In the Garden
Get down and dirty in the garden

Make a Gorgeous Garden with Landscape Design

When it comes to garden décor and landscaping, many people like to take things into their own hands, which seems to be fine considering that you are aware of some of the basic principles of landscaping. However, it should be remembered that these landscape design tips would help you in not only demarcating boundaries and getting a gorgeous garden, but also helps with easier maintenance in the long run.

backyard landscape
Photo by Shutterstock

Ensure Clear Boundaries

One of the most critical mistakes of landscape design would be not adhering to boundaries. Do remember that like the rest of your home, your outdoor area needs to be divided via physical or even some decorative boundaries. This is important because you do not want areas to get interconnected and then end up with trouble fixing them. For example, if the patio area is covered with too much grass on the sides, then it will mean cleaning hassles and the inflow of insects and other elements into your home. Hence, you need to strike a balance between restricting areas and letting them interconnect. Here are ideas that can help:

• Reduce the clutter on the patio from there on making sure that the landscape design is more about plants and other decorative elements.
• You can encircle a driveway turn around with a path or fountain, if space permits.
• Do not merge too many things, as it would seem a mess. Let each landscape design stand on its own while maintaining a flow.

stone walkway
Photo by Shutterstock

Regulating the Line

There is an important feature in landscape design, but do not worry: it is not something that you cannot handle. It implies that any kind of architectural elements, like the door or the foyer, help create an imaginary boundary. This is particularly useful in outdoor areas and landscape design.

For example:

• You can have a prominent tree as a landscape feature and place a bench underneath for lounging.
• In the same way, having boulders along the driveway is not an interruptive feature, but helps mark the boundaries subtly.
• Along the way to the swimming pool, if you do not want any balustrades then opt for a natural stone, which is slightly elevated and can then, also, move on to the garden.

These are just a few simple ideas on landscape design. Along with this, here are some other principles that you should try to follow:

• Get the proportions right. Unless you are confident with the imaginary design, you may end up with a piece that is shoddy looking rather than gorgeous.
• Also, try to start with smaller scale projects instead of renovating the entire place at once. For instance, you can start with the flower bed, then move on to simple ideas like a stone bench or even using pebbles to set up a Zen garden. Later, move on to driveway renovation and other larger areas.

Ensure that you have a plan in mind regarding your budget and all that you want to do. This will help you delegate and devote time to each section as per your requirements. Moreover, gradually, you will be able to create that perfect landscape design that you’ve always wanted without having to spend a lot on hiring experts and professionals landscape designer.

Adam Wilson is a writer who shares his experience by providing valuable information about home improvement, business, health, automotive and fashion subjects in order to help readers gain more awareness. He also loves to help people grow their visibility online. Follow Adam on Twitter or Google+.

8 Homemade Insecticides to Save Your Indoor Garden

Indoor plants bring life to your home; however, it is imperative that you take proper care of your favorite plants to ensure that they thrive. One of the biggest challenges that your garden faces is an infestation. While insecticides work miracles in relieving your plants of annoying pests, it is important for you to choose your options very carefully.

Harmful chemicals commonly sold at your local drug store not only kill pests but also harm the overall health of your family. Therefore, it is suggested that you choose a healthier alternative and rely on homemade insecticides that are safer, cheaper and, interestingly enough, more effective. Here are eight natural homemade insecticide sprays that you can use to make your indoor garden a bug-free zone.

indoor plants and decor
Photo by Adobe Stock/

Soap Spray

Soap spray is a very easy to create, yet a very effective insecticide for getting rid of beetles, whiteflies, mites, and aphids.

• 1-1/2 teaspoons of any mild liquid soap
• 4 cups of water

Mix the liquid soap with the water, pour in a spray bottle and spray the mixture directly on your indoor plants to keep them free of any hungry insects.

Oil Spray

The oil spray is very effective in taking down armies of insects such as mites, thrips, etc. by forming a thick coat on the bodies of the insect and causing them to die of suffocation.

• 1 cup of vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon of any mild liquid soap
• 4 cups of water

Mix the ingredients, pour in a spray bottle and shake well. Sprinkle the mixture on your plants and enjoy an insect free garden.

