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Tag Archive | "yard"

Add sparkle to your landscape with unique containers 

Crates, recycled or purchased, can be painted and personalized to create a colorful, unique planter for flowers and edibles.

Crates, recycled or purchased, can be painted and personalized to create a colorful, unique planter for flowers and edibles.

By Melinda Myers

Perk up your containers and add a bit of sparkle to your landscape with bright colors, unusual materials or a unique purpose.

Include an elevated garden to increase planting space and make planting, weeding and harvesting easier on the back and knees. Liven things up with a robin egg blue VegTrug™ or washtubs elevated on a support for a bit of rustic charm.

Add wheels to make it easier to move planters around the patio or deck.  This allows you to follow the sun or make room for company at summer gatherings.

Recycle items into containers or invest in some of the new planters made from galvanized metal, wooden apple crates and more. Look for new colors or personalize them to create a warm greeting for you and your guests.

Increase growing flexibility with lightweight grow bags. They now come in a variety of colors and sizes. These fabric containers fold flat for easy storage when not in use.

Save space with sleek designs and built in trellises. You’ll be growing pole beans, tomatoes and flowering vines in a compact space. The colorful flowers and fruit will brighten a blank wall or screen a bad view.

Use containers and elevated gardens to increase the fun factor at your summer gatherings. Start your party with a trip to the outdoor bar. Weather-resistant butcher-block with built in planting space is sure to get the conversation going.  Gardener’s Supply Company is offering a new reclaimed wood outdoor bar with an integrated planter called “Plant A Bar.” Fill the planting space with some favorite cocktail herbs. Then mix up your beverage and let your guests add a bit of homegrown flavor.

Include the next course by growing your own salad bar. Guests will enjoy harvesting and creating their own bed of greens to accompany the main course. Fill a pot or elevated garden with greens, radishes, onions, carrots, herbs and your other favorite salad fixings.

Keep your containers healthy and productive with proper care. Water thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil is dry.  Check pots daily and water as needed. Extend the time between watering with self-watering pots.  Look for features such as weep holes that allow excess water to drain, funnels for top watering, and moisture indicators that let you know when it is time to add more water.

Further reduce maintenance by adding a slow release fertilizer to the potting mix at planting. Small amounts of nutrients are released over time, eliminating the need to mix and fertilize weekly. Give planters a mid-season boost or when making a second planting by sprinkling slow release fertilizer over the soil surface.

Harvest regularly to keep vegetables producing and looking their best. Replace early plantings as they fade with a second crop. You’ll extend the harvest and your enjoyment.

So take a second look at your patio, deck or front steps and move in a bit of color, fun and flavor for this growing and outdoor entertaining season.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply Company for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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Five easy tips for a stunning summer yard


Summer’s arrival brings longer days and more sunshine. This season also means more of your favorite outdoor activities, such as relaxing in the backyard or working in the garden. In fact, there is no better time to refresh your outdoor space.

“The secret to a well-manicured yard is preparation,” says Chris Lambton, yard and garden expert for Fiskars. “Once the weather warms up, your lawn and garden will need a little extra TLC to be ready for outdoor activities or entertaining. Having the right tools on-hand is essential to making the process simple and enjoyable.”

Lambton offers his tips and tools for making your yard beautiful and easy to care for all season long:

Prune strategically

If you turn your back for too long, Mother Nature can take over your yard in the spring growing season. Trim and shape your plants by cutting 1/4 inch above a growth bud at a 45 degree angle to promote healthy growth. High-quality garden tools, like the Fiskars PowerGear2 Pruner or Lopper, make taming shrubs and cutting through dead or overgrown limbs easier.

Plan your planting

Summer is a great time to plan your outdoor space and give it a fresh new look. When plotting out your yard or garden, be sure to leave extra space around plants to account for their growth or plant in containers to easily move them around, if needed. Raised garden beds for herbs and veggies are great for keeping plants in order and allow you to plant, water and harvest more easily. Choose tools to help with planting that are easy to grip and will stand up throughout the season, like the Fiskars Big Grip Trowel or Transplanter.

