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Archives for June 21, 2013

Sesame Street Debuts Character With Dad in Prison

Thursday, June 20, 2013 | 10:09 p.m.

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21 New Landscape Design Style Guides Available from

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backyard landscape

This traditional backyard entertainment and pool area features traditional styling and décor. Photo: Angelo’s Lawn-Scape of Louisiana Inc

Find your landscaping style with one of twenty-one new landscape design style guides.

Calimesa, CA (PRWEB) June 20, 2013

Find your landscaping style with one of twenty-one new landscape design style guides now available from Available in downloadable and printable formats, each guide covers popular landscaping styles and themes from Japanese and Mediterranean style gardens to tropical and desert landscape designs.

Landscape design is a broad term that encompasses many phases of the landscaping process. From planning and project budgeting to construction, creating a functional and useable backyard space from the ground up is a detailed and multi-step process with unlimited options.

In an effort to simplify the process and get consumers and designers started on the right foot, has created twenty-one helpful landscape design style guides. Each one featuring one of today’s most popular landscaping styles and themes from across the country, consumers can now choose a design style that best fits their needs and wants, and share it with their designer, and vice versa.

Available in downloadable and printable formats, each design style sheet covers five key elements to that particular style. Each style guide covers: color schemes, décor, materials, plant palettes, and fabrics.

Whether you’re looking for a modern or traditional style, a tropical or desert design, Spanish or English theme, visit for a full list of these popular landscape design styles and more.

Photos courtesy of Angelo’s Lawn-Scape of Louisiana Inc in Baton Rouge, LA.

About works with a team of professional landscape designers and writers to bring together the very best landscaping resources and information available. Homeowners, landscape designers and architects, builders and more can also stay up-to-date through the site’s extensive collection of articles, landscaping photos and videos on landscape design ideas, products and more.

For consumers ready to turn their landscaping design dreams into reality, the site offers an easy-to-use Find a Contractor directory to find local landscape contractors and designers throughout the United States and Canada.

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Landscape-trimmer tool takes $5000 and 2013 FastPitch title

ROCKFORD — A handheld tool that trims string for landscape trimmers took home the top prize Wednesday at the Stateline FastPitch Competition.

Chuck Meyers with MLC Maintenance and Meyers Lawn Care won $5,000 at Northern Illinois University-Rockford after his three-minute pitch wowed a panel of judges.

Meyers was one of 27 entrepreneurs who pitched their business ideas in the afternoon for the seventh annual competition. Eleven finalists delivered their pitches again in the evening session, where the public also could hear their ideas.

The winning idea, the String Gator, is similar to a cigar cutter that attaches to the shaft of a trimmer to cut string that’s loaded into the trimmer head.

Meyers said he’s had to drive home a few times from landscaping jobs because he forgot scissors or a box cutter to cut the string he needed for a trimmer. The goal is to make the product in the Rockford area and market and sell it to landscaping companies and national trimmer companies.

“It’s pretty exciting, actually,” Meyers said. “It’s definitely a good experience doing this, just from learning marketing skills and getting up in front of people.”

FastPitch kicked off in 2007 as a way to spotlight local entrepreneurs. It’s organized by EIGERlab, a business incubator in Rockford that helps entrepreneurs perfect business plans and commercialize their ideas.

Two-thirds of the participants went through some type of training to perfect their pitches before the competition, EIGERlab executive director Dan Cataldi said.

“At the end of the day, your idea is only as good as the person selling it, and you have to sell your idea, whether you’re an inventor and an engineer or you’re in management or you’re a professional,” Cataldi told the group. “If you can’t sell your product, nobody can sell your product.”

Adrian Vasquez won the second-place prize of $1,000 for his NZ3 design, an adjustable nozzle fitted to a hair dryer that directs air downward.

Edgar Marin took home the third-place trophy and $500 for the Breeze Welding Helmet, which he pitched as a safer and more comfortable welding helmet design.

Photographer Nels Akerlund delivered a short keynote while judges picked the contest winners. Akerlund has photographed presidents, celebrities and destinations across the world.

He highlighted the importance of marketing yourself, making good connections and finding alternatives to doing business even when people tell you “no.”

