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Archives for June 17, 2017

Fun facts about fertilizer – Columbia-Greene Media: Weekly …

Posted: Saturday, June 17, 2017 12:15 am

Fun facts about fertilizer

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media

Over the past two weeks, the weather quickly turned from cold and wet, to very hot and dry — punctuated by some nasty thunderstorms throughout the region.

Soil moisture levels, which prohibited tillage for many gardeners the past few weeks, have dropped to optimal levels for planting.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017 12:15 am.

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Gardening tips for people with limited mobility or vision impairment – Lockport Union

This week I am combining suggestions for people with limited mobility and/or vision impairment and one of my favorite hobbies – gardening! The timing for this topic is fitting – with the official start of summer this week.

When you think about moving around in your yard, do you think how limited mobility can make it difficult to enjoy your garden? Do you have physical impairments or does someone with physical limitations live in your house or visit frequently? Another factor that may be keeping you from enjoying your garden may be problems with vision or hearing. Even minor sensory problems multiply problems of movement, as do problems of balance in such disorders as inner-ear disturbances or diabetes.

Don’t focus on being able to pronounce the next word, just work on understanding its meaning. Proprioception is the technical name for the collection of senses and brain functions that tell you where you are spatially at any given moment. Certain conditions can damage or destroy the nerves of proprioception in the legs and feet, so that a person has to rely on visual orientation only. A person who has problems with proprioception is likely to sway or wobble especially in bad light. 

Enjoying a garden means different things to different people. Some want just to look to take in the beauty and some want to dig in the dirt.

The best way to make gardening easier is to move the plants closer to the gardener by constructing raised beds. There are two measurements to consider – height and width. Two feet is a good height. Topping the retaining wall with a foot wide (or wider) stone or concrete seat offers a convenient place to sit or lean, or to keep tools handy. The bed should also be no wider than is convenient for you to reach; perhaps 2-3 feet wide if it’s only accessible from one side or 3-4 feet wide if it’s accessible from both sides. Rounded corners eliminate sharp edges. 

Another way to bring the plants closer to the gardener is to plant in containers. Plants grown in pots generally need to be watered more often than plants grown in the ground, so make sure there’s a faucet or other water source convenient to where the pots will be set. 

Select low maintenance plants that do not need frequent deadheading or complicated pruning. Many plants are identified as “low maintenance” at the nursery. 

Easy to handle tools are also available to make your gardening easier. Look for tools with long handles, which increases your reach, and those with cushioned or oversized grips, which are more comfortable to handle. Make sure the tools you select aren’t too heavy, since it can be awkward to use. 

For even slightly limited mobility, transitions can be tricky. Some front walks are too narrow to accommodate a quad cane or walker and the uneven grass strip can be treacherous. A person with a leg brace, or even a cane, needs a hard surface that is wide enough to walk in a straight line, with additional space for changing or reversing direction. A 4-foot walk that’s ample for the agile is tight for someone with a cane walking alone. Consider a 6-foot minimum for high use walks, so a helper can walk on the same surface, if necessary. 

Steps and sloped paths should have graspable railings or other firm handholds at crucial spots. Make sure the steps and stairs are well lighted. Make sure the light source is well above or below eye level. Blinding lights can be hazardous, because as one gets older, your eye’s response to changes in light slows with age.

There are 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States. 5.5 million people over the age of 65 are blind or visually impaired. Gardening may seem like an activity for only the sighted, but it doesn’t have to be. Gardens can be a haven of sound, fragrance and textures. According to American Foundation for the Blind, by continuing to garden, people who have experienced vision loss gain self-confidence and that self-confidence bleeds over to other areas of their life. If you continue to garden, you set aside limitations set upon yourself. Longtime advocate for those with disabilities say that growing plants provides inspiration and that vision loss is simply not enough reason to hang up the watering can and trowel.

Some safety tips for people with visual limitations include:

• Clear plants hanging over paths 

• Carefully coil hoses and store them out of the way

• Use labels or tags with large, readable letters or Braille or colored stakes to identify different plants

• Use tools with bright colors to make them easier to find

• Use an apron or tool belt to store tools while in the garden

• Avoid spraying pesticides

• Avoid thorny plants 

Making the garden lower maintenance in general can help the vision impaired gardener stay independent. 

