One Technique for Painting Succulents with Watercolors

This article is an introduction on how to do some watercolor paintings of some of the simpler succulents (Aloes, Agaves etc.).Some painting tips will be mentioned and some sample paintings will be shown as they develop from the start to finish.

To me painting is no substitute for photography, either in terms of accuracy, or even color or form. But sometimes painting can add things impossible to create with simple photography. And though photographs themselves can certainly be art, there is something satisfyingly ‘artistic’ about making a painting of a plant, even if it’s directly from a photograph, no matter how formulaic this might sound. One can add a lot or take away a lot from the original image by painting, exaggerate or alter the colors, blur or simplify the background, simplify or alter the form, add objects (I usually add lizards) and basically change a ‘factual’ photograph into one’s own interpretation of the ‘facts’. Paintings do not have to be accurate, or even duplicate reality in the least. In fact, one has nearly infinite freedom when painting. But in this article I use traced images to simplify the process, speed things up a great deal and preserve some accuracy. I find the wonderful symmetries of some of the plants I paint are difficult to reproduce without tracing. What one does from there is totally up to each individual, but at least this will give the reader/painter a start.

Painting from a photograph has always seemed to me a form of cheating and certainly without many of the challenges and satisfaction of plein air painting (painting from real life out in nature).I love painting and drawing from real life, but it is a very time-consuming effort.One does not always have the time to sit outdoors and paint while the light is right and the plant is right.In fact I never have time for this anymore.A photograph can capture a plant in the proper light or position forever and allow one an indefinite amount of time to paint… so this is what I do.

Watercolors are an ideal medium for me in that they take up very little room, so are easy to transport and set up anywhere (work or home). The paintings themselves are easy to keep, store, move about and work on whenever (compare this to oil, pastel, or to a lesser degree, acrylic painting – all messy, difficult to transport and easy to damage). And though there are certainly limitations to watercolors along with a degree of ‘unforgivability’ not inherent with the other painting forms, there is more latitude and flexibility to watercolors than many may realize. Watercolors can be tight (controlled) or loose -wild and crazy, impressionistic, cartoon-like or whatever- there is definitely a lot of freedom as well as convenience with this medium.

This is all the room the whole kit takes up… other than the painting itself and a cup of water

Why succulents? Most botanical artists paint flowers, or scenery or perhaps even do scientific illustration. I find succulents an ideal model for me because I don’t have much interest in painting flowers, scenery is too complex for my skill level, and scientific illustrations are too exacting and time-consuming. Most succulents grow well in pots and can be moved to different lighting arrangements easily. Many succulents are small and simple enough that one can enjoy painting them in entirety without sweating the details. And many have symmetry that makes painting them akin to coloring in a coloring book… just get the shapes close and fill in the spaces, and you have a painting of a succulent! Painting succulents can make one seem like a skillful artist while one is still learning (good boost to one’s ego- just what one needs to encourage one to keep painting!). Agaves and Aloes are particularly ideal subjects having few annoying details but wonderful shapes and symmetry that are both fun and easy to paint.

One of my first watercolor attempts- Aeonium (no idea what species) partially from real life, partially from photo (no tracing with this one)

This first painting I show here is of an Agave parryi I have in the front yard I photographed from above. Though I like to draw from my photographs by just looking at them, this often results in somewhat lopsided drawings (if you’re good, that doesn’t happen… oh well). But when painting something with wonderful symmetry or annoying details, tracing the original photograph saves me both time and frustration. To copy a photo I just print it out on an 8×11 sheet of paper and cover the back side with graphite (#2 pencil is perfect, though slightly softer pencils work well, too… very dark/soft pencils or charcoal make too dark and image and one that smears too easily, too). Then I transfer the painting onto watercolor paper by tracing the outlines of the photograph. Be sure to tape the photo onto the watercolor paper somewhat securely or the drawing may not transfer accurately (shifting a bit side to side as one traces), and/or the graphite might smear all over making it hard to see the transferred drawing. I find scotch tape works fine and doesn’t stick so well to watercolor paper that it damages it pulling it off later. But you can use masking tape or drafting tape (made specifically for this purpose). Duct tape sticks too well and will damage the watercolor paper. Trace the major shapes on the photo using a ball-point pen or strong but somewhat dull pencil to be sure the transferred image is dark enough to see once you’re done. I prefer a pen for this as it rarely tears the paper and I can then see what shapes I have traced and which ones I still have yet to do. It is not usually essential to trace every little detail- it is probably best to deal with those, if at all, once you start actually painting. Tracing details will usually complicate the final drawing too much and make it difficult to tell what’s what after you take the photo away.

