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Miscellaneous Articles

10 Most Hated Weeds


10 Most Hated Weeds

By Michael Russell

ragweedIn this article we're going to reveal the gardener's most hated weeds. You may or may not agree with this list.

One thing most gardeners agree with is that weeds are annoying at best and downright nasty at worst. So what are the gardener's most hated weeds?

Annual bluegrass is at the bottom of the top ten list but it's still a tough nut to crack. It rears its ugly head in the fall and then really grows like a weed (no pun intended) in the spring. This stuff really crowds out your grass. You're going to need pre-emergent to keep this from taking over your lawn come springtime.

Coming in at number 9 is wild onion. This weed grows from bulbs that have an onion like odor. It usually grows in clumps and has round hollow leaves. Best way to get rid of this thing that grows in the spring is to hand dig it out to get to the bulbs.

Coming in at number 8 is crabgrass. This grass grows very fast and in very large clumps. It pops up in the spring and continues to grow all through the summer. You'll need a pre-emergent for this in the spring and then a product made for crabgrass control in the summer.

In the number 7 position is Ragweed. This is actually part of the sunflower family and can really make you sneeze plenty. This pretty much grows everywhere, anytime. Best to hand pull this one before it flowers and starts to seed.

At number 6 is spotted spurge. This grows very low and has tiny leaves. In the summertime it produces small pink flowers and will spread all over your lawn. It is best to hand dig this with a trowel and use weed killer.

Poison ivyComing in at number 5 is purslane. This thing can take over a flower bed or lawn in no time flat. It grows low and has yellow flowers. Hand dig this one with a trowel and use broadleaf weed killer to keep it under control.

At number 4 we have poison ivy. This one is easy to spot by its three leaflets. It starts out red and turns green as it matures. Poison ivy is just about everywhere. Use something made for poision ivy. Don't hand pull.

In the number 3 spot is clover. This comes in red and white and some people actually plant it on purpose. What it does is actually crowd out your grass and it attracts bees. A granular weed killer is best to get rid of clover.

One spot from the top is plaintain. Plaintain grows close to the ground and its thick oval shaped leaves can crowd out your grass in a hurry. You can hand pick this one but make sure you get it by the roots. A broadleaf weed killer will usually take care of this one.

And finally, coming in at number 1 is dandelion. This is a perennial weed that is found just about everywhere. And while they may have been fun to pick as children they are no fun for gardeners. These things can literally overrun your garden or lawn in no time flat. Hand picking these is useless because the roots are so deep. Best way to get rid of these is with spot treating and a broadleaf weed killer.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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A Few Basic, Useful Plants

A Few Basic, Useful Plants

By Gabriel J. Adams 

What we're going to try to do is explain some of the more useful plants and trees you can put in your yard. The idea will be to provide a beautiful yard and garden while making it worthwhile to keep up.

One of the most useful types of plants you can find is herbs. Whether it be thyme, basil, or catnip you can find a variety of uses for your herbs. One of the most basic uses for herbs is in cooking. They provide flavor to otherwise bland food.

Another good type of plant is fruit trees. By planting fruit trees you will be able to get some shade to your yard while also getting some fresh fruit. This comes as a nice break for most people considering grocery store prices.

You can also plant the famous citronella plant. This will help keep bugs and mosquitoes out of your yard.

The aloe vera plant is useful in case you get a sunburn. All you need to do is break one of the stems apart and rub the goo onto your burn spot. This will help your skin feel cool and the burn to heal faster.

Depending on climate you can plant sugar cane around your yard. This will provide a nice natural barrier depending on how much you plant plus it tastes good. When you peel back the outer part you can chew on the sweet center of the plant, hence its name of sugar cane.

There are also many types of bushes you can plant around your yard. You can do this for beauty or get some bushes with spiny leaves for protection. It is recommended that you don’t plant large bushes under your windows because burglars will use them to hide in while they break into your home.

Lastly, you should consider flowers. Planting the right type of flowers in your yard will attract helpful insects which can keep your garden healthy. As an added bonus flowers can look and smell good too.

Get tree seeds and germination instructions on our website

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Add Interest to Your Water Garden With Floating Plants

Add Interest to Your Water Garden With Floating Plants

By Lee Dobbins

A water garden can be a relaxing element to add to any landscape but it can be rather boring unless you add aquatic plants. They are actually different kinds of plants you can add to your water garden, some like to populate the edges of the garden, some grow in the deep waters and others float right on top of the water.

These floating aquatic plants float on the surface and have long groups that go down into the water. These plants often have an exotic look and can provide shade to control algae as well as provide a nice habitat for fish and other pond creatures.

While most floating water garden plants are tropical there are a few that you can use in northern climates. if you have a harsh winter, you will want to treat your floating plants much the same as you Red Stemmed Parrots Feathertreat your annuals and plan on replanting them each year.

Three of the more popular floating plants are discussed below and include Parrots Feather, Water Lettuce, and Floating Hyacinth.

water lettuceWater Lettuce Cambridge, England: Botanic Garden: Water Lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes)

This plant, as the name implies, resembles a big head of lettuce floating on top your pond. The foliage has a velvety look and can grow up to 10 Inches wide and may sometimes even produce white flowers and green berries although the flowers and berries are pretty hard to notice. This can be an invasive plant so you want to be careful that it doesn't take over your water garden. Water letters prefers warmer climates and can work in zones 9-11. Be very careful of frost, as this can damage leaves and cause them to rot and you don't want that in your pond!

water hyacinthFloating Hyacinth

Floating hyacinth produces purple flowers on 6 inch stems and can be a colorful addition to the floating plants in your water garden. In order for proper flowering you'll need to make sure it has full sun and warmth and also that your water is providing the nutrients that this plant needs. If it is In good health, it can reproduce quite rapidly and you have to make sure that it doesn't take over your water garden. Good for zones 9 to 11, Floating Hyacinth and will also help to clarify your water.

parrots featherParrots Feather

This floating plant is rather easy to care for and has feathery foliage that is a blue green in color. parrot feather has stems that can grow up to 60 inches long and can provide a great spawning area for your pond fish. It is good in zones 4to 11 and can survive the winter is beneath the ice but may incur frost damage at the top of the pond.

Adding floating plants to your water garden will not only help but look better but it can also help the water quality be healthier and may reduce your maintenance. This is because the plants consume the same nutrients from the water that algae needs to grow. Therefore, water garden plants can help keep algae growth in check, thus increasing your water quality and reducing your water garden maintenance.

Lee Dobbins writes for where you can learn more about wind chimes and discover the world of glass wind chimes.

