Ways to Attract Hummingbirds

Many hummingbirds are a migratory species of bird that spend the winters in South and Central America, and in the spring travel all the way up to North America and even into parts of Canada where they spend the warm season breeding, raising young, and preparing to fly south again. Hummingbirds rely on the nectar found in flowers, which they get plenty of in South America. But, they need the abundant insects found in the spring and summer in the lands of North America and Canada to successfully raise healthy babies. They also spend a lot of time resting- usually about 80% of their lives is spent sitting and resting their tiny bodies. Providing a garden that’s full of healthy insect activity with lots of nectar sources and plenty of thin twigs, branches, and other similar places to rest are all going to entice a hummer to stick around. Even more important, providing a safe place to nest will help the hummingbirds stay through the season, and return yearly.

Rely on plants that hummingbirds enjoy to eat from. Tubular red, blue, and purple perennial flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds. The wild versions of plants usually create the most nectar which will encourage hummingbirds to come back again and again, but this isn’t a hard-set rule. Many cultivars provide plenty of nectar for hummingbirds.

Hummingbird plants include:

  • Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Azalea
  • Honeysuckles
  • Weigela
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Agastache
  • Hosta
  • Foxglove
  • Yucca
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Viburnum
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Summersweet (Clethra)
  • Hydrangea
  • Mockorange
  • Potentilla
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Salvia
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera)
  • Mints

Consider tying up a thin line if you don’t have a clothesline already. Hummingbirds of North America are well adapted to life with people and their homes and are quite fond of perching and resting on clotheslines, wires, extension cords, chicken wire fences, or any thin and stable cables. Trees and shrubs are also very welcome resting spots too.

Offer a moving source of water for hummers to bathe in and drink from. Despite assuming that these small birds get all of the water they need from nectar, they are still observed using birdbaths consistently.

In the garden, try to refrain from using chemical commercial pesticides. They are long acting, so even if you use them in a specific area they often stick around and continue to kill for weeks after the application. Instead, encourage a healthy bug population. If you’re over-run by grasshoppers or Japanese beetles for example, there are plenty of specific traps that work to capture these pets and bring their numbers down to a less destructive number. One option is to use a natural organic insecticidal soap for aphid infestations that won’t harm hummingbirds if it’s ingested in small amounts.

Green Waste and Its Disposal

Urban areas with gardens involve attention from the owners as there are several elements that you have to attend to. Keeping the garden clean, beautifying it, applying landscaping options, etc. can keep you busy. Gardening isn’t an easy task as one thinks it to be. After attending several other priorities, you often do not have the time to look after the garden and often hire professionals who can come to your rescue.

Gardening involves several activities such as – Lawn mowing; Weeding; Preparing flower beds; Trimming bushes; Cutting extra branches of trees; Fertilising the soil; Keeping insects at bay.

The green waste extracted from these gardening tasks can be treated in two possible ways. The first being composting and using it as a natural fertiliser for the garden and the second disposing them off with the help of professional removalists. It isn’t possible to compost in your yard if you have less space. The best option is to dispose them in the safest way where you could hire skip bins and hire removalists to get rid of them.

Problems to face with green waste accumulation
Green waste if accumulated in your garden, it can cause several problems to you as well as the surroundings. The common problems are – Production of harmful gases – Green waste, when accumulated in a single place for a longer period, can rot to create harmful greenhouse gases like Methane. The gas is damaging to the environment as well as you and your family members. Breeding ground for pests – Pests look out for warm areas to breed and the areas where there is an accumulation of waste that isn’t attended to, one would notice pests such as mosquitoes, cockroaches, etc. multiplying with each passing day. It is problematic for your garden as well as your family where these pests are known to spread diseases that can be at times fatal for you.

The professional removalists are known to be experts in disposing such wastes in the best way possible. The governing bodies of a particular area have designated dumps in the town or the city for professionals to dump the waste. These dumps ensure that the waste is free from harmful elements like metal scraps, broken glass, plastic, etc. and then use the waste for mass recycling and composting. The composted green waste is often given off to agricultural lands to help them with natural fertilisers for proper growth of crops.

How to Start Backyard Landscaping

The Main Reasons That I Hear

There are 3 main reasons that I hear all the time. You just moved into a house and you want to upgrade. Maybe you just got married and you and your spouse plan on starting a family one day. Or maybe you are planning on selling your home and you know this is a solid investment to make. At this point in my life the last one is my favorite. You simply want to enjoy what you already have. These are absolutely all good reasons so let’s get started.

It all starts with a plan

Before you start digging anything up you need a solid plan. This should include the entire property you want to incorporate. If not your end result could look like a mishmash of designer magazine. You must know your desired outcome before you start. Sometimes you will run into road blocks that you did not foresee no matter how well you planned everything out. This will happen from time to time. Just remember this though, your earlier preparation will pay huge dividends if this should happen.

