Everything You Need To Know About Planting A Herb Garden

An herb garden is a great gateway into gardening. If you haven’t had much gardening experience or just don’t have a lot of time or space to create a full vegetable patch, then creating a herb garden looks like it will be just right for you. An herb garden has so many benefits. As well as providing you with delicious fresh herbs that you can use in your cooking, teas and herbal remedies, an herb garden also provides plants for bees to collect pollen from and an amazing aroma that will fill your garden. Herbs do require attention and cultivation but often once they have been going for a while they can grow a little wilder on their own. All herbs, however, do have different growing needs. Some herbs like shade, some sun and others a mixture of both. Also, their water needs and soil needs can be slightly different also. We’ll go through some of the most popular herbs you can grow in your backyard and their needs. So read below and get familiar with the different herbs and see which ones will suit you and your backyard the best.

Featured in cuisines across the globe, basil is an indispensable flavoring. Plant seeds or transplants after all danger of frost has passed and soil is warm, and it will yield an abundant harvest within weeks.

 

Basil

Let’s start with Basil, a fresh and aromatic herb with vivid green leaves used in a lot of Mediterranean cooking and often reminiscent of summertime! It has also been used for its medicinal products of aiding digestion and curing headaches and even mild depression.

Basil is a great herb to grow from seed. Planting in the rich fertile soil, the best times to sow are spring and summer. Basil needs at least six hours of full sun a day. It really loves soaking in the suns rays.

Keep an eye on your Basil on about the six to seven-week mark when it starts to shoot up and take the top off the plant. This will help prevent it flowering too soon and also give more energy to the side shoots so you get a nice and full looking bush.

Keep your soil warm and full of moister (just think of the Mediterranean soil!) You’ll know when it’s time to start picking your basil, small buds will start to appear and you want to get in there before it goes to seed. The great thing about basil is you can pick a little a day when you need it and then with a good prune every few months you should have a plant that goes year round.

 

 Parsley

Parsley is a wonderfully versatile herb, used as a garnish around the world it can be adapted to many dishes. As a little sprinkling on top of a hearty winter soup, or picked in bunches for a green summer salad, parsley is a great all-rounder and filled with iron, this is a must-have herb.

The best time to grow parsley from seed is in autumn and spring. Parsley loves a little bit of shade so find a semi-shaded spot in your garden to keep it happy. Your parsley plant will tend to just grow and grow with the right conditions, but if you want to keep a good fresh flavor, try replanting it every year, by collecting the seeds in the autumn and then sewing them again in spring. Parsley is a hardy plant and like a lot of other herbs, do best in the moist and rich soil.

Cut the leaves as you need them, and you can also cut off a bunch and keep in for a few days on your kitchen bench in some water so it is right on hand for your cooking.

 

Mint

Mint is another favorite, used in so many ways for so many things. There are a few varieties of mint such as. Apple mint, Vietnamese mint, Spearmint and even Chocolate mint! Mint is perfect as a garnish in cold drinks; all the best summer cocktails have some mint in them!! It can also be used fresh or dried for hot tea that has great digestive properties and can help relieve tension, stress, and headaches. Bees and butterflies love mint and they will fill up your garden in summer.

Mint doesn’t mind the sun, and once it gets going it can really spread like wildfire through your garden, that’s why a lot of people tend to plant them in pots to keep them a bit more contained. It does not need super rich soil to grow but does like moisture. Cutting plants right back is the key. Don’t be afraid to cut off whole stems at a time, it will only help promote new growth and keep your plant thriving.

 

 

Sage

Sage has beautiful light green leaves and a bold scent, which is both delicate and powerful. It has been used on many a Thanksgiving turkey over the years and goes well with egg and bean dishes to give them a unique taste. You can even use the blossoms in a salad! Its wonderful aroma can be smelt throughout the garden.

Sage can be planted from root cuttings as well as seeds; fresh seeds always work better when it comes to sage. Sage loves the full sun and drained soil. Once they start to grow you can ease off with the watering a little, then watch them flourish. Sage has slightly woody stems and needs to be pruned back yearly. Spring is the optimum time for this. These plants will only produce in a bountiful way for a few years a time. You may wish to consider planting another bush in the second or third year of your plant’s life to replace your original.

 

Thyme

Thyme is a bit of a creeper and likes to stay relatively close to the earth. If you put it in a pot it will end up cascading over the sides in a marvelous way. Thyme is a great addition to your kitchen and is often used in chicken dishes to compliment the flavor. It is also said to have great antifungal and antiseptic properties. The most popular thyme is English thyme and it can look beautiful simply as a decorative plant small rocky outcrops.

Another herb that likes sun; but needs protection from harsh winds. Thyme can be tricky to grow from seed, so if you are struggling it may be best to purchase seedlings from your local gardening store instead. It prefers light soil to moister rich. Trim gently during spring and summer to promote new growth, and harvest whenever you need a little flavor in the kitchen.

 

Rosemary

The smell of rosemary can be quite intoxicating. Its long woody stems that reach for the sky are often used in ornamental gardens and trimmed like hedges. It is often paired with lamb and many a cook has gotten creative and used the woody stem as skewers in cooking. It also does amazingly well as a garnish in drinks and can even be steeped overnight to create a wonderfully flavorsome tea.

Rosemary is another sun sucker, but once it has matured, won’t mind a bit of shade every now and again. If left to it’s own devices rosemary can spread quickly and become woodier than is useful. That’s why it’s important to give the plant a rather brutal trim in early spring and allow the leaves to really flourish.

 

  

So Many Herbs

We’ve only just scratched the surface of all the wonderful herbs there are out there. Once you have chosen the herbs you like best based on smell, taste, and usefulness to you, it’s time to get creative in the way you plant them. From a vegetable style herb garden to balcony pots, here are some ideas to get your herbs looking amazing.

 

When to Water Your Garden

If someone had asked me some years ago if I knew when was best to water my garden, I’d have said, “duh! Water it when it’s dry or a couple of times a week and don’t water in the middle of the day.” Now, after much research and experience, I don’t have such a simple answer but I do have a lot more knowledge and much healthier and happier plants!

In actual fact, the only part of my answer that I still hold as true is “don’t water in the middle of the day.” That’s never a good idea because the water just evaporates so quickly. But other than not watering during the day, what else do you need to know about watering your garden? Well, let’s take a look at ten of the main things that will help you to grow a gorgeous and flourishing garden.

  1. Time of Day

The best times of the day to water are early in the morning, late afternoon or in the evening. This is when the soil is coolest and will retain the most moisture. It will also help plants to get through the day ahead or the next day with enough water. Watering during these times is a particularly good idea if you’re using a sprinkler, as droplets can stay on the leaves of plants and during hot days, can act as a lens and singe plants!

  1. How Often to Water

Many people actually water their gardens more often than needed, which can encourage plants to produce shallower roots and become more dependent on water. When you water less often, plants put down deeper roots to search for moisture in the soil. Generally a good soaking once a week is better than sprinkling every two days.

How often to water does depend on the type of plants you have and the weather. New seedlings will need more frequent watering than a well-established tree. Some crops need more water than others. Do some research on the types of plants you have and find out what kind of water consumption needs they have. You might find that some plants are surprisingly drought-tolerant.

When to water also depends on your climate and the season – you will likely need to water less in Winter than in Summer.

 

  1. Weather Conditions and Season

Your plants definitely won’t need as much water in Winter as in Summer and Spring, but they still do need watering, even if there’s a lot of rain or snow. Sometimes it may appear that there is a lot of rain but not all of it may be reaching the garden. Sometimes rain is accompanied by wind that means rain doesn’t get the chance to give the garden a thorough soaking, and heavy winds can also have a drying effect on plants and soil.

Sometimes people worry that if they water their plants when it’s really cold, the water in the wet soil may freeze overnight and injure the roots of plants. In fact, as long as you water early in the day, watering plants can create help protect them against night-time freezes, because the water absorbs heat during the day and helps keep the area around the roots of your plants a little warmer.

Whilst your plants still need water in Winter, make sure that the ground doesn’t become waterlogged and stay soggy for too long, because this can cause root rot.

During Summer, your garden may need to be watered 3 times per week, however that is the maximum it should ever be watered, unless you have brand new seedlings that need particular attention. Generally, your garden will likely only need to be watered once or twice a week in Summer depending on your garden type and plants, as well as the climate. Using water-saving practices can also help reduce the need to water so often in Summer.

Be aware that you don’t over-water just because it’s hot outside. Some people panic when it gets very hot and everything looks dry, but you may find that if you dig a little, there’s more moisture under the surface than you think there is. A little research on the internet or talking to your local garden centre will provide good advice for your climate.

You will also need to be sensitive to the weather throughout the year, regardless of the season. In many locations, it’s not uncommon to have rain in Summer or extended dry periods in Winter. Be aware of the weather conditions and adapt your watering practices accordingly.

 

  1. How Much Water to Use

Sometimes the soil may look dry on the surface but in fact, just underneath there is plenty of moisture. You can check this by digging a hole to see how dry the ground really is. If it’s moist where the roots are, you should consider leaving the watering until another day.

A general rule of thumb is that a garden needs around an inch of water per week. This can be tricky to estimate however, so manually checking the soil is always a good idea. If you have reticulation or a flow meter attached to your tap, you can often set the quantity of water according to the square meter area to be covered. Another way to estimate is to put a little cup or can in the soil and don’t stop until it has collected an inch of water from the sprinkler.

It’s important to give some thought to how much water you are using. Water must reach the roots of plants, not just cover the upper soil. Suitable watering also means that fruit and vegetables are particularly dependent on evenly moist soil in the time until crops are ready for harvest. Water needs some time to seep into the soil, so give it some time after watering before checking to see if the soil is moist deeper into the ground. If you check straight after watering, the water may still be largely in the top layer of the soil.

