Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for March 12, 2013

City staff to provide feasibility studies for donated building use

CRESTVIEW — The City Council, after much discussion, is no closer to determining a use for a practically new, never-used industrial building offered to the city. However, city leaders said at a Monday work session that they would learn more about the possibilities following upcoming feasibility studies.

After hearing multiple suggestions, council members agreed that simply plucking the 3,552-square-foot warehouse off donor Gulf Power’s Cadle Drive site and depositing it on a piece of city-owned land is not that easy.

Councilwoman Robyn Helt again suggested using the building as a recreational facility at Countryview Park.

Library Director Jean Lewis suggested using a portion of it as a branch library at the Countryview Park site, citing proximity to Antioch Elementary School as an advantage.

Police Chief Tony Taylor hoped to use at least half the building for processing impounded vehicles.

Council President Ben Iannucci III continued to push for the building’s placement on city-owned land behind the Brookmeade Public Safety building for use as a recycling center.

“The benefit of having it is it is revenue generating,” Iannucci said. Grants are available for finishing off the building, including constructing the foundation slab and parking, he said, while other suggested uses would cost the city operational money.

Public Works and City Planning staffers said the city would face building code requirements that could include required parking spaces, drainage retention ponds and landscaping. Additionally, changing the building’s occupancy use changes its fire classification rating — potentially costing more in insurance, Fire Chief Joe Traylor said.

Any uses for the building, including if it is divided in two halves, would have to go through the Technical Review Committee and the Local Planning Agency to meet the zoning code, city officials said.

“We have to scrutinize ourselves as tightly as we scrutinize anyone else,” city planner Eric Davis said.

Councilman Thomas Gordon recommended directing department heads to investigate the various ideas suggested during the workshop and perform a feasibility study of each.

Any proposals must fall within the existing city budget, Iannucci said.

Assistant Public Works Director Carlos Jones — substituting for Director Wayne Steele, who was ill — said his department would research options and report to the council later.

Meanwhile, he said, the city has received an extension to the previous deadline of removing the building from the utility’s site by March’s end.

Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.

Article source: http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/news/government/city-staff-to-provide-feasibility-studies-for-donated-building-use-1.109631

Home and Garden show set for this weekend

Upwards of 10 thousand people are expected to make their way to Evergreen Park for this weekend’s GP Home and Garden Show.

The 20th annual show begins on Friday, and is presented by Dirham Homes and Kevin Vobeyda of ReMax. 

He says with 228 exhibitors present, there will be plenty of ideas for homeowners looking to do some spring improvement projects.

“Maybe they want to do some renovating, maybe they want to put some new flooring in, maybe they want to jazz up the countertops or cabinets.  There are a lot of those types of home improvement ideas available.”

Vobeyda adds there will also be ideas for landscaping or irrigation projects. 

He adds while the parents are checking out the displays, their kids can head over to the McDonalds Kids Zone for face painting, bouncy castles, and other activities.

Article source: http://hqgrandeprairie.com/news/local/news/v/Local/151678/Home-and-Garden-show-set-for-this-weekend

Hardscapes in your yard: The basics plus hundreds of ideas to inspire


culvert.swing.JPG

View full size

The display garden by Red Bird Restorative Gardens and Living Color Landscape at the Yard, Garden Patio show included several clever ideas, including a swing made out of section of culvert.



 

Looking for ideas for your home landscaping? Most folks start with hardscapes, the bones of any garden plan.  Paths, patios, walkways, decks, seating areas, water features — there are a multitude of structures to consider. Some tips for using them most effectively include thinking of how you use your garden, the types of materials already on your home and good traffic patterns.

The recent home and garden shows offered lots of inspiration; here are some more to inspire plans for your yard:

Houzz (one of our favorite sites) has great ideas, including for patio landscaping and gorgeous back yards. They also have a great one on hedges (not a hardscape but hard not to get sidetracked).

