Gardens are comprised of three main phases, the design, implementation and maintenance phases. Gardens are not static creations, but ongoing, and all three phases are a continual process. Although the design and implementation phases are of a shorter or more condensed duration, adjustments to the garden are made through the years. Your garden should reflect the amount of maintenance you're willing to give it. If the garden itself and ability to maintain are not in sync, problems will occur. All gardens, even low maintenance xeric gardens in harmony with their environment, require rountine, periodic upkeep using the best standards of horticultural practice.

Observation, Watering and Mulching

A daily visit or tour of your garden provides you with an immense amount of information as well as pleasure. Try to make a daily tour of the entire garden. Some days are pretty hectic and time or weather doesn't always permit observation. A casual stroll among the plants is relaxing and informative most days. What's new, what's up and coming, what's growing old or in need of care? Does mulch or compost need replenishment? Is any pruning necessary? Is the irrigation system still operating efficiently and meeting the needs of the plants? Pull weeds as you check out the garden.


Feeding plants is different from amending the soil. Amending the soil is working into the soil organic amendments and minerals during bed and border preparation or at the time of planting. Feeding plants is traditionally accomplished by applying chemical fertilizers, usually the bagged, granular variety, and can also include chemical foliar sprays. For the organic gardener, amending the soil to enable microbes to feed plants is the preferred, low maintenance regimen. There are a few organic methods of directly feeding plants without harming plants or soil that will boost the landscape in time of need.


A weed is defined as a plant growing where we don't want it or any plant that is especially prolific (invasive) and which usually has no evident or purposeful use to garden, farm or ranch. To the botanist, a plant may be termed a weed that is especially adept at quickly colonizing disturbed areas and/or happens to be non-native. Indeed, most weeds are not native to our continent, region, state or area, but were introduced either by accident or on purpose. The introduction of non-native plants started with the immigration of the Pilgrims, or before.
Regardless of how weeds entered our landscape, we want them out. Consider which method works best within your organic framework.


Compost happens, naturally, all over the earth. Organic matter decays rapidly in the humid tropics, more slowly in dry and cold regions. Decomposition of plant and animal matter is the Earth's natural and normal process of recycling old into new. Compost is the building block of life and energy. As gardeners, we may not look at compost in this grand view, but it is of elemental importance to the health and beauty of our home landscapes.
Throughout this website, I've referred to using compost often. Adding compost to tight, compacted clay soils, to loose, porous sandy soils, to humus-deficient caliche soils dramatically improves soil structure and increases organic content. Improving soil structure and organic content improves water and nutrient retention and increases the biological soil life. Adding compost to the soil is the single most important action gardeners can do to increase the health and beauty of their plants and landscape. In fact, compost is so important to our landscapes, it referred to as "black gold".


Turf grass often takes up the majority of space in most of our home landscapes. Mowing turf grass or lawns is one of the most frequent garden tasks performed. Because of the frequency performed, it is at the top of time spent in landscape maintenance. There is usually a right way, and other ways to perform any task. With turf mowing in America, here are a few tips to help improve the look and health of the lawn.


Of all the garden maintenance tasks, nothing can give as much pleasure as the fine tuning involved with grooming the landscape. Akin to periodic haircuts, pruning, shearing, dead heading and pinching all fall under the category of grooming the garden. Proper grooming leads to not only a neater garden, but a healthier, more beautiful and floriferous landscape. These techniques are easy to learn and perform. Seasoned gardeners perform these techniques effortlessly and routinely and their gardens reflect their mastery.


Gardens and landscapes change with the seasons and year to year. Because some of these changes occur incrementally, our familiarity with the landscape sometimes prevents our immediate notice. This final maintenance task, analysis, ideally should be performed from a lounge chair in mid summer, typically with a glass of cold ice tea. The only trouble is, I'm not really a lounge chair gardener. I don't seem to last very long in the reclining position before I'm up and doing one of the other maintenance tasks.

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