Blog Author
(view profile)

Habitat Gardens - North and South

Water-wise, bird and butterfly friendly, eco-conscious gardening

Birdbaths and Butterfly Feeders/Puddlers, and Toad Homes

Category: Crafts Especially For Gardeners | Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:35 pm

Terra Cotta Garden Decor

"Aging" Terra Cotta Garden pots and sculptures

If you'd like the terra cotta to look aged or blend better with the garden elements I saw this aging technique on a curb-appeal-type show. 

These look great in a natural or rustic landscape. i like when moss grows naturally on terra cotta and i have never removed it. 

Pick some moss from your yard if you have it, break into small pieces. Place the pieces in a plastic container,stir in yogurt or buttermilk. Coat your pot with this mixture.  Display the pot in a shady spot in your yard or garden or keep on a covered porch out of the elements. If you're putting plants in it, choose plants that like shade or indirect sunlight.

Don't use this techniques on items that will be holding water or will be part of a landscape exposed to the elements.

Quick and Inexpensive Garden Birdbaths/Butterfly Puddlers
I saw a photo of plain terra cotta flowerpot birdbaths and i realized that the supplies are always around here somewhere!

Note: if you live in an area that freezes, be sure to store your birdbath parts and other pottery garden bowls indoors so that they don't crack.

These are fun to make and easy to store in the winter in the colder climates. Just carefully pull the pieces apart from each other before your usual freeze date.

Tip: if you like the look of old terra cotta that's been in the outdoors for a while, purchase an outdoor grade oil based stain in colors to brush/wipe off quickly and haphazardly to add an aged tone onto it. Browns, greens, aquas all work nicely. If you do paint your pots, you will need outdoor grade paints and you'll have to seal with outdoor grade polyurethane.

What You'll Need
2 or 3 terra cotta flower pots in graduated sizes - Sizes that will sit snugly on top of each other upside down.

One Large,one med, sm etc.1 large size terra cotta saucer that usually goes with really large flower pots ( which will require several coats of an outdoor or oil-based polyurethane waterproof coating on the inside if it's not glazed when you buy it - to keep water from soaking into the water bowl.

-Or a 1 large, glazed colorful pottery serving bowl, shallow.You'll only keep the maximum 2 or 3 inches of water in the birdbath.Wait for the large,colorful pasta and rustic serving bowls to go on sale at department stores and cooking shops, these are perfect for creating birdbaths and butterfly puddlers.You don't want the bowl at the top to be made of much heavier material than the stacked pots can hold without risk of cracking. Remember that water adds weight, as well.

Optional: some cleaned aquarium gravel, colored glass stones or polished multi-shade pebbles for the inside of the bath. Stones, mulch or shells to decorate at the foot of your birdbath.

Turn your bowl upside down.apply a hefty amount of any waterproof super-hold construction glue/adhesive all over the bottom of the smallest flower pot..which is what's going to hold up your bowl.Set the flower pot right-side up on top of the bowl (your bowl is upside down, the flower pot will be set onto this right-side up).Let this dry thoroughly, according to the label instructions.

Turn the large pot upside down in a spot in the garden.Carefully push it a little bit into the ground around it if you wish, if the ground isn't exactly even, or set the first pot onto a flat tile or stone.Do not push the remaining pot or pots hard over the one underneath it, or you will definitely break one.

Slip the next smaller size over it if using more than two flower pots (you can make your bird/butterfly baths 2 or 2 flowerpot heights tall -vary them and the bowl sizes, and cluster them in different areas of your garden).

Lift the bowl and the pot that's glued to it together carefully, and set this last flowerpot with the bowl attached over the flowerpot on your base.

Add some of the colored stones or gravel in the bottom of your bowl. Add water and do not fill birdbaths with more that a couple of inches of water.

If using as a butterfly feeder or puddler, don't add the stones and keep the water shallower. Add sugar water or sponges soaked in sugar water, along with fruit that's "going over".For the puddler, add a pinch of salt to plain or muddy water.

You can find a birdbath cleaner solution to add to birdbath water at some garden centers if you're using stones and don't want to remove them to clean the birdbath each time.

Terra cotta flower pot wind chimes

Also plain and simple, blends into your landscaping. They have a lovely, soothing tibetan sound to them. 

