Garden Design Plan – How to Prepare a Perennial Garden Design (Part 2)
December 3rd, 2010
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The first part on this topic discussed some important backyard landscaping ideas – specifically, a garden design plan for perennials. It talked about why this is the perfect time to develop your perennial garden design.
So it’s important to get your garden design plan right for perennials.
A perennial garden design is more difficult initially. But your efforts can pay off in the long term in the form of a beautiful backyard landscape design.
Before you start putting together your garden design plan, you need to determine where you will plant your perennial garden. Observe how much sun different locations of your backyard get each day. Keep in mind that the sun will be higher in the sky in the spring and summer than in the late fall and early winter.
If a garden location gets sun most of the day, then “full sun” perennials should be planted there. If your garden gets sun for only one half a day, then determine those flowers that do best under “part sun” conditions. You will need plants that do best in “shade” if your garden receives less than 2 hours of sun each day.
Your perennial garden may get limited sun each day, but you may really want to grow a perennial that requires full sun. In that case, you might consider planting it in a container and placing it in a location that gets a lot of sun. You can move the container as sun conditions change.
Now that you have determined the sun exposure of your garden, your garden design plan should consider the specific location of your garden. Is it up against a fence, a wall, or a border in your yard? Here you want to plant your taller flowers in the back. The medium sized flowers will be in front of those with the smaller ones in the front and around the edge.
Or is your garden in the center of the yard. In this case, it will probably be viewed from different angles. Here you want the taller flowers in the center. Plant the medium sized flowers in front. The smaller flowers should be planted on the edges.
Perennial Garden Design
Your garden design plan should list the perennial plants you want to grow.
Select those flowers that meet your sun exposure requirements. Write down the height, spread, color of its blooms, and the time and duration of its blooming period.
Then post each plant in your perennial garden design. It will take 1-2 years before you see the full benefits of your perennials. Consider the width and growing habit of each plant.
As I said before, group plants so that at least one plant is blooming throughout the growing season.
You can review your garden design plan for each garden throughout the winter months. Take your time in creating your perennial garden design. It will provide you with beautiful flowers for years to come.
Garden Design Plan – How to Prepare a Perennial Garden Design (Part 1)
December 1st, 2010
Establishing a garden design plan is critical to your backyard landscaping ideas.
This is especially true in developing a perennial garden design. The right flowers add color and beauty to your backyard landscape.
I can hear what you are saying now. This is the first part of December. Why in the world is this guy talking about perennial flowers. Has he lost his mind? Most areas have already seen a frost while others have even had a freeze by now.
This happens to be one of my favorite gardening periods of the year. In fact, it lasts all winter. It is the time to come up with some great backyard landscaping ideas.
Now is the time to put together a garden design plan. There’s absolutely no pressure. There are no imminent deadlines. You won’t be planting anything for several months.
You can take your time and determine how you will plant your garden areas the following spring. You can go through garden and nursery catalogs and decide which perennial flowers you will grow.
I thoroughly enjoy that activity since these catalogs contain so much good information. You can also look online to find perennial flowers that that do well in your geographic location and in your backyard soil and light conditions.
A perennial garden design is trickier than planning an annual garden.
Perennial Garden Design
Perennial flowers return each year. They generally bloom for no more than a month. As a result, it’s best to plant a variety of perennials so that there is constant bloom all season long.
So it’s best to select perennial flowers based on their blooms, their foliage, and the time and duration of blooming. Where you plant perennials will be fairly permanent.
On the other hand, most annuals die by the end of the year. So you can develop a brand new garden plan for the next year.
It’s important to remember that perennials tend to expand and grow larger each year.
It’s best to plant a variety of perennials together that have different blooming periods. By doing that, you should have some flowers coming into the peak blooming period at the same time blooms of other plants are fading.
Perennial flowers come in many different colors. This is one reason why growing perennials is so much fun. You can have a garden design plan with a color combination of perennials during one month and have a completely different color combination the following month. Your backyard landscape design will always be changing.
The second part on this topic will discuss how to develop your garden design plan for perennials.
Planting Bulbs for Spring Flowers – The Time is Now
October 20th, 2010
Planting bulbs for spring flowers results in a beautiful display of color just when you need it most.
