Dragonfly Landing all about gardening
  • Creating Beautiful Gardens

    Designing Gardens

    Garden 001Our goal at Dragonfly Landing is to help you create beautiful garden environments, which harmonize with nature and with the people who own them. If you are lucky enough to own a garden, this site will hopefully help you to design and build your dreamscape.

     

     

    Landscaping

    Planning: Landscaping is all about the planning. If you just plant things in a sporadic manner, then you will find yourself with a crooked garden at the end. When landscaping, it is vitally important to have a good idea about what will go where.

    Symmetry: Symmetry in landscaping can look great but too much can detract from its natural beauty. Gardens are rarely straight and flat, but are more likely to be crooked and undulating. Utilizing natural features like stones in your garden can create an amazing look, but trying too hard for symmetry will make it look forced.

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    Missing equipment: Many people will begin a landscaping project only to realize that they do not have a vital tool. This can delay progress dramatically. An updated tool list when landscaping is important so that you know what you need and when.

    Missing the Overall Idea: The overall idea of your landscaping project needs to be neatly tied together. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, you may want to tie the design into the entrance of your home, or even create a separated and isolated area within your large garden. If you miss the overall picture of your landscaping project, then the garden can become very disjointed.

    Under-estimating the Budget: Under-estimating the budget for a landscaping project is a very common problem. The unforeseen or more subtle costs of a landscaping project can quickly add up so it is important to be as thorough as possible when financial planning for the project.

    Disappointment with the outcome: It is almost impossible to envisage the final look of a landscaped garden, but by imagining yourself relaxing in the final product is a great way to avoid making mistakes. After all of your hard work, you don’t want to be able to only see the garden at certain times or be enjoyed in certain weather conditions, Garden lighting can make a big difference, and keeping foliage low to let in the sunlight can also greatly benefit your enjoyment of the garden.

     

    Garden Ponds

    Garden ponds are one of the most popular features for the avid gardener, and making one yourself is not an impossible task. But before you begin to dig, here are a few things to consider…

    Location: Few gardens need be without a natural looking pond. Positioned in a quiet place or as a dominant feature, it breathes life into the garden creating atmosphere and character. Once installed it becomes a fixture. It is therefore important to position it correctly from both an aesthetic and horticultural point of view.

    Measuring the pond: Irregular shaped ponds should be treated as rectangles for the purpose of measuring. The measurements to be taken are: length, width and overlap. The overlap is the amount of liner required to secure it firmly to the ground, approximately 45cm / 1 1/2ft). The quantity of liner needed will be (2 x depth + length + 2 x overlap) x (2 x depth + width + 2 x overlap).

    Liner: The liner is one of the most expensive and important items you will purchase. Buy the best quality you can afford. You don’t want to be replacing it in the near future. Make sure to eliminate all small stones and sticks before installing the liner. It is highly recommended you first line the hole with a special fabric underlay and a layer of sand.

     

    Koi Water Garden Ponds

    Adding Koi or goldfish to garden ponds can enhance the natural beauty of anyone’s garden. But with the addition of fish to your garden, there are some other important points to consider.

    Pumps and filters: A pond filter / pump system is the single most important element of any pond. Not only does it function as a water clarifier, it is the heart of the fish’s health. Whether you have an in pond system or out of pond system, everything else evolves around this equipment.

    Periodic cleaning is important to all filter systems to achieve the full benefits. Always install a slightly larger than needed system to allow for fish growth. Don’t cut corners here, your pond’s health is essential.

    Fish and Plants: Do you vision Koi or Goldfish in your pond? If so, one area of the pond should have a depth of at least 3′ – 4′ so the fish are able to hibernate and overwinter safely. For other tips on fish care, see this useful guide.

    Koi and goldfish will not only add colour and pleasure to your pond they are beneficial to the eco system. Plants are a necessity, they provide balance to your pond, so allow for  6″ – 12″ shelves when planning and excavating.

     

    Garden lighting

    LED lighting is fast becoming the lighting of choice for many places around the home, and the garden is no exception. They are used for their low energy consumption and so are very low cost to run. The use of LED garden lights were very popular with low voltage lighting systems and have become common place in the garden with the use of solar LED garden lights where no wiring is required and so can be positioned anywhere with minimal fuss. LED lights are also used to aide plants in their growth but these are mainly used in very low light conditions and indoors – a good review of their use as grow lights is located at www.ledgrowlightsHQ.co.uk. And the authors have also taken the time to review some actual LED grow lights that are available for purchase. Granted the LED grow lights review is focused on the UK but almost all of those talked about are available in North America too.

     

    Garden Light Safety

    All outdoor electrical installations must be protected by a Residual Current Device or RCD, which will protect against electrical shock should an earth fault develop such as a person or animal touching a live wire. Also, irrespective of whether electrical cables to your outdoor lights are routed above or below ground, the cable must be offered some sort of protection from the elements and damage. There are several types of material that lighting fixtures come in. These include ABS Plastic, Painted Steel, Aluminium, Stainless Steel, Brass, and Copper.