Pick up some inexpensive, small clay pots used for seedlings. these can be purchased in bulk from nursery suppliers online or on ebay. Some large craft stores and home centers have clearance on these items in the fall. 3 or 4 small terra cotta clay pots in graduated sizes. The smallest sizes the better.

heavy outdoor twine, cord or jute

A 1-inch diameter wooden bead

rubber washers larger in diameter than the pots' drainage hole.

Cut up a yard or so of your twine or jute. the amount depends on how many pots and the sizes you'll hang for your chime, but you don't want it too long, especially when hung on a branch that will bend from the weight of the clay. 

Put the twine through the bead and knot it.

Tie another knot about an inch or two above the bead. Slip the washer over this knot. This will keep the knot from accidentally slipping through the hole in the pot hanging over it over time.

With the other end of the twine, slip the smallest pot onto the jute. Measure by eye where to make each next knot - you want your pots to overlap onto each other by a little (otherwise you won't hear a thing!).

Add a washer over this knot. Add the next bigger pot over this knot.

And do the same for the largest of the pots.

Make a loop at the top to hang. 

Another way to create these is to hang two or three sets using all sizes of little pots and hanging each string of pots through holes in a wooden bar.

Terra cotta and all breakable windchimes are best hanging freely from branches or in a protected place in your garden so that if a big wind kicks up, they're not hitting a tree trunk or side of your house. On days with high wind, i recommend that you take these down so that the twine doesn't snap and the pots won't bang each other and break.

In cold climates, bring the chimes in for the winter so that they don't crack.

Terra Cotta Toad Homes

Toad houses are easy to create and cost just pennies, as opposed to the decorative specialty type. and are eco-friendly....

invite the toads where you want them and they'll probably not dig in the flower beds. Toads should be encouraged to eat destructive or undesirable garden insects.

Just buy inexpensive, unglazed clay can get them inexpensively at flea markets, garden centers may toss chipped or cracked pots out.

Take a tile nipper or carefully use your drill to chip an opening along the top edge part of the flower pot. it's not supposed to look pretty, and the hole should be around 3 inches wide and probably the same height.just avoid cracking apart the whole pot. set the pot upside down in the garden,in sheltered areas-away from foot traffic and not easily seen by predators... and they will come. among ground cover that's under taller foliage plants is a good spot.

you can paint them with outdoor grade paints if you wish to decorate, but the natural look of the clay looks great in any garden. you can purchase the saucers along with the pots and set them near the toad homes. they will gather a little water when it rains, which they will also like. to drink from or to grab unsuspecting bugs out of. the unglazed terra cotta absorbs dew and other moisture, keeping it cool inside.

if you live in a freeze zone, store them in the winter. in warmer climates, leave them out there year-round. Your toads will thank you.

Last edited: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:44 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 5828 times

The Butterfly Buffet - Feeding your Butterflies

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:51 pm

Butterfly Puddles and Feeding Stations

foods: just about any overly ripe fruit and sugar water. And they don't mind some smelly organic matter, either. so if you clean up after doggie friends, keep that in mind.if it's too gross for to eat it if it's been around a while.... save it for the butterfly feeder or your natural or home-made butterfly puddling areas.

i freeze bananas for smoothies, but over-ripe bananas can also be frozen with or without the skin, then left out to defrost. what you get is very mushy pulp and this is great for the butterfly feeder. my grocery store has a bin of over-ripe bananas at huge discounts that i purchase just for making my smoothies, as the softer the fruits are, the better your smoothie. this can also be done for your butterfly feeding. Overly ripe peaches, and many other fruits and berries can be used the same way. if you must throw out your going-bad fruit, toss it in a compost pile. But better yet, use them to attract and feed butterflies and some birds.

Another way to easily store food for the butterflies is to use different types of overly ripe fruits and toss them into a blender. you can add a squirt of honey, although it's not necessary, and set the blender on a coarse chop or a setting that doesn't liquify it. Or pop it into a food processor and just give it a pulse or two. pour into freezer containers or bags, and you'll have a good supply to keep your feeder full.

You can set up 2 separate areas - one for birds and one for butterflies. The bird area can contain feeding stations lots of berries and grains and nuts as well.
feeders for the birds can be placed higher up but out of the reach of squirrels. if there is such a place i haven't found it yet.

