Gussy Up the Veggie Garden

A vegetable garden is the ultimate in practical landscaping, and a thriving veggie patch can not only be a bountiful supplement to a grocery budget, but also an enjoyable hobby and great exercise as you sow seeds, nurture plants and take up your delicious harvest. One thing a vegetable garden does not need to be, however, is drab, and there are many fun ways to gussy up the veggie garden to show off your personal flair and gardening charisma.

Why Beautify a Vegetable Patch?

As more gardeners expand their cultivated plots into side yards and even front yards, keeping a vegetable garden attractive is essential. Not only can a lovely vegetable garden be attractive to the neighborhood, but it increases curb appeal for your home, raises awareness about the beauty of vegetables and allows you to take just as much pride in your garden’s appearance as you do in your harvest. Adding more personality to your vegetable garden is also a fun way to discover more gardening techniques and show off your more colorful side.

Fun Ways to Gussy Up the Veggie Garden

There are many different ways you can give your garden a more colorful personality, and we have everything you need to do so. While you may not want to use every technique in your garden depending on the veggies you grow and the space you have available, trying just one or two fun tactics can give your garden a great makeover.

  • Liven Up the Lines
    Instead of planting vegetables in straight rows, embrace the twists, turns and curves of your landscape with a curvy garden. You can create a pattern of colors and shapes, or use different edging options to delineate the sections of your garden in more visible ways.
  • Pretty Up Your Paths
    You don’t have to use plain dirt paths in your garden when there are colorful mulches, unique stepping stones and other options to create more interesting pathways. Try river rocks, multi-colored gravel, crushed shells, bricks or other options to define paths more beautifully.
  • Build a Beautiful Border
    Define your garden’s edge with a beautiful border. Decorative fences can be quaint, or you can plant flowers all around the garden for extra color. Use deer- and rabbit-resistant flowers such as poppies, marigolds, zinnia and verbena to help protect your garden at the same time.
  • Create Bursts of Color
    Add more color to your garden with whimsical touches such as colorful tomato cages or painted support stakes. You can also add a brilliant gazing ball, a fun seasonal decorative flag or other colorful accents to add instant vibrancy to your veggie garden.
  • Add an Amazing Arbor
    An arbor or pergola can be an amazing architectural accent in your garden. This structure can be functional as well when it provides a bit of protection for shade-loving veggies or includes a bench with hidden storage for your favorite garden tools, hoses or other equipment.
  • Verticalize Your Veggies
    Go up, up, up with your veggie garden space when you embrace vertical gardening. You can hang baskets from an arbor, trellis or poles, or create a green wall or other vertical gardening space that climbing plants will love, and you’ll see your harvest multiply.
  • Secret Spaces to Make You Smile
    Your vegetable garden doesn’t need to be nothing but growing space, and you can add a whimsical garden gnome, fairy garden setup or other secret space to the garden. You might even include a small bench or meditation fountain for extra enjoyment.
  • Welcome Beneficial Wildlife
    Bring helpful visitors to your veggie garden when you add a bee house, butterfly feeder, hummingbird feeder or bird bath to the garden. These helpful pollinators will appreciate the assistance and will repay your generosity as they increase the yield of all your veggies.
  • Select Stunning Seedlings
    The seedlings you add to your veggie patch can go a long way toward beautification when you choose plants with colorful foliage or unique produce. This also gives you a chance to experiment with new plants, and you might discover a new favorite vegetable along the way.
  • Fill In With Flowers
    Quickly add color and texture to your vegetable garden when you fill in short rows and corners with extra flowers. This is a great way to expand your garden and avoid thin or bare patches that detract from your garden’s beauty.
  • Make Magnificent Markers
    Marking plant rows and types keeps your garden organized, and you can do it with flair when you choose colorful or whimsical plant markers. Painted rocks, fun signs, cheerful flags and other options can denote your plants while adding beauty to your garden.
  • Class It Up With Containers
    A bright pot or planter box can be an attractive addition to your veggie patch, and will add extra color as well. This is a great way to add herbs, mints, berries or other fun plants to your garden. Elevate smaller pots with plant stands or pot feet to give more dimension to the garden.