Pinterest has many pages of hardscape ideas, including 70 titled Hardscapes. One on Hardscapes and Paths has some fabulous options. On Houses Hardcapes be sure and check out the gorgeous Backyard river. (It looks like it’s a resort, condo or apartment backyard.) This Hardscapes page has a clever planter made out of recycled bottles and a lovely natural swimming pool.
 
North Coast Gardening, in a post about trends predicted for 2013, says water features will be replacing lawns. Neither cheap nor low-maintenance but definitely upping the wow factor over grass.
 
— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff

If you want to automatically receive a free daily homes and gardens tip, sign up at OregonLive.com’s newsletter subscription site.

Article source: http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2013/03/hardscapes_in_your_yard_the_ba.html

The garden of your love

In our valley most of us enjoy the luxury of having land around our houses. So why not to beautify your surroundings and enjoy the greatest excitement of owing a garden. Whenever you find some difficulty in establishing or maintaining your garden, don’t hesitate to consult the landscape experts, as their consultation is needed to do landscaping successfully on a big scale.
Sowing seeds and plants are beginnings, ideas and possibilities. Some of them at least will bear fruit. Growing and taking care of a garden is an essential expression of what makes us human the capacity to nurture, as a plant is demanding but it never comes to you, you have to go to it. It may be crying for water or food or it may be feeling too hot or cold. Therefore, no gardening can be done sitting in an easy chair, reading library books on gardening, you have to come out and be with the plants.
The art and craft of gardening is based on very sound rules. The perfect garden does not just happen but is built up by careful observation of certain rules. In our valley most people give little time and thought to the design of the garden as compared to the time, amount and thought spent on the designing and furnishing of the house. The design of garden is no less important than the house. Everything from lawn making to selection of plants needs to be planned in detail.
Lawn making: A lawn is an inseparable part and heart of a good home garden. It provides a natural setting for the growing of flowers and shrubs like a canvas for painting a picture. An early morning walk on dew covered lawn carpet refreshes you. That is the joy which no million dollar carpet of the world can offer. But there is perhaps no branch of the gardening so simple and yet so neglected in our valley as the proper construction and maintenance of the grass lawns. It is so common to see otherwise really good gardens spoiled by weedy, patchy, irregular lawn growth, when adherence to a few simple rules in planting an maintenance would ensure a pleasant and good, well- covered weed free lawn surface.
Choose a place where you get sunlight throughout the day. If not at least six hours sunlight is essential. Also this place should not get waterlogged. Hoe the ground thoroughly into a depth of half a meter. Now de-weed and filter it from foreign objects. Then ground the clay in fine particles. Also check the level of the ground. For small lawn it is better to keep the land a bit higher from the adjacent places. In case of big lawn make sure that the centre part is highest and then level it as such that it goes slowly downward towards the periphery. Now your lawn is ready for seeding or planting, depending upon the method you choose. Planting is the easier one of the both methods. Get weed free grass chunks and plant it on. If you go for seeding, mix the seed with fine sandy loam or sand and spread it evenly. Keep the soil moist until the grass appears.

Mowing:
Cut lawns when it reaches a height of 4 to 5 cms. In winter cut it as low as possible. Mowing once in a week is good for your lawn. When mowing, never mow twice in same direction, try lengthwise and sideways alternatively. Also never mow, when the soil is wet.

Fertilizing:
After monsoon rake the lawn lightly and spread a half inch layer of soil mixture containing leaf mould and finely grounded soil one part each. For clayey soil, sand in equal quantity should be added to the mixture. Give the lawn a dose of liquid fertilizer bi-weekly. Prepare the liquid fertilizer by mixing 10 ml of urea with 10 litres of water. You can also use ammonium sulphate instead of urea.

Deweeding:
This is the most awesome part of lawn maintenance. If you take care of it thoroughly at the beginning, it will not give you much trouble. Whereas in any existing lawn, any weed has to be removed completely with root. Also spread the grass you get after mowing as mulch. It, not only helps to prevent the spreading of the weed, also act as a nutrients for the lawn.