A pretty butterfly feeder that serves also as a landscape element can be easily constructed using one of those Gazing Globe stands and purchasing an inexpensive shallow bowl to place onto it. they come in different sizes and styles and are not very tall, so butterflies are likely to notice it, and it probably won't attract ants. any planter stand without the planter can be outfitted with a terra cotta bowl or deep dish glass pie dish. It can be relatively inexpensive. Also inexpensive are those pillar-type fake-stone resin decorative columns that you'd place a planter on top of. Purchase different heights and shapes, outfit them with inexpensive but pretty bowls and you have a feeding station. Squirrels will probably leave them alone, as there's not a good foothold on the columns. They can drop out of the trees, though, so place it where it's inconvenient for them.

A note about bowls - Dollar and discount stores carry the outdoor picnic plastic colorful bowls, and large platters with an inch or two of lip and not very deep. the colors of the bowls attract the butterflies, they're cheap, and if you find the party platters with sections, you can arrange an assortment of fruits for a Butterfly Buffet.

i've tried the method of attracting and feeding butterflies that hasn't caught their attention yet, but it will now that the buddleia (butterfly bushes) are in full bloom. buy a bag of colorful kitchen sponges at the dollar store, cut them into strips, circles, or other shapes if you want to get funky. Fill your butterfly feeding pan or bowl with a mixture of sugar water, slip the sponge pieces into that to soak up some of the sugar water. More butterflies for your buck, as the bowl will have sugar water and so will the sponges. the colorful sponges attract the butterflies. The butterflies can rest themselves on the sponges while they feed. i have them in the bowl of a garden sundial (bowl was meant for birdseeds but they get too wet). it's about 3 ft. tall and it's placed among the butterfly-attracting plants. I added some colorful glass beads and small river rock.

i am not sure of the ratio of sugar to water. i would imagine that whatever ratio is used for hummingbirds would work for the butterflies. Remember to clean out your feeders frequently and occasionally use a disinfectant non-toxic spray cleaner or diluted bleach.

August 2008

Last edited: Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:11 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 1409 times

"Catering" to Behaviors and Feeding Butterflies

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:19 pm

Butterfly Feeding and "Puddling"
article written 8/23/08 -apologies for watermarking on photos...

Photo: Butterfly on composting wet leaf and debris area after heavy rains.

Male butterflies enjoy the ritual of 'puddling' and "mud puddling." It's a behavior that gets them in the mood for mating.

I had just begun to observe this type of butterfly behavior this spring and summer. and at first i couldn't figure out why so many butterflies seemed to be hanging out right on the ground, very intent on doing whatever they were doing and i had no idea what that might be. They let me photograph them up close, they weren't planning on moving.

I eventually looked up butterfly behavior and found out what the ritual was about.

I've had them "puddling" right on top of damp compost or yard debris left to compost, even in the dogs' areas where their wastes might be, and on wet leafy piles. i don't rake leaves and there is a constant sourch of organic materials in the garden.

These guys are puddling in yard debris and mud area near the dogs' area.

As i understand it, the males congregate in rain and mud puddles, they derive minerals from mud and debris that apparently increases the sex drive and encourages breeding. Mud Puddle male enhancement for butterflies, i'll bet.

The one thing i have noticed about butterfly behavior - they're trusting.Besides ladybugs, there are one of the very few insects that will let you get close. i've gotten close enough to touch their wings and they allowed it. and lots photographs - they go about their business being butterflies. incredible photo ops - flying gracefully then landing, collecting nectar, puddling with their posse and just sitting around on the ground.

Butterflies also like rain water puddles. I have a Rain Garden and i'm planning a bog that allows them to puddle and gather on the butterfly attracting plants and shrubs. the garden's design naturally created, in effect, a large mud or water puddling playground in certain spots dug out deeper than others. There are flowers and decorative grasses, as well, to protect them from predators and pollution, and to lay eggs upon.

Males form their cliques and gather in shallow wet areas, like those formed on paths, sidewalks and driveways . Butterfly puddling areas can be made easily. One way is burying a plastic or rust-proof metal shallow container or weatherproof 4" planter up to the rim, filling it with pea gravel or untreated sandbox sand, and then pour in liquids.These liquids can serve as food. Flat beer, koolade or other sweet drinks, sugar water or plain water. Over-ripe fruit that you haven't turned into healthy smoothies, left to sit for a few days and pretty squishy and funky smelling, can be thrown in. But i don't do that on the ground in fear of attracting bees, ants and other critters instead.

