As the Garden Grows What's blooming today? Sun, 29 Nov 2015 19:42:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top Three Tips For Choosing The Right Patio Furniture For Your Home Mon, 28 Oct 2013 12:40:49 +0000 Making your patio more inviting is a great way to add character to your home, especially during the spring and summer months. The pieces you choose choose match your personal style and can even coordinate with the way you’ve decorated the interior of your house. Patio furniture should be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Here are a few tips that will help you get started.

Jot Down Ideas

Write down some details about what you’d like the patio to look like after you’ve added furniture. Consider the function of the patio. Do you want a cozy place to read on warm evenings? Will you be hosting barbecues? Are there particular colors you want to include in the patio furniture? This will help you decide what type of furniture to adorn your patio with. For instance, a combination of neutral shades in patio sofas and chairs can easily be more eye-catching with interchangeable patterned throw pillows. Or, you can choose pieces with a tropical print to make the patio look like a vacation getaway. If you like being outside during all times of the year, be sure to leave room for an outdoor heater or fire pit on the patio to keep you warm during the fall or winter months. It’s also helpful to measure your patio to get an accurate idea of how large or small the furniture needs to be in order to fit in the space comfortably. You should be able to walk behind the furniture without bumping into other furniture pieces or the door that leads to your patio.

Test Out Furniture

After you’ve got your ideas for your patio setup in writing, it’s time to go shopping for pieces that will go well in the space. Test out patio furniture in the store to make sure it will be comfortable to sit on for long periods of time. Be sure to ask the sales associate about the quality of the furniture, and do some quick research on the company that manufacturers the furniture to see if you can pull up any positive reviews before you make your final purchases. Choose patio furniture that is pleasing to the eye, but is made of material that is easy to clean and maintain.

Decide on Storage

Once you decide which patio furniture pieces you’re taking home, come up with a plan to store the furniture properly. If you have a spacious place to keep your furniture when it’s not in use, your pieces will look like near for much longer. Your garage or the attic usually make great places to store your patio furniture. It’s also wise to search for outdoor furniture pieces that can provide storage for you. For instance, a wicker ottoman with a lid is the perfect place to store items like a tablecloth and napkin holders for an outdoor party. You can also store oversized sitting pillows or small outdoor lamps underneath a wooden bench you’ve chosen for the patio area.

Select a Weatherproof Rug

After all your patio furniture chairs, love seats and tables have been selected, don’t forget to purchase an all-wether rug that will keep all the furniture in place. The rug will also give the patio area a more welcoming feel and truly makes the space look like part of your home.

Alissa Young works as a writer and a part time blogger. Her subjects are mainly about home and home improvement and in this article, she is giving us tips on how to rearrange your patio.

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The 4 Things To Know About Perennial Garden Design Thu, 22 Aug 2013 12:25:17 +0000 Our last hurrah

When it comes to designing are garden it can be difficult to know where to even start. Even if the garden already has a rough layout, it’s difficult to say which plants go where, how they should be planted and what combinations will work.

Over time you’ll develop an instinct for this kind of thing, but here are a few things that you should bear in mind until those instincts kick in.

Make Your Flower Beds Wide

It’s a basic fact of garden design that a skimpy flower bed is nigh on impossible to make look good. Give those beds plenty of breadth, ideally at least a foot of width for every three feet of length. If you’ve got a fifteen foot perennial flower bed it should be at least five feet wide. That said, you don’t want beds any wider than ten to fifteen feet wide, otherwise people will have trouble seeing the flowers at the back of the bed!

Plant Thickly

Do you enjoy looking at dirt? Of course you don’t, nobody does. It’s dirty, it’s brown, it occasionally has worms crawling out of it, it’s not anybody’s idea of an aesthetic treat. So why make the visitors your garden look at it Pack those perennial flower beds so that there is barely an inch of soil visible between them. If there are bare spaces it looks like the plants are too young, or you’re too cheap to get enough plants.

