Keep a Kid Friendly Beautiful Garden

raised garden bed It can be frustrating to see your beautiful garden get trampled by kids, and it certainly is difficult to find a balance between an aesthetic and a kid-friendly yard. Still, there are several design options available that can provide you with a unique garden that also allows the kids to enjoy being outside. Here are some tips to help you keep gardening fun without worrying about how the kids might ruin your hard work.

 

Plan Ahead

When you have children, you always need to plan ahead for a number of situations. Based on the age of your kids, it’s a good idea to take the time to sit down with them and talk about a few of the things that they might enjoy in the yard. Some kids want to have a large play structure in the yard while others might enjoy a basketball hoop or a track to ride their bike. Putting together a few ideas on paper can help you create a yard that will be functional for the kids while still including a nice area for your garden.

 

Play Area

Kids love to have areas where they can enjoy playing. Create a yard where you have multiple areas focused on the kids. One way is to create a unique looking rock structure with plants around it. In the middle of the rock bed, have a large sandbox for the kids. This is a great way to move their area to one section of the yard, and still incorporate beauty into the yard with rocks and plants.

 

Water

A garden can look incredible when it has a few different features that make it stand out. One way to enhance your garden is by adding water features. You can use a small water feature that includes a pond with fish in it for the kids. Just remember to fence off the area so the kids aren’t tempted to play in the water unsupervised. Around the water feature, use rocks as landscaping adornments and then add multiple flower options to give it color.

 

Borders

No matter what age your kids may be, flowers can get trampled, particularly if they are on the edge of the yard. Don’t plant your rose bushes or other thorny plants near the border areas of the yard. Instead, opt for nice borders made of rock, cement, or similar materials. This border option will prevent your flowers from being trampled, and it keeps your kids safe by discouraging them from running into thorny plants. Consider adding small fences around the flowers if you have kids that play a lot of basketball or other sports. The fences can block balls from going into the beds and damaging your hard work.

 

Choose the Right Plants

Involve your kids in the planting process. When kids understand the hard work it takes to plant a garden, they may try harder to avoid tramping the flowers. Choose plants that are resilient like sunflowers, marigolds, and pansies. These flowers can easily grow back after being trampled or dug up. Sweet peas are another great flower to select, as they have a beautiful smell and they will continue to make additional flowers when the seeds fall out.

 

Byline: Meredith Nelson writes on everything plant-related, from garden for the home, or landscaping for offices.
 

 

 

 

Top 4 Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects

Top 4 Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects

Using insecticides for pest control in your garden kills bad bugs, but they will also kill good bugs and may kill your vegetable garden, as well. The idea that a garden can thrive well in an ecosystem made sterile through the use of poison is popular in North America, but the impact both locally and to the environment makes it untenable. Horticulturalists and gardeners have known for centuries that there are good insects as well as bad insects and that attracting the former to control the presence of the latter is what will make a garden truly flourish the way Mother Nature intended.

So how do you attract the beneficial insects in order to naturally exterminate the bad ones? The best way to do this is to create an environment in your garden that provides the elements that all biological life requires, including food, water, and shelter. Since many beneficial insects actually consume nectar, pollen, and other insects (often the larvae of beneficial insects do the work of consuming the bad bugs), making space for flowers and plants is the best way to attract them. There are many different plants that beneficial insects like, but just to give you an idea of where to begin, here are the top four.

monarch butterfly on new england aster

1. Asters (Daisy Family): Daisies are an excellent choice for any garden because they are accessible to insects, given the fact that they have an open center. Asters are perennial flowers that provide a rich source of nectar, attracting not only bugs whose larvae destroy the insects that are eating your garden leaves, but also butterflies and bees. Asters differentiate with small multiple flowers to attract a diversity of beneficial insects without drowning them in the nectar of larger blooms. Annuals such as cosmos, zinnias, and sunflowers are other daisies that should be considered.

