The Key Ingredients For Edible Landscaping

radishes
Photo: skitterphoto.com

Using edibles as ornamental accents for the garden has been trending for a while. For some, it’s a way to a more sustainable living while for others it’s a relaxing hobby, but why not do it for both its nutrimental and aesthetic value? Using vegetables and herbs in the garden for both food and ornamental appearance actually makes for a tougher and healthier garden with less need for pesticides and fungicides.

You don’t need much space to grow an eclectic mix of some of the most popular edibles. Shallow-rooted edibles like lettuce, radishes, peppers and herbs only need a container about 8 inches deep in order to thrive. While beets, carrots and onions require a bit more room, they can still grow perfectly in a 5-gallon pot, and strawberries can even do well in hanging baskets. If you want a vertical garden, try tomatoes, peas or cucumbers.

As in any other form of gardening, it’s effective to combine heights, textures and colors. Don’t forget to consider the overall look of each plant, and group together those that complement one another as well as those that share the same growing requirements.

Robotic Lawnmowers for a Beautiful Landscape

A stunning landscape usually comes with a lawn that matches it in grandeur. But maintaining a great big lawn takes time and effort that many don’t have to spare. A robotic lawnmower is more than just a convenience. Once you use one, you’ll think of it as nothing less than a necessity to keep your lawn trimmed perfectly – with zero effort on your part.

Benefits of Owning a Robotic Lawnmower

The first benefit is getting your weekend mornings off! Many robotic mowers have automatic timer settings that allow you to program them for specific days of the week. The internal clock tells the mower when to start working, and may even have a feature that lets it dock for charging automatically. Once you buy it and do the initial programming, it pretty much does the job without any more human intervention.

The second benefit is the amount of energy saved. These are usually electrical devices with electronic circuits telling them what to do. Therefore, they use much less energy than mowers that run on gasoline. The only energy you have to put in is the initial programming, where you insert pins into the perimeter of your yard so the robot knows where to stop and turn. After that, it’s pretty much on its own. It can negotiate larger objects such as trees and ornaments, and leaves your yard looking spruce and neat every time.

The third benefit is that of environmental impact. Because these are electrical gadgets, they don’t pollute the air like gas-run models tend to do. They’re also a lot less noisy so you won’t find yourself being rudely awakened on a snoozy Saturday morning by a combustion engine mower going at full tilt right underneath your bedroom window.

The fourth benefit is safety; most of the better models have object recognition built in as a feature, so if you have kids that leave their toys on the lawn, the blades will automatically shut off if the mower encounters them, keeping your blades and your kids’ toys safe from damage. Some also come with rain sensors that automatically shut down the unit when they sense rain. This prevents electrical damage as well as damage to your lawn. They’re also safe for the family dog who might just be sunning himself on the lawn when it’s mowing time.

There’s clearly no argument; robotic lawnmowers are better for you, the environment and the safety of your family. However, you may have to shell out a thousand dollars or more for one; advanced models may cost twice that. But, considering the fact that your time can be used more productively, it’s well worth the investment.

Basics of Pruning your Garden Landscape

Many people are unaware that pruning is a science – and a fairly precise one at that. It’s not just about snipping off ‘extra’ parts of a tree or shrub or the physical appearance. It’s also about maintaining the health of the plant, influencing flowering and fruiting, and rejuvenating older trees and shrubs, among other things.

The Right Way to Prune

Never prune a branch flush with the trunk. This affects the plant in many ways. First, it can damage the trunk when your cutting tools rub against it. Second, you will be removing the branch bark ridge, or the swollen part at the inner base of the branch, as well as the branch collar at the outer base of the branch – this removes trunk wood and may leave the plant open to disease and decay. For this reason, pruning must only be done slightly away from the base of the branch; the ‘wound’ will quickly seal and form a boundary to prevent infection from spreading to the trunk.

The Benefits of Regular Pruning

There are several objectives you can achieve through regular pruning:

Health: The three Ds – diseased, decayed and dead – are parts of a plant that are typically pruned away. This keeps the tree or shrub healthy and growing.

Size and safety: The size of a plant can be controlled by pruning, ensuring safety by removing parts that are sticking out onto pathways where someone could injure themselves.

Training: Unfortunately, plants can’t be trained to fetch! However, they can be trained to grow a particular way. Art forms like bonsai, espalier and topiary use this technique to literally ‘teach’ young plants how to grow into a particular shape.

Flowering and Fruiting: You can achieve these desirable elements of a garden more effectively through pruning than any other artificial method. Selective pruning is used to grow larger (albeit fewer) fruit, and can be used on buds to encourage profuse growth.

Rejuvenation: Pruning can restore vigor of growth in older plants, and make them more attractive. As plants mature, their appearance has an uncanny resemblance to human aging symptoms – drooping posture, wrinkled skin (bark), etc. Pruning can take years off a plant, similar to how anti-aging methods help us.

The Right Tools

Hand pruners are used for branches up to 0.75 inches thick, and come in two basic types – the anvil, which is a sharp blade that comes to rest against a flat base plate, or the bypass, which basically works like a pair of curved scissors. Lopping shears are for branches up to 1.75 inches and have longer handles for better reach and leverage. They’re also ideal for heavy-duty or prolonged jobs. Pruning saws are typically used for clean cuts on hard-to-reach branches, and can either have fine or coarse teeth depending on the thickness of the branch; these are typically used for branches over 3 inches in diameter, as are chain saws. Pole pruners are another useful tool that is handy where using a ladder isn’t practical; they can cut up to about 2 inches of branch, and can have a reach of more than 12 feet.

Using the right techniques, understanding the process, and getting the right tools are the essentials of pruning. A well-pruned garden is a sight for sore eyes during the day and is a stunning visual display at night when your landscape lighting is turned on. Special lighting can really enhance the look of your pruning efforts, and it is highly recommended you use high-efficiency lighting to save on light bills.

Once your garden is ready, you will be proud to have people come over and admire your handiwork.