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Creating Backyard Privacy

Creating Backyard Privacy

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Creating Backyard Privacy

The Ted Lare Look

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With a camera in everyone’s pocket, social media within our fingertip’s reach, and a world of people a click away, it can feel a lot more difficult to live a private life. We’re so plugged into our lives around us and surrounded by technology and media that the only place we can actually relax is in our homes. While a little peace and quiet is wonderful to enjoy in our fast-paced lives, nobody wants to live their life indoors. Having a private escape on your property can be the perfect way to enjoy what your yard has to offer, without worrying about prying eyes. Below are some ideas on how to create your own private sanctuary in your backyard.

Hedges and Privacy Screens:
Planting hedges and privacy screens are a beautiful and all-natural way to add a little bit of functional privacy to your home. Their dense growth creates a lush curtain of green that shields your yard while allowing you to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll get all the function of a fence or barrier, but with a much more aesthetically pleasing shade of green.

Hedges don’t just screen your home from the outside giving privacy, but they can also act as a stylish, multi-purpose feature by providing a sound barrier from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, allowing you to create an atmosphere of peace and quiet right outside your door. Not to mention, they also work great as a buffer from winds and snow, which can not only be a benefit for those of us who like to spend more time outside, but it can also help to lower heating costs when the weather cools.

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Growing Your Own Hedges:
While there are many different styles and types of hedges that you can grow, planning the best fit for you is important. The first step toward starting your own hedge at home actually begins with planning, so that you can choose the look and function that works for your backyard oasis. Working with one of our expert designers, we’ll find the most tailored look for your style, home, and interests. Here’s what to consider when planning:

What space do you have? Start off by planning where you want your hedge to go. You might want to have a hedge capture your whole yard, but some yard layouts might call for a partial hedge instead. Measure the total length and consider how wide you’d like your hedge to be to have the numbers you need to get started.

What do these measurements mean? How many plants you use and how close you plant them depends on both the plant’s growth habits and the density of a hedge that you want. For some plants you could need up to 3 layers, planted only 1’-2’ apart to create a dense look.  Other plants may only need to be planted in one layer and require spacing 6 ft apart. Often a combination of plants is best, for a unique look and more color and texture through the year. Our designers are familiar with all of the most popular varieties and which species is the best choice for the look that you want.

Which plant to choose? The first decision is between deciduous and evergreen shrubs. While there are tons of exciting types of deciduous plants to choose from that offer a stunning array of seasonal colors, they do lose their leaves – and therefore some of their density – in the winter. Evergreens offer an identical look no matter the season, and won’t sacrifice density at any time of year.

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Hedge How-To:
For a professional and polished final look, our landscaping experts are a fantastic resource to make sure that your project looks as good as you imagined. If you’re a bit handier, though, it can be easy to plant your own hedge. For homeowners looking for a stress-free experience, hiring the pros is a great solution, and for those that like to be hands-on throughout their projects, we’re happy to help you make your hedge happen. Here’s how to plant them yourself:

1. For a manicured look, mark your hedge line. Use a stake at each end of the line and tie a string between them to mark a straight line. To keep each plant placed precisely, measure and mark your string with the distances that you want to place plants at.

2. Dig your holes as deep as the plant’s root balls. Take the plants out of the containers or casing you purchased them in the holes for planting. If they look root-bound, gently work the roots to loosen them. Fill in the holes and water your new hedge plants to help them to settle in and start growing.

3. Adding mulch around your plants will help them to thrive. Mulch is temperature regulating and helps to keep moisture levels more consistent for a healthier plant, but also helps to make your hedge look more polished.

4. You can “train” your hedge into the right shape with some careful pruning once they are growing well. Simply trim down the tops and sides a few times annually to keep your plants healthy and in line.

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Favorite Hedge Plants:
There really is a wealth of different options to choose from when picking your hedge plant. Shrubs exist in nearly every shape and size, so there’s a plant for nearly every style. These are some of our favorite hedge plants that you’re bound to see thriving in Iowa neighborhoods:

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Boxwoods
These evergreens are known for being dense-growing and very low maintenance. You can find them in many sizes ranging from 3’ to 9’ tall, and you can trim them into different shapes to suit your style. These shrubs boast bright green foliage that darkens slightly in the winter months. While they are known to attract useful bees to your yard, they also keep out other wildlife like deer, keeping your whole garden protected from other kinds of prying eyes.

Arborvitae
Known for their elegant looks, these hedges are a perfect option for hedges that highlight each individual plant with more generous spacing. These tall and narrow cone-shaped trees come in a wide assortment of varieties, some of which can grow up to 30’ tall. The local favorites are the Emerald Green Arborvitae and the Holmstrup Arborvitae – both favored for their beautiful foliage that is both hardy and disease resistant. The name “Arborvitae” actually translates from Latin to mean “tree of life,” and these plants prove it with a long life of up to 50 years, even in our sometimes harsh conditions.
Pictured Above Right: North Pole Arborvitae Via Plant Finder

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Korean Lilac & Common Lilac
Lilacs are a great choice for adding a floral touch to your hedging needs, covered in clusters of small flowers, usually in shades of white or purple, or variegations of both. Not only beautiful, they’re also wonderfully fragrant and add a delightful, relaxing note to the atmosphere of the backyard. Plus, those same gorgeous and fragrant blooms are favorites of hummingbirds and butterflies alike!
Pictured Above Left: Korean Lilac Via Plant Finder

Dwarf Burning Bush
For truly captivating color, look no further than a dwarf burning bush for your hedge. The gorgeous, green summer foliage transforms to radiant red for the fall, truly setting the season in your landscape. They also look particularly fantastic when paired with evergreens for a cool contrast with the appeal of year-round coverage.
Pictured Above Right: Dwarf Burning Bush Via Monrovia

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Privacy Planting Screens:
Although a hedge is a nice place to start when adding privacy to your backyard, a more beautiful and complex solution is a privacy planting screen that has several varieties of plants. The combination of plants will create a more diverse mix that provides more color, height variations, and seasonal interest.

Most planting screens would incorporate multiple trees, shrubs, and perhaps ornamental grasses and perennial flowers. Below are some images of planting arrangements we have done in the past. One of our friendly designers can help design and install a more complex project for you, such as this.

Berming:
Another way to create privacy is to change the elevation of the land. Given enough space on your property, you can add black dirt and re-shape the land to increase the height of your yard, allowing for more privacy. Typically we would then plant a privacy screen on top of the rolling berms to create an immediate planting screen. If you have an expansive area, these berms also have a lot of visual interest by themselves, giving you the feel of a rolling manicured golf course.

Getting a moment to ourselves shouldn’t be that difficult, so it’s wonderful to have a little spot of quiet solitude right in our own yards. Whether you want to plant your own or need help from our landscape and design experts to create some much-needed privacy, come in today to ask how you can turn your backyard into a private getaway.

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Top New Edibles of 2019

ted lare garden center top edibles 2019

“I like being able to tell people that the lunch I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard.” 