Rodale's Organic Life’s Safe and Efficient Spray

• 1 bulb of garlic
• 1 onion (small)
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
• 1 tablespoon of liquid soap
• 4 glasses of water

Chop, grind and puree the garlic and onion. Add the cayenne pepper and let the mixture steep for about an hour. Strain the mixture, add the liquid soap and mix. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply it on the upper surfaces and undersides of the leaves of your plants. Store the remainder of Rodale's Organic Life Spray in the refrigerator. 

Neem Oil Spray

Apart from vegetable oil based sprays, neem oil spray works wonders in repelling aphids, mites, scale and other insects. Here is what you need to create your very own neem spray:

• 2 teaspoons neem oil
• 1 teaspoon mild liquid soap
• 4 glasses of water

Add the three ingredients, mix well and spray the mixture on affected plants or the entire garden as a precautionary measure to prevent your precious darlings from getting infested.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is an excellent insect repellent and is effective on wide range of pests. This spray can be made with a variety of peppers including black pepper, chili pepper, dill, ginger, and paprika to fight mites and other pests.

• 2 tablespoons red pepper
• 6 drops of mild dish soap
• 1 gallon of water

Mix the ingredients and sprinkle the solution on the plants as needed to get rid of unwanted insects.

Pyrethrum Spray

• Handful of dried chrysanthemum flowers
• 4 drops of mild dish soap
• 4 glasses of water

Grind the dried chrysanthemum flowers, add water and dish soap to create the mixture for the spray. Sprinkle the mixture on both the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves during the evening to ensure maximum efficiency. This late afternoon shower usually brings the insects out of the hiding and kills them.

Homemade Herbal Spray

• Handful of any heavily scented herb
• 1/2 gallon of water
• 3 drops of gentle dish soap

Crush your selected herb, and place it inside a mesh sack. Pour water into a bucket, put the mesh in it and leave the bucket out in the sun for around four to six days. Remove the herb pocket from the liquid and pour the mixture into a spray bottle and add the dish soap. Shake the bottle well before coating your houseplants generously with the mix.

Vinegar Spray

• 1 cup vinegar
• 3 cups water
• 4 drops of mild liquid soap

Start by combining the water and vinegar and then add in soap. Stir the mixture, pour in a plastic spray bottle and shake well. Spray well on your plants.

If you’re concerned about your family’s health, then chances are you only buy fruits and vegetables that haven’t been exposed to pesticides and other chemical applicators. The same ‘chemical free’ approach should be used for your home garden. These eight very easy to create homemade solutions protect your indoor plants from pests. They also ensure that your family remains safe from harm often caused by off-the-shelf insecticides that are not only expensive and ineffective, but also toxic to health.

Everywhere the Light Falls: Mapping Sun Exposure in Your Garden

There are some plants that can’t help but grow whenever and wherever you put them in soil, but the most beautiful and advantageous garden plants tend to be a bit more finnicky. To thrive, seeds and shoots must be planted at specific depths and distances apart; they must be watered according to their individual needs; and they must receive an appropriate amount of sunlight. Fortunately, savvy gardeners can build stunning outdoor spaces by maintaining complete control over their garden space — even the sun.

shadow on grass
Photo by Shutterstock/All Around Photo

Light is fuel for plants, but just like you shouldn’t pour diesel into your hybrid, you shouldn’t assume that all plants require the same amount and type of light. While you can’t turn off the sun, you can map where light and shadow falls throughout the day. This guide will help you understand your garden’s exposure and give you ideas for planting a healthy garden.

Mapping the Analog Way

It doesn’t take high-tech gadgetry to obtain a practical understanding of the light in your garden. In fact, all you really need is a pencil, paper, and diligence. The process can be incredibly simple:

Wake up just after dawn.
Draw a map of your yard.
Using different shading or colors, label which areas are in full sun, partial sun, and full shade.
Repeat, every three hours, until sundown.

The night before your experiment, you should produce as many maps as you’ll need throughout the day — which will vary depending on your latitude and the time of year. You need more than one map because as the sun travels through the sky, shadows will fall differently across your yard. Then, you can set alarms to remind you to check your garden every three hours. You should consider repeating this experiment at least three times, so you know how light behaves in different seasons.