Watering your plants deeply is crucial. The water must get down deep to encourage roots to grow down. If water starts to make puddles on the surface, move on to a different section of the garden but come back to it to make sure that the water is soaking in thoroughly. It’s better to water less frequently but more thoroughly. Watering deeply once or twice a week is much better than a shallow sprinkling every second day.

As well as giving plants enough water to get down to their roots, it’s really important to make sure you don’t over-water them! When plants get waterlogged, the root cells can start to drown without sufficient oxygen leading to root rot or other problems. Be aware that plants can sometimes trick you. In hot weather, it might seem like leaves are drooping but this can be the plant’s natural defence against heat by exposing less of the leaf area to the sun, so check the soil rather than relying on how the leaves look.

 

  1. Where to Water

The obvious answer to where to water is “in your garden,” but it’s not quite as simple as that. How you water your plants is also important. One of the key golden rules about where to water plants is to avoid wetting the leaves and foliage. This is not where plants absorb water, so it often just sits on the leaves and doesn’t soak in. This is wasteful and can also cause disease or cause plants to be singed.

The roots are what absorb water, but the root network or zone is the critical area to water. The root zone is the area of soil the surrounds the roots of a plant. It’s important not to water just directly onto the roots of a plant all the time, but to make sure you have a radius around the plant that you water so that the roots are encouraged to spread out. Some plants have deeper and some have shallower root zones and dense or clay soils can impact a root zone. Plants that have an insufficient root zone will not absorb the nutrients they need.

As such, water approximately 1-3 feet out in a circle from the centre of a plant, not just at its base. Spread the water out and distribute it evenly, rather than pouring it in a steam. If you always water just at one root point or at the base, it can lead to one-sided root growth and poor nutrient absorption.

 

  1. Type of Soil

In order to water most effectively, it’s important to get to know your soil. Do some digging in the garden to find out whether you have clay or sandy soil as that will make a big difference to how you water.

To determine what kind of soil you have, you need to do a simple test. Firstly, take a cup of your soil into a jar (about a finger-length from the top) and add water until it is ¾ full. Stir it well and then leave it for a couple of hours. Once it’s settled, you’ll see layers of soil. The bottom layer is sand, then silt, then clay and if there’s a layer on top, it will be organic matter. The amount of each layer will tell you what type of soil you have.

If the clay layer is the thickest of the layers, you have heavy soil with lots of clay. Clay-laden soils can be particularly challenging. They have an electrical charge that draws water away from plant roots. Clay also drains very slowly, but it is good at retaining water in hot weather.

If the silt and organic layers are the biggest, you have a loamy soil and this is the best kind of soil. If you take a handful and squish it into a ball, it will hold a ball shape but still crumble easily.

If the sand layer is the largest, your soil is sandy. If you take a handful and squeeze it, it won’t hold a shape at all. Water flows more easily through sandy soils, but if the soil is too sandy, the water can drain way too quickly and may even be taking dissolved nutrients with it. You can find more details on the soil test here.

You can also check how fast your soil is absorbing water by using a coffee can or other tin can or cylinder with the top and bottom removed. Push one end into the soil a few inches and fill the can with water. Let it drain completely and then fill it again and see how long it takes for the water level to by an inch. If it takes more than four hours, you may have a drainage problem. If it drains too quickly, your soil may be too sandy.

Both clay and sandy soils can be turned into a more ideal loam soil by mixing organic material like compost into it. Once you’ve discovered what type of soil you have, you can consider how to improve it in order to make your watering easier and more efficient. If you want to leave the soil as it is, make sure you remember to water correctly for the type of soil you have.

  1. Water Quality

When you water a plant, the water is absorbed by the roots and it travels up to the branches, leaves, flowers and fruit. If you have water that is contaminated in some way, it could cause problems. If the plant is purely ornamental, it may not be such an issue, although contaminated water can cause plants to become stunted and even die. If you are eating the plant though, it’s very important to make sure your water quality is good.

Water that comes from a source that is suitable for drinking is safe to use on edible plants, however if your water comes from a well, pond, rain barrel or bore it may need to be tested. Even rainwater can become contaminated from roof run-off that may contain heavy metals or waste from birds and animals.

So how do you know if your water is safe and good quality? There are a number of pond or water testing kids that you can buy to test your water at home. Your local Department of Public Health may also have a service for water testing. A visit to your local garden center may also prove useful in providing you with advice or a testing kit.

  1. Boosting Water Effectiveness

Before watering your garden, it’s important to check that there are not a lot of dead leaves in your garden beds. Watering when there’s a layer of fallen leaves can mean that the leaves get soggy and this can lead to mold or rot. A layer of leaves will also prevent a lot of water from seeping into the soil, so get out the rake if there are lots of leaves in the garden.

In addition to raking dead leaves from the garden, there are many other things you can do to boost water effectiveness. Adding an organic mulch such as wheat straw, lawn clippings, finely ground bark or wood chips, pine needles, seaweed or chopped up leaves spread on the ground under plants can provide a really useful barrier between the moist soil and the sun. A two to three-inch layer of mulch acts much like a shade cloth in Summer and helps stop the soil getting baked.

Compost is another substance that helps enrich the soil and provides nutrients for your plants, as well as making your soil more effective in retaining water and draining properly. The best results for enhancing your soil come from adding organic compost and mulch to your garden regularly over years.

You may also like to investigate wetting agents, particularly for pots or containers in Summer. Wetting agents are products that help soils that have become too dry and possibly hydrophobic to absorb the water rather than repelling it.

Another product you can buy that may help boost water the water holding capacity of soils is a water-storing crystal or grain. These are tiny grains that hold up to 400 times their weight in water. One spoonful of crystals may absorb a litre of water. The crystals don’t save water, but they do boost the holding capacity of the soil so that more water is held for plant use and a plant will last longer between drinks.  Do some research or get advice to find out the best product for your garden and soil.

Fertilizer is another product you can use to boost the effectiveness of your garden and soil. You can find information on the best fertilizers for your lawn here.

 

  1. Watering Wisely

There are many things we can do to water our gardens wisely and save water and money. Here are a few water-saving tips:

Plant your garden strategically. For example, you can create little reservoirs around thirsty plants by building a little wall of soil around them so that the water is held in place and allowed to drain slowly. If you’re growing things in pots, group pots by size because larger pots will dry out more slowly and that way it’s easier to not over-water some plants and underwater others.

Grow thirsty plants together. If you are able to group plants with similar needs together, that can be a great way to reduce water wastage. For example, lettuce likes moisture while herbs tend to prefer drier conditions. If you plant them together and water for the lettuce’s needs, the herbs will still grow but may be tasteless. If you water for the herb’s needs, the lettuce may be bitter.

Think about the life cycle of your plants. Recent transplants need frequent, light watering because they have shallow, young roots. Many crops need steady watering at the time of flowering and fruit formation and other crops need to have their water reduced as the crop reaches maturity. Knowing what your various plants need helps reduce unnecessary watering.

Monitor automatic timed watering systems. If you have a sprinkler or reticulation system on a timer, you can manually override it or turn it off if you’ve had a week with lots of rain, rather than just letting it run when it’s not needed. It does take a little more effort but it will save water.

 

  1. How to Deliver Water to Your Garden

There are two main ways to deliver water your garden – hand watering and reticulation.

Hand-watering is best for small gardens or for supplementing reticulation systems to water things like potted or container plants that may not be reached by the reticulation, or if you need to water new plants more frequently than the rest of the garden.

When hand watering, use a hand-held sprayer to save water. Don’t use a jet setting, nor a fine mist. You want to find a setting in between those two that gives good water coverage but also is strong enough to allow water to soak deeply into the soil. Several different nozzle types for hoses are shown here.

You can also use a manual sprinkler attachment to your hose. Make sure it’s not watering in too big an area, otherwise a lot of water will just be wasted. It’s better to have it reaching a smaller radius but move it around more. If you’re using a manual sprinkler attachment, you’ll need to set a timer on your phone, alarm clock or perhaps oven.

There are a myriad of different reticulation systems available – from sprinklers and soaker hoses to drip irrigation systems and more! The type of reticulation you use for your garden will depend on what plants you have and the type of your garden. Sprinklers are best for lawns whereas drip irrigation systems are best for edible produce. Exploring different types of reticulation is a subject for another article, so suffice it to say that it’s a good idea to get advice from a professional when it comes to deciding on what reticulation is best for your garden.

So now you’re equipped to provide your garden with the best quality watering. There’s a lot of information on watering to take in, but if you even just remember the basic rules, you’ll soon have a thriving garden. And the next time someone asks you, “hey, do you know when is the best time to water your garden,” you’ll be able to give them a much better answer than just, “when it’s dry.”

Tool Shed Storage Ideas

New Year, New You, that’s how the saying goes right? Well, while everyone has been making resolutions about eating right and spending less time on their phones, we’ve been thinking more along the lines of New Year, New Shed! And while the bank account isn’t quite full of new shed money there are some things we can do to make the garden shed feel like new, at least on the inside. After another busy year, it’s once again full of clutter. Hammers are in buckets, drill bits missing and spanners are where the screwdrivers should be. If you’re feeling the same and want to start off 2018 with a new start then why not give your shed interior a bit of an overhaul. We all know how annoying it is when you go out to the shed just to get that one thing and end up spending an hour wading through miscellaneous junk and still don’t know where your shovel is. Starting the year off with a clean slate will not only give you that great feeling you get when everything is neat, tidy and has its own place, but also once your shed is in order it’s more likely you’ll want to spend more time in there working on all those projects you’ve been meaning to do for the last year. So to give you a little push in the right direction we’ve put together a few great DIY ideas to get your shed looking ship shape and ready for action.

 

Making a Simple Pegboard

We are going to start with a big one! A pegboard to hold most of your small to medium sized tools, the kind that is always getting misplaced or lost. Having a good pegboard just makes life so much simpler, you can walk into your shed and everything is right there laid out in front of you, you can just grab what you need and when you’re done you’ll know where to put it back, also the empty spaces will tell you if there is anything missing so if you do by chance misplace something after a day of DIY then you’ll know sooner rather than later to have a look for said item.

