Rain Barrels are GardenWise

Today’s Green Living tip falls into the Water Conservation category… recycle water by adding a rain barrel!  Adding a rain barrel to your landscape is a pretty simple project that can be completed in a single day.  Did you know a typical 1/2″ rain storm will fill a 50 gallon rain barrel, while a 1″ rainstorm produces 1/2 gallon of water per square foot of roof area?  That’s a lot of water to recycle,  and lot less water you’ll be paying for from you local water authority.     

Rain Barrels come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and the uses are limitless — you can attach a standard garden hose to your barrel, or you can attach a soaker hose.  You can also use your rainwater in your watering cans for your containers and pots.   Because we love added bonuses here at GardenWise — here’s a good one:  rain barrels reduce the amount of water around the foundations of your home. 

A company I just started to work with, Gutter Supply,  has a lot of options to choose from that will allow you to imagine how nicely you can incorporate a rain barrel into your landscape design. 

 

Water, Water Everywhere!

Water Fountains are Gardenwise

When you think about your outside spaces, take it to the next level and add a water feature!  Fountains and water features come in many interesting shapes and sizes and can deliver transforming results.

There’s something about water and the sight and sound of it trickling and tumbling over stones and splashing into a pool.  It’s one of the most enjoyable and relaxing additions to any garden.  When the sunlight sparkles and all the colors from your garden appear in the water’s reflection, you’ll be hooked!  An added bonus?  The birds you’ll attract with a fountain will make for a great natural pest control and improve the fertility of your soil.  And with a good supply of water in your garden, they’ll eat less of your fruits and vegetables.  

Below is a water feature I designed and installed — and here are more fountains gwww

 

Grouping Groundcovers Together is GardenWise

We’ve written a lot over the past two years about losing at least HALF of your lawn areas to create a “greener” more eco-friendly garden. Losing some of your lawns areas is a fantastic way to make your garden space less water needy — and it will introduce new options to make your landscape current and interesting.

Replacing lawn areas with ground covers is a great option I recommend everyone to consider. And remember that if you position numerous species of ground covers together in large groupings, it will add much drama to your space, in addition to both color and texture. Think about creeping Jenny for a sunny areas and Creeping mints for shadier spots. And trailing yellow dale and trailing Lantana.

What to really ramp it up? Bring your sense of smell into the mix and add a fragrant ground cover, such as Sweet Woodruff, to your garden space.

If in the end your heart belongs to grass, think about replacing your lawn areas with grasses and grass-like options such as pink mulhy grass, liliope, deschampisi caespitosa (aka tufted hair grass) or mondo grass.

You’ll need to water your grasses and ground covers adequately until they’re established, after that, depending on the type, you’ll find your ground covers require up to 100% less than your former lawn areas.

GardenWise on Gardening with Recycled Materials

 GardenWise on Recycling & “Green” Garden Design 

There are so many advantages to using recycled materials when creating a stone/hardscape garden project.  For the environment and your wallet!  We use recycled  materials, such as concrete for paving systems, recycled glass in stepping stones, and crushed recycled stone and granite for patio surfaces whenever possible.   It’s a great “green” step to take while creating your special garden space.  

An added benefit to using recycled materials?  The savings on the installation of a landscape design.  If I can incorporate  larger pieces of old concrete into a design, the purchase and delivery of new materials is eliminated.  Also eliminated?  The cost of removing and disposing of old materials.

If you think that you can’t afford to install your next hardscape project, ask about incorporating recycled materials into your design.  The savings may just be enough for you to go ahead and create the garden space you desire.  Just in time for spring and summer. 

A Hinged Trellis is GardenWise

A Foldaway Trellis!

It’s hard to clean  behind latticework, so a great alternative that allows you to get behind this wonderful garden accent  is to make a hinged trellis that swings open!

Start by fastening a strip of 3/4-by-1-inch wood to the wall about one and a half feet from the ground.  Screw hinge plates to the underside of the strip and the bottom of the trellis. Attach another wooden strip to the wall at the level of the trellis’s top crossbar.  Screw metal eyes into the strip’s ends and metal hooks into the ends of the crosspiece so the trellis can be unhooked and pulled away.

It’s a fairly simple garden project to do and can be comleted in just an afternoon!

 

Some Grass is GardenWise!

Zoysia Grass Makes a Comeback

Turf magazine has a feature story on a grass that holds very fond childhood memories for me  —  Zoysia Grass.  I was  thrilled  to  talk  to writer Murray Anderson about my thoughts and experiences:  

“Zoysia is a warm-season grass native to China, Japan and Southeast Asia. It’s highly adaptable and can be grown in all types of soils from clay to sand, as well as in either acidic  or  alkaline  soils. It requires little moisture and stays green during even the hottest  days  of  summer. (GardenWise’s) Mark  White,  a  Washington,  D.C.-based  landscape architect  and  member  of  the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), describes zoysia as a “wonderful grass – beautiful, thick and lush.” He grew up sliding  on  zoysia-covered  hills in his parents’  yard  and  remembers  it  being dense  and lush,  an  ideal  lawn  to  play  on.

Read the story in its entirety here.

PS – The home featured in the magazine is my house in the Cherrydale neighborhood of  Northern Virginia!

Plants that Survive in Clay Heavy Soil are GardenWise

Clay-Heavy Plants that Survive & Enchant

A favorite part of my job that I enjoy very much is  landscaping — figuring out which plants will work best in a particular garden, based on amount of light, soil type, water availability, and many other factors.  I work a lot in Northern Virginia, an area which is notorious for clay heavy soil.  I’ve been working with this type of soil for over 20 years, and through all my adventures, I’ve come across some fantastic plants that do incredibly well.  For those who have hit their wall with their clay heavy soil, here are some of the most beautiful clay soil champs available.  Blue Cornflower, a Kennedy favorite, is guaranteed to take your breath away.  Below are some flower suggestions for those with clay-heavy soil, beginning with the irresistable Blue Cornflower.

Blue Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) These brilliant flowers are what memories are made of — rare among “blue” flowers as they are actually blue.  They are delicately fragrant and drought tolerant.  This flower has a lot of history — it’s the national flower of Estonia,  was used in Pharaoh Tutankhamunand’s funeral wreath, and was President Kennedy’s favorite flower, worn by John Kennedy Jr. at his wedding to honor his father. 

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) These plants (herbs, actually) do very well in clay-heavy soil, are drought tolerant,  and come in a variety of colors – the  purple blooms will stop you in your tracks.  They will break up soil as they grow, and are a favorite among those who practice herbal health as they have been known to boost the immune system. 

Daylily ( Hemerocallis) A must grow for anyone with clay-heavy soil, they do well in a wide range of soil conditions, come in a variety of wonderful colors, and are rugged.  They also establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little care.  

Liriope (Liriope muscari) With spikes of tiny violet-blue flowers, this grass-like plant is named after the nymph Liropie, mother of Narcissus.  The plant is a member of the lily family, has dark green, ribbonlike foliage that  recurves toward the ground, and does very well in soil with clay.   

Coreopsis Verticillata or Tickseed is a plant that is very tolerant of clay and its disc florets and ray florets are bright yellow that will make you smile from ear to ear, even on a not so sunny Fall day. 

• Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is the Maryland state flower and a cheery perennial with bright yellow petals that surround black centers. It’s a striking flower that does very well in clay soil. Plant them en masse and enjoy the show!

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) With its classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow disc, they are attractive to bees and birds, and are drought-tolerant.  They do well in clay-heavy soil and have cheery blooms.