Garden Musts for the Outdoor Lover

It’s finally that blissful time of year where green starts to reappear across the lawn and the flower buds make their slow reappearance after a long rest during the winter. With spring reaching full bloom from April to May, garden enthusiasts should start preparing for warm days outside, tilling their beds and keeping lawns well-maintained.

So what are the essentials to a perfect lawn? It varies depending on where you live and climate conditions. For any piece, you might consider hiring a landscape contractor if it’s too complex or time-consuming.

Consider some of these parts when shaping your garden for the warm months ahead:

1. Plenty of colors

While having a green lawn is paramount to a beautiful backyard, why not add in some colors as well? Flowers, bushes and trees with varying colors should be planted to allow for a variety of shades and hues. It adds vibrancy to the backyard and grabs the attention of visitors. Consider perennials that last for several years rather than annuals that have to be replaced every year for an extended visual pleasure in your garden.

2. Special areas for those select flowers

If you have a lot of foot traffic in the backyard or want to keep different breeds of flowers separate from one another, one method is to use gardening beds. Filling them with soil and mulch, you can plant shrubs or any number of flower varieties to create an oversized vase of that catches the eye when people walk out to the backyard. Having them above the yard also prevents grass clippings and animals getting into them.

3. Useful herbs

For those who have a passion for cooking, it’s always good to set aside a portion of the garden for herbs. Oregano, parsley and basil, to name a few, can be useful in cooking and save money otherwise spent on the less fresh herbs bought in grocery stores. There are even herbs that gardeners can grow in their backyard for cocktails and other mixed drinks. It’s a good way to save money and add that extra bit of usefulness to your garden.

4. Decor for relaxation & dining

The garden shouldn’t just be for exhaustive work and a nice fragrance every now and again. Homeowners should purchase some seating and a dining table for the back patio or deck. That way, on nights when it’s cool, they can enjoy the garden from an up close and personal view. Why not make the most of the garden rather than just working in it on sunny days? Be sure to install outdoor lighting as well for those dark nights so you get the full effect of the view.

5. A space for those rainy days

For the nature enthusiasts who don’t want to be deterred by rain, it might be good to install a covered patio, sunroom or gazebo in the garden area. This covered space allows for garden pleasure on those stormy or extremely sunny days without sacrificing comfort and safety. It will also allow for growing plants that might need more shade or cooler conditions than what an uncovered garden can provide. Consider having a professional build the structure to ensure stability against the elements.

This article is written by Andrea Davis from HomeAdvisor. Home remodeling photos courtesy of DesignMine

5 Essential Spring Gardening Tips

 

The sun is shining, birds are singing and it’s time for your garden to come back from the winter weather. Your garden needs some help getting back in shape, though, so it’s time to get the supplies from the home improvement store, pull out the tools from the shed and get to work.

Here are some tips for your getting your spring garden green and beautiful by the time the season reaches its peak:

1. Clean out the garden.

It’s time to clean your garden and remove all the debris (leaves, leftover snow, etc.) Get rid of weeds, making sure that you get the roots so they won’t grow back. This is also a good time to sharpen your garden tools, if needed, because you’re going to require them for plant maintenance and soil care.

2. Revitalize the soil.

Because your soil is likely dried out and packed after winter, it’s time to add moisture. Add organic material like compost or manure. You might need to test the soil to see what nutrients it needs, so you give it the right mixture. You might also need to add more fertilizer to increase the health of the soil and increase the life of your plants.

3. Trim old plants.

Plants that survived the winter will need to be pruned so they’ll grow anew in the spring. Make sure to wait until mid-April or May in case there’s an unexpected freeze. Blooming plants should be pruned right after they bloom to avoid cutting off future flowers. Summer plants should be pruned in early spring.

4. Add mulch.

In addition to fertilizers and organic materials, you should think about adding mulch to your flower beds and garden. One to three inches of mulch helps to prevent weeds and diseases. It also keeps the moisture in the garden and maintains the temperature. The rule of thumb is to keep the mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent roots from rotting.

5. Plant new flowers and shrubs.

Once you’ve gotten the garden in shape and handled all of the old plants, it’s time to turn your attention to new plants. Some recommendations for good spring plants include:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula
  • Redbuds
  • Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
  • Lilacs
  • Tulips

You should lean towards planting more perennials rather than annuals, because annuals have to be replaced every year. This means you’re making an investment in plants that will die every year and require replacement. Perennials, on the other hand, last for two to three years and usually survive winter frosts.

What to Do for the Rest of Spring?

Once your spring garden is up and running again, it’s time to look to the future and decide what to do with your garden next. It will need some care so it stays colorful and beautiful throughout the season. Here are some quick tips for garden maintenance throughout the rest of the season:

Mid-Spring:

  • Consider new flower beds.
  • Plant some hardy annuals.
  • Transplant seeds.
  • Mulch.

Late Spring:

  • Deadhead and remove bulbs.
  • Prune flowering shrubs.

