The Benefits of Water Features in Garden Landscapes

Many homeowners aspire to make their homes appear as beautiful and welcoming as possible. Exterior renovations may be high on homeowners’ to-do lists, and landscaping is oftentimes a key component of those projects.

When planning gardens, homeowners may benefit by considering more than just flowers and shrubs while giving thought to other elements that can breathe vitality into their landscape designs. Water features can do just that, as such features provide more than just visual appeal.

Aesthetic appeal: Water elements stand out against the greenery and foliage and can be used to create focal points around the garden or yard. A single fountain can draw the eye, while a trickling stream or waterfall can deliver water to various spots in the landscape.

Soothing sound: Rain drops on a rooftop or waves lapping on a shoreline elicit feelings of harmony and relaxation. Water features can bring that gentle sound close to home, further enhancing the ambiance.

Brings texture: Water has its own unique and fluid texture that can provide stark contrast to blades of grass or the hard lines of architectural elements, such as pergolas or retaining walls. A pond or fountain can soften lines.

Enhance the natural ecosystem: Water features can attract wildlife to a property. Birds may visit to take a quick sip, and dragonflies are sure to dart and hover over the shimmering ripples. Inviting natural wildlife to the yard can add hours of entertainment by enjoying the animals and insects.

Remedy problem areas: Rather than fighting with the landscape, homeowners can adapt it. An area of the yard prone to soggy conditions or flooding can be transformed into a pond or waterfall to work with natural surroundings.

Foster a passion: Many people turn to water features so they can explore the hobby of nurturing an outdoor aquarium. Koi ponds are relatively easy to install and maintain, and the vibrant fish add visual appeal.

Add a personal touch: Water features are as unique as the homeowners who create them. To set landscaping apart from neighbors’ homes, homeowners can add fountains, ponds or flowing water elements to their properties. Decorative water features also can be melded with pools and spas to help these manmade recreational areas seem like they were carved right out of the natural landscape.

Water features can take landscapes to the next level with sounds, texture, movement, and beauty.

When to Tackle Weeds in Your Lawn

Weeds are the bane of lawn and garden enthusiasts. Weeds can spread rapidly and overrun pristine grass, choking lawns and robbing them of their lush green look. In garden beds, weeds can steal water from thirsty plants, threatening their survival.

A proactive approach that prevents weed growth is easier and less frustrating than dealing with weeds after they have sprouted. That means addressing weeds before they release seeds, and not waiting so long that the damage is already done. According to the home and landscape experts with This Old House, spraying herbicide for weeds in June and July can address weeds before seeds are set. Tilling and installing a new lawn in late August or the beginning of September can help the lawn establish itself before the first frosts arrive, all the while avoiding weed growth.

The weed control experts at Roundup also suggest a springtime application of weed killer if this is the desired route. Early treatment can prevent weed roots from spreading too far in the soil, which can reduce the chances that weed remnants will be left behind to grow at a later time.

Homeowners with small lawns or gardens or those who prefer hand-weeding or using nonchemical ways to treat weeds must take steps to address the weeds early. Gardeners can try suffocating weeds by placing wood, blocks or plastic over them. Wet newspaper used as mulch can block weed formation and also clear patches of unwanted grass so that garden beds can be mapped out. Pouring boiling water on weeds or pulling them by hand is more effective when roots are young and have not yet spread.

The UK-based company Lawnsmith also suggests a mid-spring weed killer application. This ensures that all weeds that have surfaced are addressed and that none are missed by weeding too early.

The Idaho-based Town & Country Gardens suggests lawn and garden enthusiasts wait to tackle weeds. By waiting and applying weed treatments in the fall, when dandelions and other weeds are absorbing food and nutrients in larger quantities to survive winter, homeowners can rid their lawns and gardens of weeds efficiently.

Weeds are a nuisance and an eyesore in lawns and gardens. Choosing the right time to treat them can ensure they don’t adversely affect lush landscapes and thriving gardens.

Select the Right Fertilizer for Your Needs

For plants to truly flourish, the right growing conditions and soil that offers the right nutrients is of paramount importance. Fertilizer enhances soil so that plants and flowers can thrive. However, fertilizer is not a one-size-fits-all mix.

Choosing fertilizer can be a little overwhelming thanks to the variety of formulations available at neighborhood lawn and garden centers. Shelves contain all-purpose products, such as those billed as vegetable fertilizer, and even formulations geared toward specific flower varieties. Others may feature buzz words like “all-natural” or “organic,” and consumers may not be sure just what they need to keep plants healthy. The following guidelines can help any would-be gardener or landscaper grow more vibrant plants.

Start with a soil test

It’s difficult to determine what plants need without an accurate picture of what’s going on in the ground. A soil test can paint a picture of what’s going on and indicate if any nutrients are lacking. A common misconception is that gardeners fertilize plants. But fertilizer amends the soil that feeds plants, according to the soil-testing lab professionals at Virginia Tech. Soil types vary by region, and conditions may even vary between spots on a landscape. Testing where the plants will be placed can yield the most accurate results. Soil tests are available at gardening centers and online. Otherwise, landscaping professionals can conduct tests.

Know the N-P-K ratio

Most fertilizers will come with information concerning the nutrients within. Most notably it will have a breakdown of how much nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) is in the mix. Judging by the soil test, gardeners can choose a product that will give them the right ratio to amend the soil for the type of plant they are hoping to grow. Complete fertilizers often have NPK in the formulation. Incomplete fertilizers may have only one or two nutrients. This allows a person to customize fertilizer even more without overdoing it with a particular nutrient.

Grow plant knowledge

A cursory knowledge of the plants being planted in the garden also can be helpful. Gardeners must recognize that some plants will not tolerate excess amounts of a particular fertilizer component, while some may need more. Checking books out of the library, seeking information online and consulting with landscaping experts will help expand homeowners’ knowledge about plant types and the needs of each particular plant they hope to grow.

Solid and liquid fertilizer

Fertilizers are generally sold in pellets, spikes and liquid forms. Pellets or granules are dispersed over large areas and will gradually offer nutrients when the soil is watered. Liquid fertilizer is concentrated and fast-acting. These may be used for container plants or smaller areas. Spikes usually are placed in houseplants or to feed individual trees or shrubs. Depending on the formulation, fertilizer may need to be reapplied once a month or more. Consult the product packaging for the correct application advice.
Fertilizer amends soil to grow stronger, more resilient plants.