Category Archives: Container Gardening

Early Spring Landscaping Checklist

spring landscaping checklist

Sunlight, warmer weather, and flowers blooming everywhere can mean only one thing – that spring is quickly approaching. Is your landscaping (front and/or back) ready? If not, get it ready with this easy-to-follow spring landscaping checklist.

Care for the Lawn

Once your lawn begins to wake from its winter dormancy, usually after the danger of frost has passed, address any bare spots by reseeding. You’ll also want to get a head start on weed prevention by manually removing them before they can multiply. For cool-season grasses, fertilize in the early spring; for warm-season grasses, fertilization can wait until late spring or early winter.

Add Color with Mulch

Mulch is one of the easiest ways to add both color and texture to the entire yard. Its primary purposes are to enhance aesthetics, control weed germination, insulate the soil, prevent soil compaction, and reduce lawn mower damage. Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of your tree, shrubs, or flowers. Be careful not to let it touch the tree’s trunk or the flower’s stems. Mulch is available in a range of colors.

Plant Summer-Blooming Flowers

Spring is the ideal time to plant summer-blooming (also called heat-tolerant) flowers. The best summer-blooming flowers for desert gardeners include Datura, blue salvia, penstemons, and primrose. These flowers can be planted from February – once the threat of frost has passed – through May. Before planting your flowers, prepare the bed by mixing in lots of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss.

Update Outdoor Light Fixtures

The addition of outdoor lighting can really enhance a home at night. Lead guests up to the front door with path light set along the walkway; add drama to your front yard by highlighting your garden beds; enjoy your patio after dark with classic string lights; and combine safety with beauty by installing motion-detecting spotlights. There are many different types of outdoor lighting to consider, including high-voltage, LEDs and solar.

Prune Trees and Shrubs

Pruning promotes good plant health. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, just before new growth starts. This leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short length of time. Pruning now can prevent certain diseases and physiological problems. Other trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming.

Clean Outdoor Furniture

Cleaning improves the appearance and durability of your outdoor furniture. Use a garden hose to rinse powdered-coated aluminum furniture off. Follow this by wiping it down with a mild dish detergent and water. Rinse completely and let dry.  Wood, wicker, rattan, and iron furniture require special care. All hardware should be inspected and tightened as needed. Pavers, concrete, and hardscapes should also be cleaned.

Backyard Design Trends

backyard design

Are you ready to update or upgrade your backyard design? Here are four backyard design ideas that are trending right now.

Low Maintenance Landscape

A sustainable backyard design, complete with drought-tolerant, native plants and minimal (if any) grass can be useful and attractive. While low-maintenance landscapes are by no means new, they’re becoming increasingly popular – both for economic and environmental concerns. In this case, less really is more!

Durable Outdoor Surfaces

Hardscape elements, such as stacked stone retaining walls, meandering paver pathways, and traditional outdoor kitchens are a must-have for outdoor living spaces. Custom built fire pits are perfect for family gatherings; kids and adults alike will enjoy roasting marshmallows in their own backyard.

Add Ambience with Lighting

If you want to enjoy your outdoor living spaces into the evening hours, consider installing LED and other low-voltage lighting fixtures (e.g., path lights, spot/flood lights, deck/step lighting, string lights, lanterns, and tiki torches). Lights that are connected to motion sensors will also enhance the security of your home.

Sustainable Gardening

Imagine serving your family fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from your own backyard. A great way to do this is with edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is the perfect solution for small spaces as fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants can be planted in raised garden boxes as well as containers in varying shapes and sizes.

Professional Backyard Design Services

Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair has the tools to make your backyard design beautiful throughout the year. We have the expertise to complete all the landscape and poolscape (we now offer pool remodeling!) projects on your to-do list. For more information about our services, or to request a free estimate, visit us online at www.elitesprinkler.com or give us a call today at (602) 390-4645.

Landscaping Ideas for Small Backyards

small backyards

A backyard provides a great place for outdoor activities, entertaining, and relaxation. If you have a large, spacious backyard, the options are truly endless. However, if you live in a populated suburb or condominium in the city, your relaxation and entertaining space may be limited. Although, looks can be quite deceiving; don’t let your small backyard fool you into thinking you can’t enjoy it. In fact, all it takes is a little imagination, and some creative design planning to turn your small backyard into an oasis.

Here are six landscaping ideas for small backyards.

Lay Outdoor Pavers Diagonally

Laying pavers diagonally creates the illusion that the space is bigger than it looks. You can find outdoor pavers in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Material options include concrete, natural stone, and brick. Manufactured pavers are interlocking, which makes installing them without grout easy. What’s more? Pavers are virtually maintenance free, although regular sweeping, and resealing will help enhance their appearance and longevity.

