Whispers House & Garden
Gardening ~ Parenting ~ Home Repair ~ Pets
Wildflower Landscaping and Gardening
By: Tina Fountain
Take a hike through a meadow in full bloom and chances are you'll wish you could recreate a smaller version in your own yard. The colors and varieties of flowers and grasses are totally random, yet about as close to landscaped perfection that you'll ever find. Whether you have a large expanse or a small area, a wildflower garden can be a unique addition to your landscaping plan.
The native plants are hardy and once established require little care, fertilizer or watering. In a true wildflower garden, the flowers are planted close together, at least one per square foot of dirt. This allows them to provide shelter for one another, conserve water, and helps to eliminate weeds. The brightly colored flowers attract a variety of birds and butterflies and can provide a taste of wilderness even in the most urban setting,
Once a wildflower garden is fully established, you can sit back and enjoy, but the real effort comes with the soil preparation and maintenance in the first two or three years. Here is a guide to the successful planning and planting of your own wildflower meadow.
Designing Your Garden:
Plant a combination of wildflowers and native grasses. The most common complaint from new gardeners is that the garden bloomed beautifully the first year and proceeded to get sparser in subsequent years, accompanied by a high concentration of weeds. This is often the result of choosing a seed mixture consisting of non-native annuals instead of true native, perennial wildflowers and grasses. With the latter species, you shouldn't expect blooms until the third year.
When choosing plants, use a combination of Spring and late bloomers, as well as a mixture of tall and low growing species.
Flowers that attract birds or butterflies, include Blazing stars, coneflowers, asters, silphiums and sunflowers. If deer are a problem in your area, choose a combination of deer resistant seeds such as lavender hyssop, nodding wild onion, coreopsis, purple clover, purple coneflower and meadow rose.
Choose a sunny location with good air circulation. Your wildflowers will need a minimum of one half day of full sun to really thrive. Steep north-facing slopes tend to be sheltered from the sun and are not the best candidates for meadows, but do well with ferns or woodland wildflowers.
Soil & Site Preparation:
Determine your soil type, adding to it if needed. For instance, a sandy or clay type soil will benefit from added organic matter which breaks up heavy soils, improving ability to absorb water and provides air flow to the roots. The other effective method for improving poor soil is to plant a "green manure crop" such as buckwheat. Let it grow for a year and plow it under. The roots will draw up the nutrients from the lower soil and convert them into organic matter.
In addition to proper growing conditions and good soil, the most important factor in growing a successful wildflower garden is having a smooth, surface, free of weeds. The first step is to remove any existing vegetation is by smothering, cultivating, herbiciding or a combination of these.
On smaller areas, smothering is an effective method of eliminating weeds. Cover the planting area with dark plastic, tarps, old carpeting, plywood or a thick layer of leaves for a complete growing season. Adding a layer of newspaper before covering will enrich the soil even more. As the paper decomposes, worms will move in, adding even more nutrients.
A broad spectrum, non-persistent herbicide will also do the trick, especially on larger areas. The third alternative is to cultivate the area using a rototiller or tractor.
Once you have prepared your site, purchase your seeds from a reliable grower. On areas less than one acre, the seeds can be dispersed by hand, by mixing with a lightweight material such as vermiculite, peat moss or sawdust. For a 1000 square foot planting, combine one bushel basket of this material, dampened slightly, with your seed. Take half the mixture and spread across the area. When spreading the second half, walk perpendicular to your first spreading. If the soil is dry, proceed to roll the area. If it is wet, then wait until it dries slightly to avoid compacting the soil.
Source:About the author: Search Kennesaw GA condos at TinaFountain.com, the home of Kennesaw real estate experts.
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10 Low-Cost Activities To Do With The Kids
by Single Parent Central
1)Go to the library - Most libraries have story times for children once a week. Take advantage of their free events like concerts, art and crafts classes and science shows. Most libraries also have computers available so the kids can try out different software. Call your local library for a list of events.
