Wednesday, 23 December 2015

How You can Set up a Cactus Garden

Cactus: a quick look

Cactus plants native to Americas come in all sizes and shapes and some with beautiful flowers – color ranging from white to yellow and red to magenta. The spines we see on them are only modified leaves. Almost all cactus plants have thick and fleshy leaves that help store water.

Some of them grow tall, tree-like. Others grow in short clusters; a few others develop like a single globule. Most of them grow in extremely dry conditions. Many species of cacti are ornamental plants.

Types of cactus

The desert cactus would certainly be the first recall to your mind. Another is jungle cactus that grows in rainforests and other environments.

Best time to develop your cactus garden

Early summer is the ideal season to develop your cactus garden. Spring is another excellent time of the year when cactus plants grow actively.

Materials you need

- Diverse cactus plants to create maximum interest and effect

- Cactus potting mix/soil with a mix of rough materials to aid fast drainage (consult with a gardening specialist to make the best soil recipe)

- A pair of heavy duty leather gloves

- A long-sleeved dress to keep thorny spines out of your way

Choosing cactus

Take into account climate, available space and the kind of growing conditions they require while you zero in on the variety.

Prepping cactus soil

If you are not going in for readymade cactus potting mix, make your own batch by mixing two measures of potting soil, two measures sand and one measure porous gravel. Compost and peat are good additions to make it nutrient rich. Top off with river rocks or aquarium stones for a finished look.

Planting tips

Cactus would love to thrive in your yard, if it is exposed to the hot sun throughout the day, and is covered with very dry sand. A sloped area is ideal that allows good runoff. You should plant cactus, in moderate seasons, preferably close to a wall, which can help reflect additional sunlight and heat on to it.

Dig the planting hole keeping the root system in mind. Space out to suit the particular kind and its physical dimensions. Set the plant into the ground; fill in with soil and turn on the hose to firm up the sand and keep the roots in position. Let there be moisture no more than just sufficient for a month for the plant to begin growth.

Cactus plants hate to sit in water. If you are going to plant in containers, make certain there are many drainage holes, covered by a layer of pebbles. Pebbles make proper drainage easy and keep the soil from clogging up the drainage holes.

Make it an annual routine to repot potted plants for a change of soil. Check the root system for possible pest infestation.

Maintenance and aftercare

Though cacti are tough plants that require low-maintenance, adequate light, warmth and ventilation are a must for them to flourish well. Put your cactus pots in sunny south- or west-facing window sills for best possible light.

Water adequately, in the growing season in spring and summer. Give them a good soak in each watering cycle, ensuring a good runoff. Allow sufficient gap between watering cycles to prevent root rot. Let the soil go completely dry before you take to the watering can.

In summer, you can water when you see a spot of dryness on the surface. Allow them to rest and go dormant in winter. Do not water on a rainy day.

Light fertilizing is recommended with a dilute solution of liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing months. With good care, make cacti the exotic part of your landscape.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Game for Smart Landscaping?