Bed preparation:
This is no ones favourite garden chore, but theres no way around it. Your chosen site will probably have grass on it or at least weeds. These must be cleared somehow, before you can plant anything. The important point to be borne in mind in digging is that top 20-25cm (8-10inch) soil which is the richest and the best, should remain at the top. After the soil has been prepared, it should be levelled with a wooden beam. If it is desired to make a bed alongside a road, an appreciable margin of lawn should be left between the bed and the road as it will considerable enhance the effect of the flowers. Soil may be enriched by adding organic and inorganic manures.
Choosing plants: This is harder than you might think .If you are starting small, you have to limit yourself to a handful of plants. Start with what colours you like. Rather than basing your dreams on a photograph from a magazine, take a look at what your neighbours are growing successfully. They may even able to give you a division or two.
Take a walk around a couple of nurseries and check the plants available. Then play with combining the plants that strike your eye until you find a combination of 3-5 plants that pleases you. Make sure that all the plants you choose have the same growing requirements (Sun, water, pH…) and that none of them are going to require more care than you can give them. Keep the variety of plants limited. It makes a better composition to have more plants of fewer varieties than to have one of this and one of that.

Planting:
Sometimes you have to plant when you have the time, even if thats high noon on a Sunday. But the ideal time to plant is on a still, overcast day or in the afternoon as this would save the plant from immediate transpiration which takes place in day time. Provide light shade, if possible, to the plant till it is established, to prevent shock due to direct exposure to sunshine. This is more essential during hotter period. The point is stressing your new plants as little as possible.

Garden Maintenance:
Garden care doesn’t have to take up all your spare time. Perhaps the main reason some new gardeners fail is that they don’t pay attention to the garden often enough. You need to know the how, why and when of taking care of your garden, but you also need to stroll through your garden every few days and just look around. That way you will notice if seedlings are parched or the hostas are getting eaten by slugs. The key is to discover problems in time to do something about them – before they get out of control and turn into major chores that take over your weekend. All plants are going to require some maintenance. The idea that perennial plants require less maintenance than annuals is wrong. At the very least, your plants will require 1inch of water a week. If it rains regularly as it happens these days, well for you. If not, dont let your plants get drought stressed. Once a plant is stressed it will never recover fully that growing season. There will also be weeding to do. Weed seeds come from all kinds of sources: wind, birds, soil on shoes etc. Deadheading or removing the spent blossoms from your flowers, will keep them blooming longer and looking fresher. Some taller plants may need to be staked, to keep from flopping. It may happen that one of your choices isnt happy and dies. Move on and replace it with something else.
So make a garden you can enjoy and not the one which becomes burdensome. The work should not be beyond your capacity or the help you are likely to get. As the garden is yours and plant it as you would like it.
(The author is working as Junior Scientist Floriculture, KVK, Kupwara, SKUAST-K)

Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST

Article source: http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2013/Mar/13/the-garden-of-your-love-9.asp

Learn to Prune Your Garden For Health and Beauty

Sometimes there’s just not enough days to go around, but each week we’ll give you an idea of something to do to relax, spend time with family and just take some time for yourself.

Even if spring isn’t quite here yet, you can put yourself in the frame of mind for some relaxing and healthful gardening at an upcoming workshop that will show you how to prune your own private greenery to make it healthy and beautiful.

The staff at Somerset County’s Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills will herald spring with “Pruning Fundamentals,” a workshop that will help the homeowner improve landscaping techniques.

The workshop is scheduled to be presented the county’s rock and foliage garden at 11 Layton Road in Far Hills from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 20.

The staff will demonstrate the basic pruning techniques that are used in the garden. Proper pruning tools will be discussed.

Participants will learn how to maintain the health and beauty of their own home gardens.

Pre-registration required

The fee for the session is $12. Participants are required to pre-register by calling 908-234-2677, ext. 21.