2)Walk, Walk, Walk - Load the babies in the stroller, put the little kids on the bikes , get the teenagers off the couch and go out and walk. Not only will you and your children be getting exercise but also it is a good way for the kids to relax and talk to you about what's going on in their lives. A great stress reliever.
3)Check out the local Community Center- Community centers offer a wide variety of classes from swimming to karate, from dance to calligraphy. Community centers offer classes at an already low price but most have "scholarships" for families and students which will reduce or eliminate class fees.
4)Picnic in the Park- Pack a picnic lunch and head for a park with a playground. The smaller kids will keep busy on the swings and ladders while the older kids can bring a Frisbee or soccer ball to play with. Plop down a blanket for the kids, bring a lawn chair and book for yourself, and let the kids wear themselves out.
5)Community events- Zoos and children's museums usually have reduced and/or free days for children. Plays and symphonies often have free performances during dress rehearsals. Pick up a free parenting "throw away" paper usually found at libraries, community centers and schools. These papers are a good source of free events in your community.
6)Movie night - Rent a couple of movies or, better yet, most libraries will let you check out videos for free. Have everyone put on their pajamas, pop popcorn and bring out the blankets to cozy up with.
7)Game night - Turn off the TV, turn on the radio and bring out the games from the closet. Play a different game each week. Check out a card game book at the library and learn to play different card games.
8)Go to church- Find a church that fits your philosophy and beliefs. When you find a good match for your family look into the events that they have. Some of the larger churches have support groups, camps for the kids (often offering scholarships), picnics and other events. A nice tradition to start in your family.
9)Garden - From the littlest to the teenagers everyone can help with the garden. Have the kids decide on their own flowers and vegetables to plant. Easy to grow plants include sunflowers and geraniums. If you don't have room for a garden grow container plants on your deck or start an herb garden on your windowsill. Have the kids water and fertilize their plants regularly. Not only will this teach them responsibility but they'll take pride in watching their plant grow from seed to flower.
10)Volunteer- Check out your local nonprofits to see what would be a good fit for you and your family. Neighborhood clean-up projects are good for all ages to participate in. Delivering meals to seniors is another good project for all age groups The benefits of volunteering are immense for families. Giving back to the community will be installed in your kids at a young age while giving your family a nice tradition.
About the author: The article is free to reprint in any format provided the information at the bottom, including this, remains intact. Reprinted from Single Parent Central, www.singleparentcentral.com, which offers information and resources to single parent families. ©2000 SingleParentCentral.com
Article Source: http://www.Free-Articles-Zone.com
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HOME CARE & REPAIR
Interior painting and decorating – where to start?
by Anirban Bhattacharya
If you would like to give your home a new look or makeover, here is some handy tips and information to help you with your interior painting and decorating project.
Interior painting can take many days to complete and it requires a lot of energy to complete the whole job. Almost every room has a different set of circumstances to deal with. There are areas of the home where moisture is present such as bathrooms and kitchens, children’s bedrooms may have crayon marks, pen marks, dart holes, stickers, thumb tacks etc.
Stair wells and hallways sometimes have higher ceilings that have to be reached. You may need to consider what colour to paint the trim, baseboards, doors and frames. All of these are things that need special attention.
Other questions that need considering:
When you are planning your interior painting ideas, choose your colours to suit the intended function for the room. Select colours that will match the furniture and electrical fixtures and appliances and other objects. As a general guide, lighter colours tend to promote space and awareness, which are good for children’s room or the new born. Darker colours will make a room seem a little smaller but it can create a cosy feeling, like an entertainment room.
- What colours should you use?
- What colour combinations will look right?
- What brand of colours should you buy?
- What interior painting techniques should you use?
- What kind of effects can you create?
- Should you do it yourself or call in the professionals?
Firstly, decide on how many walls you want to paint and in which order you want to paint them in. This will help you estimate the amount of paint you need and also help you plan where you want to store the furniture temporary while you are painting. Remember also, to take into consideration the inconvenience the painting will have on all family members including pets.