It is common belief that landscaping is an expensive affair that always runs to a 5-figure budget. Not at all! You can dream up year-round interest right in your yard, through smart planning, tailored to your taste and needs.
Raise easy care plants
Think of low-maintenance and easy care plants. Plants like California Lilac, groundcover Gum plant, Deer Grass, Bishop Pine, Blue-eyed Grass, Purple Needle Grass, Coyote Mint, Western Redbud and Saint Catherine’s Lace are wise choices.
Filling in with annuals is another smart alternative.
Go in for bold contrasts
Play the drama in your yard with an eye-catching mix of contrasts in color, form, and leaf shape. But, remember to reduce visual clutter.
Flowering perennials and annuals bring in an arresting color scheme. Make a splash with bold and bright colored flowering plants with soft and pastel varieties.
Intersperse single-color leaf plants with those running stripes, streaks or spots.
Play on the contrast element with flora bearing diverse-shaped leaves – round, oval, elliptical, needle-like. Look out for the difference in edges – smooth, serrated or lobed.
When you consider form, imaginative arrangement of branches offers you contrast element easily. Choose between horizontal and spreading foliage, rounded forms, vase-shaped trees with a striking canopy, pyramidal forms or the weeping varieties.
Showcase diverse heights. Make it smoothly progress from ground hugging perennials to medium sized shrubbery to columnar evergreens.
Have a focal point
A focal point adds visual surprise and makes your garden experience special. It should stand out, but remain connected at the same time to the overall design of the landscape. It can cleverly camouflage an unsightly spot too.
A centerpiece tree, an architectural feature, an ornate garden bench, a garden swing, a row of flowering plants, a soothing water feature, a classic pergola/arbor, an oriental lantern, a tall painted urn, a vintage statue or a quirky shaped planter – anything that reflects your personality might just be perfect.
Combine materials
Hardscapes such as pavers, fences, patios, retaining walls and fountains lend you good scope to go in for an exciting mixture of materials.
Stone-pebble or brick-stone lends a unique charm to a pathway.
Surround a group of trees with a mix of bluestone and large river pebbles.
Create a casual path with stepping stones and gravel to lend it an informal touch.
For an old world charm, use cobblestone to create garden paths and borders.
Better still; consult with a landscape designer for recommendations and to avoid costly mistakes.
Play around with containers
Think beyond terracotta. You can craft some interesting containers from everyday objects. Look around the house; put your imagination to good use – an out-of-use laundry basket, a large colander, a used fish bowl, a galvanized metal tub or a large glazed pot will make unique holders for plants.
Make sure to drill a half-inch-in-diameter drainage hole for small or medium sized pots and at least an inched ones for larger sized containers.
Quick tips
Have fun with geometry – incorporate sweeping bold lines and long and subtle curves for a professional touch.
Add life to your garden by growing ornamental grasses that sway beautifully in the winds.
Try retaining walls or raised beds for a pretty visual distraction.
A nice-looking garden gate can hold the key to the mystery waiting to unfold behind!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

What You should Know about Vertical Gardening

You are an awesome horticulture enthusiast with green thumb, you love to create a lush green paradise, but your yard is not big enough, or you live in an urban belt where space is at a premium. Fret not. Take to vertical gardening.
What is Vertical Gardening?
Vertical gardening makes use of all existing ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ surfaces to grow plants. A garden may no more be a traditional in-ground growing system. When you think out of the box, any vertical or horizontal surface can become your vertical garden.
Hanging planters can be transformed into living art pieces – be it indoors or outdoors, a large area or a small plot of land, your frontage, side walls, window sills, trellis, pergola, arbor or arch. A vertical garden has different names: green fa├žade, living wall or green wall.
Who Invented Vertical Garden?
Stanley Hart White, who taught Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois, invented the ‘green wall’ in 1938; he called it ‘Botanical Bricks’. However, it is Patrick Blanc of France who is called the ‘Godfather’ of the ‘Vegetal Wall’. The striking 650-foot-long green wall he created at the Musee du quai Branly at Paris in 2005 sparked off a revolution in sustainable architecture. He has some of the stunning and longest living green walls to his credit, many of them planted as early as 1970.
Design Guide

  • Choose plants carefully. Go bio-diverse; make it edibles, succulents, flowers, ornamental grasses or a mix of all to make it captivating and vibrant.
  • Plan placement – the area you wish to set the vertical garden and its suitability in terms of plants you choose, sunlight/shade, and water availability. Take into account the actual area you have on hand. Check if it is water-safe to tolerate occasional drips or moisture.
  • Go in for recycled PET/ synthetic felt containers that are non-reactive and non-toxic.
  • Consult with a landscaping expert on plants that would go dormant in winters.

Best Plants for a Green Wall

Herbs: Basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, mint, ginger
Vegetables: Tomato, peppers, chilli, carrot, celery, lettuce, kale
Fruits: Strawberry
Foliage and grasses: Feather reed grass, autumn moor grass, lady fern
Annuals and flowers: African daisy, pansy, geranium, marigold, daffodils, tulip
Perks you get

  • You craft a ‘visual green paradise’ that camouflages unsightly structures/elements
  • Gives you additional growing space
  • Creates a micro climate; improves air quality – good health is the added bonus
  • Shields naturally your home from heat, noise and pollution
  • Softens the hard and stiff building, turns it poetic
  • Controls pests better than your experience with in-ground plants
  • You invoke nature in the present era of climate change and deforestation
  • Care and maintenance

A trouble-free drip irrigation system set on top or an automated one will do. You may also consider water-efficient recirculation systems that come with a tank, pump and timers.
Moderate fertilizing is recommended for vertical gardens. Use of organic fertilizer is best to avoid salt buildup. You can add fertilizer either manually or using an injector in your irrigation system. In case of recirculation systems, just add fertilizer when you top off the water tanks.
It is best for you to engage professional landscape specialists who can help you with long-term, easy and pocket-friendly maintenance.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

How to Maintain Your Yard Lush and Green in Summer?