To start making your pegboard you’ll have to measure up space in your shed. Make sure it’s at a good height so you do not have to use a stepladder to get to things, the whole point of a pegboard is to make it easily accessible. Once you have your dimensions head down to your local hardware store and check out what they have to offer. Some stores will only have precut pegboard, in which case you can purchase the one that comes closest to your dimensions, if it’s a little too big you’ll have to cut it down or if it’s not big enough consider buying two and piecing them together. If you can get one custom cut then that’s even better! Keep in mind you’ll have to build a support frame too so you’re not mounting it straight onto your wall. A few bits of treated pine will work perfectly for this. And of course, don’t forget the pegs!!

First, start by fixing what will be your frame to the wall. You can do this with two horizontal pieces of wood for the top and bottom and then your two vertical pieces a little in from each side to give the middle of the board support. If you’re fixing your frame onto brick then use a Hammer Drill and spaghetti wall plugs into each hole to give the screws extra hold. Make sure you have used your spirit level to balance your frames properly before screwing in. The last thing you want is your tools all tilted to one side!

Now a little tip, it’s actually easier to arrange your tools and peg positions before you mount your pegboard. Put your board on the ground or a large table that you can easily stand over and start to arrange your tools in the position you want them. It’s a little like a game of Tetris, trying to make everything fit together well. Take your time having a play around to get things in space you really like. Once you are happy with this, you can draw around each item with a black permanent marker. This will help remind you where everything goes and it will be easy to spot if something is missing. Once you’ve done that, pop your pegs into position then take off your tools and mount your board.

Now it’s time to attach the pegboard. You can do this by using some simple chipboard screws, make sure you put enough in to carry a fair amount of weight, a spanner might not seem that heavy on its own, but add in a set of them plus hammer and…well you get the picture.                                     Remember to screw the board to the inner vertical frame too to help spread the load.

When it’s all up you can now easily pop your tools into their allotted positions, stand back and marvel at your own handy work and how organized your shed is looking already!

Making a Screwdriver holder

A simple pegboard won’t hold everything because not all of your tools are made to hang. So the DIY is not over just yet! We’ve got a few more ideas to come so that you will truly have a place for everything in your new and improved shed. Let’s start with a screwdriver holder. This is a simple contraption to make and only requires a handful of screws, some pine or the wood of your    choice and some drill bits.

Start by getting a piece of wood long enough to hold all your screwdrivers. You can make double rows if you have a shorter piece. Mark out with a pencil where you will drill down and fit the screwdrivers. Make sure you allow enough space in between each hole for the handles, as some screwdriver handles can be chunkier than others. Once you’ve done this select a drill bit that will fit all of the metal shafts but not let the handles slip through, then drill through your wood. You can now attach this to another wooden block to make a T Shape and then screw that either into your pegboard or another space on your wall. And now you have a handy play to keep your screwdrivers.

 

Making a Clamp Rack

Clamps are another one of those things that seem to end up all over the place. So how about giving them a proper home by making a clamp rack. Using a simple I shape design get three wooden blocks, to smaller and run the vertically and one larger and longer and run that horizontally over the top on them, making sure there is room either side on the small blacks to allow space to drill them into your wall. Once they are in place, screw together and find a good bit of wall space at a nice height and attach. Now you will be able to hang your clamps and access them easily.

 

Getting Creative With PVC Pipe

Amongst your miscellaneous shed items, you probably have some PVC pipe left over from old projects and if so here are a few nifty little ideas that will help organize your space even further, creating places to store those bigger items and also the tiny items that so often roll off your bend and onto the floor to never be seen again!

Making a Shovel and Rake Holder

This one is a brilliant idea; a lot more tidy than just hooking them onto a wall where they get bumped off constantly. All you’ll need is some of your PVC pipe (if it happens your one of the tidier people who doesn’t just have it laying around, duck to the hardware store and grab some!) and four lengths of four by two. Usually, the entrance way to your shed or down the back wall is where these are stored, so find your space and measure up your lengths to suit.

Next, you’ll want to cut your pipes at around eight inches on a slight angle to make an easier entrance point and also you’ll have a higher point where it is easier to drill and fix into position. You’ll want one for the middle and one for the bottom of each tool.

Once you’ve cut enough fix them into position on two of the horizontal boards but screwing into the higher piece of pipe. You’ll want to measure your spacing very carefully so that the top and bottom boards line up and correspond with each other.

Now attach these two pieces with the pipes to your wall, again making sure they are level and spaced to their corresponding pipe.

The final touch is creating an L shape Shelf with the remaining pieces of two by four. This little shelf will screw into the wall just under your bottom pipes to allow a resting place for the bottoms of your rake and shovel handles.

And there you have it, a simple and effective solution to stowing your long-handled tools in a way where they can’t be knocked about or accidentally fall.

 

 

Bits and Pieces Holder

This is another great idea for a place to put pencils, electrical ties, and other little items, it can be made on a small block of wood and then fixed to your pegboard also.

All you’ll need is a block of wood and some smaller PVC Pipe. You can cut your pipe to a uniform length or a few different sizes to custom fit your small lightweight items. Again cut at a 45-degree angle because this time you will be attaching the angled edge to the board with a simple screw through the bottom. Have fun with your design and fit in as many or as little pipes as you like. The best way to store all those random small items that won’t fit anything else.

 

Making Nail and Screw Jars

One other thing you can do to really add to your pegboard and complete your organization is to add the small protruding shelf from the top with nail and screw jars attached. Keeping your nails and screws in these jars is genius. You can do this using glass or plastic jars.

Get a piece of wood that can span your pegboard with enough room to sit comfortably on top of the pegboard frame and be screwed down, while allowing enough overhang for the jars to attach comfortably without rubbing on the pegboard. Once you’ve found your right size take all your lids off the jars and lay them top down on your wood, allowing for enough space between each one to be able to screw the jars on easily. Once you have your spacing right it’s as simple as putting a screw through the middle of each lid to attach it to the wood. Now you can flip your board over and fix it to the top frame. Once it is in place and screwed down, simply fill your jars with all your nails, screws and other bits and bobs and screw onto the fixed lids.

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place

Now you’ve got a tidy shed with a place for everything it’s time to get inspired by all the other DIY projects to come. Having an order to your space will make a big change in how fast you are now able to get things done and also how much more likely you are to make what was only days ago, a dreaded trip to the shed! Good luck with all your 2018 projects!

DIY Kids Cubbies

With the summer holidays fast approaching, if you have kids then chances are they are going to be home a lot for the next few months. I’m sure you want to keep them as occupied as possible and get them outdoors to make the most of this great season, but if you are at work a lot then you won’t be home to make sure each of their days is jam-packed with fun. So why not invest a little time into making an outdoors cubby with your kids and then they’ll have somewhere to play and really make their own over the holidays. All you’ll need is some simple DIY tools and materials you can ether buy for salvage.

 

Getting the kids involved

Get your kids excited about the project by enlisting their help in generating ideas, after all this is a cubby for them, somewhere they can play for hours every day so you want to tailor it to their needs and likes. You can take their ideas which are probably quite grand and help them see how you can scale it back to be something achievable and to fit into your yard, you’re not going to be able to build a tree house if your yard does not have any trees! Planning this project with your kids can give you some quality time together as well as being a fun activity that gets every ones creativity going. And then when it is time for the actual building, fitting out your kids with some tools and hard hats will really make them feel like a part of the team and very proud of their new space knowing that they contributed to it.

Cubby Types

If you’re having a few mental blacks about what kind of cubby or tree house would be suited to your yard then stress no longer, we’ve put together a list of some different kinds of cubbies to suit every backyard and every budget. Remember, cubbies do not have to be massively expensive things.

 

The Tree House

If you’re lucky enough to have some bigger trees in your yard then have a think about building a tree house with your kids. Kids love being up in the branches naturally and to make a space that is just a little more unreachable for adults is something that will make it extra special for them.

To start with you will need to decide if you want to have a cubby that is grounded but wrapped around a tree or if you want to have the tree providing the main structural support for your cubby. If it is the latter you will have to make sure your tree is big and strong enough to support a fair bit of weight, even though children are small, get a few of them up there and the weight may dramatically increase. Safety really needs to be the base of your building.

If you do choose to have a tree house that is up in the branches, start by designing the house around the tree. Make sure if it is up higher than a meter that you have proper railings on the cubby to lessen the chances of falls. Things like rope ladders and trap doors are great added extras, it’s the little details that kids will love.

There are plenty of tree houses you can do that have their foundations on the ground if your trees are not tall or strong enough but you still want to incorporate that element of nature into them. Design a base that can easily fit around your tree/s and to give it that tree house feel you can still make it higher up so that to enter kids will have to climb up a rope or wooden ladder.

These kinds of tree houses can be more on the expensive side, requiring more timber and supports for safety and quite time consuming as building anything off the ground will require a bit more effort, but if you are on a budget and want to be building something up in the branches there are other ways to make simple tree houses. If you have a bigger based tree with some great wide branches on it how about start with making a simple platform. Using pieces of wood nailed straight into the trunk you can quite easily make a ladder and then a small platform between branches. Even a simple frame like this can be captivating to children and if you don’t have the materials for a roof, try draping some old canvas or even sheets in the summertime to give it a bit more of a fort feel.

 

Free Standing Cubbies

If a tree house is not a viable option for you then try out a freestanding cubby. You can make a basic square or rectangular base and then build on from there. Consider if you want an enclosed space or more of an open fort style. If you are going for the enclosed look make sure you still have plenty of airflow coming through. Closed in cubbies that are not sealed properly can really let damp in and end up smelling not so great if left unattended. Get creative with your windows shapes and door openings. Your freestanding cubbies can still off the ground and provide creative ways of getting in and out. Think about spider webbing type ladders or even rock wall shapes to make an extra fun entrance.