Simple enjoyment is a good reason for making your garden accessible for those with limitations. Even if you don’t want to or can’t completely re-landscape your garden, you should be able to make a least some of your outdoor space easily accessible to someone who has trouble walking, bending or kneeling.

Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a Lockport-based non-profit organization that provides senior, mental health, in-home care, caregiver support services and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 433-1937 or visit

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This week’s gardening tips: look for chinch bug damage, don’t cut back parsley


This week’s gardening tips: After planting bedding plants, water them in with a half-strength solution of your favorite water-soluble fertilizer. This gets them off to a good start.

When parsley sends up its flower stalk: Its productive season is over. However, the tiny flowers provide food for parasitic wasps that help control other insects. So, consider leaving your blooming parsley in place until flowering is over and then remove it.

Chinch bugs often show up in late June and July: They are most damaging during hot dry weather. In lawn grass, look for new irregular dead areas that enlarge fairly rapidly. The grass will have a dry, straw-like appearance. Treat with acephate, permethrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin or other labeled insecticides to prevent extensive damage. Follow label directions carefully.

Cut back early summer-flowering perennials: When they finish flowering, cut them back to keep the plants attractive and, in the case of some perennials, encourage more flowering.

When buying pesticides: Ask for a recommendation for the least toxic material that will do the job and buy the smallest container available. Large-sized containers may take years to use up, and by then, the pesticide has often lost its effectiveness.

Plant palms through August: Palms establish best when planted into warm soil. Select hardier palms, such as cabbage palm, windmill palm, Mediterranean fan palm, Canary Island date palm, palmetto and needle palm. Water them during dry weather while they become established.


To keep the foliage in good shape through the summer, make sure caladiums are well watered during hot, dry weather. If practical for you, break off flowers that form so the plants will put their energy into more leaves.

Unless it is necessary, avoid placing saucers underneath container plants outside. Saucers full of water will keep the soil in the pots too wet, an unhealthy condition for most plants. In addition, saucers full of water provide breeding sites for mosquitoes.

Keep up with weeding. This time of year, weeds can get out of hand quickly. Use mulches wherever possible. If you need help with herbicide recommendations, contact your local LSU AgCenter Extension office.

Despite the hot weather, continue to plant colorful bedding plants to brighten summer flowerbeds. Keep newly planted beds well-watered during the first few weeks while they get established, and be sure to mulch beds to conserve soil moisture. When the bed is first planted, take the opportunity to run a soaker hose through it and cover the bed with mulch. It will make watering much easier and more efficient.

Use hand pruners or garden scissors to cut the stems when harvesting bell peppers and eggplants. The fruit stems are tough, and it’s easy to break a branch or damage the plant trying to break them off by hand.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. 

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A Secret Garden–Inspired Dinner Party in the French Riviera

When Imogen Bailey, the director of event design studio Native Native, moved to the French Riviera last year, she was immediately struck by the sensory beauty of her newly adopted home—and instantly knew she wanted to share it with others. “I was so inspired by the flowers and botanical diversity,” she says. “I wanted to bring to light the edible flowers, seasonal produce, and terroir of this region of France that have been forgotten over time.”

To fulfill her mission Bailey did what any event designer worth her salt would do: She launched a series of intimate dinners. Dubbed the Secret Garden Supper Club, each event is set in an unexpected location in the French Riviera and brought to life with elements that capture the natural essence of the area—wild herbs, indigenous flowers, seasonal ingredients, and products culled from local artisanal talents. It’s far cry from the formal dining scene and jet-set aesthetic usually associated with towns like Monaco, Nice, or St. Tropez—which is exactly what Bailey intended: “I wanted to redefine people’s experience of luxury, far from the decadence and glitz that have long been synonymous with the French Riviera.”

Above, an inside glimpse. Plus, below, a few of Bailey’s own secrets for creating an intimate event that reflects a similar sense of place.