In my opinion, butterfly puddle containers should lie flat on the ground or just an inch or two higher than the ground (careful to place those sitting a little over the ground so that you don't trip over them while wandering your garden). and as gross as it might sound - the gathering or puddling i've seen where my dogs leave their surprise packages makes me think that the stuff is not only good to fertilize your shrubs, but also helps with your butterfly gardening and creating these puddles. i use that type of fertilizer on flowering shrubs when picking up after them - the amazing doubling or tripling of the size of bloom was clearly evident. It's free fertilizer, but i did one of the v-8 things upside my head when i realized i was pooper-scooping and discarding what not only what the plants love, but beneficial insects as well. but that's another article...

i will be designing some unique and decorative butterfly puddlers and feeders, whereby the butterflies (maybe frogs, too) will gather for water or puddling and also with an attractant color or flower shape that holds pieces of over-ripened fruit. Bananas, melons, strawberries - letting them get really mushy, then adding to the feeding/puddling areas of my landscape.

The trusting nature of the butterflies will allow for hours of photographic opportunities between the plants and the feeding areas. And yes, you can throw manure of any type into the puddling area - a little bit is fine. Some folks (fishermen, don't discard those yucky parts after you clean fish,throw them in the freezer to keep for this purpose). Take some out and defrost, then leave somewhere like a garage or where bugs can't get at them and let them get kinda aged and smelly. cut into tiny pieces, and add this to your puddling container.

Butterflies will be attracted to any shallow standing water and wet edges of the woods or ponds - but i see them very frequently on compost and waste in groups of 4 or more. when puddling, they seem to just be hanging out eating/drinking and i have seen them hang out in one place for hours.

I believe that you add a little salt - a pinch, since that mineral seems to be what gets the males in a romantic mood and ready to reproduce. I'm a big fan of epsom salts and i wonder whether that's safe for this use- seems safe for us to ingest it, so a little bit might not harm. and it would do good for the rest of the landscape, But i don't really know for sure.

The puddling containers can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. the easiest is just use a shallow pottery pot or bowl, "plant" the bowl into the ground, fill with gravel, chemical free sandbox sand, add water just to make them very damp with a thin later of water over it, but not full of too much water. If adding fruit or other treats, you can add more water if some is displaced.

You can also create the containers and lay them here and there in nooks in your garden. it can be part of your wildlife habitat or wildflower planting areas. Just let mother nature fill up the containers when it rains if you don't have time to wander around adding water.

i will be setting up the very simple puddling containers and decorating around them with pea gravel or river rock, perhaps some flat broken but not sharp pieces of terracotta pots or tiles. then add my river glass and sea shell collection for them to hang out on - butterflies love basking in the sun! Another behavior that lasts long enough to take as many photos as you like if you don't startle them.

Having puddling containers helps to keep many butterflies in your garden. If they can find a source of food and water, safe havens for their behaviors and cycles, many butterfies will take up residence or return to it. Butterflies seem to be very loyal to the best digs in town.

Another idea for a puddling dish can be the larger pottery bottom dishes of the inexpensive terra cotta planters. there are shallow pottery bowls easy to find at flea markets, and in garden centers for bonsai planting. If you live in an area that freezes hard for the winter, clean out these puddling containers and store until early spring so that standing water doesn't ice over and break the pottery dishes.
Enjoy Your Butterfly Garden, Mary

Last edited: Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:30 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 1195 times

Birdhouses - What Birds Look For in Real Estate

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:41 pm

Natural nesting places are disappearing with development and the cutting down of trees. There aren't many trees with holes for the birds to move into. Creating safe and comfy nesting areas will help the wild bird population to survive.

Here is a guide for anyone who is building their own birdhouses, so that the hole sizes and house are what your bird friends need for nesting and safety.

Just Say No to perches- many birdhouses we purchase have perches. I read that perches are not necessary and are actually undesirable. I think it became a decorative thing and i certainly thought they all had one because they should.

I learned that perches encourage predators by allowing bigger birds to sit on the perch, and reach their heads into the house of a small bird. The birds who own the house don't need the perch, they are amazingly accurate at flying into holes. So if you're making a house not just for decorative use, you can skip that part. I also heard that wrens are so territorial, they don't mind pecking the eggs in houses of other birds nearby.