Make Sure the Garden Reflects Your Tastes

Like anyone who does anything creative, a gardener’s work should tell you a little about his or herself. It’s an expression of their tastes and personality. So bear that in mind when planning your garden. Take a look at the surroundings – if you’re creating a garden for a rickety cottage in the Cotswolds, there’s no point trying to go for the same regal atmosphere of a stately home.  But at the same time, always remember, this is your garden, and at the end of the day the first person you need to please is yourself.

Step Back

Gardeners spend an awful lot of our time on hands and knees, barely a nose’s distance away from the ground, working on all the hundreds of tiny details that make up a garden. But every so often it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the garden as a whole. There are essential questions you need to ask yourself about the garden, such as: What is the experience like when you walk through a garden, how do the opposite ends of the garden react to one another when they are  both in your eye line at the same time? Does this look like someone was creating it with a plan or just making it up as they went along? What’s the first emotion you feel as you step through the garden gate?

Getting the answers to these questions right can make the difference between a good gardener and a truly great one.

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Rob Whitehead is the principal of the Pickard School of garden design.

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Painful Plants: Five Houseplants That Can Cause Injury Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:39:07 +0000 It’s not something that you hear about on the news all that often, but your houseplants might be a serious source of injury and illness for you, your family and your pets. Though most of us aren’t going around trying to ingest the flowers and plants growing in our gardens and homes, a curious cat or a child that leaves your sight for a minute can seriously injure themselves by touching, picking or eating a plant. While most of these plants won’t lead to death, knowing the potential dangers that might be lurking in your home is a great preventative step to avoiding a trip to the hospital or vet.


These beautiful flowers with a very long name can be a great addition to your home’s garden or a vase at a dinner table. They’re also a great way to keep vermin such as rabbits from digging in your garden, and have insecticidal properties too. However, chrysanthemums can be potentially dangerous to children and curious pets wandering around in search of something to play with or munch on. The flowers, which are toxic, can cause irritation to the skin and lead to condition known as dermatitis if left untreated. Though not terribly injuring, chrysanthemums can lead to a need for allergy medication and cause severe inflammation of the skin.


Hydrangea are incredibly alluring to children. To the young boy or girl with an active imagination, the puffy, colorful, bush-like plant can look appear quite similar to cotton candy. Hydrangeas, however, are anything but edible. Those who ingest the flowers of the plant can suffer from itching, sweating, weakness and vomiting. In severe cases, the plant can lead to even more severe conditions such as coma and blood circulation problems, and someone who ingests the plant may not experience the symptoms for several hours causing confusion to a less-than-knowledgeable parent. For pets, ingestion can lead to an unfortunate death. Though there is an antidote, preventing any negative side effects in the first place is obviously much easier and less nerve wracking for a concerned parent.

Aloe Vera

Though we usually associate this plant with its healing properties, and thus think it’s relatively safe to keep in our home, Aloe Vera can be a hidden danger in your home. Though the clear gel inside can be beneficial and soothing to burns are painful injuries, touching or ingestion of the outer skin and inner layers of the plant can lead to irritation of both the skin and intestines if swallowed. Thus, be careful when thinking this sometimes-beneficial plant can’t cause any harm to your child or pet!


That’s right, the plant we typically associate with excuses for embarrassing kisses around the Christmas and Winter holidays can pose a significant harm to humans. Though usually hung far out of the reach of pets and small children, the berries of mistletoe are actually poisonous when ingested. Again, though most of the time the plant is far from prying and curious pets or children who might want to eat the berries, parents and pet owners should be careful when decorating their home not to leave the plant unattended and in reach of those vulnerable to its allure.


The Narcissus family of plants, which iare more commonly known to most as daffodils, are some of the most dangerous plants you might have in your garden or vase at home. Though they have a beautiful, cheery appearance and are often seen as the early signs of spring, their innocent appearance belies more serious potential dangers. Ingestion of their bulbs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and even tremors. In some cases, ingestion of the bulbs can lead to a fatality if untreated. While a great addition to your garden, ensuring the safety of your children and pets is crucial when choosing to plant daffodils in your yard.

