Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Planning and design
⁃ Attend some seminars, read up on the topic and try to get some expert opinion on how to go about the process.
⁃ Group plants with similar water needs to create distinct watering zones
⁃ Place least drought-tolerant zone closest to a water source , be it dappled shade or near a water feature.
⁃ If your yard is sloped use terraces and rain gardens to minimize runoff and erosion. Terraces over 12 inches will require some kind of support.
⁃ Incorporate water feature into highest water use zone. Try to get it into a shade area to reduce water loss from evaporation. Try using dwarf trees or shrubs to create dappled shade.
⁃ Use most drought-tolerant plants in southern or western exposures.
⁃ Minimize use of rocks, plastic and sand in high heat areas. These simply raise temperatures and cause runoff problems.
⁃ Try to plant in the fall when it's cooler and plants need less water to become established.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


There are 7 principals of Xeriscaping. I will list them here and then elaborate on them further in the days to come. Here they are!
  1. Planning and Design
  2. Soil Improvement
  3. Create LIMITED turf areas
  4. Use Appropriate Plants
  5. Mulch
  6. Irrigate
  7. Maintain Landscape
Some of these are pretty "common sensible" while others may be a bit of a surprise. Many people think Xeriscaping is only for South Western, HOT, or excessively dry climates. That's definitely NOT true as you will come to learn. So, stay tuned.

Park Seed Seeds

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I have a few lady bugs that keep us company during the winter. When I see them, I dump them into my house plants. I don't know if they are doing any good there...but they are supposed to eat "bad guys", so maybe that's why I don't seem to have problems with inside insects. I'm not really an indoor plant person, but as an outside gardener, that makes sense to me. Can anyone shed light on that?
Also, yesterday I went for a walk (literally...I didn't go to buy anything) around the inside perimeter of the new Wal-Mart in town. Just as a note, this place is so big it took me 15 minutes to make one pass! ANYWAY, in their gardening section (you didn't think I'd pass right by THAT did you?) were some pots that are WONDERFUL for african violets and other plants that love to be a little moist, and don't like their leaves or feet wet. They actually are two pots, one inside the other. The outside pot is glazed everywhere, while the inside pot is porous. so you plant the violet in the porous pot and set it inside the glazed one which you have filled about 1/3-1/2 with water. The porous pot absorbs whatever the plant requires; you don't have to play nursery-maid; the leaves stay dry; and NEVER does anything get waterlogged or soggy. The soil provides the moisture the plant requires...all by itself. These pots are also wonderful for just about any plant if you find yourself taking a lot of vacations. You can always set them in a larger container (read "sink") when you're not there.

Plow & Hearth

Friday, March 14, 2008


• Xeriscaping refers to conservation of water through creative landscaping. It reduces watering and maximizes the use of natural precipitation. Right now over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscapes and lawns. Using Xeriscaping can reduce landscape water use by 50-75%. That is a BIG number!
• The word comes from a combination of two other words. "xeri" from Greek word"xeros" meaning dry, and "scape" meaning a view or scene. Even though literally meaning "dry scene" in means using slow-growing, drought tolerant plants to conserve water.
• Began in response to severe water shortages. Initially it was used in dry, warm climates in our American west, it has evolved to be used all over the country, regardless of the climate.
• Water-wise landscaping saves water, money, upkeep and time and provides a beautiful landscape.
• The word "xeros" means dry, but a xeriscape is not dry. Rather it uses very little water.
• A well thought-out plan is essential for a water-wise landscape.
• The amount of rain that falls is beyond our control. However, we can create a garden that can withstand the rigors of drought without sacrificing beauty and variety. Drought-resistant plants are the natural selection.
• Xeriscape means "Dry Landscape" but a better definition is a "smart landscape".
• A method of landscaping that conserves water by incorporating good design and sound horticultural practices.
• Xeriscapes can utilize any landscaping style. The principles can be applied to any part of a yard or geographic region.
• Means low maintenance, not zero maintenance. Careful pruning weeding, and watering will increase water savings and the beauty of the garden.
• Water costs will be rising. A xeriscape will help you stay ahead of the "savings" curve!
• It will also provide wildlife habitat. Wildlife is attracted to native plant materials.

Gardener's Supply Company

Thursday, March 13, 2008


How much do you know about Xeriscaping?
Xeriscaping reduces watering and maximizes the use of natural precipitation. It is both similar and totally different from a Rain Garden. However, they have so much in common that I think I'll move right to Xeriscaping from Rain Gardens. For this I might suggest that you do a bit of reading about it. Here's the Amazon link where you can check out some books that give you a more detailed version.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The weather has been miserable here over the last couple of weeks. We had a ton of snow which has been here all winter. Then it poured. Then it got REALLY cold. Now, there is a thick snow cover, but that's covered with a thick coating of ice. So, whatever little bit of melt that occurs just forms puddles because it can't possibly penetrate the ice.
As I drive through the neighborhood, I see puddles on the snow-cover. It dawned on me yesterday that these are the perfect locations for RAIN GARDENS! These are the spots where the water runs and settles. REMEMBER these spots and be aware that they will be wonderful places for those RAIN GARDENS! Sometimes nature is wonderful, isn't it?