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Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

By Michael Russell

butterfly bushAttracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden can be as easy as planting flowers they love! One butterfly and hummingbird magnet is the butterfly bush. When checking catalogs, the Latin name can be classified as either "Buddleia davidii" or "Buddeleia davidii" (most common). Technically, the butterfly bush is a shrub, although it grows much like a perennial in that it dies completely to the ground each year. Buddeleia are best suited in USDA hardiness zones 5 - 10. In the lower zones, the butterfly bush won't survive the winter.

There are a wide variety of Buddeleia. You can choose one by size or flower color. Typically, Buddleia grow anywhere from 6 to 12 feet tall and can spread as much as 15 feet across. The plant looks somewhat like a fountain when fully grown, with slender arching branches or stems. The leaf color can vary from silver green to dark green. The tip of each stem will have a long cone-like flower head, made up of tiny tube shaped individual flowers. The plant will bloom from early summer through the first frost.

Some popular cultivars of Buddleia are:

- Buddleia davidii 'Black Knight' - dark purple flowers, height to 72 inches. - Buddleia davidii 'Nanho Blue' - deep blue flowers, height to 60 inches. - Buddleia davidii 'Royal Red' - magenta flowers, height to 96 inches.

If you want to try a more unusual plant, try:

- Buddleia davidii 'Harlequin' - pale, variegated foliage with magenta blooms. Height to 72 inches. - Buddleia davidii 'Butterfly Hybrids' - a mix of white, pink and purple blooms on the same plant. Height to 60 inches.

Buddleia grow best in well drained soil and full sun. Keep in mind the full sun is also what will attract the butterflies, as they need the sun to warm their body temperature for flying. When you plant your Buddleia, water thoroughly. While they will tolerate dry conditions, don't let the newly planted bush dry out until it is established.

Like perennials, the butterfly bush will die down to the ground over the winter in colder climates. In colder hardiness zones, place mulch over the plant after the first hard freeze. Do not cut back the old wood until spring time to give the root crown extra protection. For warmer climates, prune the Buddleia back by about one third in early spring . In the spring, remove the mulch. Buddleia are slow to awaken in the spring, well after the last frost, so don't give your bush up for dead if you don't see growth for a while! During the bloom season, prune off the spent blossoms (called dead-heading) to encourage new flowers.

Deciding how many Buddleia to add to your garden is dependent upon how much space you have. Buddleia look great as a single specimen plant, or as mass groupings. When grouping Buddleia, keep them in the back of the garden, as their height will make a great back drop. The more bushes you plant, the more butterflies you will attract!

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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Award Winning Aromatic Plants

Award Winning Aromatic Plants

By James Kilkelly 

I recently was involved in the exhibition of a show garden at the 2006 “Garden Heaven” exhibition. I worked along with Terra Garden Ireland on the bronze medal winning Malaysian themed garden “Neo Nusantara”. The garden combined wood, stone, earth and planting with two unique water features. The design aimed to appease and rejuvenate the five senses. Sight, touch, sound, smell and taste. Beautiful dark woods and running water used in the construction were a delight to the senses of sight, touch and sound. I used carefully selected planting to arouse the sense of smell. Here are two of the plants I used to add scent to the garden. Use them to add scent to your garden as well.

Sage, for scent and flower

May Night Sage2Salvia x sylvestris “Mainacht” commonly known as May night sage is a hardy perennial native to Western Asia and Europe. This sage is a colourful plant with indigo-blue flower spikes throughout June and July. In order to achieve this prolonged flowering you must remove the flower spikes as soon they start to fade. The striking flowers are held above the plants wrinkled and aromatic grey-green leaves. As well as exciting the gardener’s sense of smell, this plant will also excite and attract plenty of butterflies and bees. These visitors will add an extra and welcome visual element to your garden. You need not worry that Salvia x sylvestris “Mainacht” is going to engulf or overpower you planting areas. It only grows at a moderate pace to height of 60cm (2ft), with a similar spread. Position this reliable perennial in the front or middle of a well-drained border. It does really well in sun or dappled shade where the bright blue flowers will add a colour boost to green leaved plants.

English lavender for scent and butterflies

lavender englishThe second scented plant is Lavandula angustifolia “Hidcote” commonly known as English lavender. This small evergreen shrub (some people say herb) originated in Europe and Asia and grows to a height of 0.6 metres (2ft); with a similar spread. Growing in many gardens throughout the country, its long stalked deep purple flower spikes wave gently above narrow grey-green aromatic leaves. These blooms will last for many weeks to come whilst on the plant, when cut for indoor display these flowers will last up to 10 days. I suggest you cut back the flower stalks after flowering to maintain the plant's compact shape. Care must be taken not to cut into old wood as this can cause large areas of the plant to die back. The oil of lavender extracted from this frost hardy shrub is used to this day in the production of soaps, scented candles, perfumes and making potpourri. Lavender copes well with free draining or sandy soils and is an ideal container plant in full sun due to its drought resistance. I would recommend this scented plant for edging walkways or simply if you want to attract some butterflies into your garden space. Another great lavender for this purpose is Lavandula angustifolia “Munstead”

James Kilkelly runs a professional garden design service in Galway, Ireland. He has a regular gardening column in an Irish regional newspaper. Visit his website at He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at

Article's original location: How to Keep Your Plants in Bloom with Dead-heading

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Cat Repellent or How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Cat Repellent or How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

By Hugh Harris-Evans

Do cat repellents work? How to stop a cat from using garden as litterbox? Tell me how to keep cats out of my garden. These are common questions of concern to all gardeners but is there a real answer?

The first line of defence is to ensure that your yard boundaries are secure. Any gaps in your fence should be blocked to deny low level access. But cats can jump so fix a taut wire or string some six inches above the top of your fence to deter this approach.

Once inside your garden many people say that the best cat repellent is a dog who will soon see off any feline invader. If you are not a dog lover then you will have to resort to more passive methods. Since cats like to lie on freshly dug soil you should lay mulch on your borders so that no bare soil is left exposed. Seed beds should be covered with wire netting or twigs arranged as a barrier.

Young trees should have plastic guards fitted around their trunks to protect them against use as a scratching pole. Your garden pond should be covered with netting to keep your fish safe.

Cats are generally known to dislike water so a well aimed bucketful or a squirt with the hose will certainly make an intruder run. After one or two dousings it may learn the lesson and stay away.

To protect plants and borders both mothballs and citrus are said to be effective deterrents. Place the mothballs, orange peel or lemon rind in the borders. Alternatively spray cloths with orange scented air freshener and place the cloths around the plants you wish to protect. Other known cat repellents are cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil and mustard oil.

Certain herbs are said to deter cats. In particular rue but not catmint which has the opposite effect. Coleus canina is another plant which is marketed by one merchant as a cat repellent.

The broadcaster Jerry Baker has suggested treating your yard with a tonic made from chewing tobacco, urine, birth control pills, mouthwash, molasses, detergent and beer. A smallholder has reported success using dried rabbit blood but you may feel that the ingredients listed in the previous paragraph should be tried first.

