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How to Harden off Plants in Nurseries


What is hardening off plants and why the heck do you have to do it?

When you go to a nursery, all those young plants are already outside and ready to go into the ground…why can’t you do that with seedlings you’ve raised yourself at home?

It has surprised me that there’s quite a bit more work that goes into raising seedlings than I ever would have imagined!

While some seeds can be plopped into the ground haphazardly with decent outcomes, some seeds must be grown in a more controlled environment, and must be handled quite carefully if they’re going to survive and even flourish as adult plants.

I recently purchased some plants at a plant sale held by the horticulture club at my university. I bought several vegetables, annuals and perennials.

I was told that these plants hadn’t been “hardening off” yet, and if I wanted to make sure they survived, I needed to do that over the next week or two before putting them in the ground.


Well, I suppose the discounted price I paid for these babies makes it worth the effort. In addition, it taught me a thing or two about how to handle this “hardening off plants” process.

So what is “hardening off plants” and how do you do it?

Plants that are germinated and raised in greenhouses are raised in a very cozy environment. They are pampered and catered to in order to produce good healthy plants to go out to the public.

Unfortunately, this cozy environment means that these babies have been just a wee bit spoiled, and must be prepared to enter the cruel, harsh world that exists in your garden.

I know, I know…you probably don’t think of your garden as being “cruel” or “harsh”. But to a young seedling that hasn’t experienced

  • Direct sunlight (generally greenhouses have filtered sunlight), or
  • Winds of any kind (there isn’t any wind in a greenhouse), or
  • Cold evenings (greenhouses strive to maintain consistently warm temperatures for young plants), or even
  • Moderate rainfall (plants have been delicately ‘misted’ up until this point).

Your garden can indeed be a cruel, harsh place, and plants that have not been hardened off may quickly perish if moved directly from the greenhouse to the outside elements.

Hardening off plants takes a good 1-2 weeks to accomplish the task.

What you’re trying to accomplish during this time is exposing the young plants to the outdoor elements a little bit at a time, so they can survive and thrive in the garden.

You will expose them to:

  1. sun
  2. wind
  3. water
  4. temperature

so that they can be safely planted in the ground.

Start the first day or two by placing them outside in a relatively protected location for several hours. The first day I had mine outside for about 4 hours, and the second day they were outside for about 6-8 hours.

hardening-off plants

I placed them right outside the patio door. This way they got direct sunlight for half the day, and were somewhat protected from the wind. At night I brought them into the house.

It’s important to pay attention to the temperature as they should not be outside when it is close to freezing. Freezing temps will kill off young seedlings faster than you can say, “Adios!”

I did keep the plants watered well for the first couple of days, but then also started cutting back a bit on the water. You don’t want to dry them out, but you do want them to get used to not being slightly moist all the time, like they were in the greenhouse.

The reality is that plants get lots of water from time to time, and have to go without at times.

You’re encouraging the young plants to become adult plants one step at a time by artificially creating a “real life experience”.

Don’t be overly exuberant if you notice the temps warming up while you’re hardening off plants. You are getting them used to the temperature at every end of the spectrum…chilly temps as well as hot temps.

Hot temps and a full day in the sun can kill young seedlings as easily as cold temps and high winds all day if they’re not used to it.

I moved my plants in and out of my house the first couple of days they were with me because we had freezing temps at night, and I didn’t want to chance to have them in the garage.

As they toughened up a bit, I moved them in and out of the garage the second week, leaving them out at night by the end of the second week.

If you’ve got a number of flats that you’re working with, it may be easier to place them on a wagon so you can easily move them in and out of their protected area.

Usually, the garage is a safe place to keep them at night unless the temps go too low.

After 1-2 weeks of this back and forth, you should have sufficiently hardened off your plants and can safely move them to their new garden homes!

How To Start An Organic Vegetable Garden In Your Backyard


Having your own backyard filled with organic produce seems like just the perfect idea. Considering the current economic crisis, your backyard proceeds will enable you to save much on the daily purchase of groceries. That tomato plant that cost you two dollars could provide you with almost twelve pounds of fruit in the course of a season. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

How to start an organic vegetable garden in your backyard is not really an uphill task. If you put much thought into its planning before starting, then the rest of the process is going to be hassle free.

How To Start An Organic Vegetable Garden

Tips On How To Start An Organic Vegetable Garden In Your Backyard

When deciding what to include in your organic backyard vegetable garden, it is always wise to consider the number of dependents set to benefit from it.

In most cases of backyard gardens, dependents are family members who rarely exceed ten people. Therefore, it is always wise to start small.

Also, consider the types of vegetables you are planning to put up. Pepper, tomatoes, and squash keep producing in and out of season, so there will be little need for many plants of their kind. Radishes and carrots only produce once, hence you need to cultivate more of their kind.

On deciding on the amount of space needed, one thing to note is that vegetable gardens do not even consume a lot of backyard land. With many other options to be considered, including cultivating in containers, a balcony might even be more than enough.

Pick the ultimate spot for your garden

In your backyard, there is that perfect spot where all conditions seem to be optimum for plant growth. Look for that spot. It should be near to a water source, should be exposed to direct sun and should have good moist and well-drained soils.

