155. Ornamental grasses promise color and movement
throughout the years. In spring the leaves have unique colors and patterns.
As autumn approaches the flowers bloom and become puffy and delicate
when they release seeds. In winter, grasses bleach and dry to a golden
156. Awnings and umbrellas can shield your outdoor
eating area from the second story windows of neighbors, often uncomfortably
close in urban settings.
157. Mosses and mushrooms in your shade garden are
signs that your garden is becoming naturally more diverse. Many birds
use moss to line their nests.
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158. "Native plants" grew here before the arrival
of Europeans. They are often better adapted to their site than non -natives,
though many "exotic plants", those imported from other places, have
adapted well and are successful.
159. Netting is a quick and easy support to erect,
making it especially suitable for short-lived annual vines. It is also
inconspicuous and doesn't compete with the plant for the viewer's attention.
160. Give tomato plants full sun, rich soil, and a
trellis or stake to climb. Plant seedlings in the garden after all danger
of frost is past.
161. Support tall flowers, such as delphiniums and
foxgloves, as well as heavy-headed ones, before they bend and break
in a spring storm.
162. Composting occurs most efficiently when the pile's
temperature rises to between 120 and 160 degrees. Composting can be
successful at much lower temperatures, it just takes longer.
163. Dormant and horticultural oils are often recommended
for spraying on fruit trees. They are low-toxicity mineral products
used to suffocate insects and their eggs on plants, used in the winter
when there's no foliage.
164. It's best to compost animal manure thoroughly
to avoid the odor, and many are "hot": they burn the plants they come
into contact with. They also contain weed seeds and need composting
at a high temperature.
165. Providing water for birds in winter in northern
climates is easy now that safe, economical birdbath heaters are available.
Find them at wild bird centers, hardware stores, and garden centers.
Birds need water especially when all their natural puddles and ponds
166. You can use coffee grounds as a mulch around
acid-loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas, and dogwoods.
167. Low-growing ornamental grasses can cascade over
walls, edge low borders, and taller varieties can stand in for a row
168. When chosing a shrub for a hedge: a 4'tall hedge
provides privacy for someone seated, and a 7' tall hedge is required
for privacy while standing.
169. Include about half evergreen, half deciduous
plants in your yard. Conifers and other evergreens provide yearround
cover for the birds, plus food and nest sights. Deciduous plants likely
will have flowers and seeds for food.
170. To achieve a great effect in a container, arrange
three tall plants (not necessarily the same species) in the center of
the pot, and fill in the edges with mounding or trailing plants. Visit
your nursery and look for sun-loving or shade-loving combinations.
171. Garden centers offer ready-made trellises of
wood, metal, or plastic, or you can customize your own shape from a
panel of wood lattice sold at lumberyards and home centers.
172. Zinnias need full sun, good soil with lots of
compost added, about an inch of water a week (less often but more deeply).
Avoid wetting foliage, as some are prone to powdery mildew. Clip spent
blooms often to keep each plant producing flowers, or cut just above
the next branch emerging for beautiful cut flowers.
173. If you have controlled hedges, prune like a wedge,
keeping the foliage at the bottom slightly wider than at the top. This
will maintain foliage at the base of the hedge.
174. Algae, seaweed, and lake weed are good additions
to your compost pile. Hose off salt water before adding, however.
175. Diatomaceous earth is a readily available organic
contact pesticide - it is a white powder which is actually abrasive
material used to damage the skin and joints of insects, and to create
slug barriers. As the bugs and slugs climb over it, it damages them.
176. Straw or hay makes an excellent addition of carbon
material to your compost pile, especially where few leaves are available.
They may contain weed seeds, so the pile must have a high internal temperature
to kill the seeds, about 131F. Compost thermometers are available at
177. Incorporating the sound and sight of moving water
will increase the number of birds to your yard or water feature. A dripping
hose, or water dripping from a tiny hole in a bucket over other water
will attract birds.
178. Do not add charcoal or coal ashes to your compost
pile: they may contain high amounts of sulfur or iron, which can harm
plants. Also avoid anything that's been sprayed with herbicides, fungicides,
pesticides, or other chemicals.