The Leonard J. Buck Garden is considered one of the premier rock gardens in the eastern United States, consisting of a 13-acre alpine and woodland garden situated in a wooded stream valley, according to the Somerset County Park Commission.

The natural setting of the garden contains a series of planted rock outcroppings, planting beds, a fern garden, and glimmering ponds and streams, according to the park commission. Tucked among the rocks are rare and exotic rock garden plants. The wooded trails connecting the outcroppings are lined with wildflowers that have flourished and multiplied through the years.

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found online at the park commission website. 

Article source: http://hillsborough.patch.com/articles/learn-to-prune-your-garden-for-health-and-beauty-before-spring-s-arrival

California artist looking for Twin Cities suburban lawn to transform into …




Quantcast




‘);
}
document.write(‘

  • ‘);
    document.write(‘

  • ‘);
    jQuery(‘.navTab’ + ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt].advertiserID).click(ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt], function(eventObj){
    window.location.href = “http://” + hostEnv + “www.startribune.com/digital-preprints/?dppAID=” + eventObj.data.advertiserID;
    });
    jQuery(‘.navTabWa’ + ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt].advertiserID).click(ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt], function(eventObj){
    window.location.href = “http://” + hostEnv + “www.startribune.com/digital-preprints/?dppAID=” + eventObj.data.advertiserID;
    });
    stribInserts.registerAdControl(‘.navTab’ + ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt].advertiserID, ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt].advertiserID);
    stribInserts.registerAdControl(‘.navTabWa’ + ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt].advertiserID, ad_AdvertiserArray.data[adt].advertiserID);
    }

    ‘);
    }
    dppNavTab.start();
    stribInserts.registerCallBacks({‘onOpen’: dppNavTab.stop, ‘onClose’: dppNavTab.start});
    stribInserts.registerAdvertiserArray(ad_AdvertiserArray);

    Change Location

    Enter Zip Code

    Use this as my default zip.

    <!– eliminate the classifieds buttons cause we will only have the one set now.

      –>





      hide

      Before and After: A home in Baltimore after artist Fritz Haeg created an edible landscape as part of his Edible Estates project.

      Photo:
      Leslie Furlong

      ,

      CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

      Cameraview larger

      “);
      }
      check=false;
      }
      else
      {
      jQuery(“#senderName2”).removeClass(“fc-field-error”);
      jQuery(“#errorName2”).remove();
      check=true;
      }
      if(!yourEmail.match(“[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:.[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+)*@(?:[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])?.)+[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])”))
      {
      jQuery(“#senderMail2”).addClass(“fc-field-error”);
      if(jQuery(“#errorMail2”).length

      Please enter your valid email address.

      “);
      }
      check=false;
      }
      else
      {
      jQuery(“#senderMail2”).removeClass(“fc-field-error”);
      jQuery(“#errorMail2”).remove();
      check=true;
      }
      if(!recipientsEmail.match(“[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:.[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+)*@(?:[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])?.)+[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])”))
      {
      jQuery(“#recipientsEmail2”).addClass(“fc-field-error”);
      if(jQuery(“#errorRMail2”).length

      Please enter recipient valid email address.

      “);
      }
      check=false;
      }
      else
      {
      jQuery(“#recipientsEmail2”).removeClass(“fc-field-error”);
      jQuery(“#errorRMail2”).remove();
      check=true;
      }

      if(check==true)
      {
      jQuery(“.shareLayer”).append(“”);
      jQuery.post(“/mail/”, { “sender_name”: yourName, “sender_email”: yourEmail,”recipient_email”:recipientsEmail,”comment”:comment,”domain”:domain,”path”:path,”contentId”:contentId } ,function(data)
      {
      jQuery(“.shareLayer”).hide(“slow”);
      alert(“your mail has been sent”);

      });
      }
      }

       

      Do you live in suburbia, with a front lawn surrounded by other front lawns?

      You might have just the place artist Fritz Haeg is looking for.

