spores that are caused by pet waste or other external elements in the infill. Durafill also does not degrade over time, whereas rubber granules would degrade and would wash up with the rain, making it harmful to the eco-system. Durafill does not absorb increasingly amounts of heat from the sun, which make it possible to use under warm conditions. More importantly, durafill does not contain any heavy metals or chemicals. There are plenty of other infill alternatives out there that have the same attributes as durafill. This makes your decision for choosing synthetic grass a lot easier.

Synthetic Grass Warehouse is the leader of Artificial Grass in North America. We are a supplier of fake lawns for home, pets, business and sports. This includes putting greens, field turf, and any form of landscaping.

Gardening Hygiene

Gardeners love to get their hands in the soil. That’s ok because one can wash the hands when done. Wearing garden gloves keeps the dirt from getting under the fingernails, and is easier on the skin, so most people wear them when planting or pulling weeds. With the arrival of warm weather, gardeners have been out there in droves, seeing their perennials and bulb flowers faithfully coming in and blooming. Sometimes the gardener is just looking and admiring and then there is that overlooked weed that has to be pulled or a yellowed leaf that needs to come off. At times like this, there are no gloves, and the hands still look clean. Don’t be fooled by that. Bacteria thrive in soil. They help improve the soil but can also be harmful to the gardener. Also spores may be present and you definitely want to get rid of these.

Just like any other situation where the hands have become contaminated, handwashing is necessary in order to avoid illness. The Center for Disease Control has said that proper handwashing is the best way to get rid of microbes. The most thorough way to accomplish this is to have an automatic, sensor-operated soap dispenser available. This eliminates touching the soap dispenser with dirty hands. So after gardening always clean your hands and stay healthy.