Trends in Decorative Pebbles

Decorative pebbles are a beautiful part of many modern gardens. They enhance almost any planting scheme and, as a bonus, deter weeds.

Decorative gravel for driveways and paths

When you are completing a driveway or path, there are a few things to bear in mind. The ideal stone for this purpose is a gravel – crushed products like decomposed granite or crushed tile. These products have irregular edges that compact into a solid base to drive or walk on.

You can also use smaller pebbles, such as Somersby, Nepean River or Hunter River pebbles for paths or driveways – but be careful of the size. Don’t use anything bigger than 5-10mm for paths or 20mm for driveways. Bigger stones can be dangerous because they tend to slip around when you walk on them, and avoid round smooth stones, which won’t compact to a solid base.

When laying a driveway or path, first create a solid base using blue metal or road base to a depth of at least 100mm, and then add a layer of at least 50mm of your decorative gravel. Never lay stones on a concrete surface – they will move around and can be dangerous to walk on.

Decorative pebbles for your garden

Using decorative pebbles in your garden is really only limited by your own taste and imagination. Pebbles come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from ‘Easter egg’ sized Lucky stones right down to pea sized pebbles such as Somersby. As for colours, there is a pebble in almost every colour you could think of, particularly with the advent of polished pebbles on to the market.

Decorative pebbles for vases, pots and planters can look spectacular. Around 20mm deep should be sufficient for this purpose, but if you are laying them in the garden in the hope of restraining weeds, then you will need around 50mm in depth.

There are many imaginative ways to use decorative pebbles in your garden beyond simply spreading them around plants. Lay them between pavers for colour and texture. Use contrasting coloured pebbles to make a pattern such as a spiral or star. Set out a mixture of lucky stones and mixed smaller pebbles of the same type, such as Cowra Gold or Cowra White, in curving shape to mimic a dry river bed. Create a pebbly beach by laying pebbles in a crescent moon shape next to a pond or pool. Or, if you’re artistic, set them into mosaics on the ground or walls, or in garden furniture to make something unique to you.

Decorative pebble tips

Decorative pebbles are a useful way to deter weed growth, but if you do a couple of extra things before you lay them, it will make it even harder for weeds to break through. First give any existing weeds a spray with weedkiller (but avoid any existing plants), and then lay down a layer of fine mulch, followed by a thick layer of pebbles.

Remember that if you lay pale pebbles under non-native trees, they may be covered in fallen leaves and look messy in autumn! Darker pebbles will blend in better to a natural landscape.

If you are concerned about the environment, buy local pebbles. In Australia, river pebbles come from sand mining or deposits left by old waterways, rather than from active waterways that can be damaged. Australian decorative pebbles include Cowra Gold, Cowra White, Nepean River, Hunter River, Somersby pebble.

Decorative Bark Provides Many Benefits

There are a few tricks of the trade that landscapers use decorative bark for, but they no longer have to stay tricks for the professionals. Not only is the bark an aesthetically pleasing accent to a home garden or walkway, but it also has a long list of benefits for its use. In an attempt to make your yard as maintenance free as possible, consider this top covering to do your area a lot of good both to the eyes and the soil underneath.

The main place that one may see decorative bark these days and possibly the best way to utilize its natural resources is in a garden area. As mentioned, it is a natural way to combat so many other natural products that could do damage to your hard work. The bark helps keep in the moisture while providing a tight seal against the light to block even the peskiest of weeds from cultivating. The ground covering is a great way to smooth out the surfaces between your plants and provide a safe place to grow your plants as well.

Another place where decorative bark is very resourceful is in the ground covering for children’s play ground surfaces. The material is relatively inexpensive compared to the world of protection that it can provide when a young one either runs, walks, chases, or the eventual fall takes place. The springy substance is not only again a wonderful aesthetic touch while choking off underground growth that is not welcome, it is a safe and natural choice to be around children.