How to make a dinner party more memorable:

“Exceptional food along with an exciting venue and brilliant company are key components when creating an unforgettable dinner party. I love the challenge of working with unconventional venues on the French Riviera that aren’t normally used for fine-dining. The chef has complete artistic freedom to create a menu focusing on the exceptional quality of seasonal ingredients combined with the flavors of wild edible flowers that adorn each dish.”

How to create a gorgeous table and atmosphere:

“When designing a fine-dining experience, every detail counts—from the decorations to the tablescape to the food, each element contributes perfectly to achieve a sense of harmony. Creating the right floral centerpiece is also essential, so I work closely with the florist to ensure the tones and textures correspond with the theme and overall aesthetic.”

How to make guests feel at home:

“Weave in personal touches. For the launch of Secret Garden Supper Club, I collaborated with a talented calligraphy artist who made the menus and hand-scripted each of the guests’ names in gold onto bay leaves. I recommend giving guests a little something to take home; I like hand-made floral-themed favors so that the experience is carried right through until the end of the evening and beyond.”

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Garden Help: Hot weather tips for a healthy lawn – Florida Times

Lawns are a big part of many landscapes and keeping them healthy is sometimes a challenge. Those who have replaced a dead lawn have discovered that it isn’t cheap, and the physical labor to remove the dead lawn and install new sod is hard work. To avoid this expense and work, stay in tune with your lawn and follow good maintenance practices. Good mowing and irrigation practices are the most important factors that can affect the health of your lawn.

Not mowing often enough is one of the biggest mowing mistakes that many people make. I have a standard St. Augustine lawn and the mower blade is set as high as it will go. My husband or I mow the grass once a week during the growing season, which is usually adequate. But last Saturday when I mowed, it was a struggle because the lawn had grown like it was on steroids in response to all the rain. But, I was guilty of removing more than a third of the blade height, which is a standard recommendation. For example, if my mower blade is set at 4 inches, I should mow the lawn before it reaches 6 inches. If the lawn continues to grow at its current rate, I will need to mow every 5 days to meet this goal.

Removing only a third at each mowing leaves more leaf surface so the lawn can bounce back. It also reduces excess grass clippings that can contribute to thatch buildup. Allowing thatch to build up will increase disease, insect, and weed problems. If you can’t mow more frequently, run over the clumps with the mower again to reduce their size and distribute them evenly or bag them if the grass is high.

The next most frequent mowing mistake is that most homeowners and commercial landscape maintenance companies cut the lawn too short, often called scalping. Perhaps they think if it is cut shorter, it will last longer and they won’t have to mow as often. Mowing height differs by grass type and variety, so it helps to know what type of lawn you have. The mowing height for bahiagrass is from 3 to 4 inches, bermudagrass from 0.5 to 1.5 inches, centipedegrass from 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches, St. Augustinegrass from 2 to 4 inches, and zoysiagrass from 0.2 to 2 1/2 inches. Note the large mowing height range given for St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass. That’s because varieties have different growth habits that directly relate to mowing heights. For example, standard St. Augustinegrass varieties should be mowed at 3 ½ to 4 inches and dwarf varieties like Seville, Captiva, and Delmar at 2 to 2 ½ inches. Lawns that are mowed at the proper height develop a stronger root system and help shade out unwanted weeds. Another way to avoid scalping is to change the mowing direction each time you cut the lawn.

Keep lawn mower blades sharp. Grass blades are wounded when cut and heal quicker from a clean cut versus a jagged cut. Lawns cut with a dull mower develop a brown appearance because the grass blade is actually torn, not cut. This creates more stress for the lawn and makes it more susceptible to disease and insect problems.

Avoid mowing the lawn when it is under severe drought stress. Lawns go into dormancy during droughts, become brittle, and are more prone to bruising, especially from the weight of heavy mowers. To prevent this from happening during drought conditions, wait to mow the grass until after a rainfall or your irrigation day.

Never mow the lawn with a rotary mower when it is wet. Clippings from wet grass will clog the lawnmower, causing an uneven cut, and will clump more potentially creating a thatch problem.

