How to Make a Home Fish Pond

fish pondA fish pond can be the focal point of your garden allowing you to build everything else up around it. However, paying for the installation of a full-sized pond can be fairly expensive, not to mention the cost of the materials. Though let’s say for a moment that you could handle the material costs and do the work yourself: Would that be worth it?

While investing some energy and free time, even the casual gardener and do-it-yourselfer will certainly be able to handle the process of installing a reasonably sized fish pond.

If you’ve decided to undergo this project, here’s what you’ll need to purchase:

     Lining

     Rocks or pebbles

     Pump

     Surrounding rocks

     Surrounding landscaping

These are the “base items” that you’ll need to construct your pond. Depending on the complexity of it, you might want to add bridges, stone walkways, or other aspects that we won’t cover here. Essentially, you can make it as complex as you want it to be.

We’ll just cover the basics, then you can add bells and whistles as you see fit.

1. Dig — It sounds simple, and it is for the most part. Measure out how big and deep you want your pond to be, purchase the corresponding sized lining and then go out and dig the foundation for your pond.

You’ll just need to be sure and measure as you go to make sure you’re not digging too wide or too deep. It’s hard work, but these ponds typically aren’t massive in size, which means it won’t take quite as long as you might think.

Plus, it’s the hardest part of the job, and it’s the first thing to check off the list. Once you’ve got the digging done, it’s all downhill from there.

2. Lining — There aredifferent types of lining you can get. You’ll either have a flimsy material that you lay into the hole you’ve dug, kind of like a blanket, or you’ll have a shell that’s pre-shaped. The shell lining is going to be a little less forgiving when it comes to the quality of your digging job, and is also less likely to leak water.

Consider the shape and contour of your pond before you decide which kind to get, as a more textured or layered pond would be better suited for a more forgiving liner.

3. Pump install — You’ve got some options when it comes to your pump as well. You can hide it in rocks or landscaping, or purchase an extension so that it can be kept in your house or garage. Most pumps you buy will come with specific instructions, so make sure you check to see what size pond the pump can handle, and then pick out a place to stash it so that it’s out of plain sight.

4. Landscaping — Once the pond and pump are installed, all that’s left to do is get things decorated. Make sure you line your pond with rocks or pebbles to hide the lining. You can then use rock or outdoor tiles for surrounding the pond, depending on whether you’re going for a natural look or not. Add plants and flowers around the pond as you see fit.

At this point, it’s all just a matter of style and preference. You can even add bigger components like a garden water fountain, particularly if you have several levels of water to work with.

Easier than it Looks

A fish pond sounds like a huge job on the surface, but in reality, there are only a few steps if you can plan well and buy the right materials. A fish pond is a foundational piece for any garden, so consider installing one early as opposed to waiting.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California. She loves being outdoors and enjoying the property around her home, and is always looking for ways to make it look more aesthetic. Follow her on Pinterest for more great ideas!

Make Your Backyard Beautiful

Backyard landscapingAs summertime approaches, you’re going to want to spend some quality time outside. If you’re lucky enough to live in a good location, you can go to the beach or maybe a neighborhood pool, but often your backyard is the place you’re going to catch the most sunshine and fresh air. In this case, it pays to transform your backyard into the place everyone wants to spend time. This is certainly possible, whether you’re on a budget or have an unlimited amount to spend on your backyard upgrades. Keeping your financial constraints in mind, you can upgrade your landscape, backyard fixtures, furniture, lighting, and a variety of amenities in order to have the best backyard this summer has ever seen.

Landscaping

One easy way to improve the quality of your backyard is to make sure your landscaping is up to snuff. If your grass is dying or non-existent, consider laying sod or sowing some grass seeds. Add flowers for a great smell and inexpensive splash of color. Make sure you keep any landscaping well groomed, as an unkempt lawn can quickly devalue your backyard. If your schedule doesn’t allow for consistent maintenance, consider hiring a gardener or at least installing an automated sprinkler system.

Building Structures

While you’re spending time in your backyard to get some sun, sometimes you need to escape into home improvement project new patiothe shade. While a tree or umbrella can serve this purpose, if you want a more permanent shaded area it’s certainly possible. If you’re on a budget, consider designing and building your own structure, a task which can be fairly simple with some limited construction experience. Structures can also provide great storage space, a play area for your children, and even an outdoor studio for working in the sun.

