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The post You’ve Done the Work: Now Enjoy Your Yard! appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

You’ve spent months working hard on your yard. You’ve toiled, you’ve been sweating, you’ve put all the reading you’ve done about gardening into practice, and now in it’s finally finished! While you’ll always need to stay on top of your gardening to ensure nothing falls into a bad state, for the most part, your job is done. So what now? Why, it’s time to enjoy your creation from the inside – that means, making your outdoor space an enjoyable place to be. We take a look at how you can do this below.

Into the Outdoors

It’s more enjoyable if your outdoor space and the interior of your home aren’t exclusively separate. They should feed into one another, as if they were joined (which they are). To do this, look at opening up the back of your home to let in more light. If you have french windows, then you’ll be able to see outside and be more tempted to spend time there. It’s also much nicer to have a home filled with natural light, especially during the summer months.

Getting Comfortable

Once you step into your backyard, you’ll want to find decking or a patio there, upon which you can spend long days enjoying the sunshine. Add some affordable outdoor furniture, and a BBQ, and your summers will be filled with family and friend get-togethers. While you’ll spend your evenings on the patio, you might want to spend the summer days on your grass. In which case, you should strongly consider buying a hammock. There are easy enough to store, and will transform the relaxation levels of your outdoor space. 

Lighting

You’ll have your decking, chairs, tables, and so on, and now it’s time to add some outdoor magic. Adding fairy lights and other lighting fixtures to your garden will make your yard feel more charming and enchanting. When the sun goes down, there’ll be no need to head indoors to see each other – just switch on the lights. If you want to take the magic a little further, you can look at adding a firepit. These are especially awesome to have in early spring and fall, when the weather is pleasant but chilly in the evening.

Privacy

For all the additions to your yard, you won’t be able to enjoy fully until you feel like it’s private. Even though your neighbors probably aren’t watching, no-one wants to feel like they’re being watched! Adding fencing and hedges around the edge of the garden to add an extra level of privacy.

Bring the Fun

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring a little bit of your personality to the yard! Colorful gnomes, works of art, and other staples of “you” will make the yard feel more homey. If you’ve got kids, make the yard fun for them too by adding a splash pool or a swingset.

With these additions, you’ll be able to enjoy your yard for years to come!

This contributed post may contain affiliate links

The post You’ve Done the Work: Now Enjoy Your Yard! appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post Garden Maintenance Tasks You Shouldn’t Neglect In the Summer appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

If you would like to make your garden look fresh, lush, and impressive all through the summer, you should make sure that you are not neglecting some of the most important tasks that help your plants grow and stay healthy. With the heat of the summer, insects and parasites will arrive, threatening your harvest and your beautiful shrubs. Below you will find a few tips on how to stay on top of your summer garden.

Getting Rid of Infected Branches or Plants

No matter how well you have tried to prevent common tree and fruit diseases, chances are that the lack of rain and the abundance of sunshine have attracted some. If you have found any infections, nests, or sign of parasites, it is not only important to wash your trees and fruit plants, but you also have to get rid or the affected branches. You might want to invest in professional Chain Cutting equipment to prevent the infection to spread throughout the plant.  

Feeding Your Grass

Even if it rains regularly during the summer, and you don’t have to water your lawn, it is important that you use feed to keep it strong and lush. In case you  have kids or pets, your lawn will have a lot of pressure to endure, so it is important that you get rid of the dry grass and feed your grass to look its best.

Repairing Patches

It is inevitable to have patches in the lawn, if you have kids or pets, or wildlife visiting. Whether you lie on the lawn and sunbathe or play football, you will have patches. There are some great fast-growing patch repair kits that will help you restore the shine and the strength of your lawn. You might consider choosing a lawn seed variety that is able to withstand the traffic and the dry weather as well.

Natural Insect Repellents

To keep insects and parasites at bay, you might want to create your own organic fruit spray that will keep them away. From bicarbonate soda to common soap and lemon juice, as well as the more prevalent cayenne pepper, there are several ingredients that will not pose a health risk on your family or the wildlife. You can still grow organic vegetables and fruit and keep the pests away.