In many locations, there are just too many cold, damp, cloudy days in the winter. But what a delight it is in the spring seeing the tiny flowers of crocus bulbs poking their blooms just above the ground.
This is then followed by the colorful display of flowers coming from hyacinth bulbs, daffodil bulbs, and tulip bulbs.
Planting bulbs that bloom in the spring is one of many great flower garden ideas. They will greatly enhance your backyard landscape. They produce a wide range of flower colors, shapes, sizes, and heights.
You can select spring bulbs that bloom from the early flowering period through the late flowering period. By planting bulbs selected in this way, you can have a long period of continuous blooming flowers in the spring
Keep in mind that spring flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall. The exact time depends on your geographic location. Check with your local garden center to determine when your bulbs should be planted.
Planting bulbs for spring flowers
The most important factor in growing beautiful spring flowering bulbs is to select the right site for planting.
1. Light conditions – Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun. Check the light requirements for the bulbs you are planting. Keep in mind that deciduous trees may block the sun in the fall but don’t block the sun that much in the early spring since they don’t have leaves yet.
Stay clear of tree roots since they will rob the bulbs of moisture and nutrients in the soil.
On the other hand, Woodland bulbs prefer some shade. These bulbs include Anemone varieties, Jack in the Pulpit, Dog’s Tooth Violets, Snowdrops, and Trillium.
2. Soil conditions – Plant spring bulbs in a well-drained, loamy soil. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.0. You can buy a pH testing kit at your local garden center.
To raise the pH of your soil, you can add hydrated lime or ground limestone. Hydrated lime reacts almost immediately in the soil. A ground or dolomite limestone could take several months to take effect. So you should add limestone several months in advance of planting bulbs. These additives should be incorporated into your soil at least one week prior to applying fertilizer.
The pH of your soil can be reduced by adding cow manure, peat moss, or other compost materials.
You can add bone meal to the soil for additional nutrients. If this causes animals to dig in your bed, you may want to lay some chicken wire over the planted bulbs. Remove it in early spring before the bulbs put out growth.
3. Planting depth – Plant bulbs with the pointed side up and at a depth approximately 3 times the height of the bulb. So the base (roots) of daffodil bulbs should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep. Tulip bulbs and other smaller bulbs can be planted 3 to 5 inches deep depending on their size.
You should add 2 to 3 inches of pine bark mulch over the garden area after planting the bulbs. Mulch will help protect the bulbs over the winter. It will also help the soil maintain moisture.
Here’s an important point. Consider the depth of the mulch in determining how deep to plant the bulbs. So if you are planting bulbs 8 inches deep, 2 to 3 of those inches is made up of the mulch. Therefore, the base of the bulb is covered by 5 to 6 inches of soil.
This post has discussed one of the best flower garden ideas for your backyard landscape. In my next post, I will talk about some of my favorite spring flowers grown from a bulb – crocus, tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs.
How to Grow Beautiful Chrysanthemum Plants (Part 3)
October 11th, 2010
To grow chrysanthemum plants for your backyard landscape is one of the great flower garden ideas for the fall. If you have not read Part 1 and 2 on this topic, I suggest you do so before reading this post. You can do this by clicking on “home” and then clicking under “most recent posts” on the left side of the page.
Prune your chrysanthemum plants for more blooms in the fall
This applies to both blooming and non-blooming plants that you purchased in the spring. It also applies to chrysanthemums you planted in previous years. You need to prune the healthy green stems.
When the stem is 6 inches tall, pinch back each stem. Each main stem will probably have more than one stem shooting out. You do this by pinching off (using your thumb and forefinger) the leaves on each stem. To prune chrysanthemum plants in this way, you are preventing buds from forming too early and encouraging more blooms for the fall.
After the plant has reached 12 inches tall, go through the same process. This is the most tedious part of chrysanthemum maintenance. But it is critical if you want a large plant with many blooms in the fall.
My suggestion is to continue this pinching process until approximately 100 days before your desired blooming time. Stop pinching when buds begin to form. This will result in a compact plant. Otherwise, the plant will be tall and leggy.