Decide on the best method of farming.

Personally, I’d prefer intensive cropping to row planting, because it is economical on space. This means that you will have to work on your organic vegetable garden by hand. This makes the cultivation and weeding process very convenient.

Soil testing and fixing

It is very wise to conduct a soil test before embarking on the planning process. Check its drainage capacity by soaking it with a hose. Wait for a day then dig a handful and squeeze. You will need to add compost manure if water streams out of the soil of forms a ball. If the ball breaks, forming crumbs, then that’s a symbol of loam soil.

You should know how to dig your soil bed.

Use of hand or a tiller is up to you to decide. After tilling, spread compost manure in the soil. Smoothen the surface with a rake and water it very well. Do not step on tilled soil, lest you ruin the effort you put on tilling it.

Choose the best varieties to plant.

Ideas can be derived from seed catalogs. Narrow down to the promising varieties and plant them. With time, you will know which variety of seeds to plant in your vegetable garden.

Lastly, keep tending your vegetable garden as regularly as it needs to be. From a small start, aim at slowly expanding your backyard garden to produce even more vegetables to put for sale!

How to Plant Perennials in 8 Simple Steps


When learning how to plant perennials, it’s important to remember that establishing the plant in the ground in its first year is most critical to its long-term growth and development.

Once the roots take root in the soil and adapt to the surrounding environment, perennial plants have the ability to resist abuse and neglect in the garden.

Initially, however, they require a bit more maintenance and care in order to survive.

The soil must be properly prepared to minimize transplant shock. The roots should be loosened to encourage spreading outwards into the soil and water must be provided in the correct amounts.

The critical period for perennials, shrubs and trees is immediately after planting.

Soil preparation is an important part of helping your plant get the best start in your yard.

Step #1 Select the appropriate location.

What are the lighting requirements for the plants you have chosen? If they require full sun, you will need to ensure that the location that you’ve chosen will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Select the appropriate location.Without the required amount of sun, your plants will not perform at their best, and may have difficulty flowering or producing healthy foliage.

The same is true for plants that require shady locations, such as hosta. Plant these plants in full sun, and the foliage color will drain and the leaves may become scorched from the sunlight.

The worst case scenario is that a plant that is incorrectly placed will die. Obviously, selecting the appropriate location is critical to your plant’s long term health.

Step #2 Clear the area.

Remove any old mulch, weeds, debris, stones, etc. from the area you wish to plant. Rake it clean so that you are only dealing with the soil underneath. Weeds should be disturbed as little as possible when being removed, as they can scatter seeds which will germinate more weeds for you in the future.

Using a pre-emergent herbicide after planting may reduce the problems with weeds, as will placing down a healthy layer of mulch.

Step #3 Dampen the soil

Tilling soil that is bone dry can be difficult. The area being tilled in this picture received rain a few days prior, so no extra steps to dampen the soil needed to be taken. You want the soil “damp” as opposed to “moist” Ideally, it should have the moisture content of a new package of potting soil.

Step #4 Till the soil

The soil you are preparing should be loose and easy to work with. This will help the young root system embed deeply in its new home.

Till the soil

Air and rich organic nutrients should be turned into the soil at a depth of several inches. Any debris that has been brought to the surface of the soil, such as roots and stones, should be removed.

Step #5 Add compost material.

Add compost materialComposted manure (make sure that it’s “composted”) is a good organic ingredient to add to soil before planting perennials. If you regularly collect compost material in your yard, it is beneficial to add that as well.

Compost can be purchased from your local garden center. Adding these organic components to the soil will help build up the nutrient matter and feed your newly planted perennials.

Once all ingredients have been worked into the ground, rake the soil smooth.

Step #6 Dig holes to specified depths and widths.

Larger plants purchased through a garden catalog or from your local garden centers will specify planting instructions, which include how deep and how wide to make the hole before placing the plant in the ground. These instructions are particularly important when planting trees and bushes.

Smaller plants will have a “tag” that identifies the amount of sun this plant requires, its height, and the mature width of the plant.

This tag is from an annual plant, but gives you a good idea of the type of information you’ll find on any tag. Be sure to plant lower growing plants in the front of the garden, with taller varieties in the back. Regardless of what it looks like when you purchase it, the description tells you exactly how high and wide it will get.

Be sure to provide as much spacing between plants as is recommended on the tag. Perennials that are planted too close together will eventually get crowded once they are mature. Crowded plants are the perfect breeding ground for disease.

If you are ordering your plants online, keep in mind that your plants may appear to be “dead” when they arrive. These plants are actually dormant and their roots are well-established. They only need to be placed in the ground and tended to in order to come alive!

I know many people who have great success with ordering plants online, and I personally have had good luck with bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs through garden catalogs and online companies. Two such recommended companies are Jung Seed and Stark Brothers.

While the plants may look pathetic when you receive them (they’ll often come as bare roots) they will often grow faster and healthier than those purchased at garden centers.

Remember, the larger the plant is at planting time, the more “transplant shock” must be endured.

Step #7 Loosen the root system and water the hole.

Once the plants are removed from their pots, the root system should be loosened or partially cut through, depending on how “root bound” it is.

