From plastic food packaging to candy wrappers, where do you think trash ends up? Each year, the US alone generates 230 million tons of garbage; the majority of the trash is either incinerated or buried in landfills. Only about one-quarter of the trash that US produce is recycled.
The Great Pacific garbage patch, which is a massive plastic garbage floating halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to 1.6 million square kilometers or about thrice the size of France. The worst part? This floating patch of trash is just one of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world's oceans. We are faced with a worsening garbage problem and yet, there is no real way of cleaning up the oceans and eliminating plastic trash. With 2.41 million tons of plastic garbage choking marine life, finding better alternatives to single-use plastic products is more important than ever before.
What are Biodegradable Disposables Made of?
Most biodegradable plates and compostable disposables are made from bagasse, bamboo, recycled paper, cornstarch, and even fallen leaves. ECO Gardener’s range of biodegradable plates is made from untreated, plantation timber that’s 100% sustainable and earth-friendly. Since these products are not chemically treated, they are suitable for kids and young children.
Why Switch to Biodegradable Plates and Compostable Disposables?
Most of the garbage that ends up in landfills and oceans is made up of plastic food packaging. Using biodegradable products may reduce the trash that ends up in landfills and the world’s oceans.
Unfortunately, food and plastic packaging manufacturers are finding more and more reasons for using plastic food packaging. Plastic is widely used because it’s a cheap and accessible material. Disposable containers are convenient to use but their negative impact on the environment cannot be ignored. It is also worth noting that single-use plastic products are not made from sustainable materials. It will also take a long, long time before plastic materials decompose so using these will only add up to our growing trash problem.
Biodegradable plates and compostable disposables are just as convenient to use as single-use plastic products sans the negative impact on the environment. These products do not deplete the earth’s natural resources. Biodegradable plates and compostable disposables will not harm the environment because they will break down completely once discarded.
Benefits of Using Biodegradable Plates and Compostable Disposables
Environmentally Friendly Entertaining
If you have guests over or you are hosting a party, you’ll probably use a lot of plates and cutlery. Rather than using plastic plates, plastic spoons and forks, use paper plates and wooden cutlery. These products are just as useful as traditional plastic plates and cutlery but they are more eco-friendly.
Plates and cutlery made from biodegradable materials are more environmentally friendly because these do not leave behind toxic chemicals or residues. In addition, these products degrade over time, releasing earth-friendly nutrients back into the soil. Sure, biodegradable plates and wooden cutlery may be more expensive than single-use plastic products but the price difference is quite small. It’s just a small price to pay for hosting an environmentally sound party!
Got your own compost? Making your own compost is a great way to transform kitchen and yard wastes into something useful for the garden. You can also sell your own compost; it’s a great way to boost your earnings. Using eco-friendly plates and cutlery makes composting much more convenient. You can simply toss the discarded biodegradable plates into your compost bin. This makes post-party cleanup much easier too.
When adding discarded biodegradable plates to your compost, make sure the plates do not have food residues on them. Also, do not add too many biodegradable plates in one bin to avoid disturbing the balance of the compost pile. Our advice is to designate a place where guests could discard the biodegradable plates they have used. Simply let your guests know about the spot and why it’s important to discard the plates properly.
Did you know that making biodegradable plates and compostable disposables are more energy efficient compared to manufacturing single-use plastics? Plates and cutlery that degrade require less energy to be manufactured. In addition, the materials used for biodegradable plates and cutlery are renewable so they will not deplete the earth’s natural resources. Usually, these products are made from sugarcane, bamboo, corn, etc.
In addition, manufacturers of biodegradable products are more mindful of their own carbon footprint and are likely to take steps to reduce the greenhouse gases they produce. Using biodegradable plates and compostable disposables will definitely reduce your carbon footprint too.
Plastic products, particularly food packaging, are notorious for leaching toxic chemicals to food. That’s because single-use plastics are treated with a cocktail of chemicals including dyes, bleaches, and inks. Some of these products are safe, others not so much. For instance, plastic bottles release harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A when exposed to hot drinks. These chemicals affect the endocrine system, causing a variety of health problems ranging from hormonal imbalance, metabolic problems, to certain cancers.
The same thing cannot be said for biodegradable disposables. These products are plastic-free; they are made from plant-based materials that are 100% safe and earth-friendly. Because biodegradable disposables are made from non-toxic materials, you can enjoy your hot meals and drinks without worrying about chemicals making their way into your food.
For your next party, make the switch to disposables. Biodegradable disposables are the perfect alternative to plastic or Styrofoam plates and utensils.
ECO Gardener offers a great selection of biodegradable plates made from chemical-free materials!
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Want to surround your outdoor space with colorful blooms? Who doesn't? Building a flower garden is one way to enhance the beauty of your garden space. And planning should start before the spring season comes around! The beauty of building a flower garden is that you do not have to dedicate a huge expanse of space for it. You can start a flower garden with a window box, a flower bed, or a few planters.
But before you buy a cartful of flowering plants for the garden, there are certain factors that you need to consider to ensure the success of the project. Are you ready to build your first flower garden? Consider these key gardening tips:
Know Your Site
Check the site where you are planning to build your flower garden. Does it offer the ideal conditions for growing flowering plants? Does it provide the perfect light, moisture, and air conditions for your garden?
Location is everything when it comes to building any type of garden. Most flowering plants love the sun so choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. Remember, the longer the sun exposure, the denser and more colorful the blooms! South facing spots are the best places to build a flower garden. This is especially true if you are planning to grow perennials. South facing locations get at least 6 hours of sunlight. For shade-loving flowering plants, you can grow these in the deck, patio, or any north-facing spot in your garden.
Check the Soil
Get a soil test done to make sure it has the right pH for flowering plants. Flowering plants are quite fickle. A pH of 6.5 is best for most home gardens, but some plants prefer acidic or alkaline soil. The ideal soil pH will depend on the plants that you want to grow in your flower garden.
If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, amend the soil before planting. To ensure the survival of the plants, opt for native plants. These plant varieties have adjusted to the local climate, which minimizes the risk of die-offs.
If you are using raised beds in the garden, choose a well-draining potting mix that retains moisture well. Don’t forget to add organic compost to enrich the soil. Raised beds are useful if the soil condition in your garden is less than ideal.
Monitor the Local Climate
Apart from checking the soil condition, you have to check your local area’s average first and last frost dates. This will ensure the survival of the flowering plants in the colder months. Checking the average first and last frost dates will also determine your seed starting dates as well as the plant varieties that are suitable for your garden.
Generally, you want to begin sowing your seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date. This will give your plants the best chances of survival. If the outdoor conditions aren’t ideal for seed starting, do your sowing indoors and use heated lamps to insulate your seedlings.
Promote Proper Drainage
Perennial plants hate standing water so prioritize on proper drainage too. Ideally, you want to set your flower garden near a water source so you don’t have to water your flowers by hand. Installing an irrigation system does a great job of regulating the water level in a garden full of perennials and this could affect your choice of plants to grow.
What Plant Varieties to Grow?
After choosing the best spot for your flower garden, amending the soil, and planning your setup, it’s time to choose what kinds of plants you’d like to grow. When planning which flower varieties to grow, consider three things: the color of the flowers, the height of the plants, and the spacing. Tall plants and bushy shrubs must be set at the back so they do not cast a shadow over the smaller plants.
The smallest plants must be planted near the front. If you want to add height and structure to the garden, try adding ornamental grasses like Muhly and Fireworks Pennisetum. You can use small shrubs like distylium, nandina, loropetalum, and ligustrum to frame a flower bed and add lushness to your flower garden. For container gardens or window boxes, layer the elements with the tallest at the back, the middle with colorful elements and then finally, trailing plants on the front.
Flowering plants bloom at different times so keep the colors, textures, and forms in mind when planning your garden setup. It is always a good idea to plant low-maintenance perennial and annual plants that do not crave too much water. This way, your flower garden will look blooming all season long, not just in spring or summer time. Plant the kind of varieties that work for the local climate. Then, add and subtract the plants to create the ideal selection of plant varieties that can survive your garden’s micro climate.
Start with few colors and stick to a color palette, at least initially. Keep the color palette simple then build your garden on the existing plants as you go along. As the fall season sets in, you can start planting bulbs for spring flowers. At some point, you can add crops like herbs and loose-leaf veggies to your garden. Don’t be shy about asking your local nursery employee for gardening tips as well as the best plants to add to your flowering garden.