Number 2 pencil on back of photograph (another Agave parryi photo) and the subsequent tracing next to the photo

Larger paintings from tracings require special printing abilities (my printer does not print paper larger than 8×11) or other copying equipment (camera lucida or some sort of projector). I find that though the larger the painting, the more impressive once finished, 8×11 keeps the painting size to a ‘doable’ one (large paintings take a lot longer and I get bored quickly) and easier to store, too. This does tend to make all my paintings about the same size, which is both convenient (for matting purposes) but less interesting if one plans to sell/show ones paintings (not me).

I like rough or cold-press watercolor paper, the thicker the better (thicker papers warp less and tolerate a lot more abuse… but can be really expensive!). These papers are not very smooth surfaced, but that makes the watercolor painting process itself more interesting, and the water doesn’t dry too fast. Hot press watercolor paper is nice and smooth, but to me it tends to dry so fast that blending colors is difficult. However hot press is better if you want a really detailed painting in the end. I use dry paper. Some like to do watercolors on soaking wet paper but this technique not only offers one little control of details, but makes it harder to see the faint penciled image. Also, wet paper requires a board to staple the paper onto, and is messy and time consuming anyway. However it is generally considered more ‘artsy’. I like ease and simplicity of dry paper, though. Since I rarely get to finish a painting at one sitting, I like the freedom of being able to toss my painting into the car and take with me wherever I go, and if some free time comes up, I can paint a little more. All I need is the original photograph I used for the transfer, the painting and my little portable watercolor palette with a few brushes. I use fairly cheap and small watercolor brushes (if I were a professional, or a lot better at this, I might care more about costly brushes, but I have used some pretty nice brushes and in most instances have not benefited from the higher quality, so the quality was lost on my skill level and the excess cost was not worth it).

Once I have the photograph transferred onto the paper, I usually paint the plant, leaf by leaf, worrying little about details of color and shading. I like to get the shapes blocked in for two reasons… it gives me a feeling I have gotten somewhere (this is important as starting a painting is always the hardest part to me), and it keeps the pencil from smearing. Painting over the pencil rarely is a problem in terms of the final image, as the transferred image rarely is dark enough to show through the painting, or at least not enough to annoy me. And one can actually erase some pencil right through the watercolor afterwards (I do not understand how that is possible, but it is).

Here I am working on two differnt paintings at the same time (that way while one is drying I can paint on the other… plus it saves on paper)

Once the basic shape is on paper in watercolor, the fun part begins. Up to now it has just been painting like a child colors a coloring book. The hard part- the shapes- are taken care of thanks to tracing the image. Now it is time to ‘sculpt’ the painting. I am sure that is not the right term, but that is sort of how it feels as I go back over and over and over again, adding a bit more paint each time, layer after layer, slowly getting the colors darker and richer, and creating the shading and details that make the painting interesting. It reminds me of slowly sculpting a piece of wood or marble, only this is an additive process, not one where one takes a bit away.

