The concrete slab on our back patio has definitely seen better days. It was in OK shape when we first moved in and the humid, damp weather we have doesn’t help it any as the years go by. Several contractors have told us that it …
As a truly novice gardener, I only began keeping a garden journal last year. I have a 3-ring binder with blank paper in it just to have a spot to put all the garden-related information I was accumulating. Last year, I: drew a very rough …
It’s a new month at Ruly. We are halfway through 2011 and this month I am applying my organizing talents outdoors to update my garden! I started this process last year but still have a long way to go.
Last year, I left you with a Ruly Challenge to investigate a list of native plants for your area and consider adding more of these plants to your landscaping. I took my own medicine and ordered some native plants to put in the ground last fall.
I am pleased to report that most of what I planted has come up well. (So far, hooray for bloodroot, spiderwort, bleeding hearts, black cohosh and the Turk’s cap lily.) The only disappointing aspect, however, is that it is going to take years for these plants to get established, start spreading and give a “full” look to the landscaping. All I have right now is a stem here and there of various plants. Our local garden centers do not carry these plants so putting them in the ground one bare root at a time is my only current option. However, given the very challenging conditions of my garden (lots of trees and shade, limited sun, water source only from the rain and heavy, clay soil) it is nice to find ANYTHING that wants to grow without requiring special attention.
Landscaping can be a bit frustrating. Really nice landscaping is also really expensive. If you can’t afford nice landscaping, you can spend hours and hours of time amending your soil, pulling weeds and planting and still end up with something that either looks sparse and unhealthy or messy and overgrown. Our family needs a boost of encouragement to help us get our yard together. . . a few quick wins to get motivated. Particularly, I am looking for projects that won’t require much time or effort but will add a lot of style and will be almost guaranteed to work.
What projects might these be? I went looking on the web for hints. Interestingly, most of the tips are about working with non-plant materials to enhance your space.
1. Mulch. It seems to be many landscapers’ philosophy that when all else fails, just go for a thick layer of decorative mulch or rocks. It gives a clean look and hides a multitude of landscaping failures. Mulch is also a relatively cheap material to purchase. There are a million types of mulching materials, including natural sources like fallen leaves, and you can get creative.
2. Paint. Painting the hardscaping structures in your yard (furniture, pots, concrete, etc.) a bright color adds a fresh, energetic look to a tired space. See this tip from Better Homes and Gardens for inspiration.
3. Art and Collectibles. Peruse flea markets and garage sales for garden-appropriate items that can weather outside, like birdcages, watering cans, statuary, etc. Note: this takes a good artistic eye to carry off well and a little goes a long way. BHG again has a nice example.
For a personal touch and for not much money, DIY network has some great ideas for making your own garden art. I am particularly intrigued by the ideas of Michele Beschen of B! Original.
- Concrete sculptures – mold and sculpt your own statues using concrete and molds.
- Yard Bird – love this bird creation from garden tools. Wish I was a welder!
- Garden Gal Pals – use roofing flashing and copper tubing to create unique characters for your garden.
- Yard and Garden monuments – made from 2” insulation, adhesive, chicken wire and thinset concrete.
4. Pots. While Better Homes and Gardens acknowledges a large collection of pots can be expensive, it encourages people to buy one or two a year over time to create an impressive display.
5. Outdoor lighting. Most people assume outdoor lighting means solar lights along the driveway but there are many ways to incorporate lighting outside, including candles, lanterns hung from trees, Christmas lights and others. BHG has some cool tips. For a unique look, Michele Beschen at DIY Network has another simple and creative idea here to dress up a plain strand of lights with aluminum screening “flowers” (last segment of the video).
6. Groundcovers. Find a quick-spreading plant to crowd out weeds. BHG has a list of easy-to-grow groundcovers here.
7. Edging. Define the edges of your garden beds with edging materials ranging from plastic to wrought iron, brick, stone or even recycled glass bottles. A good list of options here.
8. Stepping Stones. Stepping stones have a variety of uses from marking pathways to decorative accents in the garden. There are many varieties to purchase or mold your own!
Hopefully this list has given you some ideas to add some personality to your own yard and garden. While many people have been hard at work in their gardens for months now, those of us starting a bit late can take comfort from this recent advice from the Old Farmer’s Almanac:
“June offers the most hours of daylight of any month of the year. For farmers and gardeners, this is a great boon, allowing them to concentrate on their fields and flowers. One old proverb says, ‘Calm weather in June sets corn in tune.’
Folk wisdom tells us that all of the plants will catch up by the end of the month regardless of how early we got them in the ground!”
What yard and gardening projects are you planning this year? Please share in the comments.