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Designing a Garden for Birds

To attract birds to your garden you need for it to become ‘desirable’, so to say. With the increase of urban infrastructure, birds are increasingly in need of natural gardens to visit. By inviting birds into your garden, you’ll turn this space into one that’s much more pleasant to spend time in. It’s going to be a calm sanctuary, full of chirping birds.

Try to look at your garden from a bird’s perspective. Does it have the things that birds need? Water, food, and shelter are a bird’s priorities.

Ideas for Food

  • Sprinkling bird seed;
  • Hanging bird feeders;
  • Plant trees and shrubs that birds are known to like in your area.

Certain trees and bushes have food that birds eat and seek out. What these trees and bushes are, will depend on where you live. Your local nursery will be able to give you guidance on what to plant.

While planting for birds, ensure you don’t plant alien vegetation. Stick to indigenous plants. And make sure you can deal with a possible large number of birds coming and feed off your plants, of course!

Water

You can make, or buy, a birdbath

For a cost-effective solution, hang a plastic bottle or jug of water over a plate. The sounds of dripping water will draw birds to it.

Shelter

  • Planting bushes or shrubs that birds can nest in;
  • Grow vines or creepers along the side of your house or on fences;
  • When planting a tree, think ahead and make sure when it is bigger it won’t have to be removed.

Deciduous Trees That Birds Are Attracted To

  • Mulberry;
  • Dogwoods;
  • Crabapples;
  • Serviceberries.

Coniferous Trees That Birds Are Drawn To

  • Red Cedar;
  • Spruces.

Scrubs and Vines That Birds Love

  • Wild grapes;
  • Northern Bay Berry;
  • Staghorn Sumac;
  • Virginia Creeper.
  • Wild Viburnums.

Also, start collecting sticks and branch cuttings from your garden and put them in a pile by the bushes. This can offer protection for birds in harsh weather such as rain. If you have a dead tree, consider keeping it and grow a creeper over it, as birds love hollowed-out trees.

How to Start a Rose Garden (Part 3)

This guide is now heading into the final steps of starting a rose garden. It has been quite a journey! Let’s recap what has been shared so far.

The site selection comes first. Choose a nice sunny spot for your roses to get advantage of maximum light exposure. Before any planting takes place, you need to test the soil and then add any chemicals (lime or sulphur) you may need in the event they are lacking. Then the actual digging starts, to mix in the peat moss or compost. When the soil is ready, you can start selecting your roses. It is suggested to start with hardy rose bushes. You can choose between bare root or potted roses. Once you have planted the roses, it is very important to ensure they are watered correctly and your bushes are protected.

The last two steps are as important.

Mulch it Up!

It was discussed earlier on that keeping the ground moist is very important. A good way to do so is to top it with a layer of mulch. Not sure what makes good mulch? Roses respond well to shredded leaves or evergreen needles. Traditional wood is another possible option if organic mulch isn’t available. Be careful not cover the stems, though.

Pruning

Avoid pruning for the first 1 to 2 years of a rose bush’s life. You want the roses to have ample opportunity to grow leaves and the stem before you start pruning. If there are broken branches, ones that are rubbing against the house, or extra-long ones, those can be cut.

So there you have it. Joan’s guide to starting a rose garden (even if you have no idea what you are doing)! As you can see, it is not all that complicated. As the more time you spend with your roses, you will see they will tell you what they want and need.

Backyard Beekeeping

Keeping bees and harvesting their honey can be done right in your backyard. Beekeeping helps prevent bees from extinction and as such is a well-respected past-time!

First, you will need to consider some things about the particular area you wish to do beekeeping in. Certain countries/areas have laws around beekeeping – even if it is in your backwards, you will have to respect them. You also need to be sensitive about family members’ or neighbors’ allergies. These concerns, once worked through, will put your mind at ease allowing you to get on with the beekeeping. Local beekeepers usually know all the resources and know where to get any information on their favorite subject.

