Wouldn’t it be nice to find a power tool that makes garden digging easy? Just think about using a heavy-duty electric egg-beater combined with the power of a drill and you have the concept behind a handy gadget for digging in your garden. ‘You Can Dig It’ has taken this idea and built a handy tool for working in the garden. The spinning egg-beater shaped tool head scoops out soil quickly and easily. As the demonstration in this video shows, it’s also a very handy way to dig without damaging delicate wires or tubing.
Subsurface drip systems are new and efficient watering choices that are becoming popular. But one of the questions frequently asked about them concerns the ease of damaging lines with maintenance or planting. This little tool provides a great solution.
Consider using the ‘You Can Dig It’ tool in vegetable gardens, too. This is an area where you are likely to have a constant turnover of plants. Using a light-weight power tool for digging that will keep fingernails clean and make the job quick and easy, can take a lot of work out of gardening chores.
I stopped by the You Can Dig it booth at the recent CLCA (Los Angeles) Landscape Industry Show and shot this little informal video. Here’s what Whyny has to say about the You Can Dig It tool:
To make the You Can Dig It tool even more enticing, you can see it comes in a choice of colors! (Notice the display in the back of the booth.) You might want to try out this power tool to make digging easy in your own landscape.
Although some of the more elaborate irrigation timers you can buy to regulate water in your garden may be a little pricey, buying a good smart array controller really will save you both water and money. This year the Los Angeles area has been gifted with slightly over average rainfall. Although many folks think we are getting a lot of rain it’s only because we’ve become habituated to low-rainfall winters with so many years of drought. Yet despite the groups of storms that have trundled through the area saturating soils, many residents have not considered turning off their irrigation. This leads to huge amounts of wasted water running off into the sewers – water we will desperately need come the dry season. The wasted water also means unnecessary higher water bills. Making the soil more sodden can also rot the roots of garden plants that will have to be removed and substituted come springtime. More expense. Too much water can clog drainage and cause erosion. Yet more expense to deal with. So perhaps there really is some wisdom in investing in a smart array irrigation controller.
Smart timers have sensors that will turn on irrigation when you need it and shut it off when you don’t. Many times the surface of the soil looks dry, but there is still plenty of water below where the plant roots reside and watering is not needed. Installing a smart irrigation timer means you never have to guess whether you need to water or not. In fact, you can get on living your life without even having to think about the weather. These controllers will handle the worry for you and save you the money you’d spend on wasted water and water damage to your landscape.
Check out the informal little video below. I stopped by the Aqua-flo booth last week at the CLCA Landscape Industry Show and got a chance to talk to Ignacio about smart array controllers. You might find some of this information useful in making your garden a more beautiful and water efficient extension of your living space. Who wouldn’t want to save water, money and work? And in addition to saving yourself money in the long run, you’ll be helping Los Angeles save precious water as our population continues to drain the limited supplies.
Lighting can transform your garden into a magical wonderland after dark. It not only keeps the area safe and well lit but you can create all kinds of effects. Lighting can pick out shapes and focal points that might look totally different during the day. You can create glows, spot-lit areas, spill light over a flat area or define steps or edges. Shadows can be manipulated to create patterns or designs, while individual lights can define a theme, outline a special area or produce mood lighting.
Not only are there better forms of light distribution for artistic effects, but there are more choices in ecologically friendly and money saving lighting than ever before. You can go solar, low voltage or use LED lighting. And check out the wealth of lighting fixtures that can become sculptures or part of the design of your garden itself.
I recently stopped by the booth at Light Club USA where I was able to chat with Bruce Dennis about some of the exciting fixtures he had on display in the Los Angeles Landscape Industry Show. I’d already marveled at the realistic candle lights when I worked with the designer, Nick Williams, on one of his awesome landscape designs in Ojai. You can see the candles he designed in the video below at the Light Club USA booth. And there were other fascinating designs for light fixtures, too. Check out the little informal video I shot at the show and you can get some idea of how much fun you can have designing lighting in your garden.