Last year, FastPitch organizers expanded the competition to southern Wisconsin to help promote and sustain regional development. Similar contests will take place again Aug. 21 for Racine and Kenosha counties and this fall for Rock and Walworth counties.

Melissa Westphal: 815-987-1341;; @mlwestphal

Other finalists
Jerry Doll:
Tru-Grip Ergonomic Shaver Toothbrush Handle
Colin Cronin: New Vybe, a fitness studio in Loves Park (expanding into DVD fitness market)
Anthony Gutierrez: Southwest Connects, a chili roaster distributor
Donovan Harris: Grip less exercise glove
Tom Keenan: Cool Seat Coolers (customizable cooler shaped like a chair)
AnnDee Nimmer: RoomTagz (easy-to-see signs for places like classrooms)
Robyn Scott: Purely CultureCare (organic ethnic skin care line)
Maheseh Singareddy: FixMyHome (application that connects people to home-repair resources)

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Garden tour

A large but intimate-feeling landscaping masterpiece, a densely planted city oasis and a family’s joint gardening venture will all be highlighted during this year’s Marietta Garden Tour.

The annual event, presented by the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta, takes place Sunday and will feature three private gardens and two public ones, said Caroline Putnam, a member of the garden committee.

“I consider this a very interesting array of gardens this year,” she said.

Article Photos

JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Landscape designer Lyndsay Biehl trims back flowers and weeds one of the beds at her parents’ Forshey Road residence. More than 8,000 square feet of meticulously designed bed space will be on display during Sunday’s annual Marietta Garden Tour, presented by the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

Private gardens will include that of the Biehl family at 325 Forshey Road, Marietta.

The garden has been a work in progress for six years, said Lyndsay Biehl, 30, who has lovingly manicured around 8,000 feet of bed space at the home, which belongs to her parents Brad and Stephanie Biehl.

“I have close ties to the house. My grandfather lived there and when he passed away my parents bought the house. So I kind of grew up in that house,” she said.

Landscaping is much more than a hobby for Biehl, who holds a Bachelors of Science degree in landscape horticulture from The Ohio State University.

“Gardening is how I unwind. I can work all day in the landscape and still come home and feel recharged by it,” she said.

What visitors might notice most about the garden is that although it is large in square footage, it feels extremely intimate. That feeling was created by dividing the garden into several areas that still feel small, Biehl said.

She also does a lot of container gardening on the property, a trend which has been taking off in recent years, Biehl noted.

“People can take away a lot of ideas for their own yard,” she said.

Also on this year’s tour is the city garden of Charlotte Hatfield at 426 Fifth St., Marietta.

Walking into the small city garden will make visitors feel like they have stepped into a garden in Williamsburg, Va., said Putnam.

That classic feel is exactly what Hatfield was attempting when she began planting a garden eight years ago that would mirror the feeling of her 160-year-old home.

“I was looking for a garden that matched the style of the house and so it is an old-fashioned garden. There are a lot of roses and lilies…lots of pinks and lavenders,” said Hatfield.

Though she has gardened since the early 1980s, cultivating this particular garden has been a learning process with a lot of trial and error, she said.

“Here, I had three really large, wide-open empty flower beds. It was a process of how do you get scale right when you’ve got nothing to compare it to,” said Hatfield.

The garden is still constantly evolving, but visitors Sunday will have plenty of early summer blooms to enjoy, she said.

The final private garden on the tour is just across the river in Williamstown, said Putnam.

Sylvia Miles’ 109 E. 5th St. garden is a labor of family love, said Putnam. For the last 15 years, Miles, her three sisters, and their mother have spent Labor Day weekend working on projects throughout the garden.

“Each sister’s personality and the mother’s has really come out,” said Putnam.

The years of effort have resulted in a garden brimming with unique plants and features. A raised deck provides a sweeping view of the garden’s offerings and attendees are sure to be awed by clever little gardening surprises, said Putnam.

“It never occurred to me to use a carport as a garden, but they do,” she said of an adjoining carport that houses a shade garden in the summer.

Finally, the Marietta Garden Tour encourages visitors to take in the Kroger Wetlands and the Harvest of Hope Community Garden this year.