      Haeg, a Twin Cities native who now lives in Los Angeles, is returning to Minnesota to do something radical. He wants to tear up a suburban front lawn and replace it entirely with edible plants.

      “There won’t be a blade of grass,” he said. “It will look like a fusion between a kitchen garden and a wild landscape.”

      The lawn he chooses for this transformation will be prototype garden No. 16 in a continuing worldwide project that Haeg calls “Edible Estates.” The owner of this landscape will receive free plant materials and expenses for the first growing season, but must commit to maintaining the garden and keeping a journal.

      Edible Estates is all about bringing “visible food production” to residential communities, said Haeg, a Benilde-St. Margaret’s graduate who is also a master gardener. He launched the project in 2005 in Salina, Kan., chosen because it was “the geographical center of the United States.” This year, in addition to the garden he’s installing in the Twin Cities, Haeg will be creating edible landscapes in Denmark, Sweden and Israel.

      All of Haeg’s Edible Estate gardens are in neighborhoods where the neighbors have traditional lawns. “That’s the whole point — to take space that isn’t being used, that represents the American dream, and reconsider that,” he said.

      If you’re intrigued, but fear that your neighbors might be concerned if you did away with all turf grass, well, that’s the point, too, according to Haeg. “It has to be in a neighborhood where neighbors will freak out.”

      He’s trying to shake up people’s perceptions about what constitutes an attractive, acceptable front yard. “Healthy local food not being welcome is a crazy system,” he said. The traditional American lawn, in his view, “promotes a landscape dependent on pesticides and chemicals, that requires mowing, polluting and watering, all in service of a space that is quite unwelcoming — a divisive, wasteful space.”

      Edible benefits

      An edible landscape, on the other hand, has many benefits. In addition to producing food for the family, it’s a social space that promotes human connection, he said.

      Homeowners who’ve gotten the Edible Estate treatment in previous years support that view.

      “I have noticed that traffic slows down in front of my house, like I have my own personal speed bump,” said Clarence Ridgley, owner of Edible Estate No. 6 in Baltimore, as quoted in Haeg’s book. “Neighbors I had only waved to from a distance as they passed me in their cars now stop or approach me on the street to talk.”

      Haeg is picky about where he puts his produce. “The two most important things are the people and the site,” he said. The site must be highly visible from the street and conducive to growing food, with ample sun exposure, not much landscaping and relatively pesticide-free.

      It doesn’t have to be a single-family home. In fact, Haeg is particularly interested in finding a duplex or multi-unit complex where several households share a surrounding open lawn.

      Some work required

      As for the people, the household must include at least one person who has some proficiency at gardening and is willing to put in the time to keep the garden thriving. Volunteers will help install the garden, but it must be maintained by the resident. “It will require a great deal of work the first season,” Haeg said.




      • related content

      • Before: A home in Baltimore.

      • Before and after: A house in Lakewood, Calif., where artist Fritz Haeg created an edible landscape.

      • AFTER: Edible landscape in Lakewood, Calif., created by Fritz Haeg as part of Edible Estates.

      • get related content delivered to your inbox

      ‘);
      }
      if(jQuery.inArray(‘2751’, userSubsArray ) == -1) {
      document.write(‘

    • ‘);
      }
      if(jQuery.inArray(‘2701’, userSubsArray ) == -1) {
      document.write(‘

    • ‘);
      }

    • manage my email subscriptions
    • ‘);
      }

      “);
      }
      check=false;
      }
      else
      {
      jQuery(“#senderName3”).removeClass(“fc-field-error”);
      jQuery(“#errorName3”).remove();
      check=true;
      }
      if(!yourEmail.match(“[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:.[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+)*@(?:[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])?.)+[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])”))
      {
      jQuery(“#senderMail3”).addClass(“fc-field-error”);
      if(jQuery(“#errorMail3”).length

      Please enter your valid email address.

