Organic Gardening Tips

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Tips to help get you started on your sustainable organic garden

  • Pest management begins with healthy soil. It produces healthy plants, which are better able to withstand disease and insect damage.
  • Organic fertilizers are safer than chemicals. Chemical fertilizers may, in time, build up salts.
  • Apply compost to your garden about two to four weeks before you plant, giving the compost time to integrate and stabilize within the soil.
  • Do not over fertilize garlic or it will become leafy. Use a high phosphorus fertilizer (the middle number) to promote bulb formation.
  • New beds need soil amendments and double digging for that extra starting kick.
  • Soak finished compost in water to “brew” compost “tea,” a nutrient-rich liquid that can be used for foliar feeding or for watering plants in your garden, backyard, or houseplants.
  • Specimen plants which need a warmer climate zone than you have do well in sheltered, south-facing walls. The wall acts as a solar collector, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night, creating a small zone that is warmer than the rest of the garden.
  • Begin deep watering your trees and shrubs in the spring if you don’t get a soaking rain every 10 – 14 days.
  • When planting trees, don’t give them too much organic matter in the hole they’re going in. If the hole is filled with rich organic matter and compost but the surrounding soil is hard and compact or less nutritious, the roots are less likely to spread out into the soil. When the tree isn’t anchored well by large roots, it is more likely to be blown over and be less healthy and less able to resist drought.
  • Outdoors potted plants and baskets are the only plants that need daily water on the hottest, driest days of the summer.
  • Once a seed sprouts it must be kept watered. If it dries out, it dies. If seeds are lightly covered with soil, they may need to be gently sprinkled with water once or twice a day to keep them moist.
  • When planting in clay soil, cover seeds with vermiculite instead of clay. Clay absorbs heat and may bake the seeds and stop germination. Clay also forms a top crust, forming a barrier for the young seedlings.
  • Trees and bushes placed carefully in the middle of flower beds add height and variety to the entire landscape.
  • Low-growing ornamental grasses can cascade over walls, edge low borders, and taller varieties can stand in for a row of shrubs.
  • A small extension curtain rod is an excellent support rod for plants. The length can continually be adjusted without disturbing the plants.
  • Native trees are low maintenance; they have developed natural defenses against insects and disease over the centuries, and they rarely need pruning or feeding.
  • Throw a handful of finished compost in the hole for a flower or vegetable transplant before transplanting. The compost gives the transplant a bit of an extra boost that lasts throughout the season.
  • Check moisture in container plants often with your fingers. Potting soil is often lightweight and dries out quickly.
  • Short on space but like vining vegetables? Train your squash, melons, and cucumbers onto a vertical trellis. Support the fruiting vines gently and thoroughly.
  • Watering is necessary when transplanting, but be careful not to over water.
  1. Water your gardens and plants in the early morning or dusk to save water. Watering during the heat of the day burns plants and increases evaporation and loss of water.
  2. Picking off flowers frequently encourage most annuals to flower more abundantly.
  3. To continue blooming, container plants need large amounts of nutrients and water. Since water tends to wash out the nutrients, use finished compost or a good organic fertilizer as top-dressing.
  4. Whenever possible use natural and organic fertilizers such as compost. Chemicals build up toxicity in soil, which leaches into drinking water.
  5. Botanical insecticides are plant derivatives, and can be more toxic than some synthetics. They are, however, better in the long run because they break down rapidly and do not accumulate in the food chain as synthetics do.
  6. Variety and balance are keys to good landscaping. Color, density, size, shape and contrasting colors should all be considered.
  7. Morning sun is more beneficial than afternoon sun.
  8. Fertilize before a rain whenever possible.
  9. Transplant seedlings to larger containers after they have grown 2 pairs of leaves.
  10. Don’t use garden soil as potting soil in containers. Its quality and texture is variable; it may drain poorly or be too loose and drain too quickly. It is also more likely to contain diseases, weed seeds and insects.
  11. When choosing plants for your yard or garden, analyze your specific sunlight, soil, and climate first. Choose plants accordingly.
  12. Learn to tell bulbs’ noses from their basal plates, and plant them heads up.
  13. Bare spots on your lawn? Find an interesting native ground cover and plant it in an appealing design on the bare spot.
  14. Water well before and after applying mulch to give your landscaping a good beginning.
  15. Use a color wheel to find neighbors and opposites. Begin with a color wheel to design a beautiful, purposeful garden. Avoid simply throwing colors together but put a little time into planning.
