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Archives for April 10, 2013

Residents Hate Congestion, Want Fewer Lanes in Downtown Alpharetta

Alpharetta has just a few more weeks to decide on what it is going to tell the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) it wants done with the city’s Main Street. On Monday night consultants told City Council what residents say they want the streetscape to be.

Main Street is a state highway, GA 9, giving GDOT control. The city was given 90 days to prepare its vision for the roadway. That 90 days is up on April 24.

Community Development Director Richard McLeod said Envision Main Street Alpharetta had nearly 600 comments and participants.

“This was I think a remarkable turnout,” he said.

Tom Walsh, one of the consultants with TSW, said in the 38 years he’s been working on projects such as this, he hasn’t seen this kind of turnout in such a short period of time.

The consultants presented cross sections for four sections of Main Street.

“One of big ideas that we heard, south of Vaughn Drive, there is no community support for a continuous median,” said Caleb P. Racicot, another of the consultants.

“We heard very loud and clear that this should be a green corridor,” he said.

Wider sidewalks and off-street bike facilities, such as multi-use trails, were wanted. Parking in strategic sections also was desired, mostly in the sections in or near downtown Alpharetta.

Although angle parking such as what the west side of Main Street in downtown now has can fit 40-50 percent more spaces, more of the stakeholders wanted parallel parking spaces.

In the aspirational models, the downtown section of Main Street would be two lanes wide, with extra wide parallel parking spaces and wide sidewalks, Racicot said. The section north to Mayfield Road would be two lanes wide with a center turn lane, while sections north of Mayfield would be four lanes wide.

These ideas now have to be vetted as the next phase to make sure they can work. And he said the city has to determine what trade-offs it wants to make between traffic engineering and quality of life.

Councilman Michael Cross said, “If our problem is congestion, and we are trying to get people to come here, I’m not yet seeing the notion of cutting down the number of lanes and the ability to get here. I love the idea of landscaping. I think there are ways that you can have lanes that tend to calm traffic, slow people down a bit and still provide decent capacity.”

Racicot said a lot of business owners felt adequate parking is needed on Main Street. They had concerns about lane widths being narrow in areas. Negative feedback was received on the work already done on Main Street near Old Milton Parkway, he said. Some of that was directed at the median preventing turns, while other concerns dealt with traffic flow.

Mayor David Belle Isle said Main Street affects the entire city where 58,000 people live, and the 120,000 people who work here.

“It’s important that we get it right,” he said.

The mayor said the public will have two more chances to offer their opinions on Main Street: at the April 12 and 22 City Council meetings.



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TECHNO FILE: Building a home in the digital age

IT WAS a little unnerving this time last week to wake up to a thin layer of snow on the mountains that are visible in the distance from this tiny and remote village in the eastern Free State that I like to call home.

It reminded me why I sometimes don’t like to call this home: it’s probably the coldest place in the country in winter, and winter, as seen in last week’s snowfall, can last as long as six months.

Add to the mix a rented, 100-year-old south-facing farmhouse with a mountain on its northern side that blocks out almost all of the winter sunshine, and it can be an almost unbearable place to live in winter.

What could have possessed the owners of the original farm to build this sandstone house in such an inhospitable position, other than the fact that it is a good vantage point from which to see and defend against advancing marauders?

Despite the fear and loathing occasioned by the rapid onset of winter, my beautiful wife and I have resolved to linger in this village a while longer and have purchased a sizeable piece of land on which not to make the same mistakes as were made by the designers and builders of the house in which we presently reside.

Of course, that’s a lot easier than it was 100 years ago, even if you don’t have a lot of money to do it with, although choosing a piece of land that gets lots of winter sunshine is an obvious first step.

After that, technology comes to the rescue, as you’d expect.

First, especially if it’s rural farmland you’ve acquired, you’re likely to have some difficulty figuring out where your land begins and ends, and the arcane system of geographic co-ordinates used by the land surveyor will probably look like Greek to you. Luckily, a quick Google search turns up an application you can download and install on your computer that converts the meaningless co-ordinates to something Google Maps and Google Earth can understand — and before you know it, you’ve got your piece of land mapped out quite precisely.

Next, you don’t need to be an architect or a rocket scientist to design in 3D the house you hope to build. Not only that, but you can actually position your design on your piece of land in Google Maps and see how it interacts with the sunshine and shadows at any given time on any given day of the year — using a free Google application called SketchUp (it’s a 35MB download and fairly tricky to operate, but there are many tutorials available).

