How to Make Golf Course-Worthy Lawn at Home

How to Make Golf Course-Worthy Lawn at Home

I’ve seen a few golf courses in my life and have always been fascinated by the sheer beauty of lawns there. The expanse of green grass so soft and perfect, it seems one can rest on it as comfortably as if it were a bed, looks absolutely incredible.

I guess it was this beauty that sparked my passion for golf. Very soon I got myself a set of quality golf equipment and set out to explore all the courses I could reach. I must admit that even now at least half of my pleasure comes from enjoying the walks across those marvelous landscapes.

perfect golf lawnI’d like to make a personal note here that navigating large courses and choosing clubs became much easier for me once I got myself a golf FPS watch. This device turned out to be a great help for me. If you have never heard about such a type of watch, I sincerely advise you to check out reviews on Golfoid.

However, I’d like to get back to the incredible golf course lawns. The first thing I wanted to do after seeing my first course is to have a lawn “just like that” at home. Alas, I quickly realized that it’s not going to be an easy achievement. Even despite the fact that I consider myself to be something of a gardening aficionado, the quality of golf course lawns turned out to be too high to match. I’d say that comparing the results of my efforts to these immaculate green perfections was like comparing a common machine to a commercial-grade one.

Of course, I wasn’t deterred by my first failings. I immersed myself in research and talked to every golf groundskeeper I could find asking for advice. In the end, I managed to compile a list of tips that actually did help me make my home lawn into the emerald perfection I was so obsessed with. Today I’ll share them with you.

  • Use the right mower.
    From my experience I can say that a reel mower is the best for producing a golf course-worthy lawn at home. It cuts the grass cleanly and evenly leaving you with a truly well-manicured lawn.
  • Don’t mow your grass too short!
    To achieve the best look, you will need to mow your lawn at the height of about 2 inches. This height is perfect because it promotes deeper routing. Cut your grass too short, and its rooting system will be underdeveloped. This puts a stress on the soil and makes it susceptible to disease. Cut down about 1/3 of the length of the blade when you mow your lawn.
  • Choose the right kind of grass.
    This is the crucial factor that will “make or break” your lawn. There is no one universal best type of grass, so you will need to try a few options or consult a professional. Remember, your soil determines which grass is best for this purpose, so take your time to do the necessary research and find the perfect option for your land.
  • Don’t water the lawn too much.
    Over-watering is as bad as under-watering. To achieve the best results, water your lawn infrequently but deeply, this will promote the development of the rooting system, which will result in healthy luscious grass.

Get Fit with Gardening

Get Fit with Gardening

A few days ago I talked to one of my friends complaining how he can never make time for a gym as his schedule is so busy and got thinking. My job keeps my physically fit and I enjoy an occasional workout, but I know that many people aren’t as lucky. Life indeed gets pretty busy nowadays, and it’s easy to lose yourself to the routine of work and chores.

However, when I was pounding my great punching bag yesterday I started to think how we do quite a few physically strenuous things throughout the day. I mean, I feel the same kind of elation after a day spent working around my workshop fiddling with furniture parts as I do after a day at a gym.

But I realize not many people today get an opportunity to combine their workouts with actual work as there aren’t many opportunities to have a fitness training session in an office. This got me thinking on how we can turn some other common activities in healthy physical exercises.

Of course, the first thing that came to mind was gardening. As I’m very invested in it myself, I realize how much work must be invested in maintaining a beautiful garden. Even if you don’t have lots of fancy flower beds that need to be weeded, you will get a good workout from ordinary “garden maintenance” if you plan your “exercises” right.

I did a bit of research on the matter and found out that many people have thought about this before and some health and fitness specialists even developed gardening exercises. I learned quite a few useful things from them and I’d like to share some of them with you.

  • Start with a warm up.
    To turn gardening into a fitness workout you need to approach it as such. Therefore, the first thing to do is to warm up and stretch your muscles properly. This will not only set you in the “gym” mood but also make sure you are much less sore afterward.
  • Keep your posture straight.
    Quite a few gardening activities require you to bend and crouch, but you should always control your posture and keep your back as straight as possible. It will get easier with practice. Personally I see it like a yoga session where I have to arrange my body in various fancy positions and keep my spine stretched out at the same time.
  • Mix in some exercises into your work.
    To do this you may need equipment, but you most likely have it already. Do you have a bench? Step-aerobics is one of the healthiest exercises you can find and it will get you quick rather fast. Look up some videos of professional step training and try some of those moves when enjoying the view of your well-maintained garden. Do the same for other types of exercises and device a gardening workout that will be a mix between the actual gardening activities and fitness training.
  • Do some actual gardening.
    Gardening is a form of exercise by default, so all you need to do is to prep your body and start mowing, digging, lifting, raking, weeding (try doing this while squatting to work your bottom muscles and while standing on hands and knees to work the back and abdominal muscles). Do this regularly and you will get a beautiful garden and a much fitter body.

How to Bring Your Garden into Your Living Room

How to Bring Your Garden into Your Living RoomEver wondered how refreshing it would be to bring your garden into your living room – well you can, though not in a physical sense but close to it. This is achieved by having the wall facing your garden replaced with a patio glass door.

What are patio glass doors? You may ask. Well, these are building structures borne of the idea to combine the functionalities of a door and a glass window. They not only give an extensive attractive view of the outside but also let in a lot of natural light while providing a passage to the outside. Patio doors are mainly located on the exterior walls of a building and hence can be a creative way to bring the garden into your living room.

Patio glass doors consist of glass panels which are fixed onto frames (which can be made of wood, steel, aluminium or even fiberglass) and are attached to the wall either by hinges or sliding rollers. The frames and glass panels are energy efficient, also you may want to use wide so as to have maximum view of your garden.