179. Tall-growing ornamental grasses such as pampas
grass can replace a row of shrubs, creating a living fence for privacy,
or screen against a view, or buffer traffic noise.
180. Living hedges will discourage tresspassing, provide
privacy, and mark the perimiter of your property, and are softer and
less forbidding than walls and fences.
181. Snags (large dead branches), standing dead trees,
deadfalls (fallen trees), and stumps are excellent bird attractors,
thanks to the insects and larvae that burrow into their wood.
182. Exuberant climbers such as wisteria and trumpet
vines require the support of a sturdy arbor or trellis, as they very
quickly amass a large weight of branches. They also want a lot of room
to travel, so be ready with the clippers.
183. Perfumed flowers are enchanting on warm summer
nights. Plant citrus, gardenia, and plumeria in pots on your deck or
patio where their fragrance can be enjoyed.
184. As freezing temperatures end in your area, try
sowing seeds of cool-weather vegetables, such as carrots, spinach, and
turnips. At the same time, you can set out transplants of broccoli,
cabbage, collards, and cauliflower.
185. Cat and dog droppings should not be used in your
compost - they may contain disease organisms. It is best to bury they
5 inches deep in non-crop soils at least 100 feet from the nearest lake,
stream, or well.
186. Some commonly used biological control agents
are: Ladybugs to control aphids, small worms, and other soft-bodied
insects; Lacewings to control aphids, scales, spider mites, a other
insects and eggs; Trichogramma Wasps to control moth and butterfly eggs;
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control larvae of moths, butterflies,
mosquitos, and other pests.
187. Since compost builds good soil, the first priority
for a limited supply is probably an area where the soil quality needs
the most attention: the flower bed in front of the house, or the vegetable
garden, or a prized tree or shrub.
188. If the prevailing winds in your region come from
the northwest, plant rows of evergreens or mixed plantings of evergreens
and tall deciduous trees to block the winds.
189. The best time to apply compost to your garden
soil is two to four weeks before you plant. This gives the compost time
to get integrated and stabalized within the soil.
190. Many ornamental grasses grow abundantly once
established - think "bamboo". To keep them under control, grow them
in a contained area where their ability to spread out is limited.
191. A formal hedge is planted in geometric lines
and clipped into smooth, regular forms. More relaxed, informal hedges
are planted in curvy lines and follow natural features of the land.
They can be composed of several different species and plants, that are
left to grow in their natural shapes.
192. If you have a small outdoor space, decorate your
deck or a balcony with planter boxes of flowers and deciduous and evergreen
shrubs. To passing birds this habitat will resemble a ledge on a cliff.
A small tree in a tub increases the effect of the mini-oasis. Offer
supplemental food to keep the birds returning.
193. For the most success, when choosing plants for
your garden, always begin by analyzing the sun, soil, and climate in
your garden and then select plants suited to those conditions.
194. Soil pH determines flower color in garden hydrangeas.
In acid soils, pink and red garden hydrangeas often turn blue or purple,
while in neutral or alkaline soils, blue hydrangeas turn pink.
195. After all danger of frost has passed, rejuvenate
house-plants by moving them out to a shady, protected area of the garden.
Sink pots into the ground to prevent them from drying out or blowing
over. Water as often as needed.
196. Plants benefit most from compost when it is mixed
thoroughly with the soil 6-8" deep. Plants growing in a layer of pure
compost have difficulty sending roots down below the compost into the
197. A garden soil that has been well mulched and
amended periodically requires only about a 1" layer of compost yearly
to maintain its quality.
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198. A yard that has only a few shade trees underplanted
with lawn can be made more hospitable for birds by removing the grass
under one or more trees, then underplant with a mix of shade-tolerant
shrubs and small trees. Add shade-loving perennials, ground covers,
wildflowers, and annuals.
199. Finished compost left standing in an exposed
pile for weeks will begin to lose its nutrients into the ground through
leaching. To keep your compost as nutritious as possible, cover the
finished pile with a tarp until you need it.
200. Each spring, ornamental grasses must be cut back
to make room for new shoots. They will gradually fill empty space each
year with new shoots. If the plants outgrow their space, move them or
dig them up and divide them.