Located behind Kroger on Acme Street, the wetlands consist of several ponds along with wildflowers and is an excellent site for spotting animals, said Putnam.

“That’s where I see blue heron,” she said.

The wetlands are an underappreciated treasure, complete with approximately a mile-long loop of walking trail, and a guide will be on site Sunday to help share information, added Putnam.

The Harvest of Hope Community Garden, located at the corner of S. Sixth and Hart streets, rounds out the tour. There, visitors will be able to glimpse an array of vegetable gardens tended by several different community members. It even features a rooftop garden, said Putnam.

Tickets for Sunday’s event cost $7 in advance and are available at Twisted Sisters Boutique, Greenleaf Landscapes, Williamstown Pharmacy and Thomson’s Landscaping.

Tickets can also be purchased for $10 the day of the event at the The First Unitarian Universalist Church at 232 Third St. or at any of the gardens.

All of the proceeds go directly into a building fund for the upkeep of the historic church, said Putnam.

Gardens will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. The church will also be holding a plant sale and serving free refreshments from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

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Lisle garden walk features private yards and landscaping trends

With cool temperatures and gentle, penetrating rains at the end of many days, gardeners are as happy as kids in a candy store this year. Even non-gardeners could appreciate the prolonged show of flowering spring trees, shrubs and bulbs.

The 2013 Lisle Woman’s Club Garden Gait Walk will offer a feast for the senses with its selection of six unique gardens on its annual tour.

The self-guided event begins at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 23, at the Museums of Lisle Station Park in downtown Lisle, where vendors will feature garden-themed merchandise. The tickets are $17, or $15 if purchased in advance from any Lisle Woman’s Club member or at a selection of local Lisle businesses. All gardens close at 4 p.m.

The tour also highlights some of the latest trends in gardening while offering answers to “What grows in a shady area?” “How can I incorporate veggies in a flower garden?” and “In what ways can I personalize my garden?”

Luisa and Gerry Buehler

The half-acre yard of Luisa and Gerry Buehler was an empty lot before the family had their modern-style home built 28 years ago.

As a mystery writer, Luisa Buehler weaves clues throughout her garden using the gardening trend to reuse, re-purpose and recycle. There are a number of lovely little spots to sit, write and soak up the fragrances and beauty of nature alongside re-purposed art.

What was once the back of an aged bench is now an interesting support for peonies. The couple turned three former cypress trees near the deck and devoid of greenery into an artistic conversation piece using inverted clay pots on the trio’s branches.

With Luisa’s imagination, quaint wheelbarrows become flower pots, a rusting shovel offers a flower support and an old mailbox adds interest.

Luisa enjoys the perennials her mother passed on to her and incorporates a few vegetables in tubs, which was her father’s forte. She said gardening taught her to acknowledge nature on its terms.

“I just enjoy what comes up and I am appreciative and thankful that God lets me play in my garden,” Luisa Buehler said.

The Buehler garden is a natural environment that inspires endless creativity.

Raymond and Charlene Cebulski

The garden of Raymond and Charlene Cebulski offers a serene oasis behind their home of 35 years. The couple was ahead of the current trend of water gardening.

Their quest for answers brought them to the Midwest Pond and Koi Society, where they both now serve on the organization’s board. Layers of stone surround a large pond that is home to 30 koi fish. The pond’s top tier is the source of two waterfalls.

Around the pond are coneflowers, goatsbeard, cannas, dwarf white cone flowers and perennial petunias. A small shed that Ray built to house the pond’s equipment has the trappings of a charming cottage, complete with flower box.

An eye-catching red rose bush that once belonged to Ray’s mother flourishes near the house. Yard art brought back from their travels and a fairy garden are interesting finds tucked into the many garden beds.

Among the uncommon trees on the 13-acre lot are a linden, peony tree, Australian pine, a weeping redbud, a lime-colored green larch, a small Korean fir pine with white tips and a dwarf white pine with first-year cones in purple. In the vegetable garden, pumpkin and watermelon grow on trellises near fern peony.