There is no ‘teaching’ this part, but if one just goes slowly and uses a small brush, one will find soon enough that it is not that difficult. Once I have a leaf shape painted a certain color (color accuracy is not too important to me- see the bizarrely colored agave painting below) I try to get the ‘tone’ right. Tone is far more important than color for making a painting work. In fact, one could probably pick any color one likes as long as the tone is right. Tone is basically the relative amount of light or dark one is left with if the painting is reduced to just the darks and lights (or black and white). I can see tones best if I squint at the photo or painting to the point I can’t see the color anymore (my way of seeing a photo/painting in just the darks and lights). Then one can see how dark or light the area is one’s working on and compare it to the original photograph. Watercolors are naturally fairly transparent. But they don’t have to be. As one adds more and more layers they become less and less transparent, the tones/shades get richer and more interesting. The reason I use a small brush is to force me to add these layers slowly. One thing watercolors are not, compared to other media I have used (paints, pencil and pastel), is overly forgiving. Too much and too dark a paint is hard to do much about. One can take up some watercolor paint from a painting with water and a sponge but this can damage the paper, make a huge smudge and smear nearby lines and shapes. There is really no way to cover up a bad mistake or correct way too much paint like one can with pastel or oil/acrylic paint. So, being a chicken watercolorer, I proceed tentatively and build up to the darkest shades slowly. If one is an oil painter or using pastels, one probably is used to starting with the darkest shades first and adding the light ones later as highlights. This won’t work with watercolors- just the opposite. The highlights have to be done first and left alone after that, slowly making the rest darker and darker. It took me a while to get used to this after years of the opposite process doing pastels. Basically work on the lightest areas first, then leave them alone, concentrating on the darkest areas last.

These are two Agave paintings done with less than realistic colors, yet they can still be recognized as Agaves

The final touches are added with dark paint (indigo or some dark brown works best… I never use black as black seems so black it looks weird- few plants in nature have truly black color or shadows). These final dark additions should be minimal so they don’t overpower the painting, and they will also stand out better. But I am hardly one to tell you what to do- for all I know huge areas of dark could look really great- just not in my paintings. Details like these are totally up the artist. I am just explaining how I do them.

Like I said, this is only how I do things… there are as many ways to paint as there are people. Experiment, don’t worry about the end product at first (usually my best paintings are the ones I worried the least about and had the most fun with) and don’t get too frustrated. Good luck and have fun!These are some other Agaves I have painted… the two variegated Agaves were simple enough to be painted free hand while the Agave margarita in the middle was tracedA traced Agave ocahui painting, and free-hand Aloe petricola painting, and another traced painting of an Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’

Great Gardeners Use Seed – Everything Old Is New Again

The National Garden Bureau launches a campaign to revitalize the ease and pleasure of growing from seed. This logo will be used to identify educational information on gardening from seed or bedding plants from seed. National Garden Bureau members will encourage the art and craft of gardening with seed using the Great Gardeners Use Seed™ logo. This is a commitment to reach teachers, youth, and adults teaching the benefits of gardening with seed and plants from seed. Founded in 1920, the Bureau’s original mission was to disseminate basic instructions for backyard gardening. In the 21st century, the Bureau has published Today’s Garden and the “Year of” fact sheets and offered the same valuable gardening advice on the website, In addition to general public education, the Bureau has sponsored programs that teach youth science with the use of garden-based activities. The Bureau acknowledges that previous generations were taught to garden by their parents, grandparents, or other family members. Millions of children and older youth have not had the opportunity to sow a seed and nurture the plant grown from seed. Garden-based activities – the GrowLab® Program Over 50 GrowLabs have been donated to teachers for classroom use. A GrowLab® is a tabletop structure that serves as a germination chamber and growing laboratory for children to sow seed, nurture growing plants, learn botany and become familiar with plant needs. Teachers are given guidelines, seed, soil, and the tools to lead youth through the growing process. Each spring the Bureau contacts the teachers to learn if they have needs for materials to continue using the GrowLab®. Teachers applaud this program. The Bureau works with the National Gardening Association to provide the GrowLabs and necessary supplies. Teacher’s Educational Kits The Bureau partners with the National Gardening Association to distribute educational kits to teachers. There were two educational kits created this year. Since 2005 is the ‘Year of the Melon,’ the fact sheets and melon seed were sent to teachers who requested the kit on the NGA website. Each year more than 500 educational kits are sent to teachers upon request. This year 37,000 teachers received seed packets donated primarily by the National Garden Bureau members and a poster sponsored by Dole Foods. This educational kit was organized by NGA to celebrate National Gardening Month in April. The kits were sent to teachers who subscribe to the Weekly Reader. The Bureau is supporting numerous projects that teach the miracle of seed, growing plants from seed and bedding plants from seed. This NGB Today’s Garden proudly features the following AAS winners that have earned the status of “heirlooms.”

