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Posted by Julie Shanks on 7/7/2019

Xeriscaping, or dry-scaping, is a method of gardening intended to minimize the need for irrigation and ongoing watering. You can develop a xeriscape in any climate, using the right plants, but it most commonly appears in drought-prevalent areas with more mild winters and hot summers. If you live in a desert or southern climate, this might be the right solution for you. Xeriscaping is an excellent option for those dealing with yards that are tough to irrigate. They're also a fantastic cost-saving solution to avoid needing any additional irrigation for your yard, and for lowering water usage throughout the life of your yard.

In this series discover some great go-to plants to consider when building your xeriscape plan. One of the best types of plant you can employ in your xeriscape is ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses grow big and full making them tremendously useful for fleshing out your xeriscape. Add a selection of different grasses for variation in color and size throughout your landscape. Here are some beautiful species to consider when designing your xeriscape.

Purple Fountain Grass — Of all ornamental grasses this fountain grass is one of the most popular and preferred grasses for gardens of all types and is perfect for your xeriscape. It is a perennial that loves full sun and only occasional watering. You can plant Purple Fountain Grass in all seasons and enjoy rusty, rose and purple colored plums from summer through fall. This plant combines very well when clumped with other drought-tolerant plants but can also stand on its own as a statement piece in your landscape.

Mexican Feather Grass — This annual grass is a very light wispy and finely textured grass. It produces green and brown coloring year-round with small flower heads through Summer. Mexican Feather Grass, a highly drought-tolerant plant, prefers full sun and dry soil. This grass has scant watering needs and is very sensitive to water. For best results keep the plant dry. Though it is an annual, this grass reseeds on its own making it an excellent option for creating coverage in sloping yards or meadows. It also adapts very well to flower beds and containers for more controlled growth.

Blue Oat Grass —The silver-blue leaves of this grass are a striking addition to any landscape. Blue Oat Grass is drought-tolerant and even salt resistant, allowing it to thrive in warm environments with dry soil. Considered semi-evergreen this beautiful grass requires little maintenance while providing color year-round and creating beautiful plumes through the summer.

Artificial Turf — A significant part of xeriscaping involves reduced lawn areas in your yard. You want to create a sustainable xeriscape, but you also need some area of your yard for children or pets to run around. So maybe it's not an actual plant, but artificial turf grass is an excellent solution for your lawn. Add a small amount of turf for the final touch on your perfect eco-friendly yard. The initial cost of artificial grass is higher than live turf, but the ongoing maintenance and environmental costs saved on watering, fertilizing and mowing are significant. Before you start planting ornamental grasses, flowers and trees determine whether or not you need an area of turf. 

Now that you have some essential grasses to start your xeriscape plan read on to the next part of this series for some beautiful flowering plants to add for pops of color in your landscape.





Posted by Julie Shanks on 10/14/2018

Have you ever visited a butterfly garden and marveled at how beautiful it was to see so many butterflies happily fluttering along flower to flower? Did you wish that you could have that same experience more often?

How about every day?

By turning your flower garden into a strategically designed one that attracts butterflies this could be your reality every day! Here’s how to get started:

First, you should know that butterflies eat from different plants than caterpillars. And while you might be tempted to leave out the plants that sustain caterpillars if you want a consistent butterfly presence caterpillars are a critical piece to that puzzle.

No caterpillars mean no butterflies.

But choosing which plants to add to your garden for caterpillars is going to depend on your region. This list tells you what to plant based on butterfly species https://www.nwf.org/en/Garden-for-Wildlife/Wildlife/Attracting-Butterflies

Some plants that provide caterpillar are dill, fennel, milkweed, white clover, and parsley.

Nectar plants, from which butterflies eat from, include the butterfly bush, cosmos, purple coneflower, and zinnia. Alyssum. These are also fairly easy flowers to grow, which is great news if you don’t naturally have a green thumb.

Some butterflies also like fruit! Attract them by placing overripe fruit such as oranges, pears, and melons in a dish in your butterfly garden.

You’ll want to create variety in plants that you add to your garden. Aim for a layout much like the one you would find in a more “natural” setting. Look to add shrubs and trees in addition to perennials. Varying the heights of plants also helps to create a natural atmosphere.

Attract the eye of butterflies by clumping flower types together. It’s easier for them to see a larger expanse of bright colorful flowers than a couple ones spotted here and there. When they see a large swath of similar buds they know it’s a good place to snack!!

