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Shawna Coronado

Top 3 Must-Haves For An Outdoor Garden Potting Bench Room

Outdoor Garden Room with Potting Bench

Outdoor garden rooms are all the rage right now and having a unique spot in the garden to call my own sounded pretty appealing. My goal: Transform my haphazard back potting patio into a better looking space that serves the dual purpose of both being an outdoor room and a storage area for my container planting supplies.

Outdoor Room Before Photo
My home exterior is an odd mixture of suburban siding and 1970′s design – I’m always trying to switch it about or update it. We resided the house a few years ago, which was a tremendous change for the exterior image of the garden and home itself, but the back patio really needed some help. It’s an odd shaped deck enclosed by fencing and used as a storage place for the garbage cans and a landing spot for anything and everything [see above].

Removing the extra fencing was the first step, then the garbage cans and old seating. After that I decided what my goal was for an outdoor garden potting bench room — I wanted a functional area I could store my containers, layer my bagged potting soil, sit and entertain friends, and enjoy a beautiful view.

Garden Room Potting Bench

TOP 3 MUST HAVES FOR AN OUTDOOR GARDEN POTTING BENCH ROOM

1. Potting Bench – My husband built my bench – he had no plan, just used 4×4′s, wood planks, galvanized nails, and his amazing engineering-based imagination.

2. Seating - The two bright orange Adirondack chairs came from Freecycle.org. A local family in the community gave them to me unpainted and covered in moss. I bleached the chairs, sanded them, then painted them with brightly colored exterior paint.

3. A View – By removing the deck fencing I opened up the view significantly. Then I built a colorful outdoor fireplace photo and chandelier wall as a centerpiece for the deck (here is the how to do – LINK). A container tower acts as a median view between the garden room and the garden itself.

Transforming your deck or patio into a garden potting bench area that also serves as an outdoor garden room is a great way to combine two needs into your outdoor design plan. Building a room with a view and reusing older things to help with the transformation is a terrific way to make the garden more green and sustainable as well. Build a patio room in your garden this summer that is functional, fun, and a nice place to spend time.

Outdoor Garden Room Adirondack Chairs


Shawna Coronado

Save Water With Your Container Gardens – 2 Easy-To-Do Ideas

Succulent plants in a container from Shawna Coronado

Want container gardens without the pain of regular watering? Planting succulents in creative container gardens usually means you water less, but still have all the beauty of gorgeous plants on your patio or balcony. In the photo right I have combined three succulents in individual pots (Rainbow Bush – Variegated Elephant Plant, Coppertone Stonecrop, and Jet Beads Stonecrop). Top photo shows several succulents within a single container (Ghost Plant, Paddle Plant, and Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’).

Succulents in containers at Shawna Coronado garden.

Top 3 Tips for Growing Succulents

1. Use a loose soil that drains freely. Too much water is the curse of death for a succulent. Buy commercial succulent and cactus soil or make your own using 1/3 course sand, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 grit (usually a mix of lava fines, pumice, and/or perlite).

2. Position succulent containers in bright growing conditions or in direct full sunlight.

3. Never let water stand in a succulent container and feed with an organic cactus fertilizer.

Ideas for Standard Containers

What about the standard containers you have out now? Perhaps the hot late August weather is encouraging them to dry out a bit. I have an awesome solution: Plant Nanny’s!

Plant Nanny’s are glass watering globes that help you water without constant hovering over your containers. Insert the Plant Nanny stake into moist soil, then fill the watering globe and place into the stake. When the water gets low, you know you need to water again.

Both ideas above offer great late summer time saving ideas for containers. All the beauty with far less watering worries!

Plant Nanny in Shawna Coronado garden.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Three Unique Garden Tools Reviewed

Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator In Use

There was a little old man that lived up the street from me where I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. I called him Mr. Grouchy Pants. All we kids were afraid of him because he would catch us playing “Army” in his back garden and chase us off his property yelling like a madman and waving this big metal rod like a weapon. I would have nightmares that I was Peter Rabbit and he was Mr. McGregor. In my dreams Mr. Grouchy Pants would trap me in his giant watering can. Years later I learned that the big metal rod was a do-all gardening tool he invented. It was just a heavy rod, yet it was so much more: a seed hole maker, a lever to dig out rocks, a clay breaker, a thin hoe, and a scary pretend weapon to chase away ornery little girls and boys. As gardeners, we soon discover that the most common tools sold are not necessarily the best tools for the jobs. Sometimes we have to make our own or go searching for an creative solution. Below are reviews of three very interesting garden tools that are unique and provide awesome solutions in the garden.

 

Cool Garden Tools Reviewed

Cobrahead Weeder and CultivatorThe Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator – One of my favorite tools ever is the Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator. Cobrahead is the strongest tempered steel blade “finger” you will ever use in the garden and truly acts as an extension of your arm. It is great for getting under a weed with a tap root and popping it out or for using it as an edger along flagstone. I never lose it because the blue handle is easy to spot in the garden and it helps in all kinds of tough jobs – like weeding cactus (top photo). Each Cobrahead is made of a recycled composite material.