Everything Old Is New Again

It is curious that at the same time modern hybrid plants are getting attention, heirlooms are garnering more appeal among home gardeners. So, what are heirlooms? They are cultivated plant varieties that have been grown for at least 50 years, time-tested and open-pollinated. Chiefly of European descent, heirloom seeds have been passed down from one generation to the next. Through the centuries, people selected out and conserved seeds of those plants with enhanced characteristics such as flavor, vigor, scent, and local hardiness. Heirloom seeds were often among the few belongings immigrants brought to America. Many heirlooms are still being kept in families and some are now available to gardeners everywhere. What accounts for the ever-growing interest in and cultivation of more heirlooms? People are rediscovering the great diversity—flavor, color, texture, fragrance, size, form, and shape—of flowers, vegetables, and herbs that have been around for many years and enjoyed by people of many nations and cultures. You may already be growing heirlooms and not realize it. More than 40 of the All-America Selections varieties can be considered heirlooms because after more than 50 years they are still available. Among the initial AAS introductions—from the early 1930s—was the Gleam Series of Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus. ‘Golden Gleam,’ with its brilliant gold flowers—and spicy flavor—made its debut in 1933, followed by the handsome deep red ‘Scarlet Gleam’ and the ‘Gleam Mix,’ both in 1935. Hollyhock ‘Indian Spring,’ Alcea rosea , a 1939 AAS winner, bears single and semi-double blossoms in shades of pink, rose and white on impressive 7-foot stems. A favorite pink Cleome, ‘Pink Queen,’ Cleome Hasslerana , came on the scene in 1942. In 1947, the ever-popular French Marigold ‘Naughty Marietta,’ Tagetes patula, with its bright yellow petals marked with maroon at their centers, made its debut. ‘Purple Robe’ nierembergia, Nierembergia hippomanica , which was awarded AAS status in 1942, is still the only purple nierembergia grown from seed. Zinnia ‘Persian Carpet,’ Zinnia haageana , (also called Mexican zinnia), an AAS selection for 1952, bearing variegated fully to semi-double flowers in shades of red, gold and white, is popular for attracting butterflies. Two favorite Morning Glories, Ipomoea purpurea , iridescent ‘Pearly Gates’ and ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ date back to 1942 and 1939, respectively. Tithonia ‘Torch,’ Tithonia rotundifolia , (Mexican sunflower) came onto the scene in 1951. The AAS heirlooms include several classic vegetables: Cucumber, Cucumis sativus , ‘Straight 8’ (1935), ‘Salad Bowl’ lettuce, Lactuca sativa , (1952), ‘Clemson Spineless’ okra, Abelmoschus esculentus , (1939), and ‘Cherry Belle’ radish, Raphanus sativus (1949). It may be a shock to realize seeds that were introduced during your childhood are designated as heirlooms. These open-pollinated varieties have withstood the test of time as AAS Winners and heirlooms.