Shrubs and trees are critical to your butterfly garden. They provide safety for caterpillars, shield your garden from wind which in turn encourages butterflies the ability to explore and also provides butterflies shelter to rest safely at night

Plan your garden to have plenty of time in the sunlight. Butterflies are cold-blooded and need to spend their mornings warming up in the sun before setting off for the day! Having a rock or two in these sunny areas will encourage butterflies to stay awhile and warm their wings. Ideally, these sunny spots will get around 6 hours of sun.

Another lesser known feature to include in your butterfly garden are what is known as puddling stations. A puddling station is essentially a shallow container filled with sand and water for butterflies to stop and perch on to drink. Have a few of these stations throughout your butterfly garden!





Posted by Julie Shanks on 9/23/2018

Add beauty and serenity to your new home be designing a flower garden. Creating a flower garden doesn’t have to be a huge time-consuming chore if you don’t want it to be. In fact, with the right plant selections, it can be fairly low-maintenance year round.

Here’s what you need to know about designing a flower garden:

Start by taking note of where you would like to place your flower beds. You’ll want to have a good idea of how much sunlight and shade this area receives as well as the soil quality.

It’s good to know how quickly the soil dries out or how much it retains moisture to best understand which plants will thrive here and which might need extra care.

If you’re looking for a low maintenance garden you’ll want to pick plants that will naturally thrive in these conditions with needing you to fuss over them very much.

Start your garden small, especially if this is your first, as you can always expand later but it will be more difficult to shrink down. You’ll also want to keep the types of plants you have in mind when planning size.

Plan based on the sizing of a mature plant and not the size you initially take it home as. This will prevent overcrowding which will keep all of your plants happy and look best visually.

Trace out the shape of your garden and test how easy it is to maintain the lawn around it. This way you will know exactly what to expect when doing law maintenance and can avoid any particular tricky corners or shapes to navigate.   

When planning placement of your flowers arrange plants by height with the tallest blooms in the back and shortest up front. This ensures that every flower will have equal access to sunlight without taller plants overshadowing those below them.  

You will also want to plan the depth of your flower beds so that you can access even the furthest reaches with ease. Don’t create hard to reach spots that make it easy for weeds or pests to take root and flourish just out of your reach.

Visually it is best to plant at least three plants of a kind. Whether you cluster them together or spread them out is up to you. As you plot out the expanse of your garden carries colors of flowers through all of your beds for a cohesive look across your yard.

It’s best to plan to add more than just flowering greenery. Shrubbery, ornamental grass and foliage add texture and interest year round. It keeps your garden looking full during periods without blooms and allows said blooms to really pop when they are in season.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Julie Shanks on 1/22/2017

Growing fresh vegetables and herbs in your own backyard can hold a lot of appeal to many but not everyone has the luxury of a large backyard to start one. If you’re home has a yard with limited space don’t give up your garden dreams just yet! Below are some tips on how to start your own small vegetable garden whether you have a postage stamp lawn or none at all! Start with research - No matter what the square footage you are working with is it is important to do some research first. You will want to create a list of the types of vegetables and herbs you are hoping to grow. You will then want to find out how much light they require, which season they produce during and if there are any plants they do not do well next to. Other things to consider are how deep and wide the roots grow. When you only have so much space to work with you want to maximize every inch. If one plant takes up a quarter of your garden while another can share that same space with several other plants you will want to weigh out how badly you want that particular plant. Choosing “dwarf” or “compact” varieties of plants will also help you make the most any small garden. Small land - With some careful planning and thoughtful placement you can get just as much or more from your small garden than those with larger plots of land. It’s all in the details. One technique you will want to favor is the vertical growing method. Essentially you place the taller growing plants in the back and the shorter growing ones in the front so that they are not deprived of sunlight behind your taller plants. Use a garden planner tool to your advantage to pre-plan your garden and how you will fit the different varieties of plants on your small plot. You may also want to consider using the succession planting method. When a plant has stopped producing you remove it and plant seeds for a new crop whose growing season is upcoming. This will allow you to truly maximize your limited space. Patio - Creating a container garden will be your best friend when you are lacking land to plant vegetables in. When choosing pots ensure that they have drainage holes on the bottom and keep in in mind that the larger the pot the better. A larger pot helps the soil retain moisture and maintain an even temperature. If your container is large enough you may even be able to get away with planting an upward growing plant with some under growing varieties. Window boxes - If you don’t have enough space in your backyard or a patio to dedicate to a garden you still have options. Window boxes can offer more than just space for perennial flowers they are also perfect for growing herbs and salad greens in. Planting several herb varieties per box will provide you with a homegrown spice rack at your fingertips! While it may seem that gardening is impossible without a large plot of land almost anyone, no matter the space of their home can grow a garden. With a little research and a willingness to get your hands dirty, you too can have home grown produce!