The main types of patio doors available in today’s market include;

Folding patio doors

These doors are designed in an accordion style whereby; the framed glass panels are hinged together then attached to an overhead or bottom roller track so that the glass panel system folds and unfolds when it slides back and forth.

Gliding/Sliding patio doors

These are the most popular design of patio doors. They consist of two or more glass panels fitted into frames and attached to rollers (usually embedded along wall) for the purpose of gliding back and forth, parallel to the wall. The main reason of their popularity is that they give a sophisticated look to a building .

As long as the glass panels a wide enough then you will have an attractive view of your garden while in the sitting room, a nice way to kill two birds with one stone; just like having jiu jitsu equipment like this that can be worn while swimming and still be used for martial arts training

Hinged/ Swinging patio doors

They are made up of extensive glass panels fixed onto holding frames; the frames are then hinged onto either side of the doorway walls so as to swing inwards or outwards when opening.

So if you have an impressive front yard garden you can now use it as a decoration to the general outlook of your house mainly the living room by use of patio glass doors to incorporate the natural beauty of the garden into the living room space.

You may also decide to make the wall next to the garden into a glass wall instead of a patio door hence an even more comprehensive view of the garden, though this comes with the disadvantage of compromising the security of the house, but if you live in secure neighborhood or a secured private compound then you can take the chance.

Hydroponics and its Benefits

Hydroponics and its benefitsGardening has indeed come a long way. More and more people are looking for new and innovative forms of gardening now. One of the most effective gardening methods is hydroponics farming. Not many of us would be familiar with this term, but this is a revelation in the world of gardening. Let us look into this method and learn why this is so important.

What is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a great method to grow your plants and vegetables. The word comes from a Latin word, which basically meanings working water. So, water is given a lot of importance in this farming. Why? There is a reason for this. This is because in hydroponics, there is no soil involved. Yes, you heard that right. Plants are grown without soil. There are various nutrients required that promote plant growth. The plants grow just as well without soil. This is a very environment friendly mode of farming with the plants being in the best of health.

How does hydroponics work?

It is a common misconception that plants cannot grow without soil. Like every other living being in the world, if you give the plants what they need in the correct quantity, they will grow unobstructed. In water, the plants grow well and you will get the most genetically healthy variants.

There are specific growing mediums in hydroponics that require a good amount of nutrients. This is perfectly balanced, with aptly adjusted pH conditions. The roots have access to the nutrients in a very soluble form. This is why this form of farming is very well suited to the plants. You will get plants which grow fast, with better growth and more fruitful yield.

For home gardeners, this is a very good idea. Hydroponic plants add another dimension to your home garden. To make your house look even more attractive, you could work on some good patio furniture to compliment your beautiful garden. For this, you can make use of these multipurpose oscillating tools available at OscillatingToolsDepot.Com.

Oscillating tools are useful for a lot of other work at home. Some oscillating tool reviews might prove to be useful for you.

Benefits of hydroponic farming:

This innovative method of gardening comes with a lot of advantages on the plants and the environment.

For starters, hydroponic plants require less space to grow. You will be able to grow the same amount of crops in 50% less space and this is very good for land conservation for other purposes.

Low water usage is also another benefit of hydroponic faming. Only 10 % of the water required in soil farming is used up in this mode of farming. Water is only lost through evaporation. Otherwise, there is no wastage of water.

Reduced use of fertilizers: Since a proper growing medium is created for growing these plants, you do not have to add a lot of fertilizers. This is good for the environment as well as the plants. The use of artificial fertilizers can adversely affect plant life.

In hydroponics, there are fewer chances of plants being affected by diseases. This is because a lot of care and nutrients are required for this farming. So, the plants that are yielded are free from diseases, and have better growth.

Sawdust in the Garden

Sawdust in the GardenSawdust is one of those things people have a hard time finding a use for. It’s like metal shavings or iron filings, potentially good for something but difficult to apply. Well, not anymore. I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who works with wood a lot, in a mill even. I mentioned that I was looking for an alternative to bulky mulch made from wood chips and he suggested I try sawdust the next time I’m trying to cover some ground. Apparently it works just as well as the chunkier mulch for retaining water, but you can’t just sprinkle it on top of the soil like you would with traditional mulch.

Instead, you need to mix it together with the soil, like by dumping both ingredients into a container or pit and then combining them with a rake or a shovel to try and make it homogenous. This is a lot like what a farmer might to do mix some natural fertilizer in with top soil before the planting season, so I know some of my readers will already understand perfectly what I’m trying to explain here. Unlike fertilizers though, you need an awful lot of sawdust in the mixture to get the mulch effects you’re trying to reproduce – like as much dust as you would get if you were to grind all that mulch to grit.

Because sawdust has such a limited scope of use, you won’t usually find it at stores, even gardening or home improvement stores. The odds are good you will need to make your own. That’s easy enough with a good belt sander. Normally machinists and carpenters use devices like this to make wood smooth, but that only works because the sander rips away bits of wood and provides a clean, flat surface. Nobody said you had to stop sanding there though. You could grind down whole planks of wood with a sander in this manner, getting all the sawdust you need.

Once you’ve ground down a few pieces of wood, you’ll have enough sawdust to mix into your soil for whatever it is you’re looking to plant. There are just two things about this process, one good and one bad, which still need to be explained. One, because of the nature of this mulch being mixed in with the dirt rather than stacked on top of it, you have to do this before you start planting; you can’t apply this mulch to existing plants without destroying their roots.

Second, the wood dust can literally be sourced from anywhere. I’m going to actually recommend you don’t waste good money on construction-grade wood to just grind it down into dust. If you have some firewood of your own, or you live near water and can reliably find driftwood, these are both excellent choices. As long as you’re not using pressboard, particleboard, plywood or other chemically treated, unnatural wood, you’re going to be giving your plants exactly the kind of mulch they need.

