so get out your journal and a pen, write down your ideas and experiences and as always happy gardening.
the denver public library
|g squared environmental design
as fall quickly approaches and you are getting ready to put your garden away for the season, remember some simple rules for next year. one thing that helps me remember what to do for next year is keeping a journal with sketches. what worked, what didn't, what needs more water, what needs more sun...writing down and sketching things is tremendously helpful for next years harvest to be bigger and better. another important thing that will be beneficial is removal of all dead, dying or disease plant material. you want to start the spring with a clean slate so to speak. you can also cover your soil with cloth, straw or another ground cover depending on what you want to use the soil for the following year. this would also be a good time to add to your compost bin or start one from scratch. i am not going to go into composting in this post however look for one in a future post. as with anything in life simplifying, organizing and planning will go a long way for you and make your life easier in the spring. there are tons of web resources, books and blogs for you to peruse. if you are a novice or even an expert, let me suggest on of the finest resources you can have that won't cost you a penny (unless your late), a library card.
so get out your journal and a pen, write down your ideas and experiences and as always happy gardening.
the denver public library
fall has left us here in denver and winter is now upon us, however there are still a few things you can do to get your garden ready for next year.
rake up leaves if you haven't already especially if you have a lawn. grass still needs sunlight so it can create sugars to store in its roots throughout the winter. allowing leaves and other debris on the lawn can smother it. consider turning into mulch or composting the leaves for later use in your garden.
any plants left in your garden need to be tended to accordingly. clear out any plants with black stems, plants with visible pests or fungi, foliage of annuals, fruits and vegetables to prevent the possibility of diseases, pests or other pathogens from disturbing future plants, trees or shrubs. while pruning and clearing out dead or unwanted debris is great, it can turn unhealthy if done excessively. make sure you do research on the plant, tree or shrub before doing your best impression of edward scissor hands.
check pH levels before applying any chemicals or treatments. it will help reveal any areas that need special attention so you can garden smarter not harder.
cover flower beds if you have done fall plantings to add extra protection through the extremely colder months.
a little planning goes a long way in almost all aspects of life and especially in gardening. if you take care of your garden before some serious snow hits denver, you will be one step closer to getting a jump on things for the coming spring.
garden smarter not harder…
a lot of people are transitioning from growing lawns to growing food. depending on where you live this can be a very tricky subject. some municipalities require you to acquire a variance or special permit to grow things higher than 12 inches (in your front yard). here in denver height isn’t so much the issue as is the use of water. if you choose to go this route, my suggestion is, plan your garden and the watering zones with sensitivity and caution. plan(t) smarter don’t work harder.
one method that is simple to design for the diy folks out there is the square foot gardening method. square foot gardening combines several methods; bio-intensive planting, composting, organic gardening and is often planted in raised beds. there are many books and websites on this subject and it can be as plain as a square bed or as intricate as you can dream up.
when you start to design your space plant things close together that have similar watering requirements to help eliminate over or under usage of water. planting and watering in zones is a good method to follow, especially in the desert or other places experiencing droughts. get creative when watering; use olla’s, drip systems and rain barrels if you location allows it. the more efficient your garden is started, the more time you will have to enjoy it. using simple methods such as these will help streamline your gardening time and use your resources more efficiently.
if you have any questions on square foot gardening or setting up watering zones send me a message.
resources on square foot gardening and watering methods:
accessibility in practice…
i met an individual yesterday who was from richmond va. i have very little reference for richmond other than it is home to lewis ginter botanical garden. i had the pleasure of visiting this garden in the summer of 2005. one element i was particularly drawn to was the tree house in the children’s garden. now a tree house might intrigue most, this one is special. it has form and function, beautifully designed and ADA accessible. we learn about standards and requirements in school; however practice sometimes fails in the equity department. this tree house can only be entered one way and EVERYBODY regardless of ability uses the same route. this is to ensure all users have the same experience. if you ever find yourself in richmond check out the garden and whether you have kids or not the tree house is worth venturing to the children’s garden.
photo courteous of ms. kelly ann's blog
the amazing company who designs and installs these tree houses is called THE TREE HOUSE GUYS formerly FOREVER YOUNG TREEHOUSES. check out their website at this link.
stay forever young…
whenever i am meeting clients for the first time, it is exciting and can be overwhelming at the same time. some clients know exactly what they want but want a professional to make it come to fruition. some clients have a bunch of ideas but not a clear or cohesive vision. this is where i come in as a designer. it is my job to marry the desires of the client(s), the budget and constraints into a master plan. still other client have no direction as to what it is they want other than to make it look pretty or to function a certain way. i have a few suggestions for those of you that are having a hard go of it in figuring out what is the best fit for you, your space and your lifestyle.
start a journal of the things listed below.
first i would suggest looking in your own neighborhood or city for things you like and just as important the things you don’t. chances are if it grows for your neighbor it will grow for you. start noticing types of materials that you enjoy and why you enjoy them. for example if you like a retention wall, what is it about this wall that you like…is it the color, the texture, the shape, the height or its function. really start to notice and take in your surroundings. if nothing strikes your fancy in your neighborhood start to venture out to other neighborhoods or places.
