Category Archives: Garden Design

Pinecone image courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make a Pinecone Bird Seed Ornament

Pinecone Bird Seed Ornaments are perfect for decorating your outdoor holiday tree and make awesome gifts for garden lovers! Collect the following items to create your own!

Using the Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Twine, tie a knot around the pinecone about three sections from the top. Create a loop of twine and attach to the same spot on the pinecone. On the paper plate place a large glob of peanut butter. Using the butter knife fill in the spaces of the pinecone with peanut butter.

On the paper plate pour birdseed and roll the peanut butter covered pinecone around. Cover the pinecone in birdseed and sprinkle extra over it to take place in the cracks and crevices.

Your Pinecone Ornament is now ready to hang outside or to be given as a gift! If you plan to gift these ornaments you will want to place it in a cellophane bag and secure the top with ribbon.

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

400x400_cover_image3

Avant Garden Decor’s Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are here and gift giving is in full swing! Tackle your to-give list using Avant Garden Décor’s Holiday Gift Guide! When shopping our gift guide simply click on the “buy now” button to add the product to your cart! Don’t forget to save, too! Use code AGDGIFT15 at checkout to save 15% on all Gift Guide products!

400x400_cover_image3

iStock_000000618572Small

Winter Prepping Your Garden

Winter is quickly approaching, but that doesn’t mean your garden needs to close down for months. Prepping it for colder weather and knowing which plants to bring indoors, and which can be planted to thrive in low temperatures, will allow you to exercise your green thumb well past fall.

How to Prep Your Garden for Winter

Although activity above the soil may have slowed down considerably a lot is happening below the mulch. Roots continue to grow and draw on nutrients in the soil. Compost that was applied continues to break down and decompose.

To get your flower beds ready for dropping temperature and potentially heavy snow cut back perennials, as well as any dead or diseased leaves from trees, shrubs, and foliage. After expelling any “dead stuff,” lay a thick layer of compost on the soil to continue feeding root systems until next growing season.

Young or tender evergreens should be shielded from the sun and damaging, harsh winter wins. Place burlap screens around them to help them get through the tough winter months. To learn more about creating screens check out this blog post at LoveYourYard.com!

Winter Wheat Growing

What exactly is winter wheat? Winter wheat is a crop planted in the fall that is used primarily for all-purpose, pastry and cake flowers. Typically winter wheat sprouts before freezing occurs and them remains dormant until soil warms in early spring.

Plant winter wheat in the fall about six to eight weeks before the soil in your region freezes. This time frame allows for good root development: plant too early and your plants could be susceptible to late summer insects, plant too late and the plants may not overwinter well.

Winter wheat can be planted in rows like crops and should be rototilled into the soil about 2.5 inches deep. Wheat plants will change colors from green to yellow to brown as they mature.

The heads of the wheat stalks will become heavy with grains and will lean toward the ground when they are full. To see if they are ready to harvest you can test a few grains yourself. Chew a few grains from your plant to see what their consistency is. Soft and doughy grains are premature and need more time to mature. Continually check the grains until they are firm and crunchy at which time you can harvest your crops.

To harvest your winter wheat simply cut off the heads of the stems. Small amounts can be stored in plastic bags in the freezer, but larger amounts need to be stored to minimize moisture. You can use a flourmill to ground the grains into fine flour that can be used for cooking. Store ground flour in airtight containers in a cool location.

Bringing Plants Indoors

Container plants can be brought inside during the winter to increase their rate of survival. Moving plants indoors should be done gradually as a sudden change in temperature, light, and environment can be detrimental to the plants.

Begin by bringing plants indoors for a few hours every day and place them where you intend to keep them in the winter. After about two weeks, the plants should be acclimated to their new surroundings and can stay there until weather becomes warmer. Plants should be brought indoors full-time before the threat of frost is present.

Small insects can travel indoors with your plants and should be combatted head on. Use an organic insect killer like Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap to kill bugs before they are able to make your home their winter residence.

Controlling Fall Pests and Critters

There are a couple of fall pests and critters we should be aware of so that our garden and outdoor living areas don’t become home to unwanted visitors. Stink bugs, grubs, and deer are all present during this season change and should be handled accordingly.

Stink bugs – a smelly pest that can reproduce exponentially in a short amount of time. Safer® Brand EndALL helps to eliminate these bugs by killing them on contact. Using a trap like the Safer® Brand Stink Bug Magnet will catch the bugs without the use of poisons.