– Curtis Stone

One of the best parts of summer is growing your own fresh fruits and veggies right in the backyard. Meals never taste more delicious than after a fresh harvest. Save the trip to the grocery store and bring your own produce section home, only an arm’s length away! Here are some of our top choices for new edibles in Iowa this year.

Gigantic Verde Tomatillo 

These small, husked cousins to the tomato are packed full with flavor and are staples in Mexican cooking. The Gigantic Verde Tomatillo variety brings more delicious flavor and excitement to the table than its predecessors and tomato cousins. The larger yields, fruit, and juicier sweetness of this tomatillo makes it the perfect flavor for a salsa verde to bring freshness to your favorite summertime snacks.

Plant your Gigantic Verde Tomatillo in full sun against a trellis or stake to keep fruit off the ground. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, throughout the season for the best-tasting fruit. Harvest your tomatillos when they feel firm to the touch and the husks have broken open slightly. You know when they are ripe as their green flesh transforms to yellow. Eat them right away by removing the husk, or leave it on and your tomatillos will stay fresher longer!

Brandy Boy Tomato

An awesome beefsteak variety, the new Brandy Boy Tomato is a tasty way to change it up this year. This tomato is a cross of the heirloom tomato Brandywine and Better Boy. The result is a tomato that has a delectable sweet and tangy heirloom flavor, but with better disease resistance and a tidier growth habit. Try them in a homemade pasta sauce or even diced into a delicious bruschetta!

Tomatoes need plenty of sun and moisture to grow. Plant them in rich, moist soil and keep them well-watered throughout the season. Mulching plays an important role in growing tomatoes for both moisture retention and protection. Tomatoes’ delicate roots can be prone to many problems, including rot if damaged, so protecting them is key. Grow them against a stake or tomato cage for big, juicy fruit and harvest when they are heavy and firm to the touch.

Pixie Grapes

These perfect patio grapes are a cousin of grapes we often find in our houses in a tall, stemmed glass. Their mouthwatering, crisp, sweet flavor will probably taste similar to many wines! Homegrown grapes are a decadent treat all summer. These grapes got their start in vineyards and have been perfectly designed to fit in a patio container for delicious flavor at your fingertips all season.

Prep your pot with moist, well-draining potting mix with an organic, slow-release fertilizer for an added boost. Plant your Pixie Grapes in full sun with a small trellis to support your grapevines as they grow. You’ll know they are perfectly ready with a quick taste-test – sweet means just right!

Pictured below: Artwork Broccoli (left), Dragon Roll Pepper (right)
Images from: All American SelectionsBurpee

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Artwork Broccoli

We’re all familiar with our big, bushy broccoli varieties with short stems and thick stalks. Breaking tradition comes the new Artwork Broccoli. These little bite-sized broccoli heads harvest piece by piece, rather than as one, large head, so the flavor is always fresh day-of. Their long, flavorful shoots are just as earthy and sweet as the tops, making the whole thing amazing for every broccoli recipe, especially stir-fries.

Artwork Broccoli needs full sun and consistently moist soil to grow. Plant in a rich, well-draining soil and mulch to keep moisture even all season. Harvest the central crown of the broccoli first – the top of the stalk – when it reaches 1” in diameter. Do this first and enjoy the sprouting of tasty shoots all along the length of the stalk throughout the summer.

Dragon Roll Pepper

These popping peppers offer a slightly spicy, yet sweet flavor with a bit of smokiness and have become a culinary delight at farmers markets and restaurants across the nation. Starting off fairly mild, Dragon Roll Peppers will mature with a bit of kick, but only about 1/10th of a jalapeno. Just a bit of spice makes these the perfect snacking peppers on their own. They add awesome flavor when diced raw onto fresh tacos or for roasting. They are certainly a talking point of any dinner party.

Plant them in a hot, sunny spot in your garden. Warm and moist soil gives these peppers their edge, so mulching will keep them at top performance. Water regularly and feed them with an all-purpose vegetable mix to give them a boost if they need it. Harvest your peppers when they are still green by cutting off part of the stem.

Pink Icing Blueberry

Named for the blue and green foliage that is dusted with pink edges, Pink Icing Blueberries are the must-have berry for your garden this year. They’ve got adorable foliage that makes them a great accent plant for your garden or patio, and they are rich in delicious berries to enjoy all summer. The big, juicy berries are so flavorful and sweet that you’ll have a hard time holding yourself from eating them all right off the plant. If you can, though, try them fresh with some Greek Yogurt or baked into mouthwatering muffins.

Pink Icing Blueberries will perform best with at least six hours or more of sun. They are self-pollinating, so they do not need another plant to produce fruit, but they will have better yields if you plant more than one. They will need a rich, acidic soil to grow, so having compost or peat moss on-hand for amendment may be helpful. Water them regularly and deeply to provide plenty of moisture to your growing fruit. You’ll know they’re perfect for eating when the little berries are full of color and no longer green.

Enjoy a fresher taste in your kitchen this summer with some irresistible new fruits and vegetables. Add a twist to your cooking, baking, or even just snacking with a flavor for every palette. No matter who’s coming over, you’ll have something fresh for everyone with these top new edibles of 2018!

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Container Garden Inspiration

container garden inspiration

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Container Garden Inspiration

The Ted Lare Look

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Gardening is constantly evolving, which is a gift to us gardeners that want to change things up and keep up with the latest new idea. Every year the whole gardening process starts again, with planning, planting, nurturing, and finally the beauty of your efforts in full bloom. Every spring we get the choice of which classics we want to hang onto for another year, and what new styles we’re ready to embrace! Although flower beds are nice, containers are where true creativity has the chance to flow.

Containers for Any Home:
Containers can work for anyone from a tiny apartment space with mere square feet on the balcony to rural homesteads with acres of land. They’re the perfect place to experiment without the larger commitment of planting in beds. Best of all, they act like throw pillows for your landscape, accenting here and there to frame the rest of your garden design. As such pivotal pieces in your backyard repertoire, it’s worth taking some time to design what goes into them.

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Creating a Container Design:
Setting a great foundation is vital to the success of your container garden, so taking a little time to consider the details before you start is important. While these gardens aren’t as high-maintenance as your traditional garden beds, a bit of thought is what takes your container from “nice” to “stunning.” If you want your designs to be the envy of your neighborhood, start by considering the “3 P’s:”

Prepping – Choose the details wisely, starting with your planter. You’ll want something made with durable material, holes for drainage in the bottom, and the right size to give your plant’s roots the space they need to develop. Once you’ve selected the perfect container for your logistical needs (and aesthetic), use some high-quality sterile potting soil to get started.

Planning – Due to the size of your containers, your plants are going to be growing close together. It might seem odd, but this is part of the appeal! It gives them the unbeatable intensity that makes them look so fantastic as accents in your yard! Growing so close means that you’ll want to match plants with similar needs together so they can share the same sun exposure, fertilizer, and watering. Also, consider the shape of the plants and how they fit together. You might choose a tall, statement-making “thriller” as the centerpiece, something with a mounding habit to be the “filler,” and something trailing that adds even more height to your container as the “spiller.” Arrange them all from tallest to shortest from the middle outwards, so you can see and appreciate all the plants and they all receive the sun they deserve.