As far as equipment goes, how much you wish to own is up to you – but there is some basic fundamentals needed for beekeeping. You will need to either buy or make a hive stand as well as the hives themselves. Tools to protect yourself and to pacify the bees when inspecting their hives as well as collecting honey are very important: gloves and a net mask and hat are the standards. There is also full body covering kits available. Perhaps most importantly is the steamer or smoker. This will need to be a beekeeping specific steamer so contact shops to ensure you get the correct one.

Keep in mind that beekeeping, unlike many other pastimes, requires and involves a steep learning curve and ongoing learning and furthering of your knowledge. There are many sources to get these as you get more into beekeeping such as meetings and joining associations, and also mainstream means of information gathering such as books and online essays and articles. In the beginning, this may just involve speaking with local beekeepers and getting more information as well as making contacts that can assist you in your journey to backyard beekeeping.

Lastly, you will need to decide which bee species you will keep. There several different honeybee species – depending mainly on region and climate, so go for one that thrives near you!

How to Start a Rose Garden (Part 2)

In the first part of this series, the discussion in the blog post was about finding the right spot, testing the soil, and then preparing it to get it ready for planting.

Let’s have a look at the next steps now.

The Right Roses for Your Area

Across the country, different areas will have different annual winter temperatures. Winter weather affects the growth of rose bushes, so different types of these will flourish (or not) depending on which part of the country they are planted in. As you are starting out it is best to select roses that are low maintenance and hardy, and ones that are resistant to disease.

The Planting

There will be a choice of either potted roses or bare root roses. Potted roses are generally more expensive. Potted roses come in a container with soil, whereas bare root roses come with none.

When digging a hole, make it slightly larger than the root size so the roots don’t get squashed.

The Watering

While there are specifics as to how much and how often roses need to be watered, what you must be certain of is that the ground must stay moist. Don’t focus on just the plant when you are watering, but do take care of the whole ground bed. This will encourage the roots to branch out. In the beginning, check the ground every day, then every second day, and so on. You’ll want to get to a point when you are watering once a week (or twice if it is very hot and dry). The aim is to have roots that are drought tolerant.

Fortify the Roses

Apply a layer of slow-release nitrogen fertiliser in spring. You won’t need to worry about another application if your roses are flourishing in the middle of summer, but what you will need to do is possibly use an insecticide to get rid of the Japanese beetles that will ultimately arrive, but try to select one that is the least toxic to bees as possible.

Keep an eye out for the last two steps, particularly!

How to Start a Rose Garden (Part 1)

There are many people who would love to have a rose garden, but don’t actually start one. This is because rose gardens are often see as high-maintenance, and very difficult to keep up with.

Roses are actually a very hardy plant, and not as delicate and fragile as one would think. To help get started, here is a simple 9 step guide to starting a rose garden!

1. Choose a Sunny Spot

Roses grow and flourish in full sun. Choose a spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight. If this is not possible, a spot that gets morning sunlight will also do. Make sure the spot selected isn’t lower than the rest of garden, as water and rain will pool there. Water that is standing is a breeding ground for disease, can attract mosquitoes and can also lead to fungi and root rot.

2. Test the Soil

Do a soil test to test the pH level and the amount fo sulphur in the soil. This can be done using home test kits from a nursery, but you will get better results if you take a sample of it to a local agricultural centre. Once you have results, you will know which treatments to add to your soil, such as lime, sulphur, and possibly other ingredients too.

3. Prepare the Soil

Other than any lime or sulphur you may need to add (following your soil test), you will also need to add compost or peat moss to the soil. Dig down about 12 inches deep then mix in the compost. It needs to go down 12 inches because that is where the feeder roots will be.

The compost or peat moss needs to be added not only to the holes where the roses will be planted but to the entire garden bed. This is because the peat moss improves drainage in clay soils and also helps retain moisture in sandy soils.

Part two of this post contains more tips!

Page: Landscape Gardening with Chickens

Gardening with chickens comes with so many wonderful benefits – they give fertilizer, eggs for breakfast, and help with pest control and soil building.

There is no one specific way to keep chickens, but one of the most fun ways is to design the landscaping for the chickens right from the very beginning.

Here is a brief guide to getting started.