Grubs – dead spots on your lawn is a clue that grubs are present on your property. As the larval stage of many insects, grubs feed on root systems and kill the plants and grass they support. Safer® Brand Grub Killer uses Neem oil to organically and effectively eliminate your grub problem.

Deer – these large animals can clear a garden quickly as well as create damage to trees by raking off the bark and eating the leaves. A repellant like Deer Off® II Deer, Rabbit & Squirrel Repellent will help to keep deer from chewing on your crops. You may also choose to employ a tall fence, at least 6 feet high, to keep deer from raiding your gardens.

Composting Through the Winter

The waste you create through the winter can be composted to help your garden in the spring and summer. Composting, nature’s recycling process, converts your old scraps and “natural trash” into a nutrient rich treat for your garden. In addition to providing a nutrient boost to soil, compost helps combat plant disease.

There are two basic sources to create compost: old plant material or waste from our daily life. Dead plants can be thrown away or they can continue serving your purpose by being composted. Compost needs a good mixture of “green stuff” and “brown stuff.” Green stuff is high in nitrogen and is the heating agent for your compost and gets the mixture cooking. The brown stuff, which is high in carbon, helps the compost break down. Dead plants, fall leaves, and dead weeds all serve well for compost. (Learn more with our infographic here).

An alternative way to collect materials for your compost is to look at everyday life and what you throw away. Materials that are organic and are not animal-based can be tossed in with the dead plants and leaves to provide additional nutrients. Consider using the following:

  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grinds
  • Food scraps
  • Tea bags (be sure to remove the staple)
  • Stale bread or crackers
  • Paper bags
  • Toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls

Getting your compost pile started is easier than you may think. You can place your compost ready materials in a container or you can start a mound in a specific area of your garden. Applying a compost starter product, like Ringer® Compost Plus Organic Compost Starter, will kick-start your composting process. This product supplies additional nutrient resources that start the compost process more quickly and efficiently.

After applying your starter product be sure to water your materials so they are about as wet as a damp sponge. To maintain your compost regularly apply materials to it as you have them available. Aerate your compost pile every 7-10 days by raking through it with a pitchfork or spade. To learn more about composting and making it work for your garden check out our infographic here.

Storing Your Garden Tools

Garden tools, although they require an investment, they are worth it because they allow you to do a better job in the garden in less time. Proper care for your garden tools will allow them to serve you for a longer period of time.

When you are finished with a majority of your tools for the summer you can prep them for winter storage. Clean your tools with warm soap and water and allow them to fully dry.  To ward off rust, spray them with a light oil or lubricant like WD-40 before storing them. You may choose to have blades or spikes sharpened at your local hardware store so they are in great condition for the next season, too.

Keep tools with wooden handles in a cool, dry place so the wood does not become moldy and contaminated. Your shed, garage, or basement are all great options to keep your garden tools when you’re not using them.

What’s Next? 

Although it can be sad to “close down” your garden for the winter, it is not really the end. It is just a more dormant period where you are able to allow your garden to work underneath the ground and have a rest. Send us your photos of garden clean-up on our Facebook page! What tips do you have to help the gardening community?

Image via Tractor Supply Co.

Raised Beds for Gardening

Raised beds for gardening are all the rage. Not a totally new concept, but the idea of incorporating raised beds into traditional gardening has become much more mainstream in the past decade.

What is raised bed gardening?

Raised gardening beds are contained areas higher than ground level that consist of soil. Generally the entire bed is filled with crops and the gardener works around it, as they typically are square with five-foot long sides, totally 25 square feet of gardening space.

Raised beds can host all sorts of plants including vegetables, fruits, herbs, perennial flowers, annual flowers, and some small bushes or shrubs.

Why use raised beds for gardening?

Gardeners have their own preference for why they employ raised beds for gardening. The most popular reasons include:

  • Economically efficient – Raised beds save money on water and fertilizer as you only apply to the raised bed where the crops are growing, not all the space between as done in a normal garden layout
  • Less weeding – Weeds can’t flourish in densely grown areas because they are unable to compete with the root systems in a raised bed
  • Longer growing season – Raised beds offer a warmer environment for soil and therefore can lengthen the growing season. Additionally, the soil also dries out faster so cool-season crops can be planted earlier, too.
  • Protect against critters – Creating your raised beds at hip height can act as a defense against moles, rabbits, groundhogs, and more
  • More comfortable – The height offered by raised beds can make gardening a more comfortable and enjoyable hobby. Backs, shoulders, and knees will be thankful for not continuously hunching over.