Soft Water v Hard Water in Your Garden

Soft Water v Hard Water in Your Garden

Water is essential to pretty much all life on this planet. Without water animals would die, plants would die, everything would die, basically. However, there are also different types of water, hard and soft, which are each better for different applications. First, it’s important to understand the difference between them. Soft water is free from mineral content; no salts, metals, debris or other impurities are there. It’s just distilled water. On the other hand, hard water has minerals, like water you would find in a well, or in most cities. Calcium, lime, fluoride and other minerals can be found in most drinking water.

So which of these water types would be better for the plants growing in your garden? Well, there’s a relatively simple answer to this question, so I’ll get right to spilling the beans. Sure enough, most rainwater is soft. It doesn’t hold salts or metals too well once it evaporates from an ocean, lake, pond or other body of water, heads up into the air to form clouds and then falls back to the Earth again. And plants get by just fine on rain. It might seem like soft water is the better option and to be honest, it usually is. Sometimes it’s best to just not mess with the way nature does things.

The minerals contained in hard water are typically not good for plants, with some being downright deleterious. Fluoride is a good example of a hard water mineral which is generally toxic to plants. It causes burning and fraying in the tips and edges of leaves, especially thinner ones. Many chemical fertilizers utilize certain salts, ashes, potash, organic matter and other ingredients to help plants grow stronger, or create more flowers, which leads to more fruit or seeds. Hard water does contain minerals and salts, but not many of these good ones.

Fortunately, if your home does have hard water, there are ways to fix it. You could always get a water softener of some sort. I’d check a place like http://watersoftenerland.com to get more information on those. Culligan is a pretty popular company for water softeners over in the United States, but I can’t really give an opinion on good companies elsewhere in the world. It’s not something I’ve ever had to deal with, myself. I tend to use rain barrels to collect water that falls from the sky and then use that when feeding my plants.

I understand that rain barrels are illegal in some places and just frowned upon in others, so it’s not a solution everyone can use. On the other hand, a water softener is good pretty much anywhere, as long as there’s room enough to install it and funds enough to pay for it. You might want to consider keeping a separate, soft water container for your garden upkeep and hard water for things like drinking water or bathing water. The mineral content is actually pretty good for people, just not so good for most plants.

Preserving Fresh Vegetables without Preservatives

Preserving Fresh Vegetables without Preservatives

Refrigeration is probably one of the greatest inventions from the last hundred years. By keeping foods cool, it’s possible to keep them edible for a longer time, which means transporting, selling and even preparing and eating certain foods is easier now than it ever was in the past. However, refrigeration alone won’t stop things from going bad. And freezing, well, that could have an adverse effect on the taste and quality of a food item. So what do we do if we have fresh vegetables and want to preserve them without chemical preservatives?

The answer is a lot easier than you might think. See, most bacteria needs a couple things to grow. First is air. Air coming in, air coming out, there must be some air flow for the bacteria to get the oxygen and other gases it needs to continue to live. Then there’s moisture. While it’s true that some bacteria reproduces and grows better in dry environments, like some of the types which live in your mouth, the majority of bacteria needs a ready water supply to procreate and continue living. There’s one item which solves both of these problems.

I’m talking about vacuum sealers, things like these, which allow you to store vegetables or even things like clothes inside of bags, and then suck all the air out of them, creating an airtight vacuum of a space. Now this isn’t going to keep your foods fresh forever, as the vegetables themselves contain a good amount of water and usually something gets left in the bag even after the air has been removed. It can significantly extend the refrigerator life of your foods though, by days, weeks or even months in some cases. It really does work.

You can find these machines practically anywhere, and the funny thing about them is you usually end up paying more for the bags than the actual vacuum machines, because you end up going through them so quickly. Some of the higher quality bags are actually reusable, so you won’t go through those as quickly, but they do cost more up front. It’s up to you how you choose to seal your foods, but even with basic bags and a simple vacuum it’s possible to preserve your vegetables for weeks longer, without using any preservatives.

This is great news for those people who love to grow their own vegetables. I’m counted among that group and I regularly use a vacuum sealer to help foods from my garden keep for longer. What I don’t eat right away I pack up, and what I won’t eat from that over the next month or two, I tend to give away to friends, family, whoever will take it really. The bounty of the Earth is something that should be shared in my opinion, and these devices will keep your foods fresh for long enough that you actually can share them. Packed like this, vegetables will usually manage to ship a fair distance without going bad too.

Building Retaining Walls

Building Retaining Walls

Gardening is a fine hobby, though I might be a bit biased in that judgment being a garden designer myself. However, what can you do if you’ve got a green thumb and the will to grow something, but not the plot on which to do the planting? Elevated gardens are usually my first go-to answer for people who present this predicament to me. In these, I use retaining walls to hold in a certain level of dirt, and then plant in that. Depending on the potential depth of the root systems in what is being planted, these walls need to be taller or shorter.

neat eastern gardenNow I talked about building walls just the other day, using sections of wood cut with a lathe. That works great. The only thing is, to keep your walls from falling apart due to rain, interference from animals and other things, you’ve got to reinforce it. The best way I’ve found for doing this is to simply nail the wall sections together, usually by making a second layer behind the first and then using every single piece in the supporting layer to nail together two pieces in the outer layer. It’s really pretty easy to do.

The only thing is, I usually don’t sand or otherwise treat wood I’m working with to save time. That makes it difficult to handle with my bare hands or even with gloves, as splinters can stab at me thanks to the rough edges. When nailing together wood sections for a retaining wall, I like to use a framing nailer to affix the nails without ever needing to put my hands on the wood I’m working with. These things are even better than nail guns for driving nails through thick pieces of material, but they certainly lack the precision of smaller automatic nailers.

When you’re just building a simple retaining wall to hold back soil it’s not really a big deal. Now if you were doing finer work, or work which would be seen regularly by people, you’d want something that looked a little more professional. I actually get that request from clients sometimes, so I do have a smaller machine for more precision nailing. Time is money though, and by saving myself time I’m able to save my clients money and keep my business competitive. You wouldn’t believe how many other garden designers are out there.