If it isn’t clear, full-sun areas are regions in your garden that are not touched by shadow; partial sun areas are a mixture of light and shadow; and full shade areas are dark and untouched by light. By adding the data from your multiple maps, you can determine which areas get several hours’ worth of sunlight and which get none.

Mapping with Digital Tools

If all that drawing and observing seems like a terrible chore, you can simplify your exposure mapping with a few digital gardening tools. You can place one or more sunlight calculators in your yard to read the light in various places. More advanced sunlight calculators can also track the sun’s position and report it to a mobile app. Alternatively, you can use an augmented reality app, like Sun Seeker, to learn about solar paths, and daylight hours in your area.  It is important to remember that these might not be able to accurately predict the exact light conditions in your yard.

You can still use high-tech devices without investing in dedicated gardening gadgetry. For example, you can use security cameras to watch your yard throughout the day, and then you can fast forward through the tape to determine which areas were sunny and shady. Alternatively, instead of hand-drawing all those maps of your garden, you can print out aerial views of your home from services like Google Maps and mark the moving sun and shade on those. Technology offers plenty of solutions for making gardening easier, if only you use your devices creatively.

garden sitting area
Photo by Shutterstock/Klem Mitch

What to Do with Your Exposure Map

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of the light and shadow in your garden, you can begin planning which plants to place where. This is called exposure gardening, and it gives you the best chance to grow exceedingly healthy flora.

Most plants are labelled according to their sun exposure needs:

Full-sun plants require more than six hours of light.
Partial-sun plants require three to six hours of light.

Still, rarely are plants’ light needs so simple. For example, tomatoes tend to benefit by plenty of early-morning light, but they will languish under afternoon sun. That’s why creating several maps of your yard is so beneficial: You gain near-complete knowledge of sun conditions in your garden.

Meanwhile, any areas that are cast in darkness for the entire day will likely not be able to sustain any plant life and should be filled with other decorations, like birdbaths, fountains, or seating. Every area of your yard has a purpose, even if that purpose is a place to sit and admire your healthy, green kingdom.

Jackie is a content coordinator and contributor that creates quality articles for topics like technology, business, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the internet community.

Plant for Protection: Designing Natural Windbreaks

Mother Nature provides us with so many benefits. She feeds us, she gives us water and fresh air, and she protects us too. Unfortunately, she can also be a powerful and destructive force as we have seen with recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Southeastern United States. But this does not mean that we must suffer the full brunt of nature’s wrath.  If we follow her simple landscaping guidelines we can add additional protection to our home landscapes, lowering the risk of damage to our properties and destruction to our coastal cities.

I’m grateful for making it safely through Hurricane Irma. I give most of that credit to the biodiversity of the foliage and the windbreaks surrounding the area I live in.  It was in the aftermath of all the devastation that I realized that coastal communities may not be taking full advantage of nature’s landscaping guidelines and benefits.

Nature plants in biodiverse layers. This creates water and air filtration, helps control snow drifts, provides food and shelter for wildlife, reduces soil erosion, cools the environment and saves energy, and it creates wind protection.

layers of natural windbreak
Example of the layers in a natural windbreak at Savannas Preserve State Park.

Photo by Stephanie Montalvo

Our homes protect us from harsh weather conditions. The trend has been for developers to strip down the landscaping nature created and replace it with individual free-standing trees, minimal hedges, and sometimes if we are lucky, some low-lying ground covers. By doing this we leave ourselves open to severe damage from the sun, water, and winds.

A house standing alone with one large shade tree in the yard cannot withstand the powerful winds of a hurricane like a house surrounded with a biodiverse windbreak. 

A windbreak can help slow the winds down before they approach your home, they can capture flying debris. If planted lower than your home, they can also capture water and give the rains a place to drain.

The protective power of a windbreak all depends on the selection of the plant layers chosen, as well as the density. Plant selection is a vital step in determining the strength of your windbreak. You want to choose plants with deep taproot systems that are flexible and perform well in your area.

natural windbreak
Impact of a multiple-row windbreak on the movement of wind. As wind moves from the shorter outer row to taller inner row, the wind is deflected upwards.

Photo by Bijay Tamang/University of Florida

Your first step is to determine the type of windbreak you would like and what your end goal or purpose for that windbreak would be. The more you plan the better your chance of creating an effective protective layer for your home.