Wondering how to maintain your yard fresh in sizzling summer? No worries, you are just a few approaches away to make it a breeze.


Improper watering can stress leaves, be it overwatering or under watering. The best fix is to water deeply and occasionally, which allows the soil to breathe well.

During hot summer, water your yard before the break of dawn to bring down water lost to evaporation. Take care not to drown the yard in shaded areas. If you have sprinklers, plan them in three brief cycles, spaced one hour apart. If it is drip irrigation, experts suggest running it a maximum of three days a week during warmer months. Run your drip system 1-3 hours to soak up the root structure. You may have to vary the length of watering time based on the type of emitter, plant types and soil condition.

To prevent leaf scorching in summer, most trees and grown up shrubs need a good soak once every seven to ten days. Irrigate newer plants as often as necessary till they take root in the new earth.

Lawn care

Do not mow during hot, dry spells. Water up to one inch each week over the summer to keep your lawn thriving.

Walk across your lawn and look back to see if you have left behind ‘footprints’. If the grass takes a longer time to spring upright, it is time to water it. Wilting or folding turf grass is another sign to take to your garden hose.

Allow lawns to grow a little taller in summer to shade the soil. As for fertilizing, do so in the morning and irrigate soon after application.


Avoid over-pruning plants during summer to prevent severe sun scald. Whenever you prune, remember to discard only 25 per cent of the canopy in one growing season.

Prune trees after the flowering phase is over; this may be spring for some trees and summer for others.


Mulch, be it organic (grass trimmings, bark chips, straw) or inorganic (brick chips, stones) inhibits weed growth; maintains a moist environment in summer conserving water; protects roots; decreases abrupt changes in soil temperature. Add a layer of surface mulch 2 to 3 inches thick to keep your soil cool in summer.


You may have to choose the right fertilizer, specific to your plants and for the time of the year. As for lawn, make use of slow-release fertilizers in summer. It eliminates excessive top growth seen with fast-acting fertilizers, which means less mowing worries. It is wise to go exactly by the directions on the package.

Pest Control

Keep an eye out for insect infestation or disease in the summer months. The first step to keep pests off your yard is to pick disease-resistant plant varieties. Do not spray insecticides when temperatures soar above 90 degrees. Heat and sun can make some of these chemicals turn poisonous to plants.

Knock off bugs like mites and aphids, with a strong blast of water from your hose. Else, let nature take its course – set helpful "killer" bugs like ladybugs loose to prey on aphids. Keep your landscape free of infested leaves, fallen leaves and rotten plant material, so as not to get caught in managing vicious cycles of pest invasion. Better still, get the advice and assistance of landscape specialists to sit back and be soaked in the joy of a well-kept landscape.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Lighting up Your Landscape?

Your yard is ready with cherry-picked greenery and garden decorations. You are set to visually feast on Mother Nature by day, and by now you are your neighbor’s envy! Why don’t you play with lights to create the magical night atmosphere for your landscape after sundown as well?

Purpose of landscape lighting

Lighting up your landscape revolves around two reasons. One is to set the mood and another is to ensure security. Be it for a romantic evening or a cool hang-out with friends, you would want to create drama or you may want to keep that garden bench under the tree well lit for safety reasons. Simply put, make your yard a blissful outdoor living space by night.

How to go about it?

Before you set off, map your yard and deliberate on the real purpose of lighting up each existing light, vegetation, tall trees, water features or add-ons that you might want toforeground. Take the height of each element into consideration and mull over if it would absorb or reflect light. The thumb rule is to keep lighting minimal. Finally, estimate the costs you can afford.

Styles of Lighting


Landscape uplights are typically installed either at or below ground level to send the light rays up above. They can be used on a deck or patio to send light upward on an umbrella or a tall tree, accentuating the plants around.