Let the clippings fall back on the lawn instead of bagging them. As long as the grass is cut at the proper height, this will not create a thatch problem but provides a slow release fertilizer to the lawn. If the grass accumulates in clumps, use a leaf rake or blower to disperse. On average, as the clippings decompose, this contributes one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year,

When mowing, aim grass clippings back onto the lawn and away from streets, storm drains, or bodies of water. Either blow grass clippings back onto the lawn with a blower or sweep/vacuum to remove them from streets, sidewalks or driveways. If mowing near a water body, bag the grass clippings within a 6 foot area bordering the water to reduce nitrogen content in our water bodies.

If the lawn is growing too quickly, don’t apply nitrogen fertilizers during the hot summer months. Instead, if the lawn needs greening up this summer, apply iron sulfate (ferrous sulfate) in a liquid form. Apply iron sulfate at the rate of two ounces per three to five gallons of water for every 1000 square feet and repeat every six weeks if needed. This is especially important if the soil pH is alkaline (over 7.0) or if the water source is alkaline. Following application, do not mow or water the lawn for 24 hours to maximize uptake.

Like nitrogen fertilizers, lots of water will also cause excessive growth. Too much water keeps the root zone saturated, which will make it impossible for roots to take up water and nutrients, plus they can develop root diseases. We have no control over rainfall but we do over irrigation. If the lawn is receiving adequate water from rainfall, turn the irrigation system off. To determine if your lawn needs additional water, know the signs of a thirsty lawn: grass blades that fold, grass color will change from green to bluish gray, and footprints or tire-tracks remain in the lawn (i.e., it doesn’t bounce back).

When you do irrigate, make sure to apply ½ to ¾ inch to encourage a deep root system that is more drought- and cold-tolerant. For rotating irrigation heads, this may require running a zone for 45 minutes to an hour to deliver that much water. To determine how long a zone should run, place straight sided cans throughout the area and run the zone for a known period of time. Then measure the amount of water in the cans to see if you are applying the correct amount. And never water late in the day – the best time to water is in the early morning hours around 3 a.m. This will decrease the time the lawn is wet and will reduce disease problems.

Run the irrigation system during the day at least once a month to check each zone and make sure all the heads are working properly. Here is a great publication that will help you with basic repairs:

Check the lawn for problems when you mow. One thing I noticed were moths, which means armyworms and sod webworm caterpillars are soon to follow. And if it makes you feel any better while mowing the grass this summer, you’re burning calories. Based on my heart rate monitor during the last 45 minutes of mowing, I burned 158 calories and my heart rate was in the cardio mode the entire time.

Terry Brite DelValle is a horticulture extension agent with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.

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Garden Tips: Grafted ornamental trees, shrubs offer variety within reach – Tri

Grafting is a horticultural technique used to vegetatively join the top of one plant to the base of another to the type of fruit we’re wanting but on a smaller tree.

On grafted dwarf fruit trees, the top of the plant — called the scion — produces the desired fruit variety.

It is grafted onto the base — called the rootstock — which bestows its dwarfing characteristics to the scion.

Smaller trees usually lead to earlier tree maturity and fruit production. The reduced tree size also makes pruning, harvesting and pest management easier.

It may come as a surprise to many gardeners that a number of different ornamental trees and shrubs are also grafted. There are several reasons why ornamental plants may be grafted.

▪  Rooted cuttings from cultivated varieties of ornamental plants make production of new plants exactly like the parent easy, but cuttings from some plants can be very difficult or slow to root. For example, Japanese maple cuttings are either extremely slow to root or will not root at all.

▪  Some ornamental plants have weak root systems and poor plant vigor. By grafting a desirable scion onto a more robust compatible rootstock, producers can obtain a vigorous plant more quickly and at a lower cost than if it was grown on its own roots. Until recent years, almost all hybrid roses were grafted onto a rootstock for this reason.