The greening of the landscape industry has offered many new concepts and tools. This year green roofs and vertical gardens or living walls have been getting a lot of press. When I went to the CLCA Landscape Industry Show recently, I found a booth set up by ‘Bright Green’ where I was able to see the materials and some sample designs in action. I have to say that the demonstrations were even more interesting than the few photo examples I’ve seen on the internet. And looking at the structures up close and personal gave me a chance to see just how easy they would be to assemble my own living wall systems and green roof technology.
It is fascinating to see how the ancient concept of roofing with green, living materials has evolved. Current kits allow you to roof a shed, patio cover or any other structure roof with trays that are a variation of the 6-packs you see sold with flowers and vegetables. A rubber liner will protect the roof itself over which is placed a container system that makes provisions for water to drain away. Nothing could be more natural. Yet with clever planting the roof can become not only excellent insulation, but downright artistic.
The same concept is used for creating living walls. Vertical gardening can be used to divide spaces on your patio or garden, to create passageways, to block unwanted views or to disguise ugly walls. The walls can be designed in artistic patterns or even pictures. Check out the video below to see some of the basics offered by ‘Bright Green’. Maybe you’ll find yourself inspired to add a living wall system or some green roof technology to your own garden. And you aren’t limited to using these ideas exclusively in the landscape. You can plant a vertical living wall garden with indoor plants to add a beautiful conversation piece to your interior living space, too.
Please note that I do not consider myself an expert in green roof and living wall systems. I am simply passing on information as it was presented to me. Always check with experts in the technology before undertaking any building project including vertical gardens and living roofs.
Since this is my blog, I’m going to take this opportunity for a shameless shout-out about my new book. I spent most of 2011 writing it. I had no idea how much work was involved in writing a garden book. I only knew I wanted to write something different — a garden book that would be fun to read. It seemed to me that there were plenty of good, solid gardening books that were just too dry or technical for the average gardener, even an enthusiastic gardener, to plod through. I love gardening and felt learning about it should be fun. I’ve also been dedicated to Eco-friendly gardening for many decades even before it became fashionable. Being an artist ((painter, illustrator and cartoonist) and a bit of a non-traditional person, I wanted to write a book that would pull all these pieces together and offer an entertaining read.
The process of writing the book was an educational experience in itself. I learned all about the technicalities of writing and setting up a book for print. I had to become exacting about my language and punctuation. Then there was the crash course in photography since my average point-and-shoot photos just weren’t good enough. And I discovered that sometimes even working ten hours a day, seven days a week still wasn’t enough to make tough publisher deadlines without panic.
I now know how many other people are part of producing a printed book and how grateful I am for the huge support I found in my publishing team, friends who would read and proofread, and people who could help me find the illusive photos I wasn’t able to create myself. Now, finally, after multiple editing sessions, proofing and last minute changes, the book has been shipped off to the printer.
I still don’t know the exact release date, but I’ve been told it will be in April (2012). Of course, I hope to sell lots of copies since the recession has hit me hard like many other folks in the landscape design business (and other businesses, too). But most of all, I really hope people will enjoy reading the book. I want to walk gardeners through building the most rewarding gardens possible for their unique spaces. Each piece of property is like a blank stage, filled with potential.
Creating a good landscape is much like putting together a theater production. Casting the right characters, building the most exciting yet functional sets and rolling out systems that keep the garden performing season after season with rave reviews is an entertaining and handy way to learn to view the garden as a single, living show. Writing this book has been not only an interesting learning process, but it’s been motivated by the desire to share my lifetime of learning about gardening and landscape design. In a world powered by profit-making, sometimes I think we forget about the pay-off of feeling productive and communicating our passions. In this case, “All the Garden’s a Stage” has been written as much — probably more — for the desire to share than for the hope of financial gain. I guess I’ve reached an age when I look back over my life and want it to count for something.
I will post when I know the exact release date. It should be carried at most bookstores and online. I’ll also be carrying the book here on my own website. I hope you’ll consider taking a look at it.
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