Top Gardening Tips for Winter


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 26-04-2013

I visited Melbourne, Australia recently and as a gardener, what do you think I was noticing?

Gardens and landscaping in the area. So I reached out to an Australian native and asked them if they would like to write a guest post. This post will give you a little insight into gardening in that area during the winter time.

How to Make the Most of Your Melbourne Garden

Melbourne and winter – two things that fit together like a hand in glove.

If you live in Melbourne you’ll either love or hate winter; very rarely if ever will you find someone who is indifferent towards it. No matter what your opinion of winter though, one thing is for sure; your garden loves this time of the year and will love you just as much if you give it the TLC it craves.

Here are six handy tips for a great Melbourne winter garden.

1. Winter is the time to prune!

Got a deciduous tree or two in your backyard? Maybe you’ve got a rose bush in the garden that has grown a little too big. If this sounds all too familiar, then perhaps it’s time to pull out the pruning shears.

Winter is the ideal time for pruning; the lack of foliage on deciduous trees and bushes makes the job easier and allows you to better identify and repair structural problems.

As a general rule it’s best to prune roses during the months of June and July – any earlier and you could potentially impede the possibility of new growth. When pruning your trees, we highly recommend maintaining the natural shape and growth habits.

2. Now’s the time for annuals

Get some color into your garden with a range of beautiful annuals. Whether you opt for pansies, snapdragons, sweet peas or sweet violas, or perhaps a combination of some or all of these flowers, these flowers will introduce a vibrancy and vitality to your garden that you’ll truly appreciate – especially during a grey and gloomy winter.

Winter annuals will typically begin flowering in June / July and last up until September. They’ll make a worthy addition to your garden that friends and family will love.

3. Don’t like the garden arrangement? Re-arrange it!

Here’s a mind blowing idea – if you’re not happy with the way your garden is arranged, or you simply think it’s time to change things up a bit, re-arrange it!

Want to move an evergreen shrub from one end of the garden to the other? Winter is probably the best time to do it. It’s important to get as much of the root as possible when extracting the plant from the soil, and we’d strongly suggest cutting down the leaf canopy for the relocation process.

4. Start preparing for spring

Certain plants and trees typically flower or produce fruit during spring, so the best time to maintain your garden to ensure maximum growth in the warmer months is to get things ready in winter. If you have hydrangeas in your garden, cutting them just above the buds in winter will help them grow beautifully in the spring.

If there are apple or pear trees in your yard, winter is the optimal time to thin out the branches in order to grow better quality fruit in the spring (even if there might be less growth, it’ll certainly be quality over quantity).

5. Update your soil profile

Like humans, plants and trees require quality soil for nourishment and survival. Throughout the warmer months of the year, say from September to April, most plants and trees draw heavily on the nutrients in the soil in order to remain healthy.

This means that over time the soil becomes depleted of those essential nutrients. Therefore we recommend replacing those nutrients during the winter months; infusing the soil with such organic products as mushroom compost, cow manure (for mineral supplement) and Blood & Bone for strong root growth.

6. It’s all about the bare-rooted plants

Throughout winter you’ll find that bare rooted plants and shrubs – plants that have had their soil removed – are quite cheap, simple to grow and easy to come by. They are typically sold during winter because evaporation levels in the air are low and so they have a greater chance of survival. This makes them the ideal winter garden option.

Of course you may want to undertake larger scale tasks to improve your garden – you might need a tree removal service in Melbourne or clear up some storm damage. Whatever the case may be, don’t let the grey and gloom of the Melbourne winter deter you from enjoying your garden. Now is one of the best times to exercise your green thumbs!

About the author:

Stuart Briggs never used to be a keen gardener, but has developed an experienced green thumb in a short space of time. When he’s not getting his hands dirty in the soil, Stuart loves surfing, going for a lengthy run on a cold, brisk morning and taking photographs from some of Melbourne’s most picturesque locations.

Fertilizer For Free: Make Your Own Fertilizer


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 26-04-2013

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compostFertilizers are used to be mixed in the soil and enrich the soil where you have planted your plants. Fertilizers make the soil “healthy” and filled with nutrients and minerals that plants need. Ensuring the health of the soil will also ensure the health of your plants.

The use of chemical commercial fertilizers can cost so much sometimes and the results are not that satisfying. Another problem with the use of commercial chemical fertilizers is that they may cause harm to the human body when ingested (especially when used in vegetables that we eat). Chemicals can also make the soil acidic thus making it unhealthy and inappropriate for planting or plant cultivation as time goes by or with prolonged use.

What if you can make use of a free fertilizer that is guaranteed to work and make the soil healthy, packed with nutrients that plants need, improves soil condition and is not harmful to the soil? It would definitely be amazing! All these can be possible with the use of a home-made fertilizer or more commonly known as compost.

DIY Fertilizer Steps

Dig a hole in your backyard. The best size for an average family will be about 4×4 feet and 3 feet deep. Choose a spot where sunlight cannot be available almost throughout the daytime. This hole will be the place where all biodegradable garbage and trash like food leftovers and dried leaves will be dumped to decompose.

After making the hole, put a fence or barrier made of wood or galvanized iron to make a compost pit. Make it at least 3 feet tall to prevent small children and pets from accidentally falling into the pit.

