Category: Garden Basics

  • Repairing and Preventing Snow Damage in the Landscape

    Repairing and Preventing Snow Damage in the Landscape

    Split bark, broken branches, and winter burned foliage – it’s enough to make any gardener long to take refuge in a warmer climate. However, a little knowledge can go a long way towards preventing and repairing storm damage. By treating your plants properly in summer and fall, you can help plants harden off and become immune […]

  • Organic Fertilizer Recipes: How to MacGyver Up a Custom Blend

    Organic Fertilizer Recipes: How to MacGyver Up a Custom Blend

    Developing a healthy soil is the goal of every gardener, but sometimes plants need an extra boost. Perhaps you are growing high-yield fruits and vegetables, plants with big blooms like roses, rhododendrons and camellias, or just feel that your soil isn’t performing well and your plants need a little help while you work to balance […]

  • DIY Organic Fertilizer: Demystifying Single-Ingredient Fertilizers

    DIY Organic Fertilizer: Demystifying Single-Ingredient Fertilizers

    Single-ingredient organic fertilizers have long been a mystery to me, and since I haven’t wanted to screw things up, I’ve been using the already-blended mixes from brands like Gardner and Bloome, which have formulations that work well for the different labeled uses (acid-loving plants, flowering plants, etc). Yet using single-ingredient fertilizers, and blending them yourself, […]

  • The NEW Sunset Western Garden Book

    16 years ago, when I took my first horticulture class, The Sunset Western Garden Book was the very first book I bought. Its status in the West is such that I owned three copies by the end of my first year: one old edition which had the best basic gardening tips, one new edition with […]

  • How Small Can I Prune My Shrub or Tree? A Rule of Thumb

    This is a question most of us pros have come to dread. Not because we dislike answering questions, but because the subtext is so often, “I want a particular tree, but I don’t have room for it. May I have your professional go-ahead to hack the holy hell out of it to keep it to […]

  • Fall Garden Tasks in the Pacific Northwest

    This time of year, my landscape maintenance company is busy as anything, pruning and helping all the gardens recover from months of wild blooming abandon. While a lot of what we’re doing right now is pruning to keep things at the right size in relation to their surroundings (we don’t want the plants leaning boorishly […]

  • Ditch the Sunhat: Sun Protection Tips You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

    Hold up, don’t report me to the Melanoma Society just yet. You probably shouldn’t actually ditch your sun hat. But if you’re like me and have never been able to get into wearing hats while gardening, here are two odd things I do to get a bit more protection than the average “slather self in […]

  • Cheap Soil Testing: How and Why To Do It

    Cheap Soil Testing: How and Why To Do It

    One of the best things about writing for this site is that occasionally, other gardeners will write in with their excellent garden tips. This was the case with Kathy Ormiston, a landscape designer and landscape gardener in the San Francisco Bay Area (south bay region). Kathy was kind enough to share a tip about an […]

  • Five Books: for Beginning Gardeners

    Newbie gardeners are greeted to the gardening book section by thick encyclopedias on Crocus, for example, or how to design in specific styles. But when I was a new gardener, I didn’t know what style I wanted to design in. And I was still working my way through the common, easy-to-grow plants – I think […]

  • Fall Leaf Raking: Finding the Middle Ground

    Fall Leaf Raking: Finding the Middle Ground

    All gardeners evolve. There is something about being outside and working hard in nature that inspires learning and growth. The issue of fall leaves is one I’ve been struggling with lately. Last year I wrote about why you shouldn’t let your fall leaves stay, and all of those reasons are still true, but… This year […]

  • Fall Leaves: Leave ‘Em and Weep

    To read about why fall leaves are so beneficial to wildlife, and how to leave them in your garden without adverse effect, check out this article: Fall Leaf Raking: Finding the Middle Ground. Once upon a time some newbie garden writer thought it’d be a great idea to encourage people to leave their fall leaves on the […]