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Grow Coleus in Your Garden
-Add a ton of easy growing color to your landscape with coleus. This tropical annual provides interest from its attractive foliage so you don't have to worry about it going in or out of bloom. It looks good all the time. Traditionally, coleus are plants with a shade. Most have varied [unk] of leaves and a variety of colors. Some, such as the Under the Sea series has fantastically shaped leaves as well. Lime [unk], for example, offers lime green leaves with dark purple highlights. In the shade, grow coleus with other shade loving plants such as begonias and patience and torenia. Newer variety of coleus have been bred to thrive in full sun as well as shade. Big Red Judy, for example, is a stunner that can get almost four feet tall and offers red-purple leaves in full sun. Keystone Copper is another newer variety that has unique orange-bronze leaves. Grow some loving coleus with your favorite annuals such as lantana, petunias and geraniums. They perform beautifully on the ground or in containers.series has fantastically shaped leaves as well. Lime [unk], for example, offers lime green leaves with dark purple highlights. In the shade, grow coleus with other shade loving plants such as begonias and patience and torenia.
How to Make a Pallet Planter
Here's how you can make a pallet planter quickly and inexpensively. Find a pallet that's in good condition. You could use a full pallet for this, but to keep the weight manageable, we cut it down to a smaller size. Mark a line just outside the center over the pallet so that after the cut, you'll have a board running along each side. Measure the width and length of the pallet then cut a piece of landscape fabric about 4 inches longer and wider. With the pallet topside down, staple the fabric to the inside face of the top of the pallet. Use plenty of staples and be sure to staple the sides as well as the inside face. Pallet wood can be very hard so tap the staples in with a hammer if needed. Repeat this for the bottom side of the pallet. But this time, staple the fabric to the outer face, leaving extra 4 to 5 inches to fold over each end, but at this time only staple 1 inch shut. Leave the other open. Tip the planter so the open end is up and begin filling with potting mix. After every 6 or so inches, take a broom handle gently tamp it firm to prevent settling later. Keep adding soil and tamping until the planter is full. Now you can staple the end shut. Lay the planter flat and cut an X pattern with a razor blade in the spots you want to plant. With your fingers, hollow out a planting space, remove a little soil if necessary, then insert the root ball into the hole. The step is easier if you start with small plants. Pallet planters are heavy so if you mount one on a wall, be sure you have a solid structure to fasten it to. A good way to support the weight is with a mounting strip like this. Make sure the screws are driven into wall studs. With another person helping you, lift the planter and set it on the mounting strip. Then drive the screw through each top corner and into the wall to secure the planter. Once the pallet is planted, all you have to do is water and fertilize as you would with any container. When it grows in, you'll have a beautiful hanging garden like this.filling with potting mix. After every 6 or so inches, take a broom handle gently tamp it firm to prevent settling later. Keep adding soil and tamping until the planter is full. Now you can staple the end shut. Lay the planter flat and cut an X pattern with a razor blade in the spots you want to plant. With your fingers, hollow out a planting space, remove a little soil if necessary, then
Get tips for dividing irises in your yard to keep them blooming and healthy.
Easy Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are an easy way to add several seasons of color and interest to your landscape. Most grasses are easy to grow and attract wildlife. Here are some of our favorites. Switch grass is a North American native grass that features cloud-like seed heads and tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Some varieties have attractive blue green foliage that turns gold in the autumn. Others, such as Shenandoah turn burgundy purple in the fall. Wooden grass, also called Miscanthus is a popular grass for its thin leaf blades and graceful arch and texture. Some varieties have whites or yellow variegated foliage for extra interest. This species is not native and can be invasive in some areas, so check local instructions before planting it. Fountain grass is another beautiful non-native grass that's commonly planted in landscapes. Typically shorter in stature than Switch grass or Maiden grass, it features fuzzy seed heads that look like caterpillars. Fountain grass is deer-resistant, drought tolerant and the seed head attract birds. Feather reed grass is one of the most prevalent grasses planted in landscapes. It offers an attractive stiff upright habit and wheat-like seed heads. Karl Foerster is an award winning variety that you can also find variegated types, such as Avalanche. If you're looking for a grass for the shade, try Japanese forest grass. Grow in a round of foot tall, this wooden plant offers arching dark green leaf blades that have bold, golden yellow stripes. Some varieties turn in an attractive red purple in the autumn.Ornamental grasses are an easy way to add several seasons of color and interest to your landscape. Most grasses are easy to grow and
-Arranging flowers is easier than you think. Here's how to create a perfect bouquet of cut flowers. Choose a container that will complement your bouquet with its size, shape, and color. A flared opening allows stems to lean naturally. Aim for bouquet of 1 to 1-1/2 times the height of the vase. For a mixed bouquet, gather 5 varieties of flower and 2 types of leaves. Fill your plain vase with room temperature water. Visualize the arrangement with any circle. Now, divide the circle into 3 equal parts. Plan to place 1 stem of each plant variety in each of the 3 parts. To create a long-lasting bouquet, strip off lower leaves and cut each stem in an angle. You'll need several stems of each plant. Start with 1 type of leaves. Place each stem at an angle to form a web that will hold the other stems in place. A vase of leaves brings any bouquet to life. It makes an arrangement look fresh from the garden. The star of your bouquet is the largest most dominant flower. Shapely lilies like this allow smaller secondary flowers to have supporting roles and fit in nicely. For color, variety, and interest, add the supporting cast. Roses, lycianthes, and snapdragons are good choices. Finish your bouquet with fillers. Fillers can be flowers or leaves. Bupleurum and fern complete this arrangement. Adjust the stems to perfect the arrangement. Tucking in [unk] as needed. Now, your bouquet is ready to enjoy.
