Garden Ideas, Tips and Tricks for Spring

Gardening is a fun and productive way to de-stress. Discover wonderful garden ideas and tips to plant, maintain, decorate, and beautify your gardens.

 

Garden Ideas

Tips and Tricks for Spring Gardening

 

Spring is fast approaching, and that means it is time to start thinking about your garden. So, I thought I would pull together a roundup of gardening ideas, tips, and tricks to help you along the way.

You will find a wide variety of information from planting; trellises; indoor, outdoor, and container gardens; disease prevention; pest deterrents; and more.

Planting and Growing

Sunflowers – How To Grow These Healthy Giants

Get a wow factor in your garden with these floral giants — sunflowers! Learn out to grow them from seeds and grow them to amazing heights.

Lilac Bushes – How To Plant Healthy Shrubs

Learn how to grow healthy Lilac Bushes. Lilacs are a gorgeous and fragrant addition to any garden and are one of the most carefree shrubs for maintenance.

5 Tips To Growing Gourds In Your Garden

Celebrate fall by growing gourds in your garden. Get 5 great tips. Use gourds for autumn decor, recipes, crafts, and more. Bird lovers will love them.

DIY Garden Projects

5 Metallic DIY Ideas For Your Garden

Check out these 5 Metallic DIY Ideas that are perfect for Your Garden! Easy DIY projects that add a little bling to your garden decor.

How To Create A DIY Rose Trellis

Roses come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Add a gorgeous DIY Rose Trellis as a focal point in your garden with a stunning climbing rose.

Indoor Gardening

How-To Create A Terrarium For Your Home

Bring the joy of gardening indoors with this fun and easy DIY Terrarium for your home. Add the beauty of plants to your home decor.

Container Gardening

Potted Plants Keep Your Deck Colorful And Festive

Keep gardening through the autumn and winter months with potted plants. get ideas for colorful and festive ways to make your deck a garden to enjoy.

Alternative Gardens

Aquaponic Gardening – Create A Self-Sustaining Garden

Ever wondered about an aquaponic garden? Aquaponics is a method of gardening that creates a system of self-sustaining gardening.

6 Ways To Create A Zen Experience In Your Backyard

Looking for quiet and tranquility? Take a cue from Japanese culture and create a Zen experience in your garden or a small Zen garden for inside your home.

Garden Maintenance

Shrubs – 5 Hassle-Free Trimming Tips

Great tips on how to take back control of your yard, and keep your plants healthy and beautiful with these how-tos for trimming your shrubs.

5 Most Valuable Home Improvement Investments

A garden beautifies your home. Get a few key tools to make the most of time and energy, and ensure you have the right tools for the gardening job.

Plant Diseases and Pest Deterrents

Plant Diseases – How To Identify Them In Your Garden

Keep your garden healthy and strong. Learn how to identify and care for common plant diseases. Plus get prevention and disposal tips.

Humane Ways To Keep Animals Out Of Your Yard

Animals can be destructive to gardens. Find humane ways to discourage and keep unwanted animals out of your yard with these great tips.

 

This post gathers a multitude of information and is a fantastic resource for garden ideas, tips, and tricks! PIN it to come back to for future reference.

I hope this spring and summer your gardens will be filled with beautiful flowers, shrubs, herbs, and vegetables. Take pleasure in the gardening experience, relax and enjoy!

 

 

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5 Tips To Growing Gourds In Your Garden

Celebrate Fall in your garden! Here are 5 great tips to growing gourds in your garden, brought to us by regular contributor, Megan Wild.

 

Growing Gourds – Celebrate Fall In Your Garden

Get 5 Great Tips!

 

Tips for Growing Gourds

You’ve probably started seeing them in fall décor, and in the spring you might have seen them put out for birds to nest in. You don’t need to shell out money for these decorative staples: Did you know you can grow your own ornamental gourds as a fun project with your children, or just to have a surplus for decorating next season? While they have a long growing period before the gourds can be harvested, they are very easy to start from seeds.

Here’s how you can grow your own gourds and enjoy them from season to season.

Getting to Know Your Gourds

Gourds are a vining fruit that actually includes watermelons, pumpkins, squash, melons and cucumbers. There are three basic types of gourds that are grown for decoration or for crafts and utensils.

