Planning Your Summer Garden If you are like many people around the world you want a summer garden to bring a little life to your lawn during those oh so hot summer months. Most of us however, would prefer a garden that doesn't require constant care and attention. This is where proper planning comes into place for creating the summer garden of your dreams. There are several things you need to ask yourself when planning your summer garden. Each of these things will to some extent determine the type of summer garden your lawn will accommodate. First of all, how much space on your lawn do you wish your summer garden to occupy and in general terms how big is that space. Most of us live in homes that have woefully inadequate lawn space these days. For this reason it is important to have a realistic vision as to how much of that prime real estate you are willing to commit to your summer garden. Once you have determined how much space you are willing to commit to your garden you need to decide on the location. Location is important to know before beginning the planning phase because you will need to plan according to the location. You need to be able to answer the following questions about location. How much direct sunlight gets to this location on an average day? Is this a location that is generally moist or typically dry? And how much indirect sunlight does this section of lawn see on any given day? These are questions that are important because they will, by and large, determine what kind of plants your garden will be able to accommodate. You also need to know a little about the terrain of the area as well. It is level, rocky, or muddy? These things will each have a different but profound effect on the type of garden that can be grown and steps you will have to take to make a summer garden work in this particular location. The next question you will need to ask and answer before moving on to the planning and purchasing phase is how much time, on average, do you want to devote to your summer garden on any given day? Gardens often require tending and you must be prepared to devote some time to keeping your garden in good working order though some are definitely higher maintenance than others. You need to have a realistic idea of how much time each day or week that you are willing to devote to making your garden the beautiful sanctuary it can be in mind before you decide on the types of plants and flowers that will fill your summer garden. You should also have in mind the type of summer garden you wish to create as well. Do you want a vegetable garden, flower garden, or do you simply want to add a little bit more green to your lawn? Do you want to add a water feature or have a sitting area? When planning your summer garden you will need to consider all these things and more. Another thing you will want to keep in mind is the local climate. It is moderate, dry, wet, or cool many mornings? These things will also have a fairly significant effect on the best type of garden that is suitable for your current situation. Planning a garden is so much more than walking outside and pointing and grunting. There is a great deal of work that goes into planning a successful summer garden. Asking the right questions is a good place to begin the process. Once you have the answers it is time to begin the more exciting aspects of planning your summer garden such as working the ground and selecting the plants that will soon call your lawn home. Just remember that paying careful attention to the details ahead of time will save a lot of lost time and money later. Maintaining a Summer Garden There are many things that go into planning and planting a summer garden. Far too often would be gardeners do not consider the time and energy that should be spent maintaining the summer garden in order to keep your summer garden looking beauty and healthy throughout the long dog days of summer and well, in many cases, into the first frosts of fall. If prolonging the life and beauty of your summer garden is a priority then there are things that must be done in order to keep everything ship shape and in good working order. Create a calendar of things to do in your garden for routine maintenance throughout the summer growing season and follow it is closely as time and the weather will allow. Make sure this list allows for upsets such as a week of rain or a week of no rain as well as time to adjust for these inconsistencies and an inability to work in the garden when temperatures are well over the mark on the thermometer that reads uncomfortably hot. By having a list of things to do written down in a place where it can be seen it will weigh more heavily and be much more likely to be accomplished than if it were out of sight and out of mind. Make sure you keep your garden weeded, watered, mulched, and fertilized according to the needs of specific plants within your garden. Check for leaves that are turning yellow and any pruning that needs to occur on a weekly basis. Remove the leaves and perform necessary cutting when needed and remove all weeds whenever the opportunity or need arises. If weeds are becoming a prevalent theme you may want to increase the amount of mulch being used in your gardening efforts. Trim the areas of your lawn that need trimming in order to create a more uniform appearance between lawn and garden. You do not want to ignore the beauty of your garden because your lawn is looking shaggy and unkempt. Devote a little time to lawn care in order to keep your lawn and garden on a consistent scale with one another throughout the summer gardening season. Make sure that you carefully study each plant that you have in your garden and are aware of any special needs that exist for one plant over another. If your plants that need shade or extra water are either receiving too much sunlight or not enough water you need to make efforts to add shade to them and get more water to them throughout the remaining months or you risk losing the investment of time and money you have already made in procuring and growing these plants. Taking proper care of your garden during the summer months can make the fall harvesting process go a lot more smoothly while also helping prepare for the planning that will occur in the winter months ahead. Learn from the maintenance of your garden and plan the next garden with the needs you became aware of this season in mind. Always take time to learn from both your successes and your summer gardening failures for the best possible results. Learning to maintain your garden is the best way to determine whether or not you want to attempt a more or less ambitious garden in future growing seasons. Creating a Summer Garden on a Budget Summer gardening can quickly escalate into an expensive undertaking if you do not enter into the prospect with certain and very specific budget constraints in mind. If you plan according to your budget and purchase according to your specific plans and needs you are likely to find that your summer garden is more budget friendly than the vast majority of other summer gardens on the block. I hope the advice that follows will help you cut the expense of summer garden and help you find budget friendly ways to build the summer garden of your dreams. Do not buy what you do not need. It doesn't matter how good the deal if you do not need the seeds, tools, and various other items there is no real reason to purchase them. It is a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere to spend money that doesn't need to be spent. Don't pay for shipping if it can be avoided. You may find a few items cheaper online but be very aware of the costs involved in shipping. If it costs more when all is said and done than it would have cost to purchase the same items locally you haven't saved anything at all. Look at the big picture rather than seeing only the cheaper asking price. It is also a good idea to support small local businesses whenever possible as they are going to be more likely to bargain, barter, and throw in freebies. Check locally for free composting materials. Many communities offer these free to residents. When compared with the expense of purchasing these materials the savings can be significant over the course of a summer. Work out an exchange among gardening friends. This is a great way to incorporate new plants into your summer garden without purchasing each plant you wish to include. This is a great way to make new gardening friends, share a passion, and save money. It's a win win situation for most gardeners who are constantly waging war on the high costs that can be involved in gardening. Select plants that are native to your area for your summer garden. This is a huge money saver that is often overlooked. The costs of non-native plants can be excessive in the best of circumstances and the added care incurs further costs. Keep costs down by selecting plants that will easily thrive in your climate and those that are locally cultivated. This isn't an all or nothing proposition of course. If you absolutely love a couple of non-native plants, by all means incorporate them into your garden. However, if you are planning a garden from scratch choose as many native plants as possible for filler. Check your local classified ads and free-cycle program for used garden tools that are in good condition. There are many reasons that people sell or give away garden tools and a bargain is a bargain on these tools that are going to be used to play in the dirt. You do not need to be incredibly picky about the tools you purchase and saving money is almost always a good thing. It's even better, of course, when you get them for no cost at all. You also might find a few free plants available through these sources too. Mulching saves time and money. Really! It saves water to mulch because the mulch holds the moisture in. This lowers the cost of watering and eliminates many of the pesky weeds that crop up-which saves time. We all know that time is money and most of us despise weeding unless we have some truly aggressive emotions to work through that is. By using all of the steps above you should find that you have saved a good deal of money in the planning and growing of your summer garden. Combine them with tips of your own that you discover along the way and next summer your garden should cost even less. Summer Garden Pitfalls We all love learning great ways to create a summer garden fit to rival them all. What we do not really take the time to check out often enough are the things we should avoid when creating a summer garden. Learning the potential pitfalls of summer gardening can often lead to much better results in the long run while allowing you to learn these sometimes painful lessons from the mistakes of others rather than your own personal gardening flops and nightmares. One thing that we are all guilty of is landscaping for the neighbor's enjoyment. If you spend