There are a few different twists you can put on the usual cubby house type shapes. Consider an A-frame house. You can make this all from timber or even from tin or leftover roofing you may have around. An A-frame cubby is a simple structure to build and gives more of a camping feel to the playhouse that kids will love. You can even put some curtains up as an option for a doorway if you do not want to fully enclose it.

If you do have a strict budget or a tiny yard which does not allow enough space to put a full-sized cubby, consider putting up some smaller shelter structures that will still allow young kids a chance to have their own little hideout. Putting four old door frames together on a simple A-frame shape can make a permanent tent-like structure which little kids will love crawling in and out of. You can do this directly on grass or create your own wooden platform for this to sit on. A project like this can be done in a day and the effects are just wonderful. Even putting up a simple A-frame, frame or an open rectangular design that can be covered with canvas or tarpaulins can be a fun space for kids to create in.

Creative Ideas

Pulley systems can be easily made with a pulley and some rope, simple things you will have lying around the home. Attach a basket or bucket to one end so that kids can bring items up easily into their new home, you will be amazed at how much fun they will have sending things up and down.

Chalkboards are another add-on that can really boost a cubby, kids love writing notes or signs, and a firmly attached bucket can be placed alongside the board to keep in chalk and rag dusters.

Hanging swings off the sides of your cubby can provide some entertainment; regular rope or tire swings are a fun way to go. While adding a hammock inside or even underneath, if your cubby is on stilts, can make a great relaxing area where the kids can enjoy some outside downtime.

Upcycling

Another way you can determine the kind of structure you want to make for your children is by looking at what you already have. You may have a whole pile of scrap wood, and old ladder or used windows. Take a look at these things and see if you can incorporate them into your building to make something really unique and inexpensive. You can also have a look at your local tip shop for any salvaged materials. You may just be inspired by something you see there and your cubby could take on its form to incorporate your key piece.

 

Cubby Interiors

To complete your kid’s cubby you’ll probably want to have it slightly furnished. If you want to put in cushions and mattresses or even curtains have a think about using sturdier fabric that is more weatherproof than your average inside cushion. These items will no doubt spend some time out in the elements and even if your cubby has a roof on it they are sure to get all manner of dirt and moister on them from kids play, so choose colours and fabrics that are hardier and so you won’t have to wash them every other weekend. If you want to add any furniture be mindful of overcrowding, what kids want is more or less a blank space where their cubby can be a pirate ship, doctors surgery or a shop. Think about this in the design as often a plainer cubby can allow for more imaginative games and experiences.

Design with imagination

Take your time to work with your kids and really design using your imaginations and thinking about what you already have to work with and your existing space. Even the smallest or yards will have room for a little playhouse or cubby and over the years who knows what they will be able to grow and expand into. Remember to look for recycled goods and reclaimed timber to make an eco-friendly, cheap and unique option when creating your kid’s masterpiece. A cubby is something your kids will have fun in for years to come and will get them out into the outdoors and enjoying nature while using their imaginations.

Your Guide To The Essential DIY tools

Who doesn’t love a good DIY project! There’s something so satisfying about really sinking your teeth into a project that will help beautify or make your home that much better. From building a kids cubby, putting up a pergola, or just fixing some leaking drains, if you want to be able to handle it yourself then it’s important you have all the right tools to get the job done. Nothing is more annoying than having to ask your neighbor for this drill or that spanner set. So we’ve outlined a few of those tools that are must-haves to have in the shed for when those do it your self, projects come up. Take a look below and make sure you’re DIY equipped this year!

 

Hammers

A good hammer is one of the first things you should make sure you have in your DIY toolkit. There are actually a few kinds of hammers to take your pick from such as the Ball Pein Hammer, which has a rounded side to it that is best suited for closing rivets and shaping metal, and the Cross and Straight Pein, also used a lot for metal work. But the hammer we’ll focus on is the most regularly used claw hammer. This is the most useful for your every day around the house needs. It can come with a wood or metal handle that can feature a rubber grip. The claw on the hammer has an inside V shape to it that is created for drawing out nails from wood, and a slight curve so you can really get some leverage.

When you are looking at hammers make sure to give them a good firm hold first, see what weight feels best in your hand and what kind of grip you prefer. Here are a few of our favorites.

High End

Estwing 560g / 20oz Vinyl Grip Claw Hammer

The Eastwing’s Steele curved claw has second to none balance and temper. The head and handle are all forged as one piece and it features a shock reduction grip that is perfect for comfort if you’re using it on one of those long jobs. This hammer is used by professional tradespeople and is a great addition to the toolkit if you think you’ll be giving it a lot of use.

Mid Range

Stanley FatMax 20oz Antivibe Hammer Claw

Another one piece Steele hammer has a special 25% larger than average strike face to make it just that much easier to contact your target. It comes with a soft handgrip and an anti-vibe tuning fork to dampen vibrations.

Best Budget

Trojan 16oz Steel Claw Hammer

The Trojan is a great budget buy, it drives nails in with ease and has a useful extracting claw. Great for your everyday small project the Trojan has an induction hardened carbon steel head and a lightweight fiberglass handle with an anti-slip grip on it.

 

Spanner Set

Next up on the list is a spanner set. Spanners are those tricky little things that you never seem to have the size you need right when you need it! So buying a spanner set (and making sure you don’t misplace them) is key for your DIY toolbox. Have a think about how much you will find yourself using spanners when you think of purchasing one. No need to buy top of the range if they are only pulled out for small jobs once in a blue moon.

High End

Wera 11 Piece Joker Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

This is a combination rachet/spanner set and it is for the serious DIY master as it comes with a pretty large price tag, but you certainly get your money’s worth as this combination kit allows you to do a whole lot more. With a special 30-degree return angle these are the spanners you’ll need for those tight spots. It’s unique holding function that cuts out the risk of dropping and nuts or bolts which can so often be the case. The metal plate in the jaw is responsible for this mechanism and can be replaced. It has a ratchet mechanism on the ring end which has 80 fine teeth which come in handy when working in tight spaces. Made from chrome molybdenum steel with a nickel chrome coating, this kit will not be corroding anytime soon and with care and maintenance will be a set to pass on to the grandkids.

Mid Range

Stanley 22 Piece Metric / AF Spanner Set

This set is a great medium range buy, not too expensive, the 22 pieces give you a spanner for every occasion. They come in Full Polish Chrome and have both Metric and AF. Stanley Spanners are heat treated to be strong enough for repeated use. What you need for those maintenance projects around the home.

Best Budget

Craftright 5 Piece Spanner Set

This five-piece set is perfect if you only use a spanner every so often. These sizes (8, 10, 14, 15, 17mm) will fit most average nuts and bolts and are drop forged. They are heat treated and chrome plated and won’t take up much space if you only have a small workshop.

Screwdriver Sets

Screwdrivers are another one of those things that are best to buy in sets. As screws come in all different kinds and shapes, it’s good to have the right one on hand when you need it. The main types of screwdrivers are Slot or Flathead, which have just the one flat edge and Phillips, which feature a cross design. Most screwdriver sets will have a mixture of these, but it’s always best to double-check they are the right ones for the job. From master sets to the basic starter kits here are our go-to buys.

 

High End

Kincrome 12 Piece Thru Tang Screwdriver Set

These screwdrivers are designed for hard use. The cellulose acetate handle gives it a strength and durability that is second to none. It features a continuous Thru-Tang shaft and a striking end cap which is made for hand hammer blows. These screwdrivers also feature magnetic tip for helping keep your screwdriver attached the screw and minimize drops. The Kincrome screwdrivers also come with a hexagon shaft that helps a spanner attach for those times you need some extra force it trying to get out a stubborn screw. This kit is what you need if you have a lot of DIY going on around the house and garden.

Mid Range

Trojan 26 Piece Screwdriver Set

A combination of slot and Phillips, the Trojan set offers not only regular screwdrivers but also a precision range which is great for driving screws that have special slots. The go-to kit for the around the house handyman they also offer a magnetic tip, to keep those screws in place, a nonslip handle and are made of Chrome Vanadium steel which offers durability and strength. With an easy carry case, they’ll stow away perfectly in your shed.

Best Budget

Stanley 6 Piece Screwdriver Set

To get you started into the world of home improvement is the Stanley six-piece screwdriver set. This comes with four Phillips and two slot/flathead drivers in the most common sizes. There is tip identification on each one so if you’re just starting out there’s no need to be confused! They have a good grip on them and the shafts are made of high alloy chrome so even for the small price tag they are still a sturdy product. Hanging holes are a little added bonus to make them easy to store, as they don’t come with a case. The perfect starting kit for the soon to be the DIY maverick!

Pliers

In any toolkit, Pliers are a must. Pliers are used for a range of things, gripping, twisting, cutting, straightening and bending wires and cables. There are a few different types also, the long nose, sidecut, diagonal and griplock. But our main focus is on the good old combination pliers, a great all-rounder.

High End

Crescent 200mm Insulated Universal Pliers

Coming with insulated grips, a crimper, and precise jaw gap, as well as being a good all-rounder, these pliers specialize in wire work. They feature insulation for 200mm 1000V High Voltage and a serrated pipe grip. These are for the handyman who knows what he’s doing.

Mid Range

NWS 205mm Combination Pliers

These German-made pliers feature an inductively hardened cutting edge ideal for cutting through the toughest wires. Asymmetric inside jaws help you get a better grip. They include an integrated ring spanner and multicomponent sleeves on the handle for a more comfortable use over long periods of time.

Best Budget

Craftright 200mm Combination Pliers

The pliers are made from vanadium steel and have a soft gripping handle. A simple product at a great price so there is really no excuse not to have a pair on in your toolbox.

 

Saws

A basic saw is a must-have. For trimming off wood and cutting things down to size, a good quality saw is something you’ll always use.