10 Ways to Keep Your Garden Healthy

One of the most mystifying things that can happen in your garden is when a plant gets a disease. How did it happen? Will it spread? Will all my plants die? How can I get rid of it? The most important thing to understand about disease prevention is something called the disease triangle (drawing, right). Disease can only happen when three things coincide: you have a plant that can get sick (a host), a pathogen (like a fungus, bacterium, or virus) that can attack the plant, and environmental conditions (like humidity or drought) that promote the disease. If any one of these things is not present, the disease will not happen, so prevention involves knocking out at least one side of the triangle. Rather than waiting for a problem to pop up in your garden, consider the best defense against disease to be a good offense. What follows are 10 ways you can eliminate at least one side of the disease triangle and keep your plants healthy.

1. Examine plants carefully before buying


The easiest way to limit disease in your garden is to avoid introducing it in the first place. Getting a disease with a new plant is not the kind of bonus that any of us wants. One of the hardest things to learn is what a healthy plant should look like, making it difficult to know if the one you want is sick.

It is a good idea to collect a few books, magazines, and catalogs that show what a healthy specimen looks like. Don’t take home a plant with dead spots, rotted stems, or insects. These problems can easily spread to your healthy plants and are sometimes hard to get rid of once established.

In addition to checking the tops of plants, always inspect the root quality. One does not often see customers doing this in a garden center, but it should be a common sight. Place your hand on the soil surface with the plant stem between your fingers. Gently invert the pot and shake the plant loose. You may have to tap the edge of the pot against a solid surface to loosen the roots from the pot. Roots should be firm, usually white, and spaced all over the root-ball. Dark or mushy roots are not a good sign. Even when the tops appear healthy, it’s just a matter of time before a rotted root system kills a plant.

2. Use fully composted yard waste


Not all materials in a compost pile decompose at the same rate. Some materials may have degraded sufficiently to be put in the garden, while others have not. Thorough composting generates high temperatures for extended lengths of time, which actually kill any pathogens in the material. Infected plant debris that has not undergone this process will reintroduce potential diseases into your garden. If you are not sure of the conditions of your compost pile, you should avoid using yard waste as mulch under sensitive plants and avoid including possibly infected debris in your pile.

3. Keep an eye on your bugs


Insect damage to plants is much more than cos­metic. Viruses and bacteria often can only enter a plant through some sort of opening, and bug damage provides that. Some insects actually act as a transport for viruses, spreading them from one plant to the next. Aphids are one of the most common carriers, and thrips spread impatiens necrotic spot virus, which has become a serious problem for commercial producers over the past 10 years. Aster yellows (photo, right) is a disease carried by leaf­hoppers and has a huge range of host plants. Insect attacks are another way to put a plant under stress, rendering it less likely to fend off disease.

4. Clean up in the fall

It is always best to clean out the garden in the fall, even if you live in a moderate climate. This is not only an effective deterrent to disease but also a good way to control diseases already in your garden.

Diseases can overwinter on dead leaves and debris and attack the new leaves as they emerge in spring. Iris leaf spot, daylily leaf streak, and black spot on roses are examples of diseases that can be dramatically reduced if the dead leaves are cleared away each fall. If you are leaving stems and foliage to create winter interest, be sure to remove them before new growth starts in spring.

5. Apply the correct fertilizer

You need to take care when fertilizing plants since too much of any fertilizer can burn roots, reducing their ability to absorb water. This, in turn, makes the plants more susceptible to stress from drought, cold, and heat. Plants starved for nutrients are smaller and can be badly affected by leaf spots, while a stronger plant can fight off diseases. An overabundance of a particular nutrient is another way to put stress on a plant.

Getting a soil test through your local extension agency will provide you with accurate information on nutrient levels in your soil. Without it, any feeding of your plants is likely to be guesswork on your part and may result in too much of one nutrient or not enough of another.

6. Plant disease-resistant varieties

Disease-resistant plants are those that might get sick with a particular problem but will fight off the disease instead of succumbing to it. For instance, some tomatoes are coded as “VFN resistant,” which means the tomato variety is resistant to the fungi Verticillium and Fusarium and to nematodes.