Take advantage of the type of land you have

A good plan will put importance of taking advantage of the land you have and its features. What I mean is this. Lets take the sun for example. Are there certain parts of your yard that get the sun in morning and shade in afternoon. Or maybe you are in an area that gets the sun in one part and shade in the other all day. And what about your soil type. Is it fast draining or does it drain on the slower side. How about your climate. Do you have cold winters or do they average in the 60″s. This is something that you should consider.

What Is Your Vision

Objects appear smaller in the rear view mirror than they actually are. Do you remember that. Well the same applies here only in reverse. Some types of hardscaping are actually larger than what you vision in your mind. Be cautious and extremely careful before you decide on something that could be very costly to fix if wrong.

Know The Maintenance Involved

And of course there is the maintenance of it all. Some of our favorite additions that we want involve a lot more work than others. Things such as ponds, waterfalls, and pools require more maintenance than rocks, stones and fences. How much time do you want to spend on all of this. After all I am sure you want to take some time and enjoy it.

Avoiding Mechanical Garden Work in the Rain

  • Whatever modern safety devices are built into electrical machinery, by and large electrically-driven agricultural machinery, used in the rain, is a potentially dangerous situation. It’s really worth avoiding.
  • Mowers and tractors also need to be considered carefully. The ground can become very slippery, very quickly, when it rains. Slipping over on wet grass while using power tools or a mower, can be very dangerous even if you have cut-out switches in place etc. Even heavier duty tractors and mowers can be a challenge at times when the ground is wet, particularly if it is uneven and there are inclines to negotiate. As an aside, mowing wet grass is usually considered a bad idea as it just sticks to everything and clogs up the mower.
  • Another related weather risk to watch out for is high wind whether with or without rain. Perching at the top of a ladder trying to prune high branches with a chainsaw is an accident waiting to happen.
  • If it’s raining heavily, people are often inclined to put on some form of waterproof clothing. That adds bulk to your frame and possible loose and baggier materials that will be ideal for getting caught in moving parts.

The moral of the tale is to park your machinery up until the rain and winds have passed.

Of course, there are plenty of gardening jobs you can get on with in poor weather. Things like light hand pruning, weeding, minor construction or renovation jobs on fencing – they’re all possible. Likewise for patching up the externals of garden sheds etc.

Remember though that digging is likely to be hard work in the rain, as the soil can rapidly become waterlogged and sticky as well as a lot heavier due to the water content. Planting out might or might not be OK. Some plants will relish a mildly damper soil as their roots become established but if the ground is really waterlogged after or during a torrent, those same plants might object.

Create Kid-Friendly Landscaping

Updating Your Driveway

Think about all the slips and falls that have occurred on your driveway, and it may not even be just with the kids! The surface can get wet, icy, and just plain slippery. It’s also not exactly a soft surface to land on. This is exactly why bonded resin driveways are making such an impact in residential settings now. It used to be that you would only see resin bound surfacing in a few select areas such as a modern playground or indoor pool area. Now the process is being used all over the place.

Resin bound surfacing gives the look of real pavement, concrete, stone and loose gravel but is in fact a resin surface. It provides a non-slip surface, which is ideal for kids and adults alike. It’s also much softer to the touch so if a fall were to happen, it won’t create the same sort of painful results.

There are other benefits in going the route of bonded resin driveways such as the fact they are low maintenance and don’t need any resurfacing, they have a long life-span (usually 15 years), you won’t need to worry about weeds popping through the surface, they are pet-friendly, easy to clean, they have UV protection, and are environmentally friendly.

No Fuss Grass

Another area of concern for parents can be with the lawn. If your child suffers from outdoor/environmental allergies then the lawn can be a source of discomfort rather than fun. That and the fact you as the homeowner are responsible for all the upkeep, weeding, watering, and trimming.

Artificial grass used to be sparse and unattractive looking, but that is no longer the case! Companies are changing the way homeowners see artificial grass by offering a wide variety of types, colours, and density. Who knew that having the perfect lush, green, weed-free lawn could be so easy? This artificial grass is kid-friendly, pet-friendly, feels real, looks real, has a long life-span, and doesn’t require cutting and watering.

Basic Lawn Care And Maintenance

Mowing basics

Mowing is the periodic cutting of turf grass to a specified height. Mowing stresses the grass and if not done properly, it can lead to tattered and brown on top which can reduce the appeal and risk the health of your turf. To reduce such stress, you need to adapt to the following practices:

  • Schedule your activity early in the morning, or in the evening. Avoid mowing during the heat of the day – this does not only rid you of toiling when the sun is too high and very hot, mowing during these times can cause the plant to go into shock
  • Do not mow when the grass is still wet. This will help avoid transfer of diseases from plant to plant and can make mowing a lot easier.
  • Cut off no more than the top third of the grass plant to encourage stronger roots.