  16. Soak bare root plants in water for several hours to prepare them for planting after their dehydration.
  17. Prepare beds for annuals and small plants by working in plenty of organic material, layer mulch on top, then gently stick the transplants through mulch to the appropriate depth.
  18. Garden hydrangeas’ color can be manipulated with the soil pH. Pink and red hydrangeas turn blue and purple in acid soils, while blue hydrangeas turn pink in alkaline soils.
  19. Late spring and early summer is the best time to side-dress with compost your rapidly growing plants. Gently scratch the compost into the soil, taking care to start it about an inch away from the stem.
  20. Garlic, leeks and shallots make excellent container plants. They typically have few insect or disease problems, don’t have deep roots and don’t take up much space.
  21. Do not fertilize during the fall or the winter.
  22. In general, thinner leaved plants need more water to stay alive, thicker leaved plants need less.
  23. Beneficial insects are attracted to your garden by coreopsis, feverfew, and sweet alyssum.
  24. Like flowers in your yard but don’t like the work that annuals present? Plant perennials instead; they come up year after year.
  25. Egg cartons make excellent seed starters. Punch a hole in the bottom for drainage, fill with potting soil, plant your seeds and watch them flourish!
  26. For a great crop of peas, start them indoors. The germination rate is far better, and the seedlings will be healthier and better able to fight off pests and disease.
  27. Like potatoes but don’t have much garden space? Try potatoes in barrels or other large containers. Start the potatoes indoors to give them a good head start. Start the potatoes deep in the pot, then fill in the soil as the stems grow upwards.
  28. Cinnamon makes an excellent natural fungicide. Mix in your potting soil when planting seeds to prevent damping off of the seedlings.
  29. Compost is not a fertilizer. It builds up organic matter in the soil.
  30. Take cuttings from healthy clematis plants. Each cutting should include at least on undamaged leaf joint. Dip in cutting gel and plant in paper or peat pots. Clematis do not take to transplanting, so be sure to plant them in the soil pot and all.
  31. Pick your peas regularly – it will encourage the plants to grow more of them.
  32. Wash edible blossoms first in salt water, then rinse in cold water to remove dirt and insects.
  33. Pick flowers early in the morning for best results for fresh arrangements or preserving.
  34. Use native plants in your landscaping whenever possible. They grow naturally in your climate and are less susceptible to insects and disease that occur in your area.
  35. Rotate your crops each year to help reduce pest and disease problems, as well as correct nutrient deficiencies and excesses.
  36. Divide plants in the cool of the evening to avoid dehydration. Replant as soon as possible.
  37. Check the labels on seed packets and new plants – “sun” means direct sunlight at least 8 hours a day. “Shade” means less than 4 hours of sunlight, and “partial sun” means between 4 and 6 hours of sunlight a day.
  38. Coffee grounds make excellent mulch around acid-loving plants.
  39. A plant not receiving enough sun will be misshapen, won’t bloom, and is likely to die. A plant receiving too much sun is burned, stressed, and also likely to die.
  40. Monochromatic gardens often make the most harmonious gardens. You can choose a dramatic bright color such as vivid orange, a soothing soft color such as soft lavender or white, or any shade in between.
  41. Boundaries of fences, stone walls, and hedges give order and design to your garden. Paths are important for movement and maintenance.
  42. Think ahead when planning trees. Think of how big they will be in 20 years, where their roots will grow and how their shade will fall.
  43. Don’t pile mulch against tree trunks. It spreads disease and pests.
  44. Bats are the best weapon against insects you can find. Many in North America feed exclusively on insects and eat more than birds and bug zappers combined.
  45. Use height, contrast and color to draw the eye to a particular part of your yard or garden you want to draw attention to.
  46. Start tomato seeds indoors and plant the seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Plant them in rich soil with a trellis or stake to climb. They also like full sun.
  47. A garden soil that has been well mulched and amended periodically requires only about a 1″ layer of compost yearly to maintain its quality.
  48. The longer the growing season, the more compost is needed in the soil. A longer growing season requires more nutrients and organic matter in the soil.
  49. When you water, try to water deeply and thoroughly. Frequent, shallow waterings train your plants to keep their roots near the surface, making them less hardy and more likely to suffer when deprived of water even for a short period.
  50. Plants such as garlic, onions, chives and chrysanthemums scattered around the yard and garden help repel insects.
  51. Plant something new every year. You never know what you might really enjoy and you get to learn something new every season.