You can try loosening it with your fingers, however if that does not work. Take a knife or cutting shears and cut the roots about 2/3 of the way up the root ball on at least 2, and up to all 4 sides, loosening the root system before placing it in the ground. Refer to the discussion on How to Plant Flowers for pictures of plants that are root bound.

Also, be sure to fill the hole with water before placing the plant inside. Then, water again with the hole halfway filled up with soil, and again once it is completely filled up with soil. Be sure to somewhat firmly pack the soil around the root of the plant.

Step #8 Mulch the area.

Prior to laying down mulch, place several layers of newspaper over the soil. This will help prevent weed growth, and the newspapers will naturally decompose, adding to the organic material in the ground.

If you prefer, you can lay down landscaping fabric, however this material can be problematic in the future when you have a desire to remove it, as it will not decompose over time.

Place several inches of mulch around the plant, being careful to prevent the mulch from coming in direct contact with the trunk of the tree or base of the shrub or plant. Mulch that restricts the airflow around the base of a young plant could lead to mold and rot.

Be sure to provide ongoing water to your new garden additions. A couple of times a week is generally sufficient, with slow tapering off of your watering schedule over the first 6 weeks.

After the first couple of weeks, allow the plant to dry off between waterings. This will encourage the roots to dig deeper into the soil to find water, and will serve to develop a healthy root system.

Be careful not to over water! Young plants can die from over watering just as easily as under watering.

I am VERY careful with newly developed plants for the first month, and cautious with them throughout the remainder of their first season. Once they’ve made it through the first year, perennials are not quite as fragile and can handle receiving less attention.

How To Grow A Drought Tolerant Garden


For those of you who love living amid luscious plant life, a drought can be a real gardening nightmare. If you live in an area with minimal annual rainfall or even water restrictions, this problem is only amplified.

But don’t get too worried just yet! Just because you’re living in a drought region, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the enjoyment of a garden. With these helpful guidelines, you can create the beautiful garden of your dreams while still conserving water.

How to Retain Water in Your Gardens

During a drought, plants aren’t getting water from rain, and may not be able to pull much moisture from the soil either. So plants must rely on gracious gardeners to supply them with water regularly. The trouble is, if we’re not careful, most of the water will be absorbed into the soil or evaporated into the air. Not to worry – with a few simple alterations to your garden, you can keep your water where your plants need it.

Mulch and Compost

Mulch and CompostBoth of these can have a major effect on the water-holding capacity of your soil. Adding a 2-3 inch layer of mulch or compost will help trap moisture into your garden so that it remains available to your plants for longer periods. This protective layer not only keeps the soil cooler, but also shields the soil from direct sunlight to prevent excessive evaporation.

Additionally, thick layers of mulch will keep water-hogging weeds from overrunning your garden – but more on weeds later. Keep in mind, you should stir and break up mulch periodically to prevent it from crusting over. Otherwise, this can form a barrier that prevents water from reaching the soil.

Raised Beds

This method is somewhat of an investment. However, raised garden beds can have a huge effect on your watering regimen. When planting directly into the ground, a lot of the water disappears into the parched soil.

Raised beds made of wood, concrete, stone, and other materials help keep the water where your plants can reach. If you pair raised beds with other water conservation tactics and a simple irrigation method, you can ensure moisture retention and direct water to the soil and roots rather than the foliage.

Line Your Planters

Do you plant in places other than flowerbeds? It’s not always easy to mulch hanging baskets and planters, and a raised bed-style barrier of concrete isn’t an option. Luckily, you can still find ways to conserve water in your planting vessels. Try lining your hanging baskets and window planters with newspaper or coffee filters before adding the soil. This will create an additional barrier to prevent too much water loss to the ground below.

Think Carefully About What to Plant

It’s not just how you plant that affects garden success in a drought, but what you plant as well. During a drought, you don’t have the option to plant anything and everything that comes to mind.

Restrict yourself to growing plants that are likely to thrive together in your garden’s conditions. The limited number of plants will also conserve space and reduce the amount of water needed.

Choose Drought-tolerant Plants

Choose Drought-tolerant Plants

When a dry spell hits, only the plants that are resistant to drought conditions are likely to make it to the end of the growing season. Drought-tolerant plants are a great way to bring some color back to your garden, while still conserving water.

Plants such as succulents, cacti, and some flowers, are accustomed to hot and arid conditions, so they are able to survive on less water than many other types of plants.

Select Native or Adapted Plants

This can go hand-in-hand with growing plants that are drought-tolerant. Plants that are native to an area with minimal annual rainfall are naturally able to succeed in dry conditions.

Historically, these plants have been able to thrive with infrequent watering, which makes them a great option for gardening in drought periods. Likewise, plants specifically adapted to arid regions have evolved over time to withstand the conditions of this type of environment.

By choosing plants that have been proven to flourish in a dry region, your garden is more likely to survive an extended drought.

Grow Plants with Similar Needs

This is a general rule to follow for most successful gardens. However, it becomes especially important when your garden is experiencing a dry spell.

Plants that require an abundant water supply, such as tropical plants and vegetables like broccoli, will hog all of the moisture away from other plants in your garden, causing them to fail.