the vast majority of your free time in the great outdoors, this is one thing but if you are like the typical family you spend the vast majority of your time inside your home looking out. For this reason it is wise to plant your summer garden in an area that you can easily view from within the walls of your home rather than in an area that only the neighbors are likely to see on an average day. In other words, garden for your enjoyment and make it so that you actually get to view the benefits of your labor on any given day. Avoid cluttering your lawn with too much of anything. Keep your summer garden on scale with your lawn. It will look completely out of place if you have too much in garden on a postage stamp lot and will look completely under maintained to have very little landscaping in your summer garden on a lot the size of a grand estate. Try to keep everything in perspective and appropriate to the amount of land available as well as the climate of the area in which you are planning your summer garden. You should also avoid looking as though you have no plan in your summer garden landscaping and design. Planning is the most important thing you can do for your summer garden. Without a solid plan upon which to build the design of your summer garden your garden is doomed to either fail or look as though it was poorly planned and executed. Invest the largest portion of time and energy towards the planning stage of your summer garden in order to achieve the best possible results. Another common pitfall when planning and creating summer gardens is failing to consider the long-term implications of the plants and flowers selected for the garden. If you are not interested in heavy maintenance it makes little sense to purchase plants and flowers that are high maintenance by nature. Select plants according to your summer garden needs and not simply because you think they look good in a brochure or on the store shelves. If you take a little time to make a concerted effort towards properly planning your summer gardens according to your personal tastes and the desired level of maintenance you wish to invest in keeping your garden in top form you will find that you will enjoy your garden much more than if you throw some plants in the ground and hope for the best. One thing to remember is that while there are summer gardens that require a little less maintenance than others there is no such thing as a no maintenance garden. Expect to spend some time and effort keeping your garden looking sharp and in order. A Summer Garden for All Seasons One thing that is often overlooked when planning and creating a beautiful summer garden for homeowners to enjoy is the fact that the garden exists throughout the year. Unfortunately in the vast majority of summer gardens there is a huge hole in the garden for the vast majority of the year. Carefully planning in order to avoid this process and planting flowering plants that bloom during various seasons of the year as well as plants that provide beautiful foliage and greenery even when the flowers may not be blooming can prevent this absence of life within your summer garden from occurring. Plant continuously and groom your garden consistently throughout the year. Obviously the winter months are not great months for planting in the earth but this doesn't mean that you cannot use flowerpots filled with seasonal offerings to fill the gaps of green within your garden. There are all kinds of flowers that thrive in winter weather that would make a beautiful addition to your winter garden without taking anything away from the beauty of your summer garden. In fact, the ability to incorporate these flowers and plants into your garden without necessarily planting may be an excellent incentive to keep your garden up to date even in seasons that aren't traditionally thought of as gardening seasons. Add features to your garden that aren't plant related to bring splashes of color to your garden during winter months while preserving the space needed for planting your summer garden when the appropriate time comes. Flowerpots are a great example of this but so are lawn ornaments and statues that may be either moved to a different location during summer months or removed all together. Keep the earth warm for the summer garden to come during those long cold winter months. Use the winter months to plan your summer garden. The spring is often spent in preparation and the fall months are spent harvesting. The winter months would be put to excellent use planning the new additions and possible movements that need to occur in the coming months. Working on your garden and improving your garden does not necessarily require working in your garden. Once you have those gaps filled in and a little bit of green and color in your garden for the winter months you can focus your undivided attention on making the coming summer garden even better and more spectacular than ever before. Be careful not to plant all of your seeds in one garden spot so to speak while you are making your plans. By this I mean you need to keep a certain willingness to make adjustments and corrections as you go and learn more about the growing process and the specific gardening needs of your yard. Every growing season will bring a season of new lessons to learn take the time to reflect upon the lessons learned during previous seasons when making plans for the coming seasons and make the adjustments that present themselves along the way. By learning from the mistakes of the past and always looking to and anticipating the needs of the future you are insuring greater success each year for your summer garden not only during the dog days of summer but throughout all the seasons of the year. Planting a Summer Garden When it comes to planting your garden the first thing you need to focus on is planning your garden. Once you have a line on the things you want to plant, where you want to plant them, and what the needs of your individual plants will be it is time to really dig in and get your hands dirty. Of course, for many gardeners this is the best thing about growing a summer garden (though some will argue that the results are the best thing). Either way, many gardeners relish the idea of getting their hands in the dirt in order to really get their garden underway. Before the planting begins however you should take a calendar and mark the days that each part of your summer garden will be planted. Different flowers and vegetables have different growing seasons. Some prosper by earlier plantings while others prosper by later plantings. If you are planting a summer vegetable garden then it is quite possible that some of the plants will need a precise number of days between planting and harvesting. Both the plant and harvest days should be noted. This also however provides an excellent opportunity to plant more of the vegetable (and some flowers) every two weeks to provide a continuous rotation of the vegetable you love well into the gardening season. Plants that are known to take up a great deal of space on the ground when left to their own devices may be trained to climb poles that you set up in the garden for them. If space is limited, this is highly recommended. Doing this also provides an opportunity to shade plants that prefer less direct sunlight when planted next to these climbing vines that are climbing vertically. Also make sure you have enough stakes for all the plants that require them for best effect. Plant your plants so that those needing shade get the shade they need and those that require the most water are located on a downward slope so that they get the water that runs off from the plants that require lesser amounts of water. This is a trick of conservationists and seasoned gardeners that makes the most of sometimes limited resources such as water for the purpose of creating a better environment for optimal growth. At the same time you want to avoid planting vegetables and flowers that require less water at the bottom of these slopes as they are likely to become over hydrated, which can be just as devastating as not getting enough water. Make sure your soil is healthy so that it can create the healthy plants you are hoping to have. Fertilize the soil in which these plants, flowers, and vegetables will be grown. This provides the foundation necessary for optimal performance from your plants and greatest yield from your vegetables. You should also take great care once the planting has taken place that the plants, flowers, and vegetables that make up your summer garden are well fed in order to produce even better results. There are plenty of fertilizers and plant foods from which to choose be sure to check local laws in order to make sure you aren't using a combination that is not recommended for your region or that is not permissible in your reason as this is often strictly regulated from one state to the next. Plan your pest control before you begin planting your garden. There are some plants, flowers, and herbs that work as natural pest controls. These make an excellent addition to your garden as they offer no harmful side effect and can rid your garden of many of the pests that provide constant head aches. Another thing you may wish to consider is the use of chicken wire to protect some of your plants from things a little bigger than the average bug. The more humane the methods of pest control and the less you rely on pesticides the better. Versatility in Your Summer Garden There is no hard and fast rule as to what a summer garden should be. This means that your personal vision for your summer garden is going to be quite achievable if you take the time to do the proper research and plan the planting for your summer gardening wisely and with great care. One thing is certain, planting wisely can produce a summer garden that is beautiful and maintains some degree of natural pest control. Your summer garden can produce fruit, vegetables, flowers, and even be designed in order to attract certain birds or butterflies. Of course, your summer garden may also be designed to accomplish more than one of these goals as well. That's the beauty of the versatility of your average summer garden. Here are a few things to consider. Versatility in a summer garden means that you aren't committed to one prevailing purpose or theme. This means that it is not at all inappropriate to plant a few flowering plants or herbs as pest control along with your favorite summertime vegetable offerings. At the same time it is completely acceptable to add a few vegetables that you just can't seem to live without in your flower garden or amid a the plants in a garden of green. When it comes to colors, the possibilities of the average summer garden are almost limitless. There are plenty of brightly colored flowers that hallmark the summer season and bring a little splash of color to a world that is often drained of color by