Raised Garden Beds

When landscaping for small yards, nothing beats raised garden beds, also called garden boxes. These beds are great for growing small plots of plants, flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Since they are raised, they reduce weed growth, provide good drainage, prevent soil compaction, and reduce damage from outdoor pests. Raised garden beds can be built in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and materials to perfectly fit your small backyard.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens are perfect for small backyard landscaping. If you have a bare fence or exterior wall, you can create several vertical gardens, thus saving ground space. You can create a privacy wall with a trellis, edible vegetables and herbs using old shipping crates, and/or grow your favorite annuals with some chicken wire and an old bookcase.

Cozy Fire Pits

Imagine sitting outside surrounded by your loved ones on a chilly winter’s night, gazing up at the stars, embraced by the warmth of a crackling fire. This picturesque evening can be yours with a fire pit, which is built low to the ground with no chimney, so it doesn’t require ventilation or a building permit. Popular building materials include concrete, stone, and brick. It can be installed on your patio, deck or yard.

Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting is perhaps one of the easiest and most affordable options for outfitting a small backyard. It instantly adds visual interest to any size yard, providing a soft glow that creates a comfortable, inviting atmosphere. Available in a variety of halogen, LED and solar fixtures, exterior lighting allows you to highlight focal points in your landscaping. It also enhances home security and safety.

We want to hear from you! Can you think of any other landscaping ideas for small backyards?

Vegetable Gardening Tips for Beginners

vegetable gardening

So you want to start a vegetable garden? That’s great! Growing your own vegetables is fun and oh so rewarding. Just imagine harvesting fresh grown vegetables from your own backyard. Delish. All you need to get started is some soil and a few plants (you can also start from seed). To start your season off to a great start you’ll also need to know what it takes to ensure your plants are healthy and vigorous. Here’s the basics:

  1. Decide What to Plant

It’s important to consider your family size, eating requirements, and tastes when you think about what to plant. You’ll also want to keep in mind that certain vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, continue to produce throughout the season. Other vegetables, such as carrots and corn, on the other hand produce only once. Don’t plant more than you and your family can possibly eat.

  1. Determine Space Needed

Once you know what you want to plant, you’ll need to determine how much space you need, and what location of your yard receives the most sun. Keep in mind that most vegetables require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. Limited on space? Container gardening requires just a few feet of sunny space and healthy soil. To learn more about container gardening, please click here.

  1. Prepare Your Soil

Success starts with the soil! Most vegetables do best moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic manner, such as compost or peat moss. There are a wide variety of high-quality soils available including organic, pesticide free, and manure. This will enable the development of a strong root system that is less prone to diseases. You may want to consider a location close to your home for easy accessibility.

  1. Provide Plenty of Water

Because most vegetables aren’t very drought tolerant, you’ll need to provide them with water, but not too much water. One inch of water per week including rainfall is sufficient for most vegetables. The most efficient way to water your plants is to use soaker hoses or drip lines. These deliver the right amount of water and allows time for roots to absorb the water before it adds more – so no risk of overwatering.

  1. Build Your Own Compost Bin

The value of compost cannot be overestimated. Building your own compost bin allows you to recycle, reuse, and repurpose thousands of organic waste every year. It also affords you the opportunity to save money on natural fertilizer because you’re self-sufficient. Fresh compost also improves the texture of the soil. For DIY compost bin inspiration and ideas, be sure to visit Pinterest.

  1. Deter Garden Pests

Every gardener, whether novice or expert, wants to deter insects and other hungry animals from invading their garden and damaging their vegetables. If you’ve chosen to go all organic, you can luckily deter them, without resorting to harsh chemicals. Going the natural way is also less expensive than purchasing and applying pesticides. The easiest way to prevent pests from damaging your gardening is to discourage them from coming in the first place by pulling out weak plants, building healthy soil, applying organic compost, and keeping your plants properly watered. You want a healthy garden.

Weed Killing the Natural Way

weed killing the natural way

Weed killing the natural way, through one or a combination of the following methods, will save you from having to use harmful herbicides, which have the potential to not only hurt the environment, but to kill your landscaping plants over time as well.

  1. Pull Them…

Countless generations have set out to remove weeds by hand. Yet, for anyone who has actually tried this old-fashioned method, you know it’s not always an easy task to fulfill. But for weeds that exist in your containers and raised garden beds, it’s often the best way to go. While the soil is still moist from watering, pull slowly from the base of the weed, to successfully remove it.