Meredith “Shelly” Troberman is a co-founder and lawyer at Carroll Troberman Law, an Austin, Texas based law office that represents clients in cases of criminal defense, injury and DWI cases. Though she’s never gone to court against a hydrangea, Troberman is serious about preventing all injury — big or small, and cares for the safety and well-being of everyone whether you’ve been in an accident with a drunk driver, or simply have a child who loves to explore and try the taste of the leaves of a houseplant.

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An Outbreak Shouldn’t Mean A Break Out: 3 Insect Repellants Gentle Enough For Your Skin Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:27:49 +0000 Insect repellent is a summer essential unless of course you want to become bug food within a matter of minutes. Bug bites can damage your skin causing blisters, scars, and some even carry diseases so you want to keep them at bay. While a good repellent can work wonders in keeping insects away, they can be oily, smelly and make you feel greasy and uncomfortable so what do you do? You look for one that repels the bugs, but doesn’t repulse you. Below you will find almost everything you need to know about insect repellent and how to find one with the active ingredients  that are right for you.


The strongest and most popular bug spray out on the market is DEET. It is America’s most used repellent a 2008 study showed that more than 200 million people use it worldwide. When used in high concentrations it is likely the most effective repellent on the market. As is the case with most chemicals, too much of a good thing turns out to be bad. If used too frequently, repellents with a high concentration of DEET can cause rashes, scarring and blisters. These conditions are rare and even less likely if you are diligent to wash your skin after you return indoors and the repellent is no longer necessary. If you are in a situation where a quick shower isn’t really possible—like a camping trip or long hike—then a wet  wipe or moist toilette should do the trick. Products like Off! Deep Woods Sportsmen,contains 30% DEET and tend to be longer lasting.

Lemon Eucalyptus oil

If you are looking for a natural solution to your bug biting problems then you should certainly consider the oil of lemon eucalyptus. It is one of only three repellents that are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency. It derives from a species of eucalyptus tree and research has shown that it is one of the most effective plant based insect repellents. You can find it in Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus, Bite Blocker Xtreme and Burts Bees All Natural Herbal.


This ingredient derives from pepper and is more widely available in Europe and Australia. In the United States it is used in lower concentrations that may be increased in time after more studies have been conducted. The repellent can irritate your eyes if there is direct contact, but there have been no signs or reports of it damaging or severely irritating anyone’s skin. It has also been shown that Picaridin lasts about 70% as long as DEET making it a close second to the more potent solution. It is the active ingredient in Natrapel 8-hour and Cutter Advanced which promotes having both a light and clean feel, and is fragrance free.

Keep in mind:

Insect repellent is a chemical and like most chemicals it shouldn’t be used on babies. The age limits vary based on the product and the potency, but most are consistent in their warning against the use on babies. When you apply insect repellent to children use your hands to rub it on them and never put it on their hands as they tend to put them in their mouths. Also remember to avoid using too much. Never spray in an enclosed area, and avoid places on the skin where there are wounds or irritated skin.  Only apply on the skin that is exposed and not under clothing. Lastly, to properly apply to your face, use your hands instead of spraying your face directly and never forget to wash it off after you are indoors.

Dr. Steven Zimmet is an Austin dermatologist at Zimmet Vein & Dermatology. His practice is dedicated to venous and dermatological advancements including body contouring, acne and sun damage treatment, and skin resurfacing.

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5 Ideas To Make Your Garden POP Wed, 10 Jul 2013 12:58:40 +0000 All gardens are beautiful, but if you want design features your guests will remember and your family will treasure, you might have to think outside the box. Creativity is the key to making a strong impression. Don’t do anything the way everyone else does it. Try something new. Go with something bold and out of the ordinary and adapt these exciting ideas to your unique style.

1. Add and Aquaponics Water Feature

Water features can be practical as well as beautiful. Consider a working waterfall raining down upon hanging or fixed planters to water them. The planters are filled with grow bed medium and beautiful plants, so your water will stay clean. Finally, after working through a system of numerous planters and waterfalls, the water babbles quietly through a final waterfall into a 300 to 600 gallon decorative fish pond. You could raise Koi for their beauty or Tilapia for your table.

