Archive for

Seven Ways to Add Natural Stone Pebbles to Your Home and Yard

In the world of interior design and landscaping, natural stone pebbles have become the rage. Homeowners are following their lead and completing simple, inexpensive do-it-yourself projects that add greatly to the look of their homes and gardens. I know that when you think of natural stone you’re thinking brown or gray. If you are, you’ll be delighted to know how many colors natural stone pebbles come in. Read on for some ideas of how to use natural stone pebbles to enhance your home.

Japanese Gardens Add an Exotic Touch

You’ve probably seen pictures of lush, serene Japanese Gardens and know what a spectacular addition they can be for your yard. By recreating the exotic effects of traditional gardens, you can create your own oasis using Japanese plants, rock, and water. These areas are usually very small and can easily be incorporated into your landscaping plan.

Liven Up Your Potted Plants

Houseplants can be made to look even more special if you add some color with natural stone pebbles. You’ll see a difference even if you just put some pebbles around a plant you already have. You’ll find yourself more drawn to the display and the plant itself. You can also buy a fancy pot and start a new project from scratch. How simple, and how gorgeous!

Perk up Glass Vases

Adding pebbles to the bottom of a glass vase when arranging flowers can add real zip to your bouquet. Choose a subtle background color or one that will complement the bouquet, and you may be surprised what a difference that small change will make. Besides looking pretty, pebbles also make a base that will help keep flowers from moving around.

How About a Natural Stone Pebble Path or Driveway?

Maybe you’ve considered adding stone to a drive or pathway but think they won’t hold up under heavy traffic. It’s time to think again. A footpath or driveway covered with natural stone pebbles is very durable. It can also be a very attractive addition to your yard while requiring only a small amount of upkeep. The size of stones you use will depend on what you’re using them for. If you’re doing a small footpath, start by putting down a retaining edging and then filling the area with small stones which will be easier on bare feet. For your driveway, you’ll also want an edging to keep the stones in place, but you may want to choose a little larger stone which won’t scatter as far when a car drives over it.

Treat Your Yard to a Water Feature

A water feature can be a very lovely addition in any yard. It doesn’t matter whether you build something large and flowing or small and tranquil, you’re going to find people stopping just to take a look. Natural stone can be used in a number of ways to enhance a water feature. You can add larger stones around the edge of the feature to make it look more finished and more rustic. Or, you can use smaller stone to add color and to cover up the pump mechanisms that operate the water feature. Before buying your stone, however, request to look at a piece of it wet. That’s the real color your stone will look when you put it in water.

Wouldn’t You Love a Pond?

Use this same method when buying rock for a pond. Natural stone in its original form is very dusty. You can’t tell what the color really is unless you wash off the dust. Additionally, you may want to add a raised, natural stone border around your pond to give it a natural look. Edgings can also be made of wood, metal, or other durable materials.

Pebbles Look Nice When Used as Mulch

Many homeowners these days are choosing to mulch. By spreading a covering of some material over the soil, you help the water retain moisture. This results in far less watering and expense on watering supplies. Maybe you have a limited water supply, or you might just not be an avid gardener, but you can use pebbles to save you a great deal of time and effort.

A good layer of mulch is also instrumental in keeping down the weeds that like to pop up in flower gardens. A few hardy weeds may try living in the rocks, but these weeds can’t root and are easy to pull. Once the flowers grow in and fill the bed, there won’t be as much room for the weeds to grow. Until that time comes, though, mulch will help save your aching back!

Since you aren’t going to want grass and weeds growing in your pebble path, start by laying down a thick layer of newspaper following by a sheet of heavy plastic. This will help keep the moisture in the ground. Add a deep layer of pebbles on top of the plastic. Complete the path by adding an edging made of larger natural stones.

Home Vegetable Gardening – Tips For Growing Eggplant

The most popular variety of eggplant that people will recognize immediately is the black beauty. It is that dark purple colored eggplant that is about ten to twelve inches long and an oblong shape. However there are more than a dozen varieties available.

Eggplants like it warm. In fact they like the ground to be hot. This does not mean if the ground is a bit cooler they won’t grow. What it means is to have your eggplants excel in growth and produce faster the temperature of the soil should be around eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit (twenty-nine Celsius).