  1. Boil Them…

One of the oldest tricks in the book for ridding your yard of weeds is…boiling water. It’s cheap, easy, environmentally friendly, and works! Simply boil some water, and carefully carry into your yard, where you’ll pour a steady stream of hot water on the crown of each unwanted weed. Use precaution during this method to avoid becoming burned yourself.

  1. Cornmeal Them…

Corn meal has long been used in the kitchen for solidifying liquids, and many gardeners have found it to be quite handy for killing off seedlings, and preventing weeds from rearing their ugly head again. It does a good job of fertilizing your yard as well. Cornmeal, however, is ineffective at killing already sprouted weeds.

  1. Mulch Them…

Mulching is a great technique for preventing weeds, as it makes it impossible for them to pop up in the first place. It’s environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and will save you from killing your back while pulling them up by their roots. Simply cover all of your garden beds’ bare areas with your choice of mulching materials.

  1. Vinegar Them…

While not nearly effective as other methods, vinegar is a good choice for a natural weed killer, as it evaporates quite quickly. When sprayed or brushed on, vinegar works to destroy any weeds, quickly putting an end to your pesky problem. This method is best used in the morning, when there’s little wind, to avoid killing nearby plants.

Starting a Garden From Seed?

garden

Behold, fellow gardeners, for spring has finally dawned. With the sun’s warm embrace at your back, freshly cultivated soil at your feet, and April showers on the horizon – the time has come to plant your seedlings. That is, of course, if you reside in warmer parts of the state.

There’s nothing quite like growing vegetables and herbs with your own two hands. Just think about feeding your family delicious fresh vegetables! Planning and planting your favorites edibles and flowers is simple and easy. And, when you grow them from seed, it promises to be cheaper.

Determining When & What to Plant

In Arizona, most any type of flowers and edibles can be successfully grown, as long as the appropriate variation (the choices are almost limitless) are planted at the proper time. The University of Arizona’s Master Gardner Manual is a good resource to use.

Before purchasing seeds, it’s important to determine the amount of space you have, and the amount of sun your garden receives. If you plan on doing container or raised gardening, due to limited space, you will need to refrain from using seeds specifically designated as “in-ground only.”

It’s a good idea to spend some time reviewing catalogues, master gardener manuals and speaking with local nurseries, as well as landscapers to get a good idea about which plants will work best given your specific wants and your environments’ requirements.

How to Plant & What You’ll Need

Seeds need four things to germinate and grow: sunshine, water and some fertilizer – if you’re goal is to go all organic you will want to refrain from using any fertilizer. A high quality all organic planting soil will suffice, you can buy these at virtually any gardening store for under $10.

  • Planting

It’s possible to start your seeds in your yard or planter and water every day rather than first germinating them. Just make sure they get plenty of sunshine and water each and every day in order to see good results. They should be moist but not overwatered as this could kill your plants.

  • Germinating

However, if you want to germinate your seeds, more power to you. Using starting soil, wet the mix until it’s damp, and spoon in your starting planters. Place two seeds on each planter. Cover the planters with plastic wrap; thus creating a greenhouse effect.

Consult seed packet for lighting and/or heating requirements – they’ll need one or the other. If the seeds only require heat, I’ve found placing the starting planters on top of my refrigerator to be highly beneficial, not to mention free.

  • Transplanting

You’ll need to transplant your seedlings as soon as they’ve outgrown their starter planters. If you’ve chosen to do container or raised gardening, move them there, but if you’ve chosen to plant them in the ground you’ll want to ensure you’ve done the prep work first which includes cultivating the soil.

During this step, it’s important to carefully thin the seedlings so that there’s only one per every pot or few inches. Be careful not to touch the seedlings at their stems as they are still very young and therefore very delicate. Push the seedling into the soil; but be careful not to push them too far down.

Harvesting Your Edibles

Your seeds have been tended to all season long – now it’s time for the easy part; enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. But how do you know when that tomato is ripe for the picking? Here’s a guide that will help you determine the proper harvesting time…so enjoy.

Edible Landscaping with a Twist

edible landscaping
[Source: pixabay.com]
Money does grow on trees – fruit and nut trees that is!

It’s easier to grow your own food at home than you think. Without a lot of effort, and without having to sacrifice the aesthetic value of an ornamental landscape, you can grow delicious and nutritious culinary in your own backyard (on apartment patios and rooftops too).

Edible landscaping integrates food production, aesthetic and monetary value, and environmental benefits to virtually any yard or planted area (even desert landscaping). With an edible landscape there’s no more need to separate your edibles from your ornamentals; hence the twist we mentioned above.

Instead of a typical landscape, which only incorporates lush green lawns and ornamental plants, edible landscaping adds in decorative rows of herbs, red plump tomatoes and striking paprika peppers. Instead of the fleeting colors of spring flowers, you can grow edibles that are decorative year-round.