Aquaponics system designs could be natural or something quite modern and abstract. Materials could be stones and concrete, decorative hammered copper and glass or any number of decorative materials. Many people are creating practical aquaponics systems that are utilitarian and designed to grow vegetables and fish, but it is possible to create intense beauty with an aquaponics system as well. Aquaponics systems self water plants, using bell siphons so they require very little maintenance, and the sound of their many waterfalls is absolutely enchanting.

2. Build Matching Walkways, Seating and Planters

There are many methods and materials that can be use to build a wonderland in your garden. Stone is always a good choice, but stamped or decorative concrete can mimic stone, brick, wood, marble or any other surface very convincingly at a fraction of the cost. A good concrete contractor can build both vertical and horizontal surfaces with the same patterns and materials. You will find his fees quite reasonable compared to the price of stone and the entire job will look like it cost a fortune.

3. A Custom Archway Trellis or Arbor with Built In Planters

Trellises and arbors can be so beautiful, but it takes forever for plants in the ground to reach the top of the trellis. Why not design an arbor with planters along the sides and built into the top for flowering plants. By combining the idea of vertical gardening with the old fashioned arched trellis one can have an amazing look almost immediately instead of having to wait for vines to grow to eight feet high? This way all types of flowering plants could be incorporated easily.

4. Build planters on the Top of your Garden Fences

Why not attach long planters to the tops of your fence posts so that they sit on top of the fence in a uniform row. This will add height, not only to your fence but to your garden. You and your guests will be able to enjoy your tall garden as a row of flowers or greenery at a new and unexpected height. This idea would work with any fence height including tall privacy fences. Consider filling the new fence planters with native violets and allowing them to trail down the fence in ample cascades of mauve and white blossoms and deep green foliage.

5. Consider an Exciting Designer Hammock

There are two stunning hanging furniture designs by Dedon, an Italian furniture company. Either would provide a stunning impression. Dedon makes an exciting 2 meter wide hanging teardrop shaped pod made of woven Dedon Fiber and stuffed with exciting outdoor cushions. Another possibility might be their Swingrest daybed. This round garden bed can be suspended or its swivel Corian base can be placed on the ground.

Mike Smith is a home decorator who uses Premium Pools and Gardens for all of his outdoor needs.

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6 Simple Ways To Make Your Home Eco-Friendly Fri, 21 Jun 2013 12:28:26 +0000 Many people are trying to be more environmentally conscious these days in every aspect of their lives- including their home. Turning your house into an eco-friendly oasis is easier than you think, there’s no need to build a new home. There’s many small, simple ways to make your home more efficient, and improve the environment.

Use Friendly Paint

If you’re rebuilding or renovating, consider purchasing paint that’s low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are compounds high in toxicity that can cause air pollution and even cancer to those who breathe it in. VOCs are unstable compounds that vaporize into the air still seep out even years after painting. Paint the second largest VOC contributor into the atmosphere, second only to vehicles. Choosing a paint that is low in these compounds will help reduce your carbon footprint, and could save your health! Regular exposure to paint emitting these vapors has been linked to many different cancers.

Try Composting

Altering your lifestyle to include a compost pile is a simple way to help out the environment. Putting all organic food scraps, such as banana peels and eggshells, into a bin and then using the resulting compost on your yard will not only improve your land, but the environment by reducing waste that is sent to landfills. Many cities have a composting service that will pick up your compost if you don’t have an area to use it in.

Install Solar Panels

Solar panels will reduce your electric bill by providing clean, natural energy to your home. Solar water tanks are also out there, to replace water heaters. Harnessing solar energy reduces the need for non-renewable fossil fuels that we currently use to produce most of our energy. Solar panels may be pricey to first install, but the change in electric bills will make up for initial costs.

Use Low-Wattage Light Bulbs

A really simple way to improve the eco-friendliness of your home is to switch out basic light bulbs with low-wattage, energy efficient ones. It’ll not only save you energy costs, but they last longer than traditional bulbs as well. This is one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Find Low-Flow Alternatives

Another fairly simple step to making an environmentally friendly home is to invest in low-flow toilets and showers. These do the same job as regular appliances, but use less water- protecting the environment and saving you money.

