How To Grow A Holly Hedge Full Of Berries

IMG 2570 1024x614 How To Grow A Holly Hedge Full Of Berries

Hollies are standard garden fair, but to plant the healthiest hedge possible you need to mix in two types of plants.

Most plants have flowers with either male and female parts, or produce male and female flowers on the same plant, in order to fertilize themselves and produce fruit. Hollies have  an unusual reproduction style in the world of botany, and individual plants are either completely male or completely female. When Hollies reproduce, both the male and female plants produce flowers, and the males pollinate the females with the help of the wind or insects.  The females contain the seeds to be fertilized, so they produce the only fruit. For a hedge to produce berries, both males and females of the same species must be present in close proximity to each other to complete pollination and trigger fruit production in the female.  This type of reproduction is called Dioecy, and occurs in only a very few types of plants. Hollies, Date Palms, and Willows are some of the few examples of it.

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How To: Rid Your Houseplants of Whitefly

whitelfy and larva 300x199 How To: Rid Your Houseplants of Whitefly
Photo Courtesy of : Eran Finkle -
Whitefly can become a nuisance year-round for your favorite indoor plants, and over-wintering outdoor plants inside through the cold weather can sometimes compound the problem by bringing new insects into the house. Pesticides in granular form can take care of this problem for you, but for those of us with pets, children, or the desire to use something less toxic, there are solutions that will help you gain control of your problem. Ideally you will want to eliminate all the life stages of Whitefly that may be living on or around your favorite houseplant and do it quickly.  Adult Whitefly are not only deadly to plants due to their feeding methods, but they are also carriers of plant diseases from one plant to another. [Read more...]

DIY Rustic Stone Entry Path

img 1798 721x1023 DIY Rustic Stone Entry Path

I was the guest recently of a family who’s mountain getaway was adorned with this cute rustic entry pathway!

The winding path leads from the similar crushed stone driveway, but highlights the lodge’s natural surroundings by using rock remnants from the nearby mountains set deeply into the crushed rock bed.

How To Create This Look:

Rock pathways are easily created walkways that can be “One Weekend” DIY projects, and they look great in front of everything from weekend homes to your garden shed! To create this look choose two separate colored stone types, one a crushed stone, and the other a larger stepping stone or garden path stone type.

  1. Choose your location, and plot out the curvature you will build with either a turf grass paint, or a garden hose.
  2. Sketch out and measure your pathway.
  3. Level the area out with fill-dirt, top soil or sand, building the area up above the surrounding grass, or leaving level, simply ensuring that there are no low spots.
  4. Roll landscaping fabric across your path to inhibit plant growth, pinning it down around the edges with either lawn staples, or your larger stones. I tend to spread this fabric a little loosely in case I need to work some of the large stones into the ground a little to keep them level, and solid in the ground for foot traffic.
  5. Set your larger stones first on top of the fabric so you can arrange them in various sizes and shapes  across the pathway.
  6. Set the boundaries of your pathway with either large stone pieces or a firm edging material, to keep smaller stones from wandering into your lawn.
  7. Surround your large stones with the crushed rock in progressive sections. Make sure your large stones seem level as you pack the small rocks around them.
  8. Walk across the pathway when you are finished to compress the materials, and adjust as needed.

What To Do With “Pop-Ups”:

In the picture above there are two large stones in the foreground that have worked their way to the surface to become tripping hazards. A quick way to re-set these pieces  is to grab a shovel and scoop the crushed  from around them. Place the stones back where they came from.  If the ground had shifted, or like the stones in the picture, irregular shapes prevent the stones from laying flat, cut the landscape fabric underneath the area with your shovel, and dig out a little of the soil underneath to set the stones lower in your path. Once the stones are set in the soil and below the level line of the pathway move the crushed stone back.

img 1799 225x300 DIY Rustic Stone Entry Path

Where To Find Your Stone:

Check for specialty stone stores in your area, they often have showrooms and yards full of varieties of stone that will work with everything from outdoor pathways to polished kitchen counters.  Visiting the yards will give you an idea of the actual color of the stone for compairison, and the staff there will be happy to help you calculate the amount of stone you will need for your project if you bring your sketches and measurements in with you.  Make sure to ask a lot of questions, the staff should be able to provide you with tips, ideas, and photos of similar projects to help you make your choice.

How To: Set A Pre-Formed Pond In Your Yard In 10 Easy Steps

img 1841 1024x768 How To: Set A Pre Formed Pond In Your Yard In 10 Easy Steps

The beauty of pre-formed pond liners is their sturdy construction, and pre-determined shape. Setting a pond in your yard requires few tools, and only a few hours to complete.

