Monday, 15 August 2016

Water efficient LANDSCAPES In California

The largest use of all urban water is watering landscapes. When a landscape or irrigation system is poorly designed or poorly maintained, or the landscape consist of plants not suited to the dry and often hot California climate, water demand increases as a result of extensive evaporation, leaks, and runoff.

The truth is;

Water consumption can be greatly reduced with careful planning, good plant selection, efficient irrigation systems, and good eater maintenance practices. Since California experiences frequent and sometimes prolonged droughts together with and  increasing demand, there is a great need for us to use water efficiently. But this doesn't mean we have to give up our gardens.

The solution is;

We can water more efficiently and still have colorful, esthetically pleasing landscapes including some turf areas for recreation. This article is intended to help you create a landscape that is not only water efficient, but attractive, colorful and low maintenance. The designs illustrated here will give you a clear idea on how you can save water and money, by switching over to a water smart garden. The principles of water efficient gardening apply to front and back yards as well. 

Visit to get more ideas, you can also request a free estimate on your next draught resistant garden incorporating water smart elements. 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Grow Herbs, Eat Healthy

Won’t you say ‘yes’ to home-grown herbs, plucked fresh from your garden, to flavor up the dishes you make? Herbs are easy to grow and care for; you can even plant them in containers and pretty up your kitchen window. Just a spoonful and their health benefits are ultimate!


It is an extremely aromatic herb you can easily grow in your home garden, using seeds.

Planting tips

Basil is low maintenance and you need to water only every alternate day. If you plan to set it in a pot, early spring is best to sow the seeds. Keep the pot near a window that gets good sunlight, and transplant to garden in early summer. If grown outdoors, sow directly in your garden in late spring.

Basil loves well-drained soil and lots of sunlight. Let the soil be damp in hot weather.


It is a self-seeding plant and its leaves have a sweet taste.

Planting tips

It is easy to grow dill from seeds from late spring to early summer. It requires full sunlight and grows well in dry soil. Water it only once a week and cover with mulch. Keep it hydrated in hot weather.


Chives are a member of the onion family, sporting pretty purple flowers.

Planting tips

Chives prefer full sun, and moist, rich and well-drained soil. If you choose nursery-grown plants, set them in your yard in early spring, 9–12 inches apart. It needs regular watering through the growing season for a good harvest. It could reach up to 18 inches in height, but does not eat up space. Do not leave the flowers, as it would scatter seeds all over and overwhelm your garden space.


Fennel has a unique aroma with a sweetish taste.

Planting tips

Growing fennel by seed is an easier option. Sow seeds about an inch deep, spaced at least 10–12 inches just when the last spring frost begins to appear. Soak seeds for a day or two before sowing for healthy germination. All it requires is well-drained and enriched soil. It grows well in full sunlight or partial shade. Water regularly and use mulch to keep the soil moist.

If planting in containers, set fennel in slightly larger holders, as it develops roots extensively.


Mint is just right to start off an herb garden. It is recommended to grow mint in a pot as it could choke up the plants around with its invasive runner roots.

Planting tips

Seedlings bought from a garden supply store are the best bet. You should plant mint on a raised bed in partial shade. It needs loose, fertile soil to grow healthy. Water frequently as it dries out fast.


It is a delicious herb. Flat leaf parsley is more flavorful and best for cooking, and the curled variety is used as a garnish.

Planting tips

Parsley is ideally grown from late spring until winter. It is another easy-to-grow herb that requires less sunlight and well-hydrated soil to thrive well. Watch it grow slowly; it takes a bit more time than other herbs.

Gardener’s tips

Pinch off herbs regularly. You should water in moderation. Most herbs grow well with a monthly feed of fertilizer.

Chives, thyme, mint and fennel are perennials.

Dill and basil are annuals. They flower for only one season, so they need to be replanted.

Majority of the herbs do well in good sunlight, while some may need just a little sunlight or full shade. Make sure you read the instructions on the seed packet before planting.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Garden Edging : Creative Ideas for You