The best way to keep that temperature up there is by placing grass clippings around the base of the plant. When the grass clippings begin to decompose heat is generated and that heat transfers to the soil giving your eggplant the optimal growing temperature.

Because eggplants like it warm, I recommend that you start your seeds indoors. You can buy a portable mini greenhouse for less than five bucks at home and garden centers. Place them on your window sill where the sun hits first thing in the morning and in a few days your eggplant seeds will have germinated. Once there is no fear of frost outdoors and your eggplants are at least three inches tall you can them move them to the outdoors.

Once you have planted them in the ground, keep in mind that eggplants require lots of water and full sun. Without one, the other or both, it will take longer for them to produce their fruit, if at all. So make sure you pick a spot in the garden that receives sun all day and give them a heavy watering every couple of days or so.

For you advanced gardeners or those of you that want to take your vegetable gardening to a whole new level, planting beans, peas, peppers and/or potatoes alongside your eggplant all make for great companions to the eggplant. Although companion planting goes beyond the scope of this article, it is the process of planting different vegetables together in the same area because they compliment each other for a number of reasons. You can learn more about companion planting at our website.

Another advanced technique is monitoring the pH level of your soil. Soil test kits are available at your home or garden center for a couple of dollars and you can obtain this reading in just a few minutes. Eggplants like the soil to be a bit more acidic. Optimally the soil pH level should be in the 5.5 to 7.0 range for best results. Again, you can find more information about pH levels at our website.

Eggplant is best harvested when it reaches maturity, which is about ten to twelve inches in length for most varieties. Letting it go longer could result in flavor loss and too soon makes for a less tasty and harder fruit. When picking the eggplant I recommend that you use shears or garden scissors and cut the eggplant from the plant at the stem leaving half of the stem connected to the plant and half connected to the fruit.

Regardless of which species of eggplant you grow, the growing techniques for all varieties of eggplant are virtually the same. How you prepare them once you harvest them, well, I will leave that up to you.

Flags For Home and Garden Decor

Have you ever wanted to add creative elegance to your porch, garden, deck or wall? Decorative flags may be just the right ingredient for that special finishing touch. A friend of mine has a home with a tall wooden fence next to the garden path. She hung large rainbow flags from the top of the fence. The result was absolutely stunning. The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating with flags. Today designers have created flags that are beautiful works of art. There are colors, themes and sizes that will enhance any area of your home. For those of you who have an entry porch that would benefit from an uplifting splash of color a flag may be just the ticket for you. If you have a wall that is boring, then consider hanging a banner to cheer it up. It is easy to be creative when decorating with flags. Whether you choose to be flashy or understated you will find the flag fits the bill.

Flags are available in themes for the country home, the traditional home, the contemporary home, the desert home, the log home and the sea side cottage. There are even gorgeous flags that render a touch of Asian inspiration. I personally love the Native American designs that are bright and bold. For those of you who love animals, it is really a banquet of delight. You will be amazed at the fantastic designs that feature cats, dogs, horses, cows, rooster, penguins, polar bears, moose, wolves, geese, sheep, pigs and even flamingos. If you live near the ocean, you might be interested in a lighthouse flag, a boat flag or a flag that paints a picture of marine life. I know of a couple who even flew flamingo flags from the bow of their boat. So whether you are decorating a home, an office, a garden or a barn there is a flag that will meet your needs.

Are you planning a party? Consider a flag to welcome your guests. You will be happy to know that flags are available for graduations, birthdays, retirements, weddings and every holiday that we celebrate throughout the year. Flags will add a touch of cheer to any celebration.

You will find flags to enhance every season of the year. Harvest moons, snow capped mountains, spring and sunny beaches are all common flag themes. Fall, winter, spring and summer have not been left out of the equation. Dancing leaves, daffodils, bluebirds, budding iris and colorful ladybugs are just a few of the treasures to be discovered. The possibilities and choices offer a wonderland of decorating ideas for both the home and garden.

So go ahead and express yourself, be creative and have fun with flags.