In knowing exactly where, how and what type of bark to use is strictly at the discretion of the user but here are some general guidelines. Small decorative bark, averaging 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch in particle size, is used for planters, window boxes and containers. This bark is often referred to as mini nuggets. Bark that ranges between a 1/2 inch and 1 inch in particle size is generally used for smaller areas in the garden and also in playgrounds. One bag will cover a 6 foot by 4 foot area giving a 1 inch thick surface. Bark that ranges between 1 inch and 3 inches in particle size is used for large planting areas. To get a rough estimate of what you will need when considering medium to large pieces of bark, one bag will cover an 8 foot by 6 foot area when only looking for a 1/2 inch thickness covering.

When spreading bark in your yard it is necessary to remove all weeds from the area first and apply a layer of at least 1 to 2 inches thick so that weeds cannot grow through. Reapplication of decorative bark is necessary if you want the same fresh look and maintain all the effectiveness of weed and moisture control.

Decorative Mulches for the Garden

Covering your flower beds with decorative mulches provides a visual background against which your plants and flowers will stand out. It also creates a neat landscaped appearance to a border and adds style. Applying mulch to soil surfaces helps to retain soil moisture, suppresses weeds and will in time improve the structure of the soil if organic mulches are used. Here are a few of the more decorative mulches you can buy for your garden and where best to apply them.

The best time to apply mulch to garden borders is in late winter or early spring when the soil is properly wet. When apply mulches, spread a layer which at least a couple of inches thick to make sure it reduces unnecessary evaporation from the surface of the soil. There are two types of mulch, organic and inorganic. Both can act as decorative ground cover and will also insulate and retain soil.

Types of organic mulch

Mulches made up of organic matter can still be decorative as well as offering the additional benefits of adding nutrients to the soil when they break down. Ornamental bark mulches if sourced correctly will do the job of conserving moisture and suppressing weeds and look decorative in the flower border. There are a few considerations to take account of when choosing bark mulch. If you have acid-loving plants, then choose a pine mulch as when it starts to break down in the soil it becomes slightly acidic which the plants will enjoy. You can also use pine needle mulch for acid-loving plants which can look very attractive in a woodland setting. It is also possible to buy dyed bark mulch, which although it looks very attractive is perhaps not the most environmentally friendly bark to use. Good bark mulch will last for about three years before it will need re-applying.

Types of inorganic mulch

There are a number of types of inorganic mulches including stone, rubber and plastic. Although they aren’t beneficial to the soil in terms of adding nutrients, they do last longer. Black plastic is useful in the vegetable garden, especially for suppressing weeds, but it does not work so well in landscaping. Rubber bark made from recycled tyres can be very authentic looking and comes in a variety of different colours. It is good for use in ornamental gardens and on pathways. However, there are some concerns about possible chemical contamination of soil. There are a number of very attractive stone mulches you can buy, from gravel to slate chippings. Stone mulches are best used on paths and around permanent plantings such as trees and shrubs. Stone mulches do not work on the vegetable garden or in flower beds, but they do work well as a finish to plants in garden planters.

Jo Poultney is one of two people behind Garden Planters. I have an RHS general certificate in horticulture. Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts – whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. I believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden – they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.

Tips for Controlling the Garden Weeds

A constant outbreak of weeds is certain to cause problems for the enthusiastic gardener. Beyond the unsightly nature of the weeds, they are also a cover for animals (snakes, rodents, etc), insects and diseases. Here are several of the most-effective solutions to get rid of the weeds and take control of the garden:

Mulch – Mulch is a highly effective option to suppress the constant growth of weeds. A good 2 or 3 inch layer of mulch is certain to be enough to cut the long-term issues with weeds. Mulch can range from the organic materials like wood chip and grass clippings to the inorganic materials like gravel.

Weed cloth – A purpose made weed cloth in a fabric or plastic material can help with suppressing the growth of weeds, while also encouraging the plant growth by retaining moisture in the soil. A weed cloth and organic mulch combination can offer a greater degree of protection.

Physical barrier – Place a solid barrier between the garden and lawn area to prevent the problem weeds spreading from the garden to the lawn. A decorative edging in plastic, wood, or metal is very effective. This edging material can also help to increase the appeal of the yard. Alternatively, it is possible to dig a big enough trench between the garden and lawn to prevent the crossover of weeds.

