Compost in the City — It’s GardenWise!

(A great post today from our Fabulous office manager, Stacy Baker)

Composting in the city can be done! Whether you have a yard live in a tiny apartment with no yard, here are some interesting and fun facts about “composting in the city.”

What is composting: It is a process that occurs when microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, digest organic matter such as leaves, grass, and food scraps. The by-products of composting are heat, water vapor, and carbon dioxide, and at the end of the process you are left with a nutrient rich, soil-like substance called com post.

Why should someone start a compost bin: Composting has a lot of great environmental, physical, chemical, and biological benefits; it reduces the amount that you throw away due to distasteful orders, and fruit flies caused by rotting food. By containing it and disposing of it on your own property you use the “green” method to convert waste into useful soil, in which you can start a garden, or add to house plants as a natural fertilizer. For those with kids, starting a bin could be a great science project.

If composting intrigues you, below is a list of materials that you will need to start your own compost.  All you need is a good mix of green and brown materials:

*One part green (coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, etc.)*Three parts brown (leaves, paper, dryer lint, wood chips, soil, and cardboard)*One air tight container*Charcoal liners to keep the smell down if you choose to compost inside your house (your choice)*Biodegradable bags to put inside the bin (your choice but comes in handy if you are composting inside your house)

If you’re lucky to have a yard, try using Tumblers for composting. They’re made out of plastic, less labor intensive, keep the materials out of site and are great for small spaces. Since this does not have contact with the ground, remember to add a shovelful of soil to the mixture to increase the diversity.

If you don’t have a yard, have no fear!  There are ways to still have a compost bin. If you are the hands on type, try our method above and create your own. If not, there may be places located near you to you set up and even collect your own compost.  In DC there’s a wonderfulcompany located at compostcab.com. 

 

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 Fragrant Groundcover is GardenWise

GardenWise is Sweet on Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a shade garden delight, and the perfect groundcover for adding fragrance to your outside space while reducing lawn areas.  Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils, it’s fast growing, insect repellent, low  maintainance,  quick to establish and it isn’t prone to invasiveness — though you definitely  do  need to keep it in check.   Sweet Woodruff  has  white  spring flowers  and  an attractive eye-catching foilage.   The foliage’s scent intensifies when  the  flowers  are dried, which  makes them a popular choice for those making potpourri.

GardenWise on Making a Garden “Green”

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

 

How Green is Your GardenWise

GardenWise on “Green” Garden Projects  

When a gardener asks,  “How can I make my garden ‘green’?”  The journey has  begun.  A thoughtful understanding that an outside space can have a positive impact on the environment is the first step to a green garden makeover.   An exciting weekend project that will bring immediate and amazing results is to reduce your lawn area by at least half. 

Substituting lawn areas with ground covers will provide beautiful colors and textures to your garden spaces.  Ground covers  retain moisture in the soil,  help prevent erosion, and  require significantly less water than grass, which will make your garden space eco-friendly.   Creeping thymes and Creeping Jenny are good choices for sunny spots, and  for shadier areas,  tiny creeping mints such as Mentha requienii will work well.  Some nice low-water  choices include Trailing Yellow Dalea and Trailing lantana. 

By adding some stone elements and pourous pavers into your plan, your garden space will come alive with wonderful garden paths that will add new dimensions to your garden spaces.  

Home & Design Magazine Article ‘A Modern Landscape’

Home & Design Magazine Article ‘A Modern Landscape’

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.

 

Recycle Garden Water

Water Recycling   

As we enjoy Fall, conserving water remains a priority.    Here are some easy ways to get the biggest bangs for your water bucks. 

Less Lawn. I write about this all the time.  Reduce your lawn areas by half.  The average American uses 200 gallons each day they water their lawn. Consider replacing some of that grass with an attractive groundcover which is drought resistant, covers a large area, and requires zero mowing.

Super Soak. Up to a third of all water from yoru irrigation system can evaporate during the heat of the day. Give your plants fewer, heavy soakings. If your watering routine includes using sprinklers, think about only using them in only use them in the morning.

Grey Is Good. Recapturing grey water or rainwater can provide a free source of garden irrigation. These systems can be easily installed and even incorporated into irrigation systems.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip irrigation systems water plants right at the root and serve as an efficient alternative to sprinkler systems. Be sure to get a timer for maximum effectiveness.