High End  Bahco 500mm Precision Hand Saw

A professional level handsaw, the Bahco Precision it great for getting through both fine and thicker materials with ease. A great feature of this saw is its adaptability to mitre guide sawing. Featuring 9/10 TPI hard point teeth, this saw stays sharper for longer. The Bahco Precision Hand Saw gives a great professional finish for those larger DIY projects

Mid Range

Spear & Jackson 500mm Predator Hand Saw

The Predator Hand Saw is perfectly suited to those trimming jobs with wood and plastic pipes. A .91mm blade keeps the saw ridged and cuts down on vibration and whip so you can get your cutting done fast without compromising on precision. A good and reliable blade for its price point with a nice soft handle will make using it easy.

Best Budget

Irwin Jack Plus 338mm 8PT Hand Saw

Featuring a nonslip comfortable grip handle and razor sharp tooth design, this saw will work perfectly well for you basic push and pull saw jobs. Made from .85mm premium cold rolled steel and surface treated for rust resistance this is a great beginning saw.

 

Tape Measures, levels, and Squares

These are really some of the first things you should have in your kit. It’s no good hammering in nails if you’re doing it at the wrong height or sawing your wood on the wrong angle! Pretty self-explanatory tools, we’ve put down some great quality ones with prices to match.

Stanley 5m Tape Measure

Your Stanley Measuring Tape is a great sturdy medium range tape. With belt clips for easy sliding on and off use and a polymer coated ¾ inch blade. This measure is a must have for your toolkit.

Empire 200mm Polysteel Try Square

At a reasonable price, the Empire Try Square has a mini level in its handle which gives it great dual use. It features a stainless steel blade, which has metric graduations on both sides.

 

Stabila 600mm Spirit Level

A spirit level is something worth investing in. Getting a correct level can be vital to some of your DIY and home improvement projects. That’s why you need a great reliable product like the Stabila Spirit Level. It has a 300-degree visibility horizontal vial and shock absorbing end caps to help protect it. Electrostatic stable vials mean high accuracy and you can’t beat that German precision!

Drills

Finally, we come down to drills. Those wonderful machines that make DIY work just that much easier. These days there is such a great range of drills to suit all purposes. Cordless drills for home improvement projects really are the way to go.

 

High End 

Bosch 18V Cordless Drill Driver

A powerful motor and a sleek design, The Bosch PSR 1800 is a great drill to have for those bigger DIY projects. Coming with 2 x 1.5 AH Bosch Smart Lithium-ion Batteries you’ll always be charged and ready to go. An LED power light makes it great when trying to get into corners and dimly lit areas. The Bosch has 20 torque settings plus optimum power drill settings. Its also features Electronic Cell Protection which protects it against overheating and tool overload. Even with 2 high-performance speed gears, the Bosch is still lightweight and easy to use.

Mid Range

Ryobi 12V 1.3Ah Drill Driver Kit

This is your perfect midrange drill for those at home fix-up jobs. Also featuring an LED light and configurable clutch settings this is a compactly designed drill that packs some punch. A 10mm keyless chuck makes switching drill bits easy and soft grip technology make sit a pleasure to hold. A great drill for its price bracket.

Best Budget

Ozito 710W Hammer Drill

If you don’t get much time to do big projects out in the garden or around the house but need a drill just for those occasional fix-up jobs then the Ozito Hammer Drill is the one for you. It has a great drill depth preset to make sure you don’t go deeper than you need to, and variable speed so you can adjust the drill to what materials you will be using it on. I can be used just as easily for right and left-handers with its special 360 side handle and comes with a startup kit of eighteen drill bits. Great for all that light DIY work around the home.

Get Going!

Now you’ve got your DIY essentials you can start up all those projects you’ve been dreaming of around the house or in the backyard. Get that back patio happening or the roof extension. Spend time designing clubhouses with your kids or just patch up some of those leaks!

Always be mindful when doing DIY jobs, of safety and that when it comes to electrical work its best to consult a professional.

Choosing a lawn mower

Buying a lawn mower is not always an easy decision. Lawn mowers are a bigger financial investment that most gardening equipment so you want to make sure you’re getting your moneys worth and the right lawn mower to suit your personal needs. A lawn mower should be something you own for years and that is a lasting product provided of course you keep up it’s maintenance. With lawn mowers there is not a one size fits all models and with yards coming in all shapes and sizes it’s important you are choosing one that will suit your garden needs and keep your garden looking great. Take a look below at our guide so that you are sure to pick the right mower for you.

 

Things to consider when buying your lawn mower

There are a few factors involved when purchasing a mower. Firstly what you need it for. Do you have a small yard that needs to be mowed once every two week? Or do you live on a large property that needs constant maintenance?

As well as looking at the size you’ll have to factor in if your yard is hilly and has many obstacles like trees or play equipment that you will have to mow around. All of these things will affect the kind of mower you will purchase, even the kind of grass you have growing.

Engine Size

Another thing to look into is the power of your lawn mower. There is not a lot of point in getting the top of the range mower for your push lawn mower if you are only mowing a small area of flat grass every few weeks. Likewise don’t expect to cut through tough long grass with a small mower. Again take a look at the size and needs of your garden to be sure you are getting the engine that’s power will suit your yard.

Added features

Some mowers come with a lot of features like electric starts, which saves you having to rev it up yourself. The higher tech the features the bigger the price so make sure you are seeing what is really necessary and if it will make your life a whole lot easier or if it just more of a gimmick.

 

Your Yard

A small yard

If you have a smaller yard then you will probably be looking at a push mower or an electric mower. Push mowers are propelled by the operator and are on the cheaper scale. If you only have a small area to mow then consider a push mower as mowing a small area will not be too physically exhausting and the cheaper price point is a good thing if you are not needing to use your mower once a week. Electric mowers can be a lot smaller and easier to store. These take no fiddling around with fuel and are easy to start but they do lack the power of a push mower so if you have slopes or a thicker grass type then they may not be for you, but they are ideal for small grassed courtyards.

Some Mowers to Consider for a smaller yard

Ozito Ecomow     

This mower is a small and lightweight electric model. It features a quiet running 1000W motor that has very low maintenance. It is easily portable and has three different height adjustments. A great feature of this mower is it’s 30L grass catcher that collects the lawn clippings so you can compost or turn them into mulch while keeping your lawn looking neat and tidy. This is a great model for the small lawn.

 

Honda 21

The Honda 21 is a petrol push mower. It had twin bar bladed and Hondas very own engine braking technology for easy use. It is very economic on fuel and has a smooth quiet operation. It comes as a four stroke, which means there is no messy fuel mixing involved. Its clip director mulching feature also comes in handy. Perfect for the medium sized yard.

 

A larger yard

If your yard is on the bigger scale then you may consider an electric mower or a self-propelled mower. These mowers take a lot of the physical exertion out of moving as they move themselves forward and just need to be guided by you. This is a great feature also for those who are not as physically fit and may tire easily with a push mower.

Some Mowers to Consider for a larger yard

 

Ryobi 160cc 18in 4 Stroke Self-Propelled Mower

The Ryobi is a self-propelled mower that features powerful 4-stroke engine. It comes with the choice of 7 cutting height, which can give you more control over the look you are wanting for your lawn. It has an auto choke which makes for easier starting with no priming needed. And it’s self propelled function helps save on the physically exhaustion of mowing larger areas. Great for the larger yard or those who need a little extra push help.

 

Honda 21” Commercial Push Mower

This mower is an upgrade on the smaller model mentioned above. It is a bigger machine that has a bit more oomph too it and it perfectly suited to people who will be using a mower a lot either in a professional capacity of for constant grounds keeping for their own property. It comes with a 2 year warranty for domestic use and again with it’s clean running engine and twin bar blades is a solid model for anyone looking to get a lot of use from their mower.

 

A large Property

If you are on a big property as a apposed to a back yard then a ride on mower may be the right solution for you. They are also ride on mowers that come with different attachments so you can get more than just a mower for your money. These are obviously on the more expensive scale and are best with mowing large unobstructed areas. They are also bulky to store so make sure you have enough room on your property to store it in a sheltered area.

Some Mowers to Consider for a large property

Husqvarna TS138 Ride on Mower

This mower is a ride on for those with a large property that needs a lot of maintenance. The Husqvarna is an efficient mower with side ejection and ergonomically built to make hours in the chair as comfortable as can be. It features a Briggs & Stratton Endurance engine, which is known for its power and has full pressure lubrication. It is pedal operated and has a range of accessories available to build onto it.

 

John Deere X300 Select Series

John Deere has a great reputation for making powerful farming equipment. With their X300 they are bringing the power of farming to a smaller model suitable for the large landowner. It’s long wheelbase gives the rider great stability and a smoother riding experience through more rugged terrain. It comes with a Twin Touch hydro-static transmission for easy use and a V-twin iTorque power system. With a medium range price point this is the perfect ride on is your black of land has more challenging terrain.

 

Making the right choice

Before going out to shop around for your motor make sure you have made your own list of everything you need your mower to do, the size of your yard and your own physical capabilities. Visiting different stores and feeling each machine is the best way to know you are getting exactly what you want, and by showing the shop attended your list of needs they will be able to help you better find a mower that you will be happy with. Remember to take proper care of your mower and get yearly services to keep your engine running smooth and your blades sharp for years to come.

 

 

Spring Gardening essentials

       It’s springtime again, the frost is abating and the birds are out and chirping. The cool of winter has left and with it comes the possibilities and excitement for the summer months to come. All of the blooms that will soon be out and the grass that will be turning greener unfortunately wont do it on it’s own and needs a little attention to get that spring garden blossoming. We would all love a garden that transitions from winter to spring without us having to lay a finger but that is not the way of the suburban backyard! They require our attention and love if our plants are to flourish. So to make the most of your spring garden it’s good to be equipped with the right tools. If you walk into a gardening center chances you will be all too quickly overwhelmed with choice. There is an appliance and piece of equipment for everything these days, no matter how simple, and cruising down the isles it can be hard to know what you really need and what is just a cheap gimmick or trend that will end up doing more time hanging on your garden shed wall that actually being useful. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the essentials of your spring gardening and maintenance. Discover what you will suit you and your garden style.

