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Archives for June 18, 2014

Ashland pays residents to convert thirsty lawns with drought-hardy species …


  • Oregon (411)

ASHLAND, Oregon — The city of Ashland has begun offering rebates to water customers who rip up their lawns, take out the sprinklers and put in drought-tolerant plants, mulch, pavers and other landscaping that doesn’t suck up water.

Annual precipitation in Ashland averages 20 inches, water demand more than triples in the summer, and the city depends on the snow pack for its water supply. Last winter, snowfall was so scant that the Mount Ashland ski area didn’t open.

All of southern Oregon is in a severe drought that could signal generally drier years ahead, so Ashland has looked for new ideas to save water. Giving customers incentives to cut back on summer irrigation is one inspired by similar programs in California and the Southwest.

“We think we’re the first Oregon city,” said Adam Hanks, a management analyst in the city administration.

The city is offering 75 cents a square foot for the first 1,000 square feet of lawn replaced, 50 cents a square foot for the next 1,000, and 25 cents a square foot for the next 1,000.

So, a lawn measuring 30 feet by 100 feet could be eligible for $1,500 in rebates. The rules say projects larger than 3,000 square feet are judged case by case.

To qualify, residents must first get approval from the city, as well as from any homeowners association boards or the like.

The drought this year is so severe that the city says residents who sign up for the lawn-replacement program have to hold off planting drought-tolerant species until October, when water will be more plentiful. They can, though, get approval for their plans and remove the turf grass.

When the city was testing the incentive program, Donald Hunsaker converted his front lawn to wood mulch dotted with boulders and drought-resistant plants such as heather and ornamental bunch grasses.

He had always felt odd to water a front lawn, while at the same time he could see the dry slopes of Grizzly Peak across the valley to the east, Hunsaker said.

“You’re fighting against nature,” he told the Ashland Daily Tidings (

Hanks said Tuesday that the city has received three formal proposals so far, and it has flexibility to meet heavy demand for rebates.

The rules say the rebates are always subject to funds being available. If demand for rebates rises sharply, the incentives can be dialed back, Hanks said, and the lead time involved in the projects gives managers the ability to make adjustments.

Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings,

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Get it Growing: Birdscaping – in your backyard!

Birdscaping is all about creating the right environment to support and invite birds to share your space through landscaping.

Birds tend to live where their basic needs can be met. Even on a small city lot, a bird sanctuary can be created to sustain a variety of birds by providing sources of food, shelter, space and water.

A complete bird habitat will include a variety of food sources that provide berries, fruits, insects, nuts and seeds year-round; cover, shade and shelter areas to hide from the elements and camouflage their homes; space to court and mate, then raise offspring; and water to drink and bathe in.

When creating and maintaining landscaping, consider using native plants. A greater number and variety of birds occur in areas of native vegetation. Native plants have co-evolved with native birds and are more likely to provide just the right benefit at just the right time. Native plantings do not require fertilizers, pesticides, watering or a lot of maintenance, and however small, can help revive ecosystems. With more diversity and layers of indigenous plants, a micro-climate has a better chance of harboring birdlife.

Select plants that will provide a variety of food sources at different times of the year. In the spring and summer, fruits, nuts and seeds are gathered from shrubs, trees and wildflowers to feed the rapidly growing young. Also consider plants that will offer different kinds of berries and seeds through fall and wintertime to a variety of birds. See the sidebar for ideas of plants that are considered native in our area to provide for the basic needs of birds all year.

Providing shelter can be as simple as having a towering conifer in which to build a nest and also may harbor cones of seeds. Dead or fallen trees can provide cavities for shelter, a place to perch or gather insects. Brush piles can become a place to scrounge for nesting materials, shelter from the wind and hunt for hiding insects.

Fresh water for drinking and bathing such as a bird bath, pond or even a mud puddle is a must-have to round out a complete bird habitat. Some birds require a periodic dirt bath in summer to repel mites. Providing a dry sunny place with loose and dusty dirt to flap around in is just the thing they need.

Backyard bird friends are indicators of a healthy environment. By placing even a few native plants outdoors, whether you live in a rural, urban or suburban setting, can help sustain a threatened bird while enjoying its presence in your birdscape.