Perennial Plants for Northern Gardens
Northern gardens require hardy plants that could withstand extreme heat and drought. These plants should have the ability to survive cold climates and shady environments. Daylilies, astible, moonbeam, Heuchera, May Night, and Phlox subulata are just a few of the many flower varieties that will do well in northern gardens. These plants will produce colorful flowers and they do not require much upkeep to grow.
Perennial Plants for Southern Gardens
Plants for southern gardens must be able to tolerate high heat and humidity. These plants must be resilient enough to withstand cooler climates so the flowers bloom until frost. Asiatic lilies, Coreopsis, Gaura, Dianthus, and Salvia are just a few of the many perennial plants that will do well in southern gardens. These plants could tolerate shady growing environments and they produce vivid-hued blossoms.
Perennial Plants for Western Gardens
Plants that low the full sun, particularly tropical plants and houseplants, will do splendidly in western gardens. These plants are incredibly tolerant to drought, extreme heat, and humidity so caring and maintaining these plants is easy. Calla lilies, Salvia, lavender, Lantana, Gazania, Desert marigold, and Asiatic lilies are some of the best flowering plants to add to western gardens. These plants enhance lushness and movement to a flowering garden. They are relatively easy to care for and they can tolerate harsh weather conditions.
Designing Your Flower Garden
When it comes to designing your garden setup, start with a good shape. Choose plants with great basic shapes, such as spires, buttons, globes, etc. and then put these different shapes together. Go for combinations that are vibrant, dynamic, and eye-catching. If the initial setup does not work, fine-tune the shape some more until you are satisfied. You can also try planting similarly shaped flowers to create a cohesive garden design that pleases the eye.
To create a serene, calming setting, design your garden with strategic repetition. This concept promotes continuity, making the garden setting look uniform, cohesive, and tidy. It’s also important to layer your blooming plants to create a garden with a naturally lush look.
The height of the plants, the foliage colors and textures are also important elements to consider when planning your garden design. Don’t be afraid to play with different colors and textures to create a dynamic outdoor space. Mixing plant heights, colors, and sizes add movement and a meadow-like look to the garden.
A flower garden enhances the look and ambiance of your outdoor space. But to achieve the perfect design, you have to plan your garden in steps. Just keep these gardening tips in mind before building your flowering garden! Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get the freshest gardening tips straight to your inbox.
Want to grow your own herb garden without using any type of pesticide or herbicide? It’s possible! Growing crops organically is not only earth-friendly; it’s the best way to enjoy the health benefits of the produce you grew!
The fact is, using chemicals to grow crops could cause toxic compounds to leach into the soil and water sources. This contributes to environmental pollution. What’s more, these poisonous compounds could end up on your plate. By growing crops without using chemicals, you’ll enjoy more of the healthy foods you grew without worrying about your crops destroying the environment.
The key to successfully growing herbs without using chemicals is to avoiding the problem before it happens. This eliminates the need to use chemicals. It is equally important to address specific problems instead of casting a large net and hoping for the best.
Take for example insecticides. These products get rid of pests but end up killing beneficial garden critters like bees, butterflies, and earthworms too. Instead of using insecticides to kill all garden critters, explore different strategies that do the job with minimal damage to biodiversity. To keep destructive garden critters from feasting on your herbs without using chemicals, you have to avoid the problem before it starts. Here are ways to grow herbs organically:
Start with Healthy, Fertile Soil
The quality of the soil you use matters. Healthy, nutrient-dense soil is critical to growing pest-resistant herbs. Beneficial garden critters, like earthworms, thrive in rich soil too. In addition, healthy soils provide all the nutrients that herbs need to deter diseases and infestations.
You can either create your own fertile soil using compost or buy organic soil from your local grower. Between these choices, composting is more affordable. You can add kitchen and garden waste to make your own compost and use the compost to enrich your garden soil. We highly recommend mixing green and brown matter and then adding the compost to your garden patch for best results.
Get to Know Your Plants’ Growing Needs
Neglecting to address herbs’ different growing needs could lead to diseases and infestation. The best way to prevent this problem is to arm yourself with information. That means you have to get to know your plants’ growing needs to keep them healthy and disease-free. This way, there is no need to use chemicals to keep your plants healthy in the first place. In addition, planting your herbs in the right place will also increase your chances of growing organic crops successfully. Finally, group your herbs according to their water, sun, and soil needs.
Generally, herbs love full, bright light and hate standing water. If you are growing herbs for the first time, it’s best to get some gardening advice from the pros. Ask your local nursery employee or grower for tips.
Growing Herbs in Raised Beds
If you are planting your herbs outdoors, it pays to invest in raised beds. Raised beds allow you to control the quality of the soil while protecting your precious crops from burrowing pests and insects. Since the herbs are planted in a contained space, pests are less likely to nibble on your crops. In addition, raised beds also help drain water away from the herbs’ delicate roots. Good drainage keeps the herbs healthy while also improving the texture of the soil.
Growing Herbs in Containers
This is a variation of the gardening tip above: planting herbs in pots minimizes the risk of infestation and diseases. You can control the quality of the soil and keep pests at bay by using a richer potting mix. Since potted herbs are much easier to move around, you can rotate your plants and keep them away from pest-prone areas of the garden. As long as the plant containers have drainage holes at the bottom, water will drain away from the delicate plant roots, which minimizes the risk of rot and diseases.
Try Companion Planting
Companion planting involves growing different varieties of plants closely to enhance each of the plants’ growth. In most cases, this is done to help the plants protect each other from pests, diseases, and infestations. Since you are not using chemicals to keep pests/or diseases at bay, companion planting could reinforce the healthiness of the crops.
Companion planting isn’t only done to discourage pests from overtaking the garden, it’s also used to attract beneficial critters like pollinators. Generally, planting aromatics alongside crops help control pests. Basil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and other plants that emit a strong odor repel destructive insects naturally. For instance, pairing Sweet Alyssum with Swiss chard keeps destructive insects like aphids in control by attracting hoverflies. Planting Nasturtium next to cucumbers brings more pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden. This pairing will help repel pests while also maximizing your crops’ yield.
This may be one of the oldest gardening techniques but it’s still effective so it’s worth trying out. Crop rotation, which has been done since the Middle Ages, involves rotating your crops to different areas of the garden to maintain the soil’s health.
Think about it, letting one variety of plant grow in a single spot in the garden year after year depletes the soil of nutrients the plant needs to grow and thrive.
A plant that takes up the same spot in the garden year after year is also less healthy compared to a plant that’s been rotated to other parts of the garden. That’s because the pathogens that cause plant diseases remain in the same spot as the plant that’s grown in it.
Moving crops around is more taxing but eventually, you’ll grow disease-resistant crops. If say, you cannot move your plants around because the crops are planted in-ground, try bringing in new soil from the outside. The new soil will replenish the depleted nutrients of the old soil. You can also use dark plastic covers over the beds to protect the soil from excessive heat.
Use Organic Fertilizers
What’s the best kind of fertilizers to use for growing plants organically? Organic fertilizers, of course! Organic fertilizers are made from biodegradable compounds such as manure, rotting matter, kitchen wastes, garden wastes, etc. All these compounds break down completely, enriching the soil with important nutrients plant need to grow healthy and strong.
You can always buy sacks of organic fertilizers at your local vendor but consider making the fertilizers yourself using kitchen scraps, as well as brown (decayed leaves) and green matter (grass clippings, coffee grinds, clean paper waste). If you are using manure, make sure it is fully cured first so the manure is free from harmful pathogens.
Proper Air Flow
Proper airflow is important, not just for growing certain plant varieties, but for caring for all plants in general. You want to space out each plant so it has room to grow. Spacing out the plants also optimizes the absorption of sunlight and the flow of air. Humidity increases the risk of rot as well as fungal and mold growth in plants. Adequate exposure to sunlight and air destroy pathogens that could otherwise harm the plants. Knowing the amount of room needed by plants is easy; just check the seed packets or planting sticks for instructions.
General Tips for Growing Herbs Organically
Choosing the right kind of herbs to grow is the best way to build an easy to maintain and disease-resistant herb garden. This goes especially if you are new to gardening! Ideally, choose herbs that are hard to kill or native herbs that grow in abundance in your local area. Herbs that thrive indoors are also perfect additions to an organic garden.
Since most herbs do not grow too big, you can plant them in small pots. However, some small herbs will need bigger pots once they mature. If you’d rather not re-pot your herbs, plant them in-ground. Small, potted herbs could be grown indoors or outdoors as long as they are getting enough sunlight.
