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19 Nov
Posted by Tim, The Yard Guy
Enliven Your Creativity With Your Garden Designs

By Peter Finch

Your garden can be a manifestation of your own creativity. It is no longer a place where you plant fruits and vegetables. If you would like to add a little more life and enhance the look of your garden opt for interesting garden designs.

Before you go ahead with some garden designs, you may like to keep some guidelines in mind to for better synchrony of your surroundings:

The Golden Rule

The key to innovative garden designs is a simple rule. THINK BEFORE YOU PLANT. Plan your garden in sync with the look of your house to make a cohesive unit that is in harmony with each other.

Discover The Purpose

Prior to finalizing your garden designs, you may like to consider how the garden would be used. Would you like to enhance the view of the house or would you like to entertain guests? Would little children be comfortable playing in your garden or would senior citizens love taking a walk there? Would your garden occupy private space or would it be in public view? It would really help if you finalized the main purpose of your garden, and then proceeded to design it.

Landscape Matters

Opt for garden designs that compliment the landscape and the house. It is important to remember that the house is the most important part of the landscape and the garden needs to be designed in harmony with the house and the surroundings. Then the different elements of the house and the garden can connect better to provide an interesting style to the house and the landscape.

Choose Your Garden

You have a choice of formal, a semi formal or natural garden designs. A formal garden has the plants and shrubs arranged symmetrically around two axis, which provide a cross with the pool or a gazebo at the center. These gardens are usually adorned with evergreens, hedges or walls and have a hard surface terrace. A semi-formal garden also works on the same axial plan as the formal one; however the garden designs are a little less rigid. In many instances, the hard surface terrace is replaced by grass or evergreen shrubs. Besides, you may also see flowers, vegetables or herbs spilling out of the beds.

Natural garden designs follow the intrinsic landscape. They usually meander around the surroundings and have a casual or softer look. The architectural style of the house, the budget and the personal preference of the owner may eventually decide upon the design of the garden.

Create A Theme

Most garden designs are usually creations of the owners or the gardeners mind, and you have a range of themes to choose from. Let your creativity decide the theme; just make sure that it compliments the overall landscape and the style of the house and garden.

Play With Colors

Colors play a very important role in garden designs. With practice and experimentation you will be able to understand the essence of combining colors. However, you may begin by referring to the color wheel, where colors are arranged according to their relationships with each other. Most color wheels contain 12 colors only, but you may be able to color coordinate the plants and flowers better a violet-red to red to orange-red, in the same order as they appear in the color wheel. Move Around.

Garden designs should be able to accommodate free movement. Designing walkways, pathways or driveways are very important aspects. To make the view of the garden interesting, you can expose vistas that would make a pleasant view. This may encourage visitors to get off the path or driveway and take a closer look at the garden.


Drainage is another important factor in garden designs. A sound drainage system will ensure hygiene and maintain overall garden health. On the other hand an unsound drainage system will destroy your garden.

If you are not happy with your existing garden design, follow these guidelines and spice up your view! Add your imagination and creativity to these simple guidelines and create garden designs that will make you proud.

Get all of the latest in garden design know how from the one and only true gardening resource at [http://www.gardendesignadvice.com/] Be sure to check out our garden design [http://www.gardendesignadvice.com/garden_designs.htm] pages on our web site.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Peter_Finch/33615

04 Oct
Posted by Tim, The Yard Guy
Drought Tolerant Plants in Full Sun Gardens

By Bill Watson

Areas of your garden that face West or South naturally tend to be much hotter and receive much more direct sunlight.

Taking a little time to choose the right plants for these demanding growing conditions can help save you time, money, and water, as well as improve your overall results.

Most plants will require more water under high heat/sun conditions unless they're native to one of the desert regions, or when established, tend to be drought tolerant.

Tip: Young plants, or fresh plantings, will require time to grow into their drought tolerant status. Root systems need time to expand and become established, and that length of time will depend in general upon plant type, variety, and the watering method you choose to employ.


Adding a thick layer of clean mulch on your garden beds, will help to conserve moisture, and protect a plants roots from temperature extremes. Ground bark, straw, or compost, are some of the organic materials used for mulching.