      “);
      }
      check=false;
      }
      else
      {
      jQuery(“#senderMail3”).removeClass(“fc-field-error”);
      jQuery(“#errorMail3”).remove();
      check=true;
      }
      if(!recipientsEmail.match(“[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:.[a-zA-Z0-9!#$%’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+)*@(?:[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])?.)+[a-zA-Z0-9](?:[a-zA-Z0-9-]*[a-zA-Z0-9])”))
      {
      jQuery(“#recipientsEmail3”).addClass(“fc-field-error”);
      if(jQuery(“#errorRMail3”).length

      Please enter recipient valid email address.

      “);
      }
      check=false;
      }
      else
      {
      jQuery(“#recipientsEmail3”).removeClass(“fc-field-error”);
      jQuery(“#errorRMail3”).remove();
      check=true;
      }

      if(check==true)
      {
      jQuery(“.shareLayer”).append(“”);
      jQuery.post(“/mail/”, { “sender_name”: yourName, “sender_email”: yourEmail,”recipient_email”:recipientsEmail,”comment”:comment,”domain”:domain,”path”:path,”contentId”:contentId } ,function(data)
      {
      jQuery(“.shareLayer”).hide(“slow”);
      alert(“your mail has been sent”);

      });
      }
      }

      ADVERTISEMENT

      • Most read
      • Most Emailed
      • Most Watched

      <![CDATA[

      ]]>

      Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

      ADVERTISEMENT

      ADVERTISEMENT

      ADVERTISEMENT



      inside the StarTribune


      lifestyle

      2013 Minnesota Summer Camp Guide


      lifestyle

      Drive: It’s auto show time


      lifestyle

      The Good Life: Living better, living longer


      opinion

      The Dayton budget proposal


      local

      The Star Tribune on Instagram


      home

      Star Tribune offers digital subscriptions


      • 425 Portland Av. S.

        Minneapolis, MN 55488

        (612) 673-4000

      StarTribune.com is powered by Limelight Networks





      Close

      Article source: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/197512571.html

      Sowing the seeds of a good lawn

      AS gardeners dust off their lawnmowers for the year ahead, those who want a bowling green finish may find themselves going back to basics and sowing a new lawn

      If your lawn looks tired and tatty and is covered in weeds, moss and bare patches, it might be time to bite the bullet and sow a new one.

      The advantage of sowing a lawn from seed is obviously the cost – it is much cheaper to sow seed than to buy turves which may not be the exact quality you want and will also deteriorate rapidly if they are not laid as soon as you have bought them.

      You can also pick your day to sow. It doesn’t matter if the weather suddenly turns frosty – you can just wait for it to warm up a bit. There is more of an urgency if you buy turf – and if you are having it laid for you, you can’t pick and choose your day.

      With lawn seed, you can also select a number of different grasses which will be suitable for particular areas of your garden. If you have children you are likely to need a tougher variety than if you just want a velvety lawn which is rarely set foot upon.

      But remember that there is no point in buying a very fine grade unless you are prepared to cut it at least twice a week, feed it, water it and give it all the TLC it needs.

      Growing a lawn from seed requires much initial preparation of the soil. It is hard work, but it will be worth it in the end.

      You will need to dig the ground over thoroughly, to a spade’s depth. If you have a really big area to sow, it may be worth hiring a rotavator, but make sure you get rid of all the weeds beforehand. Otherwise, a rotavator will simply chop up running roots which will then spread, encouraging weeds to spring up all over the place.

      If you have very heavy clay soil, lighten it with grit, which you need to dig in. Rotted manure or compost should be added to light soil to give it some substance. You can level minor humps and bumps as you go, but if the site is seriously uneven, you’ll need to remove the topsoil and stack it somewhere, level off the subsoil and then replace the topsoil layer.

      Remember when digging that the clods need to be broken down or your lawn will end up uneven. Trample roughly dug earth with your feet and break up hard clods with the back of your garden fork.