Now that you’ve figured out exactly where to put your house, and in which direction it needs to face to make the most of the weak winter sunshine, you need to decide what it will look like.

Unlike 100 years ago, you need not be limited to what your imagination is capable of coming up with.

Simply download and install a smartphone app, such as the wonderful Houzz, and you immediately have hundreds of thousands of photographs and products to inspire you.

Houzz is specifically aimed at renovators and builders and has a section for every room imaginable, as well as exteriors and landscaping ideas. Swipe through the photographs (or, separately, products), tap to add something that strikes your fancy to your personal “ideas book”, and you can quickly build up a wealth of reference material to help you design your own home.

Websites such as the popular Pinterest (also a smartphone app), which lets you pin things you like on the internet to virtual pinboards, offer equally excellent ideas-gathering services.

Designing a winter-proof house has never been so easy.

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Youngsters have say on Narooma landscaping

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  • SCHOOL SAY: The students at Narooma Public School were consulted on what they want the Narooma Flat to look like…

AROUND 80 Year
Five and Six students from Narooma Public School last Wednesday had their say
on the design of the landscaping phase of the Narooma streetscaping project.

Eurobodalla Shire
Council project engineer Russell Burke and engineering cadet Tom Franzen
visited the students to show them plans of the road works and new roundabout
that are under construction.

The engineers
listened to their ideas on the landscaping that is to complete the works by
improving the streetscape along the Narooma Flat.

“The students
were keen to have their say and gave us great feedback by completing the phase
two survey and giving us drawings that represented what Narooma meant to them,”
Mr Burke said.

The students’
drawings were full of ideas about what they like to see included in the
landscaping design.

Eurobodalla Shire
Council Youth Committee members also contributed thoughts and ideas to the

To date, Mr Burke
said 191 surveys have been returned to council and he and the consultant
landscape architects, Ayling Drury, agree this is an outstanding response
so far.

The community has
until this Friday to have their say by completing the landscape design survey
available at

Hard copy surveys
can also be picked up at Narooma Library, visitors centre and depot and at Club
Narooma and ABC Meads Bakery on the Narooma flat.

Streetscape Sunset Advisory Committee chairman and mayor Lindsay Brown said the
next step would be the preparation of a draft concept plan by Ayling and Drury
that considers everyone’s feedback.

“This concept
plan will then be presented to the community for further comment,” Clr Brown

Narooma Sporting
and Services Club general manager Tony Casu said one concern was adequate
parking for the combined pool, NATA Oval and leisure centre complexes to allow
for say a swim meet and market on the same day.

The club wanted
to ensure its parking was not all taken and also had concerns about access to
club during the works and the final lay-out.

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Beneath This Unreal Rooftop Pool Is A Master Bedroom, Bath

Back in 2003, this property was an ill-kept and forgotten 1920s bungalow. But, and this is key: It’s one of only seven Atlanta homes backing up to Piedmont Park, Kaye said. So after years of house-hunting, he saw the potential and snapped up the property within hours — for $345,000.

Over the next five years, the home would be overhauled from roof to terrace. “Common materials were used in uncommon ways for eco and budget-friendly, amazing results,” Kaye said in an email. “The house seamlessly blends traditional and modernist architecture for a one-of-a-kind home with 180-degree views of the park and skyline.” The grounds — based on the “principles of Versailles” and featuring 100 percent water reclamation — have since won several landscaping awards. If the entire property looks familiar, you may have seen it featured on HGTV’s “Groundbreakers.”

At 4,800 square feet, it’s no shack, with six bedrooms, a multi-story foyer, two-car garage and “floating” concrete walkway that crosses the koi pond. By way of custom doors on pivoting steel spines, interaction between common areas and the formal library can be customized — that is, opened or fully closed off for privacy. Ditto for exterior walls that retract to open the great room and master bedroom on three sides, unveiling those sweet, sweet views of Atlanta’s greatest park.

· 543 Elmwood Drive NE [Zillow]

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80th Annual Historic Garden Week Has Something For Everyone

WEBB-Rke-5751The 80th annual Historic Garden Week in Roanoke will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2013. The tour is sponsored by the Roanoke Valley Garden Club and the Mill Mountain Garden Club.

The local tour is part of Historic Garden Week, an annual event presented by the Garden Club of Virginia, in which homes and gardens all around Virginia are open to the public. Well known as the oldest and largest statewide house and garden tour in the United States, tourists from all across the country travel to Virginia to take part in this springtime event. Proceeds from the tour are used to restore and preserve grounds and gardens of Virginia’s most cherished historic landmarks.