the sometimes blinding summer sunshine. By brining a few well placed colors into your garden as a highlight or border you are adding dramatic appeal. If you choose to make your garden a sea of brightly colored flowers, plants, leaves, and vines you can also achieve great affect that may be breathtaking in beauty. Be prepared to spend a great deal of time tending a garden of this nature however as many of the brightly colored flowering plants are attention hogs to some degree. If you live in a dryer climate you also have the option of using low water landscaping or creative conservation techniques in order to create a garden that is lovely in its own right. A garden doesn't have to be excessively green or full of bright vividly colored flowers in order to be beautiful. By using landscaping techniques that are conservative in nature you are making your own conservation efforts and the rest of the planet should appreciate not only the effort but also the beauty of the creation that was born of that effort. If you prefer nice and lush greenery and live in a climate that will accommodate this particular style of a summer garden there is no reason to avoid this either. Be sure to use some conservation efforts though because you never know when drought conditions may present themselves in climates that are typically quite moderate as we are learning in the Midwest this summer. Vegetable gardens are yet another option when creating your summer garden and another fine example of just how versatile these gardens may be. Keep in mind that many people are discovering the beauty of vertical gardening and hanging plants for a few favorite vegetables and this may be an option if you wish to use limited space wisely and to greater effect. Another option when it comes to showing the incredible versatility of the summer garden is raised gardening. This is quite literally planting your garden above the ground. Some people create elaborate 'sand boxes' of sorts in which the garden is planted. This allows great versatility for those with smaller spaces in which to plant their gardens as well as those who have landscaping issues that are inhospitable for gardening. These are but a few examples of just how versatile a summer garden may be but I think they provide excellent insight and food for thought for those who are looking for a little something new and different for their summer gardens. Summer Gardens for Small Spaces There are many people who relish the idea of having a summer garden but feel that the reality is well outside the realm of the possible. The good news is that in the modern world in which we live nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing is you may have to rearrange your idea of what a summer garden is and is not. You can still manage to have the beauty of flowers or fresh picked vegetables in almost any situation if you are willing to take the necessary extra steps required to do so. First of all, those who live in high rise buildings often feel as though they have no options larger than a window sill for their gardening needs. This is often not the case. Discuss with the landlord the option of establishing raised gardens on the roof top of the building in which you live. These are becoming more and more popular and some buildings also offer greenhouse possibilities, usage, or space to tenants to satisfy the urge many of us get to give our green (or not so green as the case may be) thumbs an adequate workout. Raised gardens are a great choice for many landlords and building owners as long as they are created and maintained at the expense of the tenant who proposed the garden. Some buildings even offer gardening coops as perks to those who live within the building and a system of contributing and sharing the fruits of the labor of those who have contributed to these gardens by planting and maintaining flowers, plants, fruits, and/or vegetables. This is also a great way to meet neighbors that may share your passion. If you live in a smaller apartment type of setting that has little or no lawn space you still have a few options available to you. First of all, many of these types of apartments come with balcony space or a small patio area. This means that you can use ferns or flowering plants to add a little bit of green and other colors and have the plants hanging along the patio or balcony. Another thing that is growing in popularity for small spaces is hanging vegetables such as tomatoes. This is a little outside the area of traditional but provides the opportunity for fresh tomatoes to even those who have very limited gardening space. Small peppers also do well growing upside down though this isn't recommended for the larger sweet peppers as they are too heavy for the vines to support. Going up with your garden frees up that valuable ground space for must have plants to be planted in raised gardens that can be made quite small to accommodate your specific needs. A vertical garden is yet another option. This requires some degree of handyman skills or knowing someone that has these skills for designing and building a platform for your gardening needs that allows you to grow the flowers or vegetables you crave without taking up nearly as much ground space. This is also a convenient way of gardening for those who are in wheelchairs and cannot get up and down for regular gardening tasks as easily. A vertical garden can be planted with very little ground space, such as what would be available on a patio or a balcony and allows for many more plants that one might expect with such a small growing space. Combine this method with hanging plants and you may find that you have quite an impressive little summer garden growing. Do not allow limited real estate to be an obstacle for your summer garden needs. One way to overcome this is to begin thinking vertically when it comes to real estate rather than horizontally. You may discover that you have a lot more room with which to work than you realized. The important thing to remember is that your summer garden does not have to conform to anyone's idea of what a summer garden should be. Make it your own and have fun. Summer Gardens for Butterflies There are many different reasons that different people decide to plant summer gardens. One common reason that is becoming more popular these days as people to seek to entertain their children through little things done closer to home is to attract butterflies. This is much easier done than one might think if you live in the right environment for these beautiful creatures to thrive and flourish. Butterflies are beautiful creatures with very short life spans. For this reason they seem to be attracted to beautiful things during their short lives. Brightly colored flowers attract butterflies in droves. This means that flowers such as aster, marigold, black-eyed Susans, and butterfly weed are well known to attract butterflies. Another thing you may wish to consider when selecting flowers for the purpose of attracting these delightful winged creatures to your summer garden is the nectar. This is the essential food for butterflies so a garden that is filled with more nectar producing flowers is likely to garner more than its fare share of attention from the butterflies nearby. The greater the selection of nectar producing flowers the greater the number of butterflies your garden is likely to attract so be sure to plant plenty and prune them in a manner that produces maximum flowers for maximum impact. In addition to the flowers in your summer garden there are other methods that may be used to attract butterfly to the delight of young and old alike. One of those methods is by placing a several pieces of ripe fruit in your garden. This is another treat for butterflies to enjoy and will attract many that may be in the area. One thing to remember when planting to attract butterflies is that they do adore worshipping the sun. This means that shady types of gardens aren't best suited for attracting them and won't keep them long if it happens to do so. Plant your butterfly garden in an area that benefits from the full force of the sun most of the day in order to entertain the most possible butterflies and keep in mind that different butterflies are attracted to different plants both as caterpillars and as butterflies. A little further study may produce the best results when seeking the most suitable plants for your butterfly garden depending on the type of butterflies you most hope to attract. You should also avoid using pesticides in a flower garden built to attract butterflies. It wouldn't make sense to attract butterflies to your garden only to harm them through the nourishment they receive while paying your summer garden a visit. Employ organic gardening methods in your butterfly garden for the best results. You should also make sure there is a source of water nearby in order to keep the butterflies well hydrated. They need water just like any other animal. Many gardens these days add water features that keep the water moving (best for avoiding mosquito infestations) while having it freely available for the animals that we are hoping to attract such as birds and butterflies. Our summer gardens are an investment of both time and attention. It is great when we can accomplish more than one beauty as the result of our hard work and effort. A summer garden designed to attract butterflies is a great way to achieve just that. Summer Garden Weddings Blushing June brides often want few things more than a beautiful fairy tale summer garden wedding surrounded by friends, family, and many beautiful flowers. There are many ways to plan and create the beautiful summer garden wedding that most brides dream about if you are willing to risk the whimsy of the weather in order to have your dream come true. Of course, really what gods dare call forth rain on the wedding day of a beautiful June bride? Not only do you need to take into account the size and scope of the summer garden in question when planning your wedding but also the easy access to an interior spot suitable for the wedding should something go wrong and Mother Nature allow a stray drop or two to rain on your parade. Rain is a factor that many brides to be plan for by procuring tents for that fateful day to protect those who will be attending as well as the ceremony itself. You should also consider the clothing for a summer garden wedding. While the idea of formal attire for such a wedding might seem beautiful and appealing you should carefully consider the reality of potentially high temperatures compounded with high humidity and the effects that will have on hair, make up, and the trappings that go along with formal attire and tuxedos. It may be a little too hot for comfort when confronted with a bright and sunny summer afternoon. Choose the clothing carefully and prepare to have fans on hand in case members of the bride or groom's party