You also want your wall to be high enough that it keeps the soil held back even in the event of heavy rain, which would normally carry some of the dirt up and over the edge of a wall to send it spilling over the other side. A wall should be up to a foot higher than the garden you’re using it to contain, though it could be shorter than that depending on your preferences and if you live in a place that doesn’t get much rainfall. Ultimately you can design your garden however you want; this is just me, a designer, giving out some tips.

Keeping Hydroponics Clean

Keeping Hydroponics Clean

I often talk about designing gardens for people. It’s usually the same kind of work from job to job too; I do a little landscaping, do a little digging, do a little drawing before any of that to outline the finished project and see if my client on a particular job is happy with what I’ve imagined. But there are gardens which don’t grow in the dirt, if you can believe that. Actually, hydroponics isn’t such an amazing thing these days. There was a time when it was a fairly revolutionary way to grow plants of all kinds, but the shock and awe affect has diminished since then. It’s still a great way to grow things though.

This is especially true because you can combine your aquarium with your growing space if you know how to do it. The fish will eat microscopic bugs and other pests which might otherwise get at your plants, and your plants will introduce lots of fresh, pure oxygen into the water as they feed off the carbon dioxide from the fish and release the oxygen waste back into the water. It’s a very economical setup, but you can’t just depend on the plants to keep everything clean. They are decent filters, but if you put too great a burden on them, they’ll just die. We don’t want that, so here’s what you do.

You ever heard of canister filters before? They are large, usually cylindrical canisters which are used in massive aquariums, usually in places like zoos or other spots with lots of aquatic life in a confined space. However, because these filters come in numerous sizes, there are also some available for smaller scale aquariums. A filter such as this would pull the dirt, fish waste and other grit out of your hydroponic setup which the plants can’t or shouldn’t filter on their own. It’s really pretty simple once you understand you’re creating a kind of biome which needs to be cared for to keep it alive.

The only thing about this is, you’ll need to install a pump and some other electronics to make the setup work correctly if you plan to use a secondary filter. The water isn’t going to push itself through your filter, you get it? So you’ll need to place a pump and some hoses to do that job for you. It’s certainly worth the extra bit of effort if you’re already going far out of your way to craft a quality hydroponic growing tank. Really, it’s nothing compared to all the work which comes before it, so there’s no reason for you not to add the filter unless you’re trying to go all natural.

So, you can effectively keep a hydroponic garden clean by adding a few fish to the mixture. Make sure they’re freshwater fish or else you’ll just be dumping a bunch of money down the drain, so to speak. If you want the cleanest possible aquatic garden though, you’ll want to add some sort of mechanical filtration system to complement the natural one.

Poolside Gardens

Poolside Gardens

With the weather warming up like it has been lately, more and more people are going to be looking to find relief from the heat and humidity outside. Naturally you’ll find folks turning to pools, ponds, lakes and other bodies of water where they can take a dip and cool off. I’ve actually designed a number of gardens which were built around pools, like the pool was the background, so to speak. People who have a yard with enough room for an in ground pool usually also have space for flowers and other fixture plants. So I want to talk about poolside gardens for a bit today.

It’s kind of the iconic garden when you really think about it. Plants can grow just about anywhere, even in deserts with little rainfall throughout the year. But where do you see more plants than anywhere else? Right up against big bodies of water. Though there’s nothing natural about a huge cube made from cement and other materials, by surrounding your pool with a variety of different plants, you can make the scene look more natural. That’s good news for all the naturalists out there and a few other people too, I’d wager.

Besides beautifying your pool and making the huge hole in your yard look a bit more like it should actually be there, poolside gardens are rather excellent for sucking up any water that makes it out of your pool. Of course, chlorine isn’t really good for plants – it will kill many of them, just like it would kill you or I if we were to ingest a significant amount. This is only really a plus if you’re using alternative cleaners to keep your pool water safe, such as occasionally stirring a tiny amount of bleach into it. With a pool pump you wouldn’t need to use any harsh chemicals at all, so that’s worth thinking about.

So far I’ve only really talked about the visual aspects of poolside gardens. However, as anyone who has ever stuck his or her nose into a blossom can tell you, many flowers come with delightful scents packed into every bloom. In addition to making your pool and surrounding yard look better than ever, a poolside garden could significantly improve the smell of your swimming area. A garden won’t do anything at all to help keep your pool warm though, so if you’re a fan of swimming during the winter or other colder parts of the year, you’ll probably still need to check out http://poolheaterworld.com.

There are other benefits to a poolside garden as well, like a constant supply of fresh vegetables and even some fruits if you aren’t just planting flowers for show. Plants like peas, green beans and other creeping vines are good sources of veggies but they also come with myriad blooms to enjoy, even if they tend to be smaller than some of the other flowers you could be planting. By combining your pool and garden into one area you can also save space in other parts of your yard, so there’s that to consider too.

All Natural Plant Containers

All Natural Plant Containers

Now it’s no secret I like to get my hands dirty. Digging in the earth and planting seeds is something I rather enjoy, which is probably why I’ve come to be a garden designer as an adult. There’s something to be said for the stress relief you can get from stabbing at something with a spade or other small shovel. However, the truth is that many people who want to have a garden of their own just don’t have the space to install it. Maybe they don’t have enough land free, or if they do, it’s just not of a good quality for producing buds, flowers and such. This is where container gardening comes into play.

The only issue I have with container gardening is the containers themselves. Plastic containers are notoriously easy to come by – like 2 liter bottles which have been cut in half, or old buckets, or other containers. However, you have to remember that your garden will be pulling poisons in from the plastic right along with the fertilizer, water and other good nutrients it needs to live. BHA is my major concern here. If you’ve never heard of bisphenol A and its destructive effects on the human body, you’ve got some more reading to do once you’re finished here.