▪  Specialty grafting can produce plants with interesting or novel forms. A common example of this are weeping flowering cherry trees. Many of these sold to home gardeners are created by grafting a weeping Higan cherry tree (Prunus subhirtella var. pendula) onto the trunk of an upright standard cherry tree at a height of four to six feet. If grown on its own roots, the weeping Higan cherry would develop into an elegant 20- to 40-feet tall and 15- to 25-feet wide weeping tree most suitable for a large-scale landscape.

While helpful in producing ornamental plants, there can be problems with grafting. One common problem on grafted ornamental trees is the development of upright suckers from below the graft.

Ornamental Trees Shrubs That May be Grafted Arborvitae, ash, beech, birch, catalpa, cedar (Cedrus), clematis, cotoneaseter, dogwood, fir, flowering pear, golden chain, hawthorn, hibiscus, holly, hornbeam, horsechestnut, thornless honeylocust, mountain ash, pine, red maple, Japanese maple, oak, rhododendron, rose, sugar maple, spruce, redbud, upright junipers, viburnum, weeping pussy willow, and witch hazel.

These suckers have the characteristics, including the growth habit, flowers, and fruit of the rootstock instead of the desired scion. If suckers from below the graft are allowed to develop on a weeping cherry tree, they will have upright growth and ruin the graceful pendulous form of the tree. These suckers will eventually produce flowers and fruit that must be sprayed to control cherry fruit flies.

On non-weeping forms of grafted ornamental trees, the graft is typically close to the base of the tree. It is a swollen or slightly bulging area.

Suckers may arise beneath the graft on these types of trees too. All suckers that develop below the graft on grafted trees should be pruned off as soon as they appear, removing them as close to their source as possible.

Sometimes a graft may fail due to a poorly formed graft union, incompatibility between the scion and rootstock, or a disease infection. A scion may also suffer cold temperature injury during the winter. Graft failure or injury to the scion can lead to the death of the entire plant or just the scion. If the rootstock remains alive and is allowed to grow, it is usually a much less desirable plant and should be removed.

Now is a good time to look for and remove suckers on your grafted trees and shrubs. Check out weeping cherry trees and remove any straight upright growth coming from below the graft.

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

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Design a garden for all senses

Make sure your garden looks vibrant throughout the year by researching planting zones to find plants that will bloom throughout the year. (Photos provided by Metro Creative)


Gardens add visual appeal to a yard, but gardens also can appeal to individuals’ senses of smell, taste, touch, and sound. Gardeners who want to create gardens that appeal to various senses can do so in the following ways.


Aesthetic appeal is one of the most sought-after benefits of gardening. However, many homeowners put in so much effort planting for one particular season that they may not give thought to ensuring the garden looks vibrant no matter the time of year.

Gardeners can research planting zones to find plants that will blossom at different times of the year so they can enjoy impressive, aesthetically appealing gardens year-round. Spring bulbs can bloom early on, while annual and perennial summer favorites will thrive under the summer sun. Beautyberry and caryopteris will fill out in the autumn, while holly or mahonia can look lovely in the winter.


Gardeners can dot their landscapes with aromatic trees, shrubs and flowers that will make stepping out into the garden that much more special. Some of the more fragrant plants include gardenia, dianthus, calendula, lavender, and jasmine. Shrubs such as fragrant pineapple broom, Anne Russell viburnum and Christmas box can add fragrance as well.


The lively sounds of the garden are created by the wildlife that come to pollinate and enjoy the environment gardeners have created. By choosing indigenous plants, gardeners can be sure that insects and small critters will seek refuge within the foliage.

Songbirds also will add character to a yard. The Audubon Society suggests including a water source and a songbird border of shrubs along your property’s edge. Provide food sources and make sure they are located a fair distance from the main action of the yard so as not to scare off birds. Wait for musical chickadees, goldfinches, orioles, and cardinals to arrive and enjoy the accommodations.


Gardeners can expand their gardens to include fruit-bearing trees and rows of vegetables. Produce can be harvested from early spring through late fall depending on the crops planted.


