Let's get started with essential tips and garden trends for a successful 2018 gardening season. Even us experienced gardeners can learn something new every year when it comes to gardening, for example, did you know that there are plant identification apps available for your iPhone or Android? Snap a picture of a plant, and the app will give you the name of it. Wow, how easy is that, no more flipping through books or running to a local nursery with clippings. There is so much to do when it comes to planning and prepping for your garden let's get started with some gardening trends.
Xeriscaping is a style of gardening where the goal is to use little or no water during the driest seasons by planting only drought-resistant Xeric species of plants from your area of North America and dry climates around the world like Australia, the Middle East, and South Africa. A rural Tuscan feel can be incorporated into a xeriscape containing one of the many types of lavender, olive trees, New Zealand Tea Trees, Mexican sage, or some of your natural drought-resistant local plants. Incorporating a hardscape such as large rocks, stone walls, various mulches, and crushed rock pathways give an attractive contrast to the plants in the xeric landscape. Google Xeric Plant List online for may xeriscape ideas. When you’re ready to buy, two of our favorite online nurseries for xeric plants are Annie's Annuals and High Country Gardens.
Garden with Wildflowers and Weeds: Rainscaping
Native flowers and weeds can be beautiful and need low maintenance too. For areas where rain occurs thru the summer months, Rainscaping can be an attractive alternative to the previously mentioned xeriscaping. You can create a striking and sustainable visual effect with an assortment of varying sized conifers mixed with shade and water-tolerant shrubs, flowers, and ornamental grasses. The chief benefit of this type of landscaping is its ability to absorb rainwater slowly in depressions or basins rather than running down the street into storm drains. Seasonal "streams" can be created merely by having your roof gutters flow into a lined (see pond liner material) gravel trench that flows to other areas of your property such as large green spaces with plants and grasses that can be submerged for intermittent periods of the rainy season. Environmental concerns are center stage in 2018, and these depressions in your yard will help the area to absorb water slowly and return it to the local water table and avoid the runoff. This will provide a prime spot for birds, butterflies, deer, and other wildlife to drink from. Stone walls, gravel, or large rocks can help make this type of garden attractive and natural looking. Choose a variety of plants for the eventuality that there will be some deeper water areas and other areas of shallow water at the edges.
Drip Irrigation Trending in 2018
A drip irrigation system will help establish a strong root system by allowing the roots to go deep down into the soil for water thus enabling the plants to be more drought tolerant. The mainline tubing of the irrigation system can be buried under mulch or the surrounding soil coming above ground only next to the plant. Weeds will be almost non-existent as you won’t be watering the surface of the soil, just the plants. At www.dripworks.com you can look at Dripworks’ Gallery of Plans, and you’ll find six landscape layout designs that might look like your yard, including the parts for a complete system.
Now let's talk about tips for a successful and stress-free season. Easier said than done but here are some tips that have helped me along the way for many years now.
Organically Improve Your Garden Soil
There are three essential nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth: nitrogen (N) for leaf and stem growth, phosphorous (P) for roots and the fruit production, and potassium (K) for overall health. You should think of using only organic fertilizers on the soil where you are growing edibles (veggies, fruits, and berries). The waste from the organic food you grow or buy at the store can provide a rich source of nutrients for your soil. The most used food item is coffee grounds. They can be dumped into a small can or 5-gallon bucket daily and then once a week or so add a few gallons of water and pour it around your favorite plants. They can also be dug into the garden beds or sprinkled into container plants on your deck. If you have room, start a compost pile (covered if possible), slightly water it and then turn it with a shovel once a week to encourage beneficial bacteria that speed up the composting.
Adapting to Climate Change in 2018
With the extremes and unpredictability of the weather that we all are currently experiencing, gardeners need to adapt their choices of plantings and garden designs to be successful. The wind, rain, heat, or extreme cold should be thought about when deciding what will work in your area. If you’re in a windy area, using native trees and low growing shrubs and plants might work well as a windbreak. Providing drainage ditches as an escape route for the standing water that may result after big downpours is a good idea. Add a thick layer of mulch to your garden to protect from the increasingly cold weather that we’ve all been experiencing. Planting shade trees such as native oaks to provide cool areas in your yard will help you enjoy your property during the hot summer months. Select native plants from your local nursery that are adapted to your area that don’t require much maintenance.
Mycorrhizae (beneficial fungi) has become the go-to "secret ingredient" of many gardeners. Getting the most out of the soil you have is the number one benefit of using this water-soluble microbial powder (Vital Roots Soluble Mycorrhizal Fungi). Dusted on the roots of new plantings or adding it to the soil gives your garden a big boost. The symbiotic relationship between these powdery microbes (mycos) and the roots (rhiza) of the plants have the following dramatic effects:
- Enhanced plant efficiency in absorbing water and nutrients
- Enhanced plant growth, health, and disease resistance
- Enhanced seedling growth and higher success rate when rooting cuttings
Apply directly to the soil or dusting the roots during transplanting or add to a compost tea for improving root growth will result in more significant and healthier plants.
Building Raised Beds
Raised Bed Gardening has been around for a long time, but I still must list it in 2018 because of the many benefits it offers. The fact that I notice them on so many front and backyards in my neighborhood and at my own home convince me that raising vegetables in raised beds is a great way to garden. The tremendous popularity of Dripworks Garden Bed Kits increases every year. Included in each kit are all the parts and instructions for a smooth drip irrigation experience. The benefits are many:
- Because the soil level is higher than the surrounding ground, gardening becomes more of a pleasure (easier on your back) when you add or turn the soil every year.
- Good drainage in a garden that is free of soil compaction means more air for the roots of your plants.
- Preventing gophers and moles from eating your crop’s roots is possible by lining the bottom of your raised beds on the inside with hardware cloth (¼" wire mesh). A geotextile lining (like a synthetic wool blanket) under the soil in your bed will keep the weeds out and invasive roots from surrounding trees and bushes from infiltrating.
- Attractive raised beds can be easily created by varying the heights within a bed or customizing them by making "L" shaped, octagon shaped, or "U" shaped beds is easily done. "Frame It All" flexible raised bed corners are available at DripWorks making your dream raised bed garden possible.