Speaking of sunlight, most herbs require at least 6 to 8 hours of regular sun exposure. A windowsill that gets bright light most of the day is the perfect spot for growing potted herbs. If the potted herbs are not getting enough sunlight, you have to move them into different parts of your yard to keep your herbs happy. Herbs that are grown in-ground aren’t as high maintenance as long as they are planted in a sunny spot in the garden.
It is important to amend the soil with organic fertilizers when needed to make sure that your herbs are getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. You can use organic mulch as your own compost or use a weak solution of fish emulsion.
Add the fertilizers once every two weeks or so and use only a small amount. Most herbs do not need much fertilizing and too much of the stuff could lead to excessive leaf growth and a weaker flavor or aroma. Regular harvesting is key to steady growth. It also encourages plant heartiness so go ahead and harvest your favorite herbs as soon as you can!
Building an herb garden without using chemicals may sound daunting but it’s a lot easier (and more affordable) than you think! As long as you are resolving common garden issues right away, there is no need to depend on chemicals to keep your herb garden healthy! For more gardening tips and helpful resources, subscribe to our newsletter today.
What are the benefits of growing your own vegetables? Vegetables are so easy to grow especially in sunny spots. And you don’t need a large yard to build a vegetable garden. Even the tiniest slice of space can be transformed into a lush, thriving garden.
If you love the idea of growing your own produce then building a vegetable garden will save you hundreds of dollars on grocery. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that the vegetables you eat are grown with lots of TLC! Still torn about the idea of building a vegetable patch? In today’s post, we are outlining all the amazing benefits of growing your own vegetables:
Improve Your Health
Fresh vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. Vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that promote better health, including antioxidants and vitamins. Adding fresh vegetables to your daily meals is the best way to boost your health, and your loved ones’ health too.
Children, in particular, will benefit from the health-giving nutrients of fresh vegetables. Studies show that children who are fed with homegrown produce are twice more likely to eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetable a day compared to children who rarely or never ate homegrown veggies. Unfortunately, kids are not great fans of greens. Starting them young is a great way to get the kids to appreciate vegetables early on.
Save Money on Food
Stocking up on fresh produce grown from the yard means having more food to enjoy for weeks, even months, without spending a dime on store-bought vegetables. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average household spends about $550 per month on food, spending more on fresh produce compared to eggs, dairy, sugar, and other staples. If you’d like to reduce your grocery expenses, try growing your own crops. You won’t believe how much money you will save from growing your own food!
Most households spend 60% of their food budget on meals and snacks. A small packet of seeds costs about a few cents. Growing vegetables from seeds allow you to plant a huge variety of vegetables, which you can harvest at different seasons. If your pantry is overflowing with vegetables, you can always preserve these so you can enjoy healthy veggies even after the growing season is over!
Gardening is inherently eco-friendly, more so if you are growing vegetables without using any type of chemical. Growing food organically means sparing the earth of water, soil, and air pollution. Since you are buying less produce from the supermarket, you are not contributing to the use of fossil fuel from transporting fruits and vegetables to your local grocery. If you are growing crops without using pesticides or herbicides, toxic chemicals won’t seep into the soil and waterways. You can enjoy the earth’s bounty without harming the environment.
Effective and Enjoyable Workout
One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is that it keeps you fit. Most people want to work out but not all of us are comfortable at the idea of lifting weights or enrolling in a fitness class at the local gym. Gardening is a wonderful hobby for anyone who’d like to achieve a trim and healthy physique. All that weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting tone the muscles and build strength. If you don’t like lifting weights, completing all your gardening activities is similar to working out but it’s much more organic and enjoyable because you are doing something that nourishes your soul.
If you are always stressed out and you don’t or won’t go to the local spa to de-stress, try gardening. Doing something meaningful or purposeful is a great stress reliever. Going out there and getting some fresh air and sunshine certainly helps soothe frazzled nerves!
Healthy, Sustainable Food
Dining out or having takeouts is nice every once in a while but restaurant food and fast foods pale in comparison to homemade meals made from fresh, sustainable ingredients. Usually, resto meals and fast foods are high in sodium, sugar, and additives that are bad for the health. Also, there is no way to say if the ingredients are organically grown.
Organically grown vegetables are healthier, more flavorful compared to store-bought meals. Unfortunately, organic produce is more expensive than your average fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to organically produced vegetables at home? Growing your own food allows you to enjoy sustainable fruits and vegetables whenever. You can prepare your meals and have total control over the quality of the ingredients while spending less money on food.
Did you know that the average American household throws about $600 worth of food every year? Most people are so used to accessing food conveniently, never thinking about the hard work that comes from growing the said food. It’s much harder to waste food when you grew your own food.
When you are growing your own food, you are less likely to take fruits and vegetables for granted. You are also likely to preserve or use up your supply before it spoils. Building a vegetable garden is also a great way to teach your children about the importance of utilizing whatever bounty the earth has provided to its fullest and avoiding waste!
To make your vegetable garden even more sustainable, you can build your own compost pile using kitchen scraps and organic garden debris. By building a compost pile, you can turn organic scraps into natural fertilizers for your garden.
Building a vegetable garden takes a lot of hard work and commitment but as long as you are devoted to growing your own food, you will reap the benefits of growing your own vegetables! It’s also easy to turn any available space into a garden patch. Just use small containers if your garden space is limited. Found these gardening tips useful? Tune in for more! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening resources straight to your inbox!
These days, most homeowners prefer the sleek, simple look of a modern landscape. And why not? A modern landscape is striking yet so easy to maintain. It may be too cold or uninviting for some because of its simple, stripped-down look but a modern landscape can elicit a friendly, inviting ambiance too. It's just a matter of adding your own personal touches to the space to warm up the design and prevent the space from looking too sterile.
The Elements of a Modern Landscape
A modern landscape is characterized for its clean, simple lines, eye-catching architectural elements, and minimal plants. This landscape puts much emphasis on the pavers, concrete, decorative rocks, and other hardscapes. The general look of a modern landscape is clean and organized as opposed to untamed, lush, and unplanned.
A traditional landscape setting utilizes natural or nature-based decors and pieces of furniture. On the other hand, a modern landscape calls for shiny, steel patio pieces with low-profile backs, ceramic or tiled flooring and decors crafted from galvanized metal. Instead of letting the trees grow wildly, a modern landscape features trimmed and well-maintained hedges and topiaries.
How to Create a Modern Garden Landscape
Smooth Indoor to Outdoor Transitions
One of the most defining features of a modern landscape is the harmonious transition between the indoor and outdoor living space. To create a smooth indoor to outdoor transition, experiment with colors and flooring material. Generally, you want the indoor flooring to match the outdoor flooring. This technique is called floor flow. The matching flooring pulls the design of both spaces together while also extending the interior design beyond the confines of your home.
Arranging Plants in Neat Rows
Give your landscape a touch of modernity by planting a variety of native plants in neat rows. This trick will work regardless if you are filling the garden with a large number of plants or just a chosen few. Grouping sculptural plants in neat rows is a common feature among contemporary landscapes. But to keep the plant arrangement alive, you want to bring a sense of playfulness and warmth to your setting. Keep the arrangement loose yet natural, friendly without being too rigid.
Build a Drought-Tolerant Landscape
Xeriscaping is a popular landscape style that requires little to no irrigation. If you live in a place where planting a lot of plant varieties isn’t possible or practical, you might want to give Xeriscaping a try. Xeriscaping lets you cultivate a drought-tolerant landscape using a variety of native plants and gravel. Native plants do not require much water because these plant varieties have adapted to the dry growing environment. Decorating with gravel adds an interesting detail to your garden arrangement. The gravel gives a lush, abundant appearance to the garden as well.
A modern landscape puts much focus on functionality and strong lines. This can be achieved by decorating your outdoor space with metal accents and pieces of furniture made with galvanized metal. The shine of metal accents complements the minimalist surroundings in unexpected ways. Pieces of outdoor furniture made with metal or galvanized steel are not only beautiful to look at, they make the outdoor space functional too. You can incorporate more metal pieces into your garden arrangement by opting for metal planters or using corrugated metal for shed walls to create a screen.
