Your 2011 Garden Plans

So the calendar year is coming to its end and the world of gardening is for the most part in its winter slumber. What a better time than now to think about your garden plans for 2011? Having a well defined garden plan doesn’t require extensive effort, nor does it require a lot of time. Planning a good garden just takes a little thought. Let’s take a look at some things you can incorporate into your garden plans in 2011.

This year, perhaps it is time to try a garden structure, like a new deck or a gazebo. Placing a garden structure in your landscape can be a beautifully painful experience without the proper plans. Should you decide that this is the year to build something in your garden area, it is wise to have well developed construction plans for any gardening structures you want to build. Having a detailed plan of all the materials you will need, as well as how the materials fit together, is essential for ensuring that your gazebo, deck or fencing will go up with few problems.

Looking at the garden, perhaps this is your year for a garden fountain or a garden shed, in which case careful planning and landscaping will need to be undertaken. Making sure that all your desired landscaping additions fit properly into your yard is a crucial step in any of your 2011 garden plans, as you may have to adjust the desired size of the garden additions or the size of the garden itself. Should major landscaping need to be done, remember to take advantage of local landscapers to help you get the work done properly.

In terms of styles that you can incorporate in your garden this year, keep in mind that color is always a plus in the garden, as are garden structures like ponds, fountains and statues. Be creative and see which outdoor accessories are best for your space, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Happy New Year!

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Obviously, it is far too soon to think about moving houseplants outside if you are living anywhere where it is currently snowing. However, it is never too early to make sure you are prepared. Let’s take a look at how you can prepare your favorite garden plants and plants that you have brought indoors for the season for their return to the great outdoors.

As you may know, it is ok to move your houseplants outside when the temperature is over 50F, however let’s make sure that you aren’t moving the plants on simply a warm day. In order for your plants to have the highest chances of survival once they have been moved outside, you want to make sure the weather is trending in the warm direction.

You’ll want to hold back on watering your plants for a few days leading up to their big move outdoors. This makes them easier to carry. Also, make sure that when moving large plants, you have some kind of dolly to help you transport the plants outside safely. You also want to make sure that in the days leading up to the move, you are placing your plants in a partially sunny area so that they may adjust to the increased amount of sunlight they are going to be exposed to.

Hope these tips help!

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As fall approaches in many parts of the world, gardeners are now asking themselves how they can get at least a few more months of produce out of their garden. You may find that some of the solutions are even easier than you expected.

  1. Prevent frost from damaging plants with individual cloches.Covering your plants as the weather turns cooler will certainly help them produce longer. Some people like to keep it simple and just cover their plants with milk cartons or soda bottles with the bottoms cut out. You can also use upside-down pots, cardboard boxes, buckets or just about anything else that will fit over your plants. Others take a more sophisticated route and purchase water-filled cloches that add an extra layer of protection as the sun warms up the water around the plant. The water-filled cloches are generally a lot less likely to fly away during a storm, but a rock on top of a bucket or a few inches of soil around the edge to anchor it in place often help.
  2. Build tunnels that cover whole rows or beds.If you’d like to just have a few cloches to deal with in your garden, explore the possibilities that wire hoops or PVC pipes offer. Simple tunnels can be constructed by draping plastic sheeting over your framework and will keep plants frost-free and just a bit warmer. Do remember to open them up on the warmest of days, though, and don’t forget to keep an eye on them on windy days. Burying the plastic along the sides of your cloche will help them from turning into kites or landing in your neighbor’s garden.
  3. Build cold-frames or hot beds.A small, simple structure over your garden beds can capture a lot of heat and allow you to grow long into the fall and winter. Short plants like lettuce, herbs, carrots and bushy beans will do fantastic in cold-frames. Just picture a mini-greenhouse sitting only 1-2 feet high. If you want to get really advanced, look into hot beds which have a heat source underneath the ground.
  4. Take advantage of stored heat in sun-soaked walls of your home, garage or other building.Walls gather a lot of heat during the day and even on a cold winter day, you could have a temperature difference of 10-15 degrees F. Make use of this free solar energy (especially with south-facing structures) by building a simple lean-to greenhouse or adding trellises for climbing plants
  5. Build a greenhouse for full wind and frost protection.A greenhouse is certainly one of the best ways to extend your growing season…but also one of the most expensive due to its considerably larger size. But if you can find a way to keep and maintain heat in it (even with solar heating methods), you can often even maintain tropical temperatures in some of the coldest of climates. A greenhouse is also a great place to start seedlings for the following year.
  6. Store heat in painted milk-jugs and other containers.You’ve likely noticed that a black car really heats up on a summer day. The same principle can be applied in your garden beds just by tracking down old. Empty plastic bottles or barrels can quickly be painted black to hold in more heat. You can set them into your cold-frames, greenhouses or tunnels to help capture more heat during the day and keep plants warmer at night.

These were just a few of the many ways that you can extend your growing season into the fall and get a jump start into spring. If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to learn more about vegetable gardening, stay tuned for more vegetable gardening tips over the coming weeks. Or visit Tiffany Muehlbauer’s primary blog, No Ordinary Homestead, where she not only discusses more about gardening, but also about cooking, home renovation, parenting and much more about her expat life in Germany.

