Water Gardening, Installing a Pool for Water Plants

Add a new dimension to your garden with a water feature for plants. Water gardening is fun and easy once you get started and will provide a beautiful focal point in you garden. No matter how small a space, you can have a water garden. Small water gardens can be just as attractive as larger ones, it all starts with the planning. In this article we will look at the addition of a small, prefabricated pool.

Water Garden PoolThe first thing to consider is where to place your water garden. Choose carefully. Your water garden should complement your garden, if you already have a developed one, or you may choose to have it as a center attraction in a new garden scheme. It’s up to you. Also consider placing it so that it is visible from inside the home, this will have the added attraction of bringing the outdoors indoor. But remember that these prefab pools will look smaller, typically from around 36 to 72 inches in length, once it is installed and usually only have a depth of about 18 inches. (There are larger ones available but they are rare). This shallow depth will make it difficult to winter lilies and fish, if you choose to add them. If you live in an area where you experience freezing temperatures for extended periods, plants and fish may not survive. Also algae control can be difficult if your pool does not have moving water or enough shade, which is something to consider before you buy (we will discuss algae control in another blog).

Construction is very straightforward. Usually you can purchase your pool as a kit with complete instructions for their installation. It will entail digging a hole to place the basin in, slightly over sized, to accommodate it. You will want to be sure that your final depth has tamped, that is compactedPrefabricated Pool, soil. You can accomplish this by using a tamp. A tamp is a flat, cast iron base, usually 8 inches square, with a handle protruding from its center, and is available at your garden or tool center. This will limit the amount of soil compression, or sinking, that may accrue. Then sand is usually used to rest the bottom of the basin on and to fill all voids around it to add support. Remember that water is heavy and the plastic used in these prefab pools need to be supported so they will not distort. Be sure to keep the basin level during installation, that way it will be uniform and not have a low side that water can escape over. The method for back filling around the outside of the basin is to add about 4 inches of water to the pool and then back fill the outside with the sand. Continue alternating filling with water and back filling with sand until you have the basin fully installed.

Adding stones at the edge of the top lip of the pool will disguise the plastic and add a decorative accent, adding harmony to your project.

My next topic will be plants for your water garden, so check back for ideas and considerations on plants for your water garden.

For more ideas on ponds see Fantastic Fish Ponds.

Have fun with your home improvement projects.

Garden Walls

Stone Garden WallsGarden Walls are an excellent addition to any garden. They add structure and points of interest to your garden. All garden walls perform some useful function. Using walls for raised beds for planting, for erosion control, or to better utilize unused space, are just three examples of how walls provide a practical function.

The first thing you should do is to evaluate your garden for the addition of walls. Do you need to control erosion, or terrace a hillside to better utilize an area of your yard or garden that is just a slope with no practical purpose? Many elements can be combined to enhance this previously unused space, and transform that area of your property from difficult, or unusable, into a very desirable addition. Not to mention adding significant value to the home. Use your imagination to envision how your garden walls will look, and don’t forget accessibility. Adding stairs to your wall project will greatly enhance the usefulness of the walls you build.

There are several materials that can be used to construct your garden walls. Stone is a wonderful way to enhance your project by adding structure with a natural look. Or you may prefer cast concrete blocks, which come in a variety of color, size, and texture, for you project. Wood beams is another alternative for garden walls, but be aware that wood in contact with the soil is highly prone to rote, even if it is treated to protect it from the elements. Pick the material for your walls carefully, because they will be with you for a long time.

Garden WallConstruction of walls is very straight forward. The first type of construction we will look at is mortar less construction. In this type of construction the material used is simply stacked one on top of the other, paying particular attention to not allow vertical joints to line up one above the other. In other words, you want to stagger the joints for each row from the previous one as much as possible. This provides a good interlocking which adds strength and longevity to your wall. Free stacked stone is a good example of a mortar less construction technique that is very durable. Examples of free stacked stone walls can be found still intact after centuries of performing their intended function. Cast concrete blocks intended for landscaping walls, and landscaping beams fall into this category as well.

The other option is using concrete and mortar construction. Mortared stone walls provide a very permanent wall. Proper construction of these walls consist of using concrete and stone in the construction of the wall, and mortar for the spaces on the walls face and top. This type of construction is very ridged and does not allow for movement of the material used, usually stone, block, or brick.