Article courtesy of  HomeAdvisor

Spring plants that can withstand the tough summer heat

Spring annual flowers Bay Area

One of the best parts of springtime is the excitement of garden preparation. Customers enjoy gardens that look beautiful at the start of spring, but what happens when the seasons change and that beautiful garden begins to disappear? Here are a few suggestions of beautiful plants that look great in spring but also continue to bloom and flourish as the seasons progress.
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black eyed susan flowers

Photo: Karen and Brad Emerson/Flickr

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

These offer yellow or orange flowers, depending on varieties, and bring a great pop of color to beds and borders. They typically bloom in summer and fall. They can grow over 3 feet tall with leaves of 6 inches, stalks over 8 inches long and a flower diameter of 2 to 3 inches. The planting period of black-eyed Susans runs from March to May, and blooming typically begins between June and October.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Full sun to partial sun

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Photo: Kathryn Lovejoy/Flickr

Bearded irises (Iris germanica)

These are eye-catching with their delicate crepe-paper petals and intricate blooms, and along with being beautiful they are also easy to grow. Irises can bloom in a variety of colors, such as white, blue, purple, orange, yellow and pink. Irises do the majority of their flowering in late spring and into summer.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Part sun to part shade

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Photo: Bernt Rostad/Flickr

Rhododendrons (Rhododendron ferrugineum)

These can be planted in spring or fall. Acidic, moist and well drained soil is needed for rhododendrons; overwatered soil is one of the chief killers for this plant. They are not usually prone to insects or diseases. They provide fragrant blossoms in an array of colors such as white, light pastels, orange, gold, purple and red. Some blossoms change color over time or are marked with contrasting colors. They have large, paddle-shaped leaves and large, bell- or funnel-shaped flowers borne in terminal trusses.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Part sun part shade

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Photo: Tero Laakso/Flickr

Cransebill geranium (Geranium maculatum) 

Cranesbill geraniums come in pinks, blues, vivid purples and whites. Overall, care for geraniums is fairly simple. Watering should be done deeply and on a weekly basis, and fertilizing is usually necessary. Regular deadheading will also help encourage additional blooming. They have cup shaped or frilly flowers which bloom profusely and spread. Geraniums typically bloom in late spring and last until fall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Full sun

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Photo: Beth Hyatt

Knock Out roses (Rosa ‘Radrazz’ PP#11836 CPBR#0993)

While very beautiful, Knock Out roses are very easy to grow and don’t require much care. They are known for their disease resistance, drought tolerance and low maintenance, and their bloom cycle is about every five to six weeks. Known as ‘self-cleaning’ roses, they rarely require deadheading. Without bush forming pruning efforts, Knock Out roses can reach three to four inches wide and 3 to 4 feet tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Full sun

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Photo: bjitflens1/Flickr

Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Boasting beautiful heads that are hard to ignore, hydrangeas come in an array of colors such as blue, pink, purple and white. Colors can change depending on the soil PH, and they bloom in summer and fall. Hydrangeas are easy to cultivate and thrive in rich, somewhat moist, porous soils, and can grow from 3-20 feet high and 3-18 feet wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Full sun and part shade

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Photo: Laura LaRose/Flickr

Daffodils (Narcissus poeticus)

Bursting onto the scene, daffodils typically bloom in spring and come in bright oranges, whites and yellows with a trumpet-shape central corona and six petals. Bulbs should be planted in fall; large bulbs should be planted about 6 or 8 inches deep, medium bulbs 3 to 6 inches and small bulbs 2 to 3 inches.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Full or part sun

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Photo: Liz West/Flickr

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

With its delicate bell-shaped, fragrant flowers and medium-bright green lance-shaped leaves, the lily of the valley can grow to be 4 to 8 inches high and 3 to 5 inches wide. This easy-going plant doesn’t require much to thrive and is very adaptable to different exposures. Planting of the lily of the valley should take place by late fall, and blooms may start appearing in May. These are deer resistant, aggressive but non-invasive.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-9
  • Full sun, full shade or part shade

– See more at: http://www.totallandscapecare.com/landscaping/flowers-that-wont-fade-in-summer/#sthash.JpN59s1Z.dpuf

Source: Spring plants that can withstand the tough summer heat

Why Do We Spring Forward?

time change

On Sunday, March 12, most Americans will ‘lose’ an hour by moving their clocks forward sixty minutes. This small sacrifice that marks the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is designed to allow residents to enjoy longer days during the upcoming spring and summer months.

The idea to manipulate clocks was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. In a letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris, the American inventor and politician jokingly suggested it as a way to economize candle usage. However, George Vernon Hudson was serious when he recommended moving the clocks two hours every spring and winter in 1895. The New Zealand entomologist and astronomer’s proposal was driven by his desire to have extra time to devote to collecting and examining insects. Though the idea did receive some serious consideration in 1907 when British resident William Willett presented it as a way to save energy, it was never implemented.

It was not until April 30, 1916, during World War I that Germany finally enforced DST to give soldiers additional daylight hours for combat Britain and America adopted it shortly after. However, US lawmakers repealed the law as soon as the war ended, only to reinstate and repeal it again during World War II.

It took another 21 years before DST became a permanent fixture on the American calendar in April 1966. US officials passed the law to help conserve energy and provide farmers more daylight hours to transport fresh produce to markets. However, since the law was not binding, Hawaii, the US territories which include — American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and US Virgin Islands — as well as most of Arizona, opted out.

The US is not the only country to observe DST. However, most other nations change more…