become overheated. One reason that many brides elect to have a summer garden wedding is so that they may go less formal rather than more formal. This means that concessions may be made everywhere when it comes to formality and the summer atmosphere and the entire wedding can be a far more relaxed and fun occasion rather than the sober ceremony that many make it out to be. Another great thing about a summer garden wedding is that you can use flowers from the very garden in which you are getting married in order to create your bouquet. This provides many bright and beautiful options while allowing the wedding party to blend in with the natural surroundings. It also helps budget conscious brides save a little extra money when it comes to the cost of the wedding. Another thing that must be considered when planning a summer garden wedding is the comfort of guests. Plan for areas where guests can cool off and make sure there are plenty of drinks flowing that will keep them from dehydrating. Plenty of bottled water on ice is another good plan for a summer garden wedding. Make sure there is plenty of water to keep the bridal party and the groom and groomsmen well hydrated prior too and after the actual ceremony occurs. One final bit of advice for a summer garden wedding is to take time to literally sit back and smell the roses and any other flowers that may be present. Part of the beauty of a garden wedding is the myriad of fragrances that are filling the air. Take the time to enjoy the little things such as this that make this day so very special for the happy couple and everyone that shares this special day. Making Your Summer Garden Grow For as long as there have been gardens there has been some degree of garden envy. Whether the garden is made of flowers, plants, or vegetables, there always seems to be one garden that is more prolific, greener, more colorful, or yields more food. Whatever you are envious of in the gardens of others, chances are that if you take the proper time to learn about the placement of the plants, the optimal growing conditions for each plant, preferred soil treatments for each plant, and best case scenarios when it comes to sunlight and watering for the plants in your summer garden you could create a summer garden to rival the best in your locale no matter what you happen to be growing. Of course it requires a great deal of time, effort, and energy to become the absolute best and your efforts may be best suited into making small improvements each year in your summer garden rather than creating a massive overhaul that may burn you out on your summer garden all together. That being said, you may find some of the information below useful when working with your summer garden to help it become the best it can possibly be. The first thing you need to do is check to see what regulations exist in your state in regards to plant food. Your local county extension office is often a good place to turn for information regarding these particular regulations as they exist not only for plant food but any other restrictions that may be in place for adjusting the soil in your summer garden. Once you have the information in hand you might want to test the pH in your own soil to see what kind of conditions you currently have and what, if any, adjustments need to be made before planting. You should also make sure you are aware that every decision you make in regards to your summer garden will affect the yield and output to some degree but no matter how carefully you plan there will always be events that are beyond your control. This summer alone we are seeing record rainfalls in part of the country that have flooded and devastated crops while experiencing frighteningly low rainfall in other parts of the country and a very real drought in parts of the heartland that are responsible for much of the corn and soybean production for the nation. Stuff happens and for this reason the best of plans can easily go astray. With this in mind, plan your garden carefully around the things mentioned above. Each plant will have its very own needs that must be met for optimal growth and yield. If those needs are not met chances are you will still have a plant but it will not provide the best possible flowers, the most vegetables, or the greenest leaves. If average is your goal then some care is needed but not as much as if your goal was to create and grow blue ribbon winning vegetables or flowers and that isn't everyone's goal when it comes to creating a summer garden. Keep the local laws in mind when fertilizing and feeding your flowers and plants, avoid using pesticides that could be harmful electing instead to go with methods of pest control that are more natural and humane, this is particularly important when planting vegetables as you do not want to expose your children to potentially harmful chemicals that may be used as pesticides. Grow according to the needs of the plant and within the limits of the space you have for gardening. This means that if you only have shady space available for your summer garden choose flowers, plants, and/or vegetables, that thrive in shady conditions rather than those that need copious amounts of sunlight. More importantly, plant according to those things you wish to include in your garden. It is there for your pleasure after all; you may as well get as much pleasure as possible from it. That often makes it grow best at any rate. Make Your Summer Garden Sizzle Most people spend a great deal of time and effort planning their summer gardens. Whether you are planning a summer garden that is designed to awe and amaze all those who manage to capture a glimpse or simply trying to construct a summer garden that will inspire you when you manage to take a moment and glance around, taking in the fruits of your labor there is no reason you should skimp on the planning stage as it may prove detrimental to the overall effect. If you are looking for ways to make your summer garden sizzle the absolute best way is to give it the careful planning and attention to detail it deserves. First and foremost you need to plan more than the plants that will go in your summer garden. Whether you are planting flowers, trees, shrubs, greenery, fruits, or vegetables you need still need to plan the boundaries, bordering, landscaping, and layout of your summer garden. You should also consider the accents in your lawn and garden area that will showcase certain aspects of your summer garden while diminishing the effects of less attractive features of your summer garden or the natural landscape of your lawn. Arrange your summer garden in a manner that is attractive. Whether you are using traditional rows for a vegetable garden or raised landscaping boxes in select areas along the exterior of your home there are plenty of opportunities to present your summer garden in as attractive of a manner as possible. Take great time and care that you do just that when planning your garden. You want your summer garden to be a place to show off to friends and neighbors. Arranging it attractively so that it doesn't detract from the remainder of your landscaping efforts is a wise move-even if your summer garden is intended to be merely functional as a vegetable garden. Use lawn furniture, birdhouses, water features, and other clever landscaping tips and tricks in order to provide additional focal points throughout your summer garden area. Provide plenty of distractions so that visitors may see something different every time they stop by. Be careful that you do not make your summer garden seem gaudy or overcrowded though. There is a fine balance between having too many gaps in scenery and overloading the senses. Take care that you do not cross that line. Use lighting so that your summer garden may be enjoyed even when dusk is imminent. There are many ways this can be accomplished. I recommend using solar powered lighting along pathways and walkways within your summer garden and overhead lighting in common areas where there is seating and that are meant for congregating and socializing. Create pathways within your gardens and mark them with pavers and stones. These pathways provide visitors a walking path through your garden area and keep feet from compacting the soil and inhibiting the growth in your garden. This is also a great method for keeping your garden attractive in appearance and from looking overgrown in areas that aren't readily accessible for mowing. Install a water feature such as a goldfish pond or waterfall for a little dramatic flare. These are not only beautiful but allow the opportunity for a social area and a little more lighting in your garden area. If you enjoy birds, it also gives the water a little room in which to flit and flitter to the delight of young and older kids alike. For a really sizzling summer garden it needs to be a garden that people want to enjoy and where they wish to congregate. Little touches such as those mentioned above make a huge difference to visitors and increase the enjoyment of summer gardens exponentially. Plan your summer garden to attract visitors and keep their attention and you should have no shortage of flattering comments about your green thumb or your gardening efforts. Remember to keep the plants looking healthy and beautiful though of you may find the opposite of the desired effect is the case.
