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.
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!
Garden Shed Inspiration for Better Homes & Gardens
I want to build a new garden shed in my backyard this summer. This is an idea I had last summer and it never happened, so I’m moving it to the top of the “to do” list for this year. Most homeowners will agree, there’s no such thing as enough storage space. There’s a limit, after all, to the things you can stash in your basement and garage. What I really need is a garden shed – one large enough to house a pretty big arsenal of outdoor power tools while providing organized space for everything from rakes and shovels to mulch and fertalizer. All of my outside spaces are landscaped, so it will have to be in a somewhat visible area to the left of my water feature, above, one of the main focal points in my garden.
I had an earlier thought of creating a shed with a “green” roof, and when I came across this wonderful green garden shed on BHG.com , right, photo credit to Better Homes & Gardens, it pretty much made me realize I was thinking in the right direction. Thanks, BHG, for giving me the inspiration when I needed it most!
A Smaller Urban Garden Challenge in D.C.
When transforming a small empty area into a usable space, select a theme or style as you would for any garden, but think small scale in its development. When buying plants, shrubs and trees, look for the words “dwarf”, “compact” and “miniture” attached to your favorites. Less is more, and a theme provides a single focus which allows you to enjoy the landscape as a whole instead of being distracted by out–of–place details. Click here to see a before and after of a “zen” garden I designed and installed which introduces peace, tranquility and intimacy to a previously unused, small and barren space. The water feature we installed surrounded by river rock serves as a great focal point which introduces you to the space before leading you in a counter clockwise direction through the garden and the intimate seating and entertaining areas.
GardenWise on Productive and Green Gardens
Many clients come to me with questions about how to take significant “green” steps to make their gardens more eco-friendly. The question I hear the most? “Where to start?” Here are five easy steps every person can take in their home garden that will help the environment and save you money in the long run on watering and energy costs.
Reduce your lawn by half — yes, by half! Replace your reduced lawn area with groundcovers that will provide beautiful colors and textures to your space, and add beautiful hardscape or some pourous paving which allow for surrounding plantings to soak up any excess water
Replace plants with drought-tolerant alternatives that require much less water.
Also replace exotic plants with native plants that can easily survive and thrive in the year round weather conditions in your area. This will also cut down on the cost of replacing plants that don’t survive well in your weather.
Add a deciduous tree (one that loses its leaves in Fall) which will grow tall, and shade your home and roof during summer months, keeping your inside temps lower. These trees will also allow for sunlight to enter your home during winter months to help keept it warm and reduce your overall energy use.
Make your garden productive by adding vegetables and 2-3 fruit trees. Vegetables can be grown in former lawn areas, and trees are fantastic garden additions as they absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen. You can save money at the grocery store, enjoy fresh produce, or help others by donating your home grown vegetables and fruit to those in need
A Garden Challenge
When transforming a small empty area into a usable space, select a theme or style as you would for any garden, but think small scale in its development. When buying plants, shrubs and trees, look for the words “dwarf” and “compact” and “miniture” attached to your favorites. Less is more, and a theme provides a single focus, which in turn allows you to enjoy the landscape as a whole instead of being distracted by out-of-place details. I created this “zen” garden which introduced peace, tranquility and intimacy to the space.
When J. Mark White of GardenWise was called in to restore the garden of a 1920s Colonial Revival, he was already familiar with the property, having previously landscaped the front and back yards. After fire struck the Cleveland Park home, the owners turned to the landscape architect for a redo.
Shrubs as Accents are GardenWise
Something I often think about is how to get as much as possible out of a garden space. I keep my eye out for multi-purpose planting choices, and like to include multi-purpose items. A fantastic way to add a colorful and textural interest to a garden space is to use an eye-catching shrub as a garden accent, which will give your garden a additional focal point.
I was re-reading a 2100 issue of ASLA’s Landscape Architecture and came across a story about the very same idea — using shrubs as accents. I know, great idea, right? Below is the first page of the story (click once to enlarge) shows how a Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ can be used as an accent to bring warmth to a garden space. The story, written by Marty Wingate, shows a wonderful picture of the ‘Color Guard’ which is used as an accent that provides a new seasonal focal point to a garden space.
Mid-November Changes for Spring
Adding trees, bushes and bulbs will create changes to add big excitement to your Spring garden. For a less expensive garden adventure, think about rearranging and replanting some existing shrubs.
If you’re planning on getting your bulbs in this weekend, before digging, decide on your planting scheme by laying bulbs on top of the ground where you want them to grow. Irregular patterns will create a more natural display. No matter what kind f bulbs you’re planting (daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinth,) a good general rule to make sure you have the best possible display of flowers is to set them at a depth equal to three times their diameter. Place your bulbs in their planting holes pointy side up, and fill your holes with soil, firming it to eliminate air pockets and to secure bulbs in place.
Mid- November is a great time to move trees and shrubs into new positions and to plant new ones so they become established before winter arrives. For trees and shrubs, plant about a half-inch deeper than the pot surface. With bare root trees, plant up to the nursery mark, the line of soil on the stem that shows the previous planting depth. Firm them in to eliminate air pockets around the roots which can lead to rot and the plant moving around during rough weather.