As the fall is drawing closer, many of you will be ready to do some tree pruning in preparation for the winter months. For some this task is a rewarding one, for others it is more of a pain than it is a pleasure. This article will serve as a simple tree pruning guide for those who perhaps have never done it before, or for those who are unsure if they are doing it properly.

Before we get to far, let’s remind those who are unaware, why we prune trees in the first place. Basically, tree pruning is undertaken to either thin out a tree’s crown branches, which facilitates growth and also circulates air through the tree. Tree pruning is also undertaken in order to remove damaged or diseased branches, as well as for cosmetic purposes.

A fundamental principle of pruning is that you want to protect the trunk of the tree and the stems from which the branches grow, I’m sure a mutilated tree wasn’t part of your garden plans. Further, it is important to make sure you are always pruning on the branch side of the stem collar. For those who are unaware, the stem collar is located at the base of the branch where that branch connects to either a larger branch or the trunk of the tree.

Following the process outlined below produces optimal results:

  1. Starting on the underside of the branch you are pruning, make a small wedge-shaped cut on the branch. This cut needs to be deep enough to ensure that the branch comes off, but not so deep that it harms the stem collar.
  2. Move further down the branch and make a cut starting from the top that goes through the branch. You will be left with nothing more than a stub.
  3. Begin reducing the size of the stub by cutting the remainder of the branch off. the wedge you made in step one will weaken the stub and ensure it breaks off.

Keep in mind that dead branches can be pruned at any time, however the best time to prune deciduous trees is when their leaves fall.

There you have it, an essential tree pruning guide. Happy pruning!

As you most likely already now LiveToGarden.com is putting on a contest and YOU have the chance to get your gardening or landscaping focused blog some serious attention!

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Let’s keep the neighbor’s eyes away from you while you sunbathe around the clock for the last few weeks of summer. After all there are some things we should keep to ourselves. Let’s take a look at specific plants we can use to keep our yards a secluded place for us to enjoy.

If you have a small garden or a backyard which is unfenced, you are lacking privacy. While fencing itself can be expensive, using privacy plants such as subbery with fast growing foiliage can give you the same type of privacy for a fraction of the cost. These plants aren’t completely isolating, as they do allow the sunlight to come through, but they provide enough coverage to allow you to enjoy your space in peace.

Bamboo plants are excellent for use as a natural fence and they becoming more popular amongst gardeners. Further, building a waist level rock wall and then topping that wall with plants and other shrubbery can provide a functionally beautiful landscaping piece. Whichever plants you do choose, be sure to stick to perennials and evergreens to limit the amount of replanting you need to do on a yearly basis.

The simplest privacy plants to use are climbers like honeysuckle, ivy or sweet pea. All you have to do is build a trellis and let the plants do the climbing. Even better, you may have an existing frost fence which you can leverage by allowing the plants to climb it. Always check with your neighbors when you have a shared fence to make sure that they are ok with what you are doing.

If a shrubbery border is what you are planting, then juniper bushes will give off a lovely aroma while providing you with the screening you desire. While these plants will attract wildlife, you can buy varieties with thorns or prickly leaves to stop intruders from coming into your yard. Nothing like a good prickling!

As you can see there are options available to ensure you can achieve backyard privacy while also presenting a natural aesthetic to your neighbors. Factor in the lower cost compared to fencing, and privacy plants are definitely a good choice for your next landscape design.

On an increasing basis, gardening is becoming an outlet for stress and an activity that fosters relaxation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the building and maintaining of a zen garden. We are going to examine how a zen garden is planned and built, for the purpose of helping you find enlightenment through this form of gardening.

Zen gardens will have a focus on nature. It is a longstanding Buddhist belief that the experience of nature can help one find truth in their lives. As such, Zen gardens are very simplistic, and draw most of their beauty from the nature already present. Few western gardening ideas will be found in these gardens. Also present in these gardens, are a single path leading through the entire garden. This path shows the observer the way through the garden, encouraging them to take in the work of the gardener.

In the most traditional sense, a Zen Garden is a dry garden, using sand, crushed gravel or stone. This garden is lined with stone or wood, and large rocks are placed within the garden in no preset pattern. The gardener is then free to take a rake and outline miscellaneous patterns around the rocks, finding their own meaning in the designs. You can even include some statuary in the garden, however nothing abrasive should be used.

As mentioned, one of the focal garden ideas used in a zen garden is to allow nature to rule the layout of the plants and materials in the garden. As such, you will find little symmetry in these gardens, contrary to a conventional formal garden.

There are some additional ideas you can include in the Zen Garden. One of these ideas is a water feature, however it is important to ensure that the water is as pure as possible, leaving no puddles or muddy banks. Bridges are another idea which can be added to the Zen Garden’s path in order to take viewers to other areas of the garden.

It is important to remember that a Zen Garden also uses an under, middle and a top story to showcase different plants, similar to a regular garden.