Low Water Summer Gardens If you live in a dessert community or in an area that often experiences seasons of drought or extremely dry times during the year then it is quite likely that you would be best served by considering a summer garden that requires a little less water than the average summer garden by avoiding the lush greens and big 'drinking' plants that many people prefer to keep in their gardens in favor of plants that consumer water more economically and employing water saving methods to maximize the benefit of water that is used in your summer garden. There are several things you can do in order to insure that your summer garden is water friendly and doesn't over tax water systems that are often overburdened in attempts to keep them lush and green. One of the first, and most responsible things you can do is scale back your idea of what a summer garden should be. You do not need a huge summer garden filled with lush greenery in order to make a good impression. In fact, a responsible garden that conserves the natural resources and highlights the natural plant life is often a garden that is much more deserving of accolades than one that uses too many of the limited natural resources that are available. The second thing you should do is think local rather than global when finding suitable plants for your low water summer garden. Dessert plants and flowers are accustomed to the dessert climate and can survive with low amounts of water and flourish. If you must have some of the more lush greenery or a few more exotic plants in your summer garden consider using them sparingly and supplementing your garden with local plants and flowers. Third, you should use things that aren't plants in order to fill in gaping holes in the landscaping. For this you could use rocks, stones, nice lawn ornaments and a wide array of other things to fill in the holes that you feel are left behind by the absence of greenery and create borders and boundaries for your low water summer garden. Finally, keep your lawn green by using low water grass mixes. This is a great way in almost any climate to combat drier than normal summer seasons and keep lawns lush and green without investing a great deal of time and effort watering the lawn. The savings in water costs alone are often quickly cover the cost of the investment in the new grass for your lawn and will help the focus remain on your bright and beautiful lawn to the point that many homeowners do not lament the absence of a huge summer garden. Living in an area that doesn't have the natural resources necessary to create a beautiful and lush summer garden should not eliminate the possibility of having any sort of summer garden at all. By making wise decisions in regards to the type and volume of plants to include in your summer garden you can take matters into your own hands and insure the ability to maintain a low water summer garden that will be the envy of the neighborhood. Combine these efforts with water conservation methods inside your home for amazing results and a beautiful summer garden no matter how dry the area in which you live may be. Landscaping Your Summer Garden There are many things that must be considered when planning and planting your summer garden. One of those things is the natural landscape or terrain of your lawn and garden area. It is best, whenever possible to work with the landscape rather than working against it or going to extraordinary efforts to make changes to the natural landscape of your lawn when you could very easily and beautifully plan your summer garden to go with the flow of and work well with the natural terrain of your lawn and garden area. One way in which this is accomplished is by taking a quick survey of your lawn. This will need to be more than a cursory visual survey. You will need to walk your lawn and the area in which you are planning for your garden space. You will need to measure the terrain and take not of inclines and slopes. While you are at it, you need to study the condition of the soil and any areas that seem particularly inhospitable for planting. If these types of areas are present in your garden you need to decide what you want to do about them. Is it possible to turn this patch into a water feature or some other attractive addition to your garden rather than remaining a bare patch in the midst of your flowers, plants, and/or vegetables? You should also determine the amount of shade a particular area receive and, if in direct sunlight, how to create shade for those plants, vegetables, or flowers that grow best in indirect sunlight. This can be accomplished by planting them creatively in the shadow of plants, shrubs, or vegetables that grow much taller or by using rocks to create shade or even climbing vines on trellises or fences in order to create an artificial shade. Once you have a good feel for the terrain and landscape of your summer garden you will need to plan for the vegetables, flowers, or plants that will be used. Vegetable gardens tend to be less aesthetic in nature and are often the easiest to landscape, as it is a matter of need rather than beauty. If you are planting a flowery summer garden however, it is quite likely that you will be planning to achieve some degree of beauty within your garden. Decide now if you want to keep the flowers and plants within a certain color scheme or if you want dramatic blues and greens combined with bright and vivid reds and yellows. This is a personal decision but will greatly affect the appearance of your garden when all is said and done. You should also landscape your garden according to the amount of time and effort you want to devote to working your garden on any given week. Some plants require more care than others. If you want a garden that is basically sow and go then you need to make sure it is filled with plants and flowers that are suited to that sort of low maintenance. Most vegetable gardens require a good deal of tending in order to flourish and are not acceptable in this sort of situation. If you are completely lost as to how to landscape your summer garden it may be worth the effort to have a team of professionals come in and do the landscaping for you. When procuring their services be sure to either check into a maintenance program with them in which the upkeep the landscaping or have them provide a low maintenance type of landscaping that you will be able to maintain and duplicate on your own. Many gardeners find the task of landscaping their summer garden to be the highlight of the summer growing season. If you are not among those, the hope is that the recommendations provided here will provide you with a good start and several helpful tips on getting your garden landscaped and ready to grow. Keeping Your Garden Green There are many things we do to add a little splash of color to our summer gardens but we often fail to focus on keeping our summer gardens looking lush and green just a little bit longer even though we know that by doing so we are essentially prolonging the life and therefore our enjoyment of our summer gardens. The focus of this article is to keep your summer garden looking crisp and green as long as possible by taking a few extra steps a little earlier in the summer months to prepare for the inevitable beginning of the end. One thing to keep in mind is that once your summer garden begins to take on that yellowish brown hue that indicates the end of summer it always seems to be a downhill ride into the fall. That ride, more often than not is over far too quickly and your summer garden is but a dim reminder of its formerly glorious summer greenery. First things first, get rid of the yellowing leaves and dying flowers as they make their appearance. They rob the remainder of the garden of its splendor and leave the pallor of decay on the garden far too soon in the season. You will be glad you did, as it will immediately restore the look of health and vitality that your summer garden is missing while also providing a much perkier attitude and bearing from the remaining plants. Weed. Remove those pesky weeds that detract from the beauty and lushness of the greenery in your garden. By removing the weeds your entire summer garden looks better almost immediately. While you are at it, reapply mulch. This will delay the inevitable return of the weeds while also providing an extra layer for holding in moisture to keep your plants from drying out and looking green. Another great thing about mulch is that it simply makes things look neat and orderly. Fill in the gaps. While you are in the process of plucking leaves, weeds, and dead flowers from your summer garden it is quite likely that a few gaps will be created. Fill them in other greenery, small shrubs (evergreens are a good idea in this situation), or nice garden art for smiles and a little dash of color among the green. The effects are often stunning and you have the look of an almost new summer garden for only half the effort and expense of creating one. You may also want to scour the local plant stores for late season offerings and markdowns. These are often well cared for and in good condition to add a little touch of color or green to your garden. Another way to keep your summer garden green is to plant plants that are appropriate to your climate. On an ordinary summer, excluding drought or excessive rain conditions this will be the best way to achieve maximum greenness from your garden. This is actually one of the best ways to prolong the life of your garden as well because the plants being used are accustomed to the weather patterns that exist in your locale. For this reason they will be much better suited to stay green and healthy much longer than most implants that are not accustomed to the local weather patterns. Creating a greener garden is a worthy cause for most gardeners. We plant our summer gardens because we want to enjoy them. By keeping them green, healthy, and vibrant a little bit longer we are able to prolong our enjoyment of our gardens as well as the productivity of our summer gardens. This means more flowers, more fruit, more vegetables, and much longer spans of greenery for the uninitiated. Taking the steps mentioned above in order to prolong the life and your enjoyment of your summer garden seems to be a worthy sacrifice for an extra month of enjoying your lawn and outdoor living space. Keeping Mosquitoes Out of Your Summer Garden Our summer gardens are filled with all kinds of pests at one time or another. One pest that has potentially nasty health consequences to many species that may be welcome additions to your summer garden habitat is the very unwelcome mosquito. Keep reading to discover steps you can take to keep mosquitoes from invading your personal space and keep friends, families, and animals safe and protected in your summer garden. One way to minimize your exposure to mosquitoes is by minimizing their ability to procreate. They must lay eggs in still water in order to breed and you can remove as many sources of potential breeding ground as possible by keeping your lawn and summer garden area free of any debris that will allow even a minimal amount of standing water to collect after a rainfall. This means you must keep your gutters clean and free of debris, make sure all cans and bottles are picked up and placed inside a garbage can that is lidded. Keep lids on garbage cans at all times, and change animal bowls daily. Burn citronella oil. This is highly effective at dusk when the mosquitoes seem to be at their worst as it not only provides a natural repellant for mosquitoes so that you can enjoy your summer garden a little better but also because it provides its own mood setting light that is well suited for enjoying in a summer garden environment. In addition to the oil you can also choose to burn citronella candles and use repellants that are created to spray or rub onto the skin using natural ingredients for added protection for you and your children from these dangerous pests. It is also possible to find garlic based mosquito repellants that are highly effective at making your garden inhospitable to mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. This is a little different than citronella as it is applied to your lawn and garden area rather than burned or applied to the skin. Another thing you can do to make your garden inhospitable to mosquitoes is to fill it with creatures that prey on mosquitoes. There is nothing like a bigger fish in the sea