Planting – Once your container is prepped and planned, it’s time to re-pot your transplants or plant your seeds and give them enough water to get started. Establish a schedule of watering, fertilizing, and maintaining your gorgeous plants and enjoy your growing season of fabulous growth and your design simply glowing.

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If you aren’t sure what to plant, there are tons of different looks you can recreate! A quick Google or Pinterest search is bound to turn up some dazzling looks that you can copy or use as inspiration to start. Or you can take a look at some of the expertly curated recipes we’ve put together on our site. We love building our containers as we shop, choosing one plant that we fall in love with and simply can’t go without, and structuring the rest of our container look around that.

The possibilities with container gardens are endless. Here are some ideas for what you can do with your container that ranges from functional to extravagant:

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Vegetable Container Gardens:
Can you imagine picking your entire salad from one tiny container? Vegetables like tomato, celery, onion, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, and peppers can all be grown together! Choose your salad staples and grow them within grazing distance of the kitchen for the freshest produce all summer, like your own private produce aisle in your backyard! Tuck some marigolds into the container for a pretty boost that does some heavy lifting, repelling pests.

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Herb Container Gardens:
Herbs are the original container crop, as they’re hardy enough to thrive just about anywhere. Think of your normal spice rotation when you pick your herbs so that you can plant what you use the most of. Your herbs will thrive the more you pull from them for seasoning! Some of our container favorites are cilantro, thyme, mint, basil, rosemary, and oregano. The texture of these leafy plants is delightful to look at and you’ll be treated to a heavy herb perfume every time you walk by.

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Flower Container Gardens:
This is the classic aesthetic-driven look for containers and we can see why. With thousands of varieties to choose from in millions of combinations, it’s yours to play with the color, texture, style, and look of a flower container. To keep the options simple, we find that the best containers work with about three species, in three different sizes, in three different but related colors. That way you have quite the array of visual effect without getting overly complicated. Try matching flowers to something you fall in love with at the store, or pick up something in one of the year’s trendiest colors or styles for something that is cutting-edge and trendy.

When your containers are established, the options that they hold for your garden are endless. Feel free to move and relocate to refresh your look, and enjoy a patch of intense blooming and life wherever it’s most convenient for you! Containers are the perfect blending of style, convenience, and personal touch. They’re a staple for any backyard, and their flexibility means that there’s something perfect out there for everyone!

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Top New Annuals 2019

Ted Lare Top New Annuals 2019

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Top New Annuals 2019

The Ted Lare Look

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Our annual gardens are where the hottest of trends get to shine every year. Many years we have our favorites from seasons past holding over to grace our gardens once again, but the temporary nature of annuals has us excited to try new things each year to capitalize on new trends without any risk!

Our favorite annuals for this year bring the best of color, flair, and enthusiasm to our gardens, and with thrilling plants and flowers like these, how could you not be excited about summer and spending some time in your own yard? Every year it seems like our annuals are bigger, better and more spectacular – and 2019 is no exception. These are our top picks for the most popular and successful annuals this year, ready to be brought home to dazzle your backyard and containers:

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Canary Wings Begonia:
Begonias are an essential staple in the American garden, but the Canary Wings Begonia brings a uniquely colorful twist to set it apart from the rest. These shade-lovers are a phenomenal way to bring stylish blooms to those darker parts of your yard that might otherwise go uncelebrated, especially with the Canary Wings variation. With this brilliant new variety, you can enjoy golden-chartreuse foliage decorated with pops of crimson flowers, that will truly brighten your shady spots from spring through summer. Plant alone or with other shade lovers in a garden or container for a design that is not only on-trend this summer, but confidently commands attention in your garden design.

Simply chose a location with shade or morning sun and provide well-draining soil to get your begonia off to a great start. For such a complex flower, the Canary Wing Begonia is actually simple to take care of as long as you put in the initial effort to give it the light and drainage it needs.

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Sunfinity Sunflowers:
There’s something traditional and charming about sunflowers that’s hard to improve upon in the garden – except maybe extending their growing and blooming season so that you have the chance to enjoy their cheerful bright yellow flowers for longer. Sunfinity Sunflowers take the winning formula of our favorite sunflowers and give them to us with a newly improved and extended blooming time in our garden! A charming presence in the backyard and an excellent choice to cut and enjoy indoors, these blooms are a simple joy that doesn’t quit.

Instead of a single flower that’s gone too soon on other sunflowers, enjoy over 100 blooms per plant all summer. These flowers have it all and are extremely low maintenance, so you can just plant them and forget about them – although that will be hard to do with their blooms exploding with enthusiasm all season long. Fit for both containers and gardens, there’s always a way to bring these sunny flowers home to cheer up any garden style and design.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”1px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_imageframe image_id=”21144|full” max_width=”” style_type=”none” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”left” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”fiddle-leaf fig plant” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”fullwidth-img” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://www.tedsgardens.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Blog61_Top-New-Annualstattoo-vinca-black-coral-and-tangerine.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”20px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

“Tattoo” Series Vinca:
This new vinca variation brings the artistry of your garden design to life, with vibrant and intense flowers with stunning petals that look as if they’ve each been hand painted. With new colors, like Black Cherry, Black Coral, and Tangerine, offering top-notch color saturation and style in every bloom, you can take your backyard design from charming to professional with the addition of just one popular Tattoo Vinca variety.

Everything that modern gardens look for, the Tattoo Vinca bring intensity, color, and ease of care to your backyard. Simply pick a location with good sun exposure for the brightest and most vibrant results with a healthy plant that is ready to keep working to impress all season.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”1px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_imageframe image_id=”21143|full” max_width=”” style_type=”none” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”left” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”fiddle-leaf fig plant” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”fullwidth-img” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://www.tedsgardens.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Blog61_Top-New-AnnualsSuperbells-Doublette-.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Superbells Doublette:
The Love Swept Doublette series brings a hint of romance to your yard with cascading calibrachoa blooms in blushing shades of pink with lacy white trim. We’ve come to trust Superbells varieties to bring the best blooms for the longest in our gardens for years now, and we’re very excited about this popular new color that we can add to our annual repertoire.

Wonderful for containers, these stunning flowers will spill out for a cascading effect of delicate but bountiful blooms that require little to no encouragement and minimal maintenance to absolutely thrive in your backyard. Plant by themselves in a container as they often grow so successfully that they overtake any other container mates. Thankfully, their beautiful pink and white tones on dainty flowers contrasted against emerald foliage is all the statement that you need for a single container – giving you all the lush garden style you want for this year.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”15px” bottom_margin=”15px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_imageframe image_id=”21154|full” max_width=”” style_type=”none” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”left” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”fiddle-leaf fig plant” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”fullwidth-img” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://www.tedsgardens.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Blog61_Top-New-AnnualsSalvia-Skyscraper.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”20px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Salvia Skyscrapers:
This beautiful bloom offers a uniquely vertical bloom that adds intrigue, contrast, and something strikingly artistic to your garden design this year. Three colors have been introduced in 2019 to offer beautiful blooms in shades of Dark Purple, Pink, and Orange – each prettier than the last and ready to pair with your current backyard style. With flowers towering like a skyscraper far above their foliage you’ll love the unique look and shape of these flowers that draw the eye to them.