To promote growth, plants should be grouped together based on their water needs. By planning a garden where plants have similar requirements, your plants are more likely to thrive.

4 Simple Tips for Conserving Water

Once you’ve gone through the process of actually creating and planting your drought tolerant garden, there’s still more you can do to keep it strong throughout a dry season. With these 4 simple tips, you can have your garden and keep it watered too.

Recycle Water

Many times, we pour the leftover water down the drain rather than finding other uses for it. People waste water like this every day without a second thought. Even though we may not be able to use this water personally, our thirsty plants could greatly benefit from it. When you’re boiling or steaming vegetables use the spare water to hydrate your plants.

Just be sure to let the water cool first!

You can do the same with the water from your fish tank whenever you clean it. The nutrients left behind, whether they are from your steamed vegetables or the residual elements of the fish tank water, will help your plants immensely.

Additionally, you may want to consider collecting rainwater around your property during those occasional instances when precipitation appears. This will allow you to direct some of the rain where it’s actually needed, rather than on the pavement and other places.

Pull Weeds

This is something you may not think about in terms of water conservation. Sure, you know weeds are often eyesores in your garden and may even strangle your delicate plants, but they also hog water.

The deep roots of these frustrating wild plants steal valuable moisture from the soil and prevent your plants from getting what they need. Weeding might not be your favorite gardening task, but it can go a long way for conserving garden water.

Water in the Morning

If you are able, watering in the morning is a great option for conserving water. By watering while it’s still somewhat cool outside, you give your garden a chance to soak up the water before it evaporates on the soil surface.

Plants can then collect the water throughout the day as the temperature increases. While it is also cool enough to prevent evaporation in the evening, watering right before dark can also lead to fungus development.

Choose the Right Tools

It can be easy to overlook your watering tools, but it’s one of the most important elements of gardening – especially in drought conditions.

The wrong device can waste a lot of valuable water. Soaker hoses, drip irrigation systems, sprinkler wands, and even watering cans are the most efficient methods for most gardens. They are more accurate at directing water to the soil.

Conversely, traditional garden hoses with a spray nozzle can waste a lot of water due to high levels of mist, evaporation, and runoff without ever reaching your plants’ root systems.

Gardening for Dummies: How to Start a Garden


Gardening for dummies (yoga for dummies, accounting for dummies, sewing for dummies) and every other “for dummies” book has been designed for people looking to cut to the chase of whatever talent or information they’re looking to acquire.

You hear “something for dummies” and you know that you’re going to get good, straight-forward, easily follow the information that will help you do whatever it is you’re trying to do.

That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish throughout this backyard landscaping website. I’m trying to give Gardening for Dummies advice to people looking to make improvements in their landscape and/or acquire basic gardening skills in a way that’s relatively easy and not overly time consuming. Anyone can create a garden even if you don’t have these skills already!

Gardening for Dummies

So let’s get down to some good gardening for dummies advice to help you establish your garden, or make the most of what you already have.

Before planting any type of garden, be it a basic herb garden, a border garden, a childrens garden, a container flower garden or a vegetable garden, you’ll need to develop a backyard landscape design.

Once you have your design all figured out, you’ll need to determine what type of plants to use in your design.

A landscaping plant guide will help you get clear on the different types of plants available, and what they can bring to your design.

Gardening for Dummies – First decisions

How much money are you willing to spend, and where do you want to purchase your yard plants?

This question will often be decided by answering these next questions: How quickly you’d like to see your backyard landscaping plan unfold. Do you want it to be established within a year or two, or do you want it to grow and develop over time?

And of course, these questions will depend upon the type of garden you’re going to establish.

You have the option of purchasing yard plants in various stages of the growth process. Plants that are small, or not yet developed, are generally more cost effective, but take more time to establish.

Plants that are larger, or that are purchased at a local nursery, tend to be pricier and may require more maintenance to ensure a nice transfer to your backyard landscape.

It’s important to know yourself and your time limitations. I find that I don’t do well with high maintenance landscaping plants, as I don’t always give them the extra TLC that they need to adequately establish themselves in their new environment.

My personal preference is to add landscaping plants to my backyard in an early stage of their growth. Not only do I enjoy seeing the change in their growth habits over the years, but I find that young plants are more hardy than their older counterparts.

Younger plants haven’t had a chance to establish themselves anywhere, and therefore aren’t as traumatized by the planting process. They tend to work well with the “survival of the fitest” mentality in my yard.

Younger plants are also more cost effective, so if I end up losing one or two, it’s not quite as devastating as losing a large, pricey plant. The little troupers that are determined to survive are the ones that make it in my yard, and continue to flourish for years to come!

Gardening for Dummies – Go with what you like!

Browse through the landscaping plant guide, jot down any plants that are of particular interest to you, and decide whether or not they’ll work in your yard.

Identify the areas in your yard that you’d like to plant, along with many distinct characteristics, such as:

  • window box
  • annual flowers (you only want the flowers for one season)
  • location in full sun
  • colors – purple and yellow
  • planter is 36 inches long
  • 10-15 inch tall plants with hanging vines

Taking this information, you can narrow down your search for the types of plants that you will need for that location. This info can be created for any area:

  • under oak tree
  • perennial plants (you want these plants to return every year)
  • location in part-full shade
  • no color preference
  • planting area is approximately 50 square feet
  • a variety of heights up to 36 inches tall

There are even great shade loving perennials that flourish without sunlight!

