Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Five Reasons to have a Pond in your Garden

Ponds are an incredible addition to any garden. They don’t just add beauty, but they add incredible life to your garden.


1. Attracts wildlife

Ponds attract a huge amound of wildlife that would otherwise not be in the garden. Birds, Frogs/Toads, Dragonflies, Raccoons, Possums, Deer (if they have access), Crawfish, and many others. The life that is in a pond will attract many others. Herons will see the water from miles away and come visit to appreciate (and eat) your fish.

2. Controls mosquitos

Yes, Ponds can reduce mosquitos in your garden. Any pond that you add to the garden should have fish. Some people just put in little “Mosquito Fish” which look like little Minnows. Other load up their ponds with beautiful Koi. One thing they all have in common is they love Mosquito larva. Your pond will actually reduce mosquitos!

3. Attracts birds

Birds are naturally attracted to water. When you add a pond to your garden, birds will seek out the water to drink and take a bath. Another great benefit is that the birds love to eat bugs.

 4. Pond Beauty

Ponds bring visual, auditory, and tactile experiences. A pond can add serenity to any garden landscape. You will want to spend more time in your garden just to enjoy the sound of moving water and to watch the fish glide effortlessly through the water.

5. A pond is a micro-climate

Ponds have many functions including to create an area where the climate can be quite different than elsewhere in your garden. You can plant different types of plants near the water which will enjoy additional sun due to the reflection from the water. The water acts also to stabilize temperature and, depending on the size of the pond, can help protect some of your plants from frost. The increase in humidity near a pond will also provide benefits to some of your plants close to the pond.

Ponds contribute what is called a stacking function. This means that a pond feature contributes more than one thing. This is also called an element with multiple functions. This means that a pond multiplies your benefits.

I have built many ponds and I would encourage you to start small and to build the beauty and variety in your garden!


Small Square Foot Gardens

I recently visited a beautiful site with small square foot gardens.

Small Square Foot Garden

3 foot by 5 foot Square Foot Garden

The gardens were either 4 feet by 4 feet or 3 feet by 5 feet. They are marked off by green string instead of wood like my garden.

Also, notice that the gardens have only a 4-6 inche border. This garden area is raised above a limestone base with probably about 6-12 inches of soil.  If you have read my earlier post on Design Rules for a Square Foot Garden, I recommend 12-18 inches of soil.

Another example fromt he same garden is shown below:


Basil Planted in Four Foot by Four Foot Square Foot Garden

Basil Planted in Four Foot by Four Foot Square Foot Garden


It is a four by four foot garden planted with Basil. The Basil is planted one per square.

What is the smallest square foot garden you have seen? Send me a picture and I’ll post it!

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Gardening Excuses Part 2

In my first post about gardening excuses, I wrote about the many excuses people make for not starting or keeping a garden. These included wishing without the effort, wishing for a garden without the time, and the ever present “Black Thumb” excuse.
There are more excuses not to garden with most of them being surmountable. Here are some more:

4. “It’s too hard to garden”

“It’s so easy, a caveman could do it”. Anthropologists generally agree that human groups learned to transition from hunter-gatherers to agrarian societies as knowledge was gained in the growing of crops. If prehistoric man (and women) could do this before alphabets were available, why can’t we? With usually 12+ years of some form of education; are we not more capable, and don’t we have the tools to figure this out? Between the internet, books, friends, grandparents, and neighbors, can we get this done?

 5. “Why garden when the grocery store sells everything I need anytime I want it?”

Great question. I eat a lot of food from the store, but not all of it. I grow a percentage of my food. I save money. Could you use a little extra money? Who couldn’t? The price of food keeps going up. Inflation does take it’s bite. If you have access to a small plot of land, you can end up saving money. My food is better than the grocery store food. It is rich in minerals, naturally grown without pesticides or herbicides, and I can do it again and again. I save my seed. I let some of my plants go to seed and collect it at the end of the season. What other kind of investment do you make that can replace itself year after year? Gardening is not free, but it can be cheaper than the store and it is certainly a cheap form of prevention of disease. There is truth in the statement that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

6. “Gardening is too expensive!”

Gardeners exist in all income levels and socio-economic strata. In fact, some of the most successful gardeners are the ones who don’t have much money. Why? They garden for food that they can’t afford any other way. During the depression, everybody gardened to sustain their families. During WWII, there were the victory gardens to grow your own food so that farmers could grow food for the war effort.

 7. I need help building a garden.  “I’ll get my ___________(fill in the blank…) to build one of these gardens for me”. 

We all need help from time to time. But when I hear this, I know that 99% of the time, they will not succeed. The will not get their husband to build it. It is not necessarily that they have lazy husbands, although some do. It is a question of ownership. You need to own your garden. If you and your spouse share a garden, it needs to be clear who takes care of what. This is true in relationships as well as professional organizations. When it is not clear who owns what, nothing gets done, the garden looks abandoned, and bitterness is the fruit of your labor.

I urge you to make a decision to garden successfully and stick with it. By reading this, you have taken a step toward gardening success. Now commit to this not as a project, but as a process of learning. This can bring you a lifetime of joy.

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Design Rules for a Square Foot Garden – Part 2

This is the second part of a 2 part post on the design rules for a Square Foot Garden. You can see the first post (Design Rules for a Square Foot Garden – Part 1) here. These concepts are very simple and are good guidelines to help you on your gardening quest.

This is your garden. You don’t have to follow these rules to the letter. You may have to adapt to your conditions and available materials. The goal is less work for you and more food and beauty. If you break these rules, you risk increasing your work load.

5. The sides of your raised bed must be strong enough to keep the soil from deforming the bed.

6. The soil should be raised above the level of the surrounding area.

7. The bottom of the bed should include a weed barrier to prevent surrounding or pre-existing plants from invading the bed. This step can be very important

Square Foot Garden How to Build

A level site for a Square Foot Garden is Important

8. The bed needs to be level. Keep in mind, almost not soil on earth is without a slope. If you are locating the square foot garden on a slope, you must level the soil under the bed. Gardening should be about food and beauty. Placing a square foot garden on sloped soil without first leveling looks bad (I tried it, and yes, it looked bad)

9. Don’t make the bed smaller than you need. You will be surprised at how quickly you fill a bed and will want more space. It is kind of like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. Sometimes the porridge is too hot, sometimes too cold, and sometimes it is just right. Build a garden that is just right.

10. Don’t make the bed bigger than you can maintain. If you make a 4’ by 100’ bed and don’t have the time or energy to maintain it, you risk it getting overgrown and ugly.