I also suggest that you fertilize chrysanthemum plants each time you pinch the stems. Fertilizing will help develop green foliage and optimum flowering. It’s best to use a low-nitrogen dry fertilizer such as 5-10-5, 5-10-10, or 5-20-20. It should be watered into the soil immediately.
A soluble fertilizer is also desirable. You can use a 15-30-15 or 20-20-20 fertilizer. In all cases with fertilizer, follow the instructions on the label.
Just as in pinching, there should be no further fertilization after the buds begin to form.
Keep the plants moist but not over watered. Water when the soil starts to become dry. The soil should then be soaked to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
Winterizing chrysanthemum plants
Chrysanthemums have a shallow root system. So they are greatly affected by severe cold and by the frequent freezing and thawing of the soil around them. Adding 3-6 inches of mulch to each plant is probably the best way to winterize and protect the plant.
I have always had the good fortune of my plants making it through the winter and putting out strong shoots in the spring. I have always cut back the plant more than half way in the late fall.
But this is no longer recommended. Research has shown that it is best to cut off the dead flowers and a small portion of the stem in the fall. It has been shown that the plants have a better chance of making it through the winter if the old foliage remains standing.
As I said before, mulching in the late fall is important for the plant to survive the winter.
How to Grow Beautiful Chrysanthemum Plants (Part 2)
October 11th, 2010
Growing chrysanthemums for your backyard landscape is one of the great flower garden ideas. If you have not read Part 1 on this topic, I suggest you do so before reading this post. You can do this by clicking on “home” and then clicking under “most recent posts” on the left side of the page.
How to grow chrysanthemum plants from seed
Seeds can be planted directly in your backyard garden. I suggest that you plant them at least 2 months before hot weather or the first frost. After they have formed shoots, thin them so that they can be easily managed.
You can start seeds indoors over the winter. Seeds should germinate in one to three weeks. Maintain a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees during the germination period. They can be transplanted in about three months of sowing. Make sure there is no longer any danger of a killing frost.
Chrysanthemum plants do best in a full sun environment – generally 5-7 hours per day. Morning sun is preferable. The chrysanthemum blooming cycle depends on shorter days and longer nights. So it’s very important to not plant them near streetlights or other light sources.
The foliage is susceptible to mildew. So each plant needs good air circulation. I suggest that you space the chrysanthemum plants 18 to 24 inches apart. For those plants that are more vigorous and wide spreading, plant them further apart – about 30 to 36 inches.
Chrysanthemums can be planted in different types of soil. For best results in planting chrysanthemums, they do best in a loamy soil with a PH of about 6.5. You should add 2-4 inches of compost, peat moss, or manure and work it into 8-12 inches of soil. I like to add bone meal to the mixture. This is a great source of phosphorus for the plant.
Planting chrysanthemums in a moist but well-drained soil will get optimum results.
Dig a hole about twice the size of the container or root ball – a larger hole is actually best. The plant should be planted at the same depth that it was in the container. Fill the hole with the rich soil mixture.
Water each plant at its base. Make sure that there is no pool of water standing at the base of the plant.
In my next post, I will give you more flower garden ideas on how to grow chrysanthemum plants.
Make Your Backyard Landscape Your Weekend Retreat (Part 2)
October 7th, 2010
Yesterday we talked about why we might want to turn your backyard landscape into a weekend retreat. We talked about the need for planning and research in coming up with some great backyard landscaping ideas.
Today we discuss steps to follow to develop your backyard landscape plan.
Here are some important steps to follow:
Choose your trees
Tree landscaping is a critical piece of your backyard landscape. Trees should be planted in the fall – several weeks before real cold weather arrives.
If your backyard has enough space, add one or more large shade trees. Many of these trees produce beautiful foliage in the fall in addition to shade during the hot months of the summer. Of course, you must be willing to do a lot of raking of leaves in the fall.
Flowering ornamental trees make a great addition. Many of these trees have beautiful flowers in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. Do your research. Some of these flowering ornamental trees need partial sun rather than full sun.
Choose garden shrubs
Garden shrubs can be planted in the fall when you plant your trees. Or they can be planted in the early spring after any danger of a heavy freeze. They must establish root growth before hot summer days arrive.