Native Plants for birdscaping

Fruit trees: bitter cherry, Indian plum, mountain ash

Seed and nut trees: ashes, birches, Garry oaks, maples, Pacific and Western flowering dogwoods

Shelter trees: Douglas-fir, hemlock, Western red cedar, willows

Early summer berry shrubs: chokecherry, salmonberry, serviceberries

Mid-summer berry shrubs: blueberries, evergreen huckleberry, Oregon grape, red flowering currant, red huckleberry, salal

Fall berry shrubs: elderberries, red-osier dogwood

Winter berry shrubs: baldhip rose, Kinnikinnik, Nootka rose

Native wildflowers for birds: asters, coastal strawberry, goldenrods

Native wildflowers for hummingbirds: columbine, fireweed, lupine, phlox, Western trumpet honeysuckle


Michele Mangiantini is a Washington State University-certified, Clallam County Master Gardener.


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Spa store joins other businesses for total backyard experience

    FARGO, N.D. – With the addition of a Marquis Spa dealership, Rod Glover is one step closer to providing homeowners the ultimate backyard experience.

    Glover is also owner of a Christmas Décor franchise, a Backyard Adventures dealership, as well as Paramount Lighting and Landscaping. All three do business under the corporate name of Bright Ideas.

    “We’re trying to grow our business into a full backyard service,” said Glover.

    It all began with the purchase of Christmas Décor, a residential and commercial holiday decorating franchise, in 1999. It continues to serve as the flagship of the company, serving hundreds of clients each season.

    Glover started the landscape lighting company soon after to supplement the seasonal Christmas Décor business. Eleven years ago, he purchased backyard play set dealership Backyard Adventures.

    This year, he added landscaping services and the Marquis Spa dealership.

    Glover said the landscaping services evolved at the request of his customers.

    He said often when he and his crew were installing outdoor lighting or Christmas lights that clients would ask them about getting other work done. Rather than continue to refer these clients to another company, Glover decided it was time to do the work themselves.

    “We’ve done landscaping for the play sets for years, but we’d never had a hardscape crew until now. Hardscape is your patio pavers, retaining walls, fire pits and stuff like that,” Glover said.

    Once he started making landscaping hires, he realized he had the knowledge in house to install hot tubs.

    He started asking around and found that sales for hot tubs in this area are very good, so Glover realized they would be a perfect addition to his business.

    Glover said Marquis has hot tubs for customers interested in relaxation, connection or therapy purposes.

    “There are spas that are designed for one or all of those things,” said Glover. “Basically, there are endless options on spas these days, too.”

    Examples are video and audio systems, Wi-Fi, lighting packages and a line of what they refer to as “environments,” which include the furniture and décor surrounding the hot tub.

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    Franklin home’s charm spills beyond its walls

    Bill and Lora Segura came to Franklin in 2007 to retire. They bought what they call a perfect house, a new home that had been built by Matt Christenson. They’ve loved it. Decorated it. Landscaped it. In fact, they created fantastic gardens.

    The problem is, Bill has run out of projects. Tired of retirement living, he wants to go back to Texas so he can do consulting work. Thus, the couple has just listed their home, at 109 Battlefield Drive in Franklin, for sale, asking $699,000.

    Danny Anderson and his son, Reid Anderson, of Bob Parks Realty have the listing.

    “This house is so charming,” Danny Anderson says. “It’s a reflection of this couple. They are lovely people; we wish they weren’t leaving Franklin.”

    He says the home’s porches, landscaping, terrific kitchen with stainless-steel appliances and a farm sink are picture perfect.

    “The house is immaculate; it looks as though it has never been lived in,” he says. “It just exudes charm, and, of course, it is a fabulous location on a short dead-end street right across from the old BGA.”

    The home has 3,090 square feet of living space with an additional 441 square feet over the garage that is currently used as an office.

    “The outdoor living space is incredible,” Danny Anderson says. “Not only are the gardens lovely, there’s a patio, a screened porch, outdoor fireplace and partial deck. The lot is about one-quarter acre, and it, like the home itself, is perfection.”