Mulch carefully

Shallow layers of mulch work to keep your soil cool, cut down on weeds and slow the loss of moisture. But be careful not to mulch too deeply, as too much mulch can inhibit oxygen from reaching plant roots and encourage mold. As a rule of thumb, mulch only two to three inches on top of the soil.

Water wisely

A healthy lawn and garden will have deep roots that can tap reserves of moisture way down in the soil. Water deeply – but not too often – and you’ll encourage plants to develop even deeper roots. The best time to water is between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the air is cooler and there is less risk of evaporation from heat and wind. Use tools that are easy to maneuver and durable to stand up to the elements season after season, like the Gilmour Flexogen Hose and Thumb Control Watering Nozzle.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor

Remember to spend time outside in your yard and garden when the weather is nice and enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables you grow. Use Herb and Veggie Shears to make healthy cuts on your plants so you have fresh and delicious produce throughout the season.

With the right tools, yard and garden work is fun, not frustrating. Use these tips to keep your yard maintained and beautiful so you can enjoy it all summer long.

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Is your yard wildlife-friendly?


(StatePoint) Being a good neighbor means more than being friendly to the humans across the street, it also means being friendly to the animals in your yard. Making your yard a safe place for local wildlife should be a top lawn care priority.

With that in mind, here are some tips for creating a healthy habitat for local critters.

Be a Valuable Rest Stop

Stock your garden with small native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to give wildlife needed nourishment, as well as cover from predators.

A source of water can also be a great resource for visiting fauna. Whether it’s a pond or a bird bath, be sure this zone is well-maintained so you don’t inadvertently create a haven for unwanted species. In the warmer months when mosquitoes are most active, you should change the bird bath water even more often.

Promote Safety

A bird feeder in your backyard, full of water and seeds, will be the perfect invitation for beautiful migrating and local birds to stop by.

Just be sure your property is safe for birds. Unfortunately, birds don’t see clear glass. As a result, millions of birds die every year by striking glass. Don’t let your sliding glass doors or other windows become a death trap for birds.

To protect birds, apply special decals that reflect ultraviolet sunlight. For example, those from WindowAlert have the appearance of frosted glass, but glow like a stoplight for birds, so you don’t have to compromise your own view out your window. The brand also makes a high-tech liquid called WindowAlert UV Liquid, which should be applied between decals.

“Wildlife can beautify your garden and be a sign that your yard is healthy” says Spencer Schock, founder of WindowAlert. “But birds and other wildlife need food, shelter, and safety.”

Get out the binoculars! With a few small actions, you can make your yard or garden a wildlife refuge.

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Restoring life in your yard

By Ranger Steve Mueller


The joy of this past year with friends and family provides satisfaction and contentment. Immediately we anticipate what the coming year holds. We determined much of the future by our activities. Grandiose plans are forming. Some are just a start towards healthier days for our family, community, nation, and the world in fragile finite environments that support us.

Everything begins close at hand here at home. Look around and notice not much human activity takes place in yards. Most of us hide away in the warmth and comfort of our shelter with tasty food tucked away. We are like the Eastern Chipmunk that makes fewer ventures outside during late fall and we might also stay hidden inside during the coldest snowy days of winter.

The chipmunk stored food for the short days and long cold nights and is now curled in a snug ball in its underground fortress. It will remain active, eat and wait for a spring emergence. She will not hibernate but will sleep with little else to do. It has aided root health by tunneling and aerating the soil.

We do not need to sleep away the beauty and marvel of winter. We can venture to hidden corners of our yard enjoying evidence of abundant life. Tracks on snow, tunnels under it, sightings of squirrels in trees keep us entertained and aware that we do not live alone in the world.

The more native plants you allow to survive in the yard allow for an abundance of animal life. There is beauty in a manicured grass lawn and feeling of space that gives comfort to us even when it is under inches of snow. A lawn, however, is an almost sterile world that is crowding life off the planet.