Dump all your biodegradable wastes into the pit. Leave it there and let nature do the magic. Be sure that the pit is not soak with water.

Cover the pit at all times but open it up once in a while to let it “breathe”. This will prevent sunlight from penetrating deep down.

Use earthworms to enrich your compost even more. Earthworms can be bought from your local agricultural establishments and depots. These earthworms can help in the decomposition of the biodegradable matter in your compost pit. They eat up the matter turning them in tinier and easily-decomposed matter. Their movement in the soil and matter in the pit will aerate it, thus making it easier to decompose.

Go Black and You’ll Never Have to Go Back

Keep in mind that the right texture and color of ready-to-use compost is fine and dark or sometimes black.

Paradise in Your Yard: Beach Theme Landscape


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 24-04-2013

beach theme landscapeEverybody love going to the beach to enjoy not just swimming, but also the wonderful and breathtaking scenery. The view of the beach is a very relaxing sight that can free one from stress or having an overworked mind. But what if you want to go to the beach every day but the thing is, you don’t live near the beach? What to do?

There is actually a way to have the scene of a beach within the comfort of your home. The answer to this is through creating a theme garden – more specifically, a beach theme garden. Imagine the possibility of having the view of a beach right after stepping out of your own home, amazing right?

Beach theme landscape is a type of landscaping design that is specifically intended to imitate the view of a beach with plants and other things that are commonly found in the seaside and beach area. So whether you are living miles away from a seaside, you can actually bring the beach right at your backyard. All that is left for you to have beside you is a glass of piña colada or a refreshing fruit shake and you can relax all you want, anyway you want, for you have all the freedom because you are just outside your house.

Preparation Phase

Before you start doing something, preparation is always key. When starting a project like a beach theme landscape, it is much better to make a sketch of your home and yard. Through this, you can make consideration whether you want to add up a water feature such as a pool to make your landscape more realistic and refreshing or landscape lights to help improve the feel of your yard at night (tiki torches are awesome).

Preparation of the plants that you are going to put in the beach landscape is also a must. You should choose your plants wisely by making sure that these plants are commonly found in a seaside and beach area. It is much better to visit an actual beach or have a thorough research of the plants you are going to incorporate.

This is also the time to prepare the site you are going to transform into a beach-wannabe area once you have decided the spot to have your beach theme garden. Remove the things and other obstacles in your way for the construction of your landscape. Pull out weed and till the soil where you are to plant the beach vegetation and ornament into.

The Start

Once you are done with all the preparation, you can have the new plants transferred and planted in the area of your beach landscape. Make sure that you choose the appropriate plants to use in the landscape. If you have a pool installed in your landscape, make sure not to put the plants near it because the roots may affect the integrity of the structure of the pool or may damage the walls of the pool underground.

You can also add commercially-bought sand and have it placed on top of the soil in your landscape. You can also make a pathway or walkway towards the beach landscape with the use of pebbles and sand to make your work more realistic and creative. Add a dose of your personal touch and your beach theme garden is good to go.

The Cozy Gardens: Cottage Garden Must-Knows


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 22-04-2013

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cozy gardenDo you want to have the old “English” theme in your backyard? If so, then having a cottage garden is the best idea for your home and yard beautification purpose. Besides, having a little cottage with plants inside is kind of classy, right?

Cottage gardens are traditionally found in small English villages for the purpose of growing crops to sustain families that are poor or have little abundance in life. It was in the later years, more specifically in the age of renaissance, that the cottage gardens were used by wealthy families to grow beautiful and fragrant flowers, and ornamental plants.

If you want to have a cottage garden of your own and take care of plants closely or in a more “controlled” environment, then you should have enough knowledge at hand in this type of gardening. Let me share to you a few tips and must-knows in the field of cottage gardening.

The Basics

Before you try to dig deeper with the idea of having a cottage garden of your own, you should first be aware of the basic elements and principles used in this specialized form of gardening. You should get to know more about the foundations of cottage gardening.

The following features are what are found distinctive to cottage gardens:

A Cozy Atmosphere. The cozy feeling of having entered a garden with a refreshing scent and beauty of flowers and vines is the unique characteristic that can only be found in cottage gardens. It is such a wonderful feeling that you would definitely like to stay in that place all day long.

Mixture of Just Any. It is not only flowers and vines that can be found in a cottage garden. There are also trees, shrubs and vegetables that can add more texture to the scene and without you even noticing it. The beauty of this type of garden is such a marvel that it can fool you at times.

Welcoming. The cottage garden is like a person who is ushering visitors to come in and guiding them around. This is because most cottage gardens have beautiful walkways and pathways that make the strolling and looking around the garden easy and accessible even though it is filled with so many plants.

The Bench. This is one of the unique characteristics of a garden that has been imitated by other types of gardens – a peaceful area to sit down. Benches can be mostly found in cottage gardens and is a very unique idea to have a place where you can sit down and relax and watch the whole garden at the same time. Most of the time, traditional benches that are made of wood are being used.

Keeping Formality

This is the main idea in keeping and maintaining a cottage garden – keeping it formal. As you have noticed, the things that are being used in this type of garden are those that are traditional and mostly made of wood. Simplicity is beauty in the first place, right?