Cutting Back Bushes after Fruits Have Ripened

To keep your garden in a tip-top condition in the summer, always cut back the bushes once the flowers are dry, or – in case of fruit shrubs – cut the branches after the fruit has been harvested. If you leave the dry flowers or stems on, you might have to deal with dry branches and dead plants later on in the year.

If you want to make sure that you and your guests can enjoy the garden throughout the summer, stay on top of your lawn maintenance, cut back bushes and branches, and prevent infestation by using an organic insect repellent spray. This way, you can have a garden you can be proud of.

This contributed post may contain affiliate links. 

The post Garden Maintenance Tasks You Shouldn’t Neglect In the Summer appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post 9 Tips For Keeping Your Garden in Tip-Top Condition appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

It seems like we can spend a long time working on our garden, and then, when it’s all finished, we only have a small amount of time to enjoy the fruits of our labor before things are beginning to look, well, a little less perfect than they did when everything was fresh and new. But good news: you don’t have to settle for a garden that you’re less than happy with. It’s all about taking those small steps and making sure it’s kept in tip-top condition. We take a look at nine useful tips below.

Do Your Homework

Everything will stay in excellent condition for longer if they were right for your garden in the first place. During the planning stages make sure you’re reading as much as you can about plants, fertilizers, and correct placement for the various aspects of your garden – it’ll serve you well in the long run. Like most things in life, knowledge is power! If you’re putting things in the ground that really shouldn’t be there, then you can’t have too many complaints if they later turn out to give you more problems than they were worth.

Make It Part Of Your Routine

Your garden isn’t going to look after itself. That’s your job! To prevent things from getting too out of hand, you just have to do one simple thing – make it part of your routine. It’s much easier to spend ten minutes each day making sure that your garden has everything it needs rather than waiting until things are too far gone before you do get up out of the hammock and do something about it. If it’s a dry season, that small amount of time you put into watering the plants will make all the difference.

Get Rid of Those Weeds

It’s not just about making sure that the things you’ve already got are thriving. It’s about keeping the things that you don’t want part of your garden out. Take weeds, for example. They’re harmless enough, and often begin so small that you don’t notice much of a difference. But after time, they’ll become all-consuming; your garden will look slightly off, but you won’t be able to tell exactly what’s wrong. It’s those pesky weeds! Get rid of them before they have much of a chance to grow – it’ll save you from having a big clean-up job later on down the line.

Review and Update Regularly

Your garden isn’t static. You’ve got living, growing things. So just through the course of its life, it’s going to change. But is it moving in a direction that’s beneficial to the overall health of your garden? You’ll only know if you’re keeping an eye on how things are progressing. Maintaining a garden is all about making subtle adjustments that’ll help the garden to flourish. Pay close attention, and update as and when you deem necessary.

Keep Out Unwanted Wildlife

You’re not the only living thing that has an interest in your garden. The wildlife that surrounds your house does, too. That wildlife doesn’t see an expertly curated garden; they see enough meals to last them for months on end, and you better believe they’re going to seize any opportunities that they’re given. You can help protect your vulnerable plants (plus any vegetables you may be growing) by adding deer fencing to your garden. It’s a subtle addition that could make all the difference when it comes to the health of your outdoor space.

An Eye on the Kids

And hey, you know as well as we do that your kids sometimes act more like animals than they do humans! As such, it might be worthwhile having a little chat with them about the need to be careful when they’re playing in the garden, lest they start stomping around everywhere and crush all of your plants. Of course, kids will be kids, so maybe think about having a designated play area in which they can play. Plus, it’s much easier to get away with spending long hours tending to your garden if you’re able to keep a watchful eye on your little ones at the same time.

Get Rid of Debris

A lot of debris can find its way into your garden, especially during the fall and winter months. There are all those leaves for starters, but they’re not the biggest concern – on windy days, you can end up with plenty of trash and other items that have no place in your beautiful garden. If you see something, pick it up (this is also useful advice for when you’re out in public, too!) – it’s much easier to tidy as you go rather than wait until the fine weather is back. That trash will only have nestled itself into a tight corner somewhere, out of sight.