 

Shovels

There a quite a few types of shovels around, and with a lot of choice it can get confusing. With trenching shovels, drain shovels, scoop shovels, scrapers, edger’s and post-hole diggers it’s enough to have you mind swimming. So we’ve narrowed it down to the types of shovels you will actually use on a day-to-day basis for reclaiming your spring garden.

Here are the kinds of shovel you’re most likely to use when doing light work and light work around your garden.

Square Shovel

The square shovel is made for digging in harder soils. With its sharp tip and flat scoop Its ideal for moving soil around, getting loads of gravel and scooping and distributing fertilizer and mulch

Spade

A spade is usually shorter handled than it’s cousin the square shovel. They have sharp edges that are perfect for cutting into lawn or earth to make holes that you can plant in. This works best when they are kept sharp to it’s good to have some sharpening tools in your shed and keep an eye out for a dull edge.

Pointed Digger

The pointed digger has a pointed tip that you would use if your soil was slightly more rock filled. The advantage of having a narrower tip means being able to dig a bit deeper and cut through the rockier soil with ease.

Round Digger

With it’s rounded tip, the round digger is perfect for soft soil and a great companion when wanted to transplant plants. Because of the way your force is transferred though digging, these allow you to drive into the ground a little easier than your regular square shovel.

 

Pruners 

Pruning back your plants every year is essential to cut away the dead or straggling limbs and allow the plant to give more strength to new young branches and allow them to thrive. Many plants will suffer greatly if not pruned annually or even bi annually. This is an important job but like with a lot of gardening tasks can be time consuming and while not physically labor intensive can still cause some stress to your fingers hands and arms so choosing the right pruners for the job you are doing and also ones that will be comfortable and fit your hand shape right is of up most importance. Here are the three main pruning types you will use in your home garden.

Anvil Pruners

Anvil Pruners have a straight single blade that has a splitting action that will cut down directly on a branch or stem of a plant.

Ratchet Pruners

These are similar to the anvil, their main point of difference being that they cut in stages due to a different mechanism. Often used by people who have more sensitive wrists and are worried about over straining or damaging their joints.

Bypass Pruners

The bypass pruners are more like scissors but with curved blades. These make nice clean cuts when used correctly and are most often used when pruning green stems.

Gloves

Some people love the feel of the earth on their hands while they are planning and growing, but for others spending hours scrubbing out dirt from under their nails is not all that appealing. Gardening gloves are not only for protecting the superficial however and can be a great tool that makes handling rougher and thorned plants a lot easier. With a few sorts to choose from we show you the most used gloves and their uses so you can make the decision that is best for the work you will be doing in them.

Cloth Gloves

Cloth gloves are mostly made of cotton. These are the kind of gloves you would use for doing your light planting, mixing in your soil by hand and also as a light protection while using shovels or rakes. Some cloth gloves can be reinforced with leather patches to make them a bit hardier, but on the whole they are not a durable glove and as they are inexpensive will need to be replaced a bit more often.

Leather Gloves

Softer leather gloves made from sheep or goatskin are the ideal for a long day planning of digging in the back yard. They are far more durable than the cloth so invest in a pair that are comfortable and will wear in nicely. These gloves are great at keeping moister off your hands and being a protection against light thorns and brambles. But if you are planning on doing a lot heavier and abrasive work then you should consider some tougher cowhide or pigskin gloves.

Rubber and PVC-Coated Gloves

These gloves are great to use as protection against spiky plants and are also good if you will be working in a muddy area as the damp wont soak through and it easier to wash off than it’s leather counterpart. You can also get these gloves in a longer length so you can get right into your prickly bushes without cutting up your arms.

When buying gloves make sure to first try them on to test the size and comfort factors. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in the garden all day long.

Hoses

It may sound obvious but a good hose is an essential and with hoses there can be more than meets the eye. Choosing a good hose in not only about length, width and durability but also about the attachments and nozzles you use that will suit your style of garden.

There’s a few things you need to consider before purchasing your garden hose; length, width and material. Bellow we give you the run down.

Hose Length

You don’t always want the longest hose you can find, long hoses can end up getting a lot more kinks and are harder to store. Take some measurements of your property and see how much area you will have to cover to make sure your hose stretched just the right amount, then make your calculations from there.

Hose Width

The width is to do with the volume of water you will want coming out the end at the one time. If you have mainly flowers and herbs in your garden you are not going to want a big thick hose but instead a thinner one so you don’t flood your plants. But if it’s a lot of trees or thicker rooted plants in harder soil you need to get water too then a wider hose will be for you.

Hose Material

Most hoses are made from vinyl or rubber or can be a combination of both, here are the advantages and disadvantages.

Vinyl Hose

Vinyl hoses are the cheapest option and also the most lightweight which can be an advantage for some. But with that also comes a less durable item that kinks more easily and can crack if left out in the sun for too long. If you only have a small garden and not a whole lot of space then a vinyl hose can be a good alternative for you.

Rubber Hose

These are the stronger hose by far but with that strength comes a heavier model and a bigger price tag. The rubber hose can handle hot water better and so can be better for hot climates where the water heats under the ground. These will not kind as easily as the vinyl also and in general are just a sturdier hose.

Reinforced Hose

A reinforced hose had a mesh lining between its layers of rubber and vinyl and are praised for being able to handle high water pressure levels and have a better resistance to kinking and splitting. But don’t be fooled by thinking that extra layers means strength, rubber hoses are still generally the stronger option.

 

When buying a rubber or vinyl hose remember that they can leach some chemicals into the water through time so it is best not to drink from them of fill your pets bowls with water from them. There are other chemical free options if this is a big concern for you.

Hose Nozzles

Once you’ve picked the right hose type for you, take a look again at what function you will want your hose to preform. Do you want a high pressure sprayed for your car or boat as well as your plants or do you only want a gentle mister? A lot of nozzles come with a few different settings and some even come with locking mechanisms, which can be perfect if you have young one who don’t understand about saving on water!

Traditional Straight Nozzle

The Traditional Nozzle is a straight nozzle made from either metal or plastic that uses a twist function to allow more and less water through. Twisted fully in one direction it will release a hard straight spray style and then back the other back it will seem to be completely turned off. This is great if you want more of a directional spray, just be aware when turning twisting it off to not keep the hose running for too long or the build up of water pressure can sometime take the nozzle off completely.

Pistol Grip Nozzle

This nozzle is shaped to be held; yep you guessed it, like a pistol, applying pressure with your hand will turn it on. These nozzles often have a few different setting from a hard stream to a fine mist and then with their round shape can also produce a watering can like flow. These are great for watering flowers and fragile plants and covering a larger area at once.

Fan Nozzle

The fan nozzle spread’s it’s water out in a flatter fan shape and usually has only one spray setting. This kind of attachment is best used to cover large areas and is perfect for new lawns or dampening soil after seeding. The flow is often more gentle with the fan nozzle so you don’t have to worry about damaging plants with a heavy flow.

Get Into Spring!

With so many amazing tools out there to help you with your spring garden there really is no excuse not to get out into the yard and start reclaiming the beauty of your outdoor space.

5 Best Grasses for Homes in California

top 5 grasses to grow in california

Do you have a beautiful backyard at your home? Ever wanted to cover your backyard with grass but not sure to which grass is best suitable for your conditions? Today there are hundreds of different types of grasses available and the process of selecting one that best suits your conditions can be really difficult and confusing.

If you are residing in and around California, and are looking to have a beautiful green grass lawn, you would know the type of grass you need and whether the grass you’re choosing would go with the soil in your backyard.

The grass that best suits any region depends on a number of factors like water requirement, type of soil and climatic conditions. Other factors that can be considered before selecting a particular grass are level of maintenance required, look and texture, cost, ease of installation and length of the grass.

1. Bermuda Grass

bermuda grass

Bermuda grass is one of the best types of grass that suits the conditions of California. Believed to have arrived in America from Bermuda, the grass blades have rough edges and a greyish green color.

  • Water Requirement: It requires a decent amount of watering.
  • Maintenance Required: Very low maintenance required. Just do not forget that you have planted them in your garden and you’d be fine.
  • Cost: The grass has a fine turf even after its low cost, which can make it a great buy.
  • Installation ease and feel: Easy to install and comfortable feel, making this a good buy for newbies to the world of gardening.
  • Length: The length is usually short and usually ranges between 4-6 inch.
  • Climatic Conditions: It is more preferable under warm climatic conditions. The favorable climate temperature ranges between 24-37 degrees.
  • Type of Soil: Bermuda grass grows best in saline soils so it’s important to check the soil salinity in your backyard.
  • Best time to plant: The best time to plant it is during summers for a healthy growth.
  • Other Details: It has a high traffic tolerance and high resistance to droughts.

2. St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass

St. Augustine grass is also a type of grass with flat and broad leaf blades with a dark green color and usually form a thick layer.

  • Water Requirement: St. Augustine grass requires frequent watering, so you need to ensure that you would be able to tend to your garden daily.
  • Maintenance Required: The level of maintenance required ranges from medium to high based on different situations.
  • Cost: The cost of the grass is high compared to others.
  • Installation ease and feel: The installation process is simple and the grass gives extremely soft feel.
  • Length: The length of the grass usually is between 1.75’’ to 2.00’’ (inches).
  • Climatic Conditions: It is best suitable for tropical and sub-tropical regions with warm climate.
  • Type of Soil: It grows best in soils with pH value ranging between 5.0 and 8.5.
  • Best time to plant: It is usually grown in summer and spring.
  • Other Details: It has low tolerance to traffic and droughts and requires frequent fertilization.

3. Bahia Grass

Bahia Grass

Bahia grass is one other type of grass that is best suited for conditions of California. Also known as ‘Common Bahia’, the leaf blades are flat, hairless and textured.