Apply a 1 to 2 inch thick layer of mulch on top of the soil and around plants. A mulch can be applied at any time during the growing season, however, mulching early in the season, just after preparing the soil and planting, will provide the most benefit.

South facing walls or fences tend to absorb and reflect intense solar heat, and so will add to theses demanding conditions.

One method used to offset this situation, is to train heat-resistant vines to grow and cover, south or west facing walls, and so prevent the suns heat from being absorbed and reflected into the garden.

Another option, is to provide small areas of shade throughout the hottest areas of your yard. Planting small garden trees or dwarf varieties suitable to your local region, will tend to moderate temperature extremes within their local areas.

Also, A deep watering program in high heat areas can help conserve water, and still promote healthy, vigorous growth.

Not all heat-resistant plants are drought-tolerant. Most annuals will require at least 1 inch of water per week. Drought-tolerant plants, in general, will have deeper root systems, and due to their natural environment, have developed the ability to thrive under low moisture conditions.

The following, are examples of the most successful and widely available plants that are heat resistant:

  • Annuals: Zinnias, Marigolds, China Asters and Salvias.
  • Vines: Bougainvillea (all), Hibbertia scandens (Guinea Gold Vine), Rosa (climbing), Wisteria.
  • Shrubs: Calliandra, Callistemon (Bottlebrush), Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Lantana, Pyracantha.
  • Trees: Citrus (all), Fig (edible), Magnolia grandiflora, Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurel Cherry), Pyrus (Ornamental Pear).

Also, most herbs tend to thrive under high heat and light conditions. Examples of these would include, Lavender, Rosemary, and Sage to name a few.

Drought tolerant plants are excellent choices for areas and regions that receive little rain, and are well-suited for areas with high heat and light conditions.

The following, are widely available examples of drought tolerant plants:

  • Annuals & Perennials: Achillea (Yarrow), Aloe, Coreopsis, Gaillardia (all), Portulaca grandiflora (Rose Moss), Salvias, Verbena.
  • Vines: Bougainvillea, Wisteria.
  • Shrubs: Acacia (many), Callistemon citrinus (Lemon Bottlebrush), Crassula argentea (Jade Plant), Lagerstroemia indica (Crape Myrtle), Lantana.
  • Trees: Acacia (many), Eucalyptus (most), Fig (edible), Walnut.

Taking time to choose plants that suit your local environment or growing conditions, will help to ensure positive results and provide a healthy landscape that will thrive for many years to come.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

With over 20 years of gardening and Landscaping experience, Bill now shares his tips and advice on creating and maintaining lush and healthy home gardens. Visit his website at Your Healthy Gardens.com [http://www.your-healthy-gardens.com/]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Bill_Watson/55101

19 Aug
Posted by Tim, The Yard Guy
Saving Water In Landscapes In California

By David Widelock

There are a number of ideas that need to work together in order to achieve a water-saving landscape design and installation. These include:

Planting-choose mostly plants that have some drought resistance and need watering perhaps 1 to 4 times per month in the summer. group plants together which have similar watering requirements. Plants that need more water can often be used in special areas, to give some punch to entries, for example.

Irrigation-Group valve circuits by hydrozones so you water appropriately for each area.

For spray and rotor irrigation, carefully layout and adjust heads to avoid overspray, and use matched precipitation rate heads on each circuit. For drip irrigation, use installation methods that limit the fragility of the system-spaghetti tubing, for example is easily broken. Drip emitter locations should be added and subtracted as plants grow. Consider weather-sensitive "smart" controllers, such as subscription or stand-alone weather sensor packages. With or without these kind of controllers, pay attention to the programming of the clock-this is where more water gets wasted than anywhere else (turn it off during the rainy season in Northern California!).

Mulches-use 2 to 3 inches depth of bark or arbor chip mulch to slow evaporation and keep the soil from baking. Arbor chip mulch is a way to recycle tree waste. Shredded bark is good on slopes as it doesn't move down the slope as much as bark chips. Avoid "gorilla hair" which can form a mat that water and air have hard time penetrating.

Compost-Using compost as a top dressing for new and established plants, and in some soils as a soil amendment, will over time improve the water holding capacity of soils. Compost can be mixed with bark or arbor chips as a mulch.

