essex county

DIY Family Garden Project

Kokedama Hanging Garden For Kids (And Adults!)

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

With the technology kids have access to nowadays, it’s hard to get them away from anything with a screen. So why not let them have a fun learning experience while fostering their creative side and gain quality family time all at once? Try this fun DIY garden project on for size! This project isn’t just fun for the children, but adults can enjoy it as well! Kokedama hanging gardens are fun to make and very easy to care for, so it is perfect for your children (and yourself!). Kokedama means: “moss ball” in Japanese. It is essentially a way to garden by covering the roots with moss and soil and more moss, and then a string is added to hang it up.

For this project you will need:

•   Small, shade-tolerant plant (baby ferns work the best)

•   Scissors

•   Peat soil

•   Bonsai soil

•   Mixing pot

•   Water

•   Garden gloves

•   ½ cup measure

•   Yarn or twine

•   Moss, collected from outside or purchased at a garden center

Here we go!

Step 1: Remove the dirt from the plant by tapping it gently. You want to have the plant so that it is mostly the plant head and its roots (as little soil as possible).

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Step 2: Mix the two soil types together – 3 ½ cups of peat soil and 1 ½ cup of bonsai soil. Add ½ cup of water to dampen the soil mixture

Step 3: Put on your garden gloves (or don’t if you don’t mind getting a bit dirty!) and shape the soil mixture into a ball – similar to rolling dough. More water can be added (a small amount at a time) if needed to get the soil mixture to stay in a ball shape. Make sure the ball is big enough for the plant roots to fit inside.

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Step 4: Take some of your moss and wrap a small amount around the bare roots of your plant (this will help your plant retain moisture)

Step 5: Poke a hole in the soil ball big enough to fit the plant roots in, while maintaining the ball shape of the soil

Step 6: Insert the plant roots into the hole and mold the soil ball around them (again still maintaining the ball shape)

Step 7: Wrap the outside of the soil ball with the remaining moss

Step 8: Take your twine or yarn and wrap it around the ball several times to help keep the moss in place – make sure you leave some yarn or twine above the ball in order to hang it up

Step 9: Take your beautiful new kokedama hanging garden and hang it in a shady place for everyone to enjoy – to keep it healthy simply mist it!

 

 

http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/28869/kokedama-hanging-garden-for-kids

Using Soda In The Garden

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Share a Coke With Your...Garden?

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

         Coca Cola is one of, if not the most, popular carbonated beverage of our time. Most people enjoy Coke as a sugary carbonated soda but that is not all it could be used for! Coca Cola actually has a multitude of uses due to its sugar content and low pH level. It can be used as a cleaner for your spark plugs, car engine, toilets and tiles – it can clean up old coins and jewelry as well. It has also been used to relieve the pain associated with a jellyfish sting! With all of these different uses for this hallmark soda pop, could it possibly have any use in the Garden?

         Originally, Coca Cola was derived to cure a Confederate colonel of his ailing addiction to morphine that began after he was wounded during the Civil War. He was initially seeking an alternative pain reliever and his searching led to the invention of Coca Cola. Now, since Coke was originally being used as a health tonic, you might be asking, “what possible use could it have in our gardens?” It turns out that Coke can actually be used to kill slugs! Some gardeners use beer while others use poison, but Coca Cola will work just as well.

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         Slugs start devouring your garden in the spring before most other insects are even close to causing their own damage. The suspect is easily identified as slugs leave behind a trail of silvery slime wherever they go. They feed on the foliage of your plants; they chew ragged holes into the leaves and can sometimes devour an entire seedling. To use the Coca Cola method to control slugs in your garden, simply fill a low bowl or cup with Coca Cola and leave it in you garden overnight. Just like using beer, the slugs will be attracted to the sugar in the soda and lure them into the bowl. The slugs will then find their way into the sugary drink and suffer a death comparable to drowning in acid. This method works on wasps as well; the homemade wasp trap is similar to your slug trap, you could use a low bowl filled with the soda or even an open can or bottle of Coke will do. The wasps are also attracted to the sugar and travel into the container and drown. Coca Cola can also be sprayed on insects (such as cockroaches and ants) as a pesticide.

         If that wasn't enough, Coke can also be used in composting! Again, thanks to the high sugar content of the soda, it attracts the microorganisms that aid in jump-starting the break down process. The acids in the beverage also aid in the breaking down of compost. Pouring Coca Cola into the soil around your acid-loving plants is also said to reduce the pH level due to the acids in the beverage. So not only can you drink this enjoyable soda pop on a hot summer day, you can use it in your house, in your car and in your garden as well! With its nuisance pest control capabilities and its positive addition into your compost, your garden can enjoy this delightful drink as much as you do!

 

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/info/uses-for-coke-in-gardens.htm

Kopper King: The Hibiscus With Larger Than Life Flowers

Hibiscus x moscheutos 'Kopper King': The Kopper King Hibiscus

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            In New Jersey, the tropical hibiscus is one of the more sought after annuals seen quite frequently in entryway urns, patio planters and especially surrounding pools – but did you know that there are hibiscus plants that are actually hardy for our area? The Kopper King hibiscus is stopping people in their tracks wherever they are seen and for good reason! Becoming more popular in the New Jersey landscape, this perennial beauty is absolutely breathtaking with its massive blossoms, striking colors and stunning foliage. As opposed to the tropical hibiscus, this perennial is easier to grow and maintain and will be your landscape show stopper year after year.