to run the smaller fish to different hunting grounds. Plant trees, shrubs, and bushes that attract the birds that eat mosquitoes. This will provide plenty of nutrition for these birds while diminishing the mosquito population one snack at a time. Purple Martins are well known for eating mosquitoes and a great addition to any summer garden (though not for this reason alone). Plant lemon thyme in your summer garden. If you crush the leaves it is believed to be an effective repellent for mosquitoes. Choosing this plant for your garden can help you naturally repel mosquitoes without smelling bad in the process, which is something that must rubs, sprays, and oils cannot always claim. Mosquitoes are a huge problem in summer garden largely due to increased fears of West Nile Virus and other diseases they may carry from one person to the next. For this reason it is now more important than ever to control the population and limit our exposure to these harmful animals. Most of us wish to do this without adding new risks due to chemical exposure. Hopefully this article has given you plenty of natural alternative to consider when it comes to controlling the mosquito population in your summer garden. Is a Raised Summer Garden Right for You? Raised gardens are becoming quite popular as more and more people are renting property or find themselves in high rise apartment buildings with little to no lawn space and even less access to actual soil in which to plant the flowers and vegetables they desire to have with them. There are actually quite a few pros for using raised gardens as opposed to tilling the soil for those who wish to have smaller gardens and are limited on space in which to do so. At the same time, those who desire bigger yields are often dissatisfied with the limits of raised gardens. The choice is ultimately yours but I will try to point out some of the pros and cons of this type of garden so that you may decide for yourself. Soil compaction. Pants love to breath and that is often difficult when placed in garden rows as we have quite a bit of difficulty avoiding all together the possibility of stepping onto the tilled rows in which we have planted our fruits, vegetables, or plants in a traditional garden situation. By using a raised garden, which is designed to be worked from without rather than within, there is little fear of compacting the soil around the plants. At the same time many lifelong gardeners feel the inability to walk around in their gardens is a disadvantage in itself and prefer to be able to do so. This is often a matter of preference rather than practicality but a valid opposition just the same. Numbers. You can actually plant more plants in the same amount of square footage in a raised bed because there is no need for rows. You should also be aware that plants in raised beds often tend to grow larger than plants in traditional garden rows. That being said you should resist the urge to over plant within the raised garden bed, as this will eliminate that slight benefit. Many traditional gardeners have seen the results of overcrowding in these beds and feel that their way of doing this is much butter. One huge benefit to raised beds for summer gardens in areas that are nearly saturated with excess moisture is that raised beds allow much better drainage than traditional row gardening. This is one thing that the average gardener will not argue with unless he lives in an area in which this isn't much of a problem. Most gardeners in the south though, where there is a great deal of humidity and moisture will agree that proper drainage is a problem. Raised beds are less back breaking. This is a huge benefit to those of us who are feeling the years creeping into our bones. By being above ground, raised gardens offer easier access for planting, weeding, planting, and investigating for signs of pests. Another great thing about raised gardens is that they are not as quick to cool as the earth, which renders them more productive and with longer growing seasons that most gardens that are placed in the ground. For those who have unusually shaped yards or growing areas, raised gardens allow the opportunity to have a beautiful summer garden in almost any shape you can build the box for. This means you are not limited to rows, as many gardens tend to be and that you have a few more options for aesthetics when planning and growing your summer garden. The downside to raised summer gardens is that they are difficult to dismantle and nearly impossible to till. This means you must do all the working of the soil by hand and many gardeners do not fully appreciate the beauty of that process. The most important thing however, is that you choose a summer garden system that works for you. You may find that combining the two provides the best results and is a great use of your time or that you prefer one over the other. There really is no wrong answer only the one that is wrong for you. Growing Vegetables in Your Summer Garden As a child, I remember many sunny summer afternoons sitting on the porch shelling more than my fair share of peas and butter beans in the deep dark heart of the old south. There were other vegetables we grew in our summer gardens that had to be picked and stored for winter but the peas and butter beans always seemed to take the most time and attention and are one of the things I sorely miss having left my home in the south for much cooler climes. One thing though, has never gotten away from me and that is the deep and abiding love I have for the smell of freshly plowed soil and the taste of vegetables fresh from the garden. I point out the fact that my childhood favorite summer garden vegetables only seem to flourish in the south to drive home the fact that you really will need to research the vegetables you plant in your summer garden as they relate to the specific area in which you live. Not all vegetable plants are created equal in their tolerance for temperature or rainfall (or lack thereof), which could greatly impact their suitability for your particular vegetable summer garden depending of course, on where you are located. Some great plants to include in your summer vegetable garden should of course be dictated by those vegetables that you enjoy eating as well as those vegetables and herbs that use a good deal when cooking. If you use peppers a lot in your cooking then peppers are probably an excellent choice for your summer garden. If you don't like peppers, then they are not likely to be a good choice, as they will probably be wasted. My children will eat green peppers off the vine so they make an excellent choice for our garden. Tomatoes are another popular favorite for summer gardens. Some have even gotten creative and created hanging tomato plants in which the tomatoes literally grow upside down. If space is limited in your summer garden this may be a great way to have your tomatoes and grow them too-without taking up valuable real estate within your vegetable garden. For those who love their greens summer gardens provide an excellent atmosphere for growing greens such as broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage. Collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens are also good summer garden inclusions. I also have strong memories of boiling huge vats of greens to be frozen for winter when the full force of the harvest was upon us. There was always something to be done with the vegetables as winter approached and during those lean winter months we were so grateful for the hard work and effort we had made to insure these great vegetables would sustain us during the months they weren't so readily available. Having a summer garden filled with vegetables is a satisfying pursuit in many ways. First of all you are producing something that is useful to you and your family. Second, you are providing a way for you and your family to enjoy the vegetables you love most throughout the year. Finally, you are able to produce vegetables that are fit for consumption and enjoyment at a much lower cost than you would pay for these vegetables at the local supermarket. This helps save money for some of the more important and more entertaining things most of us would like to do with our families. As with any summer garden you will need to plan carefully the placement of your vegetables and do some research on individual watering and shade requirements. It helps to plant those that need partial sunlight in the shadow of those plants that will grow taller and provide shade for the smaller plants. It also helps to keep the thirstier plants closer together and further away from those plants that require less water to sustain them. You should also take care to be realistic in your planting and avoid planting more than you can comfortable consume or harvest, as that will be wasted time and effort on your part. Furnishing Your Summer Garden Once you've made all the really tough decisions about which plants, flowers, and vegetables to include in your summer garden you now have the pleasant task of making yet another decision: what type of furniture should go in your summer garden. This is no small decision and should not be taken lightly as it will ultimately affect your enjoyment of the garden you worked so hard to create. While there are many people who are content to rush to the local home and garden store and pick out whatever is on sale at the moment, this seems hardly worth of someone who would go to all the time, effort, and careful planning to create a beautiful summer garden in which they wish to sit and enjoy the effects of his or her hard effort. In fact, the furniture that is ultimately selected for the summer garden should be furniture that is meant to last several years. For this reason you need to invest a little more time and effort into selecting the best possible furniture for your summer garden. The furniture you choose for your summer garden is going to be a personal choice. If possible try to choose enough furniture to accommodate those guests that you feel will frequently enjoy dining in your garden. If you plan to host a wide range of barbecues and garden parties you will want plenty of garden furniture to accommodate those needs. If you are only going to have immediate family then the typical arrangements for a family should suffice. Be sure that there are seating options available for occasional guests even if there aren't dining options readily available. Once you've decided how many will be enjoying your garden area and in need of seating arrangements you may want to discuss and decide what type of seating arrangements are needed most. The man of the house might expect a hammock and while teenaged girls and the lady of the house may expect lounge chairs in which they can enjoy the full warmth of the sun's rays on lazy summer days within your summer garden. Another common expectation for appropriate furnishing in