      One of the most important jobs when sowing a new lawn is to consolidate the soil, firming the site as you go. Walk in overlapping steps, treading over the whole area with your heels, before sprinkling on a general fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone or a special lawn fertiliser. You need to choose a day when the soil is fairly dry and not sticking to your boots.

      Finally, rake over the area and remove any remaining stones and debris, making sure that the surface level is firm, with no soft spots that will sink later. The surface should have a fine, crumbly texture. You may have to go over it a few times before it is how you want it.

      Once the soil is prepared, you are ready to sow. It is, in fact, best to sow in late summer or early autumn, when the ground is still moist, but April is also a good time, provided you don’t do it during an excessively dry spell. Sow at around 50g per square metre and if you are unsure, practise first on a sheet of paper on the garage floor, marking the area into metre squares with canes and string.

      The late, great gardener Geoff Hamilton recommended an easier way of sprinkling the right amount of seed into a set area – stand with your feet wide apart, lean forward as far as you can go and that’s about a square metre.

      Sprinkle two handfuls of seed over the area you are covering and that should be about the right amount.

      Once you have scattered the seed, rake it in with a spring-tine lawn rake – don’t try to bury the seed or germination will be patchy – and then water if it doesn’t rain within 24 hours. Try to use your finest rose on your watering can or sprinkler, though, or it will wash the seed into patches.

      You will also need to protect the new lawn from birds, which are prone to using the seed bed as a dust bath. Put up some posts with flapping strips of plastic attached to frighten them off.

      Seedlings should appear two to three weeks after sowing, and when the grass is two or three inches high, roll it lightly using the back roller of a cylinder mower with the cutting head held high. This firms down the soil lifted by the seedlings and encourages them to produce new shoots.

      After another few days, the lawn can be mown very lightly with the cutting blade at its highest. Make sure your mower blades are sharp. Don’t cut the grass too closely in the first year and make sure it receives plenty of water when necessary – and try not to let the kids run riot in the first 12 months after sowing.

      Article source: http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/Homes-and-Gardens/Gardening/Sowing-the-seeds-of-a-good-lawn-12032013.htm

      Masterful gardener: Tips on best practices for water gardening

      Spring is coming, and gardeners already are planning for the next season.

      Most of the gardens planted are the typical, dry, land type, but a growing number of gardeners are adding water features to their landscapes. These are different from a pond in that they are self-contained.

      A water garden is basically an outdoor aquarium, where the gardener manages the nutrients, plants and animals in the system.

      Care should be taken when you stock the water feature. Invasive plants or animals can be ordered and delivered to you or purchased locally. Unwelcome hitchhikers also might accompany your purchase.

      Plants and animals known to be invasive or prohibited in the state are often part of plant orders in the water or solid plant medium.

      Plants should be inspected carefully and cleaned before being added to a water garden or water feature, so you know the only plant you are adding is a plant you want to have there.

      Any hardy, non-native plant or animal species might become the next problematic invasive species. In addition, many closely related plants can hybridize with the native species, often passing on aggressive traits.

      When selecting plants, consider using species native to the region or, if you use exotic plants, manage them carefully and dispose of them properly.

      Never use any invasive plant unless it is well outside its hardiness zone. Pennsylvania ranges in hardiness zones from 5a at its coldest to 7b. This is warmer than

      the previous designation.

      Choose a reputable nursery, ask if the vendor is aware of regional or federal restrictions, and verify the scientific names are correct.

      The only way to be confident about what you are buying is to do some research and know the scientific name for plants you want to buy — or want to avoid. Common names might be used for several different species, not all of which are harmless.

      Snails, by their nature, are generally easily moved or move themselves under moist conditions. They often are intermediate hosts for parasites and have a large appetite for vegetation that we don’t necessarily want eaten. For this reason, buying them for water gardens is not recommended.

      Fish are sometimes added to water gardens for visual interest. Keep in mind that they will add nutrients to the system that you will have to remove with filters or balance using plants.

      The fish commonly used in water gardens are goldfish and koi, both of which are carp from Asia.

