Tag: landscaping

“Slate” Concrete Patio Makeover

“Slate” Concrete Patio Makeover

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 

Organize Your Garden with a Garden Journal and Plant Markers

Organize Your Garden with a Garden Journal and Plant Markers

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 

June’s Theme: Yard & Garden Plus 8 Quick and Easy Landscaping Ideas

June’s Theme: Yard & Garden Plus 8 Quick and Easy Landscaping Ideas

One of my gardening success stories...a bloodroot flower this spring!

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.

Blue glow garden stones at amazon.com

Easy gardener bagged rubber mulch, green, at amazon.com.

36" Perma Mulch Tree Ring at amazon.com

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.

Rust-oleum 225359 "Epoxy Shield" Armor Concrete Floor Paint 1 Gal - Gray Base at amazon.com

Rust-Oleum 238470 EPOXYShield Decorative Color Chips, Tan Blend at amazon.com.

Krylon K02604000 H20 Latex Aerosol Spray Paint, 12-Ounce, Caribbean Blue


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.

VCS RNB10 Mirror Ball 10-Inch Rainbow Stainless Steel Gazing Globe at amazon.com.

The Spirit of Nottingham Woods Tree Sculpture at amazon.com

Gazebo Birdcages - Set of 2 at amazon.com.

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.

Talavera Round Planter Pot, 13 x 9, Assorted Colors and Paint Patterns at amazon.com

Tauba Round Copper Planter with Iron Handles - Set of 4 at amazon.com.

Hanging Planter w/ Bracket Rust Finish Wrought Iron at amazon.com.

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).

GudCraft Solar Powered 35-Foot Holiday String Lights, 100 LED White at amazon.com.

The Outdoor GreatRoom Company SOLAR-2 Solar Light Kit in Espresso, 2 per Carton at amazon.com.

Cornet Shaped Solar Light - SET OF THREE (3) Lights at amazon.com.


6.   Groundcovers.
Find a quick-spreading plant to crowd out weeds. BHG has a list of easy-to-grow groundcovers here.

Asarum maximum 'Ling Ling' (Hexastylis) - Wild Ginger at amazon.com.

Pachysandra terminalis at amazon.com.

Lily of the Valley 25 pips at amazon.com.

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.

Easy Gardener 8840 Forged Iron 24-Inch x 10-1/4-Inch Pound-In Plastic Landscape Edging, Black - 24 Pack/48-Feet at amazon.com.

Suncast Cape Cod Fence White at amazon.com.

7x3Cedar RND Log Edging at amazon.com.

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!

Grasslands Road Positive Steps Peace Sign Stepping Stone at amazon.com.

Sunset Vista Designs Wilderness Wonders Cast Iron Aspen Leaf Stepping Stone, 10 by 12-Inch at amazon.com.

Make Your Own Poetry Stones Deluxe Kit at amazon.com.

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.