Nip Any Problems in the Bud

There are some problems that can emerge from a garden. Perhaps the biggest threat to your garden – not to mention your home – are falling branches. These can crush whole beds of plants and vegetables, and also cause significant damage to the structure of your home. Every now and again, it’s good practice to survey the branches around your home and make sure that they’re alive and well, and not susceptible to breaking away, especially during a thunderstorm.

Keep Your Furniture Indoors

Don’t forget that you’re not just enjoying your garden from afar; you’re going to be spending time in it, too. As such, it’s a good idea to invest in high-quality outdoor furniture, and then take steps to protect and preserve that furniture. Bring it indoors completely during fall and winter, and make sure that you’ve got a proper cover for it during the summer.

Getting your garden to the standard you want it to be is not easy, but keeping it at that level is easy, if you follow the steps we’ve outlined above.

This contributed post may contain affiliate links. 

The post 9 Tips For Keeping Your Garden in Tip-Top Condition appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post Planning A Garden Party appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

It seems like only yesterday that the chill of winter had sunk its teeth into our beloved gardens, rendering them cold and barren. However, spring is well and truly here and as we settle into June most of us have already put in the hard work and elbow grease of getting our gardens spring ready and are now getting ready to enjoy the explosions of warmth, color and scent that come with the summer. The summer is the perfect time to reap the fruits of your labors (literally if you’re growing food in your garden) and spend some relaxing and emotionally nourishing time alone with your own little slice of nature’s bounty.

But then, you ponder, it’d be selfish to keep such a wonderful garden all to myself. As summer draws near, now is the perfect time to invite family, friends and neighbors over for a garden party. What could be more enjoyable than the prospect of great food, refreshing drinks, fun and laughter in the company of your nearest and dearest? It’s a wonderful idea, but one which can quickly sour if the event is not planned to perfection. 

The prospect of hosting a garden party may be a little intimidating if you’ve never hosted one before, but while there are certainly potential pitfalls, they can be easily managed. With a little preparation and imagination, you could throw a party that not only wows your guests but provides the perfect showcase for your beautiful garden…

It’s all about the planning

It’s an age old adage that’s applicable to more or less everything… “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Impromptu events can be a lot of fun but by and large, the more time you have to prepare, the more enjoyable and manageable the occasion. Thus, you should establish a guest list and get your invites out well in advance of your proposed date. You can either design your own from scratch or use one of these lovely templates. It might also be a good idea to create a Facebook group so that you can manage your guests effectively.

Some hostesses like to add a sense of fun and theatricality to proceedings by choosing a theme. Blogs, magazines and of course Pinterest are great resources for planning a theme that will give your party its own look and feel and help it to stand out in people’s minds.

Prep today so that you can enjoy tomorrow

Planning will make all the difference between making your party an enjoyable summer event and a stressful nightmare that you’d rather forget.

Two days before your event it’s a good idea to send a message to your Facebook event group, enabling you to create a final guest list. This will allow you to purchase just the right amount of food while allowing you to manage your guests effectively. You don’t want anyone going hungry or having to ration food among your guests but you don’t want to be up to your elbows in festering leftovers for the next week and a half either. 

When it comes to catering, this is a perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a selection of seasonal canapes which will delight your guests’ taste buds. If you can source as many ingredients as possible from your own garden this can provide the perfect talking point for guests. Our British friend Jamie Oliver has some impressive yet delightfully easy recipes for these. Of course, you don’t have to stress yourself out by having to become a master of the culinary arts in a matter of days. Keeping things simple but making sure they’re done right is always a useful approach. It will also ensure that your nibbles cater to  a broad range of palettes and ensure that fussy eaters are well catered for.

If you’re nervous about the prospect of catering for a large group of people, do not despair. Bring and share parties are a way of easing some of the pressure placed on busy hostesses, allowing them to pay more attention to the little details which will give your event personality and pizzaz. If you choose to do this, however, just make sure that you communicate with your guests beforehand to make sure everyone knows who’s bringing what. You don’t want to spend weeks wading in potato salad.

Cater for everyone

If you’re firing up the barbecue (and why wouldn’t you on a summer’s day) just remember that a lot of people today eschew meat and animal products for health and ethical reasons. Likewise some of your guests may suffer from dairy or gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Make sure that your guests let you know of their dietary restrictions well in advance so that you can ensure that everyone has a full plate without offending their sensibilities or condemning them to an evening of crippling stomach pain.  