Incorporate Art and Shapes
Interesting features and artsy decors complement a modern garden landscape perfectly. Eye-catching shapes, for instance, helps soften clean lines. Sculptures give an outdoor space the right level of visual interest. You can also prune think shrubs into simple round shapes for a well-maintained garden. Adding contrasting shapes, such as juxtaposed rectangular and round accents, make for a lovely pairing especially if you are going for the cool, contemporary look of a modern landscape. Utilizing mixed fencing as opposed to traditional picket fencing helps elevate the overall appearance of the garden.
Adding Rocky Features
Rocky features help put emphasis on a modern landscape’s clean lines. Large stones, boulders, rough gravel, smooth pebbles, all these different rocky features will complement a neatly arranged garden. Again, stones and gravels give the garden a lush, full look. These rocky features take the eyes away from the plain features of a modern landscape as well, which could look cold or stark sometimes. No need to haul any of these rocky accents yourself. Let your local landscaping company handle all these accents on their own. Boulders, for instance, may require a crane for installation. Our advice is to plan the hardscape placements well.
Adding sleek planters is the perfect way to showcase greenery in a small setting. If you’d like to grow plants that are a little sensitive to the winter cold, use sleek planters. Putting these plants in a decorative planter makes moving much easier once the colder months hit. This is also a great trick when you’d like to grow an assortment of high-maintenance plants in the garden or to fill out any gaps in your outdoor setup.
Succulents and cacti are quite popular plants to grow in a modern outdoor setting. Although these plants can be grown in-ground, setting a few in a pretty planter will definitely enhance the beauty of your outdoor setting. For a nice pop of color, don't forget to reserve a couple of planters for seasonal flowering plants.
Warm Tones to Metal Accents
A modern garden design decorated with gleaming metal accents tend to give off a cold, stark appearance. Create a much cozier setup by incorporating warm tones into the space. Warm-toned wood, tinted concrete; even bamboo accents will soften hard lines and cold metal sheen. You can also use ground covers, such as creeping plants or trailing flowering plants, to add visual interest and contrast to an otherwise sterile setup. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different warm-toned materials to make your outdoor design inviting, comfortable, and relaxed.
Do not underestimate the power of perfect lighting. Lighting plays a key role in any indoor or outdoor setup. It helps set the mood, it warms up the space, and more importantly, it adds illumination. Proper lighting allows you to highlight certain areas of the garden at night too!
Add light fixtures made from stainless steel or galvanized metal in your garden set up to complete its contemporary look. You can also tuck several low-voltage landscape lighting in a bed of polished rocks to add drama to your modern garden at night. Solar powered steppers are more functional, these can be installed to illuminate garden paths. Finally, you can use tiki posts, string lights, rope lightings, etc. to light up the garden in sections.
Let’s face it, some gardening tasks are either too backbreaking or tedious to do on the daily. Take daily weeding, for example. Daily weeding can be tiring real fast especially if you are weeding a large expanse of space. For gardeners with mobility problems, daily weeding is quite painful, if not, impossible to do every day! Installing landscape fabric can be beneficial to any type of garden, especially for gardens that are teeming with weeds.
Landscaping fabric may be essential for some gardeners and not so much for others but we can all agree that the product makes weeding much less of a hassle. Thankfully, installing landscape fabric is easy, here is a step by step guide how:
You want to lay your landscaping fabric on a cleared spot so with a rake, clear the spot where you will be installing the landscape fabric of garden debris and weeds. You should also dig up old plants so the landscaping fabric lays evenly on the ground.
After clearing the spot where you will install the landscaping fabric, you have to till the soil using a garden tiller or a fork. This helps to aerate the soil while removing existing plants or unwanted debris in the landscaped area. Amending the soil is also recommended at this point. Adding fertilizer ensures that the soil has all the nutrients that the plants need to thrive, especially in landscaped areas of the garden.
Objects that stick out could cause damage to the landscaping fabric over time. Using a metal rake, smooth the soil so the ground is level and free from unwanted debris such as twigs, leftover plant roots, rocks, etc. Rake the ground repeatedly until you have a clear spot to lay the landscaping fabric.
With a clear area to work on, you can start laying the landscaping fabric. Unroll the landscape fabric starting at the edge of the garden bed, placing the fabric on the ground lengthwise. Then, cut the landscaping fabric to length, adding a little extra to the trim so there is room for installing the staples later on.
Set the landscaping fabric in place by pressing a landscape staple through the fabric and into the ground every 2 feet. Set the outside edges of the landscaping fabric using the staples too. After setting the landscape fabric in place, finish up by adding a layer of mulch, about 2 inches. You want to apply an even layer of the mulch and never pile the mulch against the stems of the plants.
The mulch may thin out over time so continue adding more to maintain a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil. Weeds may pop out every now and then but they are much easier to remove at this point. If you are seeing weeds growing, remove them immediately so the roots won’t have the chance to expand their roots. Do not add a deeper layer of mulch or more weeds will start growing! Decorative gravel, crushed stones, layers of bark, etc. could also work to conceal the landscaping fabric, apart from mulch.
Additional Landscaping Tips
If the area has several shrubs or plants, just make small slits in the landscape fabric. The slits should be large enough to fit around each plant. Slide the plant into the slits and adjust the position of the landscape fabric around the base of the plant. Smooth out the fabric if you are seeing lumps.
If say, you’d like to add new plants to the landscaped area, you can. Simply make an X-shaped slit on the spot where you’d like to add the plant then dig a small hole that’s big enough to fit the plant using a trowel. Start planting under the X mark, add compost when needed, cover the roots with soil and then adjust the position of the landscape fabric around the roots of the new plants.
If the landscaping fabric will be installed on a pathway or under decking, you have to remove all plant life from the area. This will ensure a flat, even surface for landscaping. You can clear the area manually, which is what we recommend or treat the area with weed killer. If you are using a weed-killer, you want to give the product enough time to take full effect. You can still rake and clear the area while waiting for the weed killer to take effect. Just remove the sticks, sharp stones, pebbles, and other debris that could otherwise puncture holes into the landscape fabric.
If say, the area that needs to be landscaped have existing plants and you want to use weed-killers to eliminate the weeds prior to installation, carefully spray the weed killer on the weeds. Do not get any of the chemicals on the plants. Remove any weeds that are growing too close to the plants before spraying the weed killer.
Installing landscaping fabric does take time but as long as the outdoor space has been prepped beforehand, the entire process is surprisingly straightforward. In fact, a full weekend is enough to install landscaping fabric to the yard.
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Building a flower garden is a great way to add color and life to your outdoor space. Imagine being greeted by fragrant blooms every morning or being surrounded by colorful flowers while relaxing outside! A flower garden also adds fragrance to the air, which enhances the beauty of your outdoor space even further. You can also cut and collect different flowers from your garden to add splashes of colors to your home.
For the uninitiated, growing a couple of flowering plants may seem daunting, much more building a beautiful flower garden.
The thing with growing flowering plants is that some plant varieties are quite fussy. These plants require a lot of coddling before they bloom. But we’re happy to report that there are beginner-friendly, can’t-kill-flowering plant varieties too! These flowering plants are not only easy to grow; they will also yield beautiful blooms without much fuss. If you are new to gardening, you can start with 3 to 5 plant varieties until you are confident enough to expand your flower garden. Here are some of the hardiest and easy to grow flowering plants that we recommend:
Sunflowers add a delightful touch of cheerful yellow in the garden. This bright, summertime annual is best grown from seeds, sown every two weeks or so to enjoy the gorgeous blooms until the first frost. Don't be intimidated with the idea of growing sunflowers from seeds, it's as easy as can be! This flowering plant could grow anywhere; it's not fickle at all.
Just make sure the sunflowers seeds are getting lots of sunshine. Plant the seeds in moist, well-drained soil and water only to keep the soil moist, never wet. Once the seedlings grow to about 12 inches, you can plant them in pots or directly into the ground. Give the sunflowers enough room to grow so they do not develop wobbly or weak stems.
Sweet Pea is best known for its colorful and fragrant blossoms. The flowers add a bold, sweet-spicy fragrance to the air! Sweet peas were so popular then that growers used to collect and grow different sweet pea varieties. This plant variety is no longer as popular now but it remains as a staple in most flowering gardens. Sweet peas are quite hardy, they could survive light frosts. These plants thrive in rich, well-drained soil so we highly suggest amending the soil with compost or aged manure prior to transplanting the seedlings.
Sweet pea is an annual plant that loves mild weather. It can be grown from seeds, which isn't as hard as it seems, we promise! But if seed sowing is not your cup of tea, you can always buy sweet pea as plug plants. Plant sweet peas in January or February to enjoy a garden full of blossoms just before the summer season sets in.