  52. Mulch prevents weeds.
  53. When planting a new tree, look for the dark mark on the trunk that indicates how deeply the tree was set in the soil at the nursery and plant it at the same depth.
  54. Don’t cut foliage from bulbs that have flowered and faded. The faded blooms may be cut, but the foliage provides food to the bulb for next year.
  55. Work compost into the soil you plant amaryllis in, and feed it with worm tea. They both contain nutrients to promote strong bulbs and lead to larger blooms.
  56. Use a fan to blow a gentle breeze over seedlings indoors. The breeze increases air circulation, which decreases disease problems and helps build stronger stems.
  57. When bringing houseplants indoors after the summer season, be on the lookout for unwanted pests and insects that have taken up residence in the plant. Clean the plant well and be ready to fight back with least-toxic insecticides.
  58. After starting tender seedlings such as tomatoes and peppers indoors, gradually harden them to the outdoors before setting them out full-time. Start with a few hours outdoors each day during the warmest part of the day and gradually add hours until they are hardened enough to stay out all night.
  59. Try pumpkin seeds as mouse bait in mouse traps; mice love them!
  60. Mulch around tree trunks is protective as well as decorative; it keeps the tree trunk from being nicked by lawn mower blades. Be sure to avoid piling the mulch up around the base of the tree trunk as that spreads disease and harbors insects, however.
  61. Another reason to use natural and organic fertilizers and soil amendments: earthworms love them! Earthworms are extremely beneficial to the soil and plants, increasing air space in the soil and leaving behind worm castings. Do everything you can to encourage earthworms in your soil.
  62. Healthy soil doesn’t require chemical fertilizers.
  63. Use barriers against pests instead of insecticides whenever possible. Some pest barriers include floating row covers, netting, copper slug and snail barriers, protective collars, and Tanglefoot Pest Barrier.
  64. Hide an ugly chain link fence with climbing flowers such as morning glories or sweet peas, or tall flowers such as hollyhocks or sunflowers.
  65. Plant varieties of shrubs and plants that produce seeds, berries, nuts or other food to keep birds in your garden year-round.
  66. Compost animal manure thoroughly before adding to your garden. This avoids odors, burning plants, and kills weed seeds contained in the manure.
  67. Plant fast-growing evergreens and tall deciduous trees to block prevailing winds if they are a problem.
  68. If you can’t use finished compost for a while, cover the pile with a tarp to avoid leaching the nutrients out of the compost.
  69. Rainy climates often require more compost than drier climates, as the nutrients leach away into the soil faster with the rain.
  70. Harvest onions when the tops have fallen over. Let the soil dry out, harvest, and store in a warm, dry, shady place until the tops dry. Cut off the foliage down to an inch, then store in a cool, dry place.
  71. Avoid tired, sore muscles at the beginning of gardening season by getting in shape beforehand.
  72. Tri-level wire baskets usually used for fruits and vegetables are great for hanging baskets.
  73. Pull weeds after a rain or watering – it is easier on your body and you are more likely to pull the entire root.
  74. Keep dirt off lettuce and cabbage leaves when growing by spreading a 1-2 inch layer of grass clippings (untreated by pesticides or fertilizers) around each plant. Make it mat by spraying with water. This also helps keep the weeds down.
  75. Stick a few rusty nails into the soil of your African Violets to help them thrive.
  76. Feed your indoor seedlings with dilute fish fertilizer, unless the odor is a problem. If so, worm tea works well; it is gentle and won’t burn tender seedlings.
  77. Microwave hard squash and pumpkin about 3 – 5 minutes before trying to slice it. It softens the peel, making it much easier to slice to cook.
  78. Some vegetables actually become sweeter after a frost, including kale, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.
  79. Stay in control of whiteflies using sticky traps and organic sprays such as pyrethrum or neem.
  80. When transplanting tomato seedlings, cover the stem with soil up to the first set of leaves. This encourages root growth, making a stronger, healthier plant.
  81. Diatomaceous earth makes an excellent organic insecticide – it is an abrasive white powder used to damage the cuticle, skin and joints of insects. It also makes an excellent slug barrier.
  82. Plant a new pot with lettuce, spinach, or other greens every week to keep salads going all season. The pot makes an excellent, lush green centerpiece for summer dinners on the deck or patio.
  83. For an organic approach to pest control, build up your soil to encourage healthy microbes and other soil microorganisms, and earthworms. Healthy soil means healthy plants that are better able to resist pests and disease, thus reducing the need for harmful pesticides.