  1. Vegetable sponge gourds (luffa) have an exterior shell that is removed after they are harvested. It is the center of the gourd that is used as a sponge. Once dried, the luffa sponge can be used as an exfoliating scrub when bathing. If you make your own soap, you can also slice a luffa and pour your homemade soap over it in a mold to make an exfoliating bar.
  1. Ornamental gourds are typically the ones used in decorating. They can be unusually shaped and brightly colored. Small ornamental gourds can be dried and preserved, but large ornamental gourds will not be suitable for drying.
  1. Utilitarian gourds will be green while they grow, but will dry to a brown color with a tough shell. These can be used for bird houses, crafts and if left to grow on the ground with a flat side, can also be cut in half to use for bowls.

Constructing Your Garden

Since gourds are big sun lovers, you should select an area in your yard that gets full sun with well-drained soil. You may also want to enrich the soil with compost or organic material. If you intend to use your gourds for decoration, you should construct a trellis that will support your growing gourds, unless you are planning to grow utilitarian gourds for bowls.

Preparing the Seeds

Gourd seeds can have a hard outer shell, which can cause them to take an extra-long time to germinate. To help speed up the process, you can scarify them by roughing up the surface with sandpaper or a nail file. You will need to gently rough up both sides of the seed. After you have done that, soak them in a bowl of lukewarm water for 24 hours, and then let them completely dry so they won’t rot before they sprout.

Caring for Your Plants

If you have a long winter, you can start your seeds indoors. Be sure to wait until all danger of frost is gone before planting them in your garden. Since gourds are a vine, they will need plenty of room in the garden if you will be letting them grow on the ground. If you will be using a trellis, make sure it will support the weight of your growing crop.

While they can be resistant to pests and disease, they don’t like weeds, so be sure to weed your garden regularly. If you are growing in a climate that tends to be extremely hot and dry, you will want to make sure your gourds get plenty of TLC and water.

Gathering Your Harvest

If you plan on drying, or curing, your gourds, you should start by leaving them on the vine as long as possible. Check them every few days to make sure they haven’t started to rot or have become a snack for wildlife. A good indication that your gourd is ready to cut is when the vine has turned brown. Curing gourds can take a while, so be patient and don’t try to rush them. You may want to plan on using your dried gourds the year following the harvest to give them sufficient time to dry.

If you are growing gourds for decoration, don’t seal them with any kind of varnish or shellac, since that will seal in moisture and cause them to rot. If you want them to appear polished, you can use a liquid floor wax instead.

Growing gourds for decoration and crafting can become a fun hobby for novice gardeners, bird lovers and children. It can also become a lucrative business depending on your creative skills and imagination. With so many different uses for gourds, as well as their various colors and sizes, the only limit to what you can make with them is what you don’t think of.

 

See what Lorelai does with her pumpkins. Click HERE!

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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Plant Diseases – How To Identify Them In Your Garden

Learn how-to identify common plant diseases. And get prevention and disposal tips from our regular contributor, Megan Wild.

 

 

How to Identify Garden Plant Diseases

Identification, Prevention, and Disposal

 

Gardening can be a true pleasure. It gets you outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, but it isn’t always easy. Whether you choose to grow fruit, flowers or a little bit of both in a large vegetable plot, you’re dependent on the weather and soil conditions for a large part of your success. Even if you get all the rain you need and avoid ill-timed frosts and freezes, your garden can fall subject to insect damage and plant diseases.

 

Luckily, identifying plant diseases is easier than ever with the help of the internet. Early identification and treatment are the best way to save your plants from imminent disaster. Check out these tips for preventing plant diseases and treating the most common sources of distress for gardeners.

 

Basic Prevention Methods

 

Strong plants are less likely to succumb to disease, so your prevention plan should start from the moment you plant the seeds. Choose plant varieties that are disease resistant and well suited for your growing area. For example, if you live in a dry area, choose drought-hardy varieties. Consider selecting native plants that will work best in your soil and climate.

 

Once your seeds have been sown and transplants set out, make sure your plants receive adequate water and fertilizer throughout the growing season to keep them strong and healthy. Some plants are light feeders while others need extra nutrients, so do a little research to know how to care for each of your plants. Make sure to prevent invasive species from getting into your garden.

