Walking barefoot on a soft, green lawn is one of life's simple pleasures and there's nothing like a well maintained lawn to set off the natural beauty of the garden as a whole, providing a wonderful foil to flowers and foliage .Not only can garden landscaping help you beautify your home, but it can also provide a source of satisfying exercise in the fresh air ( who needs an expensive gym membership when you've got a garden!) . Don't despair if your grass appears beyond repair. Now's the time to start again and make a new lawn in plenty of time for the summer.
1. To create a flat, weed-free, lush green carpet give your lawn a bit of care and attention now. Improve drainage by spiking it, applying a weed & feed, and give it a good raking to get rid of all the dead leaves that have built up during the winter months .
2.Mowing is the key to having a wonderful-looking lawn but before you shudder at the thought of extra work just think about how fit you could be with a little light exercise. And remember that gardening, especially lawn mowing, is one of the best stress-busting hobbies you can do. It helps reduces the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. With minimal effort, you can transform the tattiest patch of grass into a glorious green carpet.
3. Just like lawns , hedges can make or break a garden.So before you get planting decide what's suitable for your needs, whether you're looking for privacy or just plain enjoyment. A hedge is a much better boundary divider than a wall or fence and It will attract birds to its thick bushes and provide a great backdrop for plants and blooms.
3. From the delicate scent of lily-of-the-valley and lavender to the heady aroma of wisteria and the soothing smell of jasmine - remember to plant the sweetest smelling varieties near windows and doors. Their magnificent perfume will waft into bedrooms and kitchens and make your garden really come alive. Since a focal point tends to define the garden, a single feature plant (or what landscape designers call a specimen plant) needs to be carefully selected. Two trees that lend themselves well to such a location are the romantic weeping cherry and the classical, sentinel-like gingko tree.
4. For an added dash of drama, add garden to non-garden items, such a water feature, lamp post or wind chime. Surround these items with flowers planted to take advantage of the earliest to the latest flowerings. You could have white snowdrops, purple and gold crocus, blue hyacinths, roses and various colored tulips.
5. Simple, but effective weed control can be achieved on your lawn by mowing often during spring. This will prevent dandelions spreading by eliminating the yellow blossoms and preventing seed formation. I try to avoid chemical weedkillers, but during this season there is not enough available time to do it all by hand. For difficult to control weeds such as dandelions, nettles and bindweed you need to kill the leaves and the roots, so a systemic herbicide containing glyphosate is the solution. Mow high during late spring and early summer. This will allow grass blades to shade the ground, and will help prevent weeds from sprouting.
6. Plan your landscape around different blooming times. Different plants flower during different seasons. If all of the plants in your garden are at their most attractive all at the same time, then your yard will look beautiful for a few weeks each year, but quite dull the rest of the year. One way to help avoid this is to choose attractive bushes and shrubs that look good green, but also have some sort flower.
When it comes down to those long, cold, late February and March days nothing beats a few pots of fragrant herbs to perk up our senses and remind us that winter will end, and we can muddle through quite happily until it does.
Having fresh herbs on hand is a great way to add a splash of nature's beauty to your home and add some lush flavours to your culinary repertoire.Parsley sprigs make an elegant decoration for a roast, and they'll add flavor to a stew made from leftovers. Dishes, such as Eggs Benidict, look and taste better with a sprinkling of chopped chives. Fresh dill adds a delicate flavor to warming soups. And the good news is that you can harvest all of these from your kitchen windowsill.
With a sunny windowsill and the right choice of plants, you can create your own mini herb garden indoors and have a constant supply of fresh leaves to delicious flavor your food. Thyme,basil, oregano, lemongrass, chives and sage and salad burnet are for year-round snipping and will greatly enhance all your dishes. Windowsills are frosty, and light levels are low this time of year, so it's easier to buy already-growing herbs from local garden centers and nurseries than try to start them from seed.
Here are some tips for herb gardening indoors that's easy to follow and will produce a bountiful year-long harvest. Get your herb plants from a good garden center (supermarket plants tend to be less robust). You will need some garden equipment like a small digging fork, organic fertilizer and some attractive gardening containers. You probably already have most of these garden supplies in your garden shed.
Soil is the most important aspect of growing herbs indoors. Use only top grade potting soil with an organic fertilizer mixed in. I generally buy pre-mixed potting soil from local garden centers or nurseries. I find that these are lighter to carry, sterilized to stop weed seeds from germinating, and contain generous amounts of peat moss that helps loosen the soil so that it will not compact in pots .