            With a sturdy, compact and slightly rounded habit, this woody-based perennial grows to be about 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. The size of the flowers is comparable to that of a dinner plate measuring from 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The remarkable size of the blooms makes them one of the largest flowers produced by any perennial in this area. The flowers resemble that of its cousin the hollyhock; they are light pink with showy red veins leading to a bright red center. These massive blooms sit atop foliage that has a striking deep purple-red color, giving the plant its name ‘Kopper King’. One of the wonderful characteristics of this perennial is its extended bloom period, which goes from mid summer to early fall and sometimes even to the first frost.

            The kopper king will thrive in full sun but can tolerate some light shade. To produce sturdier stems and the best flowers, make sure to plant it in medium to wet soil with good air circulation – this will also help the plant to be stronger and better at resisting diseases. This perennial is susceptible to wind burn so be sure to plant it in a protected area to minimize its risk. Once established, the kopper king does not like to dry out, deep and consistent watering will help to ensure a happy healthy plant! When the flowering season is completed in late autumn, you can prune the stems back 3 to 4 inches to allow for new growth in the spring – this perennial will also benefit from organically rich soils and regular fertilizations during the growing period.

            The kopper king has many uses in the landscape; it can be used as a border, a specimen plant or, for a greater impact, you could use it as a massing plant. Since this plant prefers moist soils, it does very well along streams or ponds and in low or wet areas on your property. This unique plant is the perfect combination of a tropical vibe and a sophisticated appearance. With its beautiful foliage and massive blossoms, the kopper king is a no-brainer when searching for a landscape plant that is a definite head-turner while still being beautifully elegant at the same time. 

The 'What' and 'How' Behind Landscape Design

Landscape Design: More Art than Science

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            Almost everyone can appreciate a well-designed landscape but chances are that most of them believe that landscape design is merely putting plants in the ground. Truth is, landscape design is so much more than it appears to be. As landscape designers it is our duty to explain to you what exactly landscape design is and what it entails. Landscape design is an art form; it is where nature, culture and vision are combined to transform a property into a functional, creative and beautiful outdoor space.

            To put it simply, landscape design is the practice of putting together a plan that best utilizes an outdoor space in the most beautiful way. Designing a property takes time, energy, imagination, creativity and lots and lots of planning. Landscape design is broken down into two categories: softscapes and hardscapes. Softscapes encompasses all of the plant materials used in the landscape whereas hardscaping pertains to the stonework that is implemented into the design (such as rock walls, walkways, patios and more).

            There are 4 main principles when it comes to landscape design: proportion, order, repetition and unity. Proportion refers to the size of an object in relation to others in the landscape – this is more commonly used when implementing hardscapes into the design. Orders refer mainly to organization and balance in the landscape; this is very important when designing a space with plant materials. Repetition is used to create a familiar pattern and feel to the landscape – a landscape designer will repeat the use of certain plant materials or elements throughout the design. The last principle is unity; this refers to the flow of the landscape. Landscape designers want to ensure that all materials used in the project work together to create a theme, style or specific atmosphere that best reflects the clients’ personality and vision.

            Landscape designers are professionally trained to apply their extensive knowledge of space theory, design principles and the “right plant, right place” concept to best utilize any outdoor space. “Right plant, right place” refers to choosing the correct plant material for the specific site conditions. Soil conditions, amount of sunlight, drainage conditions, wildlife and watering practices are just some of the things that are taken into consideration when selecting the plant material for a project. Landscape designers have an extensive horticultural knowledge base, making them the “go-to” plant experts. Where a plant should be placed, how it should be maintained and how to manage pests and diseases are only a few of the questions professional landscape designers can easily answer.

            Aside from the aesthetics and horticultural knowledge – to ensure the functionality of the design, a landscape designer will take into account the spaces that are used, the clients’ lifestyle and the constantly changing needs of the clients’ home. A landscape designer will use their knowledge and ideas to help a client realize factors that they might not have considered previously. Each project is overseen by the designer, from the initial consultation to the completion of the project – they want to ensure that the completed work exceeds expectation and that the clients’ dream landscape has become a reality.

            When designing an outdoor space, designers take into consideration the clients’ budget and vision, site conditions, amount of usable space and the use of appropriate plants and other materials. Most people rush straight into the installation and construction phase of an outdoor design, without taking these important factors into account. This leads to a project that costs more than what they wanted to spend, more work than they wanted to do and a project that most likely will provide a less than acceptable end result. This is why hiring a professional designer comes in handy; they take all aspects of the job site into account to design and install a breathtaking one-of-a-kind creation. In a time and cost effective manner, landscape designers can transform an ordinary outdoor area into an extraordinary work of art that can last for many seasons to come.

http://apldca.org/what-is-landscape-design/

https://www.landscapingnetwork.com/landscape-design/principles.html

http://cislandscaping.com/what-is-landscape-design-and-why-do-you-need-a-landscape-designer/