Can you think of a better way to lend a final touch to a garden than an imaginative edging?  Good news is you have plenty of options – you may pick readymade choices, or let your imagination run riot. Make it traditional, do it quirky or choose classic – any style lends a finished and a manicured look for your yard.
Apart from carving out clear-cut spaces and adding texture to the garden, edging keeps lawns from sneaking into flower beds; weeds are kept out of vegetable gardens and plants from invading walkways.
Bricks for a traditional look
Brick, a common landscape edging choice, offers a time-honored traditional look. It is commonly available, and fairly inexpensive.
Set your bricks on a bed of sand for an even and smooth finish. Push bricks tightly together to minimize spaces between them.
Concrete for a contemporary show
Concrete is decorative and functional; it survives years of wear and tear, and is easy on your pocket too. It defines effectively garden beds and tree surrounds.
Create an air of mystery with a winding concrete path that runs through your yard. For added interest, use concrete pavers of different heights on a slope or uneven landscape for a smooth transitional look.
Flagstones for a classic touch
If you happen to have a country garden, choose flagstone edging for a classic look. Go for diverse colors and thicknesses to match or contrast your plants with other stonework in the landscape. It could even set off stonework on your house. Irregular in shape, flagstones last longer and stack firmly in the yard.
Rocks for a natural garden look
For a cool and laid-back look of a natural garden, select rocks of different shapes and colors. You can position large multicolor rocks judiciously, to add to the informal style.
Flowering plants for a splash of color
Low-growing flowering plants are a fantastic choice to splash your yard with color, and soften hard boundaries, Plant them in one long continuous mass for the color to drape on your yard smoothly.
Ideas to experiment
Here are some novel ideas to break conventionality, and to bring on the chic to your landscape.
  • Got a stack of used glass bottles? Create colored bottle edges, burying them neck down side by side in the soil. To lend a quirky country garden charm, mix bottles of different colors, or go monochrome for a toned down look.
  • Line your garden edge with used China plates.
  • Stack metallic wheels of different sizes.
  • Bury fallen tree branches of different heights for a rustic look.
  • Use wooden panels of diverse heights alternately for a distressed look.
  • Surround a flower bed with logs that bring out the colors charmingly. Sit them in the soil either horizontally or vertically. You are being kind to the environment too!
  • Cinder blocks can work as planters, apart from defining the garden boundaries.
  • Terracotta pipes work just like cinder blocks – both as planters and garden liners. They would perfectly match up the terracotta planters you have placed around the yard.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Get Ready for Edible Landscaping!

Is your family health giving you nightmares in this age of genetically modified foods and increased usage of chemical fertilizers? Now is the time for you to consider edible landscaping. Don’t you think it is quite a delight, rather a blessing, to cook hot meals with garden-fresh and toxin-free produce for your loved ones every day of the year? Here are a few great ideas for you.

Design suggestions

A food garden need not be a boring patch of land. Start small and simple. Plan a mixture of food plants for variety on your plate. Keep your food garden happy and thriving with a layer of mulch, supplemented with organic fertilizers. 

Bear in mind that an edible landscape needs care and maintenance in terms of regular mulching, watering, feeding, weeding and pruning. Harvesting and preserving surplus are other chores you have to take care of.

Before setting out to design your edible landscape, consider aspects like necessary growing conditions for the plants you pick, sunlight/part sun/shade, soil drainage, size of the plant when it reaches its maturity, the space it would take up, leaf size and color. Here is where you can consult with landscape specialists for better understanding and clear-cut designing.

Begin with herbs

To grow herbs, you can either set aside a small patch of land in your vegetable garden or fuse them into your landscape. Flowering perennials and herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, and oregano are a great combo for a blended look. Herbs also keep pests away.

Go green

Salad greens love cool and damp weather; so, spring is the right time for growing them. Keep the bed moist and lightly fertilized.

Grow baby greens, lettuce, spinach, chard or mustard. Intersperse them with edible flowers for a visual feast and wellness in your salad. 

Grow berries

Low-growing Alpine strawberries provide a great groundcover. Besides, you welcome wildlife into your yard. Strawberries grow best in full sun and in soil that drains well. Fruit shrubs like blueberries and elderberries produce delicious fruits. Blueberries flower in spring and bring on the colorful show in fall, apart from yielding luscious fruits.

Raise fruit trees 

Fruit trees require only minimal care. Select dwarf varieties rather than standard size. Choose varieties that grow well in your neighborhood, and yield harvest through the year. Most fruit trees grow well in full sun and love well-drained soil. Take care to deep soak them periodically to produce fruits full of flavor. 

Putting up a show of beautiful yellow foliage in fall, pear and plum trees bear fruits in summer. Cherry, apple and citrus fruits are among the easiest to grow.

Benefits you reap

You dish out plates of wholesome nutrition to your family every day.

Save on greengrocery bills.

No squandering energy on mowing lawns.

No carbon emissions from your mower; you breathe in pure air.

If you go in for drip irrigation, you cut down on water usage considerably, and in turn do your bit to preserve natural resources.