the denver botanic gardens are a great place to go if you want to capture ideas that work great for this climate. if you aren’t in denver then visit your local garden(s) or conservatory. again take note of what it is you like or dislike and why or the feeling it evokes for you. get up close and personal to the elements and touch and smell them if you can. really start to experience the landscape and take it all in. remember that you want your space to reflect you and your lifestyle.
if sightseeing and sauntering through your neighborhood or city is not your thing, then try the internet or magazines. there are tons of home, gardening and lifestyle magazines to sort through. go to your local book store, grab a beverage and start flipping through pages. if you don’t want to purchase dozens of magazines, write down the name and page number and take a photo of the design. again note what you like/dislike and why. same with the internet, start capturing images or book marking pages you like.
take special note on seasonality if you live in a climate with distinct seasonal changes. what might look great in the spring might not be your cup of tea during other seasons. while not everything looks great all year long, multi season appeal is not that difficult to achieve.
you will be glad you kept the journal when you sit down with your designer, trust me. this will save you time, energy, money and a few headaches in the end. you don’t have to know exactly what you want or how to get there, that is why you are looking for a professional after all. for those of you that are having some anxiety, a little direction will go a long way in facilitating this process and easing your mind.
photo courtesy of the Denver Botanic Gardens
when most people ask me questions about landscaping it’s because they need advice on what to do with their space. i tell them it is very similar to real estate; location is everything. not only the location of where you live, it is also the location of where you want to put elements. you can, in theory, grow almost anything almost anywhere. this method however requires a lot of resources, like water and great soil to name a couple. this does not guarantee that your garden will thrive. and you don’t want your landscaping to merely exist… you want it to thrive!
the right plant for the right place is the mantra we are taught in landscape architecture. so it stands to reason that different climates call for different requirements as far as resources and plant palate selection. one common method to minimize the use of resources, such as water, is to choose a plant palate that is considered native and non-invasive. a native plant, tree or shrub can best be described as one that is indigenous or naturalized to an area and usually refers to species that were there before colonization. invasive species can wreak havoc on something as small as a yard to something as large as an ecological system. so when designing a space, environmental sensitivity should be considered if you wish to conserve resources and want your landscape to thrive.
resources on native and non-invasive species in colorado:
squirrels and tomatoes…
so the question on everybody’s mind is how do i keep them from eating my ripened tomato (or any other fruit or veggie in your garden)? while there are many methods to choose from we will cover just a few natural and mostly non violent methods in this blog. first and foremost you might need to camp out a while in your garden to determine if it is in fact a squirrel. this will help you determine which route to take to help maximize your success.
some say the reason why they pick the ripest tomatoes is that they are looking for moisture and these ones are the most plump and juicy. a simple solution would be to place a bird bath or bowls of water about your garden to encourage them to drink the water instead of eating your fruit(s) or veggie(s).
another non violent method is to use a pepper mixture and apply to plants and around the border of your garden or yard. this method is said to deter them from entering the space and therefore keeping the fruits of your labor safe and sound. if you choose this method please wear safety gear and avoid skin and eye contact. recipes can be found online and you can use whatever one that is easiest for you to acquire the ingredients.
predator urine is a little more expensive, however is said to be a very effective deterrent. you can order online or get at a local gardening store.
get cagey and creative
they are resourceful little critters and can be tricky. one of the most common and relatively inexpensive methods is building a cage around your plants. chicken wire is easy to use and manipulate around plants and planter beds.
get a cat or a dog. most (not all) cats and dogs are not interested in capturing and killing squirrels. just their mere presence is a natural deterrent to most animals in their space, be it squirrel or otherwise.
give in but don’t give up
some gardeners forego all of these methods and go with the give in method. that is to say they don’t give up growing their garden but they do give in to nature. in this case you would plant more than you hope to get and let the animals take their share and you get yours. the only pitfall to this one is that space may be a limiting factor for your garden.
use only what you need, it’s a drought!
this slogan is, in my opinion, all wrong.
the slogan should be… IT’S A DESERT!
so in the interest of debating how much water denver should and shouldn’t be using, let’s explore some options to utilize it more efficiently in this desert landscape. in today’s post we will talk about an OLLA (pronounced oh-yah). traditionally olla’s are made of porous non finished clay pottery and are used for many things, including irrigation. they typically have a bulbous bottom with a narrow neck. they can be made and/or bought in many different sizes and shapes can vary as well. you bury the pot with the neck opening above the soil line so that it can be filled with water. the water will then slowly seep through the pot into the soil and be readily available for you plants to drink. using an olla illuminates runoff, slows down evaporation and supplies the water directly to the roots of your plant(s).
resources and photos: http://drippingspringsollas.com/
here is a link that gives a good explanation of an olla and how to use them: http://youtu.be/fvKq5geEM-A
some people have come up with creative ways to re-purpose other items into ollas. you can use a milk jug as seen at the link: http://youtu.be/pCkeB2l3ODQ
others have used two terra cotta pots and adhere them together as shown in this link: http://youtu.be/s0BryMMFwME
these are just a few resources and videos about ollas and are by no means an exhaustive list. it is a good starting point for those interested in ollas and water conservation, especially in the southwest and more arid climates.
designer, artist, photographer, traveler extraordinaire, consultant, teacher and student...