Transforming your garden

Anyone can lay on some nibbles and drinks in a well maintained garden.  A sense of theatricality and adventure can make a huge difference in making your event stand out in the minds of guests. Transforming your garden needn’t even be a huge undertaking. Often, a few design flourishes are all that it takes to transform your garden. Using LED rope lights is a great way of adding sparkle and dazzle to your garden while also marking out different zones for guests or even drawing special attention to your horticultural masterpieces. You can also create a magical area while cordoning off no-go areas or lending a sense of dazzle to dull or drab areas with LED curtain lights. When the sun retreats and the garden goes cold, burning some dried logs in a  fire pit will add a touch of romance along with a sense of visual wonderment!

But give your guests a space to cool off!

If your guests will be in the sun all day, it might be a good idea to give them a place to cool off under some shade or a cooling outdoor fan from www.modernfanoutlet.com. This will give them a place to stay cool and hydrate before returning to the party proper. 

Remember to have fun!

Your guests are there for the delicious food and beverages but first and foremost they’re there to see you and your family. Don’t transform yourself into a stressed and overworked scullery maid as you strive for an unattainable level of perfection that your guests never even asked for. Take the time to enjoy the evening before it passes you by.

This contributed post may contain affiliate links. 

The post Planning A Garden Party appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post Weeping Redbud appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

If the plant gods are listening, I would like to mention my love of weeping redbud trees. I’ve found that once I put it out to the world that I am trying to find something specific, it seems to happen!  Okay, let’s look at some images of weeping redbud trees and see if this works again!  Remember when I wrote about Purple Bell Vine?  I found one within a few weeks!

I fully admit that I love the form of a weeping tree. Does my entire garden need to be filled exclusively with them?  Probably not, although I would love to give it a try!

Weeping redbud trees have it all. Flowers in the spring, fabulous foliage all summer and even an interesting skeleton of branches for the winter.

Monrovia lists Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud, Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’, as being hardy in zones 5-9. On our farm we are going to be right on the northern edge of this hardiness zone, but I think it is worth a try. They write, “A lovely compact redbud tree with a weeping canopy that is perfect for a smaller-sized landscape. An excellent specimen plant with clusters of lavender-red, sweet pea-like blooms in spring. Small, semi-glossy, heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall.”

This plant is at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and was planted in 2015. Even on this hillside it looks great and the dark purple foliage makes a nice addition.

This dark foliage, in combination with the weeping habit, is part of what makes ‘Ruby Falls’ weeping redbud so special. The dark maroon heart-shaped leaves are great on their own and will certainly add interest when planted near contrasting foliage.

What do you think?  Is there room in your garden for a weeping redbud tree this summer?

The post Weeping Redbud appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post Creating Privacy for Overlooked Gardens appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

When looking for a new home, outside space is often high on the list of priorities. Nothing’s worse than not being able to get out in nature when the sun’s shining. 

It can be all the more devastating when you have an overlooked garden that you don’t use. It might have been half of the reason you bought that house, but you feel as though there are eyes on you every time you step outside. Before you know it, that back door stays shut all year round, and the lawn you paid so much for goes to waste.

It’s a terrible truth, but a reality that many of us face, particularly in built-up areas. Whether your neighbors are nosy or not, the mere fact that they could see everything may be enough to put you off. But, instead of wasting the space, it might be time to get your thinking cap on and consider the ways you can increase privacy.

In truth, this isn’t always easy.  But, it’s a step worth taking if it means you and your family can get outside once and for all. And, to help you get started, we’re going to look at a few fantastic options for increasing your feelings of privacy.

Install sturdy barricades

On a communal street, installing sturdy barricades can feel a little like drawing battle lines. As such, many of us make do with revealing iron fences or wooden options littered with holes. After all, you can’t pop out for a chat with the neighbor if you install a sturdy and robust alternative. But, if you find you avoid going outside because of privacy breaches and the need to chat, take action. This is your garden, after all, and it’s essential you feel comfortable using the space. That means setting whichever barriers work best for you.