7 Best Fragrant Houseplants for Your Indoor Home


Indoor plants are a wonderful way to enhance your living spaces. You can still reap the rewards of flower gardening without the challenges of outdoor environmental conditions. Indoor plants offer all kinds of important health, wellness, and aesthetic benefits.

One such benefit is the inviting aroma that many types of houseplants produce. Imagine walking into your home after a hard day at work and becoming instantly relaxed by the fresh, natural scent of your flowering houseplants.

If this image is appealing to you, then check out these seven popular aromatic houseplants that you can work into your indoor home gardening décor.


GardeniasNot only are gardenias one of the best flowering houseplants, but they also emit a strong floral scent. Gardenias are a lovely addition to your home décor, with their dark green leaves, and beautiful white blossoms. There are several dozen different gardenia species, each with its own unique care requirements.

As a rule of thumb, assume your gardenia needs high humidity, bright light, and constantly moist soil. Stay on top of your gardenia care and water it regularly, as these plants can easily succumb to environmental changes.


JasmineJasmine is popular as a houseplant because it can bloom year-round, as long as it receives the proper care. Arabian jasmine produces a light floral scent and smaller white blossoms.

Jasmine plants should be placed on a windowsill, as it requires full and direct sunlight. You should also water it on a regular basis. A healthy jasmine plant will continue to blossom if it receives steady air circulation. As it continues to grow, ensure that it’s properly supported with stakes. 


lavenderWith their elegant purple-colored blossoms, lavender houseplants are a wonderful addition to your home décor. They produce a pleasant and sweet aroma and are great for growing indoors.

Place your lavender plant on a windowsill to ensure plenty of exposure to light. Lavender is fairly low-maintenance when it comes to watering routines — it requires infrequent but deep watering to promote healthy growth.


EucalyptusThough the eucalyptus is a tree, it also makes for a beautiful houseplant that you can display indoors. This tree is known for its refreshing fragrance emitted from its gray and blue leaves.

The primary care instruction with a eucalyptus tree is to ensure it receives enough water. It is notorious for its quick water absorption, so be sure to stay on top of it.


OrchidsOrchids are the perfect houseplant to enhance the visual appeal of your home. Beyond their aesthetic value, many orchids are also lovely houseplants to select if you’re looking to add a fresh scent to your home.

With so many varieties of orchids to choose from, like the Brassavola Nodosa or the Oncidium, be sure to select the right one for your climate. Orchids need lots of light to thrive indoors, and most varieties need extra watering in the spring and summer.


For a low-maintenance perennial aromatic houseplant, hyacinths are a great option. These plants, which originated in the Mediterranean region, bloom for several weeks, creating a thick, fragrant scent.

The bell-shaped flowers come in white, blueish purple, pinks, and sometimes yellow. Be careful when handling the bulb as it might cause a skin reaction, so be sure to keep away from pets and kids.


GeraniumsFor another easy-to-maintain houseplant, choose the geranium. Scented geraniums emit their fragrance when the leaves are touched. They come in a multitude of scents, reminiscent of spices and other plants such as mint, lavender, lemon, and oak.

In caring for geraniums, be sure to water them regularly and give the plants full drainage through the soil. They also require plenty of sunlight.

For More Information on Fragrant Houseplants

Are you looking to enhance your fragrant houseplants with useful décor items? Check out our variety of indoor plant stands, houseplant caddies, wormies, plant sitters, and cork mats to make your indoor living space beautiful.

How to Plant Grass Seed in 5 Simple Steps


Learning how to plant grass seed is not as complicated or labor intensive as you might imagine.

Actually, I find that it’s easier to plant grass seeds than any other type of seeds I’ve worked with. And I’m not even a “start plants from seeds” type of gal, so if I can learn how to plant grass seed, I’m sure you can too!

First off, let me just say that this article is NOT going to get into the ins and outs of different types of grass seed – fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass.

Let’s get real…if you’re like me, you could probably give a rip about the difference between each of these grasses, and have no interest in learning anything about them…you just want to learn how to plant grass seed and be done with it!

So that’s what I’m going to focus on…giving you some concrete, easy to follow steps on how to plant grass seed.

Step 1 – How much seed?

How much seed

When considering how to plant grass seed, the very first step is to determine exactly how much seed you will need!

How large is your yard and how much of it is in a sunny location and how much is in a shady location?

If you have a one acre lot, for example, how much of that lot receives a good amount of sun, and how much is located in the shade? If it’s about 1/2 and 1/2 you know that you’ll need 1/2 acres worth of seed for a sunny spot, and 1/2 acres worth of seed for a shady spot.

You’ll need to purchase different types of seeds for each area. Grass seed designed for a sunny spot, will not grow well, if at all, in heavy shade. 

You’ll also need to know at what rate you intend to apply the seed. I always go for a heavier amount of seed, regardless of whether or not I’m planting a new lawn.

While it is possible to overseed a lawn, I’ve always found that the opposite happens…not enough coverage!

Step 2 – How much traffic?