 

What You Need:

  1. Measuring tape
  2. 2 or more 50-60 lb. bags of contractor grade sand. (For a 20 gallon pond 2-3 bags will be sufficient)
  3. A shovel
  4. A pre-formed pond liner
  5. One 50lb. bag of pond pebbles

How To Set Your Pond:

  1. Choose where you want your pond to go and set the pond upside down to trace out the size hole you need to dig.
  2. Measure the depth of the pond.
  3. Dig out an area slightly larger than your pond, leaving at least a one inch gap around the entire pond between the pond walls and the soil. Dig the depth of the pond’s setting two inches deeper than the depth of the pond. [Read more...]

How To: Humanely Capture Raccoons and Small Mammals With Tools You Already Have

raccoon 300x225 How To: Humanely Capture Raccoons and Small Mammals With Tools You Already Have

Last night I was sitting by a bedroom window, when a neighbor’s dog flushed a raccoon out of the garden, and straight up my front porch columns to the roof, passing me to duck into a nearby rooftop! Aside from my surprise at seeing an unexpected furry object come flying across my porch roof, I hadn’t realized that Raccoons were living in the house next door. While the animals are leaving my own home and vegetable patch alone for the time being, it never hurts to have a back-up plan in case the animals ever need to be removed from my property.

The folks over at the  All Pest Control website  have been writing great how-to articles to help homeowners with trapping nuisance animals with just the tools and supplies common to the average household.  Their step by step instructions for a “fool proof” way to trap raccoons is simple, and can be recreated in your own yard using just a trash can, some water, a board, and form of dangling bait. If  you are in need of a little raccoon assistance yourself, check out their manual on Home-made Raccoon Traps.  

 

Photo Courtesy of: Harlequeen

Recycling How To: Donate Gift Cards To Charity

img 0529 300x225 Recycling How To: Donate Gift Cards To Charity

Nine Million dollars worth of gift card cash goes unspent every year in the USA. This year all nine million of those dollars can now be donated to charities who accept new and used gift cards as tax deductible donations. 

If you’ve got a giftcard you will never use, or want to give to charity after the post holiday rush and find yourself short on cash, you can donate your holiday giftcards and make a difference in the way someone else begins 2009. Most charities that welcome gift cards will accept both unused cards and those with a little balance left on them, so even cards that only have a few cents left on their balance can become change in the pocket of a worthy cause.

A few noteworthy causes that accept gift card donation are:

Check out  Gift Card Donor.Com for more great donation opportunities, or check with your favorite charity or environmental cause to see of they accept gift card donations, and try this new way to recycle.

Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Garden

ground hog trap barley balls fish water ponds 010 225x300 Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Garden

Going “green” with your backyard pond this year can mean a cleaner conscience, and a cleaner pond!  Of course, no one likes a green pond, when the “green” we are talking about is string algae, and pond scum!  Aside from taking away from the aesthetics of your tranquil oasis, dealing with algae means constant additions of safe chemicals that won’t harm your pond plants and fish, and cleaning both filters and rocks on a regular basis.

After years of balancing the chemical ratios in several of the ponds that I oversee professionally, and struggling to keep algae under control in a few ponds that were constructed poorly, I finally made the switch to Barley Bales  Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Gardenthis past summer, and I’m never looking back.  While I am always looking for cleaner and greener products, I confess, most often I’m just looking for a product that makes life easier!  Barley Bales are a long lasting, fish and plant safe, chemical alternative, for keeping algae out of your pond or water-garden.

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How To: Protect Fruits And Vegetables From Birds Using Netting

img 0045 225x300 How To: Protect Fruits And Vegetables From Birds Using NettingDepending on what you grow, four-legged wildlife may not be your only problem. If you find birds to be ruining a fruit or vegetable crop, I highly recommend using a polypropylene netting as the first line of defense against birds. Netting is a great flexible, and lightweight way to keep your crop plants out of the reach of would-be invaders, providing a “green” barrier that’s easy to maintain and use. I use netting where necessary to protect my Strawberries, in a way that doesn’t involve adding sprays and powders to them that will effect the harvest, or need to be scrubbed off.

Local garden stores will generally stock a black polypropylene netting material through several season of the year, that are specifically designed to keep birds off your fruit.  I recommend a netting  openings under 1 inch to keep out even the smallest birds.  Recommended netting sizes come in 1/2 inch square, 5/8 inch square, and 3/4 inches square, but a general rule of thumb is that the smaller the netting opening, the better the protection is.  My favorite sizes are the 5/8ths inch sizes and the 1/2 inch size. The benefit of black polypropylene mesh is that it is UV protected, and will not deteriorate out under the sun, or varying temperatures. This type of netting can be brought back out for several years as needed, while taking up less storage space than chicken wire, or other metal products.  And, since it is flexible, it is easy to re-purpose for other garden duties, such as covering compost bins to keep rodents out, and protecting ponds from fall leaves.