Plant your windbreak 40 to 100 feet away from your house so the root systems do not interfere with your foundation or plumbing.

The second step is deciding how dense you would like your windbreak. Plant wind-resistant trees with solid central leaders as your tallest layer, or upper canopy. Then, smaller wind-resistant trees in your lower canopy layer. Your next layer is your shrub layer. Choose dense shrubs that don’t require a lot of maintenance or trimming.

Always research the maximum full height and width each plant species will naturally grow to, and allow them to grow to that size, making sure to plant them in the right layer. Taller trees in the back, shorter trees next, then shrubs, and if you are looking for that extra layer of protection, ground covers.

Planting for the maximum height and width of each species relives you of additional labor and allows your windbreak to grow as it would in nature. If possible choose younger plants and let their roots develop into strong, deep systems naturally. Transplanting larger trees does not create as strong a windbreak.

This doesn’t mean you need to have a wild forest surrounding your home. By following the natural size and growth patterns of the species chosen you can create a gorgeous protective wind barrier that your neighbors will envy.

Now the fun part! This is where your creativity comes into play. I suggest that you always start by choosing foliage native to your area. Take some time to research their shapes, leaf colors, brittleness, growth speed, abscission, full height, and width. Your local Master Gardeners are a fantastic resource for this information.

With a well-designed windbreak, you will have additional protection from inclement weather. The bonus is during good weather you can bask in the privacy and beauty Mother Nature will bring to your yard.

For inspiration take a walk in nature and see how Mama does it. You know what they say “Mama knows best.” Stay safe and I look forward to hearing about your windbreak creations.

Stephanie Montalvo is a Master Gardener and Master Naturalist in Broward County Florida. Learn more about Stephanie and her efforts to educate the public about humane, ethical animal and environmental care through Brighter Future Foundation.

Top Tips for Decorating Your Garden with Flair

Whether you’re a total green thumb or just starting to learn about gardening, it’s fun to not only think about plants and the lawn in your yard, but also ways you can add flair to your outdoor spaces with décor items. A few carefully-selected pieces can really dress up even the tiniest or drabbest space, and have you wanting to spend more time in your outdoor areas every day. Read on for some tips you can follow when it comes to garden décor today.

flowers in bicycle planter
Photo by Shutterstock/Grisha Bruev.

Make a Plan and Set a Budget

The first step to help you in your decorating journey is to create a plan for what you want to achieve. No matter the size of your outdoor space, it is helpful to think about things such as what you want each space to accomplish when it comes to functionality or effect, plus the contour of the land. If you don’t take the time to put a plan in place, you can find yourself with a strange mixture of items that don’t work together or achieve the overall look and goals you desire.

A lack of planning can also cause you to spend more money on your garden décor than you really wanted to. Even though you might only spend $50 here and $100 or $200 there on items, these amounts can quickly add up. As such, it pays to set a budget before you start buying goods so that you can keep track of your expenses.

Match the Interior and Exterior Style of Your Home & Personality

As you plan out the décor you’d like to add to your property, it’s important to try to match things to the interior and exterior of your home so that the style is complementary. You also want to ensure everything in your garden is aligned with your personality.

It’s wise to consider the architectural style of your home, the colors used on the exterior of the building, and the type of décor you have used inside the house, and match new purchases accordingly. By carrying the same kind of look from the inside to the outside and into the landscaping, you will create a home that looks and feels harmonized and cohesive.

colorful garden tools
Photo by Shutterstock/NinaMalyna.

Choose Items Suitable for the Outdoors

Of course, don’t forget when searching for the right pieces for your garden that everything you use needs to be suitable for the outdoors. While you might fall in love with an item, there is no point outlaying the funds to buy it if it will simply rust, decay, get moldy, or otherwise fall apart and lose its appeal after being outside in the weather for some time.

If you really want to add something to your garden that isn’t currently suited to the outdoors, you may be able to weatherize it. For example, some pieces made from traditional wicker, as opposed to all-weather wicker, can be sprayed with a marine varnish that will help them cope with the elements.