Basics of lawn watering

Your plants and grass need to be watered properly to flourish. While rainfall provides most of the water needed for plants, in some drier areas, watering is a weekly obligation. You can avoid overwatering plants by:

  • Determine how much water your sprinklers apply. This will help you determine how long you need to water your lawn. Also, you need to make sure you are getting uniform water coverage across your lawn.
  • The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning or early evening.
  • Let the lawn completely dry out between watering intervals.

Fertilization basics

A properly fertilized law will produce a healthy, lush green grasses perfect for different activities. One of the most important ingredients for lawns is Nitrogen and different grasses require different amounts for peak growth. There are three main macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

  • Nitrogen – promotes rapid growth and leaf development.
  • Phosphorous – deals with the early stages of root growth and hastens plant maturity.
  • Potassium – helps plants and grass improve resistance to drought and disease.

Decorate Garden for the Holidays

Tile your garden walls with riven cladding before the holidays begin so that your garden is neat and provides a good canvas for the decorations. You can hang the decorations from the cladding without damaging it. You can place hooks in the cladding’s crevices, then hang jingle bells or Christmas stockings. Place three to five of these along the wall in a uniform manner.

Place a Christmas tree next to the paved braai area to be enjoyed during any outdoor gatherings with family and friends. If you have many trees in your garden you can decorate them with different coloured wreaths or hanging ornaments on the branches. Add colourful lights to complete the Christmas tree. Some wreaths can be left outside throughout the year.

Place decorations on your lawn such as a Santa Clause with reindeer. If you don’t want to go that big, you can place a few elves all over your garden with them holding a string of Christmas lights. This will look festive and light up your garden at the same time.

If you have outdoor furniture, you can cover them with red and green fabric as well as place cotton balls along the top edge of the chairs. The cotton balls will look like snow and add some festive cheer. You can also use popcorn to create the same effect. For added effect, you could scatter popcorn on strategic areas such as in corners so that it looks like snow that has gathered in the corners of the garden.

Place lanterns on the ground along the pathways. Ensure that you’ve tiled the pathway before the holidays. If you don’t have lanterns, you could make your own by placing candles in mason jars. Cobblestones make lovely earthy pathways, especially the Roma Random Cobbles which remind you of the days when people drove horse drawn carriages. The lanterns will light up the pathways which will give a soft glow that fits in with the Christmas ambience.

Remember not to overdo your garden with all sorts of decorations and lights. The fun part of the holidays is the opening of gifts on Christmas day, eating good food and being with friends and family. Having a beautifully decorated garden will add to the festive cheer.

Ideal Design Layout for a Small Garden

If it’s your first time designing a garden you can either hire a professional landscape architect, or you can do it yourself. Designing your own garden shouldn’t be very difficult especially if you have ideas on how you would want it to look. Either way, designing your garden should be a fun and relaxing experience. Get all the information you would require to design a garden and do it yourself. You will get a list of garden items such as flowers, plants, spade, wheel barrow, garden fork, paving bricks, cobblestones and other garden tools. Think about where you want to place the flowers, which areas are to be covered with grass and where to place the walkways. If you want to have a water feature, find out where the pipes will be laid and where the water feature will look best. Keep in mind that it will need to be a small feature otherwise it will take up much space. Consider placing it along a wall so that it’s not in the way and it will create a serene scene. Choose paving bricks that are weather resistant and cobblestones that suit the theme of your garden.

Once your planning is done, then you can start with the planting process. The earlier you plant your seedlings the sooner you can start on the next step. While small gardens and terrace patio undoubtedly come with their own set of design challenges, even the most economical of plots can be reworked into beautiful and elegant outdoor havens.

Think small but perfectly formed. Using space intelligently is the key to making a small garden work such as seats that double up as storage, wall-mounted flower pots or herb planters and even folding furniture will all help free up precious space. The right garden accessories and plant species can set the tone for a tranquil outdoor atmosphere. You could add a small gazebo that can bring lots of shelter. Surround your gazebo with cobblestones and some grass for relaxing summer picnics.