If you visit your local garden center or hardware store you will find several cat repellent products on sale. These range from electric water sprinklers and ultrasonic devices to sprays and granules.

Motion activated sprinklers act in the same way as a burglar alarm using an infra red detector. When the cat enters the area covered by the detector the sprinkler shoots out a jet of water to scare the animal away. It is claimed that, after one or two encounters with the jet, the cat will learn to avoid the area.

Ultrasonic devices emit a high frequency sound which is annoying to cats (and dogs) but is not audible to humans. There are various different models some of which operate continuously and others which have an infra red detector and only emit a pulse of sound when the cat triggers the device. To be successful you need to ensure that the model is powerful enough to cover the area you wish to protect. In addition make sure that the sound frequency is designed for larger animals since some models are intended to deter insects and so would be no use for cats.

There are also commercial scent cat repellents. Those that use chemicals should be kept away from any food crops but the essential oil based granule varieties act in the same way as orange and lemon peel mentioned above. Another way to keep a cat out if the garden is a repellent evaporator which consists of a container holding puffed rice which has been impregnated with essential oils. These are effective for three to four weeks and can then be refilled for a further period. Another natural product which many people claim really keeps a cat out of the garden is lion's dung. You may need to visit your local zoo to obtain this although some stores do stock zoo poo.

In Ontario, Canada the local township provides a cat trap service. Once the animal enters the cage it cannot escape but is completely unharmed. The owner has to pay to recover his pet and so should be encouraged not to let the cat stray in future. Apparently few owners bother to reclaim their cats but just obtain another kitten. However this sounds like a good way of dealing with a cat that cannot be deterred by any other method. If there is no such scheme in your area, just buy your own trap.

So, to recap, the first priority is to secure your boundary fences. Then you have the whole selection of suggested cat repellents ranging from homemade recipes to expensive commercial gadgets. I would suggest that you try the orange peel and prickly twigs for a start. If you are around when the intruder appears, try the bucket of water or hose. Even if you miss, the shock may be a sufficient deterrent. If these do not do the trick, then you may have to consider the commercial alternatives.

Hugh Harris-Evans is the owner of The Garden Supplies Advisor where you will find further articles, gardening tips and product reviews.

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Compost: Food for the Soil

Compost: Food for the Soil

By Michael Russell

Whether the original source was grass clippings, sawdust, animal manure, or vegetable scraps from your kitchen, all organic matter eventually becomes compost. Whether you make your own compost or buy it ready-made, you can add finished compost any time to the garden or around plants.

Why not just add raw organic matter to your garden instead of composting it? Be composting the materials first, the final product is uniform in color, nutrients and texture; is odor free; and contains far fewer viable weed seeds and potential disease organisms (depending on how it was composted). Your plants will be happy with you for treating them so well.

As gardeners have become more aware of the value of compost, more sources of it have become available. You can buy compost from a number of sources either in bulk (back the truck right up) or bagged, depending on where you live.

Bagged compost is obviously the easiest way to buy it, especially if you have a small yard or container garden. The downside, however, is that you don't really know the quality of the compost until you get it home.

For larger quantities of compost, buy it in bulk. The price is less per quantity and you can check the quality of the compost as well. Many private companies, municipalities and community groups make and see compost. Often they will even deliver the compost to your yard for a fee.

Here are a few tips to evaluate the quality of bulk compost.
Consider the source. Before buying the compost, ask about the primary organic matter sources that were used to make it. Compost made from yard waste (leaves and grass clippings) is usually considered the safest and best. Other compost may contain ingredients that had contaminants, such as herbicides from agricultural crop residues and heavy metals from municipal wastes, which may affect the growth of your plants or accumulate toxins in your soil.

Look at the color and texture.
Finished compost should look dark and have a crumbly texture without any large pieces of undecomposed organic matter, such as branched or pieces of wood.

Squeeze it.
If water oozes out when you squeeze a handful of the material, it's too wet.; if it blows away easily, it's too dry.

Give it a whiff.
The smell should be earthy without a strong ammonia or sour smell.

Private and university laboratories can test compost for organic matter content, maturity and impurities. An organic matter content test indicates whether you're buying compost or soil mixed with compost. Good quality compost should be made of at least 40 percent organic matter. A compost maturity test also tells the rate of decomposition of the compost. If the rate is high, the material may not be finished decomposing. The ideal compost is slightly warm and "approaching maturity". The laboratories can also test your garden soil for organic matter and make recommendations about how much more you need to add.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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Create a Joyful Home with Living Accessories: Houseplants

Create a Joyful Home with Living Accessories: Houseplants

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Houseplants can be soothing because of their visual impact. Besides being naturally appealing, interior plants can make you feel cooler on hot days, especially when they move softly in the breeze from a ceiling fan.

Houseplants are natural air filters, and can remove up to 70 percent of indoor air pollutants. Plants such as English Ivy, scheffleras, spider plants, and philodendrons absorb large also quantities of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and benzene. The most effective plants at removing air pollution are spider plants, pot mums, snake plants, and aloe vera. They're so effective, in fact, that environmental scientists recommend one plant per 100 square feet in your home and office.

Plant lights, in canister fixtures placed on the floor, can highlight a houseplant while casting dramatic shadows on walls and ceilings. Uplights, placed under palm trees cast magnificent line-type shadows, while plants with holes in their leaves, such as Swiss Cheese Philodendron, will cast lace-like shadows.

You can use houseplants to make a uniquely individual statement. For instance, one of my friends has only spiked-leafed plants in her home -- spider plants, snake plants, corn plants, cast iron, and bromeliads. My cousin could only seem to get pothos to grow in her home, so she filled her entire house with them.

Delicate houseplants soften your space, while spiky plants add interesting texture. Collections of African violets, ferns, or trees of all sizes can look fantastic, too. Topiaries, shaped like globes or animals, can add a feeling of luxury and amusement, while Bonsai plants will add a sense of richness to your home.

Keeping Plants Healthy

Because some houses don't have adequate daylight for houseplants, the best method for keeping your houseplants healthy is to have two plants for each desired space. Keep one plant in a sheltered outside area and one in its decorative site, and switch the plants at least once a week. Special plant light bulbs can also help.

Low light plants include the cast iron plant, philodendrons, pothos, Chinese evergreen, English Ivy, and Satin. Flowering plants, like begonias, impatiens, and fuchsias, require more light. Plants requiring considerable amounts of water generally have hair-like roots, such as ferns and coleus, while plants requiring less water have thicker roots, like spider plants and cactuses.