Furnishing the Backyard

Furniture is of the utmost importance when you’re planning to relax in your backyard. Before making any furniture purchases, consider your primary uses for the backyard, as well as any space constraints you might have. Do you use your backyard primarily for lounging, or are you planning to throw dinner parties? Let the function shape your furniture choices, purchasing whatever is needed to best enjoy your backyard time. Keep in mind that purchasing the cheapest furniture, if you are on a budget, is not always the best idea as the quality often isn’t too great. Instead, purchase middle of the line furniture which will last for several seasons. Taking care to bring your furniture into a sheltered area in inclement weather can greatly improve the life of your furniture.

Adding Amenities

Again, take some time to think about what your backyard is most used for. If it’s primarily a play area for children, consider adding a cheap above-ground pool or investing in a jungle gym, whether you buy one or make it yourself. If cooking is your passion, plenty of DIY projects are available to expand your cooking capabilities. While you might already have a grill, consider making a pizza oven, smoker, or a bar from which to serve drinks.

No matter your financial constraints, it’s easy to get your backyard in tip-top condition for upcoming summer festivities. Take into account your budget and upgrade your furniture, fixtures, and even cooking amenities as needed for the best use of your backyard area.

This article was written by Andre Hickson, a landscaping contractor, father, and home renovator. For more landscaping tips and ways to improve your home, Andre suggests consulting professionals, like the Dorchester Awning Company

 

 

Tips For A Healthy Lawn

Five environmentally friendly ways to keep your lawn looking great

Five environmentally friendly ways to keep your lawn looking greatMaintaining the perfect lawn is easier than you think and with the right tools, you can be both efficient with your yard work and eco-conscious. If it’s lush green turf that you’re after, but you also care about your carbon footprint, there are a few tools and practices that can help you have it both ways.

Many of the tips for maintaining a truly green lawn can also save you money and time. As you’re gearing up to enjoy your outdoor space this season, here are a few suggestions to follow for a healthy lawn you can feel good about:

* Give back to your lawn. One of the best treatments for your yard is to let a layer of lawn clippings settle on the top of your turf after mowing. The clippings decompose and replenish your soil, encouraging positive growth. A common misconception is that leaving the clippings on top of your lawn leads to the development of thatch, when in fact it’s usually caused by other conditions. Leaving your clippings only helps your lawn, and lessens the amount of work you have to do.

* Go green with battery-powered mowers and lawn tools. Gas mowers’ engines don’t run nearly as clean as more thoroughly engineered car engines and contribute significantly to air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you make the switch to a battery-powered mower, you can start it easily every time without having to worry about polluting the air. You can also try battery-powered string trimmers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers, making it possible to take your entire arsenal of lawn care tools off gas for good.

* Be wise with your water. With a few strategic adjustments, you can significantly reduce the amount of water you use to keep your lawn healthy. Water less frequently with a good soaking each time, the water you use will go further. Watering in the morning will also help your lawn soak up the water, rather than having it evaporate before it makes it into your soil. Installing a rain barrel is also a great way to reuse the water that runs off your house without ever having to turn on the spigot.

* Buy a discerning fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers might offer quick results, but organic fertilizers often provide more staying power as they focus more on improving soil quality rather than the quick fix of applying nutrients directly to the plant. To make sure you are effective with your fertilizer use, take a soil sample to a local garden store to analyze it and they’ll recommend the best fertilizing mix for your lawn.

* Allow your lawn to protect itself. Mowing too short is a key mistake many people make. A good rule of thumb is to never cut more than one-third of the current height. This will ensure that your grass can develop deep enough roots to thrive and won’t get scorched when summer temperatures arrive.

Do you have any environmentally friendly tips on lawn care that you would like to share?  We’d love to hear them!

Home Improvement Projects For Spring

Outdoor DIY Projects For Spring

backyard diy projectsAs temperatures warm, many of us can’t wait to get outside and rediscover the joys of our outdoor spaces. One of the best ways to ensure the enjoyment of your space all season long is with some spring cleaning and upkeep of your yard and outdoor living spaces.

