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Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Benefits of Rain Gardens

Rain gardening is crucial for maintaining a better and healthy water surrounding in our living area. Here are some vital benefits of rain gardens.

Gives Us a Beautiful Home: Rain gardens with variety of plants add to the exterior beauty of homes. Whenever you step outside, it is a great feeling to see a well managed, beautiful rain garden adding calmness and freshness to the surroundings. It has a great sense of aesthetic appeal.

Eliminates Risks of Unclean Drinking Water: When runoff water is not allowed to flow through the storm drains and pollute the lakes or water bodies in surrounding areas, water quality is maintained. No harmful pesticides or chemicals from the lawns flow along with the storm water to pollute rivers.

Helps in Restoring Underground Water Level: Local and regional underground aquifers or underground water levels are recharged with water, as the water seeps into the ground after being soaked by the soil.

Lowers Flooding and Drainage Problems: As aforementioned, runoffs lead to flooding and worst drainage problems in communities. Rain garden plantations can help us avoid problems like that.

No Mosquito Breeding: Stagnant water in driveways, rooftops is a haven for mosquito growth. When water is filtered through the soil and is soaked in the ground, there are no issues of mosquito threat.

Promotes Valuable Habitat: Butterflies, birds and insects are vital in the ecosystem chain. Beautiful rain gardens becomes a thriving place for them thereby helping in maintenance of ecosystem.

Prepare Us for Drought Seasons: For drought prone area or in places where water shortage is an issue, rain gardens are very beneficial as the underground water level is not lowered due to recharging with filtered water.

Easy to Maintain, Inexpensive Too: Rain gardens requires little care and effort to be maintained. Besides that they are relatively inexpensive. You needn’t plant anything special but the native vegetation.

Rain gardens are certainly a great choice for all gardening lovers and homeowners. Ask a group of three to four friends or family members to provide some labor and your rain garden will be ready without any mega efforts. If such little efforts and planning can help us to save our water bodies and build a healthy environment, it is the right time to incorporate them in our homes.

Planning a Partial Shade Garden

To plan for a partial shade garden, first you need to prepare a layout for the garden. Once you have a layout ready, you need to make sure if this layout will work for your garden. Sometimes we make ambitious plans for landscaping a garden but it does not translate into what we have envisioned due to lack of space. Given below are some important aspects of planning a partial shade garden.

Decide on a Layout
One of the most important aspect in planning a partial shade garden is the layout of the garden. Avoid over formal layout for the garden as a natural meandering appearance looks more attractive in case of a shade garden. Design a layout that looks organic with different heights of bushes and shrubs nestled in rows to create demarcation. Flowering plants should be planted in flower beds that have a more informal shape like an oval or kidney shape for best results. Partial shade garden layouts that also incorporate the big trees that grows in the area, works well too. While designing a shade garden layout, it is best that you work with the natural slope of your property.

Decide on Garden Size
The size of the garden should be such that it is pleasing to the eye and it is in scale with the property. A very large shade garden is difficult to take care of, particularly if you are planning to do all the gardening work yourself. A 10 by 12 feet garden layout is big enough to allow you to come up with a great design but small enough for you to take care of the plants and flowers. The garden plan size for partial shade should be such that it appears proportional to the height and scale of the house.

Choose Shade Loving Plants
Of course, the key to a successful garden plan for partial shade is to choose the right shade loving plants. There is not much point in planning garden layouts and other garden accessories if the flowers and bushes that are planted in the garden fail to grow and bloom. Some of the best shade loving plants are red twig dogwood, impatiens, hydrangea and periwinkle. You can also choose Japanese pieris, fuchsia and ligularia. Another no-fail shade loving plant is hostas. Hostas comes in a variety of colors and textures which makes it an ideal plant to grow in a garden that receives partial sunlight.

Add Interesting Garden Accessory
To make your shade garden look more interesting, add a focal point to the garden by using beautiful garden accessories. A bird bath or a water fountain makes a wonderful addition to the garden. Plant a lovely flower bed or mid height bushes around the water feature to give the garden more pizazz. A small wooden bench and split rail fence can also be incorporated into the garden to add accent to the partial shade garden.