Say ‘goodbye’ to days’ old supermarket produce – rich in all kinds of preservatives and toxins – that travels 1500 miles on an average to reach your food cupboard. Three cheers to your own organic food that you eat fresh, grown in your own backyard!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Caring for Your Lawn when You Face Water Scarcity

Owning a lush green lawn can be your pride and joy; but its maintenance, the other side of the coin, is a demanding task by itself. It is accentuated even more, if your State is water-starved and has laid down mandatory regulations on the use of water for gardening.

No need to worry at all! Here are a few simple measures to help you preserve your pride and joy, and at the same time, conform to State regulations.

Minimize manuring

In water-starved conditions, you can use less fertilizer to minimize water consumption and nutrient stress of your plants. Add instead, humus-rich compost to make the soil naturally healthy. Experts suggest carrying out the manuring process during fall.

Mow light

In dry weather conditions, cut at a height that would not weaken the grass. Do not clear away the clippings. Let them fall on the ground, and act as mulch to slow down water evaporation from the soil surface. Ensure leaving the clippings small to maintain good air flow and not choke the lawn grass.

Aerate in spring or fall

Aeration minimizes soil compacting. Through good aeration, you open up tiny holes in the ground that allow air, water and nutrients to seep deep into the ground; it helps develop a healthy root system.

Fall is the best time to aerate your lawn, if you had given it a miss in spring. It is best to aerate when the soil is moist enough to open up, say, a day after a rain shower or after you have watered your lawn.

Water in cycles

It is best to irrigate your lawn early mornings before 9 am, or late evenings, to save on water lost due to evaporation from heat. Water the lawn deeply and infrequently to mimic natural rainfall. Usually, a lawn requires about one inch of water once in seven days, applied best in one or two cycles.

Many grasses, during hot spells brown out but do not die. They will revive back to life once they get water. Kentucky bluegrass and fescue, for instance, will go brown without water, but they can survive waterless conditions for about a month.

For efficient watering, consider an automatic irrigation system that would irrigate only the turf and not the hardscape around. Setting a timer is another good idea to water accurately down to the last minute.

If you possess older irrigation systems, it would be a good idea to get them tested by a professional irrigation company; those systems need to be checked for leaks and proper functioning of back flow prevention valves.

Consider lawn substitutes: artificial turf

If your community imposes restrictions on the use of water, or you live in a severely drought-stricken area, it would be wise to go in for lawn substitutes. Consider artificial turf that looks as good as real grass and provides interesting texture. Look out for the grass that grows near your community, and go in for either dark green or light green, to sync with your neighborhood. You can even pick the color of the under layer.

Well, what do you get now? A galore of advantages: you save water, no reseeding worries, no fertilizer seep-off, and you bid farewell to whining gas mowers. There is no sacrifice on aesthetics and you might get monetary benefits too, if there is a State allowance.

The best part of the deal is you get a patch of green for your kids to freely run about, and for a round of lawn games. Bask in the gentle breeze of your garden, and indulge yourself in the soothing tranquility all around!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Effectively Using Rocks for Your Landscape

A landscape is generally a natural palette of bright blooms, lush grass and tall trees that provide a cool canopy. But, there is more to add to the drama. An effortless option to enhance visual interest to your landscape is to use rocks. Such rocks come in a range of hues and interesting textures. They are low-maintenance and easy on the pocket when you think long term. They double as protective shields and markers. You say ‘no’ to weeds sprouting up in undesirable locations.

Choosing the right rocks

The soft and crunchy sounding pea gravel is ideal for walkways, or to make subtle locational changes. You can use pea gravel in shades of brown as mulch around trees and in garden beds. The browny thing would blend with tree trunks and pop out the greenery beautifully. For a smooth look on a walkway, use large cut stone squares. You can use interlocking concrete pavers to line a driveway.

Create a checkered mosaic out of red and black flagstones, or fawn and black for a vintage appeal. If you are looking to fill garden beds, decomposed granite is a right choice. Mexican beach pebbles, grayish-black in color, would be ideal, next to a garage. Create a winding path through green landscape with radiant white gravel.

White rocks placed near flowering plants make the blooms burst out against the snowy white background. Pretty, don’t you think?

Aspects to consider

Take into consideration the spot where you would use rocks. Give a good thought to the size and shape of the stones, if you are going to walk on them.

For a blended look, go monochrome. Select two shades of rock in the same color group. Pick rocks in two colors to play on the contrast element.

Certain rocks like Red Shale may fade over a period. Black and other dark-shaded rocks during summers might absorb sun’s heat that could burn the plants around.