Plastic isn’t the only culprit though. Many earthenware containers which one would think of as safe at first glance actually contain impurities, right in the earth from which they were made. This could be a big deal if you’re trying to grow something specific, or it could be no problem at all if the clay comes from a good source. But why take that risk? I have a much better idea when it comes to container gardening. Unfortunately, you’ll need to know somebody with a log splitter, or at least someone with tools for chopping wood.

See, wood is one of the best container choices for your indoor or outdoor container gardening needs. At least, if the wood is clean. You don’t want to use trees which have been infested with mites, weevils, borer beetles and other pests. These will ultimately hurt your garden by eating away at the container holding it, and some of them won’t have any problem at all just eating your plants, too. Worms and other larvae which might be hiding under bark are bad offenders here. Anyhow, once you’ve split your log in half with something like the ARDISAM EARTHQUAKE LOG SPLITTER, you’re ready for the next step.

You could use one or both halves of the log, depending on its size and how many plants you want your garden to have. After halving the log, you’ll need something to help scrape out the insides. Because of this I recommend using the least dense wood you can find; something like pine would be ideal but there are other soft woods too. Once you have your halved, hollowed log or logs, just fill them with soil and you’re good to go. You might consider placing the container on an elevated surface so you don’t need to bend or kneel as much as you would when working in the dirt normally. That’s up to you.

How to Create a Zen Meditation Garden

How to Create a Zen Meditation Garden

While medicine has made great inroads in healing all kinds of diseases with the new and advanced technologies, there is also quite a large amount of effort being channeled into using the unending powers of nature for therapeutic purposes. There are several meditative and healing gardens being designed in all parts of the country, especially in the medical facilities. This is mainly attributed to research studies revealing that nature helps in faster healing and reduced anxiety after surgery.

Nature bestows upon us all kinds of benefits including therapeutic benefits. Just being in tune with nature by spending some time outdoors basking in the sun and enjoying the fresh air does a great deal of good to you. It is not only revitalizing but also efficient in bringing about all round healing.

Zen Garden

Zen garden also called as Japanese rock garden is an ancient type of garden design that uses all natural elements including sand, plants, rock and grass to form a place of peace and meditation that restores your inner balance.

The purpose of a Zen garden is to create a retreat that provides a peaceful space without any distractions, so one can meditate. Since mind is forever busy with distracting thoughts, a place like the Zen garden helps to meditate and heal mind and body.

How the garden is made

The Zen garden is designed with all natural elements, which are ordered to emulate natural forms like rippling water and mountains. Ripples in water are created by raking sand and rocks are stacked to look like mountains. Plants and fountains are added to boost the restorative powers of the garden. Generally, the gardens are of complex designs, which are based mostly on principles of math.

The Zen gardens are excellent meditation spaces. You can find many such rock gardens inside Buddhist Monasteries.  The Ryoan-ji Zen Temple in Kyoto, Japan has about 15 boulders, which are placed in a specific formation enabling you to see 14 boulders in a single angle in whatever angle you look at it. The stacking method used here is accomplished by the medial axis transformation, which is a type of shape analysis in math.

Zen garden components

The main parts of a Zen garden include:

  • Stone: Stones and boulders denote islands in the Zen garden. Stones are used for various designs from bridges to stepping pads. The stones form the structural base of the design.
  • Pebbles: You get pebbles of various sizes in the Zen garden. These are used to create the base plane for some type of art formation or for creation of fields or pathway outline creation.
  • Gravel and sand: These are for creating the water metaphor. These are also used for creating bed with flowing or rippling effect or for dry bed creation. The sand is also used for covering ground areas to enable plant organization.
  • Water: Waterfalls, ponds and streams are a few of the decorative additions done to a Zen garden. These use plants and rocks to form a natural stream, pond or waterfall effect and the ponds have koi fish mostly.
  • Bamboo panels and fences: The bamboo is used in the form of intricate patterns or as simple straight rods to boost the overall garden design.
  • Pagoda Lights: Carved stone was originally used to hold oil lamps or candles.  The pagoda shaped stones are designed in various different sizes and placed all over the garden.
  • Tea basin: The basins are formed from rock, ceramic, bronze or decorative stones. There are also bamboo utensils along with the tea basin for ritual washing.
  • Buddha: In most Zen gardens, you can see Buddha figurines in various forms all over the garden.

Zen gardens of the West

In the west, the Zen gardens can be just simple structures with bare essentially or highly elaborate structures that give ultimate tranquility. The depression, anxiety and other stress related disorders are alleviated when you relax in the garden. The meditative space helps in rebalancing your body and mind.

Steps in creating Zen Garden

The material you need for the garden include, measuring tape, rubber mallet, wooden stakes, landscape pins, landscape fabric, lumber of 1 by 12 inch and 12 feet in length, 3 inch wooden screws, gravel, drill, large rocks, small fountain, wooden rake, potted plants, bench and small fountain.

Instructions

First step is to locate the space for the Zen garden and measure the space marking a square of 12 by 12 foot in the space. Each corner is then marked with a stake of wood pounded into the ground with the help of a  rubber mallet.

The landscape fabric should be cut in strips to cover the entire square. The fabric should be placed on the ground using landscape pins. The fabric avoids weeds from growing in the garden.

For the sides of the Zen garden, you need to use 12 foot length boards on all the four sides between the wooden stakes. The screws should be used on the corners to join the boards with the stakes. This keeps the gravel and sand you are going to add into the garden from pouring out.

The bottom part should be covered with gravel for about 3-inch depth. This helps in proper drainage.