If you are not sure what garden shrubs to plant and where to plant them, you may want to wait a year. Put in a flowerbed or two. See how your backyard looks before making an official decision on shrubs.
Decide what annual and perennial flowers to plant
If you are like me, I like to have flowers growing throughout the entire growing season. Perennials are great flowers, but they only bloom for a short period of time. For example, I love chrysanthemums in the fall. But for the spring and summer, they are just an ordinary non-blooming plant.
Come up with some good flower garden ideas. Determine where you want your flower bed(s). Will your garden get full sun, partial sun, or full shade? This will tell you what variety of flower to plant. Take a look at garden centers, nursery catalogs, and magazines. Journal the types of flowers you like.
Do a lot of planning and research. Determine those flowers that do best in your geographical location. Your garden center or nursery catalog can help you.
Make Your Backyard Landscape Your Weekend Retreat (Part 1)
October 6th, 2010
In order to have a beautiful backyard landscape, there are two very important concepts you must keep in mind. These two concepts are research and planning.
I don’t know your thoughts on landscaping your backyard. You may have no interest. In this case, this blog is not for you.
On the other hand you may want a nicely designed backyard landscape. You must first determine the purpose for your backyard.
You can put together a fairly simple design. This blog can still be of service to you by helping you know what, how, when, and where to plant.
Or you may be like me. I want to have a nice backyard landscape. I’m not talking about anything elaborate. Just something fairly simple.
I like to travel. I like to enjoy pretty scenery. I like to go places where I can just relax and enjoy the setting.
But I can sometimes save a lot of money by relaxing in my own backyard and enjoying my backyard landscape as my weekend retreat.
The first step in creating some great backyard landscaping ideas is to put together a preliminary design in writing. Make it an enjoyable experience. Look at the present condition of your backyard. Write down the things you like and those that you don’t like.
Determine whether you can build upon the plants and garden areas that presently exist. For example, you may have some large shade trees. Your only choice in your landscaping plan is to either use them or cut them down. If at all possible, use them.
Or you may want a tree surgeon come in and trim them up a bit.
Or the trees can be an important part of your design.
Putting your landscape design on paper is not necessarily a one-day process. Take your time. Plan on taking a few days, maybe even a few weeks to come up with a design. Just visualize what you want your backyard to look like. You will probably want to come up with several plans.
Look around the neighborhood or city. See what you like. Keep a journal and make notes. Look at landscaping magazines. Make a few visits to your local garden center or nursery. Look online. Write down the names of landscaping trees, garden shrubs, annual flowers, and perennial flowers you like.
Fall and winter are great seasons for coming up with good backyard landscaping ideas. As you can see, your landscaping project requires both planning and research.
In my next post, I will point out some important steps in developing your backyard landscape plan.
How to Grow Beautiful Chrysanthemum Plants (Part 1)
September 22nd, 2010
Growing chrysanthemums happen to be one of the best flower garden ideas for your backyard landscape.
They are reaching their peak blooming stage when most other annuals and perennials are well beyond flowering. They come in a wide range of colors and forms. You can grow chrysanthemums with moderate maintenance and in different conditions.
For these reasons gardeners are very interested in learning how to grow chrysanthemums.
There are two major categories of chrysanthemums – garden mums and show mums. Show mums are less hardy than their counterpart. The garden mum is by far the most popular for most gardeners.
There are many types of chrysanthemum plants. They vary in type and size of bloom, bloom time, color, height, and spread. The most popular colors are yellow, white, red, bronze, pink, and purple.
Types include singles, anemones, decoratives, cushions, pompons, spiders, and spoons. I won’t go into the details of each type. Your best bet is to view them in a nursery catalog or see them in person at your local garden center. It’s really a matter of personal taste. The anemone, single, decorative, and cushion are probably the most popular varieties.
Chrysanthemums can be planted in either the spring or fall.
Spring plantings allow the roots to be better established and are more likely to survive a cold winter. They can be planted after any danger of a freeze in March through May depending on your climate.
If you buy a blooming chrysanthemum in the spring from a garden center, it has been forced to bloom. Depending on the weather, the flowers will probably not last long. After blooming, prune back about 1/3 of the stem. The plants should bloom again in the fall.
