The Horticulture Hobbyist’s Guide to Building a Garden

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Building a Garden You Love

Many people are deciding to grow their own crops as fears about vegetable sources grow. GMOs, chemical sprays, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and a host of other unhealthy additions being discussed in the media on a daily basis and fears are rising that these things will affect the food chain adversely. So why not grow your own food organically? Building a garden and eating the fruits of your labor is not only immensely satisfying, but healthier as well. Here are the steps to construct your very own garden.

The Frame

Decide on the measurements of your garden bed’s frame. Do you want a row of small self-contained beds or one large bed? Individual 3 feet by 6 feet beds at a height of one to two feet are an ideal size for planting a single vegetable type and narrow enough for easy access. Choose either rot-resistant redwood and cedar and assemble the boards so that the longer board overlaps the smaller one. Drill three stainless steel 3-inch screws into each corner. Use a framing square in each internal corner to confirm they are indeed right angles.

Site Preparation

Prepare a site that receives a generous amount of sunshine throughout the day. Use your built frame to outline the dimensions on site. Extract the turf and weeds with a grub hoe or sod cutter. To gain more space for gardens, you can rent stump grinders to remove any unsightly stumps from trees long gone. Grab a pitchfork and till the earth once the grass is removed to inhibit future weed growth. Set a piece of lumber on the ground, and use a level to ensure the ground is a flat 180 degrees. At this point, you have an opportunity to ward off intruders in both the animal and plant kingdoms. To suppress intrusive weeds, lay a sheet of landscape fabric that covers the entire bottom of the bed dimensions, PopularMechanics.com suggests. Earthworms and voles will also do their darnedest to interlope on your horticultural hobby. A steel mesh grid placed underneath the bed will fend off covert underground attacks.

To Cap It All Off

To guarantee that the frame stays in place, some garden bed builders pound stakes along the outer edge. ThisOldHouse.com suggests cutting 2-foot posts with diagonally cut edges to pierce the ground along the outside, and driving screws into the frame to secure them. A wooden cap railing is arguably the better and easier option to secure the frame’s structure. The cap adds a degree of visual appeal—and doubles as a seat for your hardworking gardener’s rump. Simply match the lumber to the bed’s dimensions, use a miter saw to cut the corners at 45-degree angles and drill the four pieces into place to construct the cap railing.

Soil & Amendments

Once you retrieve the old wheelbarrow from the shed, it’s time to fill the bed with a mixture of soil and compost. Adding amendments to the soil will assure healthier crops. Many at-home gardeners use manure to nourish the soil and provide a healthy portion of nitrogen. Adding a top layer of organic mulches will shield the soil from detrimental temperatures and retain the soil’s moisture.

Categories: Gardening Tips

That Lawn Is Not Gonna Mow Itself – Find a Mower That’s Right for You

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Mowing the lawn

There’s a mower for every lawn. It’s up to you, the homeowner, to find the right one. Whether you want to use a manual mower powered by man or relax on a lawn mowing behemoth, the decision will be influenced by the topography, size and idiosyncrasies of your lawn.

Lawn Tractor

The powerhouse engines of lawn tractors scoff at the largest of lawns. Lawn tractors easily breeze over acres of land and hilly terrain. Their massive frame can also haul massive loads on a work cart and accommodate a plow for winter riding.

Garden Tractor

The overgrown cousins of lawn tractors, garden tractors usually feature a durable direct-drive motor and PTO (power takeoff). According to Popular Mechanics’ Joseph Truini, these beastly machines welcome heavy additions such as snow throwers and tillers.

Riding Mower

Riding mowers work for most medium- to large-sized lawns and are able to traverse mild slopes. Though these mowers lack the might of lawn and garden tractors, they can tackle large lawns relatively well. Look for riding lawn mowers with adjustable seating and speeds for a relaxing and convenient mowing experience.

Zero-Radius-Turning Mower

If your lawn contains considerable acreage and a slew of obstacles, zero-radius-turning (ZRT) mowers are just the ticket. Favored by pro landscapers, ZRT mowers are agile and swift. Most ZRT mowers are controlled by dual lap bars; these can present a potentially challenging learning curve for users, according to PopularMechanics.com. Though, some companies do offer advantageous steering wheels.

