It is Time for Fall Cleanup

It is Time for Fall Cleanup

Enjoy those warm fall days while you can winter is just around the corner and now it is time for fall cleanup.  Don’t be the gardener that just puts their gardening gloves and tools in the shed and ignores their garden until next spring.  There are fall gardening tasks that will make spring much easier and keep your garden in great shape over the winter.  Here are some tips for fall cleanup

Protect Your Flower Beds with Mulch

Taking care of your existing plants will make them healthier come the spring time.  Wait until the first freeze in the fall and then add mulch around your perennials, it will help keep them in the ground instead of having them heaved up with the winter frost.  Plain old garden compost will do the trick but you will want to test the pH of the soil first so you get the best mulch for your perennials.  You want to add nutrients to the soil over the winter and make sure it isn’t too alkaline or too acidic for your flowers.

Store Your Garden Tools Carefully

Proper winter storage of your tools will keep them lasting for years.  Let’s start with your garden hose, you want to make sure that you drain it completely and hang it neatly coiled to protect it from freezing and cracking your hose.  Don’t leave your house outside or it can end up freezing and you will have to buy a replacement in the spring.

Tools should have their own space in the shed, garage or basement.  Wherever you keep them for the winter, put them all together and cover them up.  If you have the space for some peg board and hooks then you can hang them out of the way so they are ready for next year.

Get a Cold Frame for Herbs

You can keep growing your herbs well into the fall with a cold frame.  If you don’t have a cold frame then covering them up at night when it is the coldest can help you get a longer harvest from your herbs.

The more work that you can get done in the fall the less you will have to do when spring rolls around again.  Keeping all of your gardening gear organized and properly stored means you won’t have any problem finding it in the spring when you are ready and eager to get your planting started.

Insects You Actually Want in Your Garden

Insects You Actually Want in Your Garden

Most gardeners shudder the moment you mention insects but not all insects are bad for your garden, in fact some of them can be quite useful.  After all where would we be without honeybees?  Bees aren’t the only useful insect there are others so let’s take a look at some of the good insects you actually want in your garden.

Lady Bugs

Not only are these insects not as creepy looking as most they are actually pretty handy to have around.  Beetles are fantastic for getting rid of plenty of the unwanted bugs you don’t want.  Aphids are a menace and can destroy your garden, fortunately they are the favorite delicacy of lady bugs.  Seeing Lady Bugs in your garden is a good thing and you should leave them to their work.

Praying Mantis

These guys are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the insects in your garden.  They are very good at camouflaging themselves so you may not even see them but they have no interest in your veggies or flowers but they will wreak havoc and on the bug population.  These are among the best insects to have taken up residence in your garden.


Springtails are really tiny and you will probably never even see them unless you start looking.  They look a bit like fleas but they are not, rather they are lighter in color usually white or grey.  You can find them in your pots or under mulch.  Now why do you want these critters in your garden, one word…mulch.  These guys eat dead leaves and help to speed up decomposition.

Encouraging Bugs to Live in Your Garden

If you want the good bugs to start living in your garden then you need to make them feel welcome.  The first thing that these bugs need is a food source, aside from other bugs they also need pollen, so you will need flowers that bloom throughout the season.  The best plant to do that for you is dill, if you leave dill to flower it can lure the right insects into your garden.

Organic Gardening

Many gardeners turn to pesticides when the find nuisance bugs in their gardens, but the problem with these is they will kill both the good bugs and the bad.  The good insects don’t come back and you still end up with aphids or worse when the pesticides are gone.  Not to mention the harm they can do to the environment.  Organic gardening doesn’t kill the good bugs.

Gardening is Good for Your Mental Health

Ask any gardener and they will tell you that when they want to relieve stress they slap on some gardening gloves and go spend some time yanking weeds.  A couple of hours in the garden and they feel as good as new.  It is one thing to say that gardening is good for your mental health but now science has done studies to prove that it is actually true.  Getting outdoors and getting your hands dirty can actually ward off dementia in older adults.  Let’s take a look at how gardening can be good for your brain.