Top Gardening Tools
Here in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden we use a lot of tools. Here are 5 we think every gardener should have. This type of hoe, often known as a hula-hoe but sometimes by other names, is been around for decades and is still the best general weeding hoe. In back and forth action, lets you cut weeds in both direction and it's designed not to dig in deeply so it glides back and forth with less effort than a tropic action of a typical hoe. When it comes to digging holes, a planting spade beats a regular shovel every time. Its long narrow blade penetrates the ground more easily and the handle is straight rather than angled which makes it easy to dig a straight side of planting hole. Here's another substitute for shovel. Spading forks make soil much better than shovels so they're better for chilling flower beds and vegetable gardens. They also help you [unk] a perennials for dividing without cutting all the roots like the shovel will. Once you use the fork, you'll see how much better it is for turning soil or dividing perennials. For planting bulbs an auger is a good substitute for [unk] especially for hard soil or tight spaces between plants. Most gardeners are familiar with augers like this 2-inch model. But for small bulbs, this narrower version is far superior. It digs into lawns without making too large of a whole and requires a lot less power to use than a larger Augers so it works even with smaller cordless drills. The smaller size is just right for planting crops and great vines and bulbs. And here's another trick. Use it to dig holes around trees and pour in your own fertilizer instead of using tree spikes or deep root feeders. Every gardener needs a good pair of shears that scissor-type snips like this one from OXO are easier to use for like trimming like [unk], cutting flowers or harvesting vegetables. The long straight blades have good reach and light beauty snips way less than regular shears. So they are less tiring to use.
How to Force Spring Bulbs
Start spring a little early by forcing bulbs indoors. Forced bulbs are perfect for adding a splash of color and fragrance when it's still cold and gray outside. Forcing bulbs is easy. The process typically starts in fall. Purchase your favorite bulbs from your local garden center and plant them in pots with high quality potting mix. If you like an even bigger and better display, layer your bulbs by planting smaller ones over the top of your larger bulbs. Water them in then store bulbs some place around 40 degrees for 12 weeks or so. Places you can store bulbs include cellars, unheated garages and refrigerators. Water the bulbs periodically while they're being kept cool. After about 12 weeks, move your bulbs to a warmer spot in your home. They'll start to grow. Most bulbs take 2 to 4 weeks to bloom once they come out of their rigid shell. After the bulbs bloom, it's usually best to compost them. Forced bulbs rarely perform well in the garden when planted outside.
If you're like us, you love spending time at the patio over the summer. Take advantage of these tips to make your patio extra comfy. Incorporate container gardens to soften the edges of your patio. Container garden show off some of your favorite plants and add color to outdoor spaces. And here's a hint. Create container groupings. A cluster of colorful pots is much more visually impactful than a single one especially if your containers are of different sizes. Provide privacy by collecting trees or large shrubs around the perimeter of your patio or build a trowel or ladder screen and plant vines. Leafy plants around your patio ledges help block the view and muffle neighborhood sounds. There's something magical about water so add a water feature. This simple reflecting pool lined in black creates a mirrored effect and offers a sense of serenity or use a tabletop fastener bubbler. The moving water offers another layer of sound and is sure to attract birds and butterflies. Plants are on the edges so your patio doesn't feel plucked in the middle of your landscape. Even a simple border of colorful flowers, fragrant herbs or dwarf shrubs helps transition your patio space into the rest of your yard, giving it a cohesive landscape feel. Add an upper head element to make it feel cozy and offer shade on hot summer days. A small tree such as the sweeping crabapple is one ideal solution. In addition to creating shade, the crabapple cools its surrounding air as the plant breathes. Or if you don't want a mess, build a pergola structure to make shade and offer the feel of a ceiling in your personal lot or a room.There's something magical about water so add a water feature. This simple reflecting pool lined in black creates a mirrored effect and offers a sense of serenity or use a tabletop fastener bubbler. The moving water
Plant Bulbs in Your Lawn
Create a carpet of color in your lawn by planting beautiful spring-blooming bulbs.called naturalizers. They're a great way to bring early season beauty to flower beds . But you can also plant them in lawns to create the look of a lush spring meadow. Crocus is the best choice
How to Plant Spring Bulbs
Bulbs are the closest thing you can get to guaranteed color. Plant in the fall for great blooms in spring. The most popular spring bulbs are tulip, allium, hyacinth, crocus, daffodil and [unk]. At its most basic, planting a bulb simply consists of digging a hole at the proper depth, placing the bulb in the hole, pointy side up then burying it. Water then when you're done. An efficient way to plant a cluster or a formal design is to till up the entire area of soil to be planted using a spading fork. Then, lay out the bulbs on the soil surface in a desired pattern. Dig them in where they sit so you won't lose track of any design you planned. With loose, freshly-tilled soil, it's easy to dig bulbs in with a trough. To plant single bulbs among perennials for a bold perennial combination, an auger is a big help for getting into tight spaces where there's little room to dig. If you plant naturalizing bulbs, bulbs that come back every year such as daffodils, crocus, [unk], plant them well to get plenty of sun. That way, they'll return stronger each spring. A good strategy is to put naturalizing bulbs around perennials because the perennials will conceal the bulb foliage as it dies back.a desired pattern. Dig them in where they sit so you won't lose track of any design you planned. With loose, freshly-tilled soil, it's easy to dig bulbs in with a trough. To plant single bulbs