a summer garden is a swing or a glider of some sort in which couples may sit and inspect the splendor of their creations. You should also include your normal flare for design when selecting your summer garden furniture. You want the furniture you select for your garden to be furniture that you find enjoyable and beautiful as well as comfortable. No one wants to sit in uncomfortable furniture for any length of time and most people do not feel comfortable in furniture that they find ugly. One other thing you will want to consider when selecting furniture for your summer garden area is how well it is made to withstand the abuse that Mother Nature often provides. You will want to select furniture that can withstand the summer time heat naturally but also that can handle the cold of winter and the ravages of water and bugs that often love to make a feast of outdoor furniture. Buy with all these things in mind and you should have furniture for your summer garden that is sure to delight and please all that enter your garden area. More importantly, you should have furniture that you enjoy. Decorating Your Summer Garden Most people spend a great deal of time planning the landscape, flowers, and greenery of their summer gardens but very little time planning the decorative items that will make this little spot of heaven on earth even more enjoyable for man, woman, child, and pet. There are many things that can add to your comfort when enjoying your summer garden but here is a list of things you might want to seriously consider including in your own personal oasis from the world. A hammock. There really can't be enough said about the value that a well placed hammock in your summer garden will add to the enjoyment of your time spent in the great outdoors. This is particularly true, for some unknown reason, for men. There is something about hanging a hammock that says this place is home to a man and this should not be overlooked when creating the outdoor place you wish to share together. Wind chimes. There is something soothing about listening to the wind making music in your garden. Whether you are enjoying a nap in your hammock, catching some rays on a lounge chair or simply sitting outside reading a book and sipping some tea the sound of wind weaving a melody through the chimes is a very enjoyable sound. Seating. While most men will argue that a hammock is all they need most women cannot find outdoor comfort by hammock alone. Hammocks are also woefully inadequate seating when there are crowds larger than two involved in most cases. For this reason it is nice to have plenty of seating in your garden area so that friends and family may enjoy seeing the results of your effort along with you. Select seating that is fitting of your great tastes and that is comfortable for the best possible results. Flowerpots. While your summer garden may be filled with flowers, plants, bushes, trees, fruits, and vegetables there is rarely the occasion when there is too much color in a summer garden. Fill large flowerpots with impatiens or similar flowering plants and place them strategically around the seating area for a beautiful affect that brings the beauty of your summer garden well onto your patio or deck. The same thing may be accomplished on a larger scale with a few well-placed raised garden beds or a few climbing vines. Water features. There is not enough that can be said about the drama and elegance that a water feature can bring to the average summer garden. Whether you elect to include a fountain, waterfall, or goldfish pond the additional value and enjoyment it provides to your garden is almost impossible to measure. Water features are a rather significant investment in your garden area but well worth the money you will invest when it comes to return on investment. Your family and your friends will appreciate the effect that this brings to your summer garden. Many may consider their summer gardens decoration enough. However, a few small decorative touches can mean the different between a summer garden that is nice to stroll through and a summer garden that invites everyone to sit a while and enjoy the effort you've contributed to the creation of this little slice of your world. Plan your summer garden carefully and you too will have this reaction every time you walk through it. Colorful Summer Garden Flowers If flowers are your thing or if you plan to include some flowers in your summer garden then you should take a moment to learn about those flowers or flowering plants that are best suited to summer months and what those plants like by way of sunlight and shade. Not all flowers are created equal when it comes to withstanding the heat of the summer sun and some require a little more care than others. Keep all of these things in mind when planning your summer garden and choose wisely according to the type of care you wish to provide. This is a general guide to the various types of plants that are well suited for a summer garden and not necessarily those that are well suited to rest side by side. Study the flowers you decide you would like to include in your summer garden in order to insure you keep those that love water and dislike sun away from those that thrive with little water and copious amounts of sun. In other words you will need to conduct a more thorough study of the flowers you decide to include in your summer garden in order to determine the proper placement of these flowers for the most color, effect, and the best possible life for the flowers you choose. The following are some fun sun loving flowers you may wish to include in your summer garden. Geraniums are bright little splashes of color that are ideally suited for a summer garden. They happen to work well for creating borders or simply providing a highlight of color in a bed of green and do quite well in pots on their own or mixed with other colorful summer flowers. The Hibiscus is a beautiful spot of color that will lend a tropical feel to your summer garden. A welcome addition to many gardens they may grow quite tall so keep them to the back of the summer garden to allow the full array of color from all summer plants to capture the eyes of visitors. Marigolds are another popular addition to most summer gardens. With a wide array of colors from which to choose it is no small wonder that these flowers remain a popular favorite for sunny patches within the summer garden. Shade loving flowers also abound for summer gardens everywhere. Most gardeners find heavily shaded spots within their lawns or gardens to be a particular challenge. Perhaps some of these suggestions will alleviate that sense of challenge for you. Impatiens are widely popular choices for shady spaces and provide a wide range of bright colors perfect for creating fun and bright borders. The viola is another great brightly colored flower that is well suited for borders or potted arrangements, whichever suits your particular summer garden needs. Mimulus is another excellent choice for color in your summer garden and may tolerate partial sun quite well if you're looking for a nice border plant. If you prefer more dramatic coloring in your summer garden you might be interested in including Lobelia or ageratum, which both have beautiful blue hues in your summer garden plans. Of course this is only a small sampling of the many bright and beautiful summer flowers that can make a real splash in your summer garden. Be sure to check out the color offerings of each and specific care instructions to make sure that they are a genuine match not only for your personal tastes but also the landscape and terrain of your garden and the other plants that will be included in your summer garden. The planning stage is often the hardest work that many people put into their summer gardens but the pay off for all this proper planning is quite often rich and beautiful. Failing to plan properly can result in a great deal of wasted time and effort on your behalf and a less than stellar summer garden. Building a Summer Garden with Kids We love our children and we want to teach them to value the things that are important to us. These things include morals, integrity, ingenuity, and an appreciation for the things in life that we consider beautiful and worth expending our energy, time, and effort in order to create. One of those things that many of us love sharing with our children is our love of gardening. Whether you are creating a spectacular garden worthy of acclaim, fame, and blue ribbons everywhere or a simple garden that will hold pretty flowers and a few favorite vegetables there are many lessons that your children can learn from working the earth by your side. The first, and perhaps best, lesson that most children learn when working in the garden is that life works in cycles. This is an important lesson for children, as it is a lesson that will be repeated often throughout the course of their lives. Of course this is only one of the many lessons that gardening will teach but gardening is one of the kindest ways I've ever seen this particular lesson learned and it helps ease children into those times when lessons about the cycle of life are not so kindly or gently presented. The next lesson that gardening teaches children is that persistent effort often pays out with delightful results. Whether their gardening efforts yielded sweet peppers or pretty flowers, there is often a desired result that is achieved through gardening. If you really want to capture your children's attention when it comes to gardening choose a fast growing plant for their first gardening experience. The ability to see the fruits of their labor quickly appear is often one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. If you want to guide your children towards the path of creating a summer garden without quite the fanfare or responsibility you may want to begin simply-perhaps with a potted plant or a hanging tomato plant or something similar that will yield visible and tasty results with much less effort, time, or attention being required in order to achieve quick and enthusiastic results. Be sure to point out interesting facts about the different plants in your garden that may be exciting to children to learn. Remember your first gardening experiences and share them with your children. You may be surprised to find how much you have in common with your children when it comes to ideas and enthusiasm concerning summer gardens. When planning a summer garden with kids you need to consider all of the things you would consider when planning other summer gardens but relate those things to pint sized hands and sponge-like minds. Kids soak up every ounce of information we provide them at an alarming rate. Be careful that you aren't teaching them incorrect logic when it comes to gardening and growing beautiful summer plants. More importantly, you should make a concerted effort to insure that you are teaching