 

Common Plant Diseases

 

If your plants are wilting or discolored despite your best efforts, you might be dealing with an infection. Check your plants for signs of insect damage first — you’ll usually be able to see bugs, eggs or holes in the leaves. Once you’ve ruled out the creepy-crawlies, compare your plant’s issues to these common diseases to diagnose the problem:

  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal infection covers plant leaves with a white, powdery substance. It’s common in periods of high humidity when plants are stressed by drought. Keep plants watered and prune to improve airflow.
  • Black Spot: The bane of rose gardeners everywhere, black spot is another fungal infection that strikes leaves subjected to too much moisture. Water roses directly at ground level and remove infected leaves to prevent its spread.
  • Tomato Blight: This fast-spreading disease begins as dark brown spots on the leaves of tomato and potato vines. The fungus overwinters in the soil and spreads across plants from the ground up, causing it to lose leaves and eventually die. Remove infected plants to prevent its spread.
  • White Mold: This fungus grows in wet conditions and looks like a cottony patch on your plants blossoms or leaves. Use drip irrigation instead of overhead watering to keep leaves dry, and give plants plenty of space to increase airflow and keep white mold at bay.

 

Disposing of Diseased Plants

After carefully tending your garden all year, I know how painful it can be to have to say goodbye to once promising plants. Pruning off a portion of your favorite plants — or worse, uprooting them entirely — is never ideal. Disease prevention often requires gardeners to make hard choices to prevent infections from taking over your entire garden.

 

There are a few methods you can use when removing diseased plants from your garden; they include composting or burning. Many choose to avoid composting because if the diseased or invasive plant has ripe seeds, because in the right conditions, the plant could still germinate. If you choose to burn these plants, a wood grinder can make quick work of large of diseased plants, bush branches, or tree parts, making them easier to fit into your fire pit or burn pile.

 

In the end, it’s better to lose one plant than all of them. Each time you deal with a new disease or pest, you have the opportunity to do some research and learn more about your garden. Soon you’ll be armed with a wealth of experience and experimentation that leads you to the perfect, thriving garden for your particular microclimate.

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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Shrubs – 5 Hassle-Free Trimming Tips

Regular contributor, Megan Wild shares some great tips on how to take back control of your yard , and keep your plants healthy with tips for trimming your shrubs.

Shrubs – 5 Hassle-Free Trimming Tips

Take back control of your yard, and keep your plants healthy.

 

If you’ve ever gone out to give your shrubs a quick trim, only to find it so hard to keep them even that you end up cutting off way too many branches, you’re probably hesitant to make the same mistake twice. I know how that feels, because that’s how my first trim went. Unfortunately, under-trimming your shrubs can lead to just as many problems as over-trimming them, as you’ll end up with overgrown bushes with lots of deadwood and poor flowering.

Luckily, proper pruning isn’t hard to learn, and you’ll get good results if you take your time. Follow these tips for hassle-free shrub trimming:

  1. Know When to Cut

Different types of plants flower at different times of the year, and the timing of their life cycles typically determines when you should prune them. Evergreen shrubs can be pruned almost any time of year except the fall, when new growth will be vulnerable to dieback from the winter cold. Flowering shrubs should be cut back at a time when flower buds won’t be removed.

For early bloomers like lilacs, shape them immediately after blooming. Summer bloomers can be cut back in the winter. Hydrangeas are the exception: Shape these in midsummer so you don’t accidentally remove the flower buds.

 

  1. Start With the Dead Stuff

If you’re nervous about just how much to cut and where to begin, it’s always a good idea to start with the deadwood. Your plant will never miss these, and cutting out broken branches is a good way to prevent disease. Cut below the break to give your plant a clean wound that will easily heal. Your bush won’t miss dead branches, so don’t worry yet about shaping – just get rid of them.

 

  1. Shape Slowly

Sometimes, removing dead wood is all you need to make your shrubs look like their old selves, so stand back and look at the plant’s shape before making any more cuts. For a quick shape up, cut only the twigs and branches that are sticking out beyond the natural shape of your bush. Resist the urge to make a lot of cuts at once – it’s best to go slow and take a step back to assess so you don’t end up cutting too much at once.

 

  1. Avoid Right Angles and Odd Shapes

The best pruning allows the plant to grow in a natural way, so unless you’re Edward Scissorhands or work at Disney World, don’t try to form strange shapes with your shrubs. Right angles should be avoided, and this is true even of box hedges. These plants need sunlight for photosynthesis and good health, so make sure bottom branches are slightly wider than the tops so they also receive sunlight. Flat tops are also a bad idea, as the weight of ice and snow will break the branches.