  84. Compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration, and increases the soil’s water holding capacity. It also promotes soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development.
  85. Mulching protects roots from extremes above ground, both the sun’s heat in the summer and the cold in the winter.
  86. Be sure to keep edible flowers away from pesticides and all but organic fertilizers. They are meant to be eaten!
  87. For a great looking container houseplant, arrange three tall plants (not necessarily the same plant) in the center and surround them with smaller, bushy or trailing plants. Be careful to choose plants with similar tastes in soil, water and sunlight.
  88. Tree netting is a great way to protect trees from birds. Put it out as soon the blooms begin, and be sure to fasten the bottom around the trunk of the tree to keep birds from becoming trapped underneath it.
  89. Pick and handle your vegetables carefully; any nicks, cuts, or bruises lead to decay and shorter shelf life.
  90. The top of the fridge is a great place to set trays of started seeds; the seeds love the heat.
  91. Keep the soil in seed flats evenly moist, not too wet, not too dry. Too much moisture will rot the seeds, while seeds that have started to sprout and then dry out will die and can’t be revived. Setting the tray on a water-filled bed of pebbles or gravel also works.
  92. When arranging a fresh bouquet from your yard, be sure strip the foliage from the stems as much as possible. Leaves in the water will create bacteria and shorten the life of the arrangement.
  93. Use newspapers as weed barriers when creating a new bed. They are printed with soy ink and decompose nicely, and are simple to lay out again when decomposed. Don’t use slick colored advertisements or colored pages.
  94. Know where your new plants and soil is coming from; make sure you are not introducing nasty pests and disease, as well as unwanted weeds.
  95. A five percent increase in organic material quadruples the soil’s ability to store water. This is especially important information in dry climates.
  96. Make compost tea by mixing equal parts compost and water and let it sit. Pour this liquid directly onto the soil around healthy, growing plants. Dilute this to 4 parts water to 1 part compost for use on smaller seedlings. Any compost that hasn’t gone into solution can be used to make more tea or used in your garden.
  97. Test any old seed you have stored by germinating it between moist paper towels. This saves precious time and effort.
  98. Plant angelica, cilantro, dill, fennel, and parsley and allow them to flower to encourage beneficial insects to visit your garden.
  99. Purify your house with these common houseplants: Spider plants, English Evy, Bamboo Palm, Fiscus, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Peace Lily and Pothos.
  100. Dry your herbs at the end of the summer by tying sprigs together to form small bunches. Tie them together with a rubber band and hang, tips down, in a dry place out of the sun. Keep the bunches small to ensure even circulation. Store dry in labeled canning jars, either whole or crumbled. Freezing is also a good way to preserve herbs.
  101. If you have tomatoes still ripening on the vine and you are about to frost, save your tomatoes! Pull the plants and bring them inside. Hang them in a warm dry place. The tomatoes will ripen on the vine.
  102. Pick flowers for pressing after they have dried from morning dew.
  103. At a loss for a color to put in your landscape? Try white. It goes with everything and catches the eye nicely.
  104. Seeds need darkness, heat and water to germinate. Seeds contain the nutrients they need to get started, they just need water to get the process started and continue. Seeds typically germinate best between 60 F and 75 F.
  105. Keep your garden simpler by keeping clumps of perennials such as chives, scallions and herbs going year after year.
  106. Hide your compost pile by planting a circle of sunflower seeds around the perimeter of the pile. The sunflowers will be well-fed and happily hide your compost pile.
  107. Gently brush your hands across your tiny seedlings several times a day. This stimulates them to grow slightly slower, resulting in stronger, sturdier stems.
  108. Use sphagnum moss in your seeding mix to help prevent damping off.
  109. Over watering is worse than under watering. It is easier to revive a dry plant than try to dry out drowned roots.
  110. Weeds are not usually welcomed to landscapes and gardens, but many weeds attract beneficial insects, birds and butterflies.
  111. Paint the handles of your gardens tools a bright, contrasting color other than green to help you find them amongst your plants.
  112. To make cut daffodils last longer, cut them near the ground in the afternoon rather than the morning. They contain more sugar then, which acts as a preservative.
  113. Praying mantis are fascinating beneficial insects. They eat any insect they can physically catch and hold down to eat, mainly aphids, crickets, and grasshoppers, and they are the only insect fast enough to catch and eat mosquitoes.
