Garden design planning

Good garden design starts with thinking before digging.

Garden design takes time. It’s too late to plan your garden when you are standing in the nursery eyeing every new plant that tempts you. Spend some time looking at your garden site, either during the off season, when you can really view it objectively or during the growing season, when your successes and failures make themselves known.

Once you have an idea of how you are going to use your garden, come back to reality and take an objective look at the site before you come up with your garden design. This is of utmost importance in determining which plants and trees you use to achieve the desired effect.

Monitor it during different times of the day and year:

1. How many hours of sun does the site receive?
2. What times of day is it sunny?
3. Does sun exposure change with the seasons? Do trees allow sun in the spring and shade during summer?
4. How is the soil, as far as pH and texture?
5. Are there structures or large trees that will affect plant growth and selection?
6. Are there structures nearby that you would like to camouflage?
7. What plants are already growing there?

You know what you want to use your garden for, what you are working with and what resources you can devote to it. Now, what do you want it to look like?

Formal or informal? Wild?
Should it complement your house?
Do you want it to flow with the natural landscape?
Do you favor soft pastels or bold tropicals?

All these things might seem overwhelming, but you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time and a considerable amount of money if you take this advice and you’ll find that each step gets easier and more fun. Plant selection should be one of the last things you consider, or you may be overwhelmed trying to create a garden design to accommodate the dozens (or hundreds or even thousands) of plants you crave.

Know your planting zone

Before you buy that first plant, you have to know what your planting zone is. Without that knowledge, you can end up ordering all sorts of wonderful looking plants and shrubs only to find that they are not suitable for your planting zone and they will die. You will have spent time and money needlessly. If you’re buying by catalog or online, every plant and seed catalog or online merchant should show a planting zone map and each plant depicted should have an indication of the zones in which that particular plant (or tree, etc.) will thrive. You can also contact your local garden clubs or your county’s Agriculture Extension Bureau with your questions regarding the suitability and care of plants for your particular area. This knowledge is of critical importance, particularly if you have moved from one zone to another. Not only will you save money, but you will avoid countless hours of frustrating work in your garden.

Keep in mind what your garden will be used for and when. This is important in your plant consideration. If you plan to entertain a lot and don’t want to spend all summer on chores, look for lower maintenance plants that don’t require constant deadheading and staking to look good and, if you are planting for small children, choose plants that will bloom at their eye level, with interesting textures and scents and non-poisonous flowers and seeds.

Make a list of the plants you like and group them by color, texture and form – the garden design triumvirate. Also chart them by season of bloom and/or interest. Consider both flowers and foliage. There are more and more plants being bred with colorful foliage that will provide interest in the garden all season.

Be sure to include some large anchor plants that will look good all year. These are usually shrubs and often evergreens. Most small to average gardens can only accommodate 1 or 2 trees or shrubs, but they are important for providing the good bones of the garden and you want to choose wisely at the beginning. Trees and shrubs can be very difficult and heavy to move around.

Planting bulbs for added beauty

A wonderful way to use bulbs effectively is to naturalize daffodils in a wooded area or group them for colorful accent around evergreen shrubs. High quality Dutch flower bulbs can be ordered online from reputable catalogers and merchants who will advise you as to what’s appropriate for your zone.

Plan ahead when planting bulbs; i.e., for spring flowering you plant in the Fall. Follow directions accompanying your bulbs regarding depth (usually six inches) and fertilizer (there are special bulb fertilizers that should be put in the planting holes). An important reminder – again: Know your planting zone before ordering any bulbs. They all look so beautiful in the catalogs,but what grows well in the midwest, in most instances, will not grow in South Florida!

Special tools for planting bulbs are also available online. They make digging holes so much easier than using a simple trowel. Check them out.

Happy planting!

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Organic Landscaping Techniques

Many people are becoming more interested in using landscape tactics that do not harm the earth. In addition to being great for the environment, organic landscaping can also provide benefits for your wallet and for your health. One of the most alarming things to many people is the fact that some pesticides and fertilizers can harm their children. When you have children or grandchildren, it seems kind of a waste if they cannot play on the lawn because there is fertilizer all over it. Likewise, the improper use of pesticides, or sometimes even the proper use of these chemicals, can result in sickness. Another benefit of organic gardening can also be felt in the wallet. If you make use of the resources that you have at hand, you can actually save money with do-it-yourself organic landscaping, rather than paying money for chemicals to unnaturally enhance your plants.

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Stihl Chainsaws – Still Going Strong

When people hear about STIHL, they think about old-world care and the handcrafted work of last century’s skilled artisans. This dedication to quality is what has made the Stihl chainsaw the most popular on the market over the last 80 years.

Stihl specializes in developing and manufacturing a wide variety of portable power tools, both gasoline and electric. When looking at purchasing a chainsaw, some due diligence should be performed, yet, I found when shopping around and asking pertinent questions, such as what brand should I look at, most of the time the answer was always…”well, you can’t beat a Stihl.”

Along with Stihl’s dedication and commitment to develop the ultimate product performance comes quite a long history of manufacturing and selling chainsaws.

Andreas Stihl developed the first electric chainsaw way back in 1926. At the time, professional loggers found his innovation very useful and were glad to take advantage of it. Andreas Stihl’s significantly improved the lives of many farmers and woodcutters who had to rely on laborious crosscut saws and axes to etch out a living. It was tough going. Timber harvesting was virtually revolutionized by Stihl’s invention.

Today,the use of Stihl chainsaws is no longer limited to the logging industry and has spread to other fields as well. The chainsaw has become such a versatile tool; while it’s use amongst professional woodcutters is wide and varied, it’s use has spread to the home owner, where the once arduous task of chopping firewood has now “become a breeze” through the application of the trusty chainsaw. The chainsaw has become an important part of the farming landscape; I remember growing up on our farm and learning to use a chainsaw at an early age. There were always trees that needed to be trimmed and land cleared. The landscaping industry have adopted the chainsaw as an important part of their make up. Contractors use of the chainsaw involves such things as cutting landscaping and cross ties as well as large timbers.

Stihl chainsaws have been constantly refined over the past 80 years. A reduction in weight and increased operating efficiency is a major reason why the chainsaw is no longer restricted to the professional woodcutting industry. Innovations such as the elastostart, anti-vibration system and improved shock absorption have catapulted the chainsaw to it’s level of versatility. Dual braking systems and the inertia activated chain brake are more reasons why Stihl has remained at the top of the chainsaw tree.

During the last few years, the company has joined the fight to protect the environment. It has come up with new ideas to develop techniques that decrease hydrocarbon emissions. This has been a blessing for people who work in restricted areas.

Andreas Stihl’s successors say that his commitment to quality has remained constant throughout the company’s history. Stihl has maintained it’s position in the power tools industry through that very commitment. And there are a lot of chainsaw users who would appreciate the lesser workloads they now face because of this versatile machine.

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