    Lora Segura says the landscaping, back and front, were projects for the then newly retired Bill.

    “Not only did he design the gardens, he chose the plants and planted them. He designed the rock walls, the flagstone walkways and my potting shed,” she says. “I love to garden, so the potting shed has been such a gift.”

    She says the home and Franklin have been a dream place for them. They have family here; they love Franklin and are sad to leave it, but she says her husband just needs the stimulation of working, and all his business contacts are back in Houston.

    “We feel privileged to have lived here in this little bit of heaven,” she says. “We’ll always return often; we love it here. We love walking downtown, we love our neighbors. Every minute here has been just wonderful.”

    The home has four bedrooms, two full bathrooms, one half bath and a bonus room. Danny Anderson says the home is light-filled and move-in perfect.

    “Not only is it in walking distance of downtown, but it’s also right there with Battlefield Park. It’s a very peaceful setting, and so convenient,” he says.

    The two-car detached garage offers the feel of an older home, as does the house itself.

    “You could not find a new home that’s any more pristine than this one,” he says. “It’s an incredible house in a fantastic location. We have only just listed it and we’re already having showings.”

    The details

    Address: 109 Battlefield Drive

    Price: $699,000

    Square feet: 3,090 square feet with an additional 441 over the garage.

    Year built: 2007

    Land: Quarter-acre

    Notable: 4 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 1 half-bath, 2-car detached garage, lovely gardens and outdoor living space, complete with an outdoor fireplace.

    Article source:

    Parks Perspectives: Water Reuse Demonstration Site, a versatile city space

    With a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology nearly 29 acres neighboring Carrie Blake Park was bought by the City of Sequim to transform into a water reuse demonstration site. In doing so, the Water Reuse Demonstration Site has become a place for a variety of community groups, gatherings and activities.

    Although not a city park, the Demonstration Site has a park-like feel with picnic tables, walking and biking trails traversed across the site, horseshoe pits, roughly 14 manicured acres with soccer nets scattered about, community gardens and a performing arts stage. Since the purchase of the property in 1998 various community organizations have become part of the site in one way or another.

    Reused water

    Although the acreage has provided some serendipitous community opportunities the primary function of the Demonstration Site is to educate and demonstrate the sustainable practice of reusing wastewater.

    “The Department of Ecology implemented multiple water reuse demonstration sites throughout the state and we have one of them,” Patsy Mattingley, Sequim Parks and Recreation board member, said.

    Partnering with city’s wastewater reclamation facility, treated Class “A” wastewater is piped to the Water Reuse Demonstration Site where it is kept in holding ponds and used for a variety of uses.

    “A majority of the reuse water is utilized on public lands including roadway medians, landscaped areas and park sites,” said Joe Irvin, special projects manager.

    Complimentary to the reuse of water, the entire site is designed with a consistent focus on water conservation using “low impact development” strategies. The Clallam Conservation District, with help and contributions from local businesses, volunteers, Sequim High School FFA and multiple grants, installed examples of low impact development such as porous paving, a rain garden (a garden of drought-resistant plant species) and water-wise landscaping.

    To continue to utilize the Demonstration Site’s potential, city officials have future plans to “do more infiltration and move and enlarge the holding pond south/southwest of the existing holding pond,” Irvin said.

    Community contributions

    The reused water is fittingly recycled about the Demonstration Site. The restrooms within the James Center for the Performing Arts uses the water and both the Terrace Gardens and Albert Haller Playfields are irrigated with it. In addition, the holding ponds support fish for youths to hone their fishing skills.

    By day the fields within the Demonstration Site are fairly undisturbed, but once work hours draw to a close the fields are used primarily by soccer players. Last spring the Sequim FC Adult Co-ed Recreational Soccer League took form. The league started with a group of local youth soccer coaches and their desire for an adult recreational league. Since, the league has grown to more than 10 teams and still growing, Quincy Byrne, director for the league, said. During the league’s fall, spring and summer seasons at least 200 people use the fields weekly with roughly 15 players per team and family and friends that come to watch.

    Before the Albert Haller Playfields, which were spearheaded by the Sequim Family Advocates, there “really wasn’t much of an alternative for public fields,” Byrne said.