Not only stylish, these flowers are also proven to be quite drought and pest resistant, with easy maintenance to make keeping their blooms around a dream. Blooming from late spring all the way through fall, they are practically tailor-made for our Iowa summer season. Try them as a vertical thriller in your containers or as a background element in your landscaping and add intrigue to your garden design this year.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”1px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_button link=”http://www.tedsgardens.com/newsletter/” title=”” target=”_self” link_attributes=”” alignment=”center” modal=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”cta-button” id=”” color=”custom” button_gradient_top_color=”#023b58″ button_gradient_bottom_color=”#023b58″ button_gradient_top_color_hover=”#89afac” button_gradient_bottom_color_hover=”#89afac” accent_color=”” accent_hover_color=”” type=”flat” bevel_color=”” border_width=”” size=”” stretch=”yes” shape=”” icon=”” icon_position=”right” icon_divider=”no” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.[/fusion_button][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”1px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

New annuals are exciting ways to keep your garden up to date on all the newest trends. In addition to following hot styles like color trends (we love the focus on chartreuse and coral that we’re seeing this year), picking up some of the newest and hottest annuals on the market is not only a treat for you with the latest developments in ease of gardening, but a style refresher that makes your garden fashionable and up-to-date.

Canary Wings Begonia Images Via Ballseed

Sunfinity Sunflower Images Via Harris Seeds

“Tattoo” Series Vinca Images Via Harris Seeds

Superbells Doublette Images Via Proven Winners

Salvia Skyscraper Images Via Proven Winners

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Succulent Crafts

Succulent Crafts Wreath, driftwood, picture frames, troughs

Succulent Crafts: Wreaths, Driftwood, and Frames with Succulents

The Ted Lare Look

Succulents are the gardening world’s current favorite, skyrocketing in popularity due to their unique jewel tones and stunningly symmetrical appearance, but solidifying their place as reigning popularity royalty thanks to their versatility. Succulents are absolutely everywhere, and for those of us that crave a little bit of a DIY touch to our home decor, they are the perfect opportunity to get our hands busy.

Here are some of our favorite ways to get crafty with succulents and create lasting living arrangements that are sure to be the centerpiece and talking point of any room.

Succulent Crafts Wreath, driftwood, picture frames, troughs

How To Make Succulent Wreaths:
Wreaths aren’t just for the holidays, and you can use this popular style and shape to make a creative decoration to enjoy all year. Most plants would never be able to tolerate an environment growing vertically on display, but succulents have strong roots and are adaptable enough to flourish – even sideways.

Gather all of your succulents and materials before you get started. Make sure that the wire wreath frame you choose is strong and specifically made for planting live plants. From there, there are a few different methods to choose from, depending on what you’re interested in and what works for your home decor:

Burlap and soil: You’ll need burlap, a wire wreath form, cactus or succulent soil, some fibrous material (like coco fiber), a hot glue gun, and your favorite selected small succulents.

Place the burlap liner inside your wreath form, molding it to the shape. Next, you’ll cut a hole in the center of the wreath and trim off the excess burlap, allowing the fabric to extend a few inches past the edges of the wreath. Fill the wreath with cactus soil, packing it in firmly. Cover the soil with a piece of coco fiber or other fibrous material and use hot glue to fasten everything together to enclose the soil underneath. Fasten the back of your burlap ring to the wreath, and you’re ready to plant.

Use scissors to cut holes in the burlap liner to expose the soil underneath, and then plant the loosened roots of your succulents right into the holes.

Sphagnum Moss: If the burlap method sounds too complicated and messy, a sphagnum moss frame is a great way to tidy the process up a little. It’s also the perfect choice for succulent cuttings that don’t have a great root system yet. You can purchase them ready to plant or you can make your own by filling up a tube of nylon mesh with loose moss. Soak your sphagnum wreath in water before you place it in your wireframe to get started.

Poke a hole in your frame through the mesh liner, and make space for your succulent or succulent cutting. Try mixing and matching bigger and smaller plants to create an exciting display full of color and texture. Once you have your wreath planted, you can tidy up the look by inserting some soft moss in the gaps to cover up the form underneath.

Lay your succulent wreath flat for a week or two after you build it so that the roots have time to establish themselves before their gravity-defying trick of growing horizontally. We also suggest laying your wreath flat when you water it, too, for better coverage and drainage.

Succulent Crafts Wreath, driftwood, picture frames, troughs

Easy Succulent Driftwood Planter:
Why buy a boring planter when there are perfectly good spots for your succulents in a cool piece of wood? Filling in all of the nooks and crannies of driftwood with succulents and moss is a great, earthy, and natural display piece that will catch the eye with unique forms and shapes to match its succulents.

You can shortcut and simply hot glue the succulents straight onto the driftwood, but giving them something for a base will help them to grow roots and last much longer. Glue some moss to your driftwood first to create a long-lasting display sure to please.

Finish off your artwork by fastening your succulents to the mossy areas – use hot glue, floral glue, fishing line, or craft wire for a secure but polished look. If your driftwood has any deep holes, you can always fill them with moss and cactus soil and plant your succulent straight into your display. Mist your plants to keep them happy and beautiful for longer.

Succulent Crafts Wreath, driftwood, picture frames, troughs

How to Make a Succulent Picture Frame:
What’s inside the picture frame is normally the most important part – displaying photos of loved ones and favorite memories to be treasured forever. We love the idea of making your home personal with photos, but your picture frame decor should match what you love! Picture frames and shadow boxes are actually idea homes for your favorite succulents!

For this DIY, you’ll need a shadow box or a glass panel picture frame with the back removed and some wood to make your own shadow box. We like using frames and boxes made of redwood and cedar, as they’re naturally water-resistant and will hold up more to time spent as an impromptu container. You’ll need hardware cloth, cactus soil, succulents, and cuttings – as well as some household tools, like a staple gun, a hammer, and some nails. Cuttings from plants should be given a few days to dry before you replant them, while whole plants can be planted directly.

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If you don’t have a shadow box, you’ll be creating one with your picture frame to give your succulents’ roots space to grow. Staple hardware cloth and insert it halfway into the box. You’ll be using this to push the roots of your plants through to keep them anchored, so midway or even at the top under the frame of your box is ideal. A half-inch grid should be enough to accommodate your stems but keep the soil locked in.

Fill your shadow box with cactus soil by pouring it on top of the hardware cloth and sifting it through the openings. Use a pencil to poke holes in the soil through the square holes in the grid and fill your frame up with plants! We recommend starting with your larger plants and moving toward smaller ones to fit them in more nicely next to each other – even if you have a favorite that you want to make sure is on display the most.