Nigella is best known for its wispy, vivid blue blossoms and pretty pods. This hard-to-kill annual is one of the easiest plants to sow from seeds. And the seeds do not require much care, just scatter the seeds all over the garden.
Ideally, you want to plant the Nigella seeds in a spot that gets lots of sunshine. Nigella plants love well-drained, finely textured soil and mild climates. To enjoy Nigella’s glorious blooms all season long, sow a new crop of nigella every three weeks early in the springtime!
Columbines are beautiful perennial plants known for their unique-looking blossoms. The bell-shaped blossoms come in an array of colors but the most popular are blue, purple, and pink. Columbines are best grown from seed in a well-draining soil. It will take a while for the plants to grow (about 6 to 12 months) but your hard work will be rewarded with fabulous blooms that last all spring and summer season long.
Columbines are not only hardy, they require little care too. They love mild climates so Columbines are better planted in shady spots, especially during the summer season. Columbines will thrive in different environments but they’ll grow best in spots that get the full sun!
Californian poppies are known for their riot of sunset tones, yielding orange, pink, and yellow flowers. Poppies in general, grow wildly in Californian meadows, hillsides, and prairies. The Californian Poppy, in particular, will grow like weeds in a sunny garden.
As an annual flowering plant, Californian Poppy will reseed in the garden for years to come. This flowering plant will grow anywhere, in hilly landscapes or sandy plains. Californian Poppy loves well-drained (sandy or rocky) soils, full sun, and mild climates. Even when the soil structure is not as nutrient-dense, you can count on Californian poppy to thrive.
Nasturtium is a colorful annual plant with soft, green foliage and vividly hued flowers. This flowering plant adds a touch of whimsical charm to any garden thanks to its unique leaves, which resemble water lily pads. Nasturtium is quite a flexible flowering plant; it will feel right at home in a container garden as well as a petite urban garden. The blossoms come in a full spectrum of colors, including bold pinks, reds, and orange to pristine white.
This drought-tolerant, deer-resistant annual plant loves the full sun and well-drained soil. Do note that planting nasturtium in nutrient-dense soil tends to lead to fewer blossoms. This flowering plant will benefit from deep and regular watering! Nasturtium tends to wilt during dry seasons but once watered, it will spring back to life.
Marigolds are beloved for their sunset-hued blooms and their ornamental attributes. This easy to grow, easy to care flowering plant variety is a popular choice among gardeners because the blossoms add a bold pop of color to the garden. Also, the Marigold flowers could be used in perfume making and cooking.
Marigolds love bright, full light and well-draining, nutrient-dense soil. Because this annual plant yields heavy blooms all season long, Marigold will benefit from regular application of fertilizer. We don't recommend planting Marigold in shady spots, however. The partial sunlight may encourage the spread of fungal disease, which Marigolds are quite vulnerable to.
This classic annual flowering plant will do well in cool climates. Snapdragons yield bright, cheery flowers and they attract a variety of garden-friendly insects, including bumblebees and butterflies. The shades of Snapdragon blossoms come in almost every color of the rainbow. This plant variety is notoriously resilient too, able to survive and yield pretty blooms even in the cold!
However, Snapdragons won’t do well in gardens exposed to intense heat so you have to grow them indoors during the summer season and just replant the snapdragons once the cold season sets in. This plant variety will thrive in well-drained soil. Keep the soil moist by watering regularly at the base of the plant.
Did you know that there are over 300 varieties of geranium? This popular perennial is a garden mainstay for many reasons. For one thing, geranium is so easy to grow. Geranium blossoms come in an array of colors to choose from. Depending on the variety, some thrive in shady spaces while others bloom in sunny spots!
Geraniums bloom from early to late spring and will continue to produce a riot of flowers all summer long. Since geranium varieties are wildly diverse, caring for this perennial depends on the variety you chose. Generally, geraniums love the sun although they will thrive in shady environments too. Always use well-draining soils and avoid standing water as much as possible.
Rounding up our list of the 10 easy to grow flowering plants is the beguiling lilac. This deciduous shrub is known for its pastel-colored blossoms, sweet fragrance, and heart-shaped leaves. It’s a striking flowering plant that will look absolutely stunning in any garden, large or small!
Lilac will thrive in well-drained, evenly moist soils. Plant lilac in a sunny spot and prune lightly to encourage new growths. Lilac tends to grow tall so regular pruning will keep its beautiful foliage under control. Since it grows tall, lilac can be used to section off a spot in the garden for privacy. This plant variety is drought resistant so it’s the perfect flowering plant to grow in places with hot or dry climate.
Different soils have different nutrient profiles, some are lacking in nutrients needed to grow certain types of plants. Some soils may be nutrient-rich in the past but the reserves have been depleted after the crops were harvested. For people who grow crops for a living, the soil's nutrient profile has to be assessed prior to planting crops otherwise; all that hard work could go to waste!
Soil testing is a diagnostic tool for determining the nutrient profile and structure of the soil. The test is done by measuring the chemical or physical attributes of the soil as well as the soil’s nutrient status and lime requirements. After assessing the soil, fertilizer and lime recommendations will be given for profitable farming. Soil testing is a critical step in high yield farms but it can be conducted in small gardens too.
Through soil testing, growers could determine the application rates of fertilizers needed to enhance the soil’s nutrient content. Excessive application rates to the soil may do more harm than good. Nutrient applications must be regulated and limited to the proper rates to keep the garden’s ecosystem balanced, which is also one of the reasons why soil testing is an essential step in growing different types of crops.
Reasons Why You Should Test Your Garden Soil
Complete Soil Assessment
One of the most important reasons why you should assess the soil in your garden is to understand what’s in your soil. Again, different soils have different nutrient profiles and conducting soil testing allows you to determine what nutrients your soil lack and what steps should you take to amend it. Soil testing takes the guesswork out of figuring out what application rates to apply to the soil to enjoy maximum yield.
Check the Soil pH
The soil has different pH levels, usually within the 6 to 6.5 range. When the pH level of the soil rises, some nutrients become less available. These nutrients may include phosphorus and iron, which plants need to grow. When the pH level of the soil drops, some soil nutrients may become toxic to plants, which could affect plant life.
Do note that some plants thrive in alkaline soil; others do well in acidic soil. Grasses, flowers, and vegetables are best planted in slightly acidic soil, about 6.0 to 6.5 pH. On the other hand, azaleas, gardenias, and blueberries prefer highly acidic soil. A soil test will outline the major nutrient issues of your soil. This way, you’ll spend less money on amendments that your soil does not need.
Assess Soil Health
How healthy is your garden soil? You’ll never know the health of your soil at a glance. Soil samples have to be reviewed to determine its current fertility and health. A soil test could pinpoint key nutrient deficiencies as well as crucial information about the structure of the soil for optimal crop yield.
How Often Should Soil Testing be Conducted?
Soil testing can be done at any time of the year. Most growers conduct soil testing on a yearly basis, others do it only when needed. Whatever time of the year you chose to test your garden soil, be sure to do it before you start planting crops.
You can start the soil testing by taking a soil sample to your local labs or gardening center. You can also buy a soil testing kit or get one for free at your local county extension office.
We do not recommend testing the soil when it is wet or if it’s been recently amended. To get a sample, use a trowel to take about a cup’s worth of soil from various parts of the garden. Leave the soil samples to air dry at room temperature then transfer each sample in a clean container or a resealable plastic bag. Slap on a label for each sample with the soil area and the date for testing.
Other Benefits of Soil Testing
Think soil testing is something that does not really make much of an impact on your garden? Regardless if you are building a small flower garden or growing crops for food or profit, here are just some of the many benefits of soil testing:
Save Money and Time on Gardening
Soil testing will save you a lot of time, money, and effort on gardening. Knowing your soil’s nutrient profile lets you amend the soil with the right product at the right intervals. If you skip the soil test, there is no way for you to know what nutrients your soil lacks.
Since most gardening products are designed for certain types of soil, you could be spending money on products that are not suitable for your soil type. Amending the soil doesn't mean it has to be done in the entire property. You can focus the amendments on problem areas only. And if you think soil testing is expensive, it’s not. Soil test kits are available at affordable prices. Some labs also offer affordable soil testing.
