151. To create a haven for beneficial insects in your yard, provide water all year, in any size container (avoid stagnant water which attracts mosquitoes), shelter in a variety of plants, flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees, and food , such as pollen and nectar. Once beneficial insects, birds, and animals get to know a particular landscape as a place to find food all year, they will come back.
152. The average household produces more than 200 pounds of kitchen waste every year. You can successfully compost all forms of kitchen waste, with the exception of meat, meat products, dairy products, and high-fat foods.
153. Birds need clean water, so for your convenience try and locate your birdbath within reach of a hose so it is easy to keep filled and clean.
154. Inexpensive compost starters include aged manure, alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, and blood meal. All are rich in nitrogen, and a sprinkling will jump-start the microbes already in the pile.
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 hue.
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.
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 are frozen.
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 of shrubs.
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 garden stores.
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 soil.
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. For more helpful garden supplies you can find garden tools, cedar planters, compost tumblers online at Clean Air Gardening.
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.