Wide-Cut Self-Propelled Mower

As its name suggests, these walk-behind mowers feature a widened mowing deck. Powered by a robust drivetrain and motor, wide-cut self-propelled mowers cut down large swaths of grassthough the largest lawns are best left to the big boy tractors.

Self-Propelled Mower

Just walk and steer while this mower propels itself. Self-propelled mowers are well-suited for hills so you don’t to bear the brunt of the slope and the mower’s weight. Some of these mowers have adjustable speeds or move in unison with your pace.

Hover Lawn Mower

The hover lawn mower floats on a pocket of air and is arguably the easiest, lightest mower one can use. Hover lawn mowers can either be plugged in or powered by gasoline. Each has its pros and cons: gas-powered mowers burst with power, while their electric counterparts offer convenience, but those cords may get in the way.

Manual Reel Mower

Classic and unsophisticated, the manual reel mower has cut lawns for hundreds of years. They’re the safest, cheapest and most eco-friendly mowers one can buy. Manual reel mowers are powered by your own body to cut small lawns cleanly and smoothly.

Solar Battery Hybrid Mower

The solar battery hybrid mower is like a Zoomba for your lawn. A favorite of Better Homes and Garden’s Denny Schrock, this mower combines a solar power and rechargeable battery, this autonomous mowing bot will give your lawn a perfect trim while you’re off attending to other matters. The hybrid mower requires the installation of a perimeter wire to ensure the mower doesn’t escape from its mowing duties.

Categories: Gardening Tips

Should You Use Lawn or Slabs in Your Garden?

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When we move into a new home, we spend hours and hours deciding on how to decorate each room. We have a lot of decisions to make: paint or wallpaper? Carpet or wooden flooring? Blinds or curtains? The list goes on and on. We want to ensure that our house looks beautiful so that we can enjoy each and every second spent in it. Additionally, receiving the odd comment here and there about how beautiful our home is is always a bonus and a nice thing to hear.

So why should we neglect our gardens? Are they not a part of our home? Whilst many people consider their gardens to be as important as indoor rooms, others seem to neglect their and end up using the space as a mini junk yard!

One of the biggest decisions to make when designing a garden is to choose between having slabs and laying down a lawn. Whilst they both have their advantages, in most cases it is an either or either decision. If you are one of the unlucky decision makers, this article should help make your decision a little easier.

Do you prefer looks or convenience? Whilst slabs are more convenient than a lawn, you will find that slabs do not make your garden look as attractive as a lawn would. So if you are all about the attractive appearances, lawns are perfect for you and your garden.The first thing to consider is time. Having a lawn requires a lot of time, for mowing and other maintenance procedures. If you think that you are able to take out the time to do these, then a lawn is perfect for you. However, if you believe that you will not be able to take any time out to maintain your lawn and any flowers that you may wish to plant in addition, then slabs are the way to go since slabs require very little maintenance.

Do you have children or are you planning on having children? Children are more likely to enjoy playing in a garden which has a lawn. Having a lawn also means that a child is less likely to hurt himself or herself should s/he trip or fall. Slabs on the other hand can cause some serious knew scrapings, or worse.

Are you on a budget? Depending on the size of your garden, laying down slabs can work out significantly more expensive than growing your own lawn or laying down some turf. You may find out that you only need a single pack of lawn seed as opposed to numerous slabs, which are not cheap. If budget is one of your concerns, it is always wise to do your research and see what will work out cheaper for you.

What will you be using your garden for? If your garden is going to be used for social gatherings, parties, BBQs etc. then a lawn may be the way to go. A lawn makes the garden a lot more homey and comfortable. Having a lawn is going to add colour to your garden, thus helping you to enjoy your garden. However, if you are going to be using it to keep sheds, or for work purposes e.g. carpenters could use gardens to do their work when the weather is good etc. then slabs will be more convenient since they are steady and provide a strong stable surface. Similarly, they are easy to sweep and clean unlike lawn, which cannot be swept.

Think carefully before making a decision and make the most of your garden!

Categories: Gardening Tips