You can remember to fertilize your plants by doing it on the first of every month, except in cold winter. Adding fish emulsion in the middle of the month during spring will help feed hungry plants like ferns. My staghorn fern has thrived for 15 years on banana skins and an occasional misting of orchid food.

Flowering plants, like white flag or peace lilies, need water-soluble fertilizer with a 20-20 concentration. Applying Plant Shine, a spray available in garden centers, once a month will clean and beautify leaves.

They may take some effort to help them continue to thrive, but the benefits you'll derive from keeping houseplants in your home will be well worth any inconvenience, and you'll be healthier and happier as a result.

Joy to you and your healthy, happy home!

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

Jeanette Fisher has researched the effects of environment on emotions for over 15 years. She teaches interior design college courses and seminars. Free interior design reports and more office design ideas at

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Garden Through a Drought

Garden Through a Drought

By James Kilkelly 

So you find yourself in the middle of the worst drought within living memory and your garden occupants are starting to sag, flag and wilt. Which plants should be watered first and which plants should receive the main quantities of the irrigation? You begin to feel like the leader of a third world country trying to spread your counties meagre budget across healthcare, military and education. Never fear, let me dampen your worries with some drought advice.

First to receive the H2O
Recent plantings are top of the list for regular watering, if water is available. New plantings such as bare-root trees or shrubs planted the previous autumn / winter, with newly planted perennials also at great risk from drought damage. You see these new plantings have not had much time to produce water-seeking roots, the type of roots that travel deep and wide for moisture. Because of this, we must supplement the plants natural water supply. During a hosepipe ban, recent plantings of annual bedding summer bedding such as marigolds, impatiens, Nicotiana etc should be regarded as probable casualties of the water war. If I had a limited supply of water to divide between a Japanese maple and some annual bedding, I am afraid the maple would receive the lions share and to hell with the bedding. As a rule of thumb, if the soil 5cm (2 inches) below the grounds surface is dry, then it is time to water. The following is short list of plants can cope with a short period of drought, once established… Brachyglottis, Corokia, Gleditsia, Halimiocistus, and Hippophae.

Container plants during a drought
Next on the water-receiving list are containerised plants, hanging baskets and window boxes. Essentially a containerised plant is growing above the ground water table, with just the soil inside the container to provide the required moisture. If the moisture is not inside the container, then I am afraid the roots have nowhere else to go to quench the plants thirst. Again, if the compost 5cm (2 inches) below the pots surface is dry, then it is time to water, it is up to the gardener to provide that water when required. Try to provide a catch plate or tray beneath containers, these “catchers” will contain any excess water that will eventually be absorbed in the compost. Be aware that terracotta and other porous container materials absorb a good quantity of water that the plant is then unable to access. The following is a short list of container bedding plants that can cope with a short period of drought, once established… Arctotis, Lantana, Plectranthus, Portulaca and Zinnia

Vegetables and fruit during a dry spell
Provide adequate quantities of water for moisture-hungry vegetables such a tomatoes, peas, onions, cucumbers, marrows and lettuce. Insufficient supplies of water will lead to miniature, shrivelled and limp specimens. Fruiting plants such as strawberries, raspberries, currants, apple and pear trees are also very moisture hungry especially while their fruit is forming. Notice how much water is within a strawberry or pear the next time you eat one of these delights. Water-content figures of 70 to 90% are quoted for fruits and vegetables, regardless of whichever quantity is correct, you must supply that water during a drought. Plants growing in an exposed or wind swept area will require a fair quantity of supplementary water during a drought. Have you ever gone for a bracing walk on a windy day, upon arriving home, you smile at your spouse, children or pet and realise that your lips are cracked and chapped, ouch! This illustrates the severe drying element of a strong breeze, plants leaves are constantly being dried out and then remoistened by water from the soil when available. During a drought, if that water is not present the leaves will dry up, shrivel and shed. This is known as the desiccation of foliage. Watering deeply will prevent this happening.

Shallow rooters and moisture lovers
Shrubs and trees that are shallow rooted or have a particular liking for moist soils are quite at risk during a drought period. The shallow rooted specimens include Rhododendron, Azalea, Heather (Erica), Hydrangea and Birch (Betula). The moisture lovers include Hosta, Ferns, Helleborus, Sarcococca, Fatsia and Camellia. If water is available, please allocate some to these plants. Climbers or wall-shrubs planted close to house walls will struggle for moisture at the best of times, due mainly to the rain-shadow cast by the house itself. Do not forget to water these wall huggers. The following is a short list of climbers that can cope with a short period of drought, once established… Clematis Montana, Fallopia, Jasminum, Trachelospermum and Vitis.

Lawns during a hosepipe ban
During a drought, the first part of the garden that people tend to water is the lawn. This is probably because lawns usually make up quite a quantity of most gardens and these lawns tend to look burnt earlier than many plants. However, the lawn would be the last form of plant life within my garden that would receive any rationed water. Lawns are more resilient than you may think, a green lawn that becomes browned off due to water shortage will eventually return after a few heavy rain showers. The burnt piece is the foliage above ground; the roots below ground will sit tight and wait the dry spell out. Of course, lawns comprised totally of fine grass will be damaged significantly by prolonged dry weather, but you should have no worries if your lawn is sown with a utility seed mix (No. 2 or Manhattan mix).

How to apply water during a drought (if water is available)
I find sprinklers are quite wasteful of the available albeit rationed water, instead I would choose either hand watering or seep watering. With hand watering you direct your watering can or hose to the base of your chosen plant, water deeply at a rate of approx 10 litres per metre squared. Watering lightly will do more harm than good as it encourages surface rooting, which is easily damaged. On many dry soils, water applied directly will tend to run off over the soils surface and away from the plants base, if this happens try the following trick. Sink a two-litre pot filled with gravel at the base of the plant, water slowly into this pot and you will have no run off problems. Seep watering, also known as drip irrigation is an effective and economical way to apply much needed moisture directly. Most well stocked garden centres will sell seep hose or porous pipe, which you will weave between plants within your beds and borders. This seep hose when connected to a water supply will slowly ooze water through small holes along the length of the pipe. It is extremely direct and efficient.

James Kilkelly runs a professional garden design service in Galway, Ireland. He has a regular gardening column in an Irish regional newspaper. Visit his website at He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at

Article's original location: How to Keep Your Plants in Bloom with Dead-heading

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Gardening- A Relaxing Hobby

Gardening- A Relaxing Hobby

By Michael Russell

Many people find gardening an incredibly relaxing hobby. A hobby that allows them to get in touch with the earth and themselves. Likewise, gardening is not an expensive hobby to start, although the hobby may become expensive as you progress in the art of planting. Needless to say, thousands of people enjoy gardening each year and if you are fond of the outdoors, you may find yourself interested in gardening too.