    But, the playfields are just one example of the community’s interaction with the Demonstration Site. In 2004, the James Center for the Performing Arts was built by the nonprofit organization the Sequim City Band. The organization has since gifted the center to the city with the stipulation that they can use the rehearsal hall and stage for their performances. With more than 60 band members, the Sequim City Band needs a large venue, like the James Center to play and practice. The James Center’s stage was carefully engineered to properly promote acoustics and those on the stage can be heard across the Demonstration Site, Mattingley said.

    “Nearly everyday of the week the Swisher Rehearsal Hall is occupied with one organization or another,” Mattingley said.

    Similar to the Albert Haller Playfields, the James Center for the Performing Arts has seemingly filled a community niche.

    Ongoing development

    Aesthetically, the Demonstration Site is pleasing. For example, the Terrace Gardens near the James Center are planted with various flowers that peak at different times throughout the seasons. The gardens started as a Master Gardeners project, but has since fallen into the hands of a local volunteer group.

    “Part of the goal (of the gardens) is to provide a community space for people to enjoy,” Lee Bowen, Terrace Garden manager, said. “The site (Water Reuse Demonstration Site) is a great location with a lot of foot and bike traffic.”

    Although most of the gardens and landscaping is mature at this point, more than 15 years later the Water Reuse Demonstration Site continues to develop new gardens and amenities appear as community organizations and individuals get involved with the site. Additional parking and restrooms are among the future goals for the Demonstration Site and the Sequim City Band hopes to expand the James Center.

    “It’s a lot of property, but it has filled up quickly,” Mattingley said.

    As with Sequim City parks, the Water Reuse Demonstration Site’s most challenging aspect is allocating staff and the maintenance and operations cost. Following the Master Park Plan visioning workshop “[i]mprovements are desired to the James Center seating area by providing tiered (built into the ground) seating,” Irvin said. “Furthermore, a lot of the comments emphasized the importance of maintaining a balance between the built and natural environment at the Class “A” Water Reuse Demonstration Site.”

    The wide array of community interests invested in the site perhaps “highlights the importance and need for a Master Park Plan update,” Mattingley said. At the core of the Demonstration Site however, is the original objective to use the site as a place to demonstrate what is possible with reclaimed water.



    Reach Alana Linderoth at


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    Landscaping: Leading you down the garden path – Wairarapa Times

    The beautiful stonework on these steps has been left exposed by careful planting and toplarled plants.
    The beautiful stonework on these steps has been left exposed by careful planting and toplarled plants.

    It’s a long time since I’ve had to deal with slopes, although coming from Dunedin, I developed a healthy dislike of steep sections early on.

    We lived on St Clair Hill and getting home from school meant walking up the (from memory) 284 steps of Jacob’s Ladder, which led to our house.

    More steep sections followed as I chased the warm weather north and finally, in Kerikeri, I got a flat section. A mate with a digger made a few very gentle contours to create a driveway and parking area, and to disguise the remains of the shelter belt I had cut down. I can walk straight out of the house on to the terrace, then into the lawn, and then into the orchard, without any discernable change of level. I am one happy person.

    So I have sympathy for people who ask me how to design a garden for a hilly site. I stifle the urge to tell them to move because the advantage with a hill site is, of course, that you get a view. There are another advantages, too. Changes of level present an opportunity to alter the style or atmosphere of the garden without having to create the whole vista from scratch.

    And you can plant trees and shrubs of differing sizes in such a way that each is shown to its best advantage. With a flat section, you’re always whacking the top of something.

    Gardening on a hill is no problem provided you don’t want flat bits. Just plant the whole thing in small trees and shrubs and ignore it. But if you want design elements and landscaping like steps, paths, walls and terraces, then you have a bit more of a mission.

    I’ve seen dozens of steep gardens “landscaped” with poles and half rounds of timber holding up rough terraces of dry, crumbly soil in which tatty ground covers cling precariously to life. If that’s not the look you’re after, then be prepared for planning.

    Assuming the house is at the top of the slope, you need to organise landscaping and planting so you look down over a series of areas descending the slope. They can be casual or defined, but try to leave “breathing spaces” such as paving, seating areas or lawns, or your garden may look like a jungle from above.