 

  1. Do a Little Research

Because each plant has its own natural shape and growing habit, there’s no hard and fast rule about trimming shrubs that works for everything. Though you should consider that trimming shrubs helps increase curb appeal, makes your home a more welcoming place for guests, and can even increase your home’s market value. Your best bet is to do a little internet research about your plant to see what experts recommend.

You can also visit a local nursery or get advice from a neighbor with a green thumb if you need help identifying a bush or learning the basics about garden tools and techniques. Pruning is also good for the health of the plant, so give it a try – it doesn’t have to be scary! Once you know all about your plant, go ahead and give it a trim at least once a year to maintain its shape.

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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Sunflowers – How To Grow These Healthy Giants

We’re back in the garden with regular contributor, Megan Wild. You’re going to love these floral giants — sunflowers for your garden!

How to Grow Healthy Sunflowers

Add some wow factor to your garden!

 

One of the greatest joys of gardening is watching something you planted from a tiny seed grow and reach amazing heights – even towering over you. There’s no better way to get that wow factor in your garden than to plant sunflowers. Some varieties can reach 10 to even 16 feet high! To grow large, healthy sunflowers, though, it pays to follow a few best practices to give them the best chance to thrive.

 

Choose the Right Location

 

It should come as no surprise that sunflowers do best in a sunny location. They need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day – the more the better. Sunflowers also need a soil that drains well, so planting them on a slope will often help keep their roots from becoming too waterlogged.

 

Another advantage of planting sunflowers on a slope is that picking the right plants can help reduce soil erosion and minimize flooding in other parts of your yard. Sunflowers have long taproots that anchor deeply and soak up a lot of excess water, which can help preserve the rest of your landscape.

 

Plant in Mid-Spring for Best Results

 

Sunflowers aren’t frost-hardy, so it’s best to wait to plant until all danger of frost has passed in your area. Prepare your soil by adding a low-nitrogen fertilizer and lots of compost. Turn these into the soil with a spade to loosen the planting area and allow roots to flourish. Press sunflower seeds into the prepared soil to about an inch in depth, making sure to plant seeds in rows 6 inches apart. Cover seeds with soil and water well.

 

If garden pests like birds, chipmunks or squirrels disturb your seeds, cover your planting bed with bird netting or chicken wire to protect them. Water seeds daily until they sprout.

 

 

Support Your Sunflowers as They Grow

 

Once your sunflowers sprout, they don’t need much care unless you are experiencing a drought. An inch of rainfall per week is the right amount, but if you get less, water your sunflowers deeply once per week to make up for the deficit.

 

When your sunflowers reach a foot in height, it’s time to thin them. For a row of dwarf sunflowers, you should pull out the weaker seedlings and leave the strong plants at a spacing of about one per every foot. For giant sunflowers, thin to one every 30 inches or so. It’s important to create enough room for your sunflowers to reach their full potential, so don’t skip this important step – even if it seems sad to kill half of your seedlings.

 

As your sunflowers bloom, they will need staking to keep them upright. Sometimes the seed heads get so heavy that the stems bend or break, so use strong bamboo stakes to hold them upright. Simply insert the stake into the ground a few inches from the stem and use garden twine to tie the stem to the stake every 6 inches or so. This will also help your sunflowers if you live in a windy area.

 

 

Protect Sunflowers From Predators

 

Sunflowers are tempting food sources for local garden critters, so you may need to protect them, especially if you are interested in harvesting the seeds for yourself. To do this, you can spray plants with a hot pepper spray or other squirrel deterrent. You’ll need to reapply ever few days, or after a rainfall.

 

To keep birds away from your sunflower seeds, tie a paper bag over the flower head as the seeds begin to develop. This won’t allow you to enjoy your flowers for their beauty, but it’s usually the only way to keep the local birds from making off with your crop. If you’ve planted a whole bed of sunflowers, you can select just a few to protect and allow the birds to eat the rest while you enjoy the flowers for their decorative features.

 

Once you get the hang of growing sunflowers, you‘ll never want to be without them. They are a brilliant feature in any garden, and they’re loads of fun for kids to enjoy – especially if they get to snack on the seeds in the autumn. Give these giant beauties a try for a fun garden project this summer.