There are a few spring cleaning projects that benefit every homeowner and make spaces much more inviting for the hours you’ll spend enjoying the summer sun.

* Take the time to prune. Before the season heats up and the first leaves start to appear, it’s the perfect time to shape up your trees and shrubs. Doing so before the growing season is less stressful for your plants, easier to clean up and will promote the type of growth you envision to keep your greenery looking great all season. Make sure your tools are sharp, as cleaner cuts are easier on plants.

* Clean up leftover leaves. While you probably spent much of the fall raking and mulching fallen leaves, stragglers collect throughout winter, clogging gutters and drains. In addition to cleaning areas of your yard blanketed with leaves, rake your lawn to rid it of matted leaves that can inhibit healthy growth. Break these chores into separate days so you don’t have to do it all at once. Using a blower also helps you clean up your yard in short order.

* Bring out the power washer. Winter tends to leave its mark, and the exterior of your house, deck, sidewalks and driveway can all show grime once spring rolls around. A pressure washer is a convenient way to clean these surfaces.

* Check in on your deck. Once it’s been pressure washed, it’s time to see if you need to re-seal it. If you drizzle water on your deck boards and it beads up, your seal is still effective. If not, it’s time to apply another coat of sealant. Pleasant spring days are ideal for re-sealing and staining and once you’re done, you can enjoy the whole season without worry.

* Design your dream outdoor room. Once you’ve cleaned up your space, you might realize there’s more that could be New Rochelle: patio and pergola additiondone to enhance it. Perhaps you’d like to add a Gazebo, Patio or screened in outdoor room for entertaining. We’d be happy to provide you with a free home consultation to help you design the backyard of your dreams!  It’s also the perfect time to consider a new patio set, or even a patio extension using decorative pavers. Dress up existing patio furniture by staining wood furniture or buying fresh new covers or cushions. This is also the perfect time to buy that new and improved grill you’ve had your eye on.

Spring is an exciting time to get back outside and take care of some of the improvements you’ve been dreaming of all winter.

Give us a call at 914-576-2572 or send us an email to bruzzesehomeimprovements.com and let us help you design your dream outdoor living space!

Fast Growing Flowers to Put in Your Garden

Fast Growing Flowers to Put in Your GardenHome garden’s make a beautiful addition to your landscape and provide you with many opportunities to put them to good use. First of all you will always enjoy the sight of live flowers each morning when you wake up. You will also always have nice arrangements made from fresh cut flowers. And last, but not least, you will always have the perfect bouquet for any occasion or person. You only have to go to the garden and pick what you want.

The reason why many people do not like the idea of growing their own gardens is usually the fact that they do not have enough patience to wait for the plants to grow and start to blossom. For many flowers this can be true, but still there are some that grow faster and will not make you wait so long for the perfect result.

This article will suggest a dozen of them and basic tips on how to optimize their care. The first one to start with is called cosmos. This plant is annual and usually grows with long stems. They look very pretty, have enough foliage, and can be seen in several different colors some of which are pink, purple, red or white. They are very easy to grow because they do not need much of a fertilizer. It will actually suppress the blooms of the plant if there is too much of it.

The Mexican Sunflower is another one of these fast growing flowers. It is so bright that you will love it from the Fast Growing Flowers to Put in Your Gardenmoment you see it. Its blooms are red and orange. They have the ability to complete two generations for the time of one summer. When you are planting the Mexican Sunflower in your garden you have to be sure that there is enough room for it because it can grow up to four foot in width. You have to be extremely careful when you cut these flowers to use it for an arrangement. Its stems are very fragile. To avoid breaking, try to cut it using very sharp tools.

The yellow flag is an early spring flower which can grow best in wetlands. It is not impossible to have it in a drier place, but there it will grow smaller and will spread less and with more difficultly.

The Black-eyed Susan is a perennial. It grows with numerous blooms on one stem. It can bloom during the whole summer without a break and the more you cut it the more it will grow again.

The purple cornflower is very interesting in its shape and can be dried and boiled on a tea. It attracts butterflies during the whole summer and you don’t have to worry about it because it rarely gets diseases and is very tolerant to dry weather.

Marigolds are also amongst the fast growing flowers and are very beautiful. They are continuously blooming and can be seen in every shade of orange and yellow. It’s best to plant them with the vegetables because they need pest treatment more than any other flower.