The most obvious option here would be a high and stable fence which is free of holes. And, companies like Fort Worth could have you covered on that front. Obviously, you don’t want something which blocks the light or becomes an eyesore. But, opting for a fence just that bit too tall for you neighbor to see over could do the trick here. 

If a fence doesn’t appeal to you, you can use of hedges instead. In many ways these are a fantastic way to use greenery for privacy. What’s more, hedges appear much less standoffish, so this could be the way to go if you don’t want to offend neighbors. Bear in mind that, as well as settling on this option, you’ll need to decide on a hedge type

Choose the right plants

Plants are also crucial when it comes to privacy. After all, a bare lawn will always feel more exposed than a garden full of flowers. So, get out those gardening gloves and start planting. Obviously, we’re not talking about planting trees around your garden boundaries. While these would be best at keeping you private, they would also block all your light.  Instead, turn to some more subtle options for providing natural screens. Perhaps the main plant that comes to mind here is bamboo. This fast-growing plant is tall, pretty, and (best of all) creates privacy. What’s more, bamboo is a very low-maintenance plant. The only thing to look out for here is that it can spread fast and soon get out of control if the wrong varieties are planted.

There are other fast-growing creeper plants which could serve you just as well. Something like climbing roses can grow to two to four metres tall and will look fantastic on your fence. What’s more, they have a long flowering season, and flower in clusters. The only downside here is that they become sparse in the winter months. 

Detect hidden areas

 Most yards at least have hidden corners where no one can see what’s going on. And, if this is the case for you, you could always make use of these areas. Why not set up a patio here which ensures you can at least have some private time outside? You could even increase that feeling of being hidden with a lower-level in your garden, or by installing an overhead roof. While this won’t help with the rest of your garden, it will at least give you some respite. 

As you can see, there’s no need to suffer on in silence. There are endless numbers of tips and tricks to improving your garden privacy. And, the vast majority of them don’t even need that much garden know-how. 

This contributed post may contain affiliate links. 

The post Creating Privacy for Overlooked Gardens appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post How to Help Your Lawn Look Its Best This Summer appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

If you would like to impress your guests this summer and make your garden look amazing then now is the time to focus on your lawn. This greenery is a great space for kids and pets to run around, but  – if not looked after – it can turn into a depressive green and brown patch. To make the most out of your garden space this summer, you should look after your lawn to look its best. Below you’ll find a few tips on getting started.

Get Rid of Weeds

Before you start organizing your garden and tidying up your yard, it is important to look out for the signs of damage. In the winter when the ground had little or no chance to dry out, moss might have started to grow in your lawn, and it is hard to kill. Before you get in the routine of mowing your lawn, rake the area and try to get rid of any buildup or debris. 

Give it Air

In the winter, the soil under your lawn may become packed and hard, making it hard for the new seeds to germinate. Using a rake or a machine,  give your soil some texture and space. You might use a lawn aerator to make your job easier. This will help you cover the patches faster and your seeds germinate better. 

Strong Seeds

The variety of grass you are using determines your success. Choose the type that is good for your soil type and use. Hard wearing grass can be a great option for you if you regularly hold garden parties or have a dog and kids who love playing in the garden. One of the best varieties you can choose is Sir Walter Buffalo that can withstand drought and extreme heat, as well as frost.

Look After Your Borders

Your borders matter, and they can define your garden’s shape. Before you start cutting your grass, you will have to make sure that your grass is not grown over your patio or your paving slabs, so you can prevent that unorganized and messy look. If you have flower beds on the side of the garden, you might want to get some bedding borders  to keep the lawn at bay.

Feed It

Throughout the summer you will have to feed your lawn to stay healthy. Instead of using synthetic fertilizers, you can get feeding water that can be mixed in your watering can. Rainwater is always better than hard tap water, so if you have the facilities to collect it, use it to water your lawn and plants as well this summer.

While the grass is usually greener on the other side of the fence, this year you can change the game. Look after your lawn and it can help you enjoy your garden more in the summer.