This year’s tour in Roanoke is titled “A Trolley Tour in the Mountains” and organizers are excited to have Roanoke’s Star Line Trolley taking guests to some of the homes on the tour. There are five beautiful homes for guests to visit. Two homes, Rockledge and Tarrylong, are located in part of the Southeast neighborhood below the Mill Mountain Star and three homes are in the adjacent South Roanoke neighborhood.

DYE-Rke-5831There is something for everyone – majestic mountain views, terraced gardens with stone patios, grounds that offer unique architectural features in surprising nooks and crannies, a hidden front yard putting green, a shaded private pool, a Spanish casa with both arid and lush landscaping, and homes filled with spectacular antiques and local art.

The event provides a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of spring color, as well as homes sparkling with spectacular flower arrangements created by club members.

 Tour Headquarters: The Ronald McDonald House, 2224 South Jefferson Street: Trolley and shuttle transportation, tour tickets, restrooms and lunch. Please wear flat heeled shoes.

Tickets: $30 per person. No single-site tickets. Children ages 6-12, $15. Children 5 and younger, free admission. Children younger than 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets may be purchased with cash or check on the day of the tour at any of the homes on the tour or the Ronald McDonald House.

Advance Tickets: $25 per person. Advance tickets may be purchased by mail until April 22 by sending checks payable to “Historic Garden Week” and mailed to Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs, 3640 Colonial Avenue, Roanoke VA 24018. Tickets are available for purchase by cash or check at: Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs, 3640 Colonial Avenue, Ronald McDonald House, Townside Gardens and Black Dog Salvage. For more information and online tickets go to


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Safe from Sequester: $704198 for Gardening at NATO Ambassador’s Home

Truman Hall, a historic property that serves at the residence of the Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). (Courtesy of NATO website)

( – Just over a week after sequestration took effect, the State Department allotted more than $700,000 for gardening at a U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Brussels, Belgium.

On March 11, State awarded a contract to provide gardening services at an “official residence” of the U.S. Mission in Belgium.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed to that the contract is for Truman Hall, a historic property that serves at the residence of the Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The current U.S. ambassador to NATO is Ivo H. Daalder, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in May 2009.

The total award comes to $704,198.30, including $134,744 for the base year and four one-year option periods thereafter.

A State Department spokesperson said that Truman Hall regularly hosts visitors from the 28 NATO nations and other Alliance partner countries around the world and is a valuable platform for America’s diplomacy.

The award provides for grass cutting, edging, trimming, weeding, and other gardening and landscaping services. It will also mandate the planting of 960 violas, tulips, and begonias.

Truman Hall, named after former President Harry S. Truman, was built in 1963 by Architect B.A. Jacquemotte and Landscape Architect René Pechère. The 28-acre property consists of several gardens, meadows and a lawn pavilion.

The award came just 10 days after automatic across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, took effect on March 1. Prior to the cuts taking effect, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the sequester could “seriously impair our ability to execute our vital missions of national security, diplomacy and development.”

In a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) on Feb. 11, Kerry said sequestration means $2.6 billion less in fiscal year 2013 for State Department programs.

“These cuts would severely impair our efforts to enhance the security of U.S. government facilities overseas and ensure the safety of the thousands of U.S. diplomats serving the American people abroad,” he said.

In addition to Truman Hall, the State Department is currently soliciting gardening services for U.S. Embassies in Jakarta, Indonesia; Santiago, Chile; Maseru, Lesotho; and Bangkok, Thailand.

The solicitation for the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta places a maximum amount of $500,000.

A State Department spokesperson said the award for Truman Hall was made at the lowest price technically acceptable, at a total cost of $704,198.30. The contract was awarded to Iris Greencare, a landscaping company based in Brussels.

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Gardeners’ Dirt: Seasonal tips for spring

  • The Gardener’s Essential

  • By Gertrude Jekyll

    For the love of gardening is a seedThat once sown never dies, butAlways grows to an enduringAnd an ever increasing source of happiness.

  • Gardening Suggestions From An Expert

  • (Dr. Doug Welsh, author of Texas Garden Almanac, was the first statewide coordinator for the Texas Master Gardener program and coeditor of the Texas Master Gardener Handbook)

    Garden design: Grow an “eclectic playhouse.” Involve children through a “living …

  • SHOW ALL »
  • Gardening Suggestions From An Expert

    (Dr. Doug Welsh, author of Texas Garden Almanac, was the first statewide coordinator for the Texas Master Gardener program and coeditor of the Texas Master Gardener Handbook)

    Garden design: Grow an “eclectic playhouse.” Involve children through a “living tepee.”