With so many fun options to gussy up your veggie garden, your gardening patch can be just as beautiful as any carefully cultivated flowerbed or meticulously groomed lawn – and more delicious!

Creating a Meditation Space in Your Garden

Gardening can be a relaxing, therapeutic hobby as you nurture seedlings, encourage growth and bring your harvest to fruition. But if you just want to take a moment to breathe, reflect and center yourself, it isn’t necessary to get out the garden clogs, sharpen your hand tools or get dirt under your fingernails. Creating a peaceful meditation space in your garden is easy, and can turn any garden into your own private sanctuary.

The Need for Peace

As our lives get ever busier with hectic schedules and cramped appointments, it may seem impossible to have any time for thoughtful reflection or meditation. Furthermore, smaller living spaces and more crowded urban areas can make it seem equally impossible to have any space for solitary peace. Without the ability to relax, we’re faced with skyrocketing stress in our lives, along with a host of different health problems such as tension headaches, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and more. More and more studies, however, are demonstrating that time spent in nature is beneficial for reducing stress and tension, and there’s no better place to easily enjoy nature than in your own garden.

Your Peaceful Purpose

Before creating your meditation space, you need to plan what you want to use it for in order to ensure you have enough room and all the right touches for your peaceful retreat. Meditation can mean something different to everyone – you might prefer a place for quiet, contemplative prayer, or you could be interested in an outdoor space for yoga practice. For some people, a restful space for coloring or painting is their ideal meditation spot, while others may want a natural niche for reading or journaling. Creating or listening to music may be part of your meditation practice, or even a cozy spot for an outdoor nap. Whatever means peace and relaxation to you, it can be incorporated into your garden.

Eliminating Distractions

Once you know how you will use a meditation space in your garden, it is essential to eliminate other distractions and interruptions from that space. Unwanted noises, glaring streetlights, unsavory sights and even unpleasant smells can interrupt meditation and disrupt your relaxation, but it is easy to plan your gardening to eliminate those difficulties. For example, a green wall or trellis can be used to block an unsightly view, and the plants on it will help muffle noises. You could also consider a small fountain for the soothing tinkle of running water to block traffic or neighborhood noises. Climbing, clinging vines can be used to cover structures with greenery to increase the natural feel of the space. Opt for arbors or pergolas that can help create comfortable shade and define the space without completely blocking sunlight, and consider fragrant flowers nearby if unwanted aromas are invading your garden.

Adding Joy to Your Garden Space

Once your meditation area is structured and distractions are minimized, it is time to add your own personal joy into the space. What brings joy to the space will vary from garden to garden and even from season to season, but it should be a personal choice and something that helps draw you into the space. Consider…

  • Seating In order to enjoy your meditation space, you will need a place to sit and relax within it. This may be a comfortable bench, a cozy chaise lounge, a soothing hammock or any other type of seating. A chair-sized boulder can be a natural alternative, or you may opt for a more whimsical swing to add a dash of fun to your personal space.
  • Sights You’ve taken steps to block sights you don’t want to see in your garden, but a good meditation space will also include sights you want to look at. A bird feeder or bird bath can invite beautiful feathered friends to share your space, or you might prefer a lovely piece of garden art, a gazing ball, plants in your favorite colors or even unique mulch or paving stones in a therapeutic pattern.
  • Sounds Pleasant sounds can help add a focal point to your meditation space, allowing you to focus on unique tones to help center yourself. A wind chime, waterfall fountain or even a way to bring your favorite music outdoors can be a wonderful addition to a peaceful meditation space.
  • Water Water can serve several purposes in a meditation space. Flowing or splashing water provides natural white noise, and the sparkles of the water are ideal for meditative gazing or creating soothing reflections. Consider different aquatic options, such as a small stream or brook, a weeping rock, a fountain or even a reflecting pool. You can even opt for a small pond for goldfish or koi if you desire.