your children the positive aspects of gardening so that this becomes an activity they look to for enjoyment and pleasure rather than approaching with dread. You should also take great pains to insure that you allow your children to grow the things they will like in your summer garden too. Strawberries and watermelon are popular favorites for younger hands to grow because little mouths enjoy eating these delicious fruits that can be grown in most gardens. They also like to grow flowers that they can tend and watch throughout the summer if flowers are your summer garden calling rather than food. When gardening with children there are many lessons that you can teach your children along the way. Science, math, and meteorology all have roles in gardening but you should also be on the lookout for the valuable lessons that your children can teach you about gardening and life in general when you take them out to work with you in your summer garden. An Organic Summer Garden Experience If you have the time and the inclination to create an organic summer garden there are few better ways to go when it comes to the potential impact on the planet. A summer garden is a thing of beauty to be enjoyed by all you invite into your garden. That being said, there are certain pests we'd all like to keep out of our gardens as well. The problem is that the pesticides of the past have undetermined side effects that have the potential to cause lasting harm. If we can avoid introducing those chemicals to our own gardens we are protecting our kids from dangers we may not even be aware of yet and protecting the other animals that may innocently come in contact with our gardens such as birds and butterflies from being harmed by the chemicals present in most common pesticides. What does this mean to gardeners when it comes to efforts directed towards keeping out potential pests? Quite honestly, it means we are going to have to get a little bit creative in those efforts turning to natural solutions rather than chemicals. One way in which this can quite easily be accomplished is by encouraging animals that prey upon the pests to make your garden their home. Of course, this could potentially bring about its own set of problems but from a gardening perspective it is often very sound reasoning. Use organic mulch. While this isn't necessarily a means of pest control it is a wise move when it comes to organic gardening. Not only does the mulch provide the very useful mulching properties throughout the growing season but once the growing season has ended can be turned over and used in order to boost the organic material within the soil. This in turns provides nutrients that are important to keeping the soil fit for sustaining plant life in future growing seasons. Attract birds to your garden. This has a two-fold benefit for the organic gardener. First of all the birds are often natural predators for many of the bugs that make a nuisance of themselves in the average summer garden. Second, birds leave behind their own little fertilizing additions to the landscape of your garden. Don't you wish all solutions were this simple? Keep your garden healthy, well fertilized, watered regularly and appropriately, and free of weeds. A good offense is the best defense. A good immune system and constant hand washing are the best defense the human body has against catching colds and viruses. The same holds true for gardens and their ability to fight pests. Keep your garden strong and healthy and it will repel many of the pests that may cripple other gardens on its own. It certainly doesn't hurt anything to keep this philosophy in mind and you may be amazed at how well it works. Organic gardening is more than a plan for your garden it is a return to the ways of old in the world of gardening. For centuries before pesticides were created man managed to live off the abundance of his gardens. It makes sense that by returning to those ideals we can also enjoy great food and a bountiful harvest in the modern world. Make the choice today to make your summer garden an organic garden and reap the benefit in better health and greater enjoyment of the gardening process. A Summer Garden for the Birds There are many reasons to create a summer garden the best however, as most gardeners are well aware is for your personal enjoyment. For bird lovers everywhere it is quite possible to have a fabulous summer garden that appeals to the bird lover in them as much as a lover of beauty that exists within us all (there are of course a few disagreements along the way as to what beauty is and is not). If you are a bird lover you should seriously consider making efforts to make your summer garden more attractive to your fine feathered friends. There are several ways this goal may be accomplished. First of all birds like water. They need to drink water and they actually enjoy playing in the water. With this in mind make sure there is some sort of water source available for the birds to enjoy in your summer garden. Some excellent choices would be a water fountain, a goldfish pond, or a waterfall. The key in this is to make sure that the water source is not a stagnate water source as you want to attract birds and not mosquitoes. Other than that, have fun creating a neat place for your bird pals to frolic and play. As far as attracting specific birds, you will need to research the specific birds you are interested in attracting to your summer garden and plant accordingly. The variations are virtually limitless and far too numerous to include in this brief overview. Be sure to invest some degree of time when planning your garden to check into favorite birds and the flowers or trees they prefer. You should also take the time to study their predators and avoid creating a friendly atmosphere for the predators to hang out in your summer garden while you are doing your research. Another way to attract birds to your summer garden is by creating an environment in which they feel safe and at home. Plant trees that these birds favor for building nests or place birdhouses in your garden that will provide a great potential home for these birds to make their own. In addition to planting flowers and trees that will attract various birds to your summer garden you should also take care to attract food to your summer garden for these desirable birds as well. If you aren't sure about attracting food for the birds you might want to consider providing food for these birds you are hoping to draw into your summer garden. You can accomplish this by filling bird feeders (make sure you use feeders that are designed to prevent squirrels from stealing the food intended for your birds) with foods that attract the birds you are most interested in attracting to your lawn. There is no right or wrong way to create a peaceful and relaxing summer garden. If you wish to add to your enjoyment of your garden it is quite possible to do this by taking a few extra steps and landscaping with the birds you enjoy watching in mind. The steps above will help make your garden an attractive place to favorite birds to play and build their homes. Incorporate them all into your summer garden for best results and the opportunity to live in harmony with the birds you enjoy watching. Extending the Life of Your Summer Garden We all love our summer gardens. Whether our gardens are meant to produce colorful blooms and fragrant flowers that delight the senses or plenty of vegetables that will keep our families fed throughout the long cold winter months, there is much to be said and enjoyed about keeping a summer garden growing and thriving. In fact, many of us look for ways to prolong the lives of our summer gardens in order to get that little bit of extra life from the flowers, plants, and vegetables that we plant in them. Keep reading to discover a few ways that you can prolong the life of your summer garden for a few more days, weeks, or even perhaps an extra month of color or vegetable production. One thing you can do to prolong the life of your garden is by planting in a raised bed. This is basically planting your summer garden in a specifically designed garden box that rests above ground. These boxes will heat up quicker and cool down more slowly allowing a little extra growing time. For small flower or vegetable gardens these are often ideal allowing flowers to continue flowering and vegetables to continue producing after the initial seasonal frosts that often signal the end of growing seasons for those plants planted below ground. If raised beds aren't going to work for you, it is possible to begin the plants in the warmth of the interior of your home or a smaller scale raised bed and then transport them once they have matured a bit and the frost season is over with. This gives your garden a bit of a head start though it will do little to prolong the life of your garden once the first frost hits. For that, raised beds are truly the most effective method for small vegetable gardens. Those with large crops often find alternate heating methods and acceptable expense to prolong the lives of their gardens or to ward off against frosts that occur either early in the fall or after the initial spring planting. You could also invest in garden row covers to protect your plants and extend their life a little beyond the average growing season or at the very least protect your plants through the first frost or so. These covers keep the plants nice and toasty warm in fact, it is important that you monitor them closely when covered to avoid overheating and do not use the covers when not necessary as this can affect the growth of the plants and the yields negatively as much as it can impact them in a positive manner. You should understand that there is no requirement that says you must prolong the life of your garden. Many people get what they want from their garden whether it be the enjoyment of beauty from the bright and colorful flowers or enough vegetables to last through the leaner winter months when vegetables come at either a premium price or lack in flavor to some degree. Once you've gotten what you want or expect from your garden there really is no reason to prolong its life. There is especially no reason to take extraordinary steps to do so. That being said there are many families that feel an extra month of color will help get them through the long and drab winter months that seem to be absent of bright and vividly colored flowers and that an extra week or two to harvest their vegetables will provide an extra month of two of food. These are very valid reasons for making the effort to extend the life of a summer garden. My hope is that the information above will help you do just that. Good luck with your summer garden and hopefully you will be able to enjoy your summer garden well into the fall or at the very least beyond the year's first frost.
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