Growing Medicinal Plants

  • Methi (Fenugreek) – Growing methi in a container is one of the easiest things you can do. Choose a sunny spot, sow the seeds in a container and water it. Methi seeds germinate in a couple of days and in a span of 10 to 15days, the leaves come up and the pods are ready for harvest. Chilly weather conditions might not be suitable for methi to grow. All diabetics consume methi leaves or fenugreek seeds to combat blood sugar level fluctuation. A natural soluble fibre named ‘galactomannan’ plays a key role in slowing down sugar absorption into the blood stream thereby controlling diabetes. Chronic digestive disorders, acid reflux, heartburn, dandruff and hair fall can all be corrected with regular consumption of methi leaves and seeds.
  • Bitter gourd (Karela) – Another miracle vegetable that is completely exotic in taste! Since it is a creeper plant, if you can arrange a small trellis in your balcony then karela can be grown easily. It is a warm weather crop but can also tolerate mild cold. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water before sowing them. This process ensures quicker germination and also strengthens seeds. Bitter gourd is often disliked by many people due to its bitter taste but the goodness the vegetable contains is indescribable. From weight loss to controlling blood sugar levels, bitter gourd does it all. Regular consumption can also correct vision problems, cleanse liver and kidneys and also boost the immune system. But remember that excessive consumption can lead to stomach upset and cause an imbalance in the hormones.
  • Coriander (Dhaniya pattha) – Pick a few dhaniya seeds from your kitchen, split them into two, sow them in a container and place it in a sunny spot in your balcony. In a week’s time your coriander crop will be ready! It is seriously as easy as this. The only pre-requisite for coriander plants is lots of sunlight. If your balcony receives plenty of it then just go ahead. Coriander leaves fight with bad cholesterol and improve the levels of good cholesterol thereby boosting good health. Diabetic patients can keep their blood sugar levels in check with regular consumption of coriander. The rich iron content in the leaves and seeds enhances bone marrow performance and treats anaemia in women.
  • Stevia (Meetha pattha) – Rapidly replacing artificial sweeteners is the ‘sweet leaf’ or ‘sugar leaf’ mainly known as Stevia. Just one leaf will make anything sweet and easy to eat. Diabetics are now taking solace in this miraculous herb. Home grown stevia might lack the deep sweet flavour that is usually found but the leaves can definitely replace your sweetener. You can either sow seeds directly in a container or buy tiny stevia plants to transplant them in your garden. Light watering regularly and six hours of sunlight is good enough for the leaves to grow. Brewed stevia leaves are an excellent replacement for table sugar. You can use them in tea, coffee, juices and other beverages. When consumed with ginger or cinnamon, stevia cures constipation and common digestive problems. Diabetics can make this a part of their diet and control their sugar cravings.
  • Basil (Tulsi) – Found in almost every Indian home, the basil herb can treat a wide range of health disorders. Sowing seeds directly in a container is the ideal way to grow basil. Keep the soil moist always by watering the seedlings regularly. It is an annual crop and continues to produce leaves in all seasons. Chronic cold, cough and phlegm can be treated very well by dried basil. A strong decoction of the leaves when consumed on a daily basis kills bacterial infections and boosts immunity. Purifying blood, fighting mouth ulcers, treating migraines and keeping infections at bay, the basil does it all!

Dried Kelp Benefits

Sea kelp is a fast growing aquatic ocean plant or seaweed. It is high in plant nutrients, but doesn’t burn plants like fresh manure nor does it cause plants to bolt like high nitrogen based chemical fertilizers. Gardeners along the coasts around the world have used sea kelp in their gardens for centuries. Those of us who do not have access to the sea can take advantage of kelp by buying its dried form.

Kelp is including iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium minerals that are often lacking in farm and garden soils around the United States. I always buy my kelp certified organic so that I know that I am getting the best and safest product.

Kelp contains two natural plant growth hormones auxin and cytokines. This is why I feel that kelp is especially important to add to every seed row and transplant hole in the vegetable garden.

When I dig the hole for the transplants, I dust the bottom of that hole with kelp, add water, and then plant the transplants and sprinkle more on the soil surface above the plants roots and add more water. As the plant grows, these nutrients filter down and become available to the plant when it needs them.

When planting seeds in rows, I sprinkle kelp in the row, and place the seeds at a proper distance for optimal growth, then water. I then cover the seeds, tamp them down and sprinkle more kelp down the row and water again. Because it is readily used by the plants, kelp will not leach out and pollute the environment like chemical fertilizers can.

I have found that adding a dusting of kelp when planting not only enhances better early growth, but improves the health of the plants over the entire growing season. Here is one example. Where I live, blossom end rot is a common disease in tomatoes. I identify blossom end rot when I find a dry sunken decay that develops on the blossom end a tomato particularly the first tomatoes of the growing season. This problem is not caused by pest, parasite or disease damage, but from a lack of calcium and supporting trace minerals available to the tomato fruit. When I plant my tomatoes using kelp, my tomatoes never suffer from blossom end rot.

By using dried kelp powder in my garden, using kelp insures that not only do my plants stay healthy, but the vegetables that come from my garden will produce more and offer better nutrition for me and my family.