Add uplights to your beautiful walls and fence to add visual interest and depth; they also provide no-nonsense pathway illumination.

The most common types of uplights are bullet/spot, wash and well lights.

Bullet lights, like the name signifies come with a narrow spot beam perfect to illuminate your prized plants or any architectural element.

When you want to subtly light up your shrubs and wall surfaces, opt for low diffuse wash lights.

If you would wish to light up the plants, benches or walls from underneath, go in for well lights. They are installed slightly below mark and not visible on the surface.


Downlighting is commonly used to light up outdoor areas such as patios, facades and gazebos by angling down your lights. If you place a light in a tree high in its branch and direct the lamp down, it washes the ground below quite like moonlight; that is why it is also called moonlighting. You get to watch the shadows of branches and leaves dance on the lawn or patio.

Directional Lighting

Accent lighting is probably the most common form of directional lighting. It creates a dramatic atmosphere by highlighting special objects such as sculptures or other architectural features. Added perk? They are usually adjustable, and so you can move them as required.  Maintenance Tips

Though low voltage LED lights are beautiful, demanding low maintenance and costing less, their positioning is most important in outdoor landscape lighting. Place them so as not to hurt people’s eyes. You do not want ground lights to be trampled on by kids too.

Regularly check for exposed wiring and old/broken bulbs along walls and ground.

Choose high quality fixtures to avoid recurrent repairs and replacements.

Use the right cables adequate for the load. Avoid using too many fixtures overloading one transformer.. Engage reputed professionals for intricate electrical work and take the burden  off your shoulders.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Country Garden Landscaping: 5 Great Ideas for You

Do you want to celebrate nature day in and day out? Crafting a country garden exuding old-world charm is the answer then.

A country garden wears a rustic appeal sans specific geometry. Perfect lines and precise curves are a no-no, but carry an informal air around. It is for those looking to have a casual yard with an abundant sprinkling of flowers, herb gardens and a bouquet of garden decorations thoughtfully structured.

Color your front yard

A fresh and lush front yard with colorful flowers is a good starter. Meandering paths through the garden offer an air of mystery.

Buy a mix of annual wildflower seeds and watch the vibrant drama unfold before your eyes. Hollyhocks, wild country blooms like delphiniums, peonies, campanula, and cornflowers are evergreen favorites. Isn’t nectar another good trophy - you get to host bees and butterflies too!

Put in fragrant flowers like sweet pea, oriental lily, and herbs for an added charm. For a touch of romance in the air, add red roses, or hydrangeas.

Added perk - a flower meadow is low on maintenance and no mowing worries.

Country garden decorations

There is no hard rule here. It is your greenscape you can play around with, but make sure not to jam-pack with too many elements.

A country garden is complete with a white picket fence. Add it on for an extraordinary backdrop for the flower meadow.

Get creative with containers. Glam up your yard with brightly painted planters. Convert a weathered wheel barrow, refurbish it with a spray of bright paint or leave it with a distressed look. You can make it a portable garden feature with a set of small herb pots.

Develop micro gardens in old gum boots when they are ready to retire. Paint quirky figures on them. Hang a rustic toolbox repurposed into a planter. Wicker basket, wooden containers, old bath tubs, kitchen sinks and metal buckets come in handy to be repurposed into one-of-its kind plant containers. The high point is you save on money but definitely add a charming allure to your garden.

Your worn out and rusted garden equipment are not for the trash can. Group them in a strategic place in your garden for a vintage appeal.

Take advantage of vertical space. Style your porch hanging a series of vertical planters flowing with color coordinated flowers.

Water feature

A pond is a great addition to a country garden for a cool spot in the warm summer. Frogs and dragonflies may be your visitors or even kingfishers, if you get lucky. Line the little pool of water with pebbles and mini rocks interspersed with water lilies, ornamental grasses and ferns to subdue the rocky texture.

A garden fountain with a favorite sculpture or two adds a classic touch to the atmosphere. You are sure to feel tranquil amidst the sound of flowing water and the dance of light on its surface.

Pave it right

From a good range of paving materials, you need to choose the right one based on your design setting, ease of availability, type of location, and budget.