Do you have kids and pets that will be running around all over your lawn? If so, you’ll have to purchase a seed that is designed specifically for heavy traffic. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Some grass is simply not able to tolerate a lot of wear and tear, and you’ll watch all your hard work go down the drain when Fido destroys it in one afternoon.

purchase a seed that is designed specifically for heavy traffic

Don’t give Fido that chance!

Step 3 – Prepare the spot!

If you’re working with bare soil and establishing a new lawn, the area should already be prepared with a fresh layer of top soil that has been loosened to a depth of about 3 inches, and then raked smooth.

If you’re starting with an established lawn that you are trying to improve on, you’ll want to cut the grass extra short so that when you spread the seed, the seed actually reaches the soil.

You’ll also need to rake the area heavily with a garden rake (a thick pronged steel rake) to level out any uneven areas, loosen the top soil, and remove any thatch (dead grass caught between the healthy grass blades.) This will help the seed to burrow down and take root.

Also, if you’re going to aerate your lawn, now is the time to do it. This step can be skipped if you like, but aerating your lawn can help improve the condition of your lawn over time.

Step 4 – Spread the seed!

You’ll need some type of spreader for this step if you don’t already have one. Do yourself a favor and purchase a rolling “spreader” – don’t be suckered into one of those hand spreaders unless you have a tiny, postage-stamp size yard. They’re not easy to work with, and it’ll be difficult to spread the seed evenly.

Spread the seed

For smaller yards, a drop spreader usually works nice (the seed is literally dropped evenly from the spreader as you push it around the yard) however for a larger lawn, a broadcast spreader will probably be more efficient.

The seed is dropped into a round tray that spins and “broadcasts” the seed in a large circle around the spreader as you walk around the lawn.

Step 5 – Water, water, water!

Ok, before you water your lawn, make sure you protect your seed from blowing away, or getting washed away.

If you’re laying seed on an established lawn to improve the thickness, this may not be necessary because the current lawn will protect the seedlings underneath.


For a newly established lawn, you can lay the seed down, and then press it into the soil a bit with the use of a roller. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but some people like to do this to smooth out the area as much as possible and press the seeds into the soil.

You do not necessarily need to place hay or straw over the new grass seed, unless the grass seed was planted on a sloped area. Using hay or straw can actually be problematic as there can be seeds left in both substances, causing weeds in your new lawn.

Lightly spreading a bit of soil over the newly planted seeds can be just as effective.

And then water!

You don’t want to douse the area so that there are puddles of water left on the ground…this will drown the young seedlings and could wash them away. 

Simply keep the area moist, or damp, diligently for the first week. This will cause the seeds to sprout and the new lawn to take hold. Gradually over the next couple of weeks you will water more heavily and less frequently.

Watering in this fashion will encourage roots to develop at deeper layers in the soil as the grass searches for moisture. You’re essentially teaching the plant to dig deep for water instead of staying closer to the surface. Plants that receive water too frequently, and in too light of doses, will keep their roots close to the top of the soil…no need to dig deep for water when it’s readily available on top!

One tip for how to plant grass seed…

It bears mentioning that you should NOT spread fertilizer right before or right after spreading your grass seed. The seedlings are too young to handle the nutrients in the fertilizer.

The bag of grass seed should specify just how long you need to wait to spread any fertilizer.

One more tip…

I would recommend that you purchase grass seed locally as you will be able to purchase the grass seed that is most appropriate and reliable for your particular area.

If you purchase online, then you have to do further research about the different types of grass seed available. Local dealers, however, will always carry the seed that’s best suited for the area.

Some of my personal favorites are places like Farm and Fleet, Sam’s Club, Costco, Menards or any other shop where you can purchase a large amount of seed at a reasonable price.

Hardware stores can be too pricey and I try and avoid them.

I hope this information on how to plant grass seed has been helpful to you, and I hope you are all enjoying beautiful, sprawling, green lawns in no time!

Designing a Small Garden – Plant a Three Season Garden

When you design a small garden, you can grow an amazing number of vegetables and plants by using intensive planting techniques and rotation.

This article focuses on how to plant a three season garden to maximize the benefits of a small area.

It takes close spacing – though not too close as to affect the plant’s growth and then growing from Spring to Autumn or Fall vegetables and flowers combined.

This gets a garden that provides food for the table as well as looks attractive all in a place as compact as 4ft by 4ft.

First of all you need to prepare the soil properly, tilling, weeding, watering and using organic fertilizer or compost if the soil needs it.

You need to have at least six hours of direct sunlight a day too. You can also maximize what you can grow by using fencing for vertical planting. Though specific vegetables are mentioned for this plant a three season garden plan you can take out those you do not like and put in ones you prefer.

Designing a Small Garden – Spring

grow-backyard-vegetable-garden138Bulbs planted in Autumn will flower in early Spring creating an attractive garden. As spring moves on the sugar peas planted to climb the fence will start producing as will broccoli that you can have in the middle of Johnny jump-ups. Once the main central head is cut you should have smaller ones forming on side shoots.

Inter-planted with beet or carrots are radishes that grow quickly, you can eat them in three weeks, and they help to keep the soil nice and loose for vegetables that root deeper.

