Winterizing Your Garden For Winter Wildlife

459617923Most animals are looking for reliable sources of water, high-energy foods, and places to take cover from winter weather and predators. Your winter garden can provide these needed habitat elements for such animals to stay active and healthy all winter. Here are a few ways that you can apply in winterizing your garden for the winter wildlife:

Provide Food

The best way to provide winter food for animals during winter is to plant vegetation that can produce nuts, seeds, and berries. Berry-producing shrubs and other small trees that produce fruits are great food sources for birds and other mammal species.

Place Bird Feeders

Bird feeders see the most activity in winter when food is scarce. Place feeders at strategic places where they will be protect from the wind and where you and your family will have easy viewing. Feeders will not only provide food for the birds, but for squirrel, mice, and other predators like owl and foxes that feed on small seed-eating animals.

Create a Brush Pile

By collecting yard debris like twigs, fallen branches, and leaves, you can create a cover for birds, and other small animals such as rabbits. You will also create hibernation places for insects, box turtles, and salamanders. Fallen leaves and branches can also be used for mulching to protect roots from freezing temperatures.

Provide Water

Water can be scarce for wildlife animals in winter as most of their natural sources are frozen. Keeping your birdbath clean and ice-free will help birds and other animals survive the winter. Heated birdbaths are even better as they keep water warm enough to keep the animals from freezing.

Create a secure Cover for animals

Planting evergreens such as fir, spruce, and cedar can provide vital cover for songbirds and other small mammals. Dead trees that don’t pose hazards to your family can also be left standing to provide safe cavities for raccoons, flying squirrels, and many other wildlife species. You can also install roosting boxes.

If you are avid backyard wildlife watcher, winter is the right time to brush up your identification skills. We provide resourceful ideas and tips on gardening. Follow us for more articles that keep your garden looking great.

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Plants That Love Shade

Have you always wondered what you would do with those shade spots in your back garden? Or maybe the entire garden is shaded that you don’t possibly imagine anything growing in it. Well, what you don’t know is the fact that there are plants that love shade and will make your backyard beautiful despite the sunlight strains.

Plantain Lilies

They are also known as the hostas and are perfect for a shady wet ground. They are known for their immaculate foliage and flowers plus they come in different color shades of hold, variegated, gold or green. There are perennials so don’t worry about the ground being too moist for them. Just make sure you keep them safe from slugs or snails (egg shells will help here).

Bergenia

Bergenia are another example of plants that love shade. They are nicknamed ‘Elephant Ears’ because of their large leather-like leaves. In spring, you will see their beautiful bloomy flowers which come in wide variety thanks to the extensive breeding of the Bergenia over the years. Winter will turn the foliage a beautiful purple, so that is something to look forward to as well.

Ferns

Ferns are easy to find and they will thrive in any shaded areas. They are loved for their pristine foliage and their green profile gives any garden that coveted natural look. Ferns are ideal for creating mood and they will fit in any kind of garden offering a lustrous contrast.

Bamboo

Even though it may take years before seeing the bamboo bloom, you will definitely reap huge benefits once foliage season comes. They are known to create the tropical feeling to any garden plus they vary in shapes and sizes. Additionally, bamboo provides shade from the seething sun and act as great wind breakers in your garden.

Lilly of the Valley

An excellent choice for plants that love shade thanks to their beautiful colors. They will thrive under any shade and will form a dense green carpet on your garden with tiny white flower details. They also produce amazing scents in their bloom adding to the serenity of your garden.

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Climbing Plants That Do Well In Dry Areas

We understand that achieving a beautiful garden can be challenging, but the key to a successful garden in any climate begins with plants that are ideal to that climate. In a dry climate, climbing plants can be a haven, providing plenty of leafy vines and a welcoming, cool, shady arbor.

Look for those that love the sun and heat, such as the Pink Trumpet Vine–native to South Africa. This is a slow grower at first, requiring moderate watering, but will speed up its growth once established.

The Clematis, a fast-growing climber, is another fine choice for a dry climate, although requires ample water. It performs well when planted in a sheltered corner, especially when its roots are kept cool. To keep roots cool, cover the root zone with rocks or tile. Don’t worry if it looks dead in the winter, as it will revive come Spring.