Sandstone, gravel, slate, granite and limestone are the usual choices but one needs to choose the right material based on local availability, ease of working, durability, underfoot stability, suitability for the location, and maintenance. For professional support, engage a landscaping expert.


Another striking and inviting addition is a pergola at the entry with roses trailing over to scent the air. Do you want to ask for more?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Adding Quality to Your Home Life: 4 Useful Landscaping Ideas

It is often the case that you are disturbed by your garden eyesores and those in the immediate neighborhood. Also the passersby are distracted by these monstrosities, instead of being drawn by the pleasant view of your garden.  How would you deal with those irritants?  Here are 4 useful landscaping ideas to add quality to your home life. 

Screening eyesores outside the garden fence

Utility poles that support power, telephone and cable television lines along your fence can surely be an eyesore. Even rooflines in the vicinity can  spoil the view of your landscape.  A tall hedging  and screening seems to be the natural answer to this problem. But it has a diminutive effect on your garden which you wouldn’t like at all.A viable alternative could be to use plants of varying heights and textures in many layers to create a thick and rich floral screen.  This would annul the unseemly distraction of the eyesores outside the garden fence.

Hiding from view installations and fittings within the fence

It is just not the case that all landscaping dampers are outside your fence. There are several ‘insiders’ that demand your attention and action like your HVAC machinery, propane tanks and downspouts. These installations and fittings are utility oriented, and so how well they go with your landscape is generally of the least concern.

However, there is ample diversity of attractive rain cuffs or metal drainpipes available for you  – pleasing to the eye with captivating glaze and polish. You can think of replacing the worn out old order downspouts  with  these new order ones which will surely lend aesthetic support to your landscape. And you won’t regret it.

There is a very pleasant solution with greens to tackle the unwelcome view of the other ‘insiders’ – your HVAC machinery and propane tanks: with the guidance of a landscape expert you can create an aesthetic screening of foliage of different colors, textures, larger and smaller dimensions, and shapes and shadows

Surface Water Draining

You may be a great landscape lover, and yet you may not know that a crucial factor – poor drainage structures – can play havoc with your  landscape. Rainfall is quite essential  for augmentation of ground water level. However, frequent and persistent rainfalls can adversely  affect your landscape. You need to have a good drainage structure in place to maintain quality landscape. 

Noise absorption

May be it’s news to you that your landscape, if properly designed, can help you combat noise pollution inside and around. Woody plants with thick and rough bark, and large and thick leaves can absorb sounds. The wider the taller and the thicker the greenery,the less would be the disturbing noise level.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Best shade plants for your garden

You can brighten up the shaded spots in your landscape with these easy-to-grow floras that come back year after year.

Bigroot Geranium

This is one of the toughest plants that can grow in the shade. Bigroot geranium can handle drought or heat. Moreover, deers and rabbits normally avoid them in search of other flavorsome morsels. This shade plant offers outstanding pink or white flowers. When beautifying your garden, plant bigroot geranium in front of toad lilies to add interest to your landscape.

Toad Lily

Toad lilies are easy-to-grow perennial flowers that are often compared to orchids. The plant can be spotted with purple or blue shades. You can let the toad lily rise up behind a bunch of fern-leafed bleeding heart or medium-sized hostas.


This groundcover is grown primarily for its foliage, but also has beautiful flowers. Ajuga yields dark, glossy green leaves and blue flowers. Some of the varieties of this plant offer multicolored or dark purple foliage, or white or pink flowers. Ajuga grows 6 inches tall. Varieties of purple-leafed ajuga look great with blue hostas.                                                                   

Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart    

Dicentra spectabilis is one of the favorite plants to grow in shade during late spring and early summer. It produces white or pink heart-shaped flowers that hang from arching, elegant stems. By midsummer, the plant tends to lose its foliage and go dormant. Plant it with hosta and astilbe to ensure there is no barren spot within your garden at any given point.

Astilbe hybrids

These are feathery, plumelike flowers that come in shades of salmon, pink, lavender, and white. They look great beside garden pools. Give them rich, moist soil to grow.

Begonia (Tuberous)

For sizzling color in hanging baskets and pots, these plants make a great option. Flowers come in a variety of shades. Hanging types blossom more abundantly, but upright strains have bigger flowers. These begonias tend to grow best in rich soil and filtered shade. It is important to water them enough to keep the soil moist and mist regularly.