Louise and David Goodman

Louise and David Goodman’s garden borders on the Green Trails subdivision’s 26 miles of paved common paths. The couple eliminated their typical front lawn to construct a tranquil arrangement of raised stone beds, pathways and interesting plants anchored by a Japanese maple, Bradford pear and clump river birch. Snapdragons and petunias provide color.

Among the neatly trimmed side yard shrubs, parsley, sage, garlic and chives provide a perennial herb garden.

A large stone patio in the rear yard is trimmed with an array of colorful hanging flower pots. The creative couple fashioned unique tables from original art pieces in leaf shapes. An attention-grabbing Tiki Moai statue affords a touch of island panache standing next to a large-leaf elephant ear plant.

The isle feeling carries over to the yard’s 10 varieties of hostas among a generous splash of colorful annuals. A tiny toad house anchors a fairy garden for interest.

Louise is particularly proud of a hedge of purple and white rose of Sharon hibiscus that she propagated from three of her mother’s shrubs. The newest shoots, she babies along until ready to pass on to neighbors and friends.

Nancy and Tony Heath

In the eight years Nancy and Tony Heath have owned their home, the original grassed front yard was transformed into a welcoming perennial garden path with billowy grasses, patches of white and purple Siberian irises and a variety of jewel-toned peonies.

A variety of roses, coral bells, sweet william, lavender and columbine intermingle along the path. A wooden front deck provides a place to sit and enjoy nature. Bird houses and milkweed invite a variety of birds and butterflies. The yard is a designated Backyard Wildlife Habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation.

The large side yard has beds of pink and purple coneflowers woven into beds of white Shasta daisies and sweet woodruff groundcover. For everyone who has purchased a predesigned perennial border and had it fizzle, the Heaths have a successful combination thriving in their back yard.

The house sits on a bluff looking over the St. Joseph’s Creek that affords an unmatched view of nature with the occasional row of ducklings following a parent.

On the 13-acre site, every season has a plant that commands attention. Following the current trend to incorporate vegetables among flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins are tucked into the front yard near the driveway for easy harvesting.

Carolyn and John Kanthack

Almost an acre in size, the garden of Carolyn and John Kanthack is trimmed with rows of field stone, which dates back to its origins as farmland. The couple expanded the original house 28 years ago.

In the front yard, a small black iron fence once belonged to Carolyn’s great-grandmother. In the rear yard, sedum from a great aunt flourishes. All the hostas in the gardens originated as gifts from family and friends.

Two long rows of privacy fencing line the back yard and become an entertaining gallery of garage sale treasures that Carolyn’s mother finds. Mirrors and birdhouses of all sizes and shapes hang on the fence, sit upon poles or poise on ladder steps.

A large aboveground pool and expanded wood deck fit into the plantings. A small pond, several water features and a hot tub incorporate the garden trend of creating living space outdoors.

A traditional vegetable garden in the sunny side yard produces tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and beans for the family.

In the front yard, a little sitting area trimmed in honeysuckle reuses the remains of the farm’s silo foundation. It’s a relaxing spot to recall yesteryear when a horse and buggy might have pulled up the long drive.

Janna and Rick Sampson

The garden of Janna and Rick Sampson incorporates the trend toward stone drives and patios into its total landscape design. A multi-trunked Amur maple on the corner of their two-car garage diminishes the structure’s size and leads the eye directly to the home’s inviting entrance where potted annuals flourish.

Below the maple, a row of variegated hostas is a lesson in patience. Rick Sampson, who learned that gardeners need to move things around as trees grow and conditions change, said the couple tried several different kinds of hostas below the maple before the present choice began to thrive in the spot.

The couple’s flair for growing plants with different shaped leaves and variegated colors is best seen in their shade garden, where there is a patch of dwarf Solomon seal flowers near several blooming Lenten roses, variegated miniature hostas and an autumn fern dryopteris erythrosora.

Other plants included are yellow flowering corydalis, bleeding heart and a variegated brunnera alkanet.

Yellow-flowered honeysuckle bushes, a dense row of arbor vitae evergreens and Wentworth viburnums shrubs add to the home’s diverse landscape specimens. Georgia peach red-toned coral bells, Jack Frost brunnera and Annabell hydrangea are a study in perennial diversity.