The diameter hole sizes for certain birds:

Caveat: We've all had birds nesting in some of the most bizarre and unlikely places - in holes apparently not their "preferred" size. But here are the suggested diameters

Bluebird, Carolina Wren,Swallow,
and Hairy Woodpecker: 1 1/2"
Chickadee 1 1/8"
Titmouse, Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker: 1 1/4"
Flycatcher and Woodpecker 2"

Barn Swallows and robins prefer homes with open sides, not one entrance hole.

Last edited: Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:14 am

This blog entry has been viewed 582 times

For The Birds - Wild Bird Treats

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:20 am

Recipes for Wild Bird Suet Treats

I've gathered these recipes over the years when my kids were in Boy and Girl Scouts and when hiking, camping and birdwatching became a family hobby.

Added info: I read that suet, especially animal fat, should not be left out too long when temperatures begin to remain above 40-45 degrees F. It begins to spoil. I would imagine that you can freeze late winter batches and use the following fall when temps drop again.

Homemade Suet Cakes and Suet Pinecones

Gather medium and large pinecones to have on hand to make treats any time of year for your wild bird friends. Hang with wire, ribbon or twine. These are especially nice hanging from evergreens near the holidays...

Soft Suet Pinecones

4 1/2 cups ground fresh suet - my grocery stores only have this once in a while
3/4 cup crushed crackers
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup bird seed mix
1/4 cup dried chopped fruit or berries

Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened, then stir it into the mixture in the bowl.
Mix thoroughly.pack into pine cones.

Suet Cake For Feeder

1/2 lb. ground suet
1/3 cup sunflower seed
2/3 cup bird seed
1/8 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup raisins or berries

Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat. Allow it to cool thoroughly, then reheat it.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened, stir it into the mixture in the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Pour into a pie or loaf pan to harden, cool and slice, or pack into suet feeders.
Other ingredients you can use for this mixture: cornmeal, cooked noodles, dried fruit.

Soft Peanut Butter Pinecone Suet

1 cup fresh suet
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups yellow corn meal
1/2 cup flour

Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.
Add peanut butter, stirring until melted and well blended.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Allow the suet-peanut-butter blend to cool until slightly thickened, then stir it into the mixture in the bowl.
Mix thoroughly. Pack into pine cones.

Hard Peanut Butter Mix for Suet Feeder

2 lbs. ground suet
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Melt suet in a pan over low heat.
Add peanut butter, stir until melted and well blended.
Stir in the sunflower seeds. Mix thoroughly.
Pour into 9 x 13 cake pan and cool. Cut into cakes that fit suet feeder
Individually wrap the remaining cakes and store in the freezer
For those who can't easily find suet - this is a good recipe using shortening

Soft Peanut butter Pinecone Mixture
- non-animal fat

1 part peanut butter
1 part shortening
1 part flour
3 parts cornmeal
1 part bird seeds

Pack into pinecones and hang from branches in your yard, preferably near a familiar feeding area.

Addtional info:

Bird treat cakes can also be made from bacon fat or from lard - for vegetarian bird treats, and used in the above recipes, as well, with few if any adjustments. i personally don't like the smell of cooking suet ....

Easy measurements:

equal parts of: whatever fat you wish,thick, crunchy peanut butter, any type of flour, and your choice of berries, seeds, nuts,dried fruits. Add three parts of cornmeal and mix together. Put into a square baking pan and cool in the fridge til solidified, then cut into cakes to fit whatever holder you use.

Last edited: Tue Jul 15, 2008 4:08 am

This blog entry has been viewed 2511 times

Adding Wiggle Room - Worms and Black Gold

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:54 am

I've given thousands of worms a home in my gardens and yards and all have benefitted from their activities and their "castings" as a super-fertilizer. humusy, organic fertilizer. i'm pretty sure it's worm poop..whatever it is, it's what they're not using anymore or digesting.

A healthy colony of worms keeps the soil aerated by tunneling, provides instantly available and slow-released nutrients. My gardens and i have all benefited by our combined efforts. All the plants are happier. Digging in the garden gets way easier, transplants don't go into shock as often with the high quality of the soil. And you won't believe the eventual quality of even hard clay like mine.

Some folks like to raise them in a bin to digest materials and pop out compost. I don't have time or the desire for all the details, and i don't really want to have to remember all the steps. I use the shortcut and just purchased worms to a newly dug garden to add the population. Worm castings are expensive - it's easier to colonize, feed, and let them do the digging and fertilizing.

