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Green Roof Essentials for Home Gardeners

Any green roof added to a home, such as this stylish patio green roof, should be fully or partially professionally installed.
Even small-scale green roofs require some technical knowledge for long life and success. You can’t just throw soil onto your garden shed, patio roof, or chicken coop, plant a few succulents, and call it a green roof. Do it slap-dash, and you’ll be faced with […]

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Soil pH Testing From Home Made Easy

 
Soil pH Testing From Home Made Easy
When asked about soil and gardens, the most common question I receive is about how to determine soil pH. Garden professionals emphasize the need to measure soil pH because it can be so important if the soil pH errs towards the extremes–too acid or too alkaline. Soil pH testing is certainly useful when you are getting to know your […]

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Perennials for Dry Shade

Japanese anemones are excellent shade perennials with late-season blooms.

Here in the Midwest, we have had unusually dry weather from August to October in the past few years.  Last year we had no rain, except for one sprinkle, for ten weeks.  My water bills exceeded $200, with the water company […]

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Early Summer Garden Tasks for a Happy Garden


By the time the month of June arrives, I like to think that I have many of my early-season garden tasks completed. However, this is rarely the case because in a garden, there is always something to do and a project that has not been completed. And, this has been quite a spring.
The spring of 2020 has been nothing like […]

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Diverse, Beautiful Garden Hostas

Diverse, beautiful garden Hostas come in all colors and sizes.
The plant kingdom never ceases to amaze me with the diversity that it offers. Even plants in the same genus can have very unique traits in leaf color and texture, growth habits, environmental preferences, winter hardiness, heat tolerance, and flowers. A good example of a diverse genus is Hosta, commonly called the plantain lily.
Many garden plants, […]

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Cottage Gardens for American Gardeners

An old cottage garden border contains peonies and oriental poppies, among other old-fashioned flowers.
I am a person who looks at all the new perennials available in local nurseries each spring and always find new ones I cannot live without.  When I get home, I look for a spot in my already full flowerbeds and stick my new purchases in. With intention, my carefree, fragrant, flower-filled […]

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Green Screens: Planting for Privacy

Gardeners can create layers of screening plants to create privacy, enclosures, and drama within the garden.
Using plants as screening is the prettiest way to block an unsightly view, demarcate space, channel traffic, or form the walls of an intimate outdoor room. A green screen can be anything from a single eye-stopping specimen to a uniform hedge, to a mixture of evergreen and flowering shrubs, to […]

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Spring Garden Tasks for a Happy Garden


Amidst these very troubling and upsetting times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I appreciate my garden even more. It is a refuge where I can go and clear my mind of all the chaos around me and feel some calmness. I can see the hummingbirds going for a meal in the flowers of Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), and then fly […]

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How to Amend Clay Soils


One of the garden necessities that should never be overlooked is having the right soil for the right plant, which often means having good, fertile loam. For our plants to perform at their very best, it is our job to give them the best soil we can, but clay soils can make this a challenge. The best time to thoroughly amend the soil for […]

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Five Steps to Creating a No-Till Vegetable Garden

The author’s no-till garden in early spring after compost and straw have been applied. (Image by Jessie Keith)
To till or not to till? Why ask this question? Tilling does good things for the soil. It increases needed aeration and porosity, allows the easy incorporation of organic amendments, and it makes all the little green weeds at the top of the soil go away. But it […]

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