    •  Place six to eight poles in a circle and tie on top to form a tepee frame.

    •  Plant fast-growing vines at the base of the tepee. (cardinal vine, Confederate or star jasmine or Kentucky wonder pole beans)

    Watch them grow with proper care into a living playhouse.

    Soil and mulch: “It’s virtually impossible to add too much organic material to Texas soils.”

    •  Lots of planting means lots of soil preparation.

    For best results, stick to adding only organic matter.

    Irrigation: Water needs vary greatly in our area.

    •  Best setting on the irrigation time clock is off.

    •  Water when plants need it.

    Water and money are wasted with same irrigation schedule for all seasons.

    Plant care: Use pesticides only when truly needed.

    •  Look for insect damage.

    •  Watch for top five insect pests in the garden: aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, thrips and grasshoppers.

    • Protect natural predators and parasites against overuse of pesticides.

  • Lunch and Learn With the Masters

  • •  WHEN: Noon-1 p.m. Monday

    • WHERE: Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.

    •  COST: Free

    • “Preserving the Harvest” will be presented by Erika Bochat, Victoria County Extension Agent-Family and Consumer Sciences.

    • Bring your lunch and drink.

  • SHOW ALL »
  • Lunch and Learn With the Masters

    •  WHEN: Noon-1 p.m. Monday

    • WHERE: Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.

    •  COST: Free

    • “Preserving the Harvest” will be presented by Erika Bochat, Victoria County Extension Agent-Family and Consumer Sciences.

    • Bring your lunch and drink.

Editor’s note: Today’s article is the second publication of a new series that provides seasonal gardening tips from the Victoria County Master Gardeners.

Gardeners are totally optimistic. With spring having officially begun a couple of weeks ago in late March and as the ground begins to warm and beautiful flats of plants arrive by the truckloads, the uncontrollable urge is to rush out and purchase them.

Many of us just can’t resist such an impulse buy, only to be saddened when the plants “stress out” as preparations are being made to plant them. Do your armchair planning first.

Take a walk through the Master Gardener Victoria Educational Gardens at Victoria Regional Airport or through several commercial garden centers and take notes on the plants which spark your interest. Plan and prepare your beds well, and at the end of the season your garden will “look back at you with love.”

Garden design

Plan your design early whether you are going to grow vegetables, landscape plants or ornamentals. Look at existing beds and evaluate their success or failure. Consider three use areas around your home. These are commonly referred to as public, private and service areas.

Determine plants to be used.

Decide which plants will work well according to the needs of the plants and not your opinion of, “Yep, that will look good.” Study the scale, balance, unity and harmony of the plants being considered. Most garden centers are willing to look at your plan and make suggestions.

Involve children to perpetuate gardening.

Don’t forget to involve children in this process and to integrate special areas for them to practice and learn horticultural skills. “Within each seed there is life,” and most children have the desire to watch things grow and produce.

Imagine your landscape or garden areas as your blank palette. Garden areas around your home should express your interests, personality and, like your family, bring you joy.

Soil, mulch

Gardeners, get out of your easy chair even if you are a little late in doing so, and prepare your beds to mimic Mother Nature.

Enrich or mulch soil

Adding 5 to 6 inches of organic material or mulch is an investment that will pay off and contribute to your utmost success. Organic material adds nutrients to the soil, while mulch helps reduce the extreme fluctuation of soil temperature and moisture levels, control weeds and enhance soil structure and nutrients.

Test poor-responding soil

If you have a zone/area which has not responded in the past to your care, consider having the soil in that particular site tested. Sending a soil sample to the Texas AM Soil Testing Lab will provide you with a complete soil analysis.

Soil sample bags and directions can be picked up at the AgriLife Extension Office. There is a fee for this testing, but it is well worth the expense compared to a costly trial-and-error method to achieve good plant growth. It’s all about healthy, fertile soil.


Water is an extremely important factor to consider. With several years of drought behind us, our soils have lost a lot of deep moisture needed to sustain plant growth.

Check automatic system.

If you already have an automatic irrigation system in place, check to see if maintenance is needed or required. Strive for water effectiveness by setting the timers and zones at maximum efficiency.

Add drip system.

