Compost More than Just a Fertilizer

Yeah, I also talk about compost in the fertilizer section, but compost is useful and necessary to your garden in so many ways other than as plain fertilizer. Because it's organically rich, with good texture, compost is just about the best thing you can add to soil. What works best really depends on the type and fertility of your native soil, but you can't go wrong digging in quite a lot of compost. Compost lightens heavy clay soil and gives needed substance to sandy soil. Less-extreme soils can...

Much Ado about Mulch

Mulch is a good gardening habit but not mandatory. But, ooh boy, do the benefits make it worth the effort A really good job of mulching your garden usually Inhibits weed germination and growth (and not only are weeds unsightly, but they also they steal resources from your plants ) Holds in soil moisture, protecting your plants from drying out so fast Moderates soil-temperature fluctuations (this benefit is especially valuable during that turbulent-weather period in spring when you don't want...

How much seed to use

As with calculating the amount of fertilizer to spread, you need to know the square footage of your lawn. (So spend a moment to figure that out you know, length x width, or the radius squared x pi. If you can't remember this elementary-school math, get a smart kid to help you bill it as a practical lesson By the way, if you know your yard size in acres, 1 acre equals 43,560 square feet.) Then consult the bag of seed to find out how much is recommended, or check out Table 10-3. Don't plan to...

How to spread seed

You need the help of some sort of tool so the seeds spread as evenly as possible. Buy this tool at a home-and-garden supply store for bigger jobs, you may prefer simply to rent the necessary equipment or hire someone else to do the job. Generally, though, here are your choices in approach (see Figure 10-1) 1 Cyclone spreader This hand seeder is relatively cheap and easy to use. Dump in the seed and then trot along the seedbed, turning the handle as you go. The seed sprays out in a semi-circular...

Treating alreadyWeedy lawns

Having too many weeds in a lawn is more than a call to arms it's a wake-up call. Something isn't right if they're winning. On the other hand, you can and, frankly, will have to live with a few. To get rid of the weeds you already have, follow these tips 1 Assess and correct. If your lawn were healthy, you wouldn't have so many weeds, and that's the truth. So what's wrong Are you not watering or feeding enough, which stresses the grass and eventually leads to sparser growth and areas where weeds...

Whats your type Deciding on the kind of fertilizer

As you may know, fertilizer contains three main elements (nutrients) critical for good plant growth nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen is the one that enhances foliage and stem growth. That's why nitrogen dominates lawn fertilizers. Common formulations include 22-3-7 and 21-0-0. Chapter 4 covers garden fertilizer in some detail, but here I discuss fertilizer that's strictly for lawn use. When you go shopping for lawn fertilizer, read the labels very carefully (see Figure...

Where to plant bulbs

Bulbs are some of the least demanding of all plants, but they appreciate your efforts to give them as good of a growing area as possible (with well-drained soil) they may reward your efforts with years of bountiful flowers. Flowering bulbs are very happy in prepared flowerbeds. They receive the good, loose soil they relish and the elbow room they need. Here are two good approaches t Bedding schemes Perhaps you've seen these beds in public display gardens broad areas devoted to nothing but, say,...

Checking out the feeding schedule

First, you need to know when not to fertilize your lawn. For example, don't bother in the winter or off-season. Let a sleeping (or dormant) lawn lie. And don't feed in especially hot weather. Grass plants respond to the stress of blazingly hot days by slowing down their growth, and a jolt of fertilizer during this time isn't a good thing. That pretty much leaves spring and fall. You may also feed during the summer months, depending on the weather and the type of grass. Here's a cool-season...

Basic Gardening Resources

Vo many resources for purchasing plants and tools or just gathering information are available that beginning gardeners are often intimidated by the vastness of it all. With this appendix, I attempt to break down the sheer volume of gardening information into some simple, basic Web sites that you can use as a starting point for exploring the resources at your disposal. These recommended sites offer a wealth of info on many aspects of gardening, and they're the ideal place to start when exploring...

On the level Deciding between aboveground and inground gardens

If you know where you want your water garden, you can begin to explore the physical form that your garden will take. Water gardens generally are either above ground in a container of some sort or set into the ground as a pond. Read on for some points to consider when deciding which type to go with. Consider where you've decided to locate your pond. Aboveground water gardens are a commanding presence in a landscape. For this reason, gardeners generally site them where people can enjoy them up...

Floaters and submerged plants

Though not as flashy as some of the others, floaters and submerged plants are important to a successful water garden. Floaters are welcome because they help fulfill that two-thirds-coverage requirement for the water garden's surface. They also provide shelter for fish and use nutrients that may otherwise feed unwanted amounts of algae. Favorite floaters and submerged plants include eelgrass, fairy moss, parrot's feather, water hyacinth, water lettuce, and hornwort. Submerged plants can fill a...

Prepping your soil

The biggest mistake beginning vegetable gardeners make is using lousy or too-thin soil. Gardening is not rocket science, folks (even if NASA is working on growing vegetables in space). Please, before a single vegetable begins its hopeful, potential-filled life in your yard, give it a very good home This prep work can save you untold disappointment and, perhaps more than any other factor, assure a bountiful and delicious harvest. Making a raised bed. First build up the earth for planting (A)....

Making your drawing match your dream garden

After you've completed the initial drawing of your yard or garden plot to your satisfaction, you can move forward and add the elements for your garden plan. Here are some recommendations 1. Gather any pictures you're using for inspiration, and prepare a list of your main goals, assets, and limitations. Go to the earlier section titled Taking Stock Evaluating What You Already Have for advice on looking at your yard's challenges and advantages. Getting Ideas for Your Garden Space can help you...