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. 

 

Here a Brick, There a Brick: Recycling Bricks

Green Hardscape Design and Install is GardenWise    

Each brick used in the above GardenWise, Inc. designed and installed garden space in Washington, D.C., was  recycled  from  the previous garden space.  Landscape Architects are paying closer attention to “green”  projects more  and  more.  Using  recycled  materials  is  one way  GardenWise  helps  our  clients  take a great “green” step when installing  a  stone or brick  design.  We  use  recycled materials whenever the chance to do so  presents  itself,  and  the  possibilities are endless:  recycled  concrete  for  paving  systems,  glass in stepping stones, recycled bricks, and crushed stone and granite to     be used in patio surfaces.       

An added bonus?  You save money! When I incorporate  larger pieces of old concrete or bricks into a  design,  the purchase and delivery costs of new materials is eliminated.

Add Natives That Require Less Water

On this 95 degree day, you may want to think about replacing your plants with more eco-friendly choices that will require less water each week.

Some plants require water almost everyday.  You don’t need to replace all of these plants, especially if they are your favorites.  But you can substitute many of these problem drinkers with attractive drought-tolerant alternatives, that will require less watering year round, which is a great green step.  Here are some examples of plants that require more water to stay away from, and some  better choices. 

You can also consider replacing some exotic plants with groups of native plants that will tolerate and thrive in your area’s year round weather conditions.  Native plants are hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance, and will save you time and money by reducing the need for pesticides, fertilizer, and water.  However, not all introduced species are bad garden choices, and some will adapt very well to your area, so you’ll need to do some research.  A big bonus to planting a variety of native plants?  They’ll provide a habitat for a variety of your favorite native wildlife, including birds and butterflies.

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. 

 

Cause She’s A BRICKHOUSE!

Move the Bricks — Forever Change your Garden Space

Every single brick in the above DC garden I designed and installed was recycled from a previous garden space.  No bricks were purchased to create this eye-catching and sophistacted garden  that has become tranquil escape for the homeowners.    

Using recycled materials in your hardscape featrures is a great “green” step to take when installing brick and stone designs.  We use  recycled materials when the chance to do so is available,  and the possibilities are endless; recycled concrete for paving systems,  glass in stepping stones,  recycled bricks, and crushed stone and granite to be used in  patio surfaces.        

An added bonus?  You save money.  When I incorporate  larger pieces of old concrete or bricks into a  design,  the purchase and delivery of new materials is eliminated.  Also eliminated?  The material removal and disposal costs.  We challenge you to put your creative caps on and think about what you can recycle in your garden space — the sky’s the limit, and the results can be life changing.  

“Green” Garden Sheds are GardenWise

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!  

 

 

 

Water, Water, Everywhere: Recycle Water in the Garden

Green Living Tips – Rain Barrels!

Landscape Architects have been on the cutting edge of combining sustainable and green trends with land use planning for decades.  Now there are numerous  affordable green garden steps  you  can take in your own garden spaces that will greatly impact our environment.  Today  our Green Living tip falls into the Water Conservation category;  recycle water  by adding a rain barrel!  

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! 
 
Adding a rain barrell 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 whole lot of water to recycle,  and a lot less water you’ll be paying for from you local water authority.    There are many rain barrel options to be found at garden centers an online.  A company I work with, Gutter Supply,  has a lot of options to choose from that will allow you to  seamlessly incorporate a rain barrel into your  landscape design.  If you think it’ s unsightly to have a barrel in your landscape, keep in mind it’s pretty easy to design a hidden area for your barrell, such as this bamboo structure in a garden corner.