Fast Growing Flowers to Put in Your GardenPoppies are the annuals that come with more than seventy varieties of their color. Their foliage is blue-green. For better results, make sure to remember to cut them just before their flower opens. To make them last longer in the vase, hold the stem in the flame of a lighter for a few seconds then put them in the water.

The horse-mint is the perennial that, when dried, has the taste of oregano. Besides growing it in your garden you can dry it and use its nice fragrance as a natural air-freshener in your home.

Guest Post By:

Bio: Daisy Hart is a writer and blogger with great flair for flowers and flower decoration. She is focused on writing the best possible way and is constantly searching for new sources of inspiration. Her present article treats: gardening and caring of flowers related thematic.

Flowers that Find Winter Appealing

Flowers that Find Winter AppealingAre you a gardening enthusiast that’s just starting out his journey in the world of growing flowers? Know that before you actually begin creating a flower garden you should acquaint yourself with the matter. It’s always better when someone explains to you what to do instead of having to teach yourself the hard way by trying and failing several times. This is why acquiring some information prior to starting to grow flowers will only make it easier on you. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Now that winter is right around the corner, winter-blooming flowers are something you can begin preparing with.

Hellebores are flowers that are nowhere to be found in a summer garden because they go dormant. Reviving at the end of November with large dark-green leaves and blooming in January/February, the Helleborus vesicarius gives green blossoms with burgundy marks on the inside and outside of its cup-shaped form. Depending on the type, hellebores start blooming in November up until April. A lot of them self-sow, so you even don’t have to plant them again. Other species like Helleborus multifidus, Helleborus cyclophyllus, Helleborus odorus and Helleborus viridis also blossom in the winter.  Hellebore flowers are typically seen in Europe.

Helleborus niger or the Christmas rose allows us to enjoy its flowers at the end of November but there are other variations that bloom as late as March. Some of its blossoms have a diameter of 10 cm/4 inches; others are way smaller – down to 2.5 cm/1 inch in diameter.

Flowers that Find Winter Appealing

Phlox nivalis is another flower that blooms in the winter. It may start blooming in the early November.  It’s flowers are large and bright pink. Phloxes enjoy the winter sun and require good drainage. Phlox douglasii shows its blossoms in December with purple to violet shades.  Phlox is a common flower for North America.

Iris unguicularis is another type of flower in the group of the winter-blooming ones. The first blossoms can be noticed in the middle of November. Its leaves are slender and the flowers are blue-purple. In the summer this type of iris is dormant. It’s advisable not to water it too much even if the summer is dry.

Iris reticulata deigns to open its bluish grey leaves in late December, but its flowers bloom in early February. The winter sun seems to best appeal to the flower because it chooses to blossom during the cold period. As for the soil, Iris reticulata is not very pretentious – an ordinary one will do just fine.  Iris flowers can typically be seen in the northern temperature zone.

Snowdrops and crocuses grow from bulbs and look very delicate and fragile, but you probably already know that. Flowers that Find Winter AppealingGalanthus caucasicus (a type of snowdrop) starts blooming at the end of November and continues until Christmas when Galanthus nivalis takes the lead. Both of the flower species like dry soil in the summer and moist in the winter as well as the sunbeams in the coldest months.  Snowdrops are typically seen throughout Europe.

Crocus laevigatus has violet to purple petals and is fragrant. This delicate beauty can be seen around Christmas. There are other species of the Crocus genus that bloom in January, February or early March.

Winter flowers must be fond of the cold weather, unlike people, since this is the season they choose to unveil their beauty to us. These flowers honor winter with special attention. It takes courage to survive the coldest season, which the flowers above definitely have.

Guest post by:

Bio: Daisy Hart is a writer and blogger with great flair for flowers and flower decoration. She is focused on writing the best possible way and is constantly searching for new sources of inspiration. Her present article treats: common and unusual winter flowers related thematic.

Winter Gardens Combine Convenient with Beauteous

Winter Gardens Combine Convenient with BeauteousWinter couldn’t be called exactly a welcoming season with the associations of cold and snow that come with it. This is the season when all greenery is covered in white as far as your sight can reach. The world around is still, nature looks as if it is fallen asleep waiting for better times to come. A desire to replace the dull colours with brighter hues arises probably because the weather outside is so gloomy that one wants something more cheerful to have around for a change.