Chemicals – Specialized weed killers or herbicides are widely available in the local garden supplies stores. They come in a variety of strengths and include many active ingredients. Make sure a particular type of herbicide is appropriate for the type of plant being sprayed. It is necessary to be more cautious when using chemical sprays on the fruit and vegetable plants. For these types of plants, it may benefit to use an organic solution. A simple home remedy to eliminate weeds comes from adding 10% vinegar to water in a regular hand-held spray bottle.

There is no single weed control method that can get rid of all the backyard weeds. It often benefits to combine several different methods to achieve the best results. Try to water the flower beds before watering since this makes it easier to pull up the weeds. Use the specialized tools for weed control. A hand-held weed puller simplifies the process of eliminating the many weeds that appear on the lawn throughout the season. Also, aim to implement the weed control on an almost daily or weekly basis. Don’t wait until the weeds start to overrun the lawn or flower beds.

Top 5 Ways to Control Weeds in Your Garden

Are you tired of weeds in your garden? Are they holding your garden back? Weeds are the most common challenges that every gardener or landscaper has to face. We want weeds to stay out of our beautiful garden and landscapes. Although fighting with weeds is a year round job, fall and early spring is the best time to practice weed prevention. The best defense against weeds is your thick and healthy lawn. Here are few useful weed control measures that you can take to make your garden healthy and attractive.

Difference between annual and perennial weeds
First understand the difference between annual and perennial weeds. Annual weeds have shallow roots and they die out at the end of the year. You need to eliminate them when they are sprouts, to avoid spreading of seeds. You can easily pull them out from the roots. Perennial weeds are rigid and are spread by underground runners. Even if a part of the root is left behind in the soil, they will come back again. Therefore, when digging these weeds out, make sure you remove as much root as possible.

Eliminate the weeds while they are still small
Removing weeds while they are still small is the key to effective weed control, which will stop them from spreading. You need to practice this on annual weeds because it only takes couple weeks for them to become sprouts and then flower and lastly seed.

Cultivate the soil to control weeds
Cultivating is nothing but breaking the soil surface to help you remove the weeds. This simple process will help you pull out weeds much easier. You should do it in a moist soil (not wet) and when the plants are still small. For perennial weeds, you need to dig them out completely with a shovel, before your start cultivating. You don’t want to cut off their roots resulting in more roots.

Lay down your mulch to control weeds
Mulching is an effective means of removing weeds. It is useful for removing the annual varieties. Lay a thick layer of organic mulch around your plant, which will prevent the lights from reaching the weeds and they will die ultimately. Another way is to lay down a layer of black polythene fabric in between the plant rows and bury it with decorative mulch. This will block the necessary sunlight and water from reaching the weeds, which will prevent their growth.

Control your weeds by applying herbicide
You can use an herbicide from any gardening store, but choose the one that kills only weeds. It kills everything that comes in contact, so be very careful when applying it. There are two types of herbicide, pre-emergent and post emergent. Pre-emergent herbicide is used to kill the seedlings before they develop and post emergent herbicide for mature plants. You can also make your own herbicide at home. It is safer for your yard and your family. You can use vinegar, orange oil, salt, soap, and lemon juice to create an herbicide recipe.

You can successfully control most weeds in your garden or lawn by following few basic gardening practices. Regular use of mulches, cultivating and a watchful eye keep your garden beautiful and healthy.

Four Essentials to a Beautiful Yard Using Simple Garden Basics and Garden Decorative Items

With a full time job and 2 kids in the house, I understand that it’s hard to find the time pursue the perfect backyard. It’s frustrating to spend time and money on new plants, only to have them die over the winter or to survive but not flower the next year. It seems like all your hard work was for nothing. Whether it’s time or money we don’t want to waste either so here are the top four essentials to having the yard you want.

1. Prepare.

Preparation is the key and the most important of the group. Skip this one and I can guarantee you will be disappointed. The first thing to do is to evaluate your soil.