Be Kinder to the Earth with Your Choice of Products

Lastly, if you’re like many people, you’re probably keen to select garden décor products that are as kind to the Earth as possible. This may involve choosing eco-friendly pieces made from sustainable materials and using Earth-conscious production methods, or sourcing antique, vintage, or otherwise recycled and reusable items.

It can be fun to shop for pieces which have been reclaimed, done up, or kept around for decades or even centuries. Choosing second-hand, rather than newly-made products, can also add more flair to your garden as it ensures you’re not using pieces which are seen in lots of other places.

You can get as creative as you like with the items you use and how they’re incorporated into your garden. For example, an old outdoor drinking fountain can be repurposed as a planter that you add color to with some lovely succulents; an antique fishing creel can become an outdoor storage basket for umbrellas or gardening supplies, or be used as a unique planter for small to medium-sized shrubs.

Other ideas include adding some time-worn décor to your garden spaces with aged watering cans, lanterns, metal vent covers, grates, iron baskets, birdbaths, and anything else that piques your visual interest. You can also look at repurposing an old, worn garden bench into a place for a collection of container plants; a large broken pot into the base for an outdoor table; or a salvaged house window into a cold frame for tender sprouts and seeds.

Jackie is a content coordinator and contributor that creates quality articles for topics like technology, business, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the internet community. 

Beginner’s Tips for Greenhouse Growing

Do you like the idea of growing your own organic produce all year? Or perhaps you want to save money on plant buying or have more hours to potter away amidst greenery every week? No matter your reasons for installing a greenhouse, you will find plenty of benefits to be had from this particular type of gardening.

However, if you’re new to buying and using a greenhouse, you might be scratching your head, wondering how to go about the process of gardening via this type of structure effectively. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to make your project a success.

home greenhouse growing
Photo by Shutterstock/Jeanie333.

Choose the Most Appropriate Greenhouse

The first step in greenhouse growing is to decide which greenhouse you’d like to use. Because everyone has different needs and goals when it comes to gardening, it is necessary to think about what is important to you. There are all sorts of designs and styles to choose from these days, from traditional to modern options, and something for every budget. You might be keen to buy a greenhouse kit from an established vendor, for instance, or you may prefer to splurge on a custom-designed product made just for you.

No matter your tastes or budget, start by contemplating your gardening interests. For example, someone who wants to grow a lot of fresh produce will have different requirements than a person focused on cacti and succulents. To choose the perfect greenhouse, cater to the needs of the particular types of plants you want to grow. Consider elements such as insulation, heating, humidifying, dehumidifying, artificial lighting, and ventilation.

When it comes to purchasing a greenhouse, try to find one that is modular or that has an easily movable internal infrastructure. This way, you can make adjustments to the layout as your plants go through different life cycles and/or as you start to grow more. A flexible greenhouse will be scalable and more suitable for your needs over the long term.

Something else to consider is whether you want a free-standing, walk-in greenhouse with four sides (or more if you choose a geodesic dome style) and one or more doors, which can be erected in any spot; or a lean-to product which will be positioned against a building or wall.

Consider the type of glazing you want on your greenhouse, too. Typically, there is either glass (this can be standard, which will break into sharp points if broken, or safety glass which will shatter more like a windscreen), or polycarbonate. The latter glazing won’t break, so could be a better option if you have children in your household who might send balls flying around the yard regularly.

Select the Right Site for Your Greenhouse

Once you have chosen a greenhouse, it’s time to find the best site for it. Keep in mind that the optimum location is one that gets plenty of sunlight on every side. Steer clear of placing your greenhouse near large trees or structures, too (think buildings, walls, hedges, and fences), as these can cast too many shadows.

You also need to place your greenhouse on a firm foundation if it is not one that goes directly over the soil. You will want to use something solid and well-built, made of a material such as brick, concrete, recycled plastic lumber, or timber. Think about the likely maintenance, moisture, and rotting risks when you select this component.

woman caring for plants in greenhouse
Photo by Shutterstock/Dean Drobot.

Keep Pests Out

Some people think greenhouses are the perfect way to keep pests out. Unfortunately, though, they can actually end up being a breeding ground for plant pests such as leafminers, mealybugs, aphids, fungus gnats, thrips, and spider mites.