Convinced? The benefits are amazing! Building your own raised bed is easy, too. Check out this how-to video from Garden Girl TV!

Raised beds are still susceptible to pests and insect issues so make sure you keep an organic insect killer on hand. Safer® Brand EndALL Insect Killer is a great option that kills over 45 different bug species, from egg to adult, on contact.

Are you a fan of raised bed gardening or do you prefer traditional gardening methods? Tell us in the comments below!

Digging The Vegetable Garden

What is Succession Planting?

Succession planting is defined as several planting methods that increase crop availability during a growing season by making efficient use of space and timing. With this strategy, knowledge and planning are powerful tools to attain successful plantings throughout the growing season.

Succession planting consists of 3 basic methods. These methods are general strategies for planting times and their success would vary depending on your gardening zone and weather.

Same vegetable in succession: Plantings of the same crop can be spaced out to avoid a “feast or famine” harvest of that crop.  Initial yields of a crop tend to be heavy with following yields tapering off. By planting your seeds or seedlings about 2-4 weeks after one another, you will end up having a larger yield over an extended period of time.

Different vegetable in succession: Seeds with short growing periods can be harvested and then cleared to allow for a new crop to utilize the space. For example, you may choose to grow a plot of peas which have a short growing season, and after their harvest use that space to grow a completely different vegetable.

Same vegetable, different maturity rates: One crop can offer multiple varieties (i.e. tomatoes offer 7,500!) and therefore can be used to harvest at various times. Varieties will have differing maturity dates; information which can be found online or on the seed packet. Choose a few varieties and space out their harvests so that you can enjoy them throughout the summer and fall seasons. Plants that can be used include corn, tomatoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and more!

The method you choose is largely dependent on personal preference. If you’d like to have a certain vegetable all season, you’ll choose a method that supports that. But if you’re looking to plant all sorts of vegetables in a limited space you’ll choose a method promoting variety. Once you decide which school of thought you’ll adopt, you can get started!

9617885_l

Planting a Sacrificial Garden

Although unconventional, the method of using sacrificial gardens to control pests and animals is effective. A sacrificial garden is a gardening method that supplies plants that either attract harmful pests away from, or natural predators to, the plants that you are trying to protect.

Companion Planting Infographic

If you’d like to protect your ornamental plants you may plant a row of tasty lettuce to attract pests. The insects will prefer lettuce leaves to the ornamentals and therefore will leave the flowers alone. Additionally, nasturtiums are an excellent plant to attract bugs that may wreak havoc in your garden.

Having issues with rabbits? Planting dill as a border to keep rabbits busy and deter them from entering further into your garden. Consider this a natural fence as it will satisfy the rabbit and keep them from snacking on your other crops.

You may also consider planting a companion plant garden. Check out our infographic to learn which crops benefit from being planted near their companion!

Garden Mulch

Mulching 101

When we think of the word mulch we tend to envision brown, bark-like material applied to a flowerbed, but did you know mulch exists in many forms? Let’s explore why mulch benefits your gardens and what options are available for your home and budget.

Applying mulch to your garden reduces weed growth, which will have a beneficial impact on your plants. Weeds deplete soil of nutrients and moisture when they grow and therefore limit the supply to the plants you want in your garden. They also have the ability to choke the root systems of your plants and cause them to die.

Water evaporation is slowed significantly from soil when mulch is applied. Watering a flowerbed that is mulched will result in up to 50% less evaporation than one that is uncovered. Mulch that is applied shortly after new plantings can increase the ground’s moisture and promote healthier root growth.

Various types of mulch are available for your garden. You may be familiar with:

  • Shredded bark mulch – an inexpensive and easy-to-find option
  • Pine bark nuggets – does not break down as easily as other mulches, but also don’t stay in place as well
  • Wood chips – often a free option from local tree trimmers. Be sure to find out if the source tree had poison ivy to prevent infecting your garden.
  • Cocoa hull mulch – A fine texture and rich color make this non-fading mulch a favorite for gardeners, although it is one of the most expensive
  • Did you also know you can use alternative natural materials as mulch? Consider using:
  • Grass clippings – a cheap and readily available material
  • Decaying leaves – helps to retain more moisture than average mulch
  • Compost – a material that will supply your garden with an abundance of healthy nutrients as it breaks down
  • Hay – although cheap and easy to apply, it is less ornamental than other mulch options
  • Rubber (shredded reusable materials) – extremely long lasting but does not provide any nutrients to the soil
  • Decorative Stone – a very long-lasting option that also holds heat or stays cold much longer than alternative mulch materials