    And check out the growth patterns of what you’re going to plant. If you have a penchant for big trees, be aware that you won’t see much beyond them, so they’ll need to go at the bottom.

    The steep bits between the flat spots will be a challenge to plant.

    Slopes don’t hold water very well, and it’s common to find the plants at the bottom where the water gathers doing very well, while plants further up the bank are struggling. It explains the popularity of the Grevillea Bronze Rambler, which has long been a common solution to that particular problem.

    Retaining walls and steps will be a necessity but they don’t have to dominate the design. Position them at an angle to the house or whatever building they’re closest to, and soften them by planting something alongside. Grasses and groundcovers will spill over the edges and disguise any rough bits, and make them look as if they’ve been there for a while. My current favourite combination for this purpose is Lomandra Seascape with star jasmine. I like them, and fortunately they seem to like each other.

    If you’re building a fairly utilitarian retaining wall, something that grows over it will give you camouflage, but if it’s a lovely dry stone wall, or one made of railway sleepers, you’ll probably want to leave these exposed, so choose plants that don’t creep.

    Rocks, if they suit your site and if you can lay your hands on them, are very useful when it comes to slopes.

    They hold up the soil, provide passive solar heating, and add design elements to spaces where it’s difficult to position a three-tier fountain or a reflection pond.

    And little areas of lawn will also enhance your design.

    The trouble with slopes covered in plants and not much else is that they can look rather uninviting.

    But if you can see a set of steps leading down to a small lawn with a garden seat, you’ll be far more tempted to take your tea or your wine down there, and enjoy your garden at close range.

    Article source:

    Natural tips to keep gardeners healthy

    More than 41,200 people across the nation were injured in 2012 while working in their gardens, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Conversely, many common flowers and plants have healing properties that can help gardeners treat their injuries.

    Made from plants, as well as animals and minerals, homeopathic medicines offer some of the safest options for self-treatable conditions — and can be great for ailments and injuries that befall home gardeners. Because the risk of interaction with other drugs, supplements and herbs is minimal, experts say these natural medicines are a good first choice for early symptoms.  

    Easily found in health food stores and pharmacies, these non-prescription medicines work naturally with the body instead of masking a problem, which is important if a more serious condition should arise.

    With that in mind, here are some homeopathic treatments for common gardener ailments:

    • Allergies: Relieving allergy symptoms provides a good example of the principle behind homeopathic medicines. Chopping a red onion has a “toxic” effect, causing eyes to water and burn until exposed to fresh air. When similar symptoms appear from allergies or a cold, a micro-dose of the red onion helps relieve those same symptoms. The red onion in this homeopathic form takes the Latin name of its source, Allium cepa.

    Try Ambrosia (Ragweed) for watery nasal discharge with eyes that tear and itch and Sabadilla (Cevadilla) for hypersensitivity to the smell of flowers or itching in the back of the mouth. A good general allergy medicine is Histaminum, which is derived from histamine.

    • Sore, Stiff Muscles: For gardeners suffering back and knee injuries, Arnica montana can be an essential gardening tool.

    Commonly known as the Mountain daisy, Arnica’s healing properties were first recognized in the 16th century. Legend has it mountain climbers chewed the plant to relieve sore, aching muscles and bruises from falls. Today, this homeopathic medicine is used by professional athletes and surgeons for muscle pain and stiffness, swelling from injuries and bruising. For more information visit

    • Sunburn, Blisters and Other Skin Conditions: In its homeopathic form, Calendula (Garden marigold) is one of the most versatile aids for skin irritations. Try a Calendula cream or ointment for blisters and calluses, cuts and scrapes, rashes, and chapped skin caused by wind, dry or cold air, or sun.

    Used for centuries as a natural healing and soothing substance, Calendula’s wound-healing properties are due to essential oils, saponins, flavonoids and alkaloids. These compounds have skin healing properties.

    • Bug Bites: To help relieve bee and wasp stings, as well as gnat, black fly or mosquito bites, take five pellets of Apis mellifica (Honey bee) every 30 minutes for up to six doses. And apply Calendula topically.