A very fast-growing climbing plant for a dry climate is Hall’s Honeysuckle. Its trumpet-shaped flowers produce a heavenly fragrance, putting on its show during Spring and early Summer. This no-fuss climber requires little water, loves the heat, and can tolerate poor soil conditions. It is known to be invasive, so cut it back in Winter.

We love the Cape Honeysuckle on pergolas or arbors. A South African native, the plant can grow up to 25 feet with little water! Ensure it’s initially tied to the pergola.

The Algerian Ivy is a fast grower that climbs virtually anything. It’s a gorgeous climbing vine that boasts lush dark leaves, which can, unfortunately, sunburn. At first, it requires moderate watering, but once established, needs very little water.

The Cat’s Claw is an impressive, vigorous climber that attaches to almost anything. Beware of its eagerness to grow, however, as it can be extremely invasive. Its green leaves and vines allow for pretty, yet short-lived, flowers in Spring.

We’ve chosen some of the fastest growing climbing plants for dry climates because most want quick results, but there are numerous other show-stopping climbers that are worth considering. They will also provide the great looks, beautiful blooms, and the natural shade many homeowners desire.

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How To Start A Wildflower Meadow

If want to have a natural look to replace some of your lawn, consider learning how to grow a wildflower meadow. This type of landscaping requires much less water and fertilizer than lawns and rarely, if ever, needs mowing.

Proper preparation is essential to the success of your meadow. first remove grass and woods and cut existing vegetation close to the ground. Till soil, water thoroughly and cover with sheets of clear plastic for two to six weeks. This will solarize the soil and kill weed seeds. After removing the plastic, till the area, water and wait two weeks for any remaining weeds to germinate.

After the soil is free of weeds, spread up to two inches of compost over the selected area, moisten lightly and till into the top three to six inches of soil. Rake until smooth.

Selecting the correct seed mix is essential. Most natural landscape seed mixtures contain native grasses along with annual and perennial. Determine whether you would like such a mixture or something heavy on flowering plants. Also pay attention to sun, soil and climate conditions and choose mixtures that will thrive in your area. Be aware that mixes that contain only wildflowers will require reseeding within a couple of years.

For best results, sow seeds in mid to late summer as this will eliminate many of the weeds that often wreak havoc with spring plantings. Plant perennial and grass mixtures for best results. Annual wildflower mixtures are better sown in spring. No matter when you plant, use a broadcast spreader and sow seeds at a rate recommended for the mix. After the seeds are spread, rake them gently into the top inch of soil. Keep the soil moist for the first growing season and pull invasive weeds, tree and shrub seedlings as they appear. Add to the mix in subsequent years as bare spots appear, particularly when annuals begin to die out. Many mixtures contain annuals such as bachelor’s buttons and cosmos because they often self-sow.

Don’t get fancy. For best results for a low-maintenance and natural-looking meadow, don’t purchase mixes for areas other than your local habitat. Follow us at Pushing Daisies for the best advice in growing flowers and vegetables.

Tips For Keeping Backyard Fountains And Ponds Clean

Having water fountains or ponds is very good and can really transform your landscape into something very special. However, at some point, you will have to deal with the annoying algae that can turn your water fountain or pool green and very unpleasant. Although it is the way of nature to have algae on water pools and ponds, when it’s too much, it can be disastrous. For example, too much algae can be detrimental to fish and will also damage water pipes. There are so many solutions that can help you maintain clean fountains and this will normally depend on the size of the pool and the extent of the problem. Here are some basic tips though to keep in mind:

Small Fountains

If you have a small fountain, there are some simple and effective solutions you can use to clean them up. The best way to do it is to find a natural cleaner that does not affect the water quality. While in most cases cleaning up small ponds and pools is very easy, you have to start as early as you can. After all, cleaning up too much algae even in a small fountain can take a lot of time and resources.

Small Ponds

Just like small fountains, it is best to always deal with algae as soon as possible. However, the best way to remove algae in small ponds is through a submersible dispenser. The great thing is, this dispenser is completely natural and can be placed under the pond to continually regulate algae and keep the pond clean and clear for quite some time.