Apart from including trees and shrubs of various textures in the garden, look for other ways to stimulate a tactile response. Water features add relaxing sound and beauty. Stones, moss, mulch, and other accents have varied textures that can stimulate the sense of touch in various ways. Don’t forget to include a sitting area so that you can immerse yourself fully in the garden.

Go beyond visual appeal when designing a garden. When gardeners tap into all five senses, they can enjoy their landscapes even more than they already do.

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The real dirt: Garden design basics, part 2 – Chico Enterprise

In part 1 of this garden design series, you were encouraged to analyze and determine the existing conditions in your garden space. With site map in hand, the fun begins as you explore our second guiding question: What garden style do I want?

The sky is the limit, which is why you’ll want to do some serious research — on the internet, in neighborhoods, and at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Patrick Ranch. Take photographs of what you love, and also record what you don’t like. Create an online idea book through available apps (e.g. Houzz, Pinterest), keeping in mind the opportunities and restrictions you’ve discovered in your site analysis.

Since there are endless garden styles to choose from, consider simplifying your quest by using the style of your home as an organizing principle. Planting designs that complement a home’s architecture create a cohesive feeling.

For example, the clean lines of mid-century modern architecture feel at home with simple plantings emphasizing foliage over flowers. Pairing a cute bungalow with an informal or fanciful garden harmonizes with the home’s charm and stature.

You can also unify your house and garden by selecting plants that repeat or contrast with the home’s distinctive color scheme.

Some of the many possible garden styles include:

Drought Tolerant: Very timely, and in keeping with the Master Gardeners’ recommendation to garden within our water means, is the garden that focuses on plants that require little to no irrigation. Such gardens can be located anywhere on the design continuum, all the way from formal to informal, but they usually lean toward a looser, naturalistic look.

Local neighborhoods contain many examples of great drought-tolerant landscapes, by homeowners who are converting thirsty expanses of lawn to climate-appropriate plants. Many of the plants in a drought-tolerant garden will be native to areas with a “Mediterranean” climate like ours that has cool, wet winters and dry, hot summers.

Pollinator: Your garden design could include only plants that nurture our native bees, butterflies, and birds. Altacal, the local chapter of the Audobon society, offers a Neighborhood Habitat certification for this type of garden.

Plantings in a pollinator garden are layered in height (low plants, medium shrubs, and taller trees) to offer varied habitat, and bloom times should be staggered to provide year-round nectar and pollen sources. Pollinator gardens tend to be whimsical, billowy, and informal in style.

Cottage: Also attractive to pollinators is the exuberant, free-flowing, and busy cottage garden. Here many varieties of plants rub shoulders in a tangle of flowers and vines, while paths are winding and overgrown, creating a truly informal style.

Formal: The antithesis of the cottage garden is one that contains shrubs coaxed into symmetrical geometric designs, with defined paths echoing those arcs and angles. Usually restricted to leafy, dense shrubs and plots of lawn, the formal garden is high-maintenance and low on food for pollinators. The gardens of Versailles near Paris set the standard for formality in an intentional display of the power of man over nature and king over commoners. Jane Austen’s characters later strolled amidst the shrubbery of formal English gardens.

Naturalistic: This garden style takes its cues from the undeveloped landscape. Plants are arranged to evoke a natural flow, as opposed to revealing decisions made by the gardener. When materials and plants native to the local landscape are used, this garden can create a strong “sense of place.”

Artsy: Perhaps you want your garden to reflect your creative nature. For this type of garden, think outside the box for construction materials and methods. Broken concrete pieces, old pottery shards, and rusted drainage pipes can make appearances in paving and planting areas. Arrange your garden with focal points for art and other surprises.

Modern: Clean and spare with asymmetrical geometry, the modern garden often incorporates industrial elements, such as corrugated steel repurposed into garden beds or used for fencing. Plants can soften the geometry or repeat it but this garden style generally favors foliage over flowers.

Please visit the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Patrick Ranch to see thriving examples of native, Mediterranean, and pollinator plants that can be used in these various garden styles, and others as well.

Start your research! Look at gardens with new eyes to identify design and style elements. Keep a log of what you want to incorporate into your own garden, and what you wish to avoid.