A winter garden can bring back spring and summer in your life and the positive mood they bring with them. It is falsely perceived that when the coldest season comes, all plant life disappears and gardening should cease until it gets warmer again. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re willing to have plants and flowers in your garden even in the winter, this is not a mission impossible. You just have to be determined enough, to have the knowledge, the tools and the necessary facility.

A solar greenhouse fits perfectly (as seen in the picture above) where you can grow plants indoors. Other than that, there are crops that can be planted outside and do just fine in lower temperatures. Knowing the secrets of winter gardening will help any devoted, and determined, gardener have fresh and natural herbs, vegetables, flowers and fruit when nobody else does.

When you first start with your winter garden, you have to consider some factors that will help you choose the plants you want to grow. Usually, the conditions in your region determine the plants that can be grown there. But in an indoor, solar or otherwise heated greenhouse you can practically grow anything that is usually grown in the warmer months. What can be planted in such indoor winter garden is rosemary, parsley, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, broad beans, mangetout, tomatoes as long as you establish the needed conditions. Some seeds are sown directly, others – in pots. Another thing that has to be considered is the amount of space that each type of plant is required to have in order to grow well. A warm greenhouse is considered one with a minimum temperature of about 13ºC/55ºC, and even if at night the temperature drops, it will still be higher than the one outside. Since in the winter days are shorter, you should have in mind that you might need an additional source of light in your greenhouse to simulate the presence of the sun. Pollination is also an issue that has to be paid attention to. Tomatoes, for example, self-pollinate which means that no insects are needed for the purpose – you can simply shake the plant and it’s done. When this method can’t be applied, what gardeners do is transfer pollen from the male to the female blossom with a cotton swab or a painting brush.

As far as crops that grow in cold weather outdoors are concerned, you have to plant them in late summer. If you do that in September, you’ll get the results in winter or early spring depending on what you’ve planted. Leeks, garlic, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, collards, broccoli, and cabbage can be grown that way.

Having a winter garden a few steps away from your home certainly brings a lot of benefits. The very fact that you grow your own food makes it safer, healthier and tastier. You are aware how you’ve grown it, what fertilizer you used, how the plants were treated, so worries about harmful components immediately disappear. Having plants and herbs picked up right from your garden is also beneficial for your family bank because you won’t spend money on them. Growing your own produce is relevant to gardening as a whole, not just in the winter, which makes the idea of green living part of your life. The more practical side of having crops at hand is that you can always prepare something fast out of the products you have without having to walk/drive to the store when you’re feeling too exhausted, for example.

Don’t forget that plants require regular care. The produce doesn’t just magically turn up out of the blue. You have to Winter Gardens Combine Convenient with Beauteousbe enthusiastic enough to do some work in the greenhouse in the winter. Compared to the warmer months, people tend to not go out much when they are cold unless it’s necessary. Gardening is a great way to get out and do something useful, to stretch your legs a little. It’s like a kind of an exercise to keep you in good shape in the months you’re reluctant to move around because of the bad weather conditions. The lack of sun can be compensated by the vitamins that fresh and natural vegetables and fruit provide. It’s all good for the immune system.

Another positive aspect of having a winter garden would be to turn it into a flower haven on earth. Just entering in there will give you the feeling of spring and summer with all the colours and greenness. The types of flowers that are suitable for growing in a cool indoor greenhouse include Primroses, Nasturtiums, Azaleas, Freesias, Amaryllis, Hyacinths, Impatiens, etc. They have to be planted in pots but in a special soil, not the one from your yard because it carries pests. The pleasant fragrance that comes from the greenhouse will draw you to it as if you’re captured by some kind of an invisible power. What’s most important is that you’ll be cheered up and charged with fresh energy looking at all the beauty that you’ve created yourself.

Guest Post By:

Daisy Hart is a writer and blogger with great flair for flowers and flower decoration. She is focused on writing the best possible way and is constantly searching for new sources of inspiration. Her present article treats: winter gardening and flowers related thematic.