In warmer climates where winters are mild, cuttings can be planted in the fall. This avoids the heat of the summer.
For fall plantings, they should be planted at least 6 weeks prior to a killing frost so the roots can become more established.
Chrysanthemum plants are available at garden centers and nurseries. They come in container sizes up to one gallon. When purchasing plants, choose those that have healthy foliage and stems branching out from a base. They should be compact in form.
Your First Steps in Choosing a Backyard Landscape (Part 2)
September 13th, 2010
In my last post on Backyard Landscaping Ideas, I discussed some general considerations in designing your backyard.
Your deck or patio is a major element of your backyard landscape.
In this post, I recommend some important things to consider in building your deck or patio.
If you have a high deck, you may want to consider a two-tier deck. The high deck can have 2-4 steps down to a lower deck. There will then be 2-4 steps down to the ground.
Or you may want steps leading from the high deck down to a landing area. Then have steps going down to the ground from a different direction than the original steps.
Horizontal and vertical deck railings make your deck more interesting. Seating around the outside of the deck can also be attractive and practical.
Take a look at different deck designs and choose the one you like and is within your budget. Any deck that is more than just a square or rectangle will have a more interesting appearance.
There are many types of materials you can use to construct a deck or patio. A basic material used for decks is pine. Concrete is used for patios.
Keep in mind that the structure should complement the theme of your house. It should also blend naturally with your backyard landscape.
It should be a structure that is easy to maintain year after year. A deck must be painted or sealed every couple of years. A patio must be cleaned on a regular basis. You must be willing and able to perform this maintenance.
The cost of your deck or patio is a major consideration.
Remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. A custom-designed deck or patio can be expensive. If you can’t afford to put together the exact appearance you want, then do something fairly basic. But keep it relatively flexible so you can add to it later.
Price out various materials that will give you the appearance you desire. Look for items that are selling at discounted prices.
If you have your deck or patio done by a professional, obtain quotes from several different vendors. Feel comfortable with the company you choose. Make sure they are aware of what you are looking for.
Design of your deck or patio
As I said in the previous post on Backyard Landscaping Ideas, your deck or patio should provide a seamless bridge between your house and backyard. It should add to the appearance and value of your house.
Is the construction something you can do or do you need to hire a specialist? The specialist will probably give you a recommendation or two on designs for you. But you must be happy with the design you choose. The design you choose will be with you for years to come.
Container Gardening Ideas – Add Beauty to Your Backyard Landscape
September 13th, 2010
Many gardeners have discovered that implementing container gardening ideas is a great way to add beauty to your backyard landscape.
I frequently walk by a neighbor’s house where he makes good use of container gardening throughout his yard. He has shown me his backyard and he uses the same concept there.
His yard is not overdone. Instead he places only a few containers in appropriate spots. It really adds to the beauty of the yard.
In fact, his yard has been named “yard of the month” by our neighborhood association. I feel that his container gardening ideas are the reason for his award.
It’s critical that you choose the right container for your flowers and plants.
1. Large pots are favored over a bunch of small containers. Your space may look cluttered if it’s filled with several small pots.
Analyze the location where you intend to place your plants. Determine the type of plants you will use. Make sure they each require the same growing conditions as discussed in Container Gardening Ideas.
Then determine the color and shape of pot you need. You can be flexible in the plants you place in each pot. You can move the pots around to give you even more flexiblilty.
2. Another consideration is the type of flower you are planting. Some plants have roots that prefer to be close-knit. In this situation, a small container is needed.
Other plants have roots that prefer to spread out. Here, a larger container is needed.
In other cases, 2-3 plants are beneficial. The texture of the foliage and the color of the blooms need to complement each other. I prefer this method to present a beautiful display.
3. Don’t use less than an 8-inch container. If you do, your plant will dry out too quickly.
4. Invest in high quality containers. You can buy decorative, lightweight containers made out of plastic and fiberglass. Resin planters also work well. In this way, your containers can look more expensive than they really are.
5. No matter what size container you use, make sure you water your plants frequently. Plants in containers dry out more quickly than if they are in the ground.
If done properly, container gardening is a great asset to your backyard landscape.