Above all, remember that there are no strict rules for creating your personal meditation space. Whatever brings you peace and joy can be part of your design, and it can change as your tastes and preferences change. Garden meditation spaces can vary as much as any other part of the garden, but each one helps nurture our green spirits.

Plants for Wet Soil

More water is always good for plants, right? Wrong! When water stands in the soil, air is displaced, which in turn smothers the plant roots. Once the roots are damaged many symptoms appear on leaves and shoots including wilting, marginal and inter-veinal browning of leaves (scorch), poor color and stunted growth. But the excess water isn’t always coming from overwatering, it may be the result of poor draining soil.

Poor drainage is often produced in disturbed sites when heavy clay soil is compacted by construction machinery or other excessive use, such as yards where several children are often playing. Areas cultivated for plantings, such as flowerbed or borders, then collect water running off the compacted ground – this is called the teacup effect. Wet areas may also be the result of swales, drain spout runoff and low areas even when soil percolation is adequate in most of the site but when general moisture levels are routinely high.

To check for a potential drainage problem, dig a hole at least 2 feet deep, fill it with water and note how long the water remains. If it doesn’t drain completely away within 24 hours a severe drainage problem exists.

Fortunately, you can correct drainage problems in different ways. Easy options include…

  • Divert water past plantings using drainage pipes, splash blocks or rain chains.
  • Plant in mounds or raised beds so water will run off and away from the plants.
  • Install drain tiles in saturated areas or use French drains to contain excess water.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve its structure.

An even easier solution is to simply select plants that tolerate wet sites. The following trees and shrubs tolerate wet sites and flooding better than most. Few tolerate standing water for long periods (those that grow in truly swampy conditions are marked *), but all will do better in wet areas.

Shade Trees

  • *Acer rubrum/Red Maple
  • *Betula nigra/River Birch
  • Liquidambar styraciflua/Sweet Gum
  • Alyssa sylvatica/Sour Gum
  • Platanus occidentalis/Sycamore
  • Quercus phellos/Willow Oak
  • *Salix spp./Willow
  • *Taxodium distichum/Bald Cypress

Flowering Trees

  • Amelanchier Canadensis/Serviceberry
  • Magnolia virginiana/Sweetbay Magnolia

Evergreen Trees

  • Calocedrus decurrens/Incense Cedar
  • Ilex opaca/American Holly
  • Thuja occidentalis/Pyramidal Arborvitae

Deciduous Shrubs

  • *Aronia arbutifolia/Chokeberry
  • Clethra alnifolia/Summersweet
  • *Cornus spp./Twig Dogwoods
  • Enkianthus campanulatus/Enkianthus
  • Ilex verticillata/Winterberry
  • *ltea virginica/Virginia Sweetspire
  • Lindera benzoin/Spicebush
  • Myrica pennsylvanica/Bayberry
  • *Rhododendron viscosum/Swamp Azalea
  • *Salix spp./Pussy Willow
  • Viburnum spp./Viburnums

Evergreen Shrubs

  • *Andromeda polifolia/Bog Rosemary
  • *Chamaecyparis thyoides/White Atlantic Cedar
  • *llex glabra/Inkberry
  • Kalmia atifolia/Mountain Laurel
  • Leucothoe spp./Leucothoe

