Landscape Help

zennie371_gardener(7)March 12, 2010

We are in need of a backyard overhaul. Since weÂve moved into our house, weÂve tried and tried to have a beautiful backyard but it is not working. I am daydreaming about landscaping our new yard. I'm not an experienced gardener, but I love flowers. We have tried everything from landscaping ideas from "Better Homes & Gardens" to watching DIY shows and it never comes out the way it should. We need a backyard solution! Please!

Secondly, need ideas on how to start a small greenhouse in my apartment. I brought plant bulbs from "Home Depot" (Dahlias, and Cannas Lilies) and seeds.

Finally, what types of light bulbs can I use for my greenhouse? I brought a heating bulb, and daylight bulb, which one would be best!

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Sounds like you need to make friends with a knowledgeable gardener in your neighborhood, who can give you some pointers on how to get started. Or, maybe hire a landscape designer/horticulturalist whose work you admire to give you a consult on where to start. Too bad you didn't grow up around gardeners, because a lot of getting a garden established comes from either observation of practice.

The biggest thing to remember when starting out, is that you will get the best results if you can match the plants to your situation, rather than force them to fit where they may not be happy. Towards that end, it may be useful to try and do an analysis of your garden's sun/shade patterns, and also give some thought of how you want to use the space. There are good books out there that can walk you through the whole process, but a consultation with a designer might also be very useful for you.

Your local library could be a good reference source for books on indoor growing and gardening in general. The bulbs you mention can be started indoors, but will better light than you can probably give them indoors, and may do better if you wait until it warms up enough that you can start them outdoors.

I think there is another forum here that specifically addresses indoor growing under lights, and you could start with the FAQ's to get a better understanding of growing under lights, which bulb, etc. Most people probably don't appreciate that indoor growing in general uses lighting that is full spectrum and is kept very, very close to the plants so that they stay compact.

Also, if you love flowers, maybe start with some of the "foolproof" flowers that are common in your area, or that grow with little care. Build up some confidence with the easier things before tackling more demanding plants. Things that thrive in abandoned gardens and/or are seen everywhere might be a good starting point.

Adding more organic content such as compost might be a good general thing to improve your soil, and then applying a good mulch to help with weed prevention.

Finally, when out walking in your neighborhood, and encountering gardeners, don't be afraid to strike up a conversation, and ask questions if they seem willing. So much of good gardening is common sense, and paying attention to what your plants are telling you.

If you want specific targeted advice from this forum, it would be very helpful to post pictures, and give us some ideas of what you would like to accomplish with the garden design.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 3:47PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

All of Bahia's suggestions are right on the mark. Really good information and advice!

And Bahia is right. Any pictures would help greatly.

I just wanted to add a couple of comments.

First, You've been working with a lot of pictures in magazines and on tv shows. Can give you ideas. But sometimes all the pictures and various ideas of different landscaping solutions can just give you a serious case of **overload**, and it can be much more confusing than helpful after a while. Let all that go, and take a chair out into the yard, and just try to **relax**, and really look around.

Second, landscaping and gardening is a gradual thing, not an immediate one like redecorating a room. Start by sitting in that chair and imagining what you would like to see. Then, start small, and one step at a time. A wall there, a tree or shrub there, and then further plantings around that spot. One step at a time....

Third, you can indeed have a beautiful yard, but realize that the the 'beautiful gardens' you have seen in magazines and on tv are never as perfect as they seem. A lot of work generally goes into the 'perfect' look of that particular photo. Aim for a landscape you can relax in , and enjoy.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I agree with the above. I love to just sit and look at what I see. Grab that lawn chair and your favorite beverage and maybe the garden hose. Then have paper and pen, check this out during certain times of day, eve, and season. You will know when climates change and what you like. Also walk around your area and see what other people are doing. Don't be afraid to ask your neighbors what they did or are doing. Great friendshps can be found and great advise like where they got the ideas and what materials were used plus cost. You can use the same plant material without looking like everyone else. But do be diverse. There is plenty of plant material that will allow for this and keep all the elements that you are looking for. Have fun with this.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 1:49AM
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I don't have much to add but Zennie, next time there is big golf tournament notice that perfect grass. Know how they get it so perfect, a can of green spray paint. I've seen it being done so the "perfect greens" are an illusion for the camera! On rare occasions you get an almost perfect pic of your garden or another garden but along with blooming some flowers will start dying & others take their place,nothing is perfect except that the plants go through cycles each year through the ages. Lots of stuff can get in the way, weather, insects, critters(moles etc) That's the joy of gardening, something new arises almost every day.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 3:34AM
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