Wall foundation is very important no matter which type of construction you decide to use. Due to weather conditions, winter versus summer, the ground may freeze, depending on your location. The general rule is that you want to prepare the foundation of the wall below the frost line. The frost line is the depth at which the ground freezes in mid winter. You need your wall foundation to extend 6 to 8 inches below this depth and on compacted, hard, ground. This will protect your walls from ground upheaval in freezing temperatures. This is especially important if you are constructing concrete and mortar type walls, which will crack if the foundation is not properly laid at the correct depth. Mortar less walls are more flexible to these conditions, usually returning to their original position when the ground thaws. The manufactures of landscaping block provide instructions for laying their foundation when using this type of material for your walls. Read their free pamphlets, which can be found where the product is sold, so you understand how deep to place the foundation and how it is installed.

If you need advice on building and placement of garden walls, you can consult a landscape designer to assist you in your project. Or try Landscape Design – Do It Yourself to help plan your project. There is a lot of free content you can use for your project.

Have fun with your Home Improvement Project.

Lawn Care, How To Cut Your Lawn

Mowing your lawn is as essential to good lawn health as watering and feeding it. The real trick here is to know when to mow. Its not as hard as you might think, but it does require a little forethought.

Angled cutEvery time you mow your lawn your cutting the blades of grass. When the blades are cut the root system will stop growing temporarily. This limits the amount of nutrients and water they can absorb. If your grass is cut to short the root system will be weakened. A weakened root system makes your lawn more likely to develop weeds, disease, and suffer badly from drought.

So how do you know how short to cut your lawn? The general rule is one-third of the total height should be cut when you mow your lawn. Cutting more than one-third of the grass plant severely shocks the plant and inhibits its ability to support its root growth. If your type of grass is best at a 2 inch height, you should cut it when it reaches 3 inches high. If its best at 3 inches, cut it at 4 1/2 inches. Once you figure out how high your lawn needs to be and when it needs to be cut, devise an easy system that will tell you it’s time to mow. The system I use is by remembering where the tip of the grass blades hit my shoe, that lets me know it’s time to mow.

Below is a list of the most common grasses and the optimum heights to be maintained:

Cool-season grasses

Kentucky bluegrass………………2 to 3 in.

Perennial rye grass………………..2 to 3 in.

Fescue, fine…………………………2-1/2 to 3-1/2 in.

Fescue, tall………………………….2-1/2 to 3-1/2 in.

Creeping bent grass……………..1/4 to 3/4 in.

Warm-season grasses

Bermuda grass……………………..1/2 to 1 in.

Buffalo grass………………………..2 to 3 in.

When your grass is healthy and growing, cut it to the lower height recommended. But if the grass is stressed by drought, disease, shade, pests or traffic, you will want to cut it to the higher recommended height.

When cutting your grass, never cut it when it’s wet and definitely not in the heat of the day. Your grass willTorn grass blade be stressed enough due to the cutting, don’t add heat to the list. You should also alternate the pattern in which you mow your lawn. Mow at a 45 or 90 degree angle from the last mowing. So if you mowed from say the street to the house the last time, mow from side to side this time. It also helps to alternate with the 45 degree angle as well. This alternating patter will help avoid ruts from forming and get your grass to grow straight up instead of at an angle. You should also overlap each pass by 2 to 3 inches to make sure you get complete coverage.

Your lawn mower is the essential tool for keeping your lawn looking neat and trim, so keep it maintained. Make sure that the blade is sharp. A dull blade will tear the grass blades instead of cutting them. This tearing action causes more of a shock to the blades of grass than a nice clean cut. To know if your mower blade is to dull, just look at the ends of the grass you mowed the last time you mowed it. If it is ragged and split looking, the mower blade needs sharpening. Also, use a water hose to clean the underside of your mower each time you mow. This will remove loose grass and debris which will build up over time and reduce your mowers efficiency if it is not removed.

For a really in depth look at lawn care try Lawn Care Ebook

Have fun with you home improvement projects.

Lawn Care, How To Feed Your Lawn

It’s important to realize that a great looking lawn needs nutrients to grow strong and beautiful. Believe it or not, there are 16 different elements your lawn needs in order to be healthy. Lucky for us most are trace elements in very small amounts that we don’t need to be to concerned with.

Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are the “big three” for a healthy lawn. Fortunately for us they are also the most abundant ones as well. These elements come form the air and water, so if your watering your lawn properly your getting enough of these for your lawn.Fertilizer Coding

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are next on our list. Nitrogen is the most important of these because it aids in rapid growth and keeps your lawn a health, rich green. If your lawn doesn’t have enough of it it will turn yellow and wither. But, nitrogen leaches through the soil easily. Water runoff containing nitrogen that has not been absorbed by your lawn could contaminate the groundwater or nearby lakes and streams. So use it sparingly. Phosphorus is necessary for root and shoot growth. The soil usually contains enough of it to support good growth, but may need to be supplemented on occasion. Potassium is necessary to keep your lawn resistant to weeds and disease and to promote overall health. It is the all in one health booster and helps your lawn better withstand heat and cold, drought and wear. If you read the label on a bag of fertilizer you will see a number on it like 15-5-10. This number represents the ratio of nitrogen – phosphorus – potassium by weight. In order to know what amount of these elements you lawn needs you should test your lawn. Soil test kits are relatively inexpensive and well worth the price for a healthy lawn.

Calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are next. They are usually found in sufficient quantities for your lawn. Just check your soils pH level with a simple test kit. Calcium and magnesium will raise your pH level while sulfur will lower it.

Generally, prepackaged lawn fertilizer is well balanced for most lawns. If you encounter a problem use the soil tests to identify the lack of one of the necessary elements we have already discussed. Remember, that when it comes to prepackaged lawn fertilizers, you get what you pay for. So be careful and very selective when choosing a fertilizer. Read the label closely.

LawnsWhen feeding you lawn, do it when the grass is dry. It is possible that if you fertilize it when the grass is wet, the fertilizer will stick to the blades where they remain when the grass dries. This can burn the grass in the hot sun. After feeding your lawn it’s always a good ideal to water it in order to knock the fertilizer off the blades of grass and put it into the soil.

Deciding when to fertilize your lawn can be tricky. The one, and only, rule to fertilizing your lawn is to do it before your grass enters its period of active growth. For cool season grasses, this is usually in the spring and fall. Warm season grasses will benefit from a feeding in the late spring through the summer. How often is up to you, once a year is necessary to keep your lawn alive. Twice a year is usually good if you need more growth, once in the spring and once in the fall.

For a really in depth look at lawn care try Lawn Care Ebook

Check back for my next issue on Lawn Care, How To Cut Your Lawn.

Have fun with you home improvement projects.

Lawn Care, When To Water Your Lawn

\We’ve all seen those fantastic lawns that we catch our eye and make us wish it was ours. But you can achieve a beautiful lawn too. All you have to do is follow some basic rules for caring for your lawn and provide the nutrients that your lawn needs in order to thrive. In this edition we’ll look at watering your lawn.

Water is important for any plant, and most lawns are neglected when it comes to this essential care. When to water your lawn depends on several factors. The soil has a direct impact on the frequency you’ll have to water it. Sandy soil drains water away faster then Clay Soil. Also temperature and humidity as well as wind will determine how long, or how fast, it takes the moisture in your lawn to evaporate. The best indicator that you need to water your lawn is the grass itself. The leaves of your grass will curl lengthwise to conserve moisture, this has the effect of changing the color of your lawn from a lustrous green to a dull blue green color. It will also loose it’s ability to bounce back when stepped on, which means it shows foot prints easily. It may even develop brown patches. All of these are signs that your lawn needs watering.

The best time to water your lawn is in the morning. The temperatures in the morning are likely to be the coolest time of day which provides more time for the water to soak in. There tends to be less wind in the morning hours as well which reduces evaporation. In addition, the grass will have more time for the leaves to dry before nightfall which will reduce the chance of disease. Grass that is growing underneath trees needs to be watched closely, the roots of a tree drains moisture out of the soil and away from your grass. The leaves of the tree can also shelter the grass from rain fall, especially when the rain is very light.

The last thing you need to now about watering your lawn is how much water it needs. The roots of yourPoor Growth grass is the heart of your lawn. If you water your lawn frequently, and just a little, the roots will develop shallow growth because that’s where most of the water will be. This causes poor root development and leaves your lawn ripe for ugly brown patches during drought and disease prone. If you over water your lawn, the water will go much deeper than the roots of the grass can reach, which will only waste water. In addition, over watering leads to less oxygen in the soil that the roots need which can kill the grass.

You want to water your lawn so that the soil is moist down to 6 to 8 inches. This will encourage good root development and enable the root system to extract moisture from deep within the soil during the drier months. You can test how deeply you are watering your grass by simply pushing a screw driver into the soil, it should go in easily in moist soil and hard in the dryer layers of the soil. If your using a sprinkler to water your lawn, make sure you overlap the areas you water. Sprinklers water the grass less the farther away from the sprinkler you get.

Your lawn needs water when it needs it, not on a rigid time schedule. So check it for when it needs to be watered. You’ll have a much healthier and better looking lawn, and waste less water too.

For a really in depth look at lawn care try Lawn Care Ebook

Check back for my next issue on Lawn Care, How To Feed Your Lawn.

Have fun with you home improvement projects.