While a greenhouse will never be 100 percent pest free, there are some things you can do to reduce the risks of infestations. For starters, when you buy woody plants, particularly things like gardenias, always check to ensure they’re clear of pests before you introduce them to your greenhouse.

It helps to place newly-purchased plants into an area within the space that’s slightly quarantined, because non-flying pests won’t be so likely to spread around your greenhouse garden. It is also beneficial to bring in some biological pest controls to keep undesirable insects in check. You could use ladybugs, for instance, to fight against a problem with aphids.

Clean and Maintain Your Greenhouse

Lastly, your greenhouse growing will proceed better if you remember to keep the space clean, tidy and well-maintained. Wipe down surfaces occasionally with a natural cleaner such as vinegar, as this helps to keep bacteria, insect eggs, and spores at bay.

In addition, it’s good practice to do a thorough emptying out and cleaning at least once a year, generally in summer. Remove everything from the greenhouse so that lingering insects will leave after the enclosure has dried out and been emptied, and do a scrub down of the entire space. This will not only help your plants, but also keep the glass and framing of the greenhouse in better condition.

Jackie is a content coordinator and contributor that creates quality articles for topics like technology, business, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the internet community. 

4 Plants to Use for a Privacy Fence

You just love sitting on your front porch, except it would be so much better if you didn’t have to watch your neighbor wave at you in his underwear while taking the trash out. And, you would probably hold more gatherings at your house if everyone in the neighborhood couldn’t see into your backyard.

Why bother with wooden stakes when nature can do the work for you? Building a privacy wall of living plants is wonderful for the environment and will look so much better than a high fence. To get you started, here are a few ideas to consider when thinking about your new privacy wall.

small evergreen trees along fence
Photo by Adobe Stock/andrey gonchar.

Evergreen Trees

The best thing about evergreens? You get year-round coverage!

Evergreen trees and shrubs are great choices if your focus is privacy. In addition to staying green through the winter months, evergreens are beautiful, thick, resilient plants. Caring for your evergreens is simple and easy to do, too.

Investing in big plants up-front is worth it. It is better to plant fewer, already established trees versus overcrowding your yard with too many saplings. When designing your hedge, it is important to leave enough space between planting sites for your trees to grow to their full size. This will prevent overcrowding and ensure that your plants’ root systems don’t interfere with one another.


Perhaps the broadest subcategory ever since there are so many options and varieties to choose from in this department! No matter which you fancy, there is a shrub that will fit your bill.

Even if you know what you want, choosing the perfect shrub for your wall can be an overwhelming task. Evaluating what you want out of your living privacy fence can play a huge part in your decision. If you’re looking for optimal coverage, choosing a plant that will grow tall and stay green year round, such as holly or privet, will serve you best. However, if your ambitions are a bit more decorative, colorful shrubbery like forsythia or easily-shaped bushes like boxwood might suit you more.

ivy, bamboo and shrubbery privacy fence
Photo by Adobe Stock/Delphotostock.


What's a backyard without wind chimes, a Buddha statue and a privacy wall of bamboo? If you’re into exotic culture, bamboo could be perfect for you—and if you aren’t, it still could be.

Nothing says beauty like a thicket of bamboo stalks. Because bamboo spreads in thick clusters relatively quickly, it makes for the perfect privacy wall. It’s important to consider your location before planting bamboo, however, in order ensure its longevity and effectiveness as a privacy fence. If you think bamboo can only grow in warm climates, you are—fortunately—incorrect! Living in a colder place shouldn’t stop you from planting the best looking privacy wall in the neighborhood.

There are several different species of bamboo to choose from, so doing your research before planting is worth it! No matter what variety you have, this beautiful plant is in general resilient and fast growing.


Creeping, crawling, elegant and resilient, ivy is a no-brainer. If you already have a wooden fence around your yard and are looking for something to add just a bit more coverage and decoration, this sprawling plant is for you. Or, if you’re looking to screen in a smaller area, like a back porch, ivy provides shade if grown near an overhang, decor on a white brick wall, and makes for the perfect topiary.

Ivy care and maintenance couldn’t be easier. During its first year, ivy doesn’t grow as rapidly as it does once it is well established. But in year two, after adjusting to its new home, ivy spreads and sprawls in leaps and bounds, rarely requires fertilizer, and benefits from the occasional watering.