If you start looking for these codes on flowers, you’ll probably be dis­appointed because disease resistance is rarely iden­tified on plant tags. This doesn’t mean that numerous flower varieties are not resistant to disease. Many rose companies offer plants that are resistant to diseases like powdery mildew and black spot.

Nursery employees and fellow gardeners can help you identify the best or most resistant varieties of many plants. Reference books and catalogs may also list plants and varieties resistant to particular diseases.

7. Prune damaged limbs at the right time

Trimming trees and shrubs in late winter is better than waiting until spring. Wounded limbs can become infected over the winter, allowing disease to become established when the plant is dormant. Late-winter pruning prevents disease from spreading to new growth. Although late-winter storms can cause new damage, it is still better to trim back a broken limb than ignore it until spring is underway. Always use sharp tools to make clean cuts that heal rapidly, and make sure to cut back to healthy, living tissue.

8. Choose and site plants appropriately

Successful gardening is based on using plants appropriate for your zone and site. If you set a shade-loving plant, like an azalea, in full sun, it will grow poorly and be easily attacked by diseases and insects. I once had a crape myrtle planted where part of its leaves were in the shade. This was the only part of the plant that had powdery mildew.
Plants have defenses similar to a human’s immune system, which swing into action when plants are under attack from an insect or disease. If plants are under stress, they cannot react with full strength to fight off or recover from diseases. Stressed plants, therefore, are more likely to succumb to these afflictions.

9. Water properly

Watering your garden is a good thing, but since many diseases need water just as much as plants do, how you go about it makes a big difference. Many pathogens in the soil and air need water to move, grow, and reproduce. To avoid giving these diseases an environment they love, choose watering methods that limit moisture on a plant’s foliage. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation accomplish this. If you are watering by hand, hold the leaves out of the way as you water the roots.

The most common leaf problems are exacerbated when leaves are wet, so overhead sprinkling is the least desirable option. If you choose this method, however, water at a time when the leaves will dry quickly but the roots still have time to absorb the moisture before it evaporates.

Also remember that more isn’t necessarily better when giving your plants a drink. Waterlogged soil or pots promotes some root-rotting fungi and can also suffocate roots, making them easy targets for the rotting fungi.

10. Don’t crowd plants

Take care when spacing transplants, and keep an eye on established plants as they spread. Crowded plants create their own humidity, which allows diseases like powdery mildew (photo, right), rust, and downy mildew to thrive. Improving airflow around your plants reduces this high relative humidity and allows foliage to dry more quickly.

Plants that are placed too closely together tend to grow poorly due to competition for light, water, and nutrients. These weak plants are more susceptible to attack. Diseases also sometimes spread when an infected leaf comes into contact with a healthy one, which is more likely when plants are next to each other.

To lessen the likelihood of disease, trim out crowded, damaged, or old stalks on plants that are prone to powdery mildew, like Phlox paniculata. Dividing or rearranging your plants when they need it will also help.

Garden Fencing That Will Established Your Garden best to Others

Picket secure fencing can vary tall. If you have a number of flowers that happen to be tall, including tulips as well as black-eyed susans, you might want to have a low picketer fence to ensure the flowers are easily seen. On the flip side, if you have plants and flowers of differing heights, think about installing a 3 foot high fence which has a gate. Keep the gateway partially available so passer-bys can hook a peek of your backyard. Picket secure fencing is usually created wood that is painted white-colored or vinyl. If you’re looking to get some privacy in your backyard area, subsequently consider choosing vinyl secure fencing. These walls ranged with four your feet to half a dozen feet upright. Each board consists of half a dozen or more content. Usually you will have choice of round, squared as well as pointed post tops. Softtop fencing is the best well in a large number of kinds of climate. If your backyard contains a compact pond or simply a water water fountain, then this may be a good choice. It will decrease animals as well as small children with entering the backyard. Trellis secure fencing is a wonderful Garden Fencing London choice if you have plants that spread rapidly. Depending on your budget along with your preference, trellis fencing could be made of most wrought iron, hardwood or even sturdy plastic. Trellis fencing is constructed from criss-cross material which makes it possible for plants so that you can weave them selves in and out in the openings. At the beginning of the backyard you can put a trellis as a enticing entrance for the garden. Evening Glories together with other flowers is going to wrap about the trellis. According to location of your respective garden, you would possibly only need to fence a portion from. For example if the garden is actually between your residence and storage, then avoid put up secure fencing by the residence or storage, just fence the other only two sides. Should your garden has come out back in an open area, think about giving a different style to your backyard fencing. There’s really no rule the fact that says it’s important to fence from a straight collection. Whatever sort of garden secure fencing you choose, you’ll setting a garden apart from the people in the location. You may also understand that you’ll want to take more time in your backyard.