Gardener's Supply Company

Friday, March 07, 2008


What goes into a Rain Garden?

• Native plants are recommended for rain gardens because they generally don't need fertilization and tend to be quite tolerant of local climate, soil and water conditions. They have evolved to fit their environment and are naturally drought, flood and pest resistant.
• Plants should be composed of a selection of native wetland edge vegetation, such as wildflowers, sedges, rushes, ferns, shrubs and small trees. These plants are reasonably resistant to the stress of both periods of pooling as well as dry periods between rain events.
• There are many "normal" plants that can tolerate having wet feet. Look for them in the local nursery. Then watch them. If they don't work, put them elsewhere. • If the plants have deep root systems they can find water deep in the ground during dry periods. These deep roots also create conduits for the water to travel down into the ground during periods of heavy rain.
• It is best to avoid invasive species. Don't create a weed nightmare!
• Plants with large root structures will make the rain garden more effective and less susceptible to disease.
• Choose hardy species than can tolerate both wet and dry.
• If you have poor soil drainage, you'll want plants that are more water-tolerant as the water will remain there longer.
• Don't use seed to plant your rain garden. They will wash away in the first rain, leaving the garden vulnerable to erosion. Be sure to use reasonably established plants instead.
• As with any garden, pick plants for your soil type and sun duration.
• Most native plants are very attractive to butterflies, frogs, turtles, toads and birds who depend on them for food and shelter.
• Put in a pedestal birdbath and perhaps a feeder to encourage the birds to come.

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I get the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts. This morning I got the email that I get every week or so. It said this:

"Light gardening and yard work can be surprisingly taxing: Performed at a moderate pace, a 154-lb person can burn 330 calories per hour digging up weeds and raking."

I am really happy about that because I'm also trying to lose weight! Unfortunately, there's about 2 feet of snow on the ground covered by about 1/2 inch of ice...I guess I won't be losing any weight THAT way for awhile!
Anyway, I thought you'd like to know gardening can help you lose weight!

Plow & Hearth

Monday, March 03, 2008


Construction of a Rain Garden

• Have you ever noticed when you are traveling by airplane, how much of our landscape is covered by parking lots, roads, sidewalks and buildings? All the water that normally would have gone directly into the ground below, is now piped elsewhere. Don't let that happen in your garden. The surfaces become "funnels"...we need to have "sieves" that put the water back into the ground.
• Since this is for the "average" rainfall you should be prepared for a major downpour. Be sure to provide a way for water to drain out in this circumstance. You may want to add an outlet furrow to insure that this excess water heads in the direction YOU want!
• To test the infiltration of your soil, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep in the area that the rain garden will probably be located. Fill the hole with water. If it stays in the hole for 12 hours or more, the soil is not suitable for a rain garden. Look for another spot!
• Preferably the site for your rain garden should be in a natural depression in the landscape.
• Remember the rain garden should filter the water into the soil over a couple of hours. This area will dry out between rains eliminating problems with mosquitoes.
• After you have sited the rain garden, you will need to do a little digging.
• The depression should be 6-8 inches deep. Some areas will need to be deeper in order to make the bottom of the garden level.
• Make a berm on the down slope of the rain garden using the soil removed from the higher section. This will lessen the chance for overflow.
• The rain garden should be designed to hold no more than 6 inches of water.
• Mix organic matter into the soil by spreading 2-4 inches of compost over the area and mixing with the existing soil.
• Establish a grass or ground cover border along the upper edge of the rain garden to slow down the runoff water as it enters the garden. Do the same over the berm to stabilize it as a border for the rain garden.
• Direct sump pump water or downspout water to the rain garden by burying a 4 inch plastic drainpipe or digging a slight swale.
• Plant the plants and mulch with wood chips. Lighter mulches like pine bark and straw, will just float and wash off.
• The plants should be watered until they are established.
• Deep the weeds at bay until it is well established. Rain gardens should be relatively low maintenance if the correct plants are chosen.
Gardener's Supply Company

Saturday, March 01, 2008



Be sure to fertilize that poinsettia.

Check your stored bulbs to be sure they're not being eaten by

Also, remove forced bulbs from cold storage. Put them in a cool place until they begin to sprout, then bring them into the place you want to have them bloom.

This is a good time to buy summer blooming bulbs.

Start seeds inside.

Begonias can be started in peat moss.

If you haven't done so yet, start planning a new garden!

If you have a lawn, this is a good time to send the mower in for
a tune-up.

Fruit trees should be pruned of dead and diseased branches. Check
a reference book and give them a general pruning as well.

Keep your pruning shears away from spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to
snip a few for inside forcing! (Although you should certainly remove dead and diseased branches.) Some good forcing candidates are: cherry, apple, dogwood and forsythia. Just remember that whatever you cut off now will not be blooming in a few months!

Talk about pruning shears...sharpen them before using.

Park Seed Seeds