The remaining portion is covered using sand. The rocks should be placed in different places. Usually odd number of stones is added and they are buried halfway to create a natural look. You can place patio furniture in a corner to relax in and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Potted plants and pathways can be added. Designs can be created in the sand after making the surface smooth using the wooden rake. Fountain can be placed in one corner of the garden.

Zen garden needs minimal maintenance and is one of the most cost effective landscape ideas you can choose for your home. Additionally the garden also has a great deal of wellness and health benefits. The calm, quiet and serene surroundings help you meditate, relax your mind and body and make you feel revitalized.

Simple yet effective landscaping ideas

Simple yet effective landscaping ideas

A few weeks back I was invited to a garden party. The host, a longtime friend had done elaborate preparations. We all had a great time. I was talking to the host about how good the food and preparation was. I also commented that she seemed younger and more radiant than the last time I saw her. She told about the new beauty treatment she had had recently and said it had transformed her completely.  I agreed that it had. She introduced me to her friend who was interested in adding some changes to her landscaping and wanted my advice.

Most people think landscaping constitutes only of flowers and plants. Landscaping in reality needs a more holistic approach. You need to include elements like patio, deck, walls, fence, water elements and other parts too, when you design the landscape. When the exterior is given as much attention as the interior, the home will look complete and perfect in all aspects.

Here are some landscaping ideas I suggested:

  • landscape ideasStone pathways add mystery and beauty to the landscape. Using wood or stone or a combination of both looks cohesive and natural.
  • You can make grass look appealing, when you plan the design around it in such a way that it stands out clearly.
  • Vegetation and plants need lots of TLC. But when you give them the due attention you can enjoy the vivid colors all year through, especially in spring.
  • For a harmonious landscape design, you need to use natural colors and materials as much as possible. A clean and candid design often scores over complicated and hard to achieve designs.
  • The pathways, stairs and fence should also be included in the landscape design
  • Outdoor sitting areas add appeal to any home. You can find where light falls around the house and decide on the ideal spot for sitting area. But ensure the patio is not overexposed to sunlight.
  • For bigger yards, a water feature adds beauty. You can add a pond, fountain or a swimming pool if the space permits. The pool forms a vital element that influences how other parts of the landscape shape into.
  • Besides water element, a fireplace outdoors is an excellent idea for autumn and spring. The sitting area can be arranged surrounding the fireplace. A BBQ, bar or kitchen can also be added.
  • Stone should be used to the maximum as it is the best material for outdoors and displays the beauty of the landscape design appealingly.
  • Fences should be high not only for privacy, but also as a prop for the decorations.
  • Plants should be chosen carefully. While some may look beautiful, their smell might not be pleasing. The colors of the plants and flowers should blend harmoniously. Ensure you plant them in the right order to get a design unique to your home.
  • All elements should be taken into consideration with minimalism being the prominent concern for a cohesive look. Natural elements should be included in the lounge and outdoor sitting areas.

When you plan all the aspects carefully, you can find the landscape complementing your home’s interior decor excellently. My host and her friend were delighted with the tips. I asked her more details on the beauty care she’d done, which she said was called as microdermabrasion. I have a cousin who was searching for such a transformation and would definitely find it very useful.

What to look for in patio furniture

What to look for in patio furniture

I had recently worked on a large garden that involved various landscaping elements. The client was a successful entrepreneur who had bought the home recently. He had wanted an elaborate stone pathway, flowerbeds bordering them, fountains, a rock garden and many more. As he was prepared to splurge on the outdoor area, I was given free reign over the designing. I had a wonderful time.

Most often homeowners restrict my ideas due to space or budget constraints. Since in this case none was present, I was happy to get involved. He wanted to select the patio furniture on his own as he’d some ideas, but wanted my opinion on choosing the right quality. Since furniture especially outdoor furniture are quite expensive, you need to choose them carefully. They should be durable and require minimum maintenance. Here are some tips on choosing the right patio furniture.

Stacking the chairs for outdoor use is a practical option. During the severe winter months, these will not be used hence can be stored safely.

You get luxurious options like, covered daybeds, which though have a seductive look, will be quite expensive for the occasional use they have. If you do purchase, don’t forget the mattresses and curtains.

Wood is the best furniture material for giving the opulent look to a patio. But you need to maintain them with regular re-oiling and cleaning. This should be done at least biannually to avoid greying of the timber.  If it is left outdoors exposed to the elements all-round the year, the wood color will turn to grey due to leaching of the color.

For areas that are exposed to high winds like the balconies of apartment buildings, purchasing lightweight furniture is a risky option, as it can be blown away by the heavy winds. Heavy furniture is best for such areas. In case of lightweight tables and stools made of plastic, there are reservoirs provided to hold down the furniture, filled with water or sand.

In case of plastic furniture, black is the most resistant to sun’s UV rays. Yellow and red are prone to fading the most, while other strong hues are similarly affected. White may look pristine and neat, but can reflect dirt or pollution from rainwater or air easily, so should be avoided.

The furniture selected should be tested for easy maintenance. Sitting on chairs covered with mold or tables with bird dropping is not what one has in mind, when selecting the patio furniture. So ensure that the furniture is easy to clean.

For cushions, which are left outdoors for long periods, make sure they are of waterproof foam or they may form molds or get crumbly and hard on exposure to sunlight

While using furniture coated with powder lift the metal furniture instead of dragging it, as it can cause scratches on the flooring.

The client was happy with the way the landscaping had emerged so much that he gifted me a beautifully crafted kayak. I had a great time kayaking and came back refreshed and energetic.

How to grow a stunning garden with minimal cost and maintenance

How to grow a stunning garden with minimal cost and maintenance

My aunt had come over for a short stay at my home. She was bowled over by the landscaping I had done. She wanted something similar for her garden, but she said that as her place does not receive much rain, it was hard to maintain her garden. She loves to work in the garden, but due to the dry spells the area had received of late, she couldn’t get much planting done.