The post How to Help Your Lawn Look Its Best This Summer appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post DIY Backyard Gardening Ideas for Kids  appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

I am happy to share this article on DIY gardening ideas for kids by Tom Graham of the Yard and Garden Guru. Now is the time to start thinking about fun projects to get your little ones excited about gardening for the summer. Tom shares several easy projects to inspire you and your children for the coming months.  Do you have a favorite gardening idea for kids? Let us hear about it below!

Gardening Ideas for Kids

The growing season is well and indeed upon us, and parents aim to get their kids outside more instead of playing on electronic gadgets all day. The question parents are faced with is how to entice kids outside and come up with gardening ideas for kids to enjoy.

DIY is the answer, and now everyone is into gardening, parents can combine the two and come up with some ideas for their kids to make and grow. Try these backyard gardening ideas for kids to get the little ones in your life outdoors this summer. 

Tomato Planters 

This is super easy for kids to make and once their tomatoes begin growing, they’ll be so proud of their achievement. All it takes is some empty plastic drinking water bottles, some twine, potting soil and some tomato starter plants.  

With some supervision, the kids can cut the bottoms off the bottles, and then four holes need to be punched on each side. Four pieces of twine are fed through and fastened together at the top. Once this is done, carefully feed the starter plant through the hole of the bottle, so the leaves hang outside. From here they are filled with potting soil and watered, and now you only have to find a nail to hang them on. 

Homemade Sprinkler 

You won’t find this on any garden vegetable list of things to buy, but get the children making one, and it sure is handy when you want to water your veggies.  

All the kids need is a sturdy plastic bottle, a garden hose that can be connected to the outside faucet, waterproof tape (Tyvek or similar) and a drill. Under supervision get the kids to drill some holes along the top half of the bottle and then tape the hose into the neck of the bottle.  Once that’s done stand back, and you have a sprinkler which is ideal for the garden and won’t waterlog your veggie patch as easy. 

KidSized Raised Bed 

These are super easy to make, and your kids can have an entire area to themselves. With very few materials they can be growing their own veggies in a matter of no time.  Materials needed are 1 or 2 lengths of wooden decking (not pressure treated), potting soil, compost or manure and some seedlings which are ready to plant. 

The simple steps are to cut the decking into 2 long lengths and two shorter lengths. Around 4 feet by 2 feet is more than ideal. All you do then is place it where your kids wish to grow and fill it up with soil. This is a fantastic way to teach children how to start a vegetable garden from scratch.  

With some dug in compost your kids can take the seedlings, and dot them around the raised bed, and they are off. With some watering and TLC, they will be proud of anything when their veggies are ripe for harvest. 

Kids DIY Milk Carton Herb Gardens 

This is one DIY gardening idea for kids while the weather isn’t the best outside. All they need are some safety scissors and old milk cartons which have been washed.  The hardest part is cutting one side off the carton, and from their, all they need to do is fill with potting soil and plant their herbs.  

These are a fantastic way of recycling and bringing the garden indoors. Placed in bright windows, you can have fresh herbs for the kitchen thanks to your kid’s DIY project which is scattered around the home.  The good thing about these is it will teach the kids how to tend to things, a little watering and as much sun as they can get and your kids will love their new creations. 

There are many ways the kids can get involved with DIY projects in the garden, and as you can see from the sprinkler, not all of them need to be with growing veggies.  They can make or build lots of things which will be helpful in the garden during the growing season. All you need is a little ingenuity and guidance to the little ones. 

For the bigger kids, they can tackle full sized gardening projects which will keep them out of mischief over the summer. There are plenty of natural vegetables to grow where kids can take charge.  Larger tomatoes planters are great to stand or hang in sunny locations. Hanging baskets are merely a larger version of the recycled water bottle idea. 

No matter what the kids build, they will be learning something very new and something which as they get older can be very, very useful. Now is the time to start planning and get the gardening ideas for kids started for a successful summer garden. 

The post DIY Backyard Gardening Ideas for Kids  appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post How to Create a Multilevel Garden appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

Gardening on a hill can be quite a challenge, but if you can create multiple levels out of the hill it will be a lot easier. This is a very simple process in theory but it will take a lot of effort in practice.