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

Have you grown sunflowers before?

Do you have any tips or tricks for growing sunflowers in your garden?

 

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Lilac Bushes – How To Plant Healthy Shrubs

Spring is here, and we’re in the garden! Today, our Regular Contributor, Megan Wild share with us How To Plant Healthy Lilac Bushes. Lilacs are one of my most favorite flowers, so pretend you have a fresh vase of lilacs on your table, and enjoy…

 

How To Plant Healthy Lilac Bushes

Spring in the garden with gorgeous lilacs!

 

Lilac bushes can make a wonderful addition to any garden. They’re perfect for bringing some color to a space, and the lovely fragrance that comes with them fills the air. Their beauty and enticing scent, along with the fact they are one of the most carefree shrubs you can grow, makes it easy to see why they’re a favorite among gardeners.

 

With a few tips you can keep your lilac bushes growing healthy for decades to come. Check out the list below to get the scoop on keeping your lilac healthy and happy.

 

Start With Your Soil

 

Healthy soil means a healthy plant. Checking your soil before planting will give you an idea if anything needs to be fixed before you put your lilac bushes in the ground.

 

Lilacs are relatively forgiving when it comes to soil. Your bushes will tolerate a variety of soil types, but lilacs do prefer well-draining soil that’s rich with humus. Humus helps air and water move through the soil more easily. Loose and airy soil will prevent it from trapping excess water that may cause root rot or other problems.

 

You can do a test at home to make sure your soil is draining well enough. To test your soil drainage, you’ll want to dig a hole that is around 12 inches deep and fill it with water. Timing how long it takes the water to drain from your hole will show you whether or not you have a draining problem. If after an hour there’s no noticeable difference, the soil in that area drains poorly and is not a good location for your lilac bushes. A good drainage rate is at least 1-2 inches per hour.

 

Checking your soil can also tell you its pH, what nutrients it may be missing and whether or not your soil has toxins. Since you’re probably not planning to eat your lilacs, toxic soil isn’t a huge concern unless you have children that like to play in the dirt. If your soil test turns up toxins but children aren’t a concern, you can still safely garden – just be sure to wear gloves when working in the soil and be careful not to breathe in any soil dust.

 

Pick a Location

 

Lilac bushes need full sun and plenty of room to grow, so choosing the right location for them will depend on those factors. Full sun means at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Since lilac plants can get pretty large, you’ll want to place each plant a minimum of five feet apart to prevent overcrowding. Even if you plan to use your lilac as a hedge, the plants will need this space to grow happily.

 

Lilacs love alkaline soil. Adding lime to the area you intend to plant in will keep your soil from becoming acidic and make your lilac shrubs feel right at home.

 

Planting Your Bushes

 

Now that your soil is ready and you’ve found a location for your bushes, it’s time to start planting. If your lilac was shipped in spring and has come in the form of bare roots, don’t worry: Your plant isn’t sleeping, it’s just dormant. Soaking the roots in tepid water for 10-15 minutes will get your lilac ready for the ground.

 

  • Prepare a hole that’s wide and deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root structure. If you’re digging for several plants or have to move a large amount of soil to prepare your planting area, you can increase your efficiency and minimize fatigue by using professional equipment to plant your bushes.
  • For bare root plants, you want the roots to be a few inches below the surface of the hole. If your plant has a root ball it should be level with the top of the hole.
  • After placing your plant in the hole, fill it in with soil, add a thin layer of mulch and water thoroughly.

 

Lilac Maintenance

 

Planting is just one aspect of growing lilac. You have to maintain the plants once they’re in the soil to keep them healthy for years. Lilacs are pretty low maintenance, which is good news for the lazy gardener. Here’s how to keep your lilacs happy:

 

  • You should water your plant thoroughly, but not excessively. Lilacs don’t like wet roots.
  • Fertilizing regularly isn’t necessary, but your bushes may benefit from an application in early spring. You’ll want to avoid anything that’s too nitrogen rich, since this can stunt the growth of blooms on your plant.
  • Pruning spent blossoms will keep your plant producing more new flowers. Occasionally, pruning may be necessary if your plant gets too tall for you to enjoy.

 

Whatever effort you put into your bushes they will repay tenfold. These fragrant shrubs are low maintenance and eager to please. With proper care, your lilac bushes will provide you with beautiful blossoms for years to come.

 

 

 

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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