     

     

     

    Growing Ornamental Edible Foods

    Growing edible plants that are also beautiful takes some thought and planning when it comes to choosing plants that add to your dreamscape but also offer tasty fruits or foliage for consumption. Some examples include blueberry varieties which come in early, mid-season and late-fruiting types: The green foliage is attractive all season and in autumn often turns shades of orange, red and yellow. Pomegranate trees are both productive and ornamental. The shiny foliage looks good for months and the tree is often in flower or fruit with bright orange red blooms. A dwarf species of peach called ‘Bonanza’ grows readily and in spring it blooms nicely with masses of cerise pink flowers. For a contrast in texture, you can combine it with plants like lemon grass, perfect for cooking too. Okra plants are also an ornamental edible favorite with very pretty flowers and colorful edible seed pods. Clever garden design can also see edible plants having other uses too, such as Rosemary bushes used as hedgerows or fig trees providing a screen between two properties.

     

    Raised Beds

    Raised-bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is raised above the surrounding soil (approximately 6 inches to waist-high), is sometimes enclosed by a frame generally made of wood or rock. The vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns, much closer together than conventional row gardening. The spacing is such that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other, creating a microclimate in which weed growth is suppressed and moisture is conserved. Raised beds produce a variety of benefits: they extend the planting season, they can reduce weeds and reduce the need to use poor native soil. Since the gardener does not walk on the raised beds, the soil is not compacted and the roots have an easier time growing. The close plant spacing and the use of compost generally result in higher yields with raise.

     

    Growing organically

    People have been growing food organically for millenia. Many of the principles were worked out long before chemical fertilizers and pesticides came into widespread use. Organic gardening is simply good gardening – It is vital that you match what you plant to your growing situation. If you give the plant what it needs in the soil and the right situation as far as light and shade, then it will grow. The right conditions are key. If needs be, you can improve your soil via composting, but while you can alter the soil to some extent, there’s no point in trying to dramatically alter an alkaline soil to grow rhododendrons. It’s about making the most of what you’ve got. The other key point is to remember that plants are living things and they will suffer from diseases – you need to have a relaxed attitude, but try to create a garden environment with opportunities for predators too. They are always working while you’re not. The biggest problem with using chemicals in a garden is that they kill the ‘good’ fauna as well as the bad. For example, using a nitrate salt fertilizer or an herbicide kills the beneficial fungi found in soil. Beneficial earthworm populations are also driven away. Or applying an insecticide, and the first insects to die are the parasitic wasps that control aphids and caterpillars. Even the “inert” carrier oils in insecticides are lethal to these tiny garden allies.

     

     

    Irrigation

    Putting together an irrigation system offers an easy and automated alternative to hand-watering plants growing in pots. It only requires a small amount of time and effort to assemble the necessary components, and is an investment that will very quickly pay off by freeing you up to do other things. An good irrigation system will comfortably manage this process for you and can comprise of as little as a reservoir tank, a pump, pipework, drippers and a timer.  Also your plants will be fed at regular intervals according to the settings of the timer. It usually takes a couple of days to get the timings right, but for a good initial guide during the vegetative stage you can typically achieve decent results from feeding just before the lights come on and just after they go off. A digital timer gives you more accurate control over the feed times than a mechanical one, and are recommended for irrigation timings. The size of your pots goes a long way to determining the feeding duration, with anything from 2-5 minutes representing a suitable period. You do not want water to collect in your saucers or work tray as a result of overfeeding, so it is important to get the correct length of time for your feeds.

    As the plants grow bigger and you begin to make plans for the flowering stage, you should increase the frequency of the feeds – and not the length of time the plants are fed – aiming for a little and often approach. Your plants will now follow an automated feeding regime. Aside from ensuring that the reservoir contains enough nutrient solution and occasionally checking for dripper blockages, there is very little required in the way of maintenance. This leaves you more time to focus on your plants, by conducting regular bug checks and striving to maintain optimum grow room conditions.

     

     

    Gardening in August / September

    This time of the year (August-September), we may think that the summer is the best time for plants but they can have a hard time in the heat if they are not cared for properly. Watering your garden regularly is an absolute must and providing plants nutrient feed at least once a week is best practice. If you go away on vacation, the garden can rapidly deteriorate, so you need to get someone to at least keep the garden respectable. If you don’t have someone to help or it’s too expensive to get someone professional, in this day and age we can turn to technological solutions available like programmable automatic sprinklers and the like. The great thing with such investments is that they continue to make gardening life easier even after you have returned from holiday. In August / September, you also have to keep an eye out for slugs and snails, and now is the time to be picking those courgettes or to be planting a late crop of spinach. August is also the perfect time of year to enjoy tender herbs, such as coriander, dill and basil. And for the more aesthetically-minded, now is the right time to get biennial flower seeds in the ground, so that they are ready to fill your garden with colour when the time is right.

     

    General Pond Cleaning

    Ponds are best cleaned in autumn when the fish and other life in them are less active. The first thing you should do is to prepare another tank for the fish using pond water before beginning to drain the pond… more

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