Gardening and Alzheimer’s

There has been research done that does suggest that regular gardening can reduce your risk of getting dementia.  There were a couple of studies done on on older adults that followed them for 16 years, this study showed that those that gardened had a 47% lower risk of dementia.  The results aren’t yet conclusive but it is positive.  Even for seniors showing mental decline the same study showed that even getting outside in nature for a walk have a positive influence.  It is because of this research that many senior facilities are adding gardens to their grounds.


There was a study done in Norway dealing with patients who have been diagnosed with depression and/or bipolar disorder, the patients spent six hours each week out in their garden. More than half of the patients showed marked improvement in their symptoms.  The symptoms continued to improve even after the test had ended.

Something In the Soil

Within the soil there is a harmless bacteria called mycobacterium, a professor in Colorado has been injecting into mice and it has been found to improve the serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin affects the part of the brain that controls mood along with your cognitive function, much like medication does for patient suffering from depression.

Although none of this definitively proves that gardening improves your mental health that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t help.  Gardening gives you the chance to get outside, get some exercise, helps with your motor functions, reduces stress and it just makes you feel better.  Whether it is the activity itself or the bacteria in the soil, it really doesn’t matter.  Get outside and play in the dirt.  There is a lot to be said for watching something that you planted and nurtured grow into something beautiful.

Join a Garden Club

Join a Garden Club

Gardening can give you endless hours of pleasure but what is even more rewarding is sharing the experience with someone who loves it as much as you do.  Unless you have a family member or neighbor that shares your passion then you probably don’t have anyone to talk to and share with.  This is why you should join a garden club.  You can meet new people who share your interests and maybe learn a thing or two.

Sharing Secrets

Most gardeners are more than willing to share their secret for growing lush beautiful plants.  They have learned through trial and error what soils and nutrients to use for what plants and how to make their plants thrive.  If you are struggling with any aspect of your garden then there is someone around who can help.  The same holds true for you.  You need to be willing to help others with gardening problems they are facing.

Membership Perks

If you join one of the larger gardening clubs like National Home Gardening Club then membership has its privileges.  You can try out gardening supplies at nice discount and you get subscriptions to gardening magazines packed with tips and info.  There are some conditions though they aren’t so bad for instance if you get some free tools you will have to post a review that other members can read.  You can also check out reviews from other gardeners you trust to see if a new product is really worth the money or not.  It is a very large community of gardeners coming together to share their insights.

Starting New Projects

If you are looking at what you should do with your garden or looking for a new project then joining a gardening club can help you find new and innovative ideas.  Other members can help you with what you need to finish your current project or help you with something new.  Upload a picture of your garden then wait for ideas to flood in from other members.  You can get advice on everything from tools to how to build a gardening shed.  There is lots of information in the members only section and you can check out other members’ gardens from all over the country.

There are plenty of perks to joining a gardening club, if you don’t want to join a big national club then check with your local garden center to see if there is one nearby.  You can get together with local gardeners and discuss the same things with them.  It’s a great way to meet new people who share your passion.

Dealing with Animals in Your Garden

Dealing with Animals in Your Garden

When you think of gardening you think of lush green plants, fresh vegetables you can pick anytime and the joys of watching something you planted grow.  What they don’t tell you about are the animals that get into your garden and try and eat everything in sight.  Dealing with animals in your garden is the less pleasant part of gardening.  It isn’t just wild animals you have to worry about your neighbor’s cat can be a pest too.  Here are some ways of controlling the pests.

Dogs and Cats

Dogs will dig up everything that you planted but the easiest way to keep dogs out of your garden is to fence it off.  There are dog repellants but you will have to continuously apply them throughout the season.  Cats see your garden as one giant litter box…not cool.  Again fencing is your friend.


While deer are wonderful and you may love to see them when you’re driving through the country in the garden they are a nightmare.  Deer will eat anything and everything that you plant and where there is one there are bound to be more.  You can literally lose everything in the garden in a single night.  Fencing does work but it has to be at least 8 feet high or they will just jump over it.  You can get deer repellant but you will use it often.