Winterize your home in a weekend

Winterize your home in a weekendPreparing for Jack Frost’s arrival can send a shiver down any homeowner’s spine. A long to-do list for getting your home ready can feel overwhelming, leaving you wondering where you’ll find the time and resources. But, with some optimism, easy tips and access to a few rental tools, you can winterize your home in just one weekend, leaving plenty of time to enjoy autumn’s splendor.

Prepare your lawn and landscaping

Cold temperatures cause grass and other plants in your landscape to go dormant. Spend a few hours preparing your lawn for beautiful greenery next year.

Start by aerating. Renting an aerator is a cost-effective and efficient way to reduce thatch and provide extra space in the soil for water and oxygen to reach the roots.  After aerating, spread a quality winter fertilizer to give your grass the nutrients it needs to grow strong. Remember to cover roses and delicate perennials so that they are protected.

Winterize your deck

The harsh winter elements can take a major toll on decking, so it’s important to protect it. With a little time and effort, your deck will make it through winter unscathed and ready for outdoor fun in spring.

To keep the structure’s integrity intact and wood looking beautiful, clean and seal your deck before winter arrives. Start by renting a pressure washer.  After you clean your deck, let it dry completely and then apply paint or sealant.

Trim your trees

Weak trees and dead branches can break and fall during winter, possibly damaging your home, your car, a utility line, or worse. Be a responsible homeowner and cut weak or dead branches in the fall so you don’t have to worry.

A chainsaw is the easiest way to deal with dead branches and will take much less time than hand sawing. You can rent a chainsaw to cut the wood into small logs or pieces for disposing of properly. Chippers can also be rented for grinding up the wood and using it for mulch in the spring.

Seal windows and doors

When temperatures drop, the small leaks in windows and doors become apparent. Avoid a chilly house and high energy bills by caulking your windows and weather stripping doors.

Weather stripping is cheap and easy. Apply the adhesive strip between the door and frame for a tight seal that limits the amount of air that enters or exits when the door is closed. Caulking windows is a simple process as well when you have a caulk gun. If you need a tall ladder to reach second story windows, consider renting it since you’ll likely use it infrequently. While you have the ladder, clean your gutters of leaves and other debris that can cause backups and ice dams.

All you need is one weekend to prepare your home and yard for the cold weather ahead. Plus you’ll get to enjoy the crisp autumn air while you get these quick and easy chores done.

Add tasty edible plants to your landscape

edible plantsWindow boxes overflowing with blooms, decorative pots lining the driveway with striking colors, and even a flowering vine climbing up the mailbox – the growing season has arrived, and it is time to decorate the landscape.

The latest gardening trend is growing your own produce, so incorporate edible plants as a beautiful compliment to the typical annuals and perennials. This year, spice up the landscaping decor with some tasty options.

Edible plants – whether herbs, vegetables, fruits or flowers – add a creative variety of interest to your landscape, and also produce a delicious bounty for your dinner table come harvest time.

Here are some ideas to help incorporate edible plants into your landscaping:

* Decorate an arbor in the garden, along a walkway or near the house with grape vines. These vines can help shade an area and also can produce grapes good for eating, juicing, making into jams or jellies, or even wine. Different grapes thrive in different areas of the country, so research your region first before attempting to start some vines.

* Switch to edible flowers like nasturtium, violets, chamomile, dandelion, hollyhock, honeysuckle, and pansies in your window boxes and decorative pots. Do not eat flowers grown for ornamental purposes, instead, start edible flowers as seeds and grow them yourself. These flowers work great in salads, teas, summery drinks like sweetened tea, mocktails, and lemonade, and also can be crystallized to decorate cakes. To crystallize flowers, separate the flowers from the stem, and wash and dry the bloom. Heat up an equal parts water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, and the liquid becomes an amber color. Let the syrup cool. Take flower blooms and quickly dip the pedals into the liquid mixture, turn back over and let dry blossom face up. Stronger petals with form and shape work well.

* Mix an herb or two into container gardens. Lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano and lemon grass are just a few that grow extremely well in containers, and mix attractively with other blooming flowers. Not only are the herbs edible, but also emit delicious scents when picked or touched, making a great choice for window boxes or path plantings.