      As such, they should never be released or allowed to escape. They consume water plants, and can make the water cloudy as they feed. Carp also grow quite large, sometimes outgrowing their space.

      Hold fish for two weeks before adding them to ensure they are healthy. Add the fish to the garden but not the water they came in. The water can carry disease.

      Fish also might be an attractant to birds that consider that expensive koi a tasty snack.

      Local amphibians such as frogs, toads or salamanders might decide your water garden is a good place to reproduce or hang out. Fish are competitors that eat their eggs.

      Local turtles also might move into your water feature, and birds and butterflies will come for a drink. Rather than investing in exotic animals, rely on the locals to move in.

      Best management practices for water gardens

      — When siting your water garden, consider proximity to natural water bodies or storm drains that might connect to them. Flooding can cause the release of plants and animals.

      — Be sure your nutrients are in balance and your filters are working — any plant will get out of hand if over-fertilized.

      — Plan your garden — be sure that what is going in and around the garden is native or can be controlled. Seeds can spread into the wild, even if the plant seems well behaved in the garden.

      — If you do want non-native plants, be sure they are not considered noxious, and be very careful to manage them.

      — Know where your plants are coming from and that they are properly identified. Ask your local plant supplier if they are aware of state and federal restrictions. Be particularly careful of mail-order materials.

      — Clean and inspect everything before placing it in the water garden. Plants should be rinsed in clean tap water in a light-colored vessel so you can see they are clean. Especially “dirty” plants can be rinsed in a chlorine dip.

      — Avoid snails. They are very easily spread by moving themselves or being picked up by wildlife. Some can even pass through the gut of birds without damage when eaten.Masterful Gardening, a weekly column written by master gardeners with the Penn State York County Cooperative Extension, appears Sundays in Home Source. Diane Oleson can be reached at 840-7408 or yorkmg@psu.edu.

      Article source: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_22766832/masteful-gardener-tips-best-practices-water-gardening

      Six Tips to Make the Most of Your Home Garden

      I love being in the garden. My garden is so terrific friends and neighbors started asking me for tips on how to make their gardens nicer. It got so I was spending more time telling people about my garden than being in it. That’s when I decided to put my six best tips for the home garden in writing for all to see.

       

      1. Make it what you want.

      My neighbor across the road has the most perfect lawn I have ever seen. He is out there after work and on the weekends pulling weeds, mowing, watering, and feeding. I don’t like doing those things, so I don’t have any lawn. A garden can be anything you want it to be, so make yours right for you.

       

      2. Add comfortable outdoor furniture.

      I have a rattan sun bed with a tree to shade me when I take a nap or read in my garden. I visit with company on my rattan loveseat. The loveseat has colorful weatherproof cushions that match the cushions on the chairs for my outdoor dining table.

       


      image source: Bridgman Furniture 

      3. Create an all-season garden.

      You probably won’t spend as much time in the garden in winter as you do the rest of the year, but you can still enjoy it all year round. Here’s what you can do to make the most of your garden lovely in the cold months when nothing is growing:

      • Add garden sculptures and statuary;
      • Use plants with winter interest. Shrubs and trees with dramatic branching patterns, ornamental grasses, and plants with fruit that lasts make the garden interesting to look at in winter, whether you are standing in it or looking at it through the window.
      • Feed the birds. Bird feeders attract life to the garden at a time when plants are dormant.

       

      Article source: http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/six-tips-to-make-the-most/

      Four firsts at Chelsea for a show-garden design by Darren Hawkes

      11 March 2013

      This year’s Chelsea Flower Show will be a first on four levels: garden designer Darren Hawkes, eye-care charity SeeAbility and sponsor Coutts are all taking part for the first time; meanwhile a plant not before seen at Chelsea will make its debut.

      Article source: http://www.hortweek.com/Landscape/article/1174115/Four-firsts-Chelsea-show-garden-design-Darren-Hawkes/