Clean Green

Eco-friendly cleaning supplies are important to protecting the environment and yourself from toxins. Most eco-friendly cleaners contain grain alcohol, coconut oil, or other plant oils instead of toxic chemicals that you shouldn’t be ingesting and that shouldn’t be released into the air. You can also make a change by making your own cleaning products using simple ingredients around the home like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and borax to save money and go green.

It’s not hard to take these steps to improve our environment. So, take a trip to the hardware store and get started on making your home and eco-friendly oasis today.

Fahreed Tulbah is the owner of Caden Roofing, a professional roofing company in Austin, Texas that prides themselves on having competent, experienced workers that provide top-quality roofs made with inspected materials for both residential and business buildings.

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How To Redesign Your Garden To Make It Safe For Your Children Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:11:55 +0000

How To Redesign Your Garden To Make It Safe For Your Children

Having a garden is fantastic, especially when you have children; however, unfortunately many gardens provide a huge number of hazards to children. It is therefore really important to make sure, upon ever redesigning your garden, to keep a number of crucial points in mind, such as:

Checking your garden is escape proof

Accidents do happen and as a parent you will make mistakes. Unfortunately no matter how hard you try it is impossible to keep an eye on children all the time. It is incredibly important your children do not find a way out of the garden when your back is turned. Therefore when you are installing hedges, fencing or gates for the first time, you need to make sure you haven’t left any gaps, all fastenings are secure and that little fingers cannot unlock or untie anything.

Checking your plant types

Unfortunately, many of the prettiest plants people want in their gardens, such as roses, holly and pampas grass often come with sharp leaves and/or thorns. These are obviously dangerous to young children, who don’t know any better than not to touch. However, this is no reason to not put these in your garden. If these plants are essential to your new garden redesign, you just need to be a bit more considerate about where you are planting them.

You will also need to double check the toxicity of your new plants before planting, to make sure they are not poisonous if a child happens to eat them. Aim to keep all of these kinds of plants at a higher level, far away from children’s eyes, faces and fingers. Or you can always section off an area of your garden using handrails, thereby making the plants inaccessible to your children.

Checking your tools are always safely stored away

One of the most important things to remember, when redesigning a garden with kids around, is to ensure everything is always put back in its proper place. Even if you only put something, like a garden fork or a hammer, down for a second in order to go and get a drink, it can be extremely dangerous. A child might easily pick something like this up off the floor and cause damage, to themselves or even to someone else.

Try to avoid using any tools with power leads, when your children are about. Not only might the cords prove to be a tripping hazard for your children but you may also find tools start and stop for no apparent reason…Upon investigation you will probably find a mischievous toddler is at fault and they are playing an ‘innocent’ plug and unplug game, however, it just isn’t worth the risk of something going wrong.

Checking the safety of your water features

Without a doubt water features are one of the most popular aspects to include when redesigning a garden, ranging from large pools and ponds to simple bird bath fountains. However, whilst they can be beautiful, they are also very dangerous to children, for obvious reasons. Try to keep this in mind when installing your water features and include whatever safety measures you can, whether this include cordoning off the feature itself, covering with netting, or just settling for features too small in size to be a threat to your children.

Attached Images:
  •  License: Image author owned

Laura writes for Seagull Ballustrades. When not writing, she can be often be found trying to keep her children from destroying her garden.

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Starting A Career As A Professional Gardener Wed, 12 Jun 2013 12:42:59 +0000 A career in professional gardening is one that is very attractive to a lot of people. It offers the perks of being able to work outdoors, get fresh air and be surrounded by beautiful natural plant life. Therefore it suits those who like to keep active, do hands on tasks and be interactive with their work. It is something that you usually have to get into at a young age to turn into a proper career. A lot of gardening jobs in the horticultural sector start with apprenticeships (which are mostly given to younger individuals).

This article will talk about the career path of becoming a professional gardener and what traits/skills are required to succeed.