When you go to transplant the herb, go one inch up in the size of the gardening container. If the plant is in a two inch pot, go to a three inch gardening container. Leave the roots alone and be gentle - you don't want to bruise the stem. Don't plant oreganos, mints, lemon balm or bee balm with other plants because they will overgrow everything. You may want to always plant those herbs in containers since they tend to “take over” the garden.
Here are some examples of which herbs to plant together:
* For an Italian touch try Sweet basil, Italian parsley, Oregano, Marjoram and Thyme.
* For a lovely scented container use Lavender, Rose scented geranium, Lemon balm, Lemon thyme, and Pineapple sage.
* For tasty salads try Garlic chives, Rocket, Salad burnet, Parsley, Celery.
* And to say “We love French Cooking!” use Tarragon, Chervil, Parsley, Chives and Sage
Allow time for your herbs to grow used to their new conditions. Once you see growth you can start using you herbs. Snip and use your herbs often to encourage them to grow full and bushy.While most herbs don't require a large amount of space, they do require a large amount of light, whether it is from the sun or from artificial grow lights - and all herbs must get 4 to 6 hours of sunlight a day on your window sill.
Light can be a big stumbling block,especially during these dull winter days, and if southern exposures aren't available, a two-bulb fluorescent fixture will do a good job. When it comes to watering, don’t let the herbs dry out but don’t drown them with affection either either. Herbs do not like to sit in wet, soggy compost. A simple water meter from your local garden center will help with this vital step in growing your herbs. Always use room temperature water so as not to shock the herb's roots.
If you follow all of these easy steps you will have a healthy herb garden all winter on your kitchen
Interest in organic products and organic gardening has soared in popularity over the last decade. Here in Wicklow, and around the country there are numerous farmers markets popping up every weekend, and even the large multiples, such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer now stock a wide variety of organic products.Obviously, most consumers walk right by a supermarket's organic-produce section. And as you might suspect, one of the main drawbacks is price. Many consumers just don't think organic produce is worth the estimated 25 percent to 100 percent increase in cost over conventionally grown fruit and veg.
Why do organic products have to be so expensive? Well, they don't have to be if you grow your own. Not only can you grow a delicious-tasting tomato - seemingly impossible to buy in stores - you can also help protect the environment by doing so. It's possible through organic gardening, which is becoming an important part of the green movement which focuses on recycling and a reliance on environment-friendly processes and products. The good news is that growing your own organic garden is easy...once you know how.
First off, the most important thing to remember is that gardening starts with the soil. Ideal soil is deep, loose, and fertile, and contains plenty of organic matter, which in turn holds water, nutrients, and abundant beneficial life. Many organic gardeners observe that as soil health improves, plant disease problems decline.It's fairly easy to make your own compost from organic matter such as , dead flowers, vegetable scraps, grass clippings, manure or leaves. In my opinion, the perfect compost has a dark color, sweet smell, and is filled with earthworms. Pick a plant-friendly site. That means a location in full sun and sheltered from harsh winds, which stunt plants.
The main problem that you will encounter is pests and insects on your plants - but that does not mean you need to reach for any kind of chemical solution . The best way to protect your vegetables and fruit against insects is to take preventative measures. Start off by making sure that plants are healthy and not too wet or dry because insects usually attack unhealthy plants but - if they are in good shape - they can often outgrow minor insect damage. A wide selection of plant types is a good idea to keep pests of a particular plant type from taking out the entire crop.
In my experience the best way to protect against pests is to make your garden enticing to predators, such as ladybids, birds and frogs. You can do this by keeping a water source nearby or by growing plants that attract insects who feed on nectar. Other tools are sticky traps, barriers, and plant collars. There are some everyday items that prevent against insects too, like insecticidal soaps, garlic, and hot pepper.
Another strategy is to choose disease resistant plants and plant them in their prime conditions. Many diseases will spread because of too much moisture and bad air circulation, so the site of your garden and the way it is watered can help fight diseases.
Weeds can be a headache for all organic gardeners. Organic mulch can act as a weed barrier, but for even better protection place a layer of newspaper or cardboard under the mulch. Corn meal gluten will help prevent weeds if spread early in the season before planting, as does solarization. There’s also the tough but worthwhile method of hoeing and hand pulling that always works. Your best bet in weed prevention is consistant effort. Mulch well and pull and hoe what you can; after a few seasons you can beat the weeds for good.
Organic gardening is an wonderful way to ensure that your home-grown fruit and veg will be free and clear of all pesticides and, if taken care of properly, will be as healthy as possible. Organic gardening may take a little more effort and attention than normal gardening, but after gardeners get the hang of it and figure out all the quirks of their garden, it is definitely worth the extra effort.