 

Trake Garden Tool

Trake - Another strong tool with unique features is the Trake, named for the rakish three tined prong on one side of the tool. There is a measured narrow trowel on the other side of the handle, which is fabulous for bulb and container planting. The three tined prong is super strong, works well to weed, and creates troughs in soil for seeds or plants. Lightweight aluminum makes the tool easy to maneuver, plus it has a vinyl wrap around the handle to help you grip the tool well.

 

DeWit Shawna Trowel Scoop with Cutter ToolDeWit Potting Scoop and Cutter – This unique DeWit Potting Scoop and Cutter Potting Trowel is built in the shape of a scoop with a honed top edge for cutting out the old soil from container. It also has a more pronounced bend for holding soil without spilling and a sharp knife edge for cutting open bags of soil and compost. It’s a heavy trowel with a truly unique cutting edge which I find very handy in the garden because I do not carry a pocket knife. It also works well for pre-hung vertical gardens so you do not spill as much soil when filling wall containers. The special story about this trowel is I got to blacksmith it myself. I complained that I could not find a potting trowel that was built to not spill soil to Sietse DeWit, the President of the DeWit Tool Company. He invited me to come to his factory and blacksmith a tool with his team that would work and this cool scoop/cutter/trowel is what we came up with and it is guaranteed for a lifetime. Below is a video showing the blacksmithing process for the “Shawna Trowel”.

Caring for your garden tools is an important, but simple, part of keeping the tools in good condition for years of use. Each of these unique tools is easy to maintain – rinse after use and put away immediately. Oil wooden handles and iron to prevent aging and rust.

Better gardening starts by finding the garden tools that work best for you for your particular need. Great, long lasting, tools make gardening easier and prevent undue strain while working in the garden. Try these three interesting, unique tools in your garden to see if this garden gear might be the right fit for your special gardening situation.

According the FTC, I need to tell you that I received products in this blog post at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Two Easy Care Annuals That Make A Seasonal Color Splash

Wall of Coleus

Every year I am faced with the oh-so-dramatic container flower decisions. I like to call it the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational. Much like I did as a teenager while trying to get up enough courage to jump off the high-dive; I will stand for hours at my local garden center with a look ofLantana and Beets in Garden terror on my face as I try to decide which plant is the perfect one to combine with the others. Inevitably it’s an impossible decision: What child are you going to plant? Who’s going to walk the plank? Which plant is going to be the best mixer at the container party?

In the end, my choices always come down to two determining questions:

1. Which plant is the easiest to care for?

2. What color combinations am I going with this year?

When I think of easy annuals to grow there are two spectacularly colorful plants that make my top-of-the-top favorite plant list: coleus and lantana. Each make an amazing splash in the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational in either the sun or shade category. These plants are fantastic mixers and can function as a either a feature plant or a blender plant in an urban container, planting bed, or vertical wall garden. Both types of plants have multiple varieties and plenty of color selections for the casual gardener at your local garden center.

To the right you see Luscious Berry Blend Lantana rocking the socks off my full sun vegetable garden as a border plant. Lantana is a great sunny spot solution and is perfect for attracting butterflies. Below is a photo of the lantana layered in a gorgeous pink and green container display with multiple annuals.

 Lantana in Plant Container Design

Have a shady spot? There is nothing better than a coleus to brighten up a dark corner. At the top of this page is a magnificent vertical wall garden done up with Emotions Inspired Coleus and impatiens. Lantana mixes well with leafy vegetables in a mixed vegetable container as well as annual flowers. Below is an equally bold display of mixed variety coleus, impatiens, and sweet potato vine at a restaurant on an urban street.

Need a simple solution for your containers that will add a punch of color? Lantana and coleus are two great, easy-to-grow plants that mix well with most annuals in your container party.

Coleus and Impatiens in Shade


Jane Miller

garden hero

Where do your fruits and vegetables come from? This week, my refrigerator is stocked with spinach and blueberries from Florida, raspberries and strawberries from California, grapes from Chile, hothouse tomatoes from Canada, and peppers from Mexico — all courtesy of a recent shopping trip to my local Costco. In Iowa, where cold weather often lingers into April, I welcome the year-round availability of such delicious diversity. But fresh produce is a luxury that many of us take for granted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 23.5 million Americans live in “food deserts,” areas with little or no access to grocery stores that provide fresh, nutritious, affordable foods. Imagine having to feed your kids only what the corner convenience store sells.

As I see it, we’re becoming increasingly dependent on food from far-flung places. And the further we are from where our food is grown, the greater disconnect with healthy eating. The solution? Planting a vegetable garden is a good start. In raised beds. In containers. In urban areas. In schoolyards. Anywhere there’s a strip of soil and sunshine.

For Ron Finley of South Central Los Angeles, the only spot available for growing veggies was along the curb in front of his house. When the city tried to stop him, Ron — a self-described “guerilla gardener” — took his fresh-food crusade to the streets, literally. He started an organization called L.A. Green Grounds, which help people turn hell strips (the wasted land between sidewalks and streets) into what Ron calls “food forests” that provide “nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time,” according to Ron’s TED profile. I encourage you to listen to Ron’s TED Talk. I did, and now he’s one of my garden heroes.

Plant a garden. And then spread the word.