Control Pests, Diseases, and Invasive Plants
Did you know that soil testing is also an effective way to control pests, diseases, and invasive plants like weeds without using pesticides or herbicides? Infestation of any kind is usually caused by nutrient imbalances in the soil. Getting a nutrient profile of the soil is one way to control infestation in gardens and farms.
Diseases are also caused by imbalances in the garden, which can be corrected by soil testing. The same thing can be said for problem areas in the garden, such as unsightly lawn spots. You can develop an even-looking garden by identifying the problem in these areas and amending the soil accordingly.
Track and Improve Soil Progress
Regular soil testing is a great step for maximizing your garden’s yield season after season. By testing the soil regularly, you’ll know if your soil’s pH level is improving along with its nutrient profile. This way, you can optimize your garden for plant growth.
One of the key benefits of soil testing is that it’s absolutely environmentally-friendly. Think about it, knowing more about your soil allows you to use the right amount of fertilizers while also eliminating or reducing runoffs on waterways. Since you are using fewer fertilizers, you are also minimizing your consumption of products that take a lot of energy to produce.
When it comes to understanding your soil, nothing beats soil testing. Analyzing the soil in your garden help you make the right choice in terms of soil amendments and the application rates of fertilizers, which will eventually save you money. Over-application of nutrients may also affect the water quality in your local area, something that soil testing can prevent.
Soil quality plays a central role in growing a variety of crops. Its quality could spell the success of your yield every harvesting season! You have to make sure that the soil has enough nutrients to support plant life. Adding fertilizer is one of the best ways to improve the soil’s nutrient profile. Amending the soil with fertilizers is an important step because it gives your crops a strong start during the growing season.
For growers, there are two types of fertilizers to choose from and each one has its own pros and cons: organic and chemical fertilizers. The benefits and drawbacks of organic and chemical fertilizers are still a subject of a heated debate among growers; some prefer the former while others prefer the latter, all for various reasons. In this guide, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of organic and chemical fertilizers to see which product suits your needs:
When it comes to fertilizers, the term "organic" is different from the term associated with food processing standards. As the name implies, organic fertilizer is made from natural substances. Unlike chemical fertilizer, organic fertilizer is minimally processed to retain its "natural" form. Generally, organic fertilizers are made from plant and/or animal wastes as well as powdered minerals.
Manure, fish emulsion, cow manure, chicken manure, cottonseed meal, compost, and bone meal are just a few of the many different types of organic fertilizers. Some types of organic fertilizers are made purely from a single natural substance (all chicken litter and ground up feathers) while others are made from a combination of natural substances. Sometimes organic fertilizers are made from farms, others are processed in a factory.
The Benefits of Using Organic Fertilizers
Better Soil Structure
Organic fertilizers enrich the soil by breaking down and releasing nutrients. This process improves the overall nutrient profile of the soil while also enhancing its structure. Using organic fertilizers, the soil is able to retain water and nutrients better.
Slow Release of Nutrients
Organic fertilizers release nutrients into the soil slowly. Synthetic fertilizers tend to release nutrients too quickly, which leads to fertilizer burns. By slowly releasing nutrients into the soil, the plants could absorb all the nutrients they need to grow without stressing out or over-fertilizing the crops.
No Toxin Buildup
As we mentioned previously in this guide, synthetic fertilizers tend to release harmful acids and toxic chemicals into the soil, which may harm the plants. Since organic fertilizers are made from biodegradable matter, these products do not release harmful chemicals or salts that are deadly to plants.
You don’t have to worry about polluting the waters or the soil if you use organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are not only biodegradable; these products are also environmentally friendly, sustainable, and renewable.
DIY Organic Fertilizers
Store-bought organic fertilizers may be more expensive than chemical fertilizers simply because the way these products were processed is a long, complex one. However, you can save more money on organic fertilizers by making some at home. Composting is a great way to save more money on fertilizers. You can also buy organic fertilizers from local sellers, such as nearby dairy farms that sell composted manure!
The Drawbacks of Using Organic Fertilizers
Organic fertilizers release nutrients into the soil with the help of microorganisms that break down the fertilizers slowly. And for the microorganisms to break down the organic fertilizers effectively, they need warmth and moisture. If the soil is not warm or moist enough, the breakdown of the organic fertilizer will take time and its effects will be limited. Thankfully, these microorganisms use the energy from decaying plants and animal matter so they are able to do their job.
A Slow Start
Organic fertilizers have to break down into the soil first before you can see the results. It’s not unusual to see the results within a few months after the first application has broken down completely. So do not expect results overnight, you have to be patient.
Yes, organic fertilizer is more expensive than chemical fertilizer simply because of the way it is processed. But again, this product can be made on your own using compost or you can always find a seller that offers organic fertilizers at a much lower price.
Chemical fertilizers, also known as inorganic, synthetic, or artificial fertilizer, are made from refined fertilizer substances along with chemical fillers. Generally, chemical fertilizers are made synthetically from inorganic materials including petroleum products and rocks. Ammonium sulphate, ammonium phosphate, ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonium chloride are just a few of the many different types of chemical fertilizers.
Some growers prefer chemical fertilizers because these products are a rich source of 3 important chemicals: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, chemical fertilizers do contain toxic compounds and acids that could affect plant growth.
The Benefits of Using Chemical Fertilizers
The price is one of the reasons why some growers prefer chemical fertilizers to organic fertilizers; synthetic fertilizers are cheap. Apart from being affordable, chemical fertilizers are more accessible too. These products are available in places that sell garden supplies.
You don't have to wait for weeks or months before you can see the results once you've applied chemical fertilizers to the soil. You will see the improvements in your plants within days. Chemical fertilizers release nutrients at a much faster rate compared to organic fertilizer. This isn’t a good thing when you have sensitive plants as the quick release of nutrients may lead to fertilizer burns. But as far as the amount of time it takes for fertilizers to show results is concerned, this is the faster option.
Organic fertilizers' nutrient ratios aren't as defined as chemical fertilizer. The latter's nutrient ratios are clearly defined on the label, which minimizes the risk of over-fertilizing.
The Drawbacks of Using Chemical Fertilizer
Unlike organic fertilizer, chemical fertilizer is not eco-friendly at all. For one thing, it’s made from petroleum products, which are not sustainable. In addition, chemical fertilizer leaches into water sources, causing water pollution. Manufacturing chemical fertilizer consumes enormous amounts of energy too.
Doesn't Improve Soil Structure
While chemical fertilizers support plant growth, they do nothing when it comes to improving the soil structure. Chemical fertilizers won’t enhance the soil’s health nor will it support the life within the garden because these products do not contain organic matter.
Frequent Application and Over-Fertilization
You have to be careful in terms of the amount of chemical fertilizer you use to amend the soil. For one thing, the quick release of nutrients means that it is easy to over-fertilize the plants. Over-fertilization can kill plant life and upset the garden’s entire ecosystem! Unfortunately, since this product tends to filter away from plants, you’d have to apply more of it.
Toxic BuildupChemical fertilizers aren’t recommended for repeated applications and long-term use. These products could cause the buildup of dangerous chemicals including as arsenic, cadmium, and uranium. In addition, long-term use of chemical fertilizers may alter the soil’s pH permanently, contributing to the release of greenhouse gases and killing off entire microbial ecosystems.
Which Type of Fertilizer is better?
Chemical and organic fertilizers support plant growth but which one is the better choice? When it comes to deciding which product is better, everything will depend on the needs of your plants. Both products enrich the soil with nutrients that plants need and each one has their own benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, your preferences in terms of the cost, availability, and environmental impact will affect your buying decision.
Winter season is here and once again, some homes become too cold for most houseplants. We hope that you prepped your garden well ahead! The good news is, there are so many houseplants that could thrive in dark, cold, and dry growing environments. Caring for these houseplants are so easy, even beginners won’t have a hard time growing their own indoor garden in the middle of the winter season. In today’s guide, let’s take a look at some of hardy houseplants that could survive the winter cold:
The ZZ plant also known as arum fern, is a popular houseplant known for its deep green, shiny foliage. This houseplant could work as a living horticultural decor or as a centerpiece display! The ZZ plant is incredibly beautiful yet it is so easy to care for. For one thing, this plant could survive low light conditions. You can set this houseplant in any corner of the home because it can tolerate cold and damp environments.
What makes the ZZ plant unique is that it can even survive the dark, which makes the houseplant suitable for the winter months. ZZ plant is naturally slow growing so it will thrive in places that get natural light. It does not grow too big either so it won’t overwhelm a small home. That said, the ZZ plant cannot tolerate direct sunlight as bright lights could burn the shiny foliage.