  • Water Requirement: It has a very low water requirement, so you do not have to worry about watering them everyday.
  • Maintenance Required: Low maintenance makes it more desirable when compared to other grasses.
  • Cost: It has a very low cost.
  • Installation ease and feel: Easy installation and the grass is very soft giving a comforting feel.
  • Length: It is a low growing grass with the blades around an inch long.
  • Climatic Conditions: Warm climatic condition is suitable for its growth.
  • Type of Soil: Sandy Soil with high saline content is favorable.
  • Best time to plant: The best time to grow the grass is during the summers.
  • Other Details: It has high traffic tolerance and high resistance to droughts.

 

4. Buffalo Grass

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass is a perennial warm season grass that forms a thin layer and suitable for the conditions of California. It has a very thin turf with soft blue green leaves and a fine texture.

  • Water Requirement: Occasional watering is required.
  • Maintenance Required:  It requires very less maintenance.
  • Cost: The cost is very low compared to other types of grass.
  • Installation ease and feel: The process of installation is very easy and gives a comfortable feel.
  • Length: It usually grows 2-5 inches high if left untouched.
  • Climatic Conditions: Hot climate with high temperatures is also tolerable.
  • Type of Soil: It grows best in moist soil.
  • Best time to plant: The planting of buffalo grass seeds should be usually done in spring or early summer for best growth.
  • Other Details: It has a high tolerance to traffic and high temperatures and requires little fertilisation.

5. Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass, also known as ‘Common meadow grass’ is a perennial grass that grows well in cold and moist climates. It usually has a dark green color linear leaves with boat-shaped tips.

  • Water Requirement: Kentucky bluegrass requires regular watering.
  • Maintenance Required: The maintenance required is low.
  • Cost: It is very cheap and most common and popular cool season grass.
  • Installation ease and feel: It is very easy to plant and has high-quality texture with a comfortable feel.
  • Length: It is a tall growing grass with average height reaching as much as 60 inches if left untouched.
  • Climatic Conditions: The grass grows well in cold and moist climates making this one of the best buys if you live in California.
  • Type of Soil: It grows best in well-drained and fertile soil, so you can easily grow it in your backyard along with fruit trees.
  • Best time to plant: Late spring or summer is the best time to plant the grass.
  • Other Details: It has low tolerance to traffic and droughts and needs regular fertilization and decent amount of sunlight for optimum growth.

 

No matter which grass type you’re buying for your garden in the backyard, do remember to tend to your lawn every day. It will ensure that the plants remain healthy and you’ve a lawn that you’re proud of.

5 Best Lawn Fertilizers for the Backyard

best 5 lawn fertilizers

Why are Fertilizers Needed for Grass or Lawn?

When an individual buys a home, there are many different things that they will be responsible for. Taking care of the lawn around the home properly is one of the very first orders of the day, and is an ongoing process. This is because the lawn can grow too high and cause several different hazards like snakes and other little annoying critters appearing in the wrong places. It is also important to maintain the lawn so that it looks pleasing to anyone who passes by. Either way, it is essential that the owner does not neglect this area of their investment if they want to display the best look possible and reap a bigger profit if they decide to sell.

That said, taking care of the backyard of a home comes with many different challenges. In some cases, the lawn may grow like wild fire or it may not grow at all. To resolve the problem that the owner is experiencing, it is essential that they do their homework in advance. For instance, if the lawn is not growing healthy as it really should, there are a diversity of ways to correct these problems. One of the most common and notable is ensuring the lawn has the nutrients that it needs. This is one of the primary reasons why most people use fertilizers to build up and grow a lawn in their backyard that is healthy, green and thick.

How often should you fertilize your lawn?

As previously mentioned, the lawn needs nutrients to grow properly. However, before the owner begins to provide the lawn with the nutrients that it needs, there are some things that they should know. In specific, the timing for fertilizing the lawn can be vastly different based on the location in which the owner of the home lives and the growing season. For instance, if the person lives in the South, the requirements for fertilizing the grass is usually in the spring and the summer months. On the other hand, if the individual lives in the North, the fertilizer should be used in the fall and spring seasons. Of course, it is also important to feed the grass as often as possible without over feeding it. As a general rule of thumb, however, it is important to note that the more the owner feeds the grass, the more that it will grow. Additionally, the owner will also need to be familiar with other factors about this topic including knowing when the growth cycle is. For it is in these times, that the fertilizer is not only a requirement for that specific time, but a necessity if they want their lawns to flourish.

Safety First – Precautions when using Fertilizing Chemicals

fertilizer safety

Fertilizing the lawn is a chore that owners have to do every year in order to make sure the grass on the lawn grows as healthy as it possible. Fortunately, there are many different ways to do it since the industry provides a wide variety of different tools and equipment to make these jobs much easier. Before starting the process, people should always make sure that the family is following the appropriate safety precautions. Specifically, as it relates to handling these types of hazardous chemicals on a fairly regular basis. That said, here are some tips and recommendations that can be used to keep the family and their pets safe.

Store the Fertilizer in Cool Dry Places

To keep the family and pets safe from harm, it is important that the homeowner keeps the fertilizer stored in the right place so that no one is accidentally injured or harmed. Fortunately, there are guidelines that professionals in the industry have used and shared over the years, and they should be followed as closely as possible if the owner does not want to experience any negative results in or around their homes. So, one of the most basic guidelines is to store the fertilizer in a cool dry place that is far away from the reach of children and the family’s pets. For instance, some people prefer to keep it in their garage area, which means it is outside of the home at all times. To keep it out of reach of children who enter the garage area, it is very important to place it up high on shelves so that they cannot reach even when they are trying (too far up for them to reach it from a chair). For extra precautions, the garage door should also be locked after each use from anyone who should not have any access to it.

Use Gloves When Handling

Because of all of the hazardous chemicals normally contained inside the fertilizer, it should also be handled safely by putting on gloves before the person begins to start handling it. For instance, because fertilizer contains nitrogen, which can cause mild to severe burns if it is not handled right, especially since the nitrogen is a chemical that should not be touched with the bare hands. However, in the situations or circumstances where someone inadvertently touches these chemicals, they should wash that part of the body with running water immediately. In case the fertilizer affects them anyway, (i.e. burning, redness of the skin) the homeowner should contact their physician right away.

After Application Guidelines

Once the fertilizer has been applied to the lawn, it is important for the homeowner to follow through carefully with certain precautionary measures. Meaning until the lawn has been watered or it rains on the lawn, children and pets should be kept off the grass. To keep the neighbors near these areas safe, it is also best to notify them too to avoid any unnecessary problems.

Read the Instructions Closely

Because each manufacturer knows their products and the risks associated with them, there may be some special guidelines that must be observed for use. So, before the owner of the home begins to use a specific type of lawn care product, it is essential that they read the instructions on the package first. Because some products are organic and others are not, knowing the difference between the two is critical.

Reviews for the 5 Best Fertilizers for the Backyard

#1 – Milorganite 0636 Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer

Milorganite-Organic-Nitrogen-Fertilizer

Milorganite 62036-MW Organic Fertilizer is on the list as being one of the most trusted names in the lawn care industry. In fact, it is not uncommon for this fertilizer to not only be used in the back yard of a home, but also in professional setting like golf courses and zoological foundations. This is because this lawn care product has earned its trust in the industry. Even though this product is made specifically for lawn grass, it is still versatile enough to be used in other areas of the lawn including in the trees, flowers, and the shrubbery.

This product has been Formulated with heat-treated microbes and contains both nitrogen (5%) and phosphorus (2%), along with.3 percent potassium. It’s also made with other essential ingredients that provide a wide range of nutrients like manganese, copper, sulfur, and zinc. This fertilizer is also safe to be used around kids and pets and can be applied to the lawn anytime its growing season, in any climate.

see price here…

#2 – Miracle-Gro 1001832 Lawn Food

Miracle-Gro 1001832 Lawn Food

Miracle-Gro Lawn Food can be described in a number of different ways. First of all, it is a fertilizer that is easy to use, and its affordable so homeowners do not have to pay a high price to purchase it. Also, because the ingredients are so concentrated, the homeowner may only need to feed their lawn no more than once or twice each season. In fact, all the owner need is at least 1 – 5 pound box that will cover an area of 4000 square feet. This fertilizer is made specifically for those who do not like all of the unnecessary hassles of fertilizing the lawn, but they still want an exceptionally great looking backyard to entertain their family and friends in.

see price here…

#3 – Scotts Turf Builder All Season Lawn Fertilizer

Scotts 26007B Turf Builder Southern Lawn Fertilizer

Another industry favorite is Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food. In fact, many professionals in the lawn care field may deem this product as one of the best known lawn fertilizers in the world. This is because most homeowners will find that their grass will simply thrive on all of the ingredients in this formula. Made with nitrogen and potassium, the owner can purchase about 12 pounds to feed a lawn that covers about 5000 square feet. The recommended feeding time frame with this product is about 6 to 8 weeks during that areas growing season.