You won't need much to start gardening. Some basic tools like a shovel, a rake, and hoe may do you well in the garden. You will need either seeds or starter plants, whichever you prefer. But, before you start working on the garden there are a few essentials that you need to learn to become a master at gardening and such skills need to be obtained before you lay the first seed.

Read up on the art of creating a garden, don't just wing it. Why? Well, quite frankly, there are certain plants that fare better under certain conditions. Likewise, there are plants that do not do well next to other plants. Moreover, you will need to know what plants to plant and when, as plants may grow according to certain seasons. Visiting the library or the local bookstore can help you learn everything you need to know about gardening. If you don't have the transportation then visit websites that talk about the garden and different plants and how to care for them.

Likewise, while browsing websites, read up on the various techniques that other gardeners use. Find out what they feel makes their garden successful. Hints and advice abound on the Internet and the wealth of information available can help you make a success of your garden. Once you have done your homework, you may want to speak to others who own gardens and discuss techniques with them as well. It never hurts to ask for advice when you are planning a garden.

You can also pay a visit to the local florist. Florists are often versed in plant care and the techniques used for growing various flowers and vegetables. You can even buy your starter plants and seeds from a florist. You can also visit the local home and garden center near you and get advice from the staff working there about fertilizers, pest control and other issues that may concern you when you are creating a garden. The essential thing to remember is that when you are creating a garden you do not have to do so on a whim. The help is available if you are willing to take the time to ask questions and research your garden project before you begin.

Once you have versed yourself on all of the plant varieties and techniques used for growing you can select the right spot for your garden and begin your adventure. Follow the advice you have found about fertilizing soil, water levels, and planting. In no time you will be blessed with gorgeous blooms in your garden.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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Green In Your Garden

Green In Your Garden

By Michael Russell

putting greenIn this article we're going to go over what should be done for the golf fanatic who just has to have a putting green in his garden.

Having a putting green in your garden is certainly a luxury and not something that you'll commonly find in a garden. But if you're married to a golf nut or are one yourself and just have to have one of these babies in your backyard, there are a few things that you should know before embarking on this rather eccentric project.

The first thing you're going to need is plenty of garden space, especially if you want to place more than just a couple of holes. And even though professional golf course designers strongly discourage homeowners from doing this, there are still going to be those who forge ahead at the speed of light. Nothing is going to stop them, in spite of the fact that the maintenance and hassle involved is beyond what they can imagine.

See, putting greens aren't just lawns with finely cut grass, though that's how it would appear. A putting green's ecobiology (a nice fancy word for makeup) is manufactured from the bottom up. There are some things you just can't overlook, even for a garden course.

First there is putting green drainage. You have to make sure that the water can be drained easily after a heavy rain or even after just watering. Poor drainage will cause a boat load of problems not the least of which is pools of water which will make your green unusable and likely to develop disease.

The best way to assure proper drainage is to build your putting green above the level of your garden. That way you are assured, just from the laws of gravity, that the water will drain properly. Also, the surface of the green itself should also be sloped so that the water will drain off easily.

The reason that putting greens are so sensitive to water in the first place is because the rooting soil of the green needs to be very sandy and sand is very porous. Water won't sink into a normal lawn. The reason the green needs to be sandy is so it can maintain its shape and withstand the heavy foot traffic that it's going to get.

Also you better love doing maintenance work because putting greens require a lot of it. Not many people fit this profile. You not only have to be a lover of golf but a lover of your garden. If you're not up to this task it is best to not attempt it.

An alternative to installing a natural putting green is to install a synthetic one using fake grass. Companies that manufacture this fake grass are quite confident that it will blend in quite naturally with your natural grass. If you're a real golf nut and not quite a nut about mowing the lawn, this may be the option for you.

Understanding what is involved with putting in a green to shoot a few holes after a long hard day at work will save you a lot of grief in the long run. Forewarned is forearmed.



Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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How to Conquer Caterpillars

How to Conquer Caterpillars

By James Kilkelly 

Butterflies, especially the colourfully marked types are very pretty to watch as the undulate through the summer breezes but there are certain varieties that can cause losses in your vegetable garden.

The cabbage white butterfly
The main culprit is the cabbage white butterfly which is mostly attracted to a chemical emitted from the leaves of brassicas. The brassica group covers such vegetables as cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. The butterfly lands on these plants and in itself is harmless but the eggs it deposits are the problem, or what eventually emerges from these eggs. Emerging quite soon after are the dreaded caterpillars which are hairy and about 3 to 4 cm long.

Caterpillars are the larvae or the young of the butterfly; this is the main feeding and growth stage of the butterflies’ life cycle. As most vegetable growers know caterpillars are very hungry and a small handful can turn a head of cabbage into a skeleton within a day or two. Infested leaves are quite toxic to animals and humans even if washed thoroughly.

Control methods
So how can you battle against the caterpillars, well there are various chemical and organic methods. The chemical methods are available in all good garden centres in the form of sprays, dusts and bug guns with names too numerous to mention. With cabbage, broccoli etc being food crops that you may grow at home organically to avoid chemicals you should try to tackle the menace organically. Cover your plants with sheer netting whilst the butterflies are around, if they cannot touch the plants then they cannot lay their eggs on them. Ensure the netting allows sufficient sunlight through to enable growth.

Companion plants
Try planting tomatoes and celery as companion plants close by as their scents tend to cancel out the scent emitted by brassicas therefore deterring cabbage white butterflies. Finally if all else fails try sending your cat or cats on holiday during the summer, you’ll be surprised how many songbirds start to visit your garden. Songbirds just love caterpillars.

James Kilkelly runs a professional garden design service in Galway, Ireland. He has a regular gardening column in an Irish regional newspaper. Visit his website at He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at

Article's original location: How to Keep Your Plants in Bloom with Dead-heading

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Plant Battles

Plant Battles

The following are a few paragraphs about the on going battle I had with some of my plants!

Way back when I was just starting to garden I excitedly gathered starts from here and there, and several times, when I asked people for a particular start, they, with raised eyebrow, would ask me if I was sure I wanted that plant as it could be invasive.

Naively, and just so thrilled to get a new start (I had garden fever bad Ha!), I said that wasn't a problem. Wow! Was I ever clueless! I had a lot to learn as to just how INVASIVE some plants could be and how hard some were to kill out.

Following are a few short tales of the battles I waged with those wonderful starts I collected years ago.

Horseradish will be the first I'll mention, as it was one of the first starts I acquired.

I found it to be a very worthy opponent. In some book about companion planting I read that horseradish was good to raise by potatoes, so I rushed out and found a start of it! Well, I’ve long since quit raising potatoes, but I still have a thriving supply of horseradish.
Slow spreading, but, as far as I'm concerned, impossible to get rid of. When you dig it up any tiny pieces of root that remain will start new plants. I tried covering it with black
plastic for two years and it just sent out shoots to come up in other places. I guess we will grow old together.