This houseplant is easily recognizable for its graceful, lacy foliage. It’s the perfect houseplant to grow if you’d like to bring the beauty of nature into your home! The Maidenhair fern naturally grows on the forest floors so it can survive low light growing conditions. This houseplant is incredibly tolerant to humidity and low temperature. The Maidenhair fern could also thrive in shady environments.
Bright, direct sunlight could harm its delicate foliage so it’s best to set this houseplant in cool places that get limited sunlight. Maidenhair fern can tolerate slightly dry environments although it grows best when watered and misted frequently. Do note that Maidenhair fern loves constantly moist soil so we recommend setting this in a humid spot. It also helps if you use compact or water-retentive soils.
Add lushness to every corner of your home with Chinese evergreen. This beautiful yet resilient houseplant is known for its show-stopping, patterned leaves. The Chinese evergreen thrives best in tropical climates although it will tolerate all indoor growing conditions. This slow-growing houseplant could tolerate low light conditions, cold or dry environments, you name it.
The Chinese evergreen is one of those unique houseplants that do not discolor even when grown in a dim room. That being said, this houseplant cannot stand overwatering so use well-draining, evenly moist soils. One thing that could affect the Chinese evergreen’s white patterned foliage is a cold draft so keep it away from cold spots to avoid browned leaves. Also, this houseplant is prone to aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites so wipe the leaves clean regularly!
Clivia is a versatile houseplant that can be grown indoors and outdoors. This houseplant is known for its trumpet-shaped, vivid blossoms that vary in color from red to pale orange. Clivias are able to retain their foliage all year round, even in the midst of the winter season.
Part of the reason why this houseplant is so versatile is its ability to adapt to different growing environments. It could survive low lights and/or drafty rooms. However, it's best to take potted clivias indoors once the climate turns cold. Clivias prefer a milder weather although it can tolerate dry environments. This houseplant doesn't need much watering so it's harder than most houseplants. That said, clivias love rich, well-draining soil so you have to enrich the soil with fertilizers every now and then.
The Jade plant features striking, fleshy leaves and woody stems. This plant ages beautifully, it takes on the shape of a mini tree as it ages. Jade plant is one of the hardiest houseplants because it can tolerate a combination of hot and cold air as well as less than ideal growing conditions. Also, the fleshy leaves could store water during the dry months.
Ideally, jade plants should be grown in a spot that gets the full sun although it can also tolerate low-light environments. This houseplant loves well-drained, gritty soils and requires infrequent watering. In fact, the only time that you should water a jade plant is when the soil is almost completely dry to the touch. To keep its gorgeous foliage shiny and green, add a low dose of fertilizer every now and then.
The Christmas cactus represents the holiday season so it's not surprising that this eye-catching houseplant is a favorite pass along plant as Thanksgiving approaches. As a true cactus, the Christmas cactus thrives in a tropical climate, particularly high humidity growing environments. When grown in the ideal environment, Christmas cactus will reward your hard work with jewel-toned blossoms. The blossoms look just like orchids with their shimmering pink or purple petals.
The Christmas cactus is easy to take care of. In fact, it thrives on neglect. You can plant the Christmas cactus outdoors in the garden or indoors in a pot. This houseplant loves the full shade and hates moistness so water only when the soil is dry to the touch. Never set a pot of Christmas cactus near the window or a spot that receives direct sunlight.
As one of the toughest houseplants around, the Philodendron will thrive in an outdoor or indoor setting. The Philodendron is loved for its large, vivid green split leaves. This makes the Philodendrons such a lovely living home decor! It’s incredibly hardy too. It's drought-resistant, resilient, and it can tolerate shady environments. Even people with brown thumbs are able to grow Philodendrons successfully because this houseplant does not need much coddling to survive.
This houseplant loves well-draining potting soil. Philodendrons love moist soil but hate standing water so water this houseplant carefully. Just like most cacti, Philodendron can survive long periods of drought so no need to water often. Water it once every two weeks or so.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
With its glossy, leathery leaves, Fiddle leaf fig has found its way to many homes! This resilient houseplant is not only pretty to look at, it could also purify indoor air by absorbing noxious odors! It does not grow too big so the Fiddle leaf fig has the right height to brighten up any room.
Fiddle leaf fig’s needs do change depending on how mature the plant is. Ideally, this plant should be watered every two weeks during the growing season. During the winter months, Fiddle leaf fig only needs to be watered once a month. Though resilient, pay close attention to the dryness of the room as this could cause water to evaporate from the soil. In a dry room, you should water the Fiddle leaf fig more frequently to keep the soil slightly moist.
As the name implies, snake plant is known for its thick, leathery, and reptilian-like leaves that grow upright. When grown in the right conditions, a snake plant will produce large clusters of white blooms with a green tinge. The tubular blooms will gently fill the room with a sweet, floral scent!
This quintessential houseplant thrives even with a bit of neglect! It can tolerate dim growing environments, it's incredibly drought resistant, and it doesn't require the full sun at all. This houseplant is happiest when set in a partially shady spot. Snake plants hate standing water so water only when the soil is dry to the touch. Also, use a well-draining, sandy soil for optimal water drainage.
Hoya, best known as wax plant, is a trailing or climbing plant that's often found in tropical forests. Prized for its thick, waxy, and eye-catching leaves, Hoya can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. It can also adapt to different light levels.
For instance, this houseplant will do well in bright light although it can tolerate partly shady growing environments. Its waxy leaves hold a lot of water so the Hoya doesn't require frequent watering at all. In addition, Hoya loves light soil and prefers a slightly drier growing environment. It’s the kind of plant that doesn't do well when watered often so water only when the soil is dry to the touch.
The winter months may be long but you can add color and life to your interiors by decorating your home with any of these hardy houseplants! Tune in for more gardening tips, we’ve got more coming your way. Join the ECOgardener community and get 15% off your first order!
Looking for easy crops to grow for beginner gardening? Growing a vegetable garden may sound intimidating for new growers but as long as you are choosing the right crops, it’s a fairly easy hobby to get into. If the idea of growing your own food appeals to you then you can turn any available outdoor space into a vegetable garden. All you need is a great spot to set up your vegetable garden, high-quality soil and lots of sunshine! We’ve already outlined ways to plant vegetables by the season to ensure a bountiful yield but for growers who are building their vegetable patch for the first time, include these crops to your garden:
The Easiest Vegetables to Plant for Beginner Gardening
All varieties of peas are fairly easy to grow because these crops could tolerate cooler weather but we recommend growing sugar snap peas or snow peas. Peas are also fuss-free, they’re the kind of vegetable that grows and multiplies without much help. Just sow the seeds into the ground starting March and let the peas do the rest. By June to August, you can start harvesting the peas. And the more peas you pluck, the more peas grow!
Of course, since pea plants have softer stems, you have to build a structure for support. Bamboo canes, trellises, or chicken wire attached to posts should be enough to keep the plants standing upright. Bush pea varieties, like snow peas; on the other hand, does not require any support at all.
Just like peas, beets do well in cooler weather. Beetroots are so easy to grow and the seeds are best sown early in the spring season. A month or so after the plants grow; the beets are ready for harvest. We recommend sowing the beetroot directly into the ground starting March to July.
Once the beetroots grow into golf ball-sized, they can be harvested. But if you want the root to grow bigger, you can wait for a few weeks before harvesting. Beets love moist soil so water the plants deeply during the summer months but don’t go overboard!
Okra is a warm-weather vegetable that can tolerate drought. This is one of the reasons why it's such an easy vegetable to grow. You can plant the okra seeds directly into the ground (if the weather warms up) or grow the vegetable indoors using peat pots if the weather is still too cold.
If you are planting this vegetable from seeds, try soaking the seeds overnight in lukewarm water to accelerate the germination. Do note that okras love the full sun, well-drained soil, and lots of room to grow. You have to space the okra plants out, making sure they are 3 to 4 feet apart.
Potatoes are the perfect root crops for beginner growers because the plants do not take much room, these are so easy to care for, and they thrive without much help. It's almost impossible to kill a potato plant!
Potatoes are best grown in rows with each plant about 3 feet apart. You can use potato seeds or cut up potato pieces for planting. Potatoes love shady environments and even moisture so water these tubers carefully. Too much watering may lead to misshapen potatoes!