Whether you use a traditional or nonconventional material for mulching your garden, your plants will appreciate you taking steps to keep them well-watered. With benefits like less weeds and a more uniformed looking garden, what are you waiting for? Get started this weekend!

iStock_000016269330XSmall

Tomato Mozzarella Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes (sliced or whole)
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 8 ounces of small, fresh, lightly-salted mozzarella balls
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher or Sea Salt

Preparation

Combine tomatoes and mozzarella into a large bowl, slice into smaller pieces of desired. Add basil leaves and mix gently while adding olive oil and vinegar. Salt to taste and refrigerate until serving.

Garden_Planner_2

Garden Planning 101

Ready to get digging in the dirt? Gathering your thoughts, ideas, and materials prior to getting started on this year’s garden will help you get more done with less money and time! Planning your garden is a relatively easy task and will spare you some big headaches when it’s time to put your summer garden in motion!

Benefits of planning:

Planning your garden will allow you to better spend both your money and time. Everyone appreciates saving money, and your garden can grow just as heartily on less money if you plan it properly. By planning, you’ll also keep from purchasing unnecessary plants, seeds, tools, and the like.

Saving time is almost as important as saving money. Planning helps you identify when seeds should be started, plants should be transplanted, and fertilizing or staking should take place so that a harvest is bountiful. Additionally, if not properly identified and planned, you could miss a crucial planting period that could result in a missed harvest.

So, maybe you’re interested in saving money or saving time, or both, but either way now is the time to get started.

Getting started:

Humans are visual creatures. Mapping out your next garden is the perfect place to begin your planting plans. Using grid paper is beneficial, but you’re not limited to it. Start by drawing your property. Be sure to include any permanent fixtures such as:

  • your home
  • a pool or pond
  • trees
  • swing sets
  • fences

You should also draw in any walkways or driveways where planting won’t take place.

Once you have your property sketched out, you’ll know which areas are open to being planted and transformed. You may have gathered inspiration for your garden through magazines, blogs, photos of places you’ve traveled or from your neighbor’s yards and gardens.  This is the time to pull out all the images and start considering where you can implement them.

Maybe you need help coming up with some ideas? The following are awesome blogs and websites that offer countless thought starters:

  • HGTV.com
  • BHG.com
  • Pinterest
  • AvantGardenDecor.com
  • FineGardening.com
  • OrganicGardening.com
  • AWayToGarden.com

Remember that the inspiration pieces you find are just that – inspiration! They can be modified to better fit your space and garden’s needs. You also may want to scale them back to better fit your budget or time commitment, too, and that’s just fine. Use these pieces to get your mind thinking about what is possible for your garden.

designinggardens

Designing Gardens for Small Spaces

Designing on an angle tricks the eye into thinking the space is larger by creating an illusion, while setting your area around straight lines is seen immediately by the eye.

A small garden is seen as much larger when set-up diagonally because the hypotenuse is the longest distance between opposite corners. A diagonal design will draw attention and intrigue. In addition to these benefits, you will also have much more space for plants!

Here are a few great less-expensive ideas on how to slant your garden without having to rebuild your small outdoor space!

• The floor – gouge a plain old concrete slab by using a saw cutter to create a decorative diamond pattern, or overlay the cement with tiles.

Slant everything – slant every element in your small space to the angle or direction in which you choose to slant your design too. Walkways, structures, and flower beds.

• Square things up – use square and rectangular planters to outline seating areas. This will further emphasize your slant work.

• Go up – plant taller shrubs to make the eye look upwards. This will also help to create some seclusion by forming a ‘green wall.’

• Use stripes – get a rug with a striping effect and then place it on a 45 degree angle. Align your furniture on the same slant to maximize the effect.

• Deep space or corners – lighten up or draw attention to deep corners by incorporating a focal point such as a fountain, or large trellis covered with plants.

• Heat things up – use a fire pit to create some night- time glow and to go along with your slant appeal.

Get some great décor items for your new small space design at
avantgardendecor.com!

Get more ideas on everything from plants to outdoor entertaining at
avantgardendecor.com learning center.     See More Articles »