If you do not have a system now, consider installing a drip system. Drip systems control the application of water at a low flow over a prolonged period benefiting plants by providing a constant level of moisture around them.

This also discourages some plant diseases. Several different types of drip systems are available in local garden centers and work well in conjunction with water retrieval systems.

Plant care

Successful gardening is a reflection of the gardener’s growth, understanding, and research. Even seasoned veterans experience success mixed with failure.

Consider your time and energy.

Plant care takes time and energy so consider your time schedule in the planning process. It can be a huge factor contributing to your success.

Maintain with these tasks.

Several beautiful container plants are more pleasing to look at than a bed needing hours of work you do not have time to care for. Removing disease-infested plant parts, dead-heading blooming plants and checking for insects before they get out of control is crucial.

Use as many natural control methods as possible. Nemesis fire ants are usually foraging when temperatures are between 70-90 degrees, so spring is a good time to treat mounds with bait.

There are many excellent resources, books and magazines available for Texas gardeners to use as success guides. We are fortunate to live in an area with 302 freeze-free days, so get gardening.

If you follow these suggestions, your garden will surely look back at you with similar love to that which you gave it.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at

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CHANCE: Tips to rescue your raised garden

I went fishing and was loading my kayak when a goat walked up. It was someone’s pet and was friendly and let me pet it. I ignored it until it stuck its head into the open door of my truck and began chewing. Shooing him off did not work. Next he jumped into the truck seat. He wanted to drive. I told him the truck already had an old goat driving, but he did not understand.

When I pulled him out of the truck, his head came up unexpectedly, and he hit me in my lip with his horn. It did not hurt much, but it cut my lip, which proceeded to bleed profusely. I take a blood thinner, which made it worse. I grabbed a shop towel and began to apply pressure to the cut, but it continued to bleed and I still had to contend with the goat.

With one hand holding a bloody towel to my face, I finally shut the truck door only to turn around and find the goat in the seat of my kayak. Now he wanted to go fishing, and all I could think about was that I did not want him to leave “nanny berries” in my boat. About this time I began to wonder what goat barbecue tasted like.

Seems like I regularly need to be rescued. Fortunately a nice nurse who was taking her son fishing rescued me by giving me some gauze and a bright blue Band-Aid so that I could continue to fish. I appreciated her concern and help.

Some gardens need a rescue. Raised beds can rescue gardens with soil and location problems. Raised beds drain better, warm more quickly in the spring, are usually easier to work and are more attractive. You can improve the soil easily with organic matter and reduce soil compaction.

Bob Westerfield, University of Georgia horticulturist, shares some raised bed tips:

Build raise beds from wood, concrete blocks and other materials. Think about the length and height of your bed when selecting building materials. Typical raised beds are 6-8 inches high, 3-6 feet wide and 6-8 feet long. Make beds no wider than you can reach across.

It is better to use pressure treated wood than untreated wood to prevent decay. Chemicals used to treat the wood may concern some vegetable gardeners, although the risk is very small. Chemicals used for today’s pressure treated wood are less toxic than those used before 2004. If you are concerned, line the interior of the bed between soil and wood with plastic.

The risk of contamination is actually greater when cutting pressure treated wood, so use a dust mask and gloves. Do not use railroad ties since the chemicals used in them can continue to come out when temperatures rise.

Plan the size and shape of the bed, so it will be easy to water. Drip irrigation is better, since it reduces leaf wetness which leads to disease, but drip irrigation can be harder to manage.

A soaker hose snaked across the garden makes an inexpensive drip irrigation system. Use a hose timer, so all you have to do is to turn on the water and let the timer turn it off.

Till the soil under the bed, and then fill the bed with soil. This is your one chance to pick your soil, so spend some time selecting and mixing soil components.

Find a soil that is a sandy loam. In other words, it is mostly sand but has a little clay and silt. Soil from an old garden or farmer’s field may harbor pests. The best soil probably comes from wooded land, but even this is not perfect.

Soil test and add lime and fertilizer as recommended.

Add well-composted organic matter to the soil — about one third of the volume of the soil. Homemade compost makes a great additive. For some other sources of organic matter, visit your garden center or visit

If you use fresh manure, give it 90 days to compost before planting vegetables. This should reduce bacterial levels and reduce the chance of food contamination. For more information, see

Willie Chance works with the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture and helps to train the turf and landscape industry.

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Brandon Olive Garden Gets New Tuscany Design

Have you visited the Olive Garden in Brandon recently?