  114. Attract ladybugs to your garden with nectar-producing plants such as dill, parsley, and fennel.
  115. Know your insects – learn what different stages in the life cycles look like of beneficials and pests so you don’t accidentally wage war on a happy colony of beneficials.
  116. Control powdery mildew with milk. Dilute 1 part milk in 9 parts water and spray on the plants.
  117. Cleanliness is absolutely necessary in gardens and greenhouses, especially when starting seeds. Clean your flats or pots with warm soapy water and sterilize before reusing.
  118. Mint is extremely easy to grow and very rewarding. It is also, however, extremely invasive and tends to take over. To avoid this, surround the mint with a barrier at least 6 – 12 inches deep in the ground. Ceramic pipe, wooden boards, or aluminum sheeting make good barriers.
  119. Add variety and interest to your landscaping by creating a “garden skyline;” create raised beds, pedestals, and shaped containers to lift plants up.
  120. When you first see evidence of pests in your garden, don’t go for the harmful pesticides first. Begin your attack by picking them off by hand, spraying them off with the hose, or clipping them off with pruning shears.
  121. Put your hanging plants on pulleys to allow for easier watering.
  122. Avoid planting trees that shed leaves, fruit or nuts near the driveway.
  123. Try to group plants with similar sunlight, nutrient, and water requirements together.
  124. Any dried seeds you have collected from your garden can either be planted immediately or stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place to wait for the next season.
  125. Zinnia seeds are among the easiest to save – just allow the blossoms to dry on the plant, cut them off, and store over the winter. The next spring, pull the blossom apart and sow the seeds. Zinnias do much better sown directly in the garden than by transplanting.
  126. For best results, mix your compost with the soil at least 6 – 8 inches deep and at a ratio of about half and half. When plants are placed in pure compost, the roots have difficulty getting past the soil/compost barrier, resulting in weaker plants.
  127. Add year-round variety to your garden with ornamental grasses. They often have varied color and texture, and become beautiful plumes to enjoy during the winter.
  128. Mix small seeds you are going to broadcast seed with sand before spreading. This makes for more even seeding. After sowing, spread with a light cover of mulch or soil.
  129. Ivy is an excellent, easy container plant. It can be trained up a topiary or simply left to hang naturally, and is very easy to grow.
  130. Vines crawling up walls, fences, or other vertical structures soften hard lines and add vertical color to otherwise drab views.
  131. Be sure you are aware which common landscaping flowers and plants are poisonous, especially if you have children. Some common ones are sweet peas, iris, foxglove, amaryllis, lantana, lupines, clematis, dature, poinsettia, and oleander.
  132. Some plants contain substances that can be harmful to other plants and need to be composted before using as mulch or compost in a landscape or garden. Some of these include acacia, California bay, camphor, cypress, eucalyptus, madrone, oak, pine, pittosporum, red cedar, and walnut.
  133. Perfumed flowers are enchanting on warm summer nights. Plant citrus, gardenia, and plumeria in pots on your deck or patio where their fragrance can be enjoyed
  134. Keep a garden journal – keep track of which plants are blooming when and plan accordingly the next year to keep flowers blooming all season long.
  135. Strawberries can be propagated easily with their runners – spread the runners out around the plant and peg them down with a rock. After they have rooted and show signs of growth, cut the runners and transplant the new plant if desired.
  136. Compost is a soil amendment that helps build organic matter in your soil. Mulch is placed on top of the soil to help protect the plant from temperature and climatic extremes and is sometimes used as a weed barrier.
  137. Companion planting is an excellent way to improve your garden. Some plants replenish nutrients lost by another one, and some combinations effectively keep pests away.
  138. Remember your lawn mower when you are planning a new bed in your landscape. Use the lawn mower to make sure the curves are easy to follow and easy to maintain with the lawn mower.
  139. Scatter crocuses throughout your lawn to add early color to your landscape. In the fall, remove small plugs of grass. Place a crocus bulb in the hole and replace the plug. The crocuses will arrive in early spring and provide much needed color at a perfect time. By the time the grass comes up and needs to be clipped, the crocuses will have died back down and disappeared.
  140. When a plant is wilting, always check the soil before assuming it is lacking water. Plants wilt for all sorts of reasons.
  141. Water in the morning to help avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity.
  142. Avoid using railroad ties in or around your vegetable garden; the chemicals used as preservatives are now thought to be toxic and harmful.