The trick is to keep them happy so they reproduce and they'll stay. My gardens are mulched with organic materials, which eventually break down. The worms come up at night to munch on it or munch it from below, burrow back down (aerating the soil as they do it), excrete the castings as fertilizer, reproduce and on it goes. They eat a lot, so you get a lot of castings as fertilizer. They eat, crank out fertilizer, all is good.

How to keep them there? if you throw your kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, sprinkle cornmeal on your garden, they'll feed. I've sprinkled at night, next morning, the stuff is gone. the more they feed, the more they compost, the more castings you get and it just gets better. They're busy underground in the day, they don't like daylight. But out they come at night. I have nightcrawlers, plain old earthworms. And just for good measure, the compost bin type,red wrigglers or wigglers, can't remember what they're called officially. all available "live" by mail order.

My garden has an underground city going, some are quite large - so they do like it there - as long as you provide some type of organic material to make it attractive to them to stay, they're not wiggling off anywhere... although i do sacrifice some for fishing purposes. There are plenty when they came from.

If you keep the worms healthy and happy, they reproduce quickly, and you are also contributing to your bird visitors to the garden. They'll take some but there'll be plenty left for the garden. I've never had a flock of birds digging -a few robins in the spring apparently keep that secret to themselves. So in effect, you've created a habitat garden.

Areas mulched with bark and straw, etc. are best, and are a source of food and shelter. mix in some of your soft kitchen scraps into the mulch. I add my used coffee grounds, the filters and tea bags, sometimes pulverized egg shells,that i use under my plants anyway, veggie peelings. Not too much since i don't want critters sniffing it out at night.Organic mulches keep it damp longer, worms don't like sunshine or to dry out. Damp shredded packing newspaper (not the color magazine types please) mixed into the mulch they seem to enjoy, as well.

If you feed them, they will stay.

Last edited: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:00 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 729 times

Why We Should Eliminate Lawns -You Can Be In Clover

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:49 pm

-The EPA estimates that the amount of pollution emitted by a lawnmower operating for one hour is equivalent to the amount of pollution emitted by a car driven for approximately 20 miles.

-30 to 60 percent of urban fresh water is used for watering lawns (depending on city).

-$5,250,000,000 is spent on fossil fuel-derived fertilizers for U.S. lawns.

-67,000,000 pounds of synthetic pesticides are used on U.S. lawns.

-60,000 to 70,000 severe accidents result from lawnmowers.

-580,000,000 gallons of gasoline are used for lawnmowers.

-$25,000,000,000 is spent for the lawn care industry.

-$700,000,000 is spent for pesticides for U.S. lawns.

-20,000,000 acres are planted in residential lawns.

I had inherited a nasty and neglected backyard lawn full of weeds and big bald spots.if you have a fenced in yard, are not close to neighbors who might get a stray clover or 2, and have no HOA to mess with your head, you can replace the lawn or parts of it with white dutch clover. It contains an enormous amount of nitrogen, fertilizes the soil, it's used by many stewards of the environment as cover crops and tilled under, or left as a sweet-smelling lawn substitute.

I have substituted most of the backyard grass and weeds with clover in 3 fall seasons (zone 8)of broadcasting the seeds thickly once a month til spring. No fighting the lawn, just ignoring it. No work - just fling handfuls of the seeds around just before a rain. i don't scratch it in, i just walk over it. The white clover reaches only about 8 inches high. i cut it with a reel mower (because i love the smell and sometimes i cut more often just to smell it!) you leave the cuttings and they mulch and fertilize your soil some more.

The sown seeds quickly produce thick green cover and eliminates most of your weeds, and eventually naturally takes over the needier lawn grass. Survival of the fittest. The nitrogen feeds shrubs and flowers planted around and in it, as well. It's a soft airy cover that does not choke out or compete with shrubs or perrennials, in my experience. Most grass seed mixes have clover seed in it as a filler.It's tough, needs no care, goes through droughts then springs back with just rain showers. mine in zone 8 doesn't go brown with the grass. If sown tightly, in a few days after a rain the seedlings are already happening. The mature clover has pretty shamrock type leaves and grows in "drifts" and is soft and cool to walk on.

if you live in a developed area with no fences, live with Lawn Police, or have lots of deer and and don't like occasional rabbits, or bees, this is probably not the lawn for you - it's also specially grown as wildlife forage by landowners. of all the clovers, the dutch white variety is best for lawns. It needs no watering, fertilizer or care whatsoever. I haven't found it to be invasive or wandering off beyond my fence areas or other boundaries.