Wild Blackberry is the next opponent. I love blackberries, so I asked a friend who lives in the country for a start of hers.

With raised eyebrow she asked me "Are you sure you want this?” I assured her, "Oh yes, I'm going to train it to a trellis.” she just said ok with more raised eyebrows. (Are you laughing yet?) Train wild blackberry to a trellis, no such thing for me. For two years I had delicious berries but the thorns (from Hades) ripped me to shreds, and the underground runners were sending up new shoots in my tomato patch, my carrot patch, and in my neighbors yard, to their delight and mine. NOT! The more I cut them down the more they ran. It finally took cutting them to the ground (with ripped up body parts to accomplish this) and covering them with black plastic for four years to finally kill them out.This is one battle I won!!

Mint, of which I have three varieties, is sure to be another plant that I'll grow old with.

I got the Apple mint and Lemon mint from the same friend that gave me the start of blackberry, with an even stronger reaction. She warned me how aggressive and invasive mint could be. I purchased the Peppermint from a retailer. I was sure I could contain the mint with some mulch and some of those four-inch barriers. I planted it by the walkways in my flower and herb gardens, as I thought the fragrance that would be released, as people brushed against it would be nice. That part of my plan did work. These plants do smell good when crushed, but believe me no four-inch barrier and mulch is going to hold mint in check!

The Apple mint and the Peppermint spread by runners that just hopped over or dove under the barriers and through the mulch and ran wherever they choose. Each year I spend considerable time pulling it up out of the flower and herbs beds. Last year I turned my back on it for a while to long (as I was distracted with this computer) and ended up taking a weed eater to it,because it had completely taken over one flower bed. Then I had to get down and pull up the underground roots and runners. How it got into that bed is a mystery. That bed was at the opposite end of the garden. A word of warning! Any little piece of stem or root can and probably will start a new plant. The only way I would recommend raising mint is in escape proof containers. The Lemon mint self-seeds itself prolifically. I have it popping up in all the beds each spring.

Wild Passion Flower Vine, with its sweet fragrance and exotic blooms, is also one of those plants that spread by underground runners.

When I got the start to this beauty I planted it by my front porch and set a trellis so it could climb it. I thought this would be a nice place for visitors to view the lovely bloom and enjoy the sweet smell of its blossoms. The problem here was that the vine wasn't content with staying by the trellis. It comes up in the shrubs,hedges, hostas, and hibiscus. It has spread to the neighbors yard again to their delight and mine NOT! It has spread all the way around to the other side of the house. God only knows where it will show up next.
Honey Locust Tree, I can't forget this one. This tree has lovely clusters of pinkish-lavender blooms, but it also has a devilish habit of sending underground runners that pop up just where you usually don't want them. I've dug starts out of my horseradish, iris, comphrey, thyme, etc.

Oh well, it does have lovely blooms...

About the Author

S. Johnson is the owner of Azeche Co. and creator of ShopAzeche and Let Me Outdoors. Shop Azeche and Let Me Outdoors are popular home and garden websites featuring products for every corner of your home and garden.Please visit both sites for your entire home and garden needs.

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Plants That Keep Your Fish Pond Healthy

Plants That Keep Your Fish Pond Healthy

By Lee Dobbins

Plants can add interest and beauty to your fish pond but did you know that they also are vital for maintaining healthy water quality which will help keep your pond clear and your fish healthy?

There are five different types of plants that you want to think about planting in and around your pond - floating plants, oxygenating plants, marginal plants, bog plants and deep water plants. These plants not only give your pond and authentic look but can also help keep the water oxygenated, cut down on algae growth, give your fish a place to hide as well as a place to spawn and can also provide food.

When adding plants to your fish pond you want to think about how large they will get and how fast they will grow. You don't want to add plants that will totally overwhelm your pond or that will make a full-time job of cutting back their growth. You also want to be sure that the plant can survive winters in your area. Plants don't have to be planted directly in the soil of your pond, you can set them in mesh pots or fabric pond pots which will allow the air to pass through but will also prohibit the soil from getting into your pond and turning it muddy.

To make your pond look its best and be it's healthiest you need to select plants for each pond layer. These different plants perform different functions as described below.

Deep water plants like Lotus, Water Lilies and Water Hawthorne grow in the deep waters of the pond. These plants will help remove the waste from the pond and act as sort of a natural filtration. They need oxygen and sunlight to grow their best. You might consider using an aquatic fertilizer that is safe for ponds. The Lotus and Water Lilies prefer water that is 2 feet deep but the Hawthorne can grow in as little as three to 24 Inches.

Oxygenating plants provide important oxygen to the pond as well as help to control the growth of algae by eating the same nutrients and carbon dioxide that algae needs to grow. Oxygenating plants also can provide food for your fish and act as shelters and spawning areas. Some good oxygenating plants include Hornwort, Water Violet, Water Buttercup and Water Milfoil.

Floating plants look great in the pond and they also provide shade and shelter for the fish and other creatures that live there. Be warned, however, that many of the floating plants will grow quickly and soon take over your pond. This can not only be an eyesore but can also be bad for the pond itself as it prevents photosynthesis which will decrease the waters oxygen level. Floating plants like Duckweed grow very quickly so you probably want to avoid that and stick to plants like Water Lettuce, Bladder Wart, Water Soldier, Water Hyacinths and Water Chestnut

Marginal plants like Sweet Flag, Golden Buttons, Marsh Marigolds, Japanese Arrowhead, and Lobelia grow in the shallows around the edge of your pond and depths of 2 inches to 1 foot. Cattails are also a marginal plant but they can be very invasive so you probably want to avoid those unless you plan to spend a lot of time weeding your pond.

Bog plants like Astilbe, Primula and Lysimachia grow at the very edge of the pond in the wet soil. they are important as they help siphon off surplus nutrients which allows control of algae growth thus keeping your pond clear.

Lee Dobbins writes for where you can learn more about wind chimes and discover the world of glass wind chimes.

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Testing Your Soil

Testing Your Soil

By Michael Russell

dirtMost plants prefer pH between 5.5 and 7.5. A simple rule is that if your plants are growing, flowering and fruiting well, the nutrient levels are fine. If you're just starting out or if you aren't satisfied with the growth of your plants, a little testing can help you get to the root of the matter. Too high or too low pH can result in yellow, stunted and unproductive plants. Unhealthy plants are more prone to insect and disease attacks, which translates into more work for you and less satisfaction from your garden.

Testing your soil is like doing home repairs. You can do it yourself or have someone else do it for you. Doing it yourself with a home test kit is simple and gives you a basic pH reading and an estimation of the major nutrients in your soil. You can buy test kits at nurseries and garden centers and they range from extremely simple to elaborate. The more sophisticated tests cost more, but give you more accurate results.