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How To: Diagnose and Heal Sun Damaged Home Or Office Plants

chinese evergreen 001 225x300 How To: Diagnose and Heal Sun Damaged Home Or Office PlantsCan plants get sunburn? The answer is yes! Most plants are not susceptible to sun damage, but many common home and office plants can suffer from sunburn because they are specifically suited to shadier locations – a leading reason they have earned a place in artificially lit environments.

Pictured here are a few leaves on a Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) plant, that was accidentally left outdoors on a sunny ledge during an office cleaning spree. The plant was brought back indoors two days after it was set outside, and was already showing signs of burn damage.

How can you tell if leaf damage is sun related?

  1. The most immediate symptom displayed by a sun damaged plant is muted leaf color, and an overall greyish tone to the previously green plant.
  2. There will be an obvious difference in color between the leaves exposed to more light on the top of the plant, and the leaves deeper into the interior of the plant, which have been kept shaded. Yellowing will occur in the leaves that follows straight lines, such as above, denoting the areas of the plant that have been shaded by overlapping leaves. Unlike fertilizer burn, and plants suffering from a lack of water, which display irregular yellowing patterns (developing at the tips of the leaves), this yellowing does not turn into brown leaves that curl, or dry up.
  3. Burned leaves remain on the plant looking off color, or yellowed slightly, without falling off. Often the color of the burned area will soften to a transparent hue, where you will be able to see through the leaf, or the leaf will develop irregular bumps on the yellowing area that will look much like a reaction to sun-poisoning in people.

What to do with sun-damaged plants:

  1. Place the plant in an area away from direct sunlight, drafts, and excessive heat.
  2. Water the plant to keep the soil moist, but not wet.
  3. Monitor the amount of leaves damaged by the sun, and remove burned leaves by pruning back.  I generally prune off the leaves in groups over a gradual period of time (several days to weeks), to give a plant that may have a serious case of sunburn a chance to send out new leaves to take over the photosynthesizing, since a badly damaged plant may need most of it’s leaves eventually trimmed off. Trimming all the damaged leaves at once could place the plant into additional shock.

Remember, any shade loving plant can suffer from sunburn, it’s what you do with the plant afterward that will assure the plant’s full recovery.  Err on the side of caution with office plants, when exposing them to direct sunlight, and you may be able to prevent problems like this from ever occurring with your green office companions.

Your thoughts: Have you had plants with sun damage? What tips and tricks have you tried to bring them back to health? Please share any ideas you have with everyone!

More Tips on How To Keep Geese Off Your Yard and Pond

img 0218 300x225 More Tips on How To Keep Geese Off Your Yard and PondCanadian Geese are beautiful; but they are also messy, potentially aggressive, and capable of cleaning out your backyard pond of water plants in one or two afternoons. Not to mention potential damage to your lawn and gardens from the presents they leave behind!  The key to keeping geese out of your yard is in knowing the timetable when geese are the most mobile, and targeting them for harassment within that window of time, to discourage nesting behavior in a close proximity to you.

The Goose Calendar of Events

January and February, Geese are generally in their over-wintering areas, beginning to look for mates, and beginning the earliest migrations back to nesting grounds in late February. Canadian Geese spend the majority of March and April looking for the ideal nesting area, or returning to the specific place that they themselves were raised, and setting up a nest.  As part of their “imprinting,” geese will return to the area that they were hatched in, to see if there is enough room for a new nest there with their current mate.  If you have had problems with geese in the past, March is the best time to begin harassing any geese who show up on your property, to discourage nesting, and long summer stays. May and June are the months where goslings are the most likely to be present, and both parents, and goslings are incapable of flight until all flight feathers have grown back in, in July.  Occasionally, a mated pair will then begin a second nest, and raise a second family in late summer and early Fall.

Nesting

A Canada Goose pair will scout an area out for a few weeks before they will set up a nest.  Once you notice a solitary goose hanging around the property, you most likely already have a nest nearby, with the parents taking turns on the nest. The nest itself is lined with the parent’s “flight feathers,” a natural instinct that both ensures that the eggs are well insulated, and prevents the parents from leaving the eggs, or young goslings by flying away, therefor tying the fate of the parent goose in closely with the young.  The adults and the gosling will gain the ability to fly around the same time that the gosling grow their first batch of “flight feathers,” about 70 days from hatching.  It is also for this reason that geese are almost impossible to get rid of once they have goslings, and why it is imperative that a goose control regimen begin in early spring, when the adult goose is still mobile enough to evacuate your yard.

Geese are actually very intelligent animals, and often a few methods will be needed to encourage a mated pair to leave your area if it seems that they are dead set on living in your yard. One great alternative that has worked effectively is the “goose fence” but another idea that can work well with backyard water features and lawns is a simple rope trick I will talk about below. [Read more...]