Though you could do this yourself, you might be better off asking a landscape designer like Allen Outdoor Solutions to help you work out where best to put each layer and how to create a flowing garden. You should certainly have a clear plan of what you are going to do before you start working so that you don’t waste your efforts digging!

The first thing to do is start planning what you are going to do with your garden. A simple drawing is probably enough to get an idea of what you plan to do.  Think about how you would like to move through the space and then where to put steps and paths through the plants and up and down the garden.

Once you have decided on your plan can you move on to the actual work. This will take a few days to complete so you should either put a few weekends aside plan for a week of work. Once you have the structure of your garden complete, you can move on to planting and adding the finishing touches to your space.

Planning Your Space

Before you start, try using string to mark out where you are going to create each layer. This will help you to determine how deep each layer will be: too thick and you will struggle to reach the back of the bed but too thin and your garden will look chaotic. It might be a good idea to vary the layers  slightly to create some movement in the layout.

If you already have some ideas about which plants you want to use in your garden, you should make sure that your levels are deep enough to accommodate them. So, if you have a tree you would like to plant, make sure that you allow enough room for the roots to grow without interfering with the retaining walls you plan to build.

Think about creating a level where you can sit and enjoy the sunshine. Plan out this level so that you have enough space for some outdoor seating if possible and consider adding either some paving or gravel to make sure that you can use this space even when the ground is wet.

Use Retaining Walls to Create Levels

Whether you start at the top and work down or start at the bottom of the garden and work up is entirely up to you. However, starting at the top does have the advantage that you won’t be climbing over the work you have just done to get there. Either way, you will have to work with the slope as you remove excess soil or add topsoil and fertiliser to each layer.

Start by clearing the garden as it is at the moment. Get rid of any old plants that might have built up over years of neglect but do keep hold of any plants that you still like by digging up the roots carefully and transferring them to pots temporarily. This way they won’t get damaged by accident and can be put back when you are ready.

Next, you should dig the footings for your wall. This is what will support the wall you build to retain the soil so it needs to be a good depth. Once you have the right depth, pour in your concrete to create a solid base. This needs to be left for 12 hours to set before you can start building your wall on top.

Once footings are in place and fully set, you can start building your wall. You can use any type of stone, just make sure that you use the right consistency of mortar so that it holds together strongly. You can also go for any style, whether you prefer clean straight lines or a more rustic feel – either will look lovely in your garden.

Add a Water Feature

All gardens should have some water whether it is a small feature or a running stream. Water is one of the most calming sounds on earth and it is great for attracting animals to your garden too. With a multilevel garden, you have the perfect opportunity to add waterfalls pouring from each level and down the garden.

Plan your water feature before you start digging and building retaining walls, but if you already have done this then don’t worry – it’s not too late! Essentially, you are looking to construct a large staircase with a pool at either end and a pump to send the water back up the hill. This means that even if you have already put the layers in, you can still make your stream and waterfalls quite easily.

There are all sorts of styles of water feature that you could go for. One of the easiest ways to change the way that the water flows is by using different sized rocks. Large rocks will naturally mean a longer waterfall, where smaller rocks and gravel will create more of a babbling brook effect. Use flat and squared stones to create a more defined architectural look of a pool. This can look fabulous in a modern or minimalist garden style though it can take a lot more maintenance.

Clever Planting

How you plant your levels will make a big difference to the way it looks. More dense planting will disguise and soften the layers whereas thinner and more decisive planting will define each layer individually. What you choose to do is really down to your own personal taste and how you like to garden. If you are a fan of neat lines and order then it will be clear that softening the layers won’t be for you.

Think about the height each plant will grow to and plant accordingly. The great advantage here is that you can put smaller plants and flowers at the front of each level so that you can see them throughout the garden. This is great for injecting bursts of color into the garden, especially if you like formal gardening with symmetrical layers.

Though you might think you can’t use trees, they are actually a great way to link the layers up and draw the eye to the top of the garden. On the other hand, trees like Japanese Maples (also known as acers) are a great way to draw the eye down the layers as they stoop over the level. They are wonderful trees to grow and can bring a shock of color in almost every season depending on the variety.