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Last Chance for Unique Dr. Jim O’Donnell Gardening Tips

Chicago Heights residents interested in the secrets of gardening,Dr. Jim O’Donnell will share his tips with the Union Street Art Gallery on Wednesday, June 19. The free event is open to the public.

From 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, attendees will be welcomed into O’Donnell’s gardening circle to learn some of his gardening secrets. Attendees are encouraged to preregister for the event with the gallery.

For more information or to preregister, call 708-754-2601.

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Garden Calendar: Learn tips to keep your lawn, landscape healthy in the heat

SUMMER LAWN CARE:Learn how to bring your lawn back to springtime lushness. Fertilizing plus disease and insect control will be covered. 10:15 a.m. Saturday. All Calloway’s Nursery locations. Free.

GARDEN EDUCATION:North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas, offers these events.

Terrific tomatoes, 9 a.m. to

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Gardening tips from readers, green thumb winner

We called out for your gardening tips, and you did not disappoint.

We loved your clever tips for invigorating vegetation, like this one from Michelle Moore:

“Take the time to prune your cilantro plant frequently so it will help delay bolting and prolong your harvest time.”

Michelle Moore’s cilantro. Photo provided by Michelle Moore.

And this one from Mary Swan:

“Although I have had my peony plant for years, it took quite some time to get them established. It can take two or three years before a new plant provides you with a display of flowers, so don’t get discouraged if yours doesn’t bloom the first spring after planting.”

Mary Swan’s peony plant, photo provided by Mary Swan.

And reader Angie Olsen submitted this suggestion from her tomato garden: “My gardening tip would be let gardening become a family affair, get the little ones involved in weeding and watering. They LOVE it!”

Angie Olsen’s growing tomatoes, photo provided by Angie Olsen. 

Congratulations to green thumb contest winner Renee Huang, who blends green living with her green thumb.

Her tip: “Recycle egg cartons into seedling starters on your windowsill. Transfer into your tilled garden after 7 to 10 days when sprouts are several inches tall.”

Renee Huang’s seedlings, photo provided by Renee Huang.

Renee wins a $50 gift card to Log Haven.

Thank you to all who submitted your great tips. May your flora flourish.

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Garden Tips: Aphids not shy about garden takeovers

What’s bugging you? Our mild winter and extraordinarily cool weather this spring has allowed some garden insect pests to thrive. One group of these pests is what I call “nasty little suckers,” or aphids.

The thing that makes aphids so insidious is that most are ready and waiting to attack as soon as new growth emerges. Plus, they have an extraordinary capacity to multiply quickly. If gardeners aren’t vigilant, a small population of aphids quickly can get out of control.

Identifying aphids isn’t as easy as you might think, since their appearance varies. Many gardeners are familiar with green aphids and are surprised to find that there also are black, pink, yellow, blue-gray and whitish aphids. Aphids have pear-shaped, soft bodies and usually are less than 1/8 inch in length. Most aphids don’t have wings unless their population becomes crowded and they need to find a new feeding site.

Aphids have piercing-sucking mouthparts that allow them to tap into and suck out plant sap. They often excrete a sugary liquid called honeydew, leaving sticky, shiny spots on lower leaves and objects.

When checking for aphids, examine the stems and leaf undersides of new growth. Aphids don’t scurry away like other insects; they just keep sucking away.

Besides the bother of honeydew, aphid feeding can injure plants if an infestation is severe, making leaves turn yellow. Many aphids also inject saliva into the plant causing curling, stunting, puckering and distortion. Aphids also damage some plants by transmitting viruses.

What can you do?

1. A forceful spray of water will knock aphids off a plant. Those knocked off will not go back to the plant.

2. Work with nature by encouraging natural predators like ladybugs and their larvae and not using pesticides harmful to beneficial insects.

3. Aphids are fairly easy to kill, but many softer or organic insecticides such as insecticidal soap only work when it directly contacts the bodies. When using these materials, it’s important to apply them where the aphids are found. If aphid-feeding already has caused leaf distortion, the aphids stay protected inside the curled leaves, leaving insecticides ineffective.

4. There are systemic insecticides available, applied as sprays to the leaves or as drenches to the roots, that get into the plant sap and kill the aphids. This is the only way to kill aphids protected by curled leaves. However, most of these products are only labeled for use on ornamental plants, not fruits or vegetables.