Rabbits are another common pest that you can end up with, while cute and fluffy they can do some serious damage to your plants and vegetable.  Shooting them is one option and in rural areas that is what most farmers will do.  If you live in the suburbs shooting the may not be feasible.  You can opt for a more humane option and trap them and relocate them to somewhere a little more rural and away from your garden.


Raccoons are dealt with in much the same way as rabbits, you can try fencing them out but they are excellent climbers.  You can try shooting them but that won’t be possible in many places.  Again you’re left with the option of trapping and relocating them to another area.  Be very careful with racoons in many places they carry rabies and can be extremely dangerous.  If the raccoons in your garden display any of the signs of rabies then call animal control and don’t try and deal with it yourself.

Dealing with pests in the garden is definitely one of the less pleasant aspects of gardening but well worth it in the end.

Teaching Children the Joys of Gardening

Teaching Children the Joys of Gardening

Kids love gardening; they get to watch things grow, and playing in the dirt is always fun.  Teaching children the joys of gardening isn’t just fun; it’s educational and a great way to spend time with the kids doing something constructive.  You don’t need a green thumb; enthusiasm counts, and as long as everyone is having fun that is all that matters.  Another perk is you get kids outside and away from computer screens.

Start with Sprouting Some Seeds

You don’t have to wait until spring to get started you can start off sprouting some seeds in the kitchen.  You can grab a couple of packets of seeds from your local garden center since these are going to be handled by your children then grab some organic seeds.  Organic seeds haven’t been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

You want to help your child, depending on their age, to moisten a couple of pieces of paper towels and put them on the counter.  You want to add a couple of seeds to each paper towel set some more moistened paper towels on top and put them somewhere warm to sprout.  You and your child can check on the seeds every day and make sure that the paper towels stay moist.  Small kids love to watch the seeds sprout new leaves.

Growing Outside

When spring and summer come around, then you may want to try gardening outside, where you can really play in the dirt.  You will want to section off a small spot for the kids to have their very own plot.  You want them to be able to handle the plot they are given to choose a suitable size.  Start with some easy to grow hearty plants that aren’t delicate.  You may start with peppers, cucumbers or some cherry tomatoes.  You can start with the seeds that you sprouted in the house or plant new seeds.

You will have to bring the kids outside throughout the growing season so that they can take care of watering and pulling weeds out.  Again they are going to love playing in the dirt.  You will also be very careful to teach them the difference between their plants and the weeds that need to be pulled out.  You will be pleasantly surprised at just how much your kids will enjoy playing in the garden and watching their plants grow.  You never know you might even convince them to eat a vegetable they grew themselves.

Organic Gardening in Containers

Organic Gardening in Containers

If you enjoy gardening, but you live in an apartment or have limited space, then organic gardening in containers may satisfy your green thumb.  You can do this type of gardening almost anywhere, and it is a whole lot easier to maintain than an entire backyard garden.  Let’s take a look at how you can get started.

Start with the Soil

If you want to grow your flowers, plant, or vegetable organically, then you are going to need to start with the soil. Head to your local garden center and grab organic soils or you can take regular soil and add organic materials, so there are more nutrients available for your plants.  Because you’re working with containers, you are going to have to watch the moisture levels so adding peat moss to your soil along with compost will help you have the perfect mixture.

Getting Some Containers

You can use almost anything for a container as long as it is capable of holding soil and water.  You can get decorative pots that will make your garden look fabulous.  You can use clay or some other natural materials, or you can upcycle and re-purpose some plastic containers for your garden.  If you’re not using clay pots, make sure that you have holes in the bottom so the soil can drain and you may want to throw in a bit of gravel to help.  Make sure that your container is the right size for what you are trying to grow.  Herbs only need small pots, flowers, and plants need something bigger.


Container gardening isn’t that much different from growing plants and vegetables outside, but again make sure that you have the right size container.  Zucchini won’t grow successfully in a container meant for herbs.  You will still want to head to the garden center and grab some organic seeds.  One of the perks of gardening in containers is that you won’t have to deal with pests as you do in the garden.  It is also far easier to deal with them if you do.  You can still have to deal with ladybugs or other insects if you keep your containers outside.