Just like any other garden, you should always be looking for ways to draw the eye around the space and find points of focus. Just as you may have varied the size and proportions of your levels to create interest, so you should vary the size and shape of the plants you go for. Texture is always one of the most important things to think of in design terms and in plants, this is essentially the type of flowers and leaves you choose.

Creating a multilevel garden is a lot of hard work initially but once you have the layers in place, it is actually easier to maintain than your old hill. You might like to put a sprinkler system in place while your garden is still young to make it even easier to manage over the years, especially in the summertime.

Once the main features of the multilevel garden all in place, it will be much easier for you to add in the smaller details like outdoor lighting and annual plants and flowers. This is your time to make the most of the space you have by gardening on these more manageable flat areas.

This contributed post may contain affiliate links. 

The post How to Create a Multilevel Garden appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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The post How to Apply Fertilizer to Potted Plants appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

Plants need sufficient nutrients regardless of where you grow them. Many homeowners prefer growing them on the ground while others prefer using containers or pots. In the case of the latter, certain things should be taken into consideration. Here’s our guide on how to apply fertilizer to potted plants this spring. 

Use Potting Media at the Start 

The three primary elements that any plant needs to grow well are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. What’s special about potted plants compared to those grown on the ground is that they require more soil nutrients. Likewise, these container plants do not have a huge source of soil to utilize in the first place. 

We highly recommend a commercial potting media as a start. This product typically contains sufficient fertilizer to feed the newly grown plant with the three nutrients for nearly a month. After this time, you have to rely on either liquid or dry fertilizer products. 

Using a Liquid Fertilizer

Regardless of type, you can assess the nutrient ratio of a fertilizer by looking at the three numbers indicated on the package label. These three numbers refer to the respective percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer. 

First, the liquid fertilizer comes in either powder form or as liquid concentrates. If it’s in powder form, you’d have to dissolve it using water before you apply it to the soil in the pot. Since it’s in liquid form just like water, a commercial liquid fertilizer will have a dye for quick recognition.  

If you intend to grow herbaceous perennials such as the fragrant dianthus and the heuchera plant in pots, you should use a 20-20-20 commercial liquid fertilizer specifically made for houseplants. A 10-8-8 nutrient ratio or any similar amount is also good for these herbaceous plants.   

Here is a video of using a liquid fertilizer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eras70iKlC0 

Choosing a Dry Fertilizer  

On the other hand, a dry fertilizer comes in two forms: as a granular fertilizer or as a slow-release fertilizer. Furthermore, the slow-release variant can be made up of either pellets or beads. As its name implies, a slow-release dry fertilizer can feed the soil with nutrients to last up to nine months.  

In order to use slow-release beads or pellets, you must scatter one teaspoon of the product for every gallon of soil. However, slow-release fertilizer alone won’t lead to robust plant growth. You should still use liquid fertilizer or granular fertilizer every two or three weeks. Treat the slow-release fertilizer as a backup solution in case you forget to feed your potted plants for some time. 

Consequently, a granular fertilizer is the popular choice for growing potted plants. It reaches the part of the soil where the root systems are with the help of water. Basically, you have to use half a teaspoon of the fertilizer for every gallon of potting mix. Water the potted plants as soon as you apply fertilizer.  

Preventing Salt Accumulation 

Compared to a liquid fertilizer, a dry granular fertilizer won’t be immediately leached from the soil. The problem here is that salt from the fertilizer can accumulate. A white crust can appear on the surface of your potting soil. Eventually, your potted plants could have wilting foliage or burnt roots due to the excessive amount of fertilizer but this can be prevented by watering plants deeply so that water runs out the bottom of the containers.

Try using a 10-10-10 granular fertilizing during the seasons of spring and summer. As for the winter season, fertilizing your potted plants should be done just twice or thrice. This frequency is enough since the plants won’t be actively growing at this time. 

Using fertilizer for your potted plants in spring isn’t difficult. Always use potting mix for new plants to help them grow well. Afterward, use a combination of slow-release fertilizer with either liquid fertilizer or granular fertilizer.  We hope that you learned a lot from our quick guide. If you have any queries, do send us a comment. 

 

 

 

 

The post How to Apply Fertilizer to Potted Plants appeared first on Miss Smarty Plants.

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