In the current climate jobs are hard to come by in most sectors. Therefore experience is an increasingly important factor when applying for jobs and even training courses. Experience usually has to be gained by volunteering and giving up your time. Luckily there are a lot of companies and organisations that are willing to take people on for free! Some good places to look are garden centres, park maintenance teams, private estates and local council volunteer schemes. Gaining this valuable experience will allow you to have an edge over competing candidates when applying for paid work.

When gaining work experience you likely won’t be given highly specialised tasks to complete. But what you will get is a taster for the industry and an understanding of the kind of work that you’ll be engaging in. It’s always good to test the waters before going into a career type job; as often it’s hard to turn round and change what industry you work in.

The best way to enter the gardening trade is to gain certain recognised qualifications. This is usually part of the apprenticeship process if you go down that route. Gaining industry accredited horticulture qualifications opens you up to a wide range of opportunities and jobs. Being a qualified gardener allows you to work on projects such as private estates, botanical gardens, display gardens and other prestigious locations.

One thing to note about the gardening trade though, is that it is a year round job; which means working in all weather conditions. You need to be able to hand the cold winter grounds and surrounding environment, as well as the warmer summer temperatures. Although a gardener’s work is most visible during the summer months, the work continues all year round. Work needs to be put in to make sure that everything is set up right for spring. During winter there is a lot of ground treatment work, fertilisation, seed sowing and top dressing. This is done so that when things start growing again they are already set up to go.

Overall being a professional gardener can be a very rewarding job. It is hands on, healthy, in a great environment and you can actively see the fruits of your labour. If you’re an outdoor type who likes hands on work this would be a very enjoyable and satisfying career.

For more information on commercial gardening, groundcare and landscaping work have a look at the advice section on

This article was written by Peter McAllister, who works for SGM, a supplier to many commercial gardening contractors, companies and individuals.

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6 Time Saving Tips For Gardening Thu, 23 May 2013 12:44:11 +0000 Garden

It’s officially that time of the year to start getting busy with planting and preparing your garden for harvest. If you haven’t already started growing your indoor buds, now is the perfect time to check your soil outside and see if the temperature is warm and dry enough to work with. Don’t have a lot of time to start a garden? Don’t sweat it! Here are 6 time saving tips for gardening that’ll get you up and running in no time at all.

Start with a plan

For anyone looking to save time and be efficient, planning ahead is always the best option when doing virtually anything. Specifically with gardening, having a thought out plan can save you time trying to decide where you want each plant to go while you’re working outside. For additional productivity, make a decision regarding what you plan on replacing the short-lived plants with, such as lettuce and spinach.

Keep tools close

Rather than running around when you finally find time to get outside to work on the garden looking for your tools, have a designated area close to the garden where you store them. A lot of gardeners lose time outside when they are disorganized, and this is something you can easily change. Whether you have a bucket full of your commonly used tools or you have a belt with all of them attached, use whatever method that will save you the most time.

Cut off weeds

One of the most annoying parts of preparing a garden for the spring is the process of getting rid of all of the dead plants from the previous year and any weeds that have grown since then. A time saving trick is to chop any low-growing weeds all at once as opposed to plucking each one individually. Use a sharp blade to slice beneath weeds and then turn them over to completely bury the leaves. As the leaves begin to rot, weeds can help to nourish the soil and act as a green manure.

Mulch it up

Spreading mulch is a no-brainer, but most importantly you need to make sure you spread it efficiently and evenly. Using the tined edge of a rake, you can pull and spread the mulch. Then by flipping the rake over, even out the mulch on the bed.

Water water water

Plants need water to grow, and without water, you will be wasting your time trying to grow yourself a garden. With that said, invest in a soaker hose rather than a traditional watering can so that you can water with ease. The great thing about these hoses is that the water can be left on for many hours, giving you the opportunity to work on something else.

Take small steps

No garden is going to grow overnight, and it’s important to keep that mind set as opposed to pushing a garden to grow faster. A huge mistake a lot of us make is that we get impatient with the process and rather than letting your garden take the time it needs, we over-water and spend too much time monitoring the process. Take a step back and let your garden grow and you’ll be pleased with the results by the time summer rolls around!