Bigger Ponds

Dealing with algae in bigger ponds can prove quite a challenge. However, there are specialized solutions for large ponds including the Aqua sphere — a biodegradable floating ball that is used to regulate algae growth and keep the water clean. Nonetheless, when it comes to big pools it’s often better to be proactive rather than reactive.

If you need to clear your pool or fountain, make sure you understand the extent of the algae growth. Pushing Daisies is a blog that provides practical and useful tips on gardenia. Follow us for more tips and tricks that will give you the best-looking garden in your neighborhood.

How To Protect Shrubs From Winter Damage

When the cold weather arrives along with ice, wind, sleet or snow, one should ensure that the shrubs are protected from it through winter gardening precautions. Winter is definitely not for shrubs because it damages the roots and branches of the shrubs or resulting in desiccation of the foliage and sunscald if one is not careful. In addition to the havoc unleashed by the winter temperature, sun and wind, the shrubs face the dangers of being eaten by deer and small animals like rodents and rabbits that look for food during this time.

If you want to protect your shrubs then the very first thing that you need to do is to use a hardware cloth featuring the ¼ inch mesh. Simply use this to create a cylinder around plants that are more vulnerable to attacks. The cylinder plays the role of a protective barrier against animals. Some examples of plants that need such protection would be blueberry, shrub roses, barberry, etc.

It is also necessary to protect the shrubs against sunscald caused by the harsh winter sun. To do this, one should wrap its trunk with a protective material such as corrugated paper (in light color so that it doesn’t absorb heat), burlap and so on. By wrapping the bark or the trunk, the shrub would be guarded from extreme temperature variations. This works best for shrubs with thin barks.

If you want to protect your precious shrubs against cold temperatures, which is inevitable in winters, then you should ensure that it is provided with adequate water to hydrate itself. During winters, if the ground is frozen then the roots of the shrubs wouldn’t be able to pull up water and its leaves would turn brown and wither away. Thus, adequate watering is necessary.

When it comes to winter gardening, it is also necessary to protect one’s shrubs from winter burn. To prevent winter damage one can use anti-desiccants, which are highly recommended by horticulturists. Landscape fabric such as canvas, burlap, etc can also be used as a wind barrier. Simply place these on the wind-facing sides of the plant and secure by driving wooden stakes into the ground. Never use plastic as it can trap heat and kill the shrubs.
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Quick Tips For Buying Seeds

There are many ways of starting a garden. You could buy seedlings or grown plants and transfer them on the site. You could also purchase gardening seeds and begin from scratch. The latter strategy is cheaper and ultimately more rewarding. Here are some quick tips for buying seeds:

1. Pick seeds according to your family’s needs.

Resources are limited so they have to be used carefully. Prioritize the seeds of vegetables and fruits that your family likes. Grow plants that will be useful you’re your daily lives since you already consume them regularly. Perhaps you like Italian dishes and are fond of adding fresh tomatoes to your dishes. Or maybe you like herbs, chili, okra and other types of plants. You may also be the type to get excited about flowering plants as they add beauty to the garden. Go with what feels right.

2. Consider the climate in your region.

Of course, there will be practical considerations. The climate where you live is an important factor when choosing seeds. The majority of plants prefer a certain type of weather so you have to time your purchases according to the changing seasons. Spring is a great time to be planting, but some seeds require preparation during the winter in order to be ready after the season has changed. Be sure to read the label on the seed packet and follow the instructions carefully.

3. Avoid space hogs if you have a small yard.

Most home gardeners have to work with a small yard so they can’t afford to grow plants that will hog all the space. Pumpkins, squash and sweet corn are examples of these space hogs. Unless you have a really large lot, then it is best to avoid these. Go with space savers instead like beans, peppers, tomatoes, and salad greens.

4. Get disease-resistant varieties.

It would be crushing to work so hard only to see your plants wilt and succumb to diseases. Get seeds of disease-resistant varieties of vegetables so that you won’t have to go through that headache.

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