5. If the aphids are on a woody plant, consider applying a delayed dormant oil spray early in the spring just before the buds open. This can kill overwintering aphids before they get a chance to start feeding or multiplying.

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Gardening Advice for Aging Bodies, Part 1

More answers from Ms. Cassidy will be posted next Wednesday. This feature is now closed to new questions.

For Those With Arthritis

Q. Would you recommend a company that manufactures a line of tools for gardeners with arthritis? — Thurgood

A. While many elders complain of arthritis and how it inhibits their gardening, keeping a positive attitude and developing new habits can keep you at it for a long time.

First, be sure to consult your doctor or health care provider about your physical abilities and limitations.

Be aware that after sleeping, the older body needs more time to “reactivate” its muscles and tendons. Waiting a few hours before digging into the garden is wise. Occupational therapists can recommend appropriate exercises before you begin.

Pace yourself. You should break your garden tasks into smaller steps. Every 20 to 30 minutes change your position and activity. If you were raking leaves, switch to sitting as you deadhead the mums.

Boomers represent a huge market for all sorts of new products and the garden industry is taking advantage of this. The range of gardening tools and new designs to choose from can be overwhelming. While the term “ergonomic” is often associated with specially designed tools to meet the needs for those with arthritis, be aware that some designs are better than others. When investing in new tools, be sure that you can take them back if they don’t fit your needs. What may work for someone else’s arthritis may not suit yours.

Buy lightweight tools; expending your valuable and limited energy hauling around heavy things is not wise. For example, Fiskars makes sturdy but featherweight plastic hand tools.

I agree with the reader R.M. Weisman from PA who recommends Radius tools. While there is a large array of hand tools and shovels to choose from online, you should go to a store so that you can handle the tool to feel its weight and to see if the design fits your hand.

Look for hand cushioning. For tools that require us to grasp, most arthritic hands require and appreciate more cushioning. Many hand tools like trowels, weeders or pruners now come with foam rubber or some soft materials. If you need more sponginess, buy inexpensive pipe insulators (long gray tubes) that are easy to cut and wrap around handles, and secure with brightly colored duct tape.

Keeping your pruners sharp reduces the stress on your hands and wrists as well as ensures that you make a healthy cut on the plant. Look for lightweight pruners with comfortable handles.

Many tools like rakes, trowels and forks come with handles than can be adjusted to fit the length you need for the job. Customizing the tool to meet your physical needs enables you to work within the bounds of your arthritis.

Q. Do you have suggestions that don’t require a considerable investment in structural changes for modifying gardens for seniors? — Jordan, Long Beach

A. Modifying a garden can be as simple as not planting high-maintenance plants and looking instead for those more drought tolerant. In some geographic regions, planting natives can relieve the gardener of a lot of work. Review what you have in the garden and perhaps remove some of the shrubs that require yearly pruning or tall floppy flowers that need stalking.

Switch the in-ground bed gardens to containers and position them near your door for easy access and harvest.

Replace heavy hoses with lightweight brightly colored ones that are easy to move and see. Position hoses so you don’t have to haul them around the garden —perhaps get a new water faucet installed nearer to the garden. Add quick-release hose attachments so you can quickly exchange hoses without stressing your fingers and hands.

Make sure your pathways are safe for walking. Perhaps installing a handrail in hard-to-reach areas would help.

Add lighting so you can see the walkway or steps.

Vertical Gardening

Q. I would like to learn about vertical gardening. Crawling around is getting hard. — Mike, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Q. Is there a way to construct a vertical garden that is not tremendously expensive and labor intensive? — Cathy, pdx

A. Adding vertical structures can add a whole new dimension to your experience and to the look of your garden. Not only do they enable you to do a lot of your tending and maintenance standing up, thus putting less pressure on your back and knees, but they are also great space-savers on decks or porches. Vertical structures are versatile and come in many materials and shapes for a wide variety of plants.

If you have an existing wall or fence, this can be the start of your vertical garden.

Just be sure that there is safe and ample space for you to walk into, turn around in, and carry a small bucket for tools or harvesting.

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