An edible landscaping offers the opportunity to enjoy home-grown, organic, pesticide free produce; thus allowing you to successfully reduce your monthly grocery bill. However, that’s not the only benefit you’ll receive by taking the time to plant edibles, as many benefits are to be had – as you’ll see below.

The Many Benefits of Edible Landscaping

Benefit #1: Reduce Your Footprint on the Environment

Backyard, or patio, gardening helps the environment in more ways than one. If you choose to go the organic route, you’ll reduce some of the burden placed on earth, as you’re limiting air and water pollution but not using any pesticides. Fossil fuels may also be reduced as more people begin growing their own food.

Benefit #2: Improve Your Family’s Health

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you can do for both yourself and your loved ones. When they’re right outside your backdoor, you won’t be able to resist them (trust me), and their vitamin levels will be at their highest when they’re freshly cultivated.

Benefit #3: Reduce Your Monthly Grocery Bill

Your monthly grocery bill is bound to shrink as you properly grow and cultivate your edible landscaping. With a backyard full of scrumptious and nutritious produce, you can stock your pantry and fridge in no time at all. The options for caning fresh produce are limitless. Check out this link for more information.

Start Eating Healthier Today

While it may seem overwhelming to some, vegetables and fruits that are grown from your own backyard is actually quite simple. With just a few square feet of the great outdoors, a water source and a little time, you too can have an edible landscaping full of your favorite vegetables and fruits.

Container Gardening Tips for Beginners

Container Gardening is EasyAs prices for a wide range of food items, from eggs and dairy to fruit and vegetables, leave consumers in a state of sticker shock – especially for those still struggling just to meet end’s meet – we’re seeing a growing number of people across the nation taking food matters into their own hands!

Even those without acres of land are learning how to plant and grow fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from the comfort of their own homes with minimal effort.  It’s called “container gardening”!  Best of all – anyone with a few feet of sunny space, soil and some spare containers can grow virtually anything their heart desires!

If you’re up to the challenge – which truth be told really isn’t much of one – growing your own food through container gardening can be oh so rewarding.  And, let’s not forget, that it’s basically cost (and toxin) free!!!  Just follow this insider’s guide to container gardening and in no-time at all, you’ll be a pro.

Your Container Gardening Shopping List

Containers:  In all honesty; there is no “right” container that you can use for container gardening; therefore it makes sense to buy whichever best fits within your budget.  This is about saving money – not spending it.

You can truly use anything at all.  During my research for this blog, I’ve seen basically all types of materials being used for container gardening, from recyclable shopping bags and purses to laundry baskets and plastic ice cream containers.

The one thing, however, that does warrant attention is the size of the container.  Shallow crops, such as herbs, require small containers (less than 10” will suffice) whereas bigger crops, such as tomatoes, require larger containers (typically 5 gallon buckets work best).

No matter which type of container fits your aesthetic style and budget, it’s important that they offer adequate drainage.  If you choose a container without drainage holes, you can add two inches of clean gravel along the bottom to aid in the drainage.

Soil:  For the best results, you should choose to use a “soil less” blend that will retain the proper amount of water and resist compaction, such as can found with container mixes.

If you would like to opt for organic container gardening then you should obviously choose to use organic container mixes.

Most container gardening experts mix this with a good amount of fertilizer and compost.  Using this mixture, fill your containers 2 to 3 inches below the brim to allow for adequate watering.

Space: Determining what you can grow, and how much of it, is solely dependent on how much sunny floor space you have.  Most vegetables, unless their tolerant to the shade (such as lettuce), require a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight per day.

Seeds: Some of the best places for buying seeds, especially organic seeds, can be found listed on many gardening forums.  I particularly like Native Seed Search as it sell as large variety of seeds that are all well adapted to Arizona’s climate.

If you’d rather not order online, you can choose to head down to your local nursery, hardware store, or feed barn.

Your Container Gardening To-Do List

Maintain Your Crop: Using the aforementioned container mixture should keep your crops growing to perfection.  You can also opt to use container mixes that contain time-released fertilizer – although they tend to be a few bucks more.

Bonus:  Save leftover coffee grounds from your morning addiction if you’re looking for a cheap alternative for fertilizer.  Starbucks provides free coffee grounds for gardeners.

Harvest Your Crop: Within just a few short months; sometimes sooner (depending on what you planted); you should see juicy ripe tomatoes and other edible crops to store in your fridge.  Just remember to only harvest what you’ll actually use in order to avoid wasted food.Garlic Growing in a Container

Container Gardening Resources