You can also send a soil sample to a lab for testing. You simply take a representative sample of the soil from your garden, fill out a form and mail or take it to the lab. The results are more accurate and detailed that if you do the test yourself with a home kit, plus testing labs can look for things that home kits cannot, such as organic matter and micronutrients. Soil-testing labs can also test for heavy metals and other industrial residues. Soils near heavily traveled roads or on old industrial sites can contain lead and other unwanted metals that you may want to know about before planting a vegetable garden.

Lab reports give you the current levels of nutrients and soil pH and also offer specific recommendations about which nutrients to add to your soil and in what quantity for your plants' optimum growth. Lab tests can get costly, however, especially if you have many different types of plantings, such as perennial flowers, vegetables and lawn and you do separate tests for each type. Check the phone book under "Soil Testing" for private soil labs in your area or contact your state university's extension service. Many state universities test soil for a small fee or can recommend a private testing lab.

Most plants grow best in a pH range from 6.0 to 7.0. Some plants, however, suck as blueberries and rhododendrons, like highly acidic soil (pH below 5.0), so you may need to adjust the soil pH to individual plants.

In general, you add lime or limestone to raise the pH and sulfur to lower it. How much lime or sulfur you need to add depends on the type of soil you have and its current pH. The soil-testing lab will make a specific recommendation based on that information.

When adding lime or sulfur to your soil, remember to wear gloves and a dust mask because this material can be very dusty and irritating if inhaled. You can spread the material by hand or use a drop spreader made to spread grass seed. In the garden, work the lime or sulfur into the top few inches of soil with a rake or shovel after spreading.

Don't expect results right away. Most limestone or powdered sulfur products take a few months to react with the soil enough to change the pH to the desired levels - another good reason to prepare your soil a season before you plan to plant.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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The Value of Mulch

The Value of Mulch

By Michael Russell

mulchMulch is anything that covers the soil for the purpose of preventing weeds, conserving moisture, or moderating the soil temperature. Many materials make good mulch. The ones you choose really depend on what's locally available, how much you want to spend, the appearance factor and where you plan to put it.

The best mulch materials for gardens and landscapes also feed the worms and add organic matter to the soil as they decompose. Usually, 2- to 4-inch layers are sufficient to do the job, depending on the density of the material. Take a look at the following popular mulches and their uses.

Tree bark:
The ubiquitous landscape mulch. Available in shreds or various-sized chunks, bark lasts a long time, depending on the particle size and gives your landscape a finished look. Be sure you're buying real bark, however, by checking the bag label or asking the seller for the content. Wood chips that are dyed to look like bark are becoming prevalent in some areas.

Wood chips, sawdust and shavings: Although suitable for mulch, these products break down more quickly than bark and compete with your plants for nitrogen as they decompose. If you use these around food and landscape plants, be sure to add an additional nitrogen source such as animal manure or cottonseed meal. Never use materials from chemical- or pressure-treated wood.

Shredded leaves and pine needles: These are among the best sources of free, attractive and nutrient-rich mulch for flowerbeds, fruits and vegetables. Be sure to shred leaves before using to prevent matting in the garden. In fact, it is best to run over fallen leaves with a lawn mower, discharging them into easy-to-rake mounds.

Seed hulls and crop residue: These attractive, locally available, lightweight materials include cocoa bean, buckwheat hulls, ground corncobs and other materials left over from processing an agricultural crop. Use on top of newspaper or other sheet mulch to increase suppression of weeds.

Straw and hay:
While these are traditional vegetable garden and strawberry mulches, beware! Hay contains weed seeds that will add to your problems. Straw from grain crops, such as oats and wheat, may contain some crop seeds, but is a better choice as weed-suppressing mulch. Allow the soil to warm up in the spring before putting mulch around tomatoes and other heat-loving crops because straw keeps the soil cool.

Law clippings:
Clippings cost nothing and work best in flower and vegetable beds where they decompose quickly. Allow the clippings to dry on the lawn and then rake them up before using. Fresh clippings may mat down and become slimy as they decompose.

Newspaper and cardboard:
Use cardboard or several layers of whole newspaper sheets in pathways or around landscape plants to smother weeds. Avoid the colored glossy pages. Cover with a thick layer or loose mulch, such as bark, shredded leaves or straw. Depending on rainfall, you may have to replace newspaper during the growing season.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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Understanding Integrated Pest Management

Understanding Integrated Pest Management

By Michael Russell

bugIntegrated pest management, also known as IPM, is a system that combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical strategies to control pests. In plain English, that means using the easiest, least environmentally harmful, cheapest methods first and using more expensive, toxic methods only as a last resort.

Careful observation or crop monitoring is the first and most important step in IPM. You have to know exactly what pest you're dealing with, when it appears, how many you have and on what plants. For example, after you can recognize aphids, you may find them on a few rose buds on a single plant in the front lawn or covering every bush in your prize-winning garden. It may be the beginning of your gardening system or near the end. How you choose to control the aphids - or whether you choose to control them at all - depends on all these factors and more.

Integrated pest management strategies are like a series of steps. The first steps are the least toxic and the least harmful control methods. The most potentially toxic controls are last resort steps.

Cultural control: Giving plants optimal growing conditions - soil fertility, water, light and freedom from competing weeds - is the key to this first step. Other good cultural practices include using pest- and disease-resistant varieties and crop rotation, which means moving particular crops to new parts of the garden each year.

Crop sanitation: Keeping pests and diseases out of the garden in the first place is more than half the battle won. Inspecting new plants, cleaning your tools, eliminating weeds and using best watering practices help prevent the spread of potential problems.

Mechanical control: Prevent pests from getting on your plants by covering them with special fabrics or using hot water, air fire and the heat of the sun to kill them without poisons. Simply knocking pests into a can of soapy water does the trick, too.

Biological control: Every pest has a natural control, whether it's predator or disease. You can buy and release many of these control organisms or encourage the ones that already exist around your garden.

Chemical control: As a last resort, apply the least toxic pesticides. The best ones target only the pest and don't affect the innocent bystanders, such as bees, spiders and other beneficial insects. These pesticides also don't hang around in the environment where they can continue to affect other organisms long after their use.

Another factor that farmers - and you - must consider is how much pest or disease damage you can tolerate. Perfection comes at a very high price. Even farmers who must make a living or go bust based on the success of their crops have what they call an economic threshold, when the cost of the damage exceeds the cost of control. They expect to lose a portion of the crop completely and probably have another portion somewhat blemished. For them, it's an economic reality, but for most home gardeners, it's a matter of accepting less than perfection on 100 percent of your flowers and vegetables.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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Understanding Soil Nutrients

Understanding Soil Nutrients

By Michael Russell

"Complete fertilizers" contain all three macronutrients - nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) - but don't let the name "complete" fool you. It doesn't mean that the fertilizer has all the nutrients that plants need, just that it contains all three of the major ones.