    • Take Breaks and Relax: While many plants help us nurture our health, remember to practice common sense. Prepare properly by stretching and wearing sun block. Don’t overdo it. Take breaks. End your day with a soaking bath.

    Relieve conditions at the first sign of symptoms before they grow out of control, so you can continue your gardening activities.

    Article source:

    Get your garden ship shape this summer

    PREPARE your garden for a summer of fun with a great range of quality garden accessories and gadgets.

    Tools and gadgets

    Essential Lawnmower, £34.99

    Get the perfect cut with this great value lawnmower. Featuring a 1000W motor, 30 litre grass collection box and three cutting heights, this is a fantastic tool for seasoned green-fingers and gardening novices alike.

    Petrol Trimmer/ Bush Cutter, £98.99

    Keep your garden hedges and bushes neat and tidy with this trimmer/bush cutter. With a 1.35KW engine, two blades and grass trimming spool, perfecting your garden will take no time at all.

    Three-Piece Cutting Tool Set, £9.99

    Perfect for pruning hedges and shrubs, this Cutting Tool Set offers excellent quality at a great price. Including Lopping Shears, Hedge Sheers and Pruning Shears, there’s no excuse for the garden to look unruly.

    Slogan Kneeling Pad, £1.99

    Available in five attractive designs, these handy foam pads are great for providing extra comfort and support when weeding.

    Furniture and accessories

    Rattan Effect Furniture Set, £149.99

    Perfect for dining alfresco, this stylish furniture set is easy to assemble and with removable and washable covers, it’ll stand the test of time so you can kick back and relax outdoors every time the sun shines.

    Garden Bench, £39.99

    Relax after a hard days work and admire your garden from this sturdy, two-seat garden bench. Made from excellent quality FSC Hardwood, it’s sure to be a focal point in your garden for years to come.

    Garden Border Stakes, £2.99

    Great for making your garden or patio look pretty, these decorative garden stakes are made from black powder-coated metal and come in a choice of 10 designs. They also have a double-ended bottom, meaning they won’t blow away if it’s a windy day.

    Outdoor Lantern, £7.99

    Add a touch of style and ambiance to your garden with a purse-friendly outdoor lantern. Available in either classic black or white and in a vintage style, your garden will look spectacular at sunset.

    Pedestal Barbecue, £27.99

    Get the family together and cook-up a summer feast on this pedestal barbecue. Made from sturdy stainless steel with an enamelled hearth and cooking grill, you’ll be able to cook up a sizzling feast every summer.

    Fire Pit, £19.99 (pictured)

    Great for long summer nights and when you have guests round, this fire pit has foldable legs, so it’s easy to store away in winter and features a cooking grid and steel poker for stoking.

    Giant Outdoor Wall Clock, £17.99

    Keep an eye on the time when you’re enjoying yourself in the garden with this sophisticated quartz Roman numeral clock. Perfect for interior or exterior walls, this stylish clock is battery powered and comes in a choice of three neutral colours.

    All available from Aldi, from Thursday, June 19, as part of its Specialbuys.

    Article source:

    Marianne Binetti: These 10 tips can help gardeners save some green

    Right about now, with the growing season in full swing, is a good time to approach the topic of budget gardening.

    Here are my top 10 ways to save money in the garden:

    1. Add empty water bottles or plastic six packs from annuals to the bottom third of large containers. Extra drainage means you’ll buy less potting soil, keeping the pots lightweight.

    2. Yes, you can reuse your potting soil from last year. Just stir it up and mix with a bit of fresh potting soil. Remember to fertilize used potting soil.

    3. Divide your happy perennial plants and spread them around the garden. Daylilies, hardy geraniums, hosta and heucheras are plants you need buy only once. You can even trade your extras with other gardeners.

    4. Speaking of heucheras, those colorful foliage perennials love our climate and look great all year, especially in containers. You just need to know the secret — break off their tops when they grow long necks like a giraffe — and poke the stems right into the soil to root.

    5. Large lawns are expensive to maintain. Add a split rail fence to partition off a section of the lawn, let the weeds grow tall and bloom and call it a wildflower meadow. The bees will thank you.