Like the succulent wreath, leave your box laying flat for a few weeks to let the roots start to settle and establish – as well as using greenings clips to keep everything in place. When your plants have rooted, you can hang your frame or prop it up on a shelf for a living display to go along with all of your favorite memories and photos.

Succulent Crafts Wreath, driftwood, picture frames, troughs

Succulents in Troughs:
For a display that’s a little more common sense and straight-forward, plant your succulents in a trough. They’re still more creative than a normal succulent container display with old planters, but they are more manageable for people that aren’t sure of their DIY capabilities. Choose from wood, terra cotta, metal, plastic, and even cement troughs for your plants, creating an aesthetic that both matches your decor and draws the eye. You can accentuate your darling succulents while still creating a lasting impact in your home’s style.

Once you’ve selected a trough planter, make sure that it is designed for drainage. If it has a solid bottom, you might want to drill some holes before filling with soil and planting or just layer the bottom with pebbles to improve drainage. Then, all you have to do is fill the trough with cactus soil and you’re ready to plant! These are the perfect planters for a tidy and neat succulent planting design to meet rustic style with your fun and unique container.

Once you start to think about the different and unique ways that you can plant beyond regular containers, the possibilities with succulents are endless. These are just a few of our favorite, creative DIY displays we’ve seen people come up with. Creating your own display is a fun craft, and it’s a perfect way to mesh together your personal style and personality with your home decor for something uniquely you.

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The Dirt on Dirt: Creating Better Soils

Creating Better Soils

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The Dirt on Dirt: Creating Better Soils

The Ted Lare Look

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No matter our aims – from aesthetic to functional – there’s something incredible about watching something grow from nothing in our own backyards. Planting a tiny seed or watching a little seedling grow from just bare dirt is an experience that is important in our gardens every year. But is it just as simple as planting in dirt?

Soil vs Dirt:
Soil and dirt are terms that we might use interchangeably in our everyday lives, but they are actually key differences that make the change from a thriving garden to a barren one.

Soil is chock-full of microorganisms, micronutrients, and a lot of the delicate differences that make your soil alive and able to support life.

Dirt, on the other hand, has lots of the main building blocks, but is missing the key ingredients for life. While you can still technically grow from dirt, it’ll take a lot more work from you and your plants will never have the healthy glow to compare with those grown in soil.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”15px” bottom_margin=”15px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_imageframe image_id=”20942|full” max_width=”” style_type=”none” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”left” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”fullwidth-img” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://www.tedsgardens.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Blog59_Creating-Better-SoilsSoil.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”20px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

How To Create Better Soil:
Good soil is the foundation for everything in your garden. It isn’t as glamorous as talking about the hottest new styles, colors, and annuals, but it’s the beginning of a healthy looking garden and a landscape experience that’s less work and more time enjoying for you. The healthier your soil is the less problems you will have with pests and diseases.

Here’s some ways to get your dirt upgraded to soil:

Getting Off of Chemicals:
We want to help our garden be the best it can be, and tinkering with our soil comes with the territory. The good news is that what’s best for your soil in the long run is to have some restraint and do less. Soil has been doing its thing for millions of years and has itself figured out; so the less we interfere, the better.

A garden that lets natural processes regulate pests is much healthier than one that we’ve killed all the life from with chemicals – opening the door for the next infestation, and the next, and the next. Working too hard in our gardens and using too many chemicals disrupts the natural paths of things, and while it might help with one issue, often leaves openings for more issues to pop up instead.

Good soil relies on the presence of creepy-crawlies – the vast majority of which are microscopic and very beneficial to the health of your garden. Under the surface, you don’t see bacteria and nematodes working hard to transform nutrients for your plants to use. With chemistry and biology, a garden soil full of critters is essential for life.

Using too many chemicals to support your garden or to treat pest breakouts will turn a soil full of life into lifeless dirt, and could even prevent these useful microorganisms from ever coming back.  

Avoid excessive fertilizer use, which can burn valuable and fragile microorganisms, and never exceed the recommended dosages on the container labels. While some of our garden favorites come addicted to these – like our high-octane annuals – not all of our plants have an equal need and many absolutely thrive off of gentler options, like organic and natural fertilizers that promote a healthy soil environment.

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Adding Organics:
It is important to add nutrient-rich materials to your soil at least once a year. This can be done by adding a few inches of compost, leaves, grass clippings, straw, manure or mulch on top of your existing soil. When you mulch your garden, it begins to break down the minute it touches the soil, leaving behind nutrients for microorganisms and worms to feed on year-round.

While the process does slow down during the winter, it does still happen, and the nutrients that are produced are picked up by the plants’ roots whenever they need them.

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Dig With Care:
Again, less work here is more! Tilling the garden can help the materials gain deeper contact with the organisms so the breakdown process occurs more quickly. However, tilling can also confuse organisms as they will be moved around from their normal confines. Overworking the soil can actually break down the soil ecosystem by exposing them to too much air, chops up decomposers, and brings weeds up to the surface.

Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to sit back and enjoy your yard a little more rather than working. Only till, shovel, or fork when you need – like to add compost and other mix-ins to your soil to enrich it in the spring. Other than that, leave the soil undisturbed to work hard for itself, leave the tools in the shed, and save your back.

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Foot Traffic:
Air is as essential to the healthy life of your soil as it is here on the surface where we breathe it. Microorganisms need it to survive and the delicate roots of our plants need the gaps to expand and grow. Every step compresses the soil and can crush these air pockets.

Avoid excessive foot traffic in your veggie and flower beds, especially after rain or being watered. We like laying boards between your rows of vegetable to avoid crushing the soil, suppress weeds, and clean up the look of your garden.

Testing your Soil:
If you are concerned about the health of your soil and would like to determine what to add to your soil to make it better we recommend testing your soil. Soil testing can be done by Iowa State University for a nominal fee. This method will tell you exactly what you should add to your gardens to create healthy soil.  

You can also test the soil yourself at home by using the simple, yet effective jar method, which will tell you what percentage of your soil is sand, clay, loam, and organic matter. To do it, put 2-3 inches of soil in a mason jar, fill it 2/3 full of water and vigorously shake. Let it settle out for 24 hours then look through the jar and pick out the layers. The sand will have settled first, then the clay, then loam, and organic matter. If you have perfect soil, your soil should consist of 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. If not, you can use the results to determine what you need to add to your soil!

If your soil needs more sand, it may be beneficial to incorporate more compost rather than sand. Sand doesn’t mix well into soil and typically will form pockets of sand in your garden rather than a good blend. Compost will translate into better drainage which is sands major use.