Repair Bare Spots in Your Lawn

Causes of Bare Spots in the Lawn

Bare spots in your lawn can be the result of heavy foot traffic (causing soil compaction), drought, disease, chemical burn and weed or insect infestation. Before beginning repairs, you need to determine the source of your problem. This will help you prevent it from continuing.

If heavy foot traffic is the cause, look for a way to keep traffic off of that area. This may include installing stepping stones, a gravel pathway or a barrier that would reroute traffic and protect that area of your lawn.

If insects or disease are the cause, determine the specific cause. Most treatments will need to be applied and allowed to work before you can grow new grass. The treatment product instructions will tell you how long to wait before sowing new seed.

Grass Planting Options and Methods

Once you have addressed the cause of the bare spots, it’s time to repair the damage. In most areas, the best solution is to replant the bare spot with new grass. There are several options:

  • You can apply grass seed and fertilizer separately. Spread straw as a mulch after planting the grass seed to help keep it moist and safe from birds.
  • Lawn patch products combine grass seed, fertilizer and mulch blends in one bag.
  • Seed germination blankets made from wood fiber keep seeds and soil in place for erosion control.
  • Where available, sod is an option. Since it is alive, keep it moist until you’re able to install it. Make sure the sod makes good contact with the prepared soil bed.

Late spring is the best time to plant and repair bare spots in warm season grasses. Early fall is the best time to repair bare spots in cool season grasses.

Repairing Bare Spots

1. Dig up the area to a 6-in. depth, breaking up the clumps. (If the problem was caused by a spilled chemical such as gasoline or an herbicide, remove several inches of surface soil.)

2. Mix in topsoil to improve soil quality and help new sod or grass seed get off to a good start.

3. Rake and tamp to firm and level the surface to the surrounding lawn.

4. Apply the lawn product (whichever method you chose from the list above).

5. Water the area well.

Once you have made the repairs, follow these steps. While you may not be able to prevent bare spots completely, you can keep your lawn as healthy and green as possible.

  • Using a fine spray from a hose, keep the soil moist, but not drenched. Preventing the soil from drying out allows the roots from the grass seed to enter the soil.
  • Once the grass is established and growing well, fertilize it with a general lawn fertilizer and begin mowing the patch with the rest of the lawn.
  • Monitor the area closely during the first year.