Your container plants are still going to need adequate sunlight and moisture. You do have the advantage of being able to move your containers in and out of direct sunlight as needed and you are in control of the water.  On top of that, you can grow all year long, no waiting for the spring and warmer weather.



Maximizing Your Small Garden Space

Maximizing Your Small Garden Space

City living often means that you don’t have a great deal of space to work with when it comes to your garden.  Front and backyards are smaller, so you have to get creative when it comes to maximizing your small garden space.  Simple is best when it comes to small gardens, keeping the variety of plants and colors down to just a couple of choices will help you create a comfortable space.

Use Vertical Space

Not everything needs to be planted in perfectly aligned rows on the bed of the garden.  Take advantage of the other spaces in your garden and hang pots from window ledges or along your fencing.  Plant some climbing plants along your fence to add texture and color to a bland beige fence.  Layer your plants, so you have taller ones as well as shorter ones.  You can also use shrubs or trees to add height.  Focal points like a trellis, fountain, or add a wrought iron stake with a hanging pot full of colorful flowers.  Here are some more ideas on how to use vertical space.

Stop Using Straight Lines

My friend from Grapevine Tree Professionals is in the Tree Service business, Tree Removal and Tree Trimming are his specialties. Working with many Homeowners, he gave me some really great insight. Homeowners often keep everything in a small garden in a straight line; they plant along borders or walkways.  It does make some sense as it allows you to add flowers and color to your garden to leave space for furniture and entertaining.  However, this doesn’t have to be the case; using curved lines makes the area more informal and inviting.  Done right, you can also make your garden look larger than it is.  Here are some tips on how to do that.

Using curves instead of sharp angles allow for your eye to flow and it fools your brain into thinking space is bigger.  Use the right style of furniture that complements the garden; don’t make it too big for a small space.  Place outdoor lights strategically; it can make your garden look stunning at night. You can sit out in the evenings and admire your garden.

Having a beautiful backyard in the city can be a bit of a challenge, but getting creative with how you arrange your plants and shrubs can make a huge difference in how your space looks.  Create focal points, use objects that have a dual function, and choose your plants wisely.  Check with your local garden center the staff are always incredibly knowledgeable and can help you put together the perfect space you will love.

Getting Started with Gardening

Getting Started with Gardening

You finally have the space to plant a garden, but you really aren’t sure where to begin.  Don’t worry, we have got you covered; we can help you figure out what tools you are going to need along with choosing the best plants for a lush and beautiful looking garden.  Getting started with gardening isn’t as difficult as you might think, let us show you how.

Join a Gardening Group

Check with your local nursery or garden center to see if there are any local gardening classes or gardening groups that you can join to learn more.  You may also want to check with the local MeetUp groups; many have walking tours of local gardens or get-togethers where you can meet more experienced gardeners.  If your community has a public garden, then go check out the types of plants and flowers that they are using.

Get Your Gear Ready

There are some essential tools and supplies that you are going to need no matter whether you decide to grow plants, flowers, or vegetables, so you are going to want to get those.  Most you can pick up at a local hardware store or garden supply center. Necessary tools are going to include some trowel for digging holes, a hose with a spray attachment to water the garden and a good pair of gardening gloves.  As you get more experienced, you will add to your collection of gardening tools.

Deciding Where and What to Plant

Now you’re going to have to take a look at the area you have to work with and figure out what and where to plant.  You need to know how much sunlight your garden gets throughout the day.  Some plants thrive under the direct sun all day while others need more shade.  Most plants are going to need roughly 6 hours or so of direct sunlight daily while others differ.  You can combine take advantage of pots or containers that you can move in and out of the sun.  Do you have direct access to water, if not, do you have a long enough hose to water your garden?

You are also going to need to make sure that you have a good fertile soil to plant in.  This is another trip to the garden center to grab some topsoil and compost so that your plants and flowers have rich nutrients to grow healthy and vibrant.  Start your garden off small as you get more experience, you can experiment with different plants and flowers.