Coming up with a garden plan for a garden that receives partial sunlight is not difficult. Showcase flowering plants as well as bushes and shrubs that thrive in the shade. For a partial shade garden plan to be successful, you need to make sure that all the elements from plants, flower beds and garden accessories are in harmony.

Different Types Of Fast Growing Vines

Trumpet Creeper Vines

These vines attract a lot of insects and hummingbirds. Their growth takes place too quickly, and therefore, it is necessary to keep them in control. It is one of the fastest growing flowering vines, which produces reddish-orange blooms that are brightly-colored. Their blooming season is a long one.

Honeysuckle Vines

These vines are sometimes exclusively grown for privacy which can survive in very less amount of water. The honeysuckle vines are drought-tolerant in nature. Just like trumpet creeper vines, these too attract desirable insects and hummingbirds. They are also used for building nests by birds.

Five-leaf Akebia

The Five-leaf Akebia is also known as ‘chocolate vine’ and grows up to a height of 10 meters. These vine plants attain healthy growth in full sunlight. They are characterized by a blue-green colored foliage that is normally oval in shape. They act as an evergreen plant in warm climatic zones, while in cool regions, they exhibit a deciduous nature.

Wisteria Vines

This has a hardy nature and looks beautiful in the flowering season. The American Wisteria is suitable for being grown in northern America. Chinese and Japanese Wisteria are commonly grown in southern USA.

Silver Lace Vine

Amongst the different types of vines found in nature, the Silver Lace Vine is one of the most important and fast growing perennial vines. These vines grow up to a height of 15 meters and have a bright green foliage. The fragrant flowers produced by this vine have colors ranging from green to white. The fast growth of these vines takes places by means of rhizomes.

Clematis Armandii

It is a fast growing vine which climbs up to the height of 20 feet. The Clematis Armandii grows over an area of 5 feet. White-colored, star-shaped flowers, is its specialty. These take the support of walls, poles, etc., by means of leaf stems.

Fast Growing Vines for Trellis

The vines to be grown for trellis are an annual plant species which grow quickly. Within a period of few months, these vines spread over the given surface. Morning glory, cypress vines, moonflower, cardinal climber, etc., are few varieties. The morning glory can be seen in different colors like blue, white, and red. It is known to spread quickly and on a variety of surfaces. Therefore, it can be used as a fence vine. Moonflower vine, as the name suggests, is nocturnal, and bears fragrant flowers. The flowering season starts from summer and lasts till the fall. The vines can be used to cover trellises, chain link fences, and poles.

Common Mistakes Must Avoid While Planting Trees

Planting a tree and caring for it can be an intimidating as well as enriching experience. There are innumerable things to be done to keep the plant alive and maintain its healthy growth throughout. But, there is no need to be wary about your limited knowledge about gardening and nursery skills because a few basic tips will get you through the process and help you achieve success in your task.

To know precisely what you should do while planting trees, it is always important to know what not to do and eliminate those mistakes beforehand. And trust me, these are really the basic mistakes that can be easily avoided. This will give you confidence of doing the right things and won’t put your plant’s life at stake while you are attempting a trial and error technique. So take a look at the following “not to do” things with illustrations and learn the right things from them.

Selecting an Unhealthy Plant

You may say that this is a pretty obvious thing and why is this mentioned here. However sometimes, we tend to overlook these obvious but important things while choosing a plant. If the bark of the plant you are selecting has cracks, cuts, or is discolored, then do not think of purchasing that plant. The plant must have a single trunk and extremely strong, lateral branching for considering it healthy. Remember to inspect the stems and buds for any signs of disease, injury, or insects on the plant. The leaves are also good primary indicators of the health of the plant and should not be yellowish or brownish in color.

