Saturday, June 11, 2011

Growing Cosmos From Seed is Easy

 The cosmos flower is a good choice for beginner gardener as well as intermediate and master gardeners who desire a summer flower that will add color to garden after other flowers have spent.  These vibrant beauties certainly put on a color show and they are very easy to grow from seed.

I planted cosmos flower seeds outdoors on a sunny day in late spring.  My cosmo garden is in a location where it gets morning sun, part sun in the heat of the day and part sun in the late afternoon. The flower gets six hours of sun per day and is healthy with vibrant blooms

To provide drainage the cosmos were planted on a slight slope on my side yard.  The soil in this area is rich with organic matter. Normally I take care in the way I plant but I was in a hurry so I literally tossed the seeds into a new bed and then planted them where the seeds landed by covering the seeds with a half inch of potting soil and a light layer of mulch.

I cared for the seeds by watering them so that the ground was evenly most but not wet.
We had an unusual spring as the days were cool well into May and there was flash flooding. I was certain that the seeds were washed away. However 21 days later I viewed new growth.  Cosmo seedlings were pushing upward through the soil.

cosmo flowers
If you are a beginner gardener and would like to grow an easy flower from seed then I would recommend growing cosmos. They are beautiful bedding flowers that are easy to maintain provided you water them regularly and do not let the soil dry out. 

Fertilize your cosmos monthly throughout the growing season.  I use miracle grow mixed with water. The hose end fertilizer is a good choice. 

The cosmo will bloom throughout fall as long as there is sun and no freeze. 

Learn more about cosmos by viewing this YouTube video

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow' Growing Tips

Ajuga  reptans 'Burgundy Glow’s a creeping evergreen ground cover that many gardeners grow because of its dense mat growth, attractive green leaves with a bronze highlight and pretty blue spring blooms.  If you are seeking a low growing ground cover  then grow Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow'.

I grow ajuga in my rock garden and under my butterfly bush. I also grow it amongst my hostas, ferns and coleus. Ajuga reptans burgundy glow' is easy to grow and will spread quickly.

Purchase plants at a nursery or ask your friends if they grow ajuga. If they do grow the ajuga they me be transplanting in the spring, let them know that you are interested in trading plants. Trading is a good way to get healthy plants for your garden.   Offer your friend plants from your garden in exchange for healthy ajuga for your yard and garden.

Growing Tips
Select a garden site that features sun, part shade and shade. The ideal garden site is one that has early morning sun, part shade in late morning, and shade in the heat of the day followed by early evening sun.  An average of four hours of sun will enable the ajuga ground cover to produce healthy foliage and spring blooms.  Ajuga will tolerate full sun as long as the ground is evenly moist but not wet and well-drained.

Ajuga is not fussy about the type of soil as long as it is well-drained.  I find that when I add organic matter to the plants in early spring the leaves and flowers are healthier. 

Get the growing site ready by removing the grass and loosen the soil to six inches.  Mix an inch of compost or organic matter into the soil and also add a time-release fertilizer. Wet the soil so that it is evenly moist but not wet prior to planting.

Dig a hole that is three inches deep. Place the plant in the center of the hole. Spread out the roots and then fill in the hole with the soil. Space one-foot in-between plants, to allow for the runners. Lightly water the newly planted ajuga so that the soil is evenly moist.

Care for Ajuga
Apply a thin layer of mulch. This mulch will help to retain moisture, keep the roots cool and will prevent weed growth.

Set up irrigation system.  Place the water system on a time; set to water the plants from 6 to 7 am daily. 

Feed in spring with spent coffee grounds or with all purpose plant and flower fertilizer.

Tips and Warnings
  • Grow ajuga amongst Hosta, Fern and Astilbe
  • Plant under shrubs or trees
  • Fifty plants cover 200 square feet
  • Ajuga is good for erosion control
  • A low growing ground cover for zone 3-9
  • Apply a layer of straw to protect ajuga during winter, remove the straw in early spring.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Improve Dog Kennel Appearance

Dog kennels come in a variety of sizes; however most kennels are all made from chain link fencing and tend to be an eye sore.  

The dog kennel is a great way to protect your yard and gardens from your family dog.  A dog that has limited space will not transplant your flowers, dig trenches in your yard or chew or trample your gardens and thus a kennel is a necessity.  However in order to make the kennel eye appealing you will need to be creative and choose  kennel materials that do not interfere with   your landscape. Follow these tips to Improve your dog kennels appearance so that it adds curb appeal to home.

Choosing Dog Kennel Location
Decide the best location for the dog kennel.  Select an area that is away from your outdoor living spaces.  The back corner of your yard close to a large shade tree or on the side of your home would be ideal kennel locations.  

Improve Kennel Appearance
If dog kennels had lush grass flooring then the kennel would be eye appealing, but that is not the case.  Dog like to dig and most kennels have dirt floors with pot holes.  

Improve the appearance of your chain link dog run or kennel by installing a kennel deck.  The  deck is a good way to stop your dogs from digging in the kennel.  The custom fit deck flooring will comfort your dog by keeping them warmer in winter and cooler in summer.  The deck flooring is easy to install and is less money than pouring a cement floor.

Another way to improve the appearance is to install dog kennel cover that has UV protection. The top comes in a variety of colors that will compliment your landscape.  When you add a kennel top along with the platform flooring you will improve the dog kennels appearance. 
Improve kennel appearance with landscape

Landscape Dog Kennel

  1. Make the dog kennel attractive by planting evergreen hedges or shrubs in front of the chain link fencing.  
  2. Plant a fast growing shrub such as the Arborvitae Emerald Green.  The shrubs block the view and will buffer the barking dogs.  The evergreen hedge will also insulate the kennel by blocking wind, snow, ice and add shade to the kennel. When you look at your yard you will no longer view a six foot chain link kennel but instead you will see an evergreen hedge.
  3. Camouflage kennel with sweet autumn clematis or honeysuckle.  These fast growing vines will cover the chain link fencing with lush greenery and sweetly scented flowers.  
  4. Attach a trellis to the fence and then plant vines 18 inches apart.  Grow vines in a sunny location with well drained soil.  Apply mulch to keep the roots shaded and cool.
  5. Conceal the dog kennel by landscaping with ornamental grasses.  Choose the varieties of grasses that exceed six feet in height; fountain, feather reed or zebra grass and grow them in the border. 
  6. Plant medium height oriental fountain grass Karley Rose  in the front of the tall varieties and then in the front plant blue fescue  or liriope grass. An ornamental grass garden will improve the appearance of dog kennel.   The grass looks attractive summer through early winter.  Prune in early spring.

Other Dog Kennel Tips
Plant a garden of fragrant herbs close to the dog kennel.  A raised herb garden with peppermint, lavender, sweet basil, rosemary and red bee balm will scent the air.  These aromatic herbs will also repel mosquitoes and ticks.

Notes by Sgolis:

I shopped at for all of my grasses, flowers, herbs and evergreen shrubs that i used to landscape around my dog kennel. Normally I do not like shopping online for live plants but I was very impressed with the customer service and the shipping of the plants.

The owner of the company gives personalized service, normally you do not find this at a website or even at a hometown garden center.  So if you are looking for landscape plants for your dog kennel then I recommend shopping at greenwood nursery. 

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my Yard and Garden Secrets Blog.