Alyssium

2. Alyssium (Mustard Family):  One of the main beneficial insects that alyssium attracts are hover flies, whose larvae are excellent hunters of aphids. Adult hover flies resemble bees, but they do not have stingers. They do, however, pollinate berries. Iberis, Lunaria, single-blossom stock, Arabis and dame’s rocket all attract the good bugs, both predators and those who tend to destroy bad bugs through the process of reproduction (in other words, the bad insects often become food for larvae).

mint plant
3. Mints: While the generic term “mint” is not a specific plant, there are many kinds of mint that attract a diversity of the kinds of insects that you want in your garden. Herbs like oregano, thyme, lavender, and rosemary add aesthetic value to your olfactory experience of gardening, as well. Ornamental herbs are also useful, such as Nepeta, Monarda, Stachys and others.

fennel plant
4. Fennel (Carrot Family): One of the plants in the carrot family that is easier to grow and control is ornamental fennel, which is an attractant to Braconid wasps, tiny non-stinging beneficial insects that combat aphids, hornworms, spider mites, leaf miners, beetle larvae, true bugs, and corn earworms among others. Other members of the carrot family work well, too, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, parsley, grandiflora and others.

Some gardeners find that the odor of marigolds deters bad bugs and scatter the compact and attractive orange-flowered plant throughout their garden. Coriander repels aphids and tansy repels ants. Introducing plants from the pea family can benefit your soil, too, since they take nitrogen from the air and store them in the roots of your garden plants.

There are numerous plants that attract beneficial insects, so the options are plentiful depending on your preferences. Angelica, orange stonecrop, buckwheat, thyme, cilantro, goldenrod, manzanita, elderberry, milkweeds, coffeeberry, and hundreds of others offer a way to control insect populations while producing a vibrant garden environment.

About the Author:

Daniel Mackie, owner of GreenLeaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy and is a regular guest on HGTV. An innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, GreenLeaf Pest Control was the first pest control company in Canada to adopt successful bed bug eradication strategies using bed bug dogs and thermal remediation. Daniel and his partner, Sandy Costa, have developed not only a successful pest control business but also a winning business strategy based on clear communication, quality customer service, and a brand that keeps customers coming back.
 

 

 

 

The Ripe & Wrong Way: How to Harvest Fruits & Vegetables

Lettuce Planting, growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables is a yearlong process. If you’re an avid gardener like me, there’s always a fruit or vegetable ready to harvest no matter the season. There are ways to successfully pick your fruits and veggies for your home garden; be equipped with a green thumb and distinctive techniques to ensure your harvest achieves its potential with maximum ripeness and flavor.

Asparagus

Asparagus spears are ready for harvest in early spring when they protrude six to eight inches from the soil. Harvest the spears that are thicker than a pencil—the tips will be firm and unopened. Cut the spears off at ground level or slightly below. However, if this is the first year of your asparagus plant, WeekendGardener.net recommends waiting until the third season so healthy root systems are established. The third year should bring about a harvest time spanning three or four weeks.

Cherries

Cherries are generally picked in late spring and summer. Tall cherry trees present a challenge to growers that ladders can’t remedy. According to OrganicGardening.com, sweet cherries can grow into trees that are 35 feet or taller. Having two free hands is essential when safely picking cherries and any other fruit from trees. Renting an aerial platform simplifies the picking process and leaves room to store pounds of fruit in baskets. The most powerful SunBelt Rentals scissor lift, for example, can extend up to 40 feet and accommodate 1,000 pounds. Harvest the cherries during dry weather by handling the cherry stem as you pluck them, advises Garden Fresco.

Pears

Biting into the perfect pear requires familiarity with how a pear ripens. Pears ripen best off a tree. The fruit should be picked in autumn when slightly immature; otherwise, the pear will develop a mealy texture, according to OregonState.edu. Growers can spot mature pears—meaning, ready to be picked—when the fruit easily detaches from being tilted to a horizontal position. Pears must also be refrigerated in order to properly ripen. Bartlett pears need one or two days of cooling, whereas winter pear varieties may need two to six weeks.