In the coming weeks, this column will explore question 3: What Plant “Jobs” Need To Be Filled In My Yard? and question 4: Is My Yard Ready To Plant? Happy Gardening!

This series of four Real Dirt articles summarizes the presentation Butte County Master Gardener Eve Werner created for the Butte County Master Gardeners Spring 2017 Workshop Series.

For more information about the Butte County Master Gardener Program, go to

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Ideas for outdoor living at Kultivators’ Garden Walk

Q-C Online: Moline and Rock Island, Illinois
My Web Times: Ottawa and Streator, Illinois
Post Bulletin: Rochester, Minnesota

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Big ideas for small gardens

Small gardens are places of great opportunity, where design and smart plant choices can have a big impact. Even in a limited space, there’s plenty of room to grow.

Think of a small garden as a chance to make a grand design in miniature, says Richard Woldorsky, a landscape designer at Bachman’s Landscaping and Garden Services in Minneapolis. In gardens of any size, it’s important to decide how you want to use the space — and in a small garden, that’s even truer because you simply have less space to work with. You can still have a dining area, a spot to hang a hammock, and a pretty flower garden, but you’ll have to be creative to fit them all in. Some areas may have to serve more than one function. Above all, “You want to maximize every bit of space — the walls, the edges and the base material,” Woldorsky says.

Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, a landscape designer and owner of Boxhill Design in Tucson, Arizona, says “there’s no right or wrong” in small garden design. She looks for design cues in the architecture of the house, following its strong, straight lines out into the garden and picking up on the materials and colors in a home to make the garden an extension of the living space. Like Woldorsky, she emphasizes to clients the importance of making every inch count. “It can be fun,” she says. Even a garden as long and skinny as a bowling alley can be “purposeful and artistic and striking, with a wave of color,” Przygoda-Montgomery says.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at circulation patterns through your garden. The path from the back door should lead gracefully through the garden to flower beds, a patio or a dining area. Whether the walks are straight or curved, the path should feel comfortable and natural. If you have a glorious specimen tree — perhaps a crab apple, dogwood or Japanese maple — you might think of it as a destination and plan the rest of your garden accordingly, Woldorsky suggests.

Putting plants to work is one of the secrets of success in small gardens. Slender vertical plants, such as upright hollies, hornbeams or arborvitaes, can frame views or be used as screens. Vertical plants also draw your eye up and keep the space from feeling too confining. If you don’t have room for trees, consider building a cozy pergola, which will create shade for a seating area and will never outgrow its space. You can grow vines or roses up the side of it, giving your eye and the whole space a lift.

Shrubs will give the garden plantings interest, substance and depth, but look for small-scale choices, whether you favor evergreens or flowering shrubs. More is not necessarily better — in a limited space, you’re better off with a couple of well-chosen specimens, perhaps planted around the perimeter of the garden. Even if your garden is informal, imposing discipline and maintaining order will make the space more attractive and more functional.

Make flowers part of your plan, too, Woldorsky says. Flowers are bright and ever changing, and they really draw you outside. They also attract birds and butterflies, which make any garden more lively and beautiful.

If you don’t have room for a flower bed, you can do a lot with flowerpots. Containers tend to serve as important sculptural elements in small gardens: They make emphatic punctuation marks at the base of the stairs, along the edge of a patio or at the bottom of a path. Go for big flowerpots, Przygoda-Montgomery says. One large pot on either side of a path has more impact than half a dozen smaller containers. Plants thrive in bigger pots and are easier to take care of, and you won’t be tripping over them.

Successful small gardens depend on thoughtful decisions. In some ways, they’re easier to design than larger properties because some possibilities are ruled out, Przygoda-Montgomery says. You can’t count on sweeping views, but you can create striking vignettes. A pond is probably out of the question, but you could try a small fountain. “Less really is more,” she says. “If you have a small space and it’s done right, it’s really strong.” Focus your ideas, choose plants that fit the scale of your space and be sure to edit unnecessary clutter. In a small garden, details aren’t lost — they sparkle.

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