Attached Images:

Ann Michaels is a freelance writer and gardening advocate. She loves making her garden look as beautiful as possible, which is why she buys religious garden statues to improve the overall look. She loves offering tips and tricks to other gardening advocates and hopes her suggestions help!

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Top Tips On Redesigning Your Garden For The Summer Wed, 22 May 2013 12:05:44 +0000 With the arrival of spring often comes people’s desire to get out in the garden and change it up in order to recreate garden magic in time for summer BBQs with friends. However, redesigning a garden isn’t always easy and it can also be quite expensive, which is a real pain if the British summer turns out to be a wash out.


Redesigning your garden doesn’t have to be so pricey and stressful, however, and below you will find a number of top tips that will help save you money in the long run and get your garden looking as good as you want it to.

1. Remember what happened last year!

One of the biggest things to keep in mind, upon deciding you want to give your garden a makeover, is to remember exactly what you did in the garden last year and the years preceding that. You will then be able to steer clear of doing anything that didn’t work. For example, did you plant a particular flower that didn’t bloom? Did you successfully grow a plant but hate the scent it gave off?

You need to learn from your mistakes and ensure you know everything about the plants you are planting, i.e. what soil types they prefer, climate, should they be in direct sunlight and so on. This forward planning will ensure your garden looks as perfect as you want it to.

2. Test the pH of your soil

Even if you believe your garden has good soil, it is still important to test it before trying to grow anything. Even more so if you are planning to grow any foodstuffs and have a vegetable patch. So many people just feed their soil with composts and nutrients before they know what their soil is lacking in. Do not do this.

Buy a pH soil test form your local garden centre and then you will be able to see exactly what is going on with your soil and adapt your soil feeding to suit its exact nutrient and mineral requirements. Soil planning is essential if you want your garden redesign to be a success, so do not ever miss out on this step. If you choose to forgo testing your soil, you will only end up wasting your money buying plants and seeds that will not grow and bloom to their full potential.

3. Make your garden smell beautiful

The majority of people, when redesigning their gardens, tend to only focus on the visual sense, however, this is a mistake. When planning what you’re going to plant and grow you should not only think about colours, height and spread but also smell. Some of the best gardens are a true sight to behold but have a greater impact because they smell heavenly too.

Take care when buying your plants and flowers because unfortunately, many will have very limited fragrance because unfortunately it has been lost over time as breeders have worked to ensure plants have longer blooming periods. For instance, there’s no harm in choosing flowers like roses for their visual beauty but their fragrance will now be rather limited. Therefore try to also plant many of the more old-fashioned plants like gardenias, nicotianas and dianthus as these will not only provide colour but are also still strong in perfume too.

4. Create a focal point

As with interior design, where you might make a fireplace or central wall a focal point in your living room, you should look to make a focal point within your garden. You will have a much wider choice of where to make your focal point in your garden as opposed to inside your house and can even vary it on a year by year basis if you so choose.

Many people buy water features and make them a focal point of the garden. They do this by installing a lovely garden path that leads right up to them or by setting them apart from the rest of the garden by setting up ornamental handrails around the feature. Focal points don’t have to be water features though; they can be anything from a distinctive plant to a garden patio.

5. Make sure you have the right tools

This should go without saying and if you are particularly green fingered, no doubt you will have a stock of useful garden tools in your shed. However, there are many people who start off redesigning their garden without many of the key tools they need, simply because they’ve not planned what they’re going to do to their garden in advance.

You don’t need to spend a fortune; however, it is definitely worth investing in some good quality tools, in order to make sure your garden redesign goes smoothly and looks professional once you have finished. At the very least you should have the following:

– Rake
– Shovel
– Pruners
– Garden knife
– Trowel
– Hard-wearing gloves
– Knee pad
– Water hose
– Watering can

Take good care of these tools and you will be able to use them for years. For instance, each time you use any of the metal based tools, rinse off any soil and grime thoroughly, dry them and then place them into a bucket with a sand and motor oil mixture. This will prevent rusting and ensure your tools stay sharp and shiny – perfect for helping you redesign your garden.

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Laura writes for Seagull Balustrades. When not blogging about banister rails, she’s usually trying to wipe childrens’ fingerprints off hers.

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