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Attracting Wildlife To Your Landscape

by Scott Darling


Most homeowners landscape their property for aesthetic reasons, and there’s not a thing wrong with wanting your home’s outdoor areas to look beautiful.  Not only can your gardening be pleasing to the eye, you can attract beneficial insects and small mammal
s to your plantings.  Follow these tips if you’d like to create a mini-habitat oasis in your yard. 

 

  • - If you’re not sure where to begin, contact your local USDA Extension office, and they offer a wealth of information to educate you and get your started on your way to attracting wildlife. 
     

  • - Using native plants is the first step in attracting birds and butterflies, and most of these are perennials that have a short blooming season.  Don’t be afraid of losing color; you can intersperse the native plantings with colorful annuals. 
     

  • - Purchase or build housing to attract birds, making sure dimensions are correct for certain types of birds, and be sure birdhouse placement is where it will be most attractive to the birds. 
     

  • - Other man-made shelters can be made or bought to attract wild things:  houses for bats, butterflies, carpenter bees and ladybugs will not only add charm to the landscape, you will be bringing insects that will help you fight the bad bugs. 
     

  • - To invite frogs to take up residence, take any old clay pot, use ceramic tile cutters to make a doorway around the top edge, and turn the pot upside down on the ground for a frog house. 
     

  • - Besides placing feeders in different areas, clean water is essential for wildlife, and having small shallow dishes with clean water scattered about (under cover of plantings) will keep little animals coming back to your yard again and again. 
     

  • - Attracting wildlife can be wonderful and educational, but having deer devour your landscaping isn’t wonderful at all. Keep them at a distance by using this list of plants that don’t appeal to deer from Old Farmer’s Almanac. 

 

One of the first things you need to commit yourself to if you’d like all sorts of beneficial animals to visit and even live in your landscaping is going non-chemical for bad insects and weed control.  Education is the key, so do a lot of reading and learning before you begin this venture.  Landscaping that incorporates plants and animals is landscaping that benefits everyone. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: notjustcute.com

Let Kids Grow - In The Garden!

by Scott Darling

Taking time to work in the garden can be turned into family fun when you get the kids involved.  Children are usually fascinated with how things grow, and being a part of the process may even get them to try some new foods!  Try some of these projects to get them interested, and not to mention, free help in the garden! 

 

  • - A bean teepee is a fun and relatively easy project.  Assemble three 8-foot poles in a tepee shape, make sure you give them a good push several inches into the soil, and tie the poles together at the top with jute twine.  Continue using the twine to make a loose net so the vines will have support, just make sure you leave one section open for a doorway.  Plant pole bean seeds at the “base” of the poles and webbing, and watch them grow, and the kids will soon have a little hideaway with fresh beans close by for a snack. 

  • - Once your garden is planted, have the kids paint rocks as decorative row markers. 

  • - Hummingbird feeders are a common sight, but how about butterfly feeders?  Make this one from PBS Parents with a clean ketchup bottle, fake flowers and a few other household items.   

  • - If you don’t have room for a full garden, try a few plants that can be grown in clean five-gallon buckets.  Make sure there’s a drain hole in the bottom, add about an inch of gravel, broken old clay pots or old bricks, and add a good potting soil/compost mix.  Plant cherry tomatoes, bush beans, cucumbers, or zucchini, following the planting guidelines. 

  • - Plant recipe-specific plants:  have a spaghetti sauce or pizza row with tomatoes, oregano, basil and bell pepper; a salsa row can have tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, peppers and onions; plant chamomile, any type of mint, or lavender and make tea! 

  • - Sunflowers are always an amazement to children because they grow so tall.  These beautiful giants can be grown in many layouts using a garden hose to make the design, leaving room for a path if you’re planting a mini-maze, then planting the seeds along the way, and sunflowers can even be trained to make a little house.   

  • - Grow flowers whose blossoms open at different times of the day:  morning glories, daylilies, four o’clock, evening primrose and moonflowers. 

  • - A garden based on favorite storybooks is another good way to get them to dig in the dirt.  Plants based on The Tales of Peter RabbitStone Soup, and Blueberries for Sal are just a few ways to engage children in growing and eating what they’ve grown. 

  • - Adding a water feature doesn’t have to mean a huge pond with waterfall--small pond containers are available at garden centers, as well as water plants.  Create a mini pond with this guide from Better Homes & GardensⓇ.  

 

There are so many benefits to your family while spending time together outside. Gardening encourages your children to try new things, and gives them a knowledge of where their food comes from, along with a little biology.  You may even be creating life-long gardeners.  Most importantly, you’re making memories. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: gardenateaseshops.com

Selecting Plants and Flowers for Home Garden

by Scott Darling

Many of us select plants for the garden at our Chester County PA home based on their visual effect—color, height, size of blooms, etc. And so we should, as the sight of our plantings should be pleasing to our sense of sight. As we plan our garden, however, we should also be aware of the other four senses—and include plants which appeal to each of them.

SMELL: Aromatherapy is a powerful practice. With nothing more than a simple scent, the brain can be triggered to remember long forgotten memories, emotions, and feelings. With that being said, it is important to carefully select the flowers you want in the garden of your Chester County PA home. With a few simple choices, you can create your own "memory lane' or relaxing oasis. In terms of fragrance, it’s hard to beat roses or lavender. Wisteria and jasmine are scented climbers which can really enhance the sensory pleasure of a garden, and amaryllis belladonna and spirea both add pleasant scents.

SOUND: Few of us associate the sense of sound with our garden, but the rustling of long grasses and the chirping of birds add a much-appreciated dimension. To attract songbirds, use fruit-bearing understory trees like dogwoods and service berries and shrubs such as viburnums and hollies and introduce low growing perennials and dwarf shrubs like creeping juniper and cotoneaster. You can also plant vines, ground covers, and sunflowers to increase chirping and tweeting.

TOUCH: Texture in garden design refers to the surface quality of the plant. Plant textures range from delicate and fine to coarse and bold. The feel of the foliage in your Chester County PA home’s garden is not the only element of texture, however, as the texture can change with the play of light and shadow and even with viewing distance. Plants with thread-like leaves call out to be touched, so consider adding cosmos, baby's breath, asters, and grasses. In addition, iris and lamb’s ear will each provide softer tactile experiences.

TASTE: The world of herbs is nearly without limits. Think about basil, chives, rosemary, chamomile, cilantro, mint, and parsley, to name just a few tasty garden additions. Consider, too low bush blueberries or ligonberries. Lesser known, but equally valuable as salad additions are the flowers of the hibiscus shrub, columbine, and daylilies.

Some of the plants you have selected for your garden will serve more than one purpose and will appeal to more than one sense, so be sure to sniff, feel, taste, listen to, and view each of them!

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

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Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275