The brilliantly colored leaves of the plant range from yellow to pink, ruby, red, orange, and other blends. But for patios that are lightly shaded, partial to lime green hues such as sunny yellow, or lime and brown will do the job brilliantly. Coleus will look great in bright pots.


Hostas are easy-to-grow perennial plants. They also provide a great variety of shade. Select from miniatures that can stay only a few inches wide. Look for leaves in shades of blue, green, white, gold, and chartreuse.


These plants have lung-shaped, silvery spots on their foliage. The multi-colored foliage looks great throughout the season, but the plant looks particularly nice when it has clusters of white, pink, and blue flowers during spring. You can team up Lungwort with 'Jack Frost' for a beautiful silver-on-silver play.

Yellow Corydalis
This perennial plant grows in shade and is known to be the longest bloomer. Enjoy the bunch of yellow flowers till frost sets in. The plant is not only popular for its flowers but also for its attractive gray-green leaves. Accent the bright flowers of the plant against hosta foliage or dark green hellebore for an interesting look.


Lamium produces bunches of white or pink flowers. This pleasant groundcover can bloom on and off throughout the summer, offering color to the garden for months. And even when it is not in bloom, the silver-infused foliage brightens up the shady corners.

Plant some beautiful flora to add color to your garden even in shade. If you’re unsure about which plant will look best in your garden, make sure you seek advice from a landscaping expert.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Landscaping ideas for smaller spaces

Maximize the effect of your yard with the help of these landscaping ideas that work well for small yards, small gardens, and even backyards.

Create a view with pergolas               

Pergolas and arbors are classic small yard landscaping ideas that help in offering a grand feel to the garden. They are a great way to frame a view. However, if pergolas are not your thing, you can create the same effect with small trees, shrubs, or even pieces of garden art.

Create small zones

Breaking open areas of a small space is a great way to make it seem larger. You can make use of different paths and furniture groupings that divide a small yard and transform it into an attractive and peaceful seating nook.

Make effective use of color

Place bright, bold colors in front of other plants where you'll be able to view them. The rest of the garden landscape that falls beyond the bold colored flora will seem to recede, helping the yard to feel larger.

Using the power of perspective

Straight, long lines trick you into thinking that a small garden or small yard landscape is bigger than it actually is. To take advantage of this, create a focal point by slightly slanting the far ends of the lines toward each other. You can enhance the look by repeating rows of flowers.

Boost the interest of the backyard

Sometimes the best idea for small yard landscaping is to mix it up with interesting elements that provide dramatic visual relief. The mix of lawn, paving materials, container plantings, and hardscape can add enough interest to a back yard garden that you hardly take notice of the size of the yard.

Backyard destination

Create a backyard destination with welcoming chairs and a fire pit. Placing the seating spot right off the patio and creating a secondary seating spot close to the fence helps the small yard to look and feel more spacious.

Take advantage of texture and foliage

Bold and big tropical plants create a green, lush feel, particularly in a small landscape. Their unusual shape and large leaves can change the scale of a backyard to help it seem larger.

Place vertical plants, not horizontal

It's a good idea to look for trees and shrubs that grow vertically. Try using dwarf varieties for a backyard that lacks space. Apart from this, you can use more columnar evergreens.

Create a focal point

Creating a focal point is a great landscaping idea that helps to draw people’s attention and help outdoor spaces look neat and tidy. A simple seating area with vertical planters can offer a peaceful nook.

Skip the Lawn
If you love plants and don’t really need a lawn, and have a small backyard, skip planting grass entirely. Include walking paths and stagger the plants for height.

Streamline the backyard

Decreasing visual clutter is also a great landscaping idea that helps to create a sense of order and calm. The best way to do this is to maintain a devotion to either a few plants, or a single tone of color.

Raise the areas

You can offer a sense of height to a small backyard by raising up plantings. Try formal raised beds and retaining walls combined with other features, such as stairs. You will help create a beautiful visual distraction from the deficiency of square footage.

If beautifying your small yard, garden, or backyard seems difficult then its best to get in touch with landscaping experts. They can offer the best advice and help you create your dream yard.