She mentioned that she could stand all day long working in her garden, without feeling tired, because of the comfortable shoes  – check out this site, she had.  I told her that growing a garden, while keeping the maintenance and costs to minimal level is possible.  With the right knowledge, it is easy to create a paradise in your own backyard. Here are some ways in which you can accomplish this.

Small pots and plants with fast growth

For large areas, small plants are the ideal. Buying them in small 100 mm sized pots will help you cover more area without overshooting your budget. For instance, ornamental grasses grow fast and do not need much water after they are established well and suit dry climates well. Since these grasses also have unique flowers, you can get an appealing look effectively. Mass plantings or pockets hence act as great complementary additions.

dense planting

Dense planting

For a luscious and fuller appearance, planting densely will be beneficial. The dry areas can be reduced by the plants, which protect the soil effectively from the direct impact of sunlight. The plants also prevent dry winds from dehydrating the soil quickly. Weeds too do not grow, when you shade the soil this way. Thus, maintenance is minimal. But at the same time ensure the plants are sufficiently spaced out to get the required nutrients from the soil.

Succulents

Succulents form a wonderful addition to any type of garden. These are colorful and resilient plants with the capacity to cope with direct sunlight and challenging soil conditions. Some amazing plants that add value to your garden include Aloes, Crassula, Senecio and Carpobrotus. These have incredible colors, textures and shapes. The best part is these succulents need minimal maintenance. They can grow in any type of environment and can be arranged to give any form, level or shape to your landscape. Repotting the succulents annually with slow releasing fertilizer added will help in sustaining their beauty.

Choosing best plants

The right type of plant decides the maintenance, cost and overall appearance of your landscape. It is important to pick plants that not only appear beautiful, but also can withstand the extreme weather conditions they are grown in. A few instances of low maintenance garden plants that fit well for larger spaces include Echium, Westringia and Beschorneria. These can be planted together to get a well-coordinated and colorful look. The appeal is further increased, when you add succulents or ornamental grasses in between these plants.

Creepers

For the walls or fences, climbing wines form the best cover. Vines are easy to train with wire. You can grow them around or on any surface of your choice. They can accent you exterior walls, window frames or the fences. Jasmine is a trusted and low maintenance plant that is least invasive and needs minimal care. You can grow it in sunny areas or even in part shade regions. These reliable creepers are perfect for the side of the house where getting the right shade can be difficult.

My aunt was amazed at the info I provided and advised me to use shoes for standing all day long, while I was at work in the garden to work on more magic, without getting tired.

How a Hobby Helps You to be a Tough Guy

How a Hobby Helps You to be a Tough Guy

How do I stay tough and motivated?  Through my hobbies.

Writing is a challenging career choice and you need time to think and get your ideas going.  You need to give yourself breathing space.  But, you have to do hobbies that enable you to appreciate the world around you as well as work your imagination muscle. I have a few hobbies that fulfil me in ways nothing else can. I enjoy and delight in doing them, and I really feel better and stronger because of it. You think silly hobbies are for sissies? Think again!

My favourite hobby is mountain hiking.  It challenges both your body and your soul.  When you think you can’t carry on, you see the next pinnacle and you just have to go for it.  It’s hard on your body, so you keep fit, it’s hard on your mind, you have to keep pushing yourself and this is what gets you in training for being a writer.

As a writer, when you think you have nothing more in you, you have to keep going, and you eventually get to where you want to be.  Mountain hiking teaches you how to do that.

Other hobbies I have which help me stay focused and motivated are rock climbing and kayaking.  There is nothing like being at one with nature to fuel your imagination.  You see things when you’re out and about.  You experience constant challenges and yet you still get peace due to where you are.

You don’t have to have the great outdoors right on your doorstep either.  There are climbing centres in most major cities where you can get the challenge you need.  You can push yourself hard to hit the top of the climbing walls.  It gives you the motivation that you need to keep going in other aspects of your life because you know you can achieve.

Your brain is a muscle just like your biceps and your heart.  It needs to be worked out.  Figuring out how to get through the next rapid or where the next handhold is gives your brain that workout.  And your brain does lots of things at once.  While you’re admiring the view from the top of the mountain you just climbed, while you’re breathing hard and your heart is pounding, your brain is still thinking up ideas for your next piece of writing and it is working out how to go about writing it.

You need to be tough in everything you do to be a good writer and to stay motivated.  You need to work on every muscle area to give yourself the enthusiasm to carry on.  Your hobbies need to reflect that and to challenge you as much as your keyboard does.

So, take up mountain hiking, climb a cliff face, or kayak through the rapids.  It all helps you to be the best person you can be.  Dedication is the key to being successful in all areas of your life.  Get motivated.  Get tough.

Crucial Gardening Tools

Crucial Gardening Tools

Gardening is a relaxing, fulfilling and enjoyable hobby.  Every hobby has some equipment that is essential for practicing it.

Sports have balls and protective gear; hunting has bows, cameras, scopes, etc. For any gardener, a well-stocked tool shed is a necessity to the job.  In this article, you will find the top ten crucial garden tools with explanations as to why they are so important.

Spade

A spade is an essential tool as you will need it to dig holes in your garden for planting larger plants such as roses and shrubs.  A good spade will often have a ten year warranty and will last a lifetime.  The best spades are those made from stainless steel, as these will not rust.

Long-handled Fork

A long-handled fork is ideal for turning the earth over, giving it a chance to breathe which will then help your plants to stay healthy and grow well.  It saves bending down so will help to keep your back in shape.  It’s also useful for pulling out stubborn weeds from your borders.

Trowel

Useful for close digging and creating smaller holes for smaller plants, a trowel is a must-have in your tool box.  It’s particularly good for digging between stone and rock, perfect if you have a rockery or perhaps a particularly stony garden.

Hand Fork

Much like the long-handled fork, the hand fork helps aerate the soil.  It is great for loosening up rocky ground and picking out stubborn stones, as well as pulling up strong rooted weeds.