If you have, you surely noticed some changes.

The Olive Garden at 2602 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, has undergone a renovation as part of the final phase of testing of the company’s new Via Tuscany remodel program, updating the look and feel of approximately 20 Olive Garden restaurants in eight markets.

The remodel is designed to upgrade and unify the look of restaurants nationwide.  

The Brandon restaurant’s interior and exterior have been updated with new design elements. The rustic stone exterior is typical of the buildings in the Italian countryside, and the interior is accented by Italian imports and fitted with up-to-date LED lighting. Ceilings supported by exposed wood beams, stone and wood accents and terra cotta tile highlight the interior. Vibrant imported fabrics decorate windows and dining seats, and artwork featuring a variety of Tuscan scenery, from a piazza to secluded village towns, adorns rustic stone and stucco walls.

The remodel is inspired by the farmhouses that dot the landscape throughout the Tuscany region of Italy.

For more details, click here.

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Mistakes When Designing a Garden

Now that it is finally warming up on East Coast—at least where I live in Pennsylvania—I am just itching to get out and start digging in my garden. Perhaps you’re feeling that same itch.

Every year my husband and I have grand plans designing a garden somewhere in our yard where we previously haven’t had any plants and shrubs. Or we decide to totally redo an existing garden to change things up, such as the year we tried lasagna gardening.

Unfortunately, in the past we have fallen victim to some of the common mistakes people make when designing a garden. For example, wanting to plant a vegetable garden but not really giving enough thought to where in the yard that garden was going to be. Because it turns out that while our yard seems sunny, it is not sunny enough to sustain vegetable plants. Last year we grew one very expensive green pepper—we’d paid $6 for the pepper plant and it yielded a single pepper. I should have followed my own advice and stuck to container gardening to grow vegetables.

I recently came across some information from Preen, the maker of weed-prevention products, about the common mistakes that home gardeners make when designing a garden—be it a brand new garden or one that they’re fixing up from an earlier design.

Avoid Invasive plants.
What might look like a find (so pretty and such a fast grower) may actually be a garden monster. Invasive plants spread by runners or underground stems. Aggressive and extremely difficult to remove, these plants spread to choke out other plants. Offenders include chameleon plant, lamb’s ear, lily of the valley and goutweed. I had no idea about lamb’s ear and lily of the valley—two of my favorites! In my yard some of these invasive species include bamboo, but with our houses so close together, we have found that bamboo acts as a great “natural” screen to complement a fence. However, it does take off like wildfire. To avoid out-of-control invasive plants, put them in a deeply lined bed or large container garden pots.

Look Out for Weeds Gone Wild.
Weeds are the ultimate invasives as they adapt to the local habitat and get greedy for territory. To stop them, tackle their seeds. Remove existing weeds before they go to seed (each plant can produce thousands). Then apply a layer of mulch and sprinkle a weed preventer on top. Mulch blocks the sunlight that weed seeds need to sprout. For an added layer of weed protection, lay down newspaper over the offending area, then add the mulch.

Will You Be Inviting Trouble?
Some plants are more than attractive—they attract pests that you may want to avoid. For example, if you are allergic to bee stings, you should avoid plants that act as bee magnets. These include buddleia bushes or monarda (aka bee balm), zinnia and salvia flowers. Where deer are abundant fill your garden with plants and shrubs that are labeled as deer resistant. Deer love hostas, tulips, yews and azaleas, so avoid putting them in your garden if there are a lot of deer around.

Choose the Right Plant and the Right Place.
Before planting any shrubs, flowers or vegetables, be sure to read the label on that plant. That adorable shrub won’t look so cute by the house when it grows to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Labels detail light and water needs, and follow them to a tee. Putting shade-loving impatiens in Southern-facing window boxes will die in the full sun. However, plant them in a shady, north-facing pot, and they’ll thrive. Not sure which areas of your yard are full sun, partial shade or full shade? Step outside throughout the day and note where the sun is. Also, trees don’t have leaves yet so a sunny spot in April could be a shady area in May. Keep that and USDA hardiness zones in mind as you make your choices for flowers, plants and shrubs.

More Isn’t Always Better.
Believe it or not more home gardeners kill more plants by watering them too much, versus not watering them enough. Most established plants prefer about one inch of rainfall or irrigation every week or so. Too much water can cause rot or weak growth. Also too much fertilizer won’t make plants more robust, but it can burn and kill them. When it doubt, use a light hand with watering and fertilizing.

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