Carrots

Sow carrot seeds in early spring, suggests Weekend Gardener. After two to three months of growing, carrots are usually ready to harvest. Watering the soil before harvesting will ease the process of extracting the carrot roots. Pulling them from the ground is the only way to examine their size. Carrots can remain in the ground even after maturation. However, carrots should be removed before the ground freezes or when the weather becomes intensely hot.

Fava beans

Fava beans, as well as other shell beans like lima and soy, can be picked when their pod color changes and the internal beans are fully formed, though not fully dried, according to Weekend Gardener. Look for the the pea pods to be husky and tender, yet firm to the touch. Harvest them in spring before the frost sets in.

Cantaloupe

Muskmelon, or cantaloupe as it’s commonly called, should be ready to harvest by late summer. When the cantaloupe rind changes from green to tan between the surface mesh, the melon is ripe. Cantaloupe should slip off the stem with minimal effort. If you harvest cantaloupe too early, the fruit is robbed of most of its sweet flavor. The cantaloupe plant transfers much of the natural sugars in the final days of ripening.
Carolyn Thurman

Carolyn is so glad she quit her job as a waitress and became a full-time freelance writer.

 

 

 

 

A Green Thumb’s Up to Spring Lawn Care

cut grass lawn with bushes

As winter is relegated to a cold memory and spring begins to bloom, head outside to evaluate your lawn’s condition. Winter is the bane of your lawn’s existence, and you can be sure that it will need your help in restoring it to its former verdant state.

Tune-up

It’s time to awaken your lawn equipment from winter hibernation. Fetch all your supplies from the shed and examine their overall condition. If your mower is rusted and dilapidated, it may be time to replace it. Depending on your lawn’s size and idiosyncrasies, you can purchase self-propelled mowers, easy-to-maneuver Husqvarna zero-turn lawn mowers or riding mowers for comfort. Either way, the blades must be sharp before releasing the mower onto your lawn. Change the oil, replace the filter and fill it up with a fresh tank of fuel. There are service centers that can tune-up your mower for you: they’ll replace the spark plugs, sharpen the blades and anything else that needs to be done in preparation for the mowing seasons.

Rake

A light lawn raking will help clear the grass of extraneous thatch and debris. Use a dethatcher rake to achieve best results. Thatch blockades the grass from receiving everything it needs to thrive. UV light, moisture and oxygen can’t properly reach the grass plant with layers of thatch in the way. Now that the thatch has been extracted from your lawn, you’ll be able to easier identify any other problems like bare spots or pests. With your rake, thinly spread a top dressing of peat moss over the lawn. This should be enacted only after aeration.

Aerate

Aeration is the process of removing plugs of sod to loosen the soil. This process is integral to your lawn’s health because it allows the air, fertilizer and water down directly into the grass root system, according to HomeOwnerNet.com. Depending on the size of your lawn, there a couple of ways to accomplish aeration. Use a manual core aerator for small lawns or specified problem spots. Large yards require a power aerator. These commercial coring aerators can be rented at most tool rental stores.

Weeding

The earlier you can address the weed problem, the better. Hunt down spots of digitaria orcrabgrass, dandelions and broadleaf weeds. Use a fulcrum weeder to scrape the weeds out of existence. For the most efficient solution, it’s best to avoid herbicides entirely and focus solely on mechanical means of weed extraction.

Fertilizer

Twice a year, feed your lawn with fertilizer. Spring and fall are the best times to sprinkle the lawn with a healthy dose of nutrients. Fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphate and potassium aren’t enough to fully fertilize the grass, according to HGTV.com. Opt for a complete fertilizer with iron, sulfur, copper and other micronutrients instead.

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Laurie Martin

Laurie is a blogger from Akron, Ohio.