Chives are a versatile herb but they can be used in salads or meat dishes as a vegetable or garnish. This vegetable loves the full sun but it will thrive in shady environments too. Chives are a perennial plant that can tolerate milder climates. Moist, fertile, and well-draining soil is best for growing chives. Use organic compost to amend the soil.
Chives are thirsty crops so water these consistently throughout the growing season for maximum yield. Once the chive plants have matured, they will require minimum care. Chives will continue to grow even after harvesting.
Rhubarb will thrive in a mild climate. Use well-drained, fertile soil and set the plants in a spot that gets full sunlight. Plant the rhubarb early in the spring as soon as the soil has warmed up. Use a mixture of compost, manure or other organic matter to enrich the soil because rhubarb is a heavy feeder.
Water the plant well especially when the summer season hits and keep the rest of its surroundings weed free. When it is time to harvest, we recommend leaving at least 2 stalks at the base. This will give you a steady supply of rhubarb that could last up to 20 years!
Summer squash is not only a cinch to grow, it is also known for being a prolific producer! Once summer squash has matured, it will produce a lot of fruits for you and your family to enjoy. As the name implies, summer squash is harvested in the summer season, just as the vegetable reaches full maturity. Straight neck squash, crookneck squash, and zucchinis are just a few of the many summer squash varieties that you can add to your garden.
You can start planting summer squash indoors (from seed) or direct seeding if you don't want to transplant the crops later on. Summer squash loves warm soil so plant this vegetable about a week after the last spring frost or during the midsummer. Just like rhubarb, summer squash thrives in fertile, well-drained soil because it is a heavy feeder. It loves the full sun!
Arugula is a cool-season green that grows so fast, harvest season is just around the corner. Ideally, you want to plant arugula late in the growing season so you can harvest it 4 weeks after sowing. For instance, sow the arugula late in the summer season so you’ll have plenty of arugulas to harvest before fall or during early winter.
Arugula is so easy to grow because it is able to tolerate some frost. It loves humus-rich, well-drained soil although it will survive a variety of soil conditions. Arugula prefers the full sun but it has no problems withstanding shady environments. To get a steady supply of arugula, sow new seeds every 2 to 3 weeks. Don't worry, arugula seeds are quick to germinate, they will germinate within a few days.
Mustard needs little care and maintenance to grow, making it perfect for beginner gardening. Just plant the mustard in a spot that gets a lot of sunshine, keep the fertile soil moist, and it'll reward you with an impressive yield. Just like arugula, mustard seeds will germinate within a few days. The plant will grow rapidly over the course of several weeks and they are ready to harvest!
The ideal soil pH for mustard is 6.0 but it can tolerate acidic soil. It loves the full sun but it can survive on partially shady environments too. When harvesting the mustard plants, do it while the plants are still young and tender. Older mustard plants tend to develop a bitter taste.
Rounding up our list of the easiest vegetables to grow in a garden is cilantro. Some people love cilantro, others hate it. But if you love this herb, you'll find that it doesn't need a lot of help in terms of growing and spreading all over the garden.
Cilantro prefers the full sun and well-drained soil. However, it will thrive in places that are slightly shady too. This cool season herb grows best during the spring and fall season. Cilantro prefers to have more room as it grows so space the plants evenly, about 2 inches apart or so. Harvest cilantro while it is low. You can either remove the entire plant at once or just cut the smaller leaves near the crown.
As you can see, there is a myriad of hard-to-kill vegetables that you can plant into your garden. Most of these crops do not require advanced gardening skills at all! But just to ensure the survival of the crops, always pay close attention to the season before planting the vegetables. For more beginner gardening tips and resources, subscribe to our newsletter!
The holidays are always the best time to travel and bond with the family but what about your plants? Who’ll look after your garden while you are on vacation? Going home to a parched garden filled with dead plants is every gardener’s nightmare. And for most growers, going away for too long could be problematic since they have no one to delegate important gardening tasks to, like watering or pruning. And if the crops are starting to bear fruits, it is much harder to leave for a vacation.
Is there a way to keep your garden going even if you are away? Don’t let your garden and yard work keep you from enjoying a well-deserved break. Care for your garden even while you’re away for the holidays with these tips:
Prep Your Garden in Advance
It always pays to prepare your garden well in advance before you leave for a holiday vacation. A day or so before you leave; keep your garden tidy and neat. Start by pulling the weeds in your garden beds. Prune your plants and remove yellow or dead leaves. Deadhead any spent blooms, trim the grass, water your plants deeply and use the grass clippings as mulch. Clear the garden and the yard of garden wastes such as broken branches, dead leaves, dried weeds, etc.
Water all your plants before you leave. Ideally, you want to keep watering your plants as late as possible, about an hour or so before you leave, just to make sure your garden is well hydrated. This goes especially for crops that are starting to bear fruits.
Since you are unable to water the plants regularly while on a holiday break, mulch around plants to protect their root systems from the elements. Again, use the grass clippings as organic mulch or try setting large stones or wooden planks between rows of vegetables. You can also use landscaping fabric to insulate your plants. The goal here is to cover a large expanse of the garden to prevent water evaporation. When applying mulch, limit the layer to 3 inches or less, especially if your garden is infested with slugs and snails.
Install Protective Cover-ups
The cold climate will be hard on some plants, particularly fruit-bearing crops. That’s why it is important to protect your crops from the elements before you head for a vacation. For plants with soft stems, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peas, these will need additional support so install stakes and ties.
Stake and ties allow soft plants to stay upright even when they are heavy with fruits. The ties and stakes ensure that the plant fruits are never in contact with the soil. If the fruits are in contact with the soil, rot, diseases, and infestation could set in. Stakes and ties give the plants the support they need to withstand strong winds too.
Ideally, you want to harvest all the ripe fruits from the garden before you leave. So go ahead, pick anything that's ripe and store them in a cool, dry place that's away from direct sunlight. Some fresh produce will keep better in the fridge.
Plastic cover-ups will also come in handy when the climate becomes colder. The plastic film will insulate the plants while inhibiting water evaporation. Erecting shade protection is also recommended if the climate is still warm. This nifty gardening tool will protect tender crop leaves from burning.
DIY Self-Watering Globes
Got lots of thirsty plants? Some plants need more water than others and if your garden happens to be filled with thirsty plants, try making your own self-watering globes using recycled plastic or glass bottles. Make self-watering globes just before you leave for a vacation, it's easy! Just fill a bottle with water, dig a hole in the soil, and push the water-filled bottle several inches into the ground. When burying the bottle into the soil, you have to do this as quickly as possible to stabilize the water within the bottle.
Since the opening of the bottle is buried into the soil, the water will drain slowly, hydrating the plants gradually for several days. The water may drain away a few days before you come back but at least the plants are hydrated enough to last until you are home. This tip is best for potted plants but you can also try it with outdoor plants. If you’d like to check how fast the water drains from the bottle, try this out a week before you go. If the water drains faster than expected, try adding more water or using larger bottles to make the water last for several days.
Grow Crops in Pots
Plants that grow in pots are more likely to survive dehydration much better than plants grown in-ground. That’s because pots help the soil retain more water and reduce evaporation. Pots also minimize water loss through plant leaves. If you tend to go on a vacation several times per year, growing your plants in pots is better for your garden as opposed to planting crops in-ground.
Before you leave, set your potted plants in a shady spot, a place that gets some light and/or rain at certain times of the day. Also, it helps if you group the potted plants closer together a few hours before you go. Setting the potted plants closer together helps minimize water loss too. Just make sure the setup is balanced so the plants are getting enough light throughout the day but avoid spots that receive direct sunlight all day.
Use Water Storing Crystals
Water storing crystals will come in handy if you’re set to leave for a holiday vacation! Water storing crystals, called hydro gels, are made up of polymer crystals that hold moisture. These crystals could hold up to 600 times of their weight in water. Water storing crystals work by letting the dry soil absorb the moisture over the course of several days. These crystals must be added to your plants’ potting mix and are generally added during dry spells.
Water storing crystals reduce water stress among plants while preventing the soil from drying up. In addition, water-storing crystals protect plants from hot/dry weather while preventing over and under-watering. This product is often used to hydrate potted plants although it should work for plants that are grown outdoors too!
It also helps if you can find a garden buddy who is willing to look after your garden while you are away. But if this isn’t possible, just prep your garden in advance so you don’t end up with dead plants once you head home! Tune in for more gardening tips and helpful resources by subscribing to our newsletter.