Bags of complete fertilizers contain three numbers, such as 5-3-3, for example. Each number represents a percentage of N-P-K in that bag, as measured by weight. In this case, a bag of 5-3-3 fertilizer contains 5 percent nitrogen, 3 percent phosphorous, and 3 percent potassium. To determine the amount in pounds of each nutrient in the bag, multiply the weight of the bag (say 50 pounds) by the percentage of each nutrient: 50 pounds x .05 = 2.5 pounds of nitrogen. You need to know the actual amount of nutrients in the bag because a soil test often recommends pounds of actual N-P-K to add per square foot of your garden.

Each of these three nutrients plays a critical role in plant growth and development. Here's what they do and their deficiency symptoms to watch for.

Nitrogen (N):
This critical element is responsible for the healthy green foliage of the plants, as well as protein and chlorophyll development. Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes plants green and is a vital component in photosynthesis. Nitrogen moves easily in the soil and leaches out rapidly, especially from sandy soils and in high rainfall areas or irrigated gardens. Plants use lots of nitrogen during the growing season, so it's commonly the most deficient element. If you add too much nitrogen, however, plants will have dark green, leafy growth but less root development and delayed flowering and fruiting. Symptoms of nitrogen deficiency include slow growth and yellowing leaves, especially on older foliage. Animal manures, soybean meal, and cottonseed meal provide high levels of nitrogen.

Phosphorous (P):
Plants need phosphorous for strong root growth; fruit, stem and seed development; disease resistance; and general plant vigor. Phosphorous doesn't move in the soil as easily as nitrogen does so you don't have to add it as frequently. Depending on where you live in the country, your soil may have plenty of phosphorous, but it may be unavailable to plants. Phosphorous availability depends on warm soil temperatures, pH range, and the levels of other nutrients, such as calcium and potassium, in the soil. Deficiency symptoms include stunted plants with dark green foliage, reddish-purple stems or leaves, and fruits that drop early. Rock phosphate and bone meal are good sources of phosphorous.

Potassium (K):
This nutrient, sometimes called potash, is essential for vigorous growth, disease resistance, fruit and vegetable flavor and development, and general plant function. Potassium breaks down slowly so you won't have to add it often. Deficiency symptoms include yellow areas along the leaf veins and leaf edges, crinkled and rolled-up leaves, and dead twigs. Fruit trees may develop fruit with poor flavor or stunted fruits. Certain animal manures and mineral fertilizers, such as greensand, add potassium to the soil.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide.
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Useful Information About Plants

Useful Information About Plants

By Ross Bainbridge

Plants are a great source of beauty and freshness in any area they are placed. Their therapeutic and soothing property has been known through the ages and has been effectively utilized.

Plants have fascinated mankind from the pre historic times, and ever since there have been attempts to classify the different types of plants. Mankind has always been interested in plants and their cultivation for food as well as other usage. Hippocrates and Aristotle have been pioneers in the field of identifying and classifying plants.

Initially the main interest was in the medicinal value of plants rather than cultivation. Later, royalty in France and Italy started promoting plants in a big way. The palace gardens had beautiful landscaping done on a magnificent scale. Under their patronage there was a spurt in the cultivation of orchards. Josephine, the wife of Napolean, introduced a wide variety of roses and was supposed to have, the largest collection of different species of roses in Europe.

It has been noted that distributing plants in the office, lowers stress and augments employee productivity. Studies have shown that having plants in sight increased a person's ability to react by as much as 12 percent. It also helped them to recover from stress within five minutes. Plants were also found to significantly reduce noise, hence increasing productivity among employees.

Currently there is an increase, in the commercial production of medicinal herbs, as the demand for them is growing to a large extent. However, horticulture is still favored for growing beautiful plants and flowers. They offer an aesthetic value, to the concrete jungle that the world is fast becoming.

The earth has a great variety of flora to offer. It devolves on mankind to show enthusiasm, in preserving and proliferating plants, through the various avenues available in the modern times. Botanists have woken up to the requirement of timely intervention, to save the various species of plants on the brink of extinction.

Plants provides detailed information on Plants, House Plants, Tropical Plants, Garden Plants and more. Plants is affiliated with Flower Seed.

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What is a Rain Garden?

What is a Rain Garden?

By Donna Evans and William Henry 

Homeowners across the country are discovering the joys and satisfaction of rain gardens. A rain garden is a landscaped area that actually replaces an area of lawn. Compared to a “normal” patch of lawn, a rain garden allows 30% more water to soak into the ground. Rain gardens are a good and inexpensive way to prevent the problem of urban stormwater runoff. A rain garden is planted in wildflowers or other native vegetation. As the name implies, rain gardens are designed to soak up rainwater, mainly from the roofs of buildings, parking lots and hard surfaces. A rain garden is designed so that it fills up with a few inches of water after a storm. That water can then slowly filter into the ground, rather than rapidly running off into a storm drain, river or lake.

So, why are rain gardens important? Rain gardens can:

  • help protect streams and lakes from pollutants that are carried by urban stormwater; pollutants such as lawn fertilizers and pesticides, oil and other automotive fluids and harmful substances that wash off roofs and paved areas

  • increase the amount of water that filters into the ground

  • enhance the beauty of the yard

  • create habitat for birds and butterflies

  • help protect communities from flooding and drainage problems

A typical home rain garden can be in one of two places: 1) near the house to catch roof run-off; or 2) further out on the lawn to collect water from the lawn, roof, and other hard surface areas. Don’t put a rain garden: Within ten feet of the house so that water cannot seep into the foundation. Do not put a rain garden where water already ponds  the goal of a rain garden is to encourage infiltration and wet areas are where infiltration is already slow. And do not put a rain garden directly over a septic system. In addition, rain gardens will thrive better in areas where they will receive full or partial sun.

Rain gardens can combine shrubs, grasses and flowering perennials. The garden itself is actually a depressed area, which is usually about six to eight inches deep. Rain that flows into the garden is retained in the garden for a short time after a rainstorm. The water slowly infiltrates into the ground or evaporates. The plants in the garden filter the water by trapping pollutants.

  • Rain gardens are not ponds. Rainwater soaks into the garden, which is then dry between rainfalls.

  • Rain gardens are not breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need 7 to 12 days to lay and hatch eggs. The standing water in a rain garden will last for only a few hours.

  • Once established rain gardens require little maintenance. Some weeding and watering may be required until plants get established.

Donna Evans and William Henry own Gizmo Creations LLC, a landscape design company. For more information about their services, please visit:

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