Arranging plants tightly not only creates a full design, it also helps to shade soil. Plants that grow shoulder to shoulder act like living mulch, helping to suppress weeds and slow water evaporation from soil.
This backyard started out bare with the exception of a few trees, weeds and an uneven patio. Now, it's a carefully-planned inviting outdoor space with possibility for playing, dining, grilling and more. The pergola over this seating and dining area is a steel frame with wood slats.
Also called landscape fabric or weed cloth, this type of mulch is usually woven polypropylene fabric. It suppresses weeds while allowing water and air to pass. It’s often used under inorganic mulches, such as stone or landscape glass, but also under shredded hardwood bark to help extend its lifespan. Landscape fabric comes in different grades; the label should state how long it will last. This is a commercial grade fabric that’s woven and needle punched with a 20-year warranty. The colored lines are 12 inches apart, which helps with spacing plants, especially in vegetable gardens.
Keep trowels, weeders and other frequently used garden supplies in a handily-located home that meshes with your house's charming style. The door of Gardener's Supply Company's tool cupboard even opens flat to create an impromptu potting station.
Monarch butterflies lay eggs on plants in the milkweed family, including butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Eggs hatch to reveal striped caterpillars that eat until they reach about 2 inches long. Often the first clue that a caterpillar is present on a plant is the round black frass or caterpillar poo seen on leaves.
Also known as oxalis, this is a versatile weed that grows in sun or shade, moist or dry soil. It’s a clover look-alike, with heart shape leaves and yellow flowers. Blooms fade to form upright seed pods that explode when ripe, flinging seeds away from the mother plant. It also roots from stem pieces. It’s happy to grow in lawns, planting beds, gravel drives or vegetable garden paths. Oxalis is a common weed in nursery pots, so be sure to check before adding plants to your landscape. The best way to beat it in the lawn is to mow high and fertilize to grow a healthy, thick lawn. In planting beds, carefully hand-pull or spray with herbicide.
Rather than fill the empty space of the planting beds with an array of flowers and shrubs, the designer chose to emphasize the unique boxwood shapes by planting them far apart. A simple, neat layer of mulch ensures the focus remains on the artistic topiary element and deters the growth of weeds.
When it comes to violets, opinions are divided. To some, it’s a weed of the vilest kind; to others, it’s a dainty wildflower. No matter which camp you support, it’s vital to know that while violets have a literary reputation of being shy, in the landscape, they are anything but that. This perennial bloomer boasts a prolific personality, spreading easily by underground stems and seeds. In the lawn, it adapts quickly to lowered mower heights, growing shorter as needed to dodge the blade. Violets thrive in moist, shady sites, but mature plants are drought tolerant. The solution to eliminating violets? Vigilant hand-weeding (be sure to remove all the rhizome) and targeted herbicide use.
Artificial grass can cut water bills by more than half and eliminate the need for toxic weed killers and fertilizers as well as costly and leaky sprinkler systems. The owners of this Arizona home in Paradise Valley will not only see a return on investment, but they’ll never have to water the lawn again.
Creating a simple, low-cost garden path doesn’t have to be difficult.
Easy Solution: Remove existing grass and cover soil with a layer of thick cardboard (for weed control), securing it with anchor pins pounded into soil. Top with a layer of straw. This type of path works easily in vegetable gardens or perennial borders. It’s also easy to upgrade later to a more formal hardscape material.
Lawns demand a lot of time and attention to look their best. Mowing, weeding, feeding—it’s a year-round effort to keep grass gorgeous. One way to reduce your time investment in lawn care is to limit the amount of lawn you have. Trade turf for pretty planting beds stocked with shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses. This bed happens to be a rain garden, which means its beauty is more than petal deep. It also helps to disperse rainwater runoff.
Mulching can be a big task in the fall, if you have multiple garden beds. Here's a tip from The Morton Arboretum in Illinois: Organic mulch should be composted or otherwise treated before use. The step kills insects, weed seeds and disease microorganisms. The texture of composted mulch generally is more uniform, creating better curb appeal.
Here is an expansive, open Ipe deck that offers ample room for both full sun and shade activities. Ipe is a tough, durable and visually striking hardwood that is popular among homeowners. Tips for DIY installation: Use pre-grooved boards which will save you time in assembling; Carefully inspect all boards in advance to weed out any that may be slightly bent or warped; Use a face mask when installing to prevent irritation from the sawdust.
A long-lasting organic mulch option is pine bark or shredded bark, according to experts at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois. You can purchase bags of small or large chips. Other types of organic mulch are grass clippings, as well as animal manure (mixed with a coarse-textured material). Composted leaf litter will work, but it may increase weeds if not thoroughly composted.
Finish this type of trench lawn edging by covering the area with some type of mulch. A mulch layer helps keep weeds from sprouting in the uncovered soil and prevents soil erosion from the planting bed itself. If your trench area is shallow, you can run your lawn mower along the bed edge by dropping one wheel into the trench. This eliminates any need for string trimming the lawn edge.
Every retreat needs some sort of screen or walls to provide a sense of privacy. If space is at a premium (think deck or balcony retreat), try a living wall planter or vines on a trellis to screen a space without gobbling real estate. A fence, lattice or hedge provides year-round privacy, while plantings may only shelter your retreat during the height of the growing season. This hideaway bench boasts industrial style that’s tucked behind a living screen of joe pye weed (Eutrochium) and tall maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis).
It’s important to cover soil beneath tomatoes with a mulch of some kind, such as straw, grass clippings, compost or shredded leaves. Many tomato diseases spend part of their time living in soil. When rain hits soil, particles splash up and can land on lower tomato leaves, leading to a disease outbreak. Covering soil is one way to help control tomato diseases. Mulch also helps soil stay moist, which helps ensure a hefty tomato crop. Another reason to mulch is that it suppresses weeds.
Never underestimate the power of mulch. This simple ground cover provides a host of benefits, including suppressing weeds, helping soil retain water and keeping soil (and plant roots) cool in the heat of summer. Organic mulches like shredded bark, compost or fine forest mulch also slowly decompose and help to build healthy soil. How much mulch is enough? Aim for a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer. Refresh mulch as it breaks down so you maintain that consistent covering on soil.