Last edited: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:08 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 2396 times

Birds can be a living part of your holiday decor

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:56 am

A winter holiday idea - While you're hanging those lights outside on the shrubs

we leave cookies for santa....

String popcorn, cranberries and/or blueberries to create garlands. Drape them over your shrubs and weave them around your small specimen trees. The birds love it! This can be done any time of year, not just for the holidays. Not advisable for squirrel infested yards or wooded areas unless you do wish to attract and feed raccoons, deer, etc. works great in a protected suburban or urban front yard and is beautiful among holiday lights. if your garden isn't lit by streetlights, etc.,and you're concerned about critters, you can take the strings in overnight. but you really shouldn't have to - once they're spotted, they don't last long.

you can also purchase inexpensive twig wreath forms and wrap the garlands around the form, hang from hooks on inside areas of fences and from tree branches. and easy to manage if you need to bring them in overnight.

Last edited: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:20 am

This blog entry has been viewed 536 times

Water-Wise Gardening

Category: Xeriscaping, Grow Lawnless, Butterfly and Habitat Gardens | Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:00 pm

I haven't watered my zone 5 gardens in over a year. I've briefly drip- irrigated my newly planted zone 8 xeriscaped front yard twice within the past 6 months. (another summer drought there, have to baby the new baby plants).

Previous landscaping and lawn were watered at least once weekly with gallons of water being wasted as it sprinkled into the air or onto the ground. I am thrilled that my zone 8 xeriscaped bird/butterfly/bee friendly, pesticide-free yard is a certified NWF Wildlife Habitat. Anyone, child or adult, can can create a wildlife-friendly environment around their home. You can be particular about your wildlife, too. i love butterflies and bees and birds, but i wage war on and discourage rabbits and squirrels from frequenting my yard.

Xeriscaping isn't tumbleweeds, scary cacti, rocks, sand, drab textures and different shades of brown and green. The method is the practice of landscaping that eliminates up to 80 percent of the watering needs of your yard and gardens.

Properly planned, a colorful, lush, fragrant garden can be created and guarantee a low-maintenance, eco-friendly environment. One that welcomes birds, butterflies, beneficial insects. And people. Instead of spending weekends cutting grass, killing insects and babying finicky specimen plants not suitable for your growing area, watering wide expanses of grass and high-maintenance ornamentals, you can enjoy the serenity of your space and share it with nature. You can use that front yard that used to be a "fishbowl" as a place to sit and reflect.

Xeriscaping reduces or eliminates altogether, the need for chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and protects the water supply. The key to start a low-maintenance, waterwise garden and environment begins with what you plant. Native plants adapt immediately. Exotics struggle, but can be used for great effect as well. Permeous mulches, hardscaping- natural materials like crushed stone, decorative gravel, straw and many other materials creates a personal wildlife and eco-friendly environment, always threatened by over-development and removal of natural habitats.

The most difficult to landscape part of your yard is a great candidate for xeriscaping, and that previously bare spot can become a living work of art.

I will post information on the best plants for a xeriscape garden that i have used with success in zones 5 and 8, along with info on where to find that info for other zones. until then.... picture a wide expanse of manicured needy lawn replaced with butterflies, bees, and sweet smelling flowers and herbs.

I will be sharing my experiences with xeriscaping, using drought-resistant plants, permious and non-permeous hardscaping,butterfly, bird and habitat gardens as i find the time. i am creating a website at the same time, related to these subjects.

i am fortunate enough to be able to garden North and South, zones 5 and 8. One garden in a rural area, one in a suburban setting. Trying to use the same mind-set in designing gardens for 2 very different environments.

I will detail my experiences and experiments, successes and failures, in my desire to rid my environment of pesticides and lawn chemicals, eliminating wasteful and water-hungry lawns and replacing with low maintenance, water-wise, wildlife and human being-attracting landscape.

Last edited: Sat Jul 05, 2008 2:02 am

This blog entry has been viewed 745 times

You're reading one of many blogs on
Register for free and start your own blog today.

Blog Subscribers

View all subscribers