    6. Make your own slug-killing spray — put one third ammonia and one third water into a recycled spray bottle. Spray this directly onto those tiny slugs that appear on your plants right after it rains. You can also use this mixture to wash the windows. (Bonus: The ammonia converts to nitrogen and feeds your plants.)

    7. Never pay for plastic or other weed-blocking materials. Newspaper at least five pages thick and cardboard under wood mulch works better and is safer for the environment.

    8. Make dirt-cheap pathways, patios and play areas by laying cedar chips on top of newspaper. Cedar chips are also called playground chips and the cedar repels fleas, keeps down weeds and smells great. Cedar repels water so don’t use cedar shavings, or chips around your plants. Hardwood chips are better for mulching around plants.

    9. Make compost — this is as simple as a piling up your garden debris behind a shrub or as efficient as a three bin system. Old compost from the middle of a pile is perfect for improving your soil.

    10. Subscribe to a local newspaper, attend local garden tours, buy from local nurseries and admire what grows best in your neighborhood. When it comes to gardening, local information is the key to avoiding costly mistakes.

    Meet Marianne

    June 21: The Enumclaw Garden Tour, featuring seven gardens. The event benefits the Enumclaw Region Healthcare Foundation. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets at or call 360-802-3206. Marianne will speak on budget gardening.

    Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at

    Article source:

    A taste of summer

    Have flavour on your doorstep this summer, by creating your own herb garden. Hannah Stephenson shows you how

    Imagine stepping out on to your patio to pick fresh herbs for your cooking – from fragrant basil to accompany ripe tomatoes and mozzarella, coriander to sprinkle on spicy curries and salads, mint to add to your Pimm’s or rosemary to sprinkle over lamb chops on the barbecue. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it?

    Fresh herbs are such a staple in today’s kitchens, yet the shop-bought ones so often end up wilting on the windowsill before you’ve had time to use them.

    If you are planning a herb garden or a group of herbs in pots, place them near the kitchen where they are easily accessible. A small collection can be planted in a cartwheel pattern, or even in a planter with separate pockets, each segment planted with a different herb.

    On a larger scale, a bed can be divided into segments, each for a different herb, fringed with a dwarf hedge such as lavender to define the edges.

    Formal herb gardens are traditionally round or square, often with a clipped low-growing hedge around the outside and something bigger, such as a bay in a large pot or a sundial or birdbath, in the middle, with a mixture of herbs filling the space.

    Informal herb gardens are easier to tend to as you can mix the herbs to include both perennials and annuals, adding plants such as lavender and foxgloves to give the area a bit more colour.

    When planting a border of herbs, place the tallest at the back so they don’t shade out the smaller ones. Angelica grows up to 2m (6ft) and will self-seed freely. Mint and lemon balm are invasive so should be planted in pots or buckets in the ground so their roots are confined and don’t swamp other less vigorous plants.

    Groups of symmetrically arranged raised beds provide an easy and attractive way to cultivate a wide range of herbs without having to tread on soil, plus you can cater for the soil and watering needs of different herbs.

    You can just as easily grow pots of herbs on your patio or in a windowbox in the right situation and with the right soil.

    Most herbs used for cooking and for their fragrance are natives of the Mediterranean and do best in warm sunny conditions in well-drained soil, with added grit. Those in containers may need daily watering in hot weather but some, such as basil, will resent going to bed at night with wet leaves or sodden compost, so water in the morning before they are in direct sunlight.

    Many herbs don’t like rich, moisture-retentive growing conditions, so you’ll need to give them what they need. Coriander doesn’t like being crowded and won’t thrive in cool conditions, parsley is greedy and requires a rich, moisture-retentive soil, while thyme prefers poor, very well-drained soil.

    Basil likes warmth and shelter but won’t do well in searing sun, so grow it in pots of soilless potting compost in semi shade.

    Remove the flowers from shortlived leafy herbs such as chervil and basil to keep them growing longer and from coriander and dill if you don’t want seeds but would rather have the leaves.

    Before too long, you should be able to pick aromatic, flavoursome herbs from your garden rather than veering towards the wilting leaves of the shop-bought ones on your windowsill.

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