Perennials

  • *Arundo donax/Giant Reed Grass
  • Aster nova-angliae/Asters
  • Astilbe spp./Astilbe
  • Chelone/Turtlehead
  • Cimicifuga racemose/Snakeroot
  • Helenium autumnale/Helen’s Flower
  • Hibiscus moscheutos/Hardy Hisbiscus
  • *Iris kaempferi/Japanese Iris
  • Iris siberica/Siberian Iris
  • *Lobelia cardinalis/Cardinal Flower
  • Lobelia syphilitca/Blue Lobelia
  • Monarda didyma/Bee Balm
  • Myosotis scorpiodes/Forget-me-nots
  • Tiarella cordifolia/Foam Flower
  • Trollius europaeus/Globe Flowers
  • Viola spp./Violets

Ground Covers

  • Gallium odoratum/Sweet Woodruff
  • Gaultheria procumbers/Wintergreen
  • Hosta spp./Hosta
  • Mentha spp./Mint
  • Parthenocissus quinquifolia/Virginia Creeper

Annuals

  • Cleome hosslerana/Spider Flower
  • Myosotis sylvatica/Forget-me-nots
  • Torenia fournien/Wishbone Flower
  • Viola wittrockiana/Pansies

Not sure which water-loving plants to choose? We’d be happy to help you evaluate your landscape moisture and other conditions to help you choose the very best plants for your yard!

Making a Terrarium

Hold onto your gardening hats, folks! Remember terrariums? A new trend revitalizing this old style is now better than ever. Creating a theme for your terrarium is easier too, with the all the miniatures now available. Remember those skinny-necked bottles and what a hassle they were? New container styles make terrariums easier to plant, simple to maintain and more beautiful in your home.

Style

What is your terrarium’s style? Tropical with ferns, arid with cacti or beach-like with tiny grasses, sand and water-like pebbles? Will you have figures such as fairies or gnomes? To choose the plants, consider the lighting where you plan to place the terrarium. If your gnome home is to be in the corner, consider using a cute fluorescent light or similar illumination to help keep your terrarium’s plants healthy and thriving.

Container Shape and Size

Choose your container and ensure it has enough room for your completed dream. Clear glass allows views of different layers of sand, soil and top dressing, giving your terrarium extra depth. Container shapes include hanging, footed, cylindrical, spherical, even leaning. Multi-sided geometric shapes are popular, as are smooth, curved shapes with a natural flow. If your garden includes tropical plants, consider a container with a smaller opening or a lid to increase humidity for healthier plants.

Don’t forget to consider size – tiny terrariums with just a plant or two are popular and can be hung like ornaments or make great gifts, while larger containers can create an entire microcosm and unique environment for a stunning display.

How to Plant

Planting a terrarium takes a little extra care, but is no more difficult than planting any houseplant.

  1. Put an inch or two of small gravel, pebbles or expanded clay pellets into the container, providing a drainage base. Mixing in several tablespoons of horticultural charcoal prevents odors. If the container is large enough, layer other colors or sizes of pebbles or sands to create visual interest when viewed from the side.
  2. Soil goes in next. Many plants grow well in light soils mixed with peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. Moistened coir is another option. Alternatively, consider special prepared soil mixes for African violets, succulents or cacti.
  3. Create a landscape plan by first arranging the plants on the tabletop to determine where they will be placed in the container, taking into account how the plants may touch the sides or top of the container.
  4. Plant the largest plant first. Dig a small hole, place the plant, and firmly tamp the soil around it. This is very important to stabilize the plants and remove air pockets. If the space is tight, smaller plants may be able to help stabilize larger plants.
  5. After placing the plants, you may want to top-dress with decorative pebbles or bark. Sand looks great around cacti. This is also the time to place fairies, cottages, twigs, larger stones, marbles and other decorative items in your terrarium to create the desired theme.
  6. When everything looks good (look at it from all sides and angles), use a small artist brush to clean any loose dirt or sand away from the sides and leaves.
  7. Use a mister to water the plants. Because the container acts as a small biosphere and much of the moisture is recycled, a little water lasts for quite awhile. Do not overwater your terrarium or the plants may rot, and replacing them can be a challenge.

Place your terrarium in its new location and enjoy its beauty and your accomplishment!

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