Maroon-reddish lava rock is a no-worry choice. It aids good run-off and keeps your flower bed just about hydrated.

Pay attention to the base of the rock you opt for. You might expect to have weeds choking up your plants when you set up boulders with uneven bases. It is wise to install a weed barrier before setting the stones.

Design tips

Edge a pond for a natural look

Select similar-sized rocks, but go easy on shape and color for a natural look. Make a pleasing path around a pond using large flagstone boulders that you can get in many shades of gray. Limestone in white and red shades may be used, but with caution. Runoff from these stones could turn the water too acidic. Flat granite stones can be used as pavers around the pond.

Craft a rock garden

To lend a rugged look and a touch of Zen to your landscape, plan a good mix of shrubs and perennials alongside boulders set on a bed of Mexican pebbles. Mull over the color scheme that your blooms would unfold.

Swap mulch for rocks

Any type of gravel can be used as a decorative ground cover instead of mulch. Compared to mulch, rocks are: longer lasting; offer many choices: cost less. Unlike mulch, they do not attract insects, and have no runoff worries.

Put up a centerpiece

Create interesting highlights throughout the yard, cleverly alternating boulders in shades of the same color family. A large and quirky shaped boulder can look striking.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Winter Landscaping: Best Plants for You to Consider

It is that time of the year when the winter chill sets in, snow envelopes the world and Santa arrives calling with a sackful of goodies. Won’t you love to look forward to a winter landscape that calls in for less-to-no maintenance? Here are a few ideas for you to make your winter landscaping a cake walk, with some easy-care plants that would liven up the icy environs.

Best plants to create winter interest


Holly, commonly called Winterberry, is easy to grow. It sheds its shiny, green leaves during late fall; it bursts into bright red berries, unfolding a vibrant red splash against your white landscape. You should plant male and female hollies in close proximity, to help pollinate and bear fruit. Put up a branch covered in berries in a vase to bring indoors the festive atmosphere.

Witch hazel

Sometimes called ‘Winter Bloom’, witch hazel is a popular ornamental shrub or rarely a small tree. It carries clusters of rich yellow to orange red flowers which bloom from fall to late winter. The flowers emit a heady fragrance to perfume the air. The flowers are delicate, twisted and ribbon-like, yet remarkably durable in less harsh conditions.

Sweet box

An all-season showstopper, the thick evergreen leaves of sweet box will liven up your yard. The plant breaks into sweet-smelling little white blossoms in late winter that grow subsequently into little red berries.

Mock rush

Jutting out of winter snow, this tough and erect ornamental grass lends winter interest to your landscape. The spiked flowers filled with seeds attract winged visitors like cardinals and juncos. You get to watch birds flutter about, which goes unnoticed under the foliage usually.

Christmas rose

Commonly called Hellebore, Christmas rose is an evergreen perennial flowering plant with glossy, dark green, leather-like leaves. It is called by other names such as ‘Winter Rose’ and ‘Lenten Rose’. It bears pure white flowers that change into pink on aging as winter chill intensifies. What’s the bonus? It is easy to grow and lives longer.

Snow drop

Snow drop bears bell-shaped milky white flowers with green or greenish yellow floral segments at the center. The flowers, resembling drops of snow and flowering on a slender stalk, are pretty little additions to enhance the winter interest.

Winter landscaping tips

Focus on hardscape

Winter is the best time to refurbish existing hardscape such as a trellis, a picket fence, a vintage garden bench, an arbor, a set of mailboxes or a vintage garden sculpture. Mull over and figure out where the central piece would draw the most attention, and make it the owner’s pride and neighbor’s envy. Color your hardscape with a brilliant coat of paint (in line with zonal guidelines) to offset the snowy, gray background.

Dress up your yard with containers

Bring out your containers – hanging basket, window box or any urn that can stand the frosty weather. Give it a new lease of life with a coat of bright paint. Fill with evergreen branches – mix textures and colors to craft an arresting scheme. Adorn the holders with evergreens, twigs of unusual shapes and boughs with colorful berries.

Create a warm retreat

Identify a spot in your yard for a blazing fire. Arrange some chairs and drape with wool throws for added warmth – sure would it be the right nook to enjoy dessert and make merry after dinner.

Protect plants from snow damage

Consult with a landscaping professional on ways to protect shrubs and trees that are prone to damage from snow and ice. Plan ahead in fall to understand the kind of protection your plants would need during harsh winter season.

Leaf mulch, burlap wraps, Styrofoam cones or small plastic greenhouses could act as winter shields to warm up tender plants.