Garden Ponds and Garden Waterfalls

One of the home improvement projects a homeowner rarely has to be sold on is improving their backyard. Most homeowners realize that with the right landscaping and patio their backyard can be an additional living space. In fact, during summer evenings and spring and fall afternoons, your backyard may very well be preferable to spending your leisure time cooped up inside your home. One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when looking into improving their backyard is to convince themselves certain installations are out of their price range without even getting quotes. Small and moderately designed garden ponds and waterfalls, for example, are rarely as expensive as many homeowners imagine. Garden Pond Liners The biggest decision you’ll most likely need to make is what material your pond liner will be. More permanent garden pond liners include concrete and fiberglass. More flexible pond liners are generally made from a variety of different plastic products. Permanent garden ponds aren’t strictly permanent, but if they’re well-built, a fiberglass liner should last 50 years or more, while concrete may last even longer in the absence of extreme freeze/thaw cycles. Concrete has the slight disadvantage of possibly leaking toxins that can affect the quality of your pond water. Fiberglass is much easier to install and maintain but lacks the naturalistic quality of other pond liners. Plastic pond liners can actually be rigid or flexible, but rigid plastic liners are difficult to work with and are susceptible to damage from ice and other weathering elements. Rigid plastic liners usually work best for homeowners who live in a warm climate and are operating on a strict budget. Flexible pond liners can be any number of materials such as butyl rubber and PVC, among others. These different pond liners may vary slightly in cost and performance, but they generally last 10-20 years, and their flexibility makes them great for customized garden ponds. Garden Pond Design and Installation Along with choosing a pond liner, you’ll also need to start thinking about your pond design. Obviously shape, size, and location are the big elements of pond design. Depending on what plants and/or fish you plan on putting in your pond, you’ll probably want to look for a place that gets a decent amount of shade. Besides being conducive to a healthy pond, shade from the sun will also increase the life of most pond liners. Size and shape are usually a function of the size of your yard and the size of your budget. Creating a more organic shape may be more important than an impressively sized pond. Plus, you may want to save enough money in your budget to install stone edging or otherwise spruce up the surrounds of your garden pond.

Garden Waterfalls Of course, a garden waterfall is one of the best and most popular ideas for your pond surrounds. Garden waterfalls, like the ponds they typically run into, come in all shapes and sizes. The benefits of a waterfall are two-fold: the relaxing sound of running water and the beautiful look of falling water. With these two qualities in mind, you’ll want to find a design that’s right for your backyard. One common mistake is to go overboard on the size of the waterfall. You don’t want a waterfall that’s going to overpower your pond or your backyard. Installing a garden waterfall may or may not be a DIY project, depending on your relative skill and time availability, but the total cost of installing a waterfall for your pond is generally less than most homeowners imagine.

Spruce Up the Look of Your Outdoor Property by Getting Garden Water Features

A beautifully and well-designed outdoor area can spruce up the whole look of a property. Be it a big, small, residential or corporate property, it makes the whole place look pleasurable and relaxed. Garden is that place of the property where people like to get together and spend some quality and quiet time with their friends and relatives. Peaceful sound of water flow, fragrance of beautifully blossomed flowers can contributes in maintaining the ambience of the house. But even with these, the look of your garden might seem incomplete which you can balance by getting intricately designed water features.

Finely structured, these water features comes in distinctive style and adds aesthetic value to your premises. In various cultures across the world, garden designing can be witnessed. This adds some natural beauty and eliminates abrasive noises and other disturbing sounds that keeps occurring the environment around. Therefore once incorporated, garden water feature brings calmness and tranquillity and also transforms the garden into a different space altogether. While getting a feature installed in your garden or any kind of property, there are number of things that need to be considered. There are number of styles of garden fountains and features that are available from which you can choose from. Landscapers and professional designers take up these features for all kind of outdoor projects. Established companies like Geoffs Garden Ornaments offers water features and outdoor ornaments such as stone garden arches, stone benches, in-ground fountains and number of other things.

Placing a visually appealing water feature in the garden uplifts the mood of the people living around and also enhances the appeal of the whole property to a large extent. People passionate in making a drastic change in their properties look takes up the designing of their house. Backyard waterfall and features like that gives dramatic change and affects the decor of the yard as well. There are some features available as well that comes with mechanical programming that works in beautiful styles and appearance. These are easy to get and can be installed without much issues. In order to construct an ultimate ambience for outdoor of your property, installing garden water features can be a very good option. Cascade of waterfall and serenity that eventually experiences while living in such surrounding can be extremely pleasant. Continue reading this article to know more about different kind of style and features.