Improper Root System

Healthy root system is equal to a healthy tree. The root ball should be of the appropriate size; for every inch of the tree diameter, the root ball should be 10 to 12 inches. Look for girdling or pot-bound roots. If there are too many spiraling roots, they can be harmful for the tree, and hence, they need to be cut down before planting the tree. If there are girdling roots wrapped around the trunk, even on one side, they should be removed as these roots can block the tissues responsible for water and oxygen supply to the tree and may lead to the death of the plant.

Improper Planting Location

Different species require different planting locations and not being able to choose the correct location may be detrimental for the tree. Some soils are not conducive for sustaining some trees; hence, having a soil test before finalizing the planting location would be wiser. This will help you determine the soil pH and the kind of fertilizers that are necessary for the plant. The type of soil on the planting sight will affect the selection of plant species. If the site has heavy clay soil, then you will need moisture-tolerant trees. On the other hand, if the soil is extremely sandy, drought-tolerant trees would survive better in these areas.

Digging a Wrong Hole

A too deep or too narrow hole is unhealthy for a plant’s growth. Digging a hole deeper than the root ball may result in drowning of the roots. The tree should not be planted too deep in the soil, because when the stem that is above the root system comes in contact with the soil, it rots and results in death of the plant. To avoid this, the soil line on all trees–whether potted or bare-rooted–should be approximately 1 inch above the top lateral root of the plant.

Moreover, if the hole is dug too deep, the roots don’t get adequate oxygen supply, resulting in improper growth of the plant. On the other hand, a narrow hole won’t allow the roots to expand and support the plant firmly. This may weaken the tree and its ability to withstand unfavorable weather conditions. Ideally, the planting hole for a tree should be twice as wide and deep as the root ball.

Improper Handling of the Plant

This is one of the crucial points while planting a tree because this is the time when you will be handling the tree to transfer it from its current container to a new place. The plant comes to you in three forms: (i) Bare root; (ii) Balled and Burlapped; and (iii) Container-grown. All these types differ from each other, and hence, they need to be handled differently while transplanting them. Handling them haphazardly may lead to poor growth or even death of the plant. A general rule to handle the plant is not to hold it by the trunk as it can get damaged; always pick it up by the root ball or the container.

When transplanting container-grown trees, separate them gently from the container; if that’s difficult, cut away the container with gardening scissors or any other suitable tool.

While planting burlapped trees, decide whether you want to keep some of the burlap or remove it completely. The natural burlap will loosen up with time, but if it is plasticized, remove it right away completely.

The most delicate of all are the bare root plants and need utmost care while planting. They need to be planted as soon as possible while the roots are still moist. Also, it is important to inspect the roots for several lengths of fine root hair. The color of the roots also plays an important role; they should be white in color and if they have a brownish shade, know that they are getting damaged.

Over Mulching

The main objective of mulching is to protect the roots of the tree and maintain moisture in the soil. It also protects the tree from harsh climatic conditions and promotes healthy establishment of the newly planted trees. Over mulching may create too much moisture around the tree and cause damage to the roots. On the other hand, inadequate mulching may amount to less moisture, resulting in dryness around the roots. Also, the type of mulch will depend on the plant species and soil type of your garden. There are varieties of organic and inorganic mulches available to choose from.

Improper Watering

It has been found that most of the newly planted trees die because of too much watering than that is required. This usually happens to the heavy clay soils, and due to excess water, the roots feel suffocated. Although the watering system depends on the soil type and the species, there is a general method for watering all plants. The first watering session should be soon after planting, then on the next day, and again after days.

To be more precise, during summer, the balled and burlapped trees planted in clay soils should be watered once in 7 to 10 days and if planted in sandy soils, they should be watered once in a week. On the other hand, container-grown trees tend to dry out faster during summer and need more water to stay healthy.

Not Staking the Plant

Staking is mainly done to anchor the root ball of the plant and not intended to restrict the movement of the stem or canopy. If the plant is not staked, it will amount to breakage of the newly developed roots and damage to the root ball. However, certain small trees and the ones grown in protected areas may not require staking. The trees that are tall and stand in high windy regions need to be staked. Although, researches have claimed that staking can be damaging to the tree, if done properly, it outweighs the disadvantages.