In comparison to other well-known brands, this fertilizer has a high priority position on the top of the list of the least expensive fertilizers in the industry. Additionally, most professionals and homeowners prefer this type of fertilizer as their number one choice because it helps to holds water inside the soil. Meaning this fertilizer has been designed to keep the grass hydrated for much longer periods of time. Due to its popularity as one of the best fertilizers, this product can be found virtually anywhere. Even though Scotts Turf Builder Lawn food is not organic or made of all natural fertilizer products, it is still made with kid and pet friendly ingredients. Many homeowners prefer this fertilizer because it protects the lawn against various kinds of future problems, helps with building strong and deep roots, improves the lawn’s capability to absorb the nutrients and water that is needed. It can be used on any type of grass and in any season. Another great benefit that many homeowners love is everyone is able to re-enter the lawn again without having to wait for a rain storm or the lawn to be watered after its application.

see price here…

#4 – Safer Brand 9333 Ringer Lawn Fertilizer

Safer Brand 9333 Ringer Lawn Fertilizer

Here’s another great fertilizer that people may or may not know about and that is the fertilizer called Safer Brand 9333 Ringer Lawn fertilizer. This fertilizer gives the owner of the home the biggest value for their bucks. The ingredients contained in this product comes from a diversity of sources including nitrogen from feather meal, while it also uses bone meal in order to release the nutrients slowly in the soil. Soybean is used to keep the concentration even because it used as a filler. With this slow release formula, owners will enjoy thick grass growth as it also chokes out all of the weeds naturally. The amount supplied in a 25-pound bag is enough to cover the space of 5000 square feet. Because it is based on an organic formula, it is safe for both kids and pets. One of the best features about this product is it works well when other fertilizers don’t.

see price here…

#5 – Espoma ELF20 20-Pound Organic All Season Lawn Food

Espoma-ELF20-20-Pound-Organic-Season

The maker of this fertilizer has been in business for approximately 90 years, and has a solid reputation for manufacturing the highest quality products. Second to none, Espoma ELF20 20-Pound Organic All Season Lawn Food, is on the list of the top favored fertilizers in the industry. Even though this brand is a little more expensive, it is considered to be well worth the investment, especially since it has been made to rival with any of the top rated products on the market today. Buyers who want organic formulas to feed their grass will be happy to know that it is safe for kids, pets and anyone who enters the property after it has been applied to the back yard. The amount needed to feed a 1000 square foot lawn is about 3.3 pounds. It is also recommended that the lawn be fed at least 4 times a year during the geographical location’s growing season.

see price here…

Summing Up

Taking care of the backyard of a home can be a challenging experience. However if the owner of the home does their research well in advance, they can identify the top fertilizers that many in the lawn care industry are recommending today. Fortunately, there are a products online that people can review to see which ones will provide the best treatment for the grass and yield the best results.

How to Build your Own Backyard Fruit Tree Orchard

diy backyard orchard

The idea of having an orchard summon up pictures of vast amounts of land with row and rows of trees. While this is usually the case for those that are creating a business out of growing fruit, it does not necessarily mean that everyone should go down that route. Since not everyone can dedicate a large amount of space for growing such a large orchard, there are other ways to grow fruit. One such way is creating a small orchard right in your own backyard.

Many times people think that growing fruit will be a challenging task. But growing an orchard is not a difficult task and your payoff will be a vast amount of fruit. From just one tree, you can expect to harvest lots of fruits for the next twenty years. Having your own orchard means that you will be able to make yours an organic orchard. This means that you will no longer worry about your fruit being covered in pesticides. Continue reading to find out more…

Step-by-Step Guide to Create your very Own Backyard Orchard

  1. Selecting Trees

selecting the right trees

One of the first things you will want to take into consideration is which types of tree you want to plant. When it comes to a backyard an orchard dwarf or semi-dwarf trees are the ones that you should look at. These small fruit trees will be easier to manage than the standard trees. Plus, using a smaller variation of fruit tree means that you do not need to have a large amount of property to plant them.

Dwarf fruit trees will only grow to eight feet in diameter. Pruning them will not be a difficult task as they do not get very tall. While many people think that these small trees will produce small fruit, that is not true. The fruit that comes from these dwarf trees will be normal sized, but it the crop size will be smaller than the standard trees.

Semi-dwarf trees will need a little more space than the dwarf trees. These will grow to 15 feet in diameter, and get to be around sixteen feet in height. On the other hand, the standard orchard tree will be twenty-five – thirty feet. One of the greatest perks about the semi-dwarf trees is they only have to be cut down once a year. These trees will also create a large amount of fruit every year, which means that these trees are able to yield more fruit than their dwarf counterparts do.

Picking out your fruit tree should be based on your needs and how much effort you are willing to put into the care and maintenance of these trees. For example, the maintenance of orchard will be easy handle if you choose a variety of fruit trees that will do okay your local environment. While exotic fruit trees might be fun at first, they could be very difficult to grow.

Different types of fruit trees will thrive in different soil types. Apple and pears are able to tolerate a dry soil, but you will need a drainage put in place. While peach trees, on the other hand, will develop blight if they get a large amount of rain. Which means that these trees should be planted in a more protected area. Take some time and do a little bit of research on which type of fruit trees will be able to flourish the best in your area.

  1. Selecting a Planting Site

backyard orchard prep

When you are picking the site for your orchard, there are several things that you should think about before you get started. One of the first things you will want to decide on, is how much space you are willingly dedicating to your orchard. This will later dictate how many plants you will be able to grow in that specific area of your garden or orchard. For the majority of plants, you will need to find a location that comes with good drainage. In order to test this out , you should create a one-foot hole in the area where you are wanting your orchard to go. Then pour some water into the hole, and let it drain. If the water longer than three hours, you will need to pick a new place for your trees. Another route you can take if the spot you have picked takes forever to drain is to take the time to build a berm, mound or a raised bed. You can also install a French drainage system. A French drainage system is a trench that is filled with rocks or gravel that helps the water drain away from the tree planting area. This can be an appealing option as it will add a decoration element in your backyard orchard.

  1. Picking the Right Trees

Once, you know which size and type of tree you are going to grow, it is now time to actually go out and select your trees. When picking out the right trees there are several things that you should look for. Some of the things that you should for includes:

  • Strong and straight stems. If a tree is already leaning you will need to correct it by staking it correctly, otherwise you will have problems later on. But it is easier just to get non-leaning trees, right from the start.
  • Look for a defined leader branch. This is a branch that grows straight from the trunk. Having a leader branch will make it easier for pruning the tree, later on.
  • Evenly growing branches. Having limbs that span evenly on each side of the leader branch will create a fuller tree.
  • Avoid low branches. Trees that have low branches could potentially get in the way when you are doing normal lawn care and maintenance. In some cases, having these low branches will attract bugs and other pests to your little backyard orchard.
  • Know how they pollinate. Some are self-pollinating, while others will need some help.
  • When transporting the trees home, make sure that you keep the roots covered and damp. By doing this you are making sure that your little saplings will be avoiding shock.
  1. Planting Trees

planting your trees

With your saplings all picked out it now time to plant them. First off you will want to dig a space that is about eighteen inches deep. In some cases you might have to dig the hole deeper, to make sure that all of the roots will be covered. You should then break up the dirt on the sides and bottom of the hole, before putting water into the hole. Give the water some drain time and then put a good thick layer of compost at the bottom. Once the layer of compost is put down, you will then put enough dirt back into the hole to create a small mound.

Now, it is time to actually put the tree into the ground. You are going to take the root ball and place it on top of the mound that you have created. Before you begin to put the rest of the soil back into the hole, make sure that the graft line is above ground level. For those that do not know, the graft line is the slight bulge that is located near the base of the trunk. This is where the bud has been grafted onto the rootstock, which created the tree you are planting. When you have made sure the graft line is not being covered it is time to fill in and lightly compress the soil. Be sure to create a one- two-inch mound around the tree, before you surround the trunk with mulch. Once the tree has been planted, you might have to stake it down. Firmly staking the tree into the ground will keep the tree from flopping around in the weather. If you live in a southwestern region, you may want to paint the tree trunk. Painting a tree trunk with interior white latex paint that has been diluted in a 1-1 ratio with water can help protect the newly planted tree from the sun. Paint your tree from the ground up, so help prevent the little sapling from being sunburned.

-High-Density Planting

If you are limited on space, you can choose to plant multiple trees in the same hole. By doing this you will limit the tree size by creating a competition between the trees for water, light, and nutrients. This system will work perfectly for backyard orchards since the goal is to keep the trees as small as possible. You will have to be careful in this endeavor because you still want to provide the orchard will just enough room for them to grow.

General First-Year Planting Tips:

  • Fruit trees should be planted 18-24 inches apart.
  • After you have planted them, cut the trees down, so they are all the same size.
  • In the spring and late summer cut the new growth back by half.
  • If you are planting more than one variety, make sure that no variety is dominating or shading out the other trees.
  • Make sure that there is a good layer of mulch around the trees. This will help the tree with water retention.
  • You do not need a watering routine for your new fruit tree unless the region that you live in is going through a dry spell.
  1. Pollinating Trees

If you trees are not being properly pollinated, then they will not bear any fruit. There are several ways you can improve the chances of your saplings being pollinated. This includes:

  • Attracting bees. Since bees are natural pollinators, you could grow flowers that are known to attract bees. This will increase the number of bees that come visit your orchard, which will improve the chances of your trees being pollinated.
  • Avoid insecticides. Using insecticides could kill off all your pollinators, so it is best to avoid these as much as possible.
  • Plant different varieties of the same tree. This will help create a successful cross-pollination, which can even be beneficial for those self-pollinating trees.
  1. Pruning Time

Since pruning can be a tiresome task, many people will choose to overlook this part of taking care of their trees. Skipping pruning sessions are not something that should be done, as it could limit the amount of fruit that you will be able to harvest in the fall. But if you prune down your fruit orchard at least once a year you will not only get more fruit, but the tree will continue to grow for many more years.

The best time for tree pruning is right before it starts to develop in the springtime. The goal of pruning should be to create the best tree shape that will also allow a large amount of light to hit the leaves of the trees. You should also remove any dead or diseased branches. If you are new to orchard pruning, it might be a good to hire a professional tree pruner the first time around. Or if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you could talk to an experienced grower or a local nursery worker, to get some tips on pruning.

General Orchard Upkeep Tips

Choosing to treat your orchard well will mean that you will get a large harvest for many years to come. Here are some extra tips that can help make your tree even more productive:

  • Make sure that the graft line is exposed. In some cases, when the graft line gets covered up by the ground you might get a surprise at harvesting time. Usually, when the graft is created, there is a different plant placed on the rootstock. So, when the graft line gets covered the tree could change back to what the original roots were. Which means that you could be expecting apples, and end up with peaches.
  • If you have planted apples and peaches, make sure that you thin out the early fruit. By doing this you are ensuring that the tree will have enough energy to create larger fruits later in the season.
  • Deal with pest when you first spot them.
  • Make sure that you water your during the dry seasons. Water your tree thoroughly every two weeks.
  • When the leaves begin to fall off the tree, make sure that you are raking them up.

Well that’s about it for this post, remember to comment or email us for any more questions.

Good luck and happy gardening!