  143. Geraniums love coffee. Add some grounds to the soil or water with some cold leftovers periodically.
  144. Milk jugs, pop bottles and other plastic containers make great mini covers to place over your plants to protect them frosts in early fall.
  145. Keep any leftover seeds at the end of the season; most seeds will last 3 – 4 years when stored in a cool dry place.
  146. Orchard Mason bees are excellent pollinators before honeybees arrive for the season. They can be attracted to your garden by provided them places to nest.
  147. Kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens are susceptible to the cabbage worm butterfly. The adult is light-colored and lays single, white eggs on the underside of the leaves. When possible, squish the eggs and light-colored caterpillars to prevent as much damage as possible.
  148. Pine needles make an excellent mulch for acid-loving plants, but be sure they are indeed acid-loving!
  149. When buying plants, choose plants that have budded but not yet bloomed. When planted, they will focus on root growth instead of blooming which leads to healthier, sturdier plants.
  150. Planning on spending large amounts of time in your garden? Consider using stone slabs, brick pavers, small gravel or wooden decking as “floors” or pathways.
  151. Curved lines in your landscape are aesthetically pleasing.
  152. Grow a “pesto pot” in a sunny spot. Fill the pot with different types and colors of basil and enjoy it all season! Dry or freeze any basil you have left over.
  153. Heavy, exuberant climbers need strong supports. Be sure your trellis or arbor is heavy duty and able to support the weight of the fast-growing, heavy branches.
  154. Group containers made of the same material on an outdoor deck for a lush, interesting effect. Use planters of all sizes, shapes, heights and textures but made of the same material such as terra cotta.
  155. Use trailing, bushy plants in a pot to shade the sides of the container and keep the roots cooler.
  156. Mark plants you want to save seed from by tying a piece of ribbon or stretch plastic loosely around the stem, taking care not to injure or constrict it.
  157. Caffeine is a natural herbicide. Tea and coffee grounds make excellent compost, but don’t add too much.
  158. Place large pots on wheels for easy moving.
  159. Always test your soil when planning a new bed or lawn.
  160. Have more than one bird feeder scattered throughout your yard to attract different kinds of birds.
  161. Keep dirt out from under your fingernails by scratching a bar of soap before beginning. When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly. The soap will wash cleanly out of your nails
  162. Prune your hedges so they are slightly wider at the bottom than at the top. This allows sunlight to reach the bottom leaves, preventing the loss of the lower leaves.
  163. Let a few ice cubes melt into the soil of your hanging plants to water them without mess or hassle.
  164. Place bird feeders where the mess underneath won’t be a problem, especially if the seeds start to sprout.
  165. Always think ahead to the mature size of a tree or bush or perennial when you select a site.
  166. Place a mailbox in your garden. They are a great place to store garden tools.
  167. Maintain your plants by pinching, picking and carefully cutting back. They tend to stay healthier, bushier, and grow better.
  168. Remember, peppers can be picked and eaten at any size and stage of maturity. They are often sweetest at their ripest, however.
  169. Keep birds away from your garden crops by hanging shiny objects that flap in the wind and sparkle, such as aluminum foil, at regular intervals.
  170. An easy way to get compost into your soil without much back-breaking work: Spread the compost over the garden in the late fall. Cover with a winter mulch such as chopped leaves and let nature take its course. By spring, the snow and soil organisms will have worked the compost into the topsoil for you.
  171. Native ferns are excellent ground covers for shady areas.
  172. Latticework and slatted screens work well to protect privacy while still allowing fresh air and breezes into a backyard.
  173. Do whatever you can to attract bats to your backyard. They are excellent insect eaters. Bat houses are available commercially and are best placed in a sunny spot about 12 to 18 feet off the ground, with fresh water available nearby.
  174. Coarse mulch can make a very effective weed barrier. It must be at least 3 inches in depth. Some weeds will still force their way through, but most will be effectively kept out.
  175. If you live in a dry climate, look for drought-resistant plants. They often have small, silver leaves and deep taproots. Succulents are well adapted to dry weather.
  176. Be sure to water newly planted trees regularly, deeply and carefully throughout their first season.
  177. Compost introduces and feeds diverse life in the soil, including bacteria, insects, worms, and more, which support vigorous plant growth.
  178. Place “cool” colors such as lavender, blue and green in shady areas for the best impact. They are washed out by bright light.
  179. Less than 2 percent of the insects in the world are harmful. Most are beneficial.
  180. Combine cooking and gardening by experimenting with flavorful, interesting varieties of both native and exotic herbs.
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