Lawns often have little human activity except on workdays when we mow them with power mowers that expel carbon greenhouse gas into the air. Tom Small describes US lawns collectively as 45 million acres of “No man’s land.” It might be better to identify them as sterile land lacking suitable nature niches for sustaining biodiversity to support us and fellow inhabitants of Earth.

Small states that lawns are a vast, sterile, industrialized monoculture that robs soil of nutrients, robs streams of water, robs the region’s creatures of habitat, and robs the neighborhood of community.

It impressed me when I took a group of middle school students, including two from Cedar Springs, on an educational trip to the rain forest and rural communities in Belize. In a poor rural community, we observed women with children gathered in a yard with flower hedges along the property boundary. Neighbor’s yards were without flowers and shrubs and were devoid of people. People usually do not gather on empty lawns to visit and pass time even here in the US. We like to be among life and beauty.

During the New Year, plan to restore the yard with an abundance of life that preceded settlement of our town and rural surroundings. Most yards now use natural resources without giving back or paying it forward for the health of coming generations. We often give gifts and community support for those in need. Consider giving vital inheritance for coming generations. Squandering the soil, nutrients, air, and water quality steals economic and physical health from unborn generations. Unfortunately, beautiful lawns reduce life on Earth. Let nature into your yard this coming year and restore life. It starts at home.

The creatures that fill nature niches replenish nutrient cycles, brighten our days, and maintain clean air and water. Fellow inhabitants of Earth are money in the bank for a sustainable future. They are the savings account of our kids. This new year, plan to replace sections of the lawn with native plants to restore health in the yard. You will enjoy birds and the air will fill with the songs of nature during day and night.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.


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Five spring steps for a beautiful summer yard

(Family Features) Think ahead with a good yard-care routine this year so you’ll have a backyard oasis through the year for entertaining or simply relaxing and enjoying the hazy, lazy days of summer with family and friends. There’s simply nothing that compares to running barefoot through the lush green grass, here are some tips to get started:

Fertilizers with slow release nitrogen produce long lasting green lawns.

1) Begin with a good spring clean up, which includes raking leaves and removing debris, tree guards and burlap. Just be careful not to remove mulch from perennials or shrubs too early, or to rake your flower garden too vigorously. Doing so could damage the soil, tendering new bulbs and emerging plants.

2) Clean, repair, sharpen, lubricate and tune all of your garden tools, mowers and trimmers, so they are ready to go when you are.

3) Testing your soil is the starting point of any lawn fertilization program. Consider testing your soil each time you plant new seed. State Extension services and private labs offer kits that let you mail in soil samples for analysis. The reports will give you an accurate reading of what your lawn needs and how much of it should be applied. While tests don’t have to be done every year, they are a good idea every three or four years.

4) Control crabgrass, dandelions and clover, three of the most common weeds you’re likely to see trying to take hold in your lawn. Crabgrass is best tackled before it emerges from the ground and begins to grow leaves. Conversely, members of the broadleaf weed family—like dandelions, clover, plantain, chickweed, and spurge—require a treatment that comes into direct contact with the plant’s leaves, so they must be dealt with, once they’ve made their appearance known. Be sure to choose a product that is best suited for your region.

Look for lawn fertilizers with a slow-release nitrogen ingredient for strong roots and long lasting results. Once you get it on the lawn, you’ll be done for the season because the slow-release nitrogen provides your lawn with controlled, steady nutrition, resulting in thicker, healthier grass. That means no excess growth, and less mowing.

5) Set your mowing height at 2 1/2 to 3 inches and mow at the same height all growing season. Try not to remove more than 3/4 inch of grass at any single mowing. Whenever possible, mow during the cooler morning or evening hours to avoid damage to the turf.

For additional lawn care tips and more information about the complete GreenView with GreenSmart product line, visit www.greenviewfertilizer.com or call 1-800-233-1067.


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