Next is to protect your surfaces from paint splatters, area such as the floor, all furniture and fixtures and fittings. It may be a good idea to use old sheets or newspaper to cover exposed items. Taking time to cover and protect your processions means cleaning up will be much quicker.
Lastly, clean the walls before you start painting. Remove cob webs and insects deposits on the wall. Patch up any holes and cracks to ensure you have a smooth painting surface for the paint to go on.
If you are going to do the painting yourself, it will be a good idea to visit your local Hardware or Paint Shop and spend some time there looking around. Look at different colour samples, match colour swathes, ask about different colour brands and the differences between them, ask about the technical requirements and procedures to follow, and the equipment you will need to get started.
Any do it yourself job is always satisfying and could save you a lot money. But in the end you may want to consider hiring a painting professional. You maybe be better off time wise and even money wise after you have considered all the necessary equipment, knowledge and skill needed to paint your home.
About the author: To know more how to hire Builder and Painter and Auckland Painters for home renovation, also visit our site www.tradebox.co.nz for more details about Builders NZ.
Article Source: http://www.Free-Articles-Zone.com
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Practical Steps to House Train a Dog
by Richard Cussons
At the core of any worthwhile plan to house train a dog is always prevention, and never punishment. But what are the key points that you can control for a complete housetraining plan? Here are some of those.
1) Bring your dog to a veterinary exam and urine/fecal check.
How your puppy is, healthwise, will determine to what extent will the training be successful. Being a new puppy owner, bring your dog to a vet within 48 hours of his getting home from the breeder or shelter. If your puppy flunks the tests and is proven to be less than healthy, enlist the help of the vet in resolving any health condition that may compromise the house training; an example of this condition is bladder infection.
2) Confine the puppy when it cannot be watched.
Crate training or area confinement is an important device for dealing with a puppy or an adolescent dog, when it will be the only one in the house. If introduced appropriately to the pet and used in the intended manner, crate training can actually be seen to be efficient and humane in how it minimizes housetraining accidents, aside from how it safeguards your puppy when you can not keep an eye on it all the time. The crate is not supposed to be used for long stretches of time and, moreover, must not be a means of punishment. Keep your dog on its toes through enough daily activities done together, interactive playtime and exercise. In sum, a crate can be the best means to house train a dog, and moreover, to prepare it for obedience training.
Now here is more advice on how to handle crate training. If this type of training and the other modes of confinement will be used, then it must be together with sufficient exercise and companionship. We cannot downplay here the potential damage to your dog's personality that excessive periods of isolation can cause, manifested in behavioral problems such as destructive behavior, self-mutilation, and excessive barking.
3) If possible, get the dog to eliminate within the walk; do not return until he does.
If your puppy has been kept the whole night inside a crate, bring him outside first thing in the morning. When your puppy does indeed eliminate outdoors, praise him mightily and give him a treat. Bringing your puppy back right into the house before he's fully eliminated is the recipe for a potential housesoiling accident indoors!
The solution to a dog that simply cannot eliminate, is return home, crate the dog, then try leashing him and bringing him outside every 15-30 minutes until he "goes".
4) The dog must be barred from places which are inappropriate areas to eliminate.
Some dogs pick certain areas or types of surfaces to eliminate on, going for rugs, carpeting, etc. You need to keep your puppy off-limits from these delicate or sensitive areas or surfaces. A puppy bolting out of sight may mean that the dog will visit its secret spot to eliminate, so its very important to secure the entrances to rooms and passageways where the dog can furtively take a pee or poo.
5) Get rid of worms and parasites.
Get in touch with your veterinarian if you think your pet is infested with worms, coccidia, fleas, ticks, or other internal or external parasites.
About the author: Richard Cussons will give you practical steps on how to house train a dog. Check out bedogsavvy.com for more dog house training tips.
Article Source: http://www.Free-Articles-Zone.com
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