· Evaluate Your Soil – You can test it by squeezing a handful of soil and then rub it between your fingers. If the soil feels gritty, you have sandy soil. If it sticks together or feels slippery, it’s clay. This will tell you something about how your garden uses water and nutrients. Sandy soil dries out quickly, so your plants roots dry out faster, too. In hard clay, the soil stays wet but it’s difficult for the roots to absorb the water as well as nutrients and oxygen

· Loam – For most plants, loam is ideal. it contains clay, sand and silt, plus organic material such as decayed plant matter which will encourage the growth of microorganisms and bacteria, therefore providing food for your plants.

· Compost – Adding compost is the single best thing you can do for your soil. It adds bulk to sandy soil and helps it hold in moisture, while dense clay, will become lighter and fluffier. Compost provides nutrients for any type of soil. If you can’t make your own compost, it can be purchased by the bag at any garden center. Apply compost by spreading evenly about 2 inches deep. Till or turn the soil to a depth of about 6 inches or so and put in your plants. It’s also important to add about an inch of composted soil to tip each year.

2. Garden Decorative Items

After you’ve planted, adding a personal touch to your garden by adding garden decorative items will make it more enjoyable for you, your family and your guests. Here are some ideas to get your started.

· Put a garden bench in a niche or cranny of your garden for a quiet spot to sit and relax or to read or meditate.

· A fountain is a smart addition to garden. The sound of running water is proven to reduce stress.

· Garden statues and/or stakes are common garden decorative items that help brighten your landscape and add to it’s sense of style. Gazing balls, sundials, and decorative planters all bring your design together for a total look.

· Don’t forget your feathered friends. Garden decorative items include bird houses, bird baths, and bird feeders. You will enjoy watching the birds and might even be surprised by the species of birds you attract.

· Keep entertaining in mind. Outdoor living furniture, potted plants, and tabletop fountains make your outdoor environment ideal for you to entertain your guests.

3. Upkeep

Once you’ve got everything planted, there are only 3 things you need to focus on during the growing season; watering, fertilizing, and maintaining the foundation. Here are some tips to guide you.

Watering

Watering by hand is the best system to keeping your plants healthy. Sprinklers just don’t do the best job. Use sprinklers only when you are unable to water by hand.

· It’s best to water in the morning but evening will do if that is the only time that you have to do it. Never water during the heat of the day. The sun will burn the plants.

· Over watering is a common mistake. Only water when the soil is dry to a depth of two inches; more than that is over watering.

· Start watering at one end of your garden and use a nozzle with a gentle flow. Water each plant at its base for about 30 seconds then move on to the next plant.

· When you have watered all the plants, repeat and go around one more time.

· Check the top 6 inches of soil. When it’s wet to 6 inches, you’ve watered enough.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer is a necessary component to the upkeep of your garden however it can be easy to overdo fertilizing. Nature has its own process of feeding and if you planted with good compost, you probably do not need extra fertilizer. If in doubt, take a sample to your local extension office. For a small fee, the lab will test your soil and tell you what type of nutrients your soil needs.

Keeping it Clean

Maintaining the structure of your garden is also important. Keeping a clean garden makes your hard work more rewarding and regular upkeep keeps it from becoming too overwhelming. Pulling out weeds, keeping your plants in shape by keeping them pruned, and removing spent flowers are all that is really required.. You might want to try using a layer of bark mulch to keeping the weeding to a minimum. Mulch keeps the soil cool and retains moisture making intervals between watering longer.

4. Winterizing

In the fall, rake leaves and put them in your compost pile if you are composting. Protect tender shrubs by covering them with burlap. If you live in an area where the temperatures get to freezing, after the ground freezes, put mulch around your dormant plants. This will keep the soil temperatures even, protecting the roots from frequent freezing and thawing. Another benefit of this is that as the mulch breaks down, it will add nutrients to the soil.

Don’t forget about your garden tools. Cleaning them and then oiling them with WD-40 will make them ready for use next spring after they have been stored all the winter.

That’s all there is to it. Anyone can have a green thumb by following these simple suggestions. You will be pleasantly surprised at the garden you have begun and in just a few short years your garden will flourish into a beautiful landscape. Happy Gardening!