* Pot a tomato plant right in the front yard. Or, the backyard. Tomatoes grow well in full sunlight, and are decorative when the vines drape along a trellis or arbor. Tomatoes also work well as a natural screen along a porch or patio. Also good for use on an arbor or trellis are cucumbers, smaller melons and squash, beans and peas. Inter-plant vines with containers or landscaping, and your small vegetable garden will get a pop of interest to make it stand out – and provide a great harvest for your family.

* Create a hedge with berries. Try blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and even gooseberries to make a unique hedge along the edge of your property. Just remember, your family will not be the only samplers of the fruits. Consider covering the hedge with netting to help keep birds from stealing all the berries.

Combining beautiful landscaping with delicious foods to serve at dinner is sure to create many compliments – both from visitors enjoying the front and backyard views, and from dinner guests enjoying the produce harvest. Follow these tips and this year your garden will look good enough to eat.

Cool new concepts for gardening

One of the driving forces in gardening is many American’s pursuit of healthier eating and greener living. This means that the new face of gardening has begun to change considerably in recent years.

So, what’s cool about gardening?

bird feederFrom growing vegetables in the front yard to creating an edible wall of green on the balcony, gardening is not limited to just a half-acre plot in the country anymore. Now, gardeners use any space available for a garden, no matter how urban or small. The key is adding individuality or personality to the garden in the form of handmade sculptures, water features, bird feeders or even the variety of unique heirloom plants that are used. Sustainability is also very important. Plants that serve a dual purpose – like low-growing thyme used as a ground cover in a small area or a cucumber plant that has been trained to grow up a trellis as a green screen – are excellent examples of how many gardeners have transformed traditional ideas of gardening. Looking at gardening and plants in new ways can lead to some great discoveries – and may even increase the productivity of a green space.

How can you join in the gardening movement? Here are some helpful tips to get started.

Maximize space: 
Even if you only have a window, and no outdoor space, you can have a garden. An herb garden, like the Miracle-Gro Culinary Herb Kit, can be grown on a window ledge in the kitchen. No ledge? No problem. Just hang a hook from the ceiling and grow your plants in a hanging basket. For those with little outdoor space, try container gardening on the patio or use an outside fence or railing to grow a vertical garden. Simply hang pots on hooks or create your own “living wall” using chicken wire, coconut fiber lining and a quality potting mix. Then, plant trailing produce or flowers and watch your wall grow. If you have a sunny space in the yard, create a small garden using the new Miracle-Gro Ultimate Raised Garden Bed. This easy-to-use kit snaps together and can easily be customized to fit in nearly any space. Simply add nutrient-enriched soil, like Miracle-Gro Expand N Gro or Potting Mix, and plant the garden on a patio, deck, rooftop or balcony.

Redefine terms: 
Produce plants are for vegetable gardens and landscaping plants are for the front yard … right? Not necessarily. The tomato containergreat thing about gardening is that the only necessary rules are the ones Mother Nature created: plants need sunlight, water, food and soil with good drainage. Other than that, do not be afraid to mix it up. Plant vegetables in the front yard, use strawberries in a hanging basket or plant an herb for groundcover along a path. Tomatoes will grow beautifully next to marigolds and sage will add a nice contrast when grown in a container alongside yellow daisies. Grow what you like that will thrive in your climate, even if it is not what your neighbors are growing.

Stay true to yourself: 
If your favorite color is blue, then plant blue flowers. If you love salsa, then plant a “salsa garden” by using tomatoes, cilantro, onions and jalapenos. Add your own touch and make it personal. The materials used can represent your style and add interest in the garden as effectively as what is planted. With adequate drainage, even an old toolbox can come to life with some potting soil and impatiens. Collect stones and small objects with kids to make garden sculptures or bird feeders that the whole family can enjoy. Green plastic bottle caps can be turned into ornamental “trees” and grandma’s cracked tea cup could become a bird feeder with a little imagination. If you have extra produce, make sure to share it. Friends, neighbors, family and even many local food pantries will take donations of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Experiment: 
Although gardening can be seen as a science, it should also be looked as an art. Gardeners should feel free to experiment and express themselves through their gardens. Let your green space reflect your home, your interests and your individuality. Make it a tradition to try at least one new thing every year and you may be surprised how much you learn along the way.

Have any gardening tips or want to share pictures of your garden?  We’d love to hear what you have to say and see what’s growing in your garden.

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