You may also want to consider trying New Zealand spinach which can take an increase in temperature better than the regular kind, and have some lettuce too.

Designing a Small Garden – Summer

Designing a Small Garden – SummerThose early season vegetables will stop producing as the weather gets warmer and you move into the beginning of summer.

At this point for those of you who want to plant a three season garden you will bring out mid season seeds you started indoors or you can buy from a nursery or gardening center.

Running up the fencing is going to be runner or pole beans and these are the only thing that does not need starting ahead of time as they grow very quickly. But with them you can out in a tomato plant and have lettuce that can handle the warm weather nearby so that it gets some shade.

Between the broccoli can be grown nasturtium and an eggplant, pepper and a patch of chives. At the front of the garden have some herbs that grow low and flowers that are edible. For color and to help with controlling the bugs also grow dwarf marigolds and dianthus.

Designing a Small Garden – Autumn

Designing a Small Garden – AutumnThe final change in Autumn is to adjust to the cooling weather. Leave the tomatoes, they will keep doing well.

You could have a small squash or pumpkin along the fence and chrysanthemums will flower in autumn. Use the time to tidy up and plant bulbs ready for early spring.

If you plant a three season garden, you can get the most vegetables and appearance from it. It just needs some planning!

8 Tips For Keeping Plants Alive While You’re On Vacation


To prepare for your family vacation, you hired a pet sitter to come to check on the cat throughout the week, put your mail on hold to prevent an overstuffed mailbox, and remembered to wash the remaining dirty clothes and dishes so you could come back to a clean home.

One important step you forgot to check off that list, however, is to have the plants watered while were away.

After your two-week vacation ends, you return to a scorched garden and dying house plants. Some of those plants can be restored with a little extra love, but the others appear to be goners.

This scenario may have been common in years past, but this summer you can keep your garden healthy and thriving by having your plants taken care of while you’re away. Here are eight vacation plant-watering ideas to try.

1. Pay attention to the weather forecastPay attention to the weather forecast

Depending on the plants you grow and what the weather forecast looks like for the time you’ll be away, you might not have to worry much about watering.

Keep in mind, though, that even if forecasters predict rain, it’s still good to have a backup plan in case the clouds go away and the rain doesn’t come.

2. Water and mulch your garden before you go

Give the ground a good soaking the night before you plan to leave, and then add mulch to prevent water loss. A few inches of mulch is all you need in order to prevent water evaporation and maintain damp soil.

If you plan to only be gone for a long weekend or a short week, this strategy might be enough to keep your garden healthy. When preparing for a longer vacation, be sure to have someone check up on your plants when the mulch is no longer enough to keep the roots hydrated.

3. Pick veggies that are ready for eatingPick veggies that are ready for eating

If there are edibles ready to be picked right now, they are likely to go bad before you get back from your trip. Take advantage of the fresh veggies your garden has grown to prepare healthy snacks for the road. Eating healthy is important while traveling, and this way you’ll save money on food.

4. Trim plants to remove dying blooms, stems and leaves

Along with your ripe veggies, you’ll want to remove dying vegetation to prevent disease. Examine each of your potted plants to scope out any dying blooms or already-dead stems and leaves. They remove any damaged plant parts you notice to keep fresh greenery thriving throughout the summer.

5. Put a timer on your sprinkler and invest in an automatic plant waterer

Put a timer on your sprinkler and invest in an automatic plant watererBy connecting a timer to your garden sprinkler, you can program what time of day and how often your plants will be watered. For house plants, try a watering system that waters and fertilizes potted plants while you’re away.

Keep in mind that while a timer on your sprinkler can be very convenient, it can also cause you to over-water your garden.

Again, pay attention to the forecast and whether or not you’ll be receiving any rain during the days you’re on vacation. The amount of rain predicted will impact how often you should set the timer to turn on your garden sprinkler.

6. Cover pots with plastic bags

Potted plants tend to dry out more quickly than flowers and herbs planted in the ground. To retain moisture without having to remove plants from their pots, wrap your pots — plant and all — in plastic bags.

This strategy is effective because water cannot escape through the plastic, assuming there are no holes in the plastic. After evaporating, the water is simply reabsorbed by the plant.

7. Hire a neighbor, friend or family member to maintain your garden

If you prefer trusting a hired hand to a sprinkler timer, talk with your neighbors, friends and family members to see who has the time to help out with your garden.

And if you have a friend knowledgeable about gardening, a few simple instructions are probably all they need to properly water your plants.

If there are not many people around who have a gift for gardening, and you have to hire a neighbor who knows little about gardening, then you have to provide detailed guidance so that he or she can do a good job. This is especially true for potted plants that you may need to water more frequently.

8. Move potted plants to protected environmentsMove potted plants to protected environments

Watering is not the only kind of care plants need while you’re away. Plants also need protection from both the sun and wind. For your indoor plants, it’s best not to leave plants in direct sunlight all day (unless the plant requires full sun). Instead, draw the window shades so your indoor plants can receive partial sunlight. Placing these potted plants in a more shaded area also reduces the amount of water they’ll need during your vacation.