If your soil has too much clay, work on incorporating organic materials to increase silt materials. This will eventually result in a lower percentage of clay in the soil. Too much sand is remedied the same way, but the organic matter is used to slow drainage and hold moisture.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”15px” bottom_margin=”15px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_imageframe image_id=”20941|full” max_width=”” style_type=”none” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”left” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”fiddle-leaf fig plant” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”fullwidth-img” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://www.tedsgardens.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Blog59_Creating-Better-SoilsPerfect-Soil.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”” top_margin=”20px” bottom_margin=”20px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Soil pH:
The ideal soil pH is between 6.2 and 7.2.  If you would like to know the exact pH of your soil, you will need a litmus soil tester or to have a soil test performed by Iowa State.   Based on these tests, you can then add material to the soil which helps to change the pH of the soil.  If your soil tests acidic, you need to add lime or limestone to the soil. If your soil tests alkaline, you will need to add sulfur.

When applying these materials, follow the label directions. It takes time to actually change the pH of the soil, so be patient with this process and pay attention to how your garden performs. If it is healthy and producing, the soil is probably in good shape. If it is still having problems, then look into having it professionally tested.  

Nature has an amazing capacity to work in your soil to correct itself if you give it the chance to grow. All it takes to turn backyard dirt to thriving soil is a little know-how, some patience, and even a little less work.

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Designing for Curbside Appeal

Designing Curbside Appeal

First impressions can say a lot about a person and the same rule applies to a home. The view from the curb tells us all we need to know about the people inside and as homeowners, we want that initial impression to be a good one. Whether we have the time to spend grooming and maintaining our properties or not, having a presentable house is a source of pride and an essential component in maintaining a beautiful home.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Rejuvenating Your Home:
When starting the journey to revitalize your home’s curbside appeal, there can be a lot to consider. In our experience, though, there are a few key components to every home where a simple change can make a significant impact.

A fresh coat of paint on your home can make the difference between “old and dated” and “modern and lively.” Paint that is faded or chipping will draw the attention of guests and passers-by, but not in a good way. Freshen it up with a new layer or consider changing it up with an exciting hue and watch your home transform into something entirely new.

Bring attention to your address. While your address isn’t the only defining feature of your home, it is certainly one of the most important. Without it, guests would never make it to your front door. Make sure your address is clearly displayed in a bold, modern font and is visible from the curb to prevent any confusion. We can also mount your address to a natural stone to make it more visible from the street.  

Adding color with container plantings is another surefire way to bring life and intrigue to draw people into your space. You can do this with porch pot containers, window boxes, or hanging baskets that will add a softer element to your home. This is probably the easiest way to make an improvement instantly.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Landscaping for Curbside Appeal:
With the house in order, the next priority on your list for creating curbside appeal should be your landscape. Your landscape is what brings unity between the natural and manmade elements in your front yard. To ensure a top-quality appearance, we will assess the following and make improvements as needed:

Trees: These stately additions come with many benefits for any property, but they can also be a hindrance if they aren’t cared for. Take a look at the trees (or lack thereof) in your space and ask the following questions: Are they encroaching on the house and blocking its appeal from the curb? Are there spaces that could use shade or dimension?

Shrubbery: These foundation plants are excellent for creating dimension and texture in a space, but if they aren’t maintained properly, they can often end up looking more shaggy than snazzy. Maintain them with regular trimming for shape and size or consider replacing them with slower growths for a more low-maintenance look.

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Planting Beds: Shrubs and trees make for beautiful touches of foliage, but they don’t offer quite the colorful array of a garden. These seasonal flowers will keep your space looking pretty and picturesque with a season of spring and summer color.

Garden Bedding: Over time soil, mulch, and rock used as garden bedding will need to be replenished to keep the clean and polished aesthetic we like to see in our space. A simple layer to revitalize each year will keep it looking updated and new.

Pathways: These walkways guide both the eyes and the feet through the yard, adding a welcoming touch that brings guests right to the front door. To keep it looking crisp and clean, make sure to keep your pathway clear of any overgrowing plants and spilling dirt or debris that will take away from the crisp lines. If your current sidewalk is out of date, we can bring it up to speed with a new paver or stone pathway.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Other Elements to Add Curbside Appeal:
Lighting: Your home shouldn’t just look its best during the day. Keep it looking top-quality even at night with some carefully planned touches of lighting. Whether you’re just looking to light the way to the door or highlight a mature tree or key feature of the house, new LED light fixtures can make a dramatic difference. You will not believe how much you love coming home to your newly lit home – our lighting installations look just as amazing for homeowners as they do for guests!

Porches: While most of our outdoor entertaining happens on the back patio, a front porch or patio can allude to the inviting warmth that can be found within the home. Reflect the comfort of your home on the porch with a swing or bench laden with outdoor pillows that will beckon neighbors and friends to stop by for a coffee and a chat.

Creating the right first impression with your home may seem like a quite the feat, but with some carefully planned elements to focus on, it can be as easy to create as it is to look at – especially with the help of our landscape design team. To reimagine the curbside appeal of your home today, consult with one of our designers today to begin the transformation.

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Designing and Planting a Veggie Garden

Designing and Planting a Veggie Garden

Recent trends have us using our outdoor spaces for both beauty and utility. What better way to take advantage of all that your home and yard have to offer than by growing your own delicious, natural, healthy flavors right outside your door? Vegetable gardens are a marriage between fashion and function.

Your family meals and dinner parties will all get an upgrade with the inclusion of a vegetable garden in your yard this year. For those starting out, we have some tips to make growing your garden as effortless as it looks. Here are some of our top Ted Lare tips for how to design your veggie garden layout and grow your own food this summer.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

How To Get Your Garden Started:
The first step is sometimes the most exciting, but can also be the most intimidating! The first steps are all about creating your vision for what your garden is going to look like. Here’s how to design your vegetable garden:

1. Mark off a plot of land that’s big enough for all of what you’d like to plant. If your space is limited, you can always put some of your garden in containers for a fun and functional garden accent.

2. Choose your edibles, focusing both on what you want to eat more of and what’s easy for a beginner to grow. We recommend choosing foods that you use lots of already so that you get to take full advantage of your garden bounty. There are lots of trendy and fun new varieties of every vegetable you can imagine, so you won’t miss out on anything cool if you only choose a few staples!

3. Check the needs of your plants. Planning is about logistics, too, so look at the frost dates of your plants to make sure they’re a good fit for Iowa, as well as checking their drainage, soil, moisture, and sun requirements. This information can help you choose where to plant, what can be planted together, and whether you need to fix your soil before planting. To garden like a pro, you can place some plants together to help each other out – like using the big leaves of your squash plants to provide some shade to your more sunburn-prone veggies! This all-natural solution can help to reduce the time you need to invest in your vegetable garden.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Starting Your Garden from Seed or Starter:
Most gardens are grown from scratch with seeds, or by transplanting little seedlings that already have the first few weeks of growth under their belt. For some vegetables, the difference is all down to preference. For others – like those that need warm conditions or have long growing seasons – starting with seedlings is a great way to cheat our short summers. When you use a starter, you can transplant young veggie plants in the warm summer soil once the spring season is done, without losing weeks of growing time!

You can grow your own starters in the early spring by planting your warm-weather plant seeds indoors in a seed starting kit, or simply pick up starters from the store.