Hoe

A hoe is particularly important for edging your borders as well as scraping away roots and debris from the top layer of soil.

Rake

There are many different types of rakes useful for different jobs, but for a basic toolkit, a hard rake should suffice.  You need it to rake up leaves and mulch, and to tidy borders and top soil.

Pruning ShearsPruning Shears

Pruning shears need to be of as high a quality as possible as they need to be incredibly sharp.  You will use them for trimming shrubs, hedges and occasionally, small branches of trees.  They are vital, as without these, your garden could become rather overgrown!

Kneeling Pad

Although this might not seem an obvious tool to keep in your shed, a kneeling pad is in fact very important when gardening.  You will spend a lot of time on your knees digging and rooting around and a kneeling pad will save your knees from damage.

Hosepipe

Rain is fantastic for keeping your garden lush and bright, however, we can’t rely on rain coming when the garden needs it!  It is best to get a good hose that is at least one and a half times the length of your garden.  This should give you enough length to be able to reach even the most distant border.

Scissors

It may seem like it’s something simple, but a good quality pair of scissors will come in very handy.  They are great for taking cuttings from plants, opening bags of compost and cutting string (another useful tool, though not in the top ten).  Scissors need to be on hand at all times when you are gardening!

Easy Tips For Making Your Garden More Beautiful

Easy Tips For Making Your Garden More Beautiful

Having a garden is one thing, making it as beautiful as possible is another thing altogether. This should be the aim of any home owner due to the many benefits that are associated with having a beautiful garden. Some of these include:

  • A beautiful garden plays a big role in accentuating your house. Any kind of house, regardless of size or design will definitely have a better outlook with a neat and well maintained garden in its back or front yard.
  • A beautiful garden is also a very good setting for hosting guests on a garden party or barbeques. This saves you the money that you could have used renting out another location for such a purpose.
  • Having a well maintained garden is also one way of improving the air quality around your property due to the large numbers of plants in the garden which help in achieving this.

Having read some of the benefits that a beautiful garden brings to your home, you must be asking yourself how you can do this on your garden. This is exactly what is discussed in the next paragraphs. Read on to learn more about the ways of making your garden beautiful using these easy tips:

Mow your grass lawns

A garden can never be made beautiful without starting from the basics- mowing the lawn. This keeps the grass at a manageable level as well as making it look more beautiful. Moreover, it creates a good surface for placing garden furniture and pots.

Flowers, flowers

Nothing gives your garden more color, variety, and an attractive look than flowers. You can achieve this by adding colorful flower pots or planting more flowering plants in the garden.

In addition to this, flowers also attract beneficial insects such as butterflies that will not only make the garden look more beautiful but also help control some pests.

Trimming trees

Without nicely trimmed trees, your garden cannot look as beautiful as you would wish it to. You can hire the services of professional gardeners who can do an excellent job of removing all those extra leaves and branches to provide you with a neat garden. If you want to do it yourself, make sure you’re protected – thick gloves, a garden suit and a helmet are a must. In a pinch, you can use a bike or motorcycle helmet.

Use Garden Furniture

Who said you cannot place furniture in your garden? Try this out and you will not be disappointed with the results. Chairs and tables are focal points in any garden as they add color to it as well as provide seating amenities.

Additionally, you can place some flower pots on the tops of these tables to accentuate it and add more color to your garden.

Use Outdoor Art

One of the best ways of creating a beautiful and interesting garden is by the addition of art in it. You can do this by placing colorful paintings on the trees in the garden as well as some statues in strategic locations in the garden.

Planning The Ultimate Garden Party

Planning The Ultimate Garden Party

Garden parties are some of the most thrilling events one can get to organize. However, doing so is not a walk in the park; it requires careful planning and taking all factors into consideration in order to make the occasion a success. To learn more about this, move on to the next paragraphs.

The event the garden party is being held for

Garden parties can be held for different occasions. All these have specific requirements which must be considered. Some of the most common events include:

  • Barbeques- a simple barbeque over the weekend is an excellent occasion for organizing a garden party. One of the most important considerations that need to be made is whether the garden has enough space to accommodate not only the guests but also the grills and other equipment.
  • Wedding receptions- One of the best ways of making this a success is by hiring a band of classical musicians – for romance, think violins, and for a jazzy style, you can’t go wrong with trumpets (you can find great reviews of trumpets at TrumpetHub). This will keep the guests entertained, as well as add a great feeling to the occasion.

Sending out Invitations

beautifull invitation letterA garden party is nothing without guests. For this reason, you need to send out invitations early enough to give would-be guests enough time to restructure their schedules to be able to attend it.

In addition to this, you need to get their attention early by the use of creatively designed invitation letters that are sure to stick in their minds in the time leading up to the party. It is also important to send them reminders either by mail or text messages a few days before the date to make sure they do not forget.

Beautiful Decorations

Imagine attending a wedding ceremony with no color or decoration at all. This could be a very boring experience. You should ensure that your garden party does not end up like that. The aim should therefore be to decorate the garden as much as possible. Examples of ways in which you can achieve this are:

  • Spreading colored tablecloths over the tables
  • Hanging streamers and balloons of different colors from trees in the garden not only helps in decoration but improves the general party feel.
  • Filling the garden with flowers, whether real or synthetic. This will improve the entire look of the garden.
  • Finally, you can create a big colorful banner welcoming the guests into the party. This not only makes them feel comfortable and more at home in the event but also improves the aesthetics in the garden.

Providing Food and Drinks

A garden party is not a party without enough food and drinks for your guests. Let’s be frank, this is one of the things that makes guests stay at a party. Without food, many guests will simply walk out.

Therefore, the planner should arrange for the preparation of food that will be able to quell the hunger pangs of all the guests as well as enough drinks to wash down the food.