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3 Steps to Prepare Your Garden and Landscape For Winter

The summer is over, clearly autumn has arrived, and winter can’t be far behind. It is time to prepare the garden and surrounding landscape for the harsh months ahead. Here are 3 simple tips to help you get started.
 
Clean Up: Before the first killing frost do one last weeding in the garden. This will prevent seed heads from dispersing and give you a head start in the spring. Remove any diseased plants or foliage to prevent diseases from spreading or even lying dormant in the ground until next spring. Do not compost diseased materials. Cut back foliage that is done blossoming and unattractive at 2 to 3 inches off the ground. Plants such as lavender, Russian sage and astilbe bring interest to the winter garden if left untrimmed. Phlox, peonies, and monarda (bee balm) should always be cut back because they are highly susceptible to disease. Plants that still look good, annuals, hostas, sedum and others can be cut back after the first killing frost. Unfortunately, raking is a must for a healthy, attractive lawn and garden. 
 
Cover Up: You might be surprised to discover that most perennials do not need to be covered up or protected. However if you are trying to grow plants or shrubs that are not hardy for your agricultural zone, or it’s a first year perennial, or it is expensive or special you might want to take extra precautions. The preferred method for protecting garden perennials is to mulch, but mulching does not mean covering up your plants. The mulch material should be placed around the base of the plant, not covering the center or crown and should not be done until after several hard frosts. The idea is to prevent the ground around the plant from unthawing and refreezing causing the plant to heave or start spring growth prematurely. Materials for mulch can include shredded leaves (run your mower over the leaves several times), processed manure, or shredded bark. It is advantageous to use something that will break down over the winter and add nutrients or amend the soil.

Tender shrubs and roses often require some protection from the harsh winter winds, temperatures and animal damage. Plastic or wire hardware cloth can be used around the shrubs to protect the bark from rodent damage. To protect from winds and temperatures shredded leaves can be put in as well. Hybrid tea roses should be protected before the temperatures drop below 25 degrees F. There are products such as The Garden Dome that offer a simple frame and secured cover for shrub and plant protection. Continue to water evergreens and newly planted shrubs as long as possible.

Collect: Walk around your garden and yard and collect the decorative elements that would take a beating; statuettes, wind chimes, gazing balls, etc. Don’t forget about  ceramic bird baths that are susceptible to freezing and cracking. Take clippings of any annuals that you want to bring indoors. Consider cleaning out your containers and storing before the weather is miserably cold. Be sure to drain and bring in hoses and if you do not have freeze proof faucets those should be drained and shut off as well.
 
A garden prepared for winter is a protected investment. A little time and energy spent now will bring a more pleasant result in the spring.

Landscape Decor Ideas That Anyone Can Do in a Day

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, it is always a good idea to get outside and improve the outside look of the home. When undertaking any kind of outdoor project, realize that these don’t have to be too time consuming. There is a wide range of landscape d├ęcor ideas that a person can do to make their home take on a shine all to its own and are easy to accomplish.

To begin, everyone likes a good bird feeder in their yard because they add a cozy aura to the exterior areas of a front or, more commonly, a backyard. Purchase the feeder that best fits the decor and color scheme of the house and plant it much like you would plant a shrub. Make sure that the post is firmly in the ground and load it up with bird seed. This project will probably take little more than an hour to accomplish.

Another undertaking that can be fun is adding windmills and other kinds of decorative items to the yard. Once again, the first thing to do is purchase the items that bolster the look of the outside of the home. Then, prepare the area where these items are going to sit. Finally, place these items in the ground and secure them so that wind cannot blow them over.

One type of home maintenance project that can be done in one day is general lawn care. Cutting the lawn, pruning the bushes, trimming hedges, and weed whacking are all examples of general lawn maintenance that can be done in a day. Keeping the outside of the home attractive should always be a priority and something that time is slotted for every weekend.

Finally, a homeowner can also plant new trees and shrubs around their yard. This plant life can range from large plant displays to a simple tree, depending on how much space there is to be utilized. When people do plant trees, make sure they are not near sidewalks or the foundation of the house to avoid damage caused by roots.

Adding a little extra flavor to the outside of a home can take a few hours or become a week long project if a person isn’t organized. Landscape decor ideas range from adding windmills and bird feeders, to general lawn maintenance and adding plants to the yard. Each one can help a property owner increase the value of their home in one day’s time.

Fencing For Decor and Function

Originally used for a more practical purpose, fences are now just as decorative as they are useful. Designed to keep as many things out as in, fences serve as a boundary between neighbors and add a decorative flair to any property.

With so many options available in materials alone, a person can design a fence that fits in with the landscape and the overall look of your home.

It is not only great around the perimeter of your property, but for other areas too. Some people find it useful to fence in areas of their garden. This can keep out animals that might otherwise ruin your garden. Not only can they serve the purpose of keeping pests out, they can also, depending on the material used, act as a place for vine growing plants to climb. Green pole beans will flourish growing up more of an open chain link or lattice style fencing material.

For safety reasons, fences can be imperative for families with young children. They create a safe and secure place for children to play, keeping them away from the street or from wandering into other potential harmful areas. If your family owns a swimming pool, it can be vital to have protection surrounding the area, not only for the safety of your family members, but for the safety of others and the role that it will play with your liability insurance.

If you have pets, a secure yard for them to play in is important for their safety as well. Being able to keep them where they belong and avoid them wandering off will help insure they are at a lower risk for injury or from being taken.

No matter what type of fencing you choose it can offer great curb appeal and safety benefits galore.