Vegetable Seeds to Sow in Spring:
These are the cold-weather plants that love spring and fall, which thrive in cool temperatures and give you early tasty harvests. Sow them directly into the spot you’ve planned for them in your garden.

  • Lettuce and leafy greens
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Beans

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Warm Weather Plants to Transplant as Starters:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Squash and zucchini

Other Easy Plants to Transplant as Starters:
Some plants simply aren’t easy to grow from seed at home, so if you want to include these easy garden vegetables you’ll need to pick up a starter from the store.

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Green onions
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Asparagus
fiddle-leaf fig plant

Challenging Plants:

Not every garden edible is created the same, and some are a little trickier to grow and might not be the best choice for your first garden if you want to avoid lots of work. These aren’t impossible to grow and are still an option for more dedicated gardeners, but their special needs and higher maintenance schedule might have first-time gardeners frustrated. Save these garden favorites for when you feel like you can take on a project.

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Melons

Your very own edible garden is the perfect compliment to all of the beautiful things already going on in your backyard. Growing veggies is a delicious way to taste the best of what your property has to offer, and a fun way to be nurtured by what you nurture at home. Your new garden vegetables will forever change the way you think about produce!

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Propagating Succulents

Propagating Succulents

A single little succulent can eventually become a larger display with much more visual punch (or a collection of smaller miniature displays) with propagation. Simple cuttings of the parent plant including the leaves and the stem can be used to start growing new baby versions of the original. This was traditionally done to revive and restart old or unhealthy plants, but since it works marvelously for expanding your succulent garden, we are delighted about these new uses for propagation. Whether you are reviving an old favorite or trying to grow your collection, this is an exciting new way to DIY your succulents.

Methods and tricks for propagation are unique to some different plant species, so have a look at our advice below for a guide to how to make it work for your favorite succulents at home. Also, a bit of research may be key as patents and licenses on some designer species make it illegal to propagate at home! Check the tag and name of your plant before you get cutting for any warnings against reproducing them before you grab the scissors and soil.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

How to Propagate Succulents from Cuttings:
Many succulents make spreading them into new plants easy – they reproduce by themselves by creating little offsets of themselves as they grow. Others grow upright and can be started from scratch just with the top part trimmed off. When you trim a piece of the plant off to grow it, it’s called a cutting, and they can very easily be replanted to create a new plant to enjoy!

Once you trim off the cutting, let it dry out completely. Our best method is to let it sit in bright but indirect sunlight for about a week. Any moisture left in the leaf could create rot when you go to plant it in soil, so patience when drying is important. When your cutting is ready, plant it in some well-draining cactus soil, and watch for them to sprout new stems, leaves, and roots in no time. This is an especially important way to reproduce Aeoniums, as they’ll only grow from a cutting with multiple parts of the plant, never from a leaf alone.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves:
Many succulents are so easy to propagate that you can do it with simple individual leaves from the parent plant. Sedums and some types of Echeverias are known for being easy to grow new plants from leaves. Gently twist the leaf back and forth to remove it, and it should pop off easily. Inspect the leaf carefully – it should have broken away from the stem and left no parts torn or behind, and you won’t want to use anything that has ripped in the process of being removed, as they won’t grow any roots. Simply cut the remaining stem of your succulent back to the soil level and enjoy it as it grows back healthy again.

Dry out the whole leaves you pulled by laying them out like the cuttings. They’re smaller than a cutting so they should only take a few days to dry out completely and form a callous. Once dry, spread them out onto cactus soil (on the surface), making sure that their stem ends aren’t touching the soil, and leave them in bright, indirect light. Mist them gently every few days, whenever you find that the soil is dry, to encourage taking root. Eventually, roots will begin to emerge and search for moisture – this could happen in a few weeks or as long as a few months, so some patience is called for. Thankfully your leaf cuttings are very low maintenance while you wait patiently. Allow the roots to grow into the soil until a new little baby succulent starts to form, at which point you can transplant it to its own pot to mature and grow. You can remove the old leaf from the parent once the roots are developed in the soil, or you can simply plant that part of the roots under the soil and let it fall off on its own, later to decompose and nourish your new succulent.

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Successful Succulent Propagation:
Remember that not every leaf or cutting is guaranteed to be successful. Some will sprout roots and fail to grow any leaves, others might not sprout at all, and some won’t survive transplanting. Patience is the name of the game when you’re propagating, and remember that even a few extra new succulents from your propagation adventure are a welcome addition to your succulent family and decor.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Succulent Care:
Once your succulents have taken root and started to grow, the hardest part is done and over! You won’t need to be quite so patient and you’re much more likely to have success with your growing baby succulents. However, your babies will need the right conditions to continue to flourish and grow healthy and beautiful.

Succulents are unique for their ability to store water in their thick leaves, meaning they can survive in the native arid conditions for quite a while between watering. They need very little moisture and will struggle if their roots are too damp or wet consistently – the most common mistake is overwatering your plants! You might be inclined to dote on the new little ones you’ve created, but they will actually thrive most on a little neglect. Tiny as they are, that just means that their needs are quite limited too.

Plant in well-draining soil, like cactus soil, and only water when it is completely dry. Depending on the time of year that could be every week or every few months! Puffy leaves are a sign of being overwatered – and they risk shriveling and dying after being so overfilled.

Succulents love heat and light as much as they love dryness. Find a spot for them to grow with some warm sunshine like a bright window – just keep them at least 6 inches from the glass so they don’t get a sunburn!

Following these guidelines and you’ll be delighted to watch a succulent family grow right in front of your eyes, from one parent plant to a tiny legion of your favorite plant’s twins. Our love for our succulents knows no bounds and though we love all of the colors, shapes, and sizes of these plants, creating more of your favorites right at home is a special treat. With such a simple way to sprout even more of these plants, the options for easy DIY projects are endless. And when you can’t fit any more succulents on your shelves, they make great gifts!

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Iowa Planting Guide

Patio path plants


Iowa Planting Guide

The Ted Lare Look

Determine the Conditions of Your Planting Area

Develop your Garden Space

Plant Selection

Low Maintenance Gardening and Planting

Maintaining Your Garden’s Beauty

If hardscapes are the bones of a landscape, plants are the heart. Filling our yards with greenery, blooms, trees, and shrubs allow us to give life to our homes and customize the colors and textures of our design. For novice gardeners, there can be a lot to think about – from methods of planting to soil testing to USDA hardiness zones. That’s why we put together our guide to planting in Central Iowa. It’s full of advice for planting and maintaining vibrant, healthy plant life, leaving you with a garden that you don’t just love looking at, but that you love working in, too!

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Determine the Conditions of Your Planting Area

When it comes to your garden, your property is a canvas. Even if your home came with a garden, it’s always possible to restore and re-imagine an outdoor space. When re-planting a garden from scratch, every garden project always turns out looking more true-to-vision if there’s a plan for the layout of the area before we break ground.