Education is Key

The first – and most important – step is to find out if it is legal to keep chickens in your backyard. Some areas allow it, but in some places don’t. Check with your town’s planning department.

Once that is out the way, try to find some people in your area who are doing the same thing. While you can do research online and in your library, speaking to poultry experts will be much more beneficial to you.

And while you’re speaking with locals, get in touch with your direct neighbours. It is always the right thing to do be respectful of their rights to a quiet environment. Address their concerns – and maybe offer some fresh eggs!

Plan the Landscape

You will need to consider the following:

  • The size and layout of your garden (or the spot in your garden you will be using);
  • The number of chickens that your space can handle;
  • The daily maintenance routine that will be required for both the flock and piece of land.

The most basic needs of chickens are access to fresh water, food, enough space to roam, sunlight, air, and soil for dust baths.

The Enclosure

There are so many ways to set this up, it is hard to list them all. This gardener’s preferred option is to set up the coops, then behind the chicken coops have the run.

For the ground, use stone or paving and bricks. These options are easier to sweep.The chickens will eat any weeds that pop up in the gaps – which is very helpful!

How to Garden in a Drought

Keeping your garden fresh and green when there is much less rain that normal – or in extreme cases, a drought – is almost impossible. There are some things you can do though in an attempt to keep your garden alive. This article focuses on water and mulching.

When to Water, How to Water

Consider creating a reservoir for the run-off water from your gutters. For a vegetable garden, If you are collecting water from the roof, be aware of what is on it (think asbestos, tar, bird droppings and so on). The water that comes off your roof may make the veggies in your vegetable garden unsafe to consume.

Collecting rainwater is your best option. Find creative ways to save it. For example, when it is raining, keep out wide, broad buckets outside to collect the precious drops.

Choosing when to water is very important. The early evening or the morning will have minimal water evaporation from the sun.

You can stick tubes near the roots of your plants in the ground, and water the plant directly via the tube. Less water is wasted and the plant absorbs more of the water as it is more direct. The tube can be around the size of a coke can to a 2L bottle.

Mulching

Mulching is a technique that you can use the help water hungry plants. An interesting side note – when trees lose their leaves, they are doing so to retain some energy, and also to preserve water. Leaves keep the moisture in the ground and also keeps other plants (that may compete for water) from growing (On this note – Regularly check that your garden is free of weeds as these will be stealing water that is valuable!).

You can create mulches by collecting leaves fallen in the winter months. Keep cuttings from your lawn when trimming it, and put this at the base of your plants, along with the leaves.

Welcome to Joan’s Personal Landscaping and Gardening Blog

Hello and welcome to this little green corner in the world wide web. The owner of this blog is Joan, and she writes about landscaping and gardening.

Joan lives in a tiny town with her husband. It is just the two of them in their cottage, their two children have ‘flown the coop’ and now have their own families to take care of. The house sits on a big plot of land, and Joan spends her days pottering around the garden. There is always something to do in a garden, especially one that is as big as Joan’s. She doesn’t only spend her days gardening – she keeps chickens too!

Her husband isn’t much of a gardener, he much prefers to spend his time tinkering with broken electronics. He has helped many of their neighbours fix their appliances. He does it just as a hobby, and the neighbours love him for that!

But back to Joan’s garden. It is quite large. One could call it a plot. Joan has split it up into different ‘zones’. She has one area that is a vegetable garden. Now there is nothing better than making a delicious spaghetti bolognese with fresh ripe tomatoes right from the garden! Or a crisp fresh salad rich with crispy lettuce, grown by one’s own hand. Joan loves growing her own veggies and could talk about it for hours once she gets started!

Joan also has a succulent zone, she calls it her ‘oasis’. She has a huge variety of succulents and cacti. These plants need very little water – in fact, many of them grow in the desert! Not everyone sees the appeal with these, but she loves how hardy and determined these plants are.

Joan also has a rose garden – what garden would be complete without one? Many people think having a rose garden is a lot of hard work, and that it is difficult to keep them alive. It isn’t really, but Joan has written a guide on how to start your own green corner. Have a look!