To protect your outdoor potted plants, place them in a sheltered location where they can still receive sunlight, or bring your plants indoors. Flowers are delicate, and strong winds can easily tear off beautiful flower petals. By providing shelter, you can travel knowing your favorite flowers will still be intact when you get to return home.

Keep your plants healthy and happy even when you’re away

You’ve worked hard this spring planting your garden and tending to each plant to produce beautiful flowers and tasty food. Don’t let all of that hard work go to waste because of the one or two quick weeks you’ll be gone on vacation! Try these vacation plant-care strategies to ensure your garden remains healthy.

How To Grow A Bee Friendly Garden


Such scenes have played out countless times: you can take a lunch break, or hold a backyard barbecue outdoors, where you can enjoy the beautiful sunshine.

Except, instead of appreciating the warm sun on your back and the cool breeze blowing through your hair, you start to notice a buzzing sound instead.


No matter how many times you swat at the bee, it keeps coming back, leaving you frustrated and annoyed. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to deal with those pesky insects at all?


Bee Friendly Garden

Not exactly. While bees can be a nuisance when you’re trying to enjoy a relaxed meal outdoors, they are essential to gardeners, along with anyone who eats fruits, veggies and nuts (so, basically everyone).

Let’s take a little time to learn more about these so-called “pesky” creatures, how they benefit your garden, why they’re in decline and what you can do to attract bees to your backyard.

Why Bees are Beneficial to Everyone Who Eats

Along with butterflies and hummingbirds, bees are classified as “pollinators,” because they move pollen from one flower to another flower of the same species, helping these flowers grow fruit or seeds. More than 100 agricultural crops in the U.S. are pollinated by bees, ranging from watermelon to broccoli, and as a gardener, you’ll have a hard time growing a healthy and plentiful bounty without these hardworking insects.   

Unfortunately, the bee population is declining, due in large part to industrial agriculture practices that destroy bee-friendly habitats and use pesticides that are harmful to bees. While there is little you can do to change these agricultural processes that are used all over the country, you can make an impact — even a small one — by offering bees food in your backyard and providing them with shelter.

Which Plants Attract Bees

Which Plants Attract Bees

Plants survive off two foods: nectar and pollen. Nectar, which is primarily sugar, provides bees with energy. Pollen is a source of protein and fat. Therefore, it’s important to plant flowers that provide these two ingredients. Here’s a list of plants you can begin growing in your garden to attract bees.

  • Lavender
  • Bee balm
  • Aster x frikartii
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Wallflower
  • Borage
  • Sunflower
  • Calendula
  • Sweet asylum
  • Poppies
  • Butterfly weed

Keep in mind that the best flowers to plant in your garden might depend on where you live, as it’s easier to attract native bees with native flowers. As a bonus, native flowers are low maintenance and require less water than non-native species.

Just like you, bees need food year-round to survive. Remember to plant a variety of annuals, perennials and shrubs so that nectar and pollen are available every season of the year. This will also ensure your yard is colorful and beautiful regardless of the season.

Do you live in the city? No problem! Even urban gardeners can attract bees as long as they provide enough food and a protective habitat. Take advantage of the space you’re given to grow flowers the bees will love.

How to Create a Bee Habitat

Along with planting flowers with pollen and nectar, you can provide a safe environment for bees with these simple tips.

How to Create a Bee Habitat

  • Make a bee bath

It’s called a bee bath, but it’s actually used for drinking water. Even if you have a bird bath already, you’ll still want to provide a separate spot for the bees to get access to clean, fresh water. A shallow bowl or plate that holds a limited amount of water is best to prevent the bees from drowning. Just be sure to check the bowl every day, in case the water has evaporated, and refill when necessary.

  • Set up spaces for bees to nest

All creatures need shelter, even bees. A place to hide is important, because it allows bees to escape prey, stay protected in unfavorable weather conditions and raise their young. Unfortunately, building homes for bees can be a little tricky, as different types of bees are attracted to different nesting materials. Some bees like to burrow themselves into the soil, while others prefer to find a home in piles of branches and hollow reeds. When getting to know the bees in your backyard, set up a few different nesting spaces so you can learn which home your bees like best.

  • Go organic

As previously mentioned, harmful pesticides can kill bees, which ultimately affects your plant yield each year. The best way to prevent harmful pesticides from reducing the number of bees in your garden is to stop using them altogether. Instead, become familiar with organic gardening and how to reduce fungus, weeds and other pest populations in your backyard the natural way. While it can take more effort, organic gardening provides many health benefits that gardeners find worth the extra work. One brand that is easy to use and compliant with organic gardening is Safer. Try the Safer Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray to support both your plants and bees.

  • Avoid mowing native violets and clovers

When mowing the lawn, use the high blade setting to prevent tearing up violets and clovers, which can also help attract bees. This strategy also lends a more natural look to your lawn.

One more important note: while you might think that building a home and providing food will cause bees to become a greater nuisance, they’ll actually become less of a pest. With plentiful pollen and nectar, the bees are more likely to stay in the garden area, rather than hover around your plate of food.

Before You Go

Bees might be small, but they are one of the most important creatures on Earth today. Help maintain the current bee population by growing a pollinator-friendly garden in your backyard. This quick guide will help you narrow your plant options and build a home where bees feel safe and comfortable.