Before creating a garden layout, it’s important to assess the conditions of your desired planting space. You can start with a spiral notebook and a pencil and begin to take note of the different aspects of your yard. As you work through these components of the property, you can begin to form priorities about which aspects you want to remain the same, which you want to change, and which elements you’d like to move before you consult with a Ted Lare Design Build specialist. Take note of the following:

Shade – The shade areas of a property can be difficult to change, and unless you have a strong desire to remove a tree, it’s often best to work with the existing gradations of shade and sun when creating your layout. To help visualize the area, use your pencil to sketch a rough layout of the property and shade in areas with different darknesses to denote areas of full sun, part sun, dappled shade, part shade, and deep shade. Later on, this will help you to choose plants suited to the shady areas you have.

Soil – Soil is an amazingly complex component to every garden and so much of our planting success depends on our ability to match plants to the soils they’ll thrive in or amend the soil to suit the needs of our plants. A few things to consider when getting to know your soil:

  • Soil Types – From clay to peat to loam, the quality and structure of the soil dictates important features like moisture retention, drainage, and organic matter content. Soil amendments and mulch can help with correcting problem soil.
  • Soil Temperatures – Iowa occupies USDA zones 4 to 7, which is a pretty broad variation! In Central Iowa, we sit in zone 5, but we typically recommend using zone 4 plants.

Iowa Soils – Typically you will find your yard consists of black soil form the original farmland, or compacted dense clay from the development of your neighborhood.  Digging several holes in your yard 12 inches deep will tell you what you have to work with. If it is rich black soil, you are lucky and do not have to do anything to your soil before planting.  If it is dense clay, we recommend amending your soil with black dirt and compost.

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Develop Your Garden Space

If you’re just establishing your garden for the first time, you have a big job ahead of you. Once you’ve completed your assessment of the area and decided how much of your space you want to develop into a garden, it’s time to make some decisions. This is a good time to get a Ted Lare Design Build landscape designer involved. Our experts can handle this part of the project to make sure your garden layout reflects the result you want. This will involve:

Removal and Soil Prep – Before you can create planting beds, you need to remove the old soil, sod, and debris in the way. Our team will clear out the material you don’t need and prepare the soil for planting.

Hardscape Design – You’ll want to discuss all the hardscapes you hope to incorporate, whether now or in the future, with your designer. That includes patios, pathways, retaining walls, water features, fire pits, decks, and pergolas. Our team has a lot of experience building each of these fixtures, and our designers can help you prioritize which hardscapes will have the biggest impact within your budget.

Locate All Trees – Well-maintained, mature trees enhance the appearance of all landscapes. Your professional will design your garden strategically around your trees so the final look works with them.

Fill Planting Beds – When it’s time to fill the planting beds, our experts take a strategic approach. We want to create structure in our design by planting shrubs, then create attractive green spaces with our choice of grasses. After that, we’ll plant perennial flowers that will become the foundations of our color palette, and then accentuate with annual flowers.

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Plant Selection

While flowers and cover crops provide most of the fine details of our garden designs, larger plants also establish structure and framing of the overall space.

Ornamental trees create framing for the area, and can have extra benefits like shade, edible fruit, and added privacy. Shrubs and trees both have excellent potential for attracting wildlife, like our many beautiful native birds!

Planting trees and shrubs may seem daunting, but the process is generally not as involved as you might think and our garden professionals are more than equipped to assist you. Simply select a tree that works with your design, and before you know it, our team will have it planted and staked for you, ready to grow big and tall.

When choosing perennials, USDA zone is the most important factor to make decisions by. While our region of Central Iowa is considered zone 5, zone 4 plants have a much better shot at surviving our winters, especially if you live out of town where there’s less wind protection. We have tested a lot of these plants, so consult our Garden Center staff for more information on plants that work in Central Iowa.

Working with Wide Open Spaces – While urbanites with fenced properties may be happy with a few shrubs and trees to liven up small to medium properties, those in rural locations may be working with much larger territory to cover. Planting a forest in our backyards could be cumbersome, to say the least, so how do you fill in those acres best?

We’re big believers in the beauty of our native prairies. Prairies teem with important wildlife, and we love a field of wildflowers in the summertime. Consider establishing a prairie on larger properties to bring eco-friendly, rustic beauty to your acreage.

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Low Maintenance Gardening and Planting

Planting a garden is a big job, and if you’re planting annuals, it’s a job that will need to be done every year. The key to consistency is enjoying the work. We’ve found the best way to take pleasure in gardening is to work with plants that work with, not against, the specifications of our properties.

Time-Saving Plants – Especially with larger properties, caring for many plants at once can quickly become overwhelming. Including a significant population of low-maintenance plants that require little upkeep can free up an enormous amount of time, allowing you to focus more time on the more demanding plants you can’t live without. Planting shrubs, perennial flowers, and annual flowers from potted containers, rather than growing plants from seeds, will also save time and allow you to enjoy some color during the planting season right away.

Effort-Saving Plants – Even if a plant variety requires very little upkeep on paper, a variety that isn’t naturally adapted to the Central Iowa climate or your soil conditions will end up demanding a great deal of effort once planted. Choosing native plants that thrive in our state will save you from taking on an exhausting uphill battle.

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Maintaining Your Garden’s Beauty

Once your dream garden has been planted, the maintenance begins. Keeping notes on the needs of each of your plants can do wonders for simplifying the care schedule for your garden. Give some thought to these major maintenance areas when developing a care strategy:

Watering – All plants will require varying degrees of moisture to thrive. Manage thirstier plants with a quality natural wood mulch, and consider irrigation systems for gardens with large populations of delicate flowers. Your plants will need the most watering care the first year and then will need less time the following years, except in drought conditions.

Drainage – Sometimes the problem isn’t getting enough water, but having too much of it. If your downspouts don’t have proper drainage, you run the risk of flooding your garden during downpours. Consider installing a drainage system for your downspouts to route your rainwater where you want it to go.

Weeds – While there are ways to plant strategically to fight weed competition, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate weeds altogether. Using new, sterile garden soil at the time of planting will allow a head start on weeds by reducing the population of weeds in the seedbed, however, it is ideal to keep a weed pulling schedule and scout for new weeds every few days. Pulling a newly sprouted weed is always easier than dislodging an established one. They also have a much lower probability of growing back. After watering, weed management is the most important part of landscaping maintenance. If you let them go, your hard work and investment will be slowly destroyed.

Pest Management – When thinking about pest control, don’t just think small. While it’s always a good idea to have horticultural soaps and other natural solutions on hand for invasive insects, the pests that can do the most damage in the least amount of time are much larger. Deer-proofing your yard can save you from the devastation of waking up to a completely destroyed garden. Inspect fencing for small gateways, which can allow rabbits to come in and feast on your precious flowers and edibles, as well.

Patios are so much more than another entry into our homes. A well-loved patio becomes an extension of the home, and for many of us, our favorite part. Patios can be an urban retreat into nature, a refuge for winged wildlife, a gourmet dining experience, and a place where childhoods are made – all in one day. In many ways, how we build our patios dictate a lot about how we’ll build our memories with family and friends. By building our dream patio layout, we can enjoy the absolute best moments that homeownership has to offer.