Question: Is drip irrigation better than spray?

Drip irrigation was originally developed for row crops, which are mostly annuals, then became popular for landscape plantings. Despite its popularity, it has some drawbacks, and each property owner or manager needs to make informed decisions when a landscape installation is planned.


  • Easy and relatively inexpensive to install. Often no trenching is needed as the poly tubing is laid on grade, under the mulch.
  • Takes less training for workers to learn installation
  • Reduces evaporation when system is running-no spray or fogging to evaporate
  • For widely spaced plants, saves water since emitters are placed right at the root ball of the plant.
  • Easy to repair.


  • Fragile and easily broken. Often the problem isn't seen until the plant wilts.
  • Some plants do better with spray on their leaves.
  • In heavy soils, can cause roots to rot due to sitting in water, as all the water is concentrated at the rootball. Some experts think CA natives are particularly susceptible.
  • As shrubs and trees grow, position and number of emitters needs to be changed-but this is rarely done. A 10-year old tree with emitters right at the trunk is not being helped by the drip system, and may be harmed.

A conventional spray system is more expensive and will not be as efficient, but will be sturdier, require less maintenance, and need less renovation as the landscape matures. use of bubblers in small areas is also a good choice. There is no one perfect system.

Question: What is xeriscape?

Xeriscape is a term for low-water use gardens and landscapes, also called drought-tolerant landscapes ("xeric" means 'dry", from the Greek word "xeros"). (It's sometimes misheard as "zeroscape".) There are many trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants that can thrive on much less water than the typical lawn and azaleas type of design, which is a style well-suited to rainy climates but not to much of California with its 6-month dry period each year, or to the U.S. Southwest. In California, many public agencies rely on the WUCOLS database (Water Use Classification of Landscape Species) to classify ornamental plants by high, medium, and low water use.

While there is a stereotype of xeriscape as either being limited to cactus and succulents, or limited to plants that look scraggly and unkempt, this is not true. Aside from California natives, there are many useful plants from similar climates such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Mediterranean countries. While some California natives respond to drought stress by going dormant or semi-dormant in the summer, many will continue to look good with once-or-twice monthly watering. As in any planting design, attention to soil, exposure, slope, maintenance requirements, and the art of combining plant species will go far in creating a successful low-water landscape.

Question: what is the California State WELO?

The California State Legislature updated its landscape water conservation law by passing the WELO (Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance), effective in January 2010. All new and renovated planting that totals over certain square footages must comply with the law's water conservation requirements. This is a model ordinance-cities and counties may adopt stricter rules but not less strict rules.

The following projects fall under the new law (there are some exceptions but this covers most projects):

(1) new construction and rehabilitated landscapes for public agency projects and private development projects with a landscape area equal to or greater than 2,500 square feet requiring a building or landscape permit, plan check or design review;

(2) new construction and rehabilitated landscapes which are developer-installed in single-family and multi-family projects with a landscape area equal to or greater than 2,500 square feet requiring a building or landscape permit, plan check, or design review;

(3) new construction landscapes which are homeowner-provided and/or homeowner-hired in single family and multi-family residential projects with a total project landscape area equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet requiring a building or landscape permit, plan check or design review

Note that the square footages refer to planted areas, and do not include hardscape.

The law sets out the requirements for what should be included on Grading, Irrigation, and Planting Plans, (the whole ordinance is 41 pages!) but most important is the required calculation of MAWA (Maximum Applied Water Allowance, in gallons per year) and ETWU (Estimated Total Water Use), and ETWU has to be less than MAWA. Plant factors for these calculations are to be gotten from the WUCOLS (Water Use Classification of Landscape Species) document.

Also of note in the law: no overhead irrigation in areas narrower than 8 feet wide. Irrigation clocks must be connected to soil moisture sensors or Et (evapotranspiration) sensors, as well as appropriate rain, freeze, and wind sensors. Many manufacturers are selling either subscription services that download weather information to the controller, or stand-alone weather sensors that measure solar gain and rainfall on site.

David Widelock is a licensed landscape architect in Oakland, Ca. Visit his web site at http://www.dwldesign.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/David_Widelock/1119733