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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Garden Wish List. (Tootise Tip)

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Did you guys do your homework???? Ya!…I’m talking to you! I hope you have your wish list ready! Let’s talk about it! When you were making your list, did you see that the possibilities and options are endless? Your imagination is the only limit to the choices you have.
Let’s get to the list.

#1. Shade.

Shade comes from several sources. Trees or structures such as fences and buildings, patio umbrellas, tents, gazebos or pergolas. If you are lucky enough to already have a tree that is large enough to provide you with some shade, this is a simple issue to resolve.

Many houses now are built with a covered deck attached. This is a convenient source of shade. The patio is already built, and all you need to do is decorate this space to your taste.

Many people have cement patios on their property. This is a convenient spot to place a table and chairs. If your patio is not blessed with a source of shade, you may need to consider either planting a shade tree, which will take several years to mature to shade giving size (depending on the size you plant). In the mean time, you could set up a canvas gazebo, shade tent, or a large patio umbrella. If you are purchasing a patio set, many of these have the umbrella already included in the package.
The shade for your seating area could also be provided from a structure or building that is already on your property. Your house, garage, or garden shed may be an ideal source of shade. Buildings also offer shelter from wind, and rain. Having your seating area in an area such as this also will provide you with a measure of privacy.

A tall wooden fence would make a great source of shade. It also offers limited shelter as well as a great place to plant climbing vines that will grow onto trellises to offer further privacy and shade. Fences and other structures will offer convenient options for hanging lighting such as lanterns or garden lights, for the evening hours.

#2. Entertaining area


When you are planning an area of your garden to entertain family and friends, there are many choices available for you. There are many considerations to take into account, such as eating and drinking, or cooking and conversation areas.

If you are planning to do any cooking outdoors, you will require either a barbeque or a fire pit. There are many types of barbeques on the market today. Your local hardware or department store will have the ideal barbeque for your needs. If you want to be very fancy, an outdoor kitchen is also an option (if the budget allows)


If your garden will be equipped with a fire/ cooking pit, you also have several options available. It is important to contact your local by-law office to obtain the municipal requirements of having an open fire in your community. Many communities have minimum distance regulations concerning the area between your fire and any permanent structures. Most hardware or garden centers offer several choices in stones that will be the structure of your fire pit. If you choose to go this route, you must consider that you will be placing the fire pit in a permanent location. You also may wish to consider a cooking pit. They are freestanding bowls that are moveable. Some come with covers that will convert into a tabletop, for eating or placing drinks. These are also available in natural gas or propane styles. Fire pits are also an excellent source of lighting in the evening hours.


Once you have decided on the type of patio, and the location of your entertainment area, you are ready to decide what type of seating you will need. Will you require a full patio set? This type may include a table, chairs, love seat, swing or umbrella. The only limits to what you choose will depend on your patio space, and your budget. Many patio sets will need to be moved to a sheltered location or storage shed for the winter months (if you live where it snows) so that it will not be damaged by the elements.

Wooden patio furniture is also readily available at many retail stores that offer seasonal goods. These will require assembly and stain or paint or varnish. They are quite versatile and some will come with a built in table.

The patio set that I really want is made from solid cement. It is a pedestal table and four curved cement benches that fit nicely all the way around it. (I just need to talk Mr. Wonderful into loving it too)

Garden swings are a comfortable and stylish option for your patio area. They are a great place to sit and relax with a cold drink and chat with a good friend, or just admire your garden. Many swings offer built in shade canopies and reclining seats.

Iron and wooden benches are decorative and sturdy and offer a touch of eloquence in any garden. They are heavy, and do not require storage in the “off season”. These benches are on display at many garden centers. Benches are nice to have in many locations around your garden, to sit a while and admire the view


#3. Water features.


There is nothing more relaxing than the sound of moving water in a garden. Fountains and ponds are engaging and relaxing additions to any garden. A water feature could range from a pond to a freestanding fountain. Your imagination and personal taste and budget will guide your choices. If you are unable to afford or locate one that you really like, pick up a small submersible pump at the garden center, and build your own. All you need is a few leak proof containers and some decorative pieces to embellish. You need to consider power sources and maintenance if you are planning to install a pond with a waterfall included. Many fountains and waterfalls are power operated, but there are also solar powered models from which to choose. If you are installing a pond, and you have children, you will need to consider the issue of safety.

#4. Fences.

If you live in a rural location, a fence may not be a necessity. However, if you live in a city or town, where you have neighbors, pets or children, a fence is a necessity. Fences offer a source of privacy and create the “walls” of your garden. There are several types of fences. Chain link fences are ready made, quick, and easy to have installed. Your local dealer will install it for you. These do not offer much for privacy unless you install the privacy strips, and do not require much maintenance. They are available in several sizes to suit your needs. This type of fence is also excellent for climbing plants, as they are similar to garden support trellises.

Wooden fences are the most common style seen in local communities. They are versatile, as they can be any color, height or shape. They offer a source of shade, and support for garden climbers. They will require regular maintenance such as the occasional replacement of damaged boards, and paint.
The style of fence you install in your yard will depend largely on your budget and the neighbors. (you will need to agree on the price, size and style if your fence is common/shared with the people next door, as they may be responsible for ½ the cost of installation.)

#5. Perennials

If you are not concerned with the restriction of pets and/or children in your garden, you may not need a formal fence. You could use a decorative fence, or shrubs and small trees to define your property. Hedges are a common type of barrier used to outline a garden. They can be trimmed and shaped to different styles and can be as tall or as short as you like. You can also start short and grow up tall, or vice versa. The hedge is a very versatile feature, but it will require you to invest the time in maintaining the plants that make it up.


Trees (flowering or no flowering) and shrubs add a touch of permanence to a garden. They can become a source of shade, or anchor a flowerbed. Trees add height and dimension to a garden space.
Shrubs can be trimmed and shaped into interesting focal points in any garden border or flowerbed. The selection of trees and shrubs that are appropriate to your area are plentiful. Your local nursery will have a wide selection of appropriate choices for your climate, and budget.

#6. Storage

There will be many different tools, and items that you will not want to have out in the garden full time. These will range from garden tools, to lawn mowers, and patio furniture and barbeques. (Many people chain and lock the barbeque to a permanent structure to avoid having them stolen. Others do not and wish to lock them into a shed when not in use, as to save the damaging effects of the elements. Your garden shed could be a simple and plain building that is purely functional, or it could be a focal point. Your shed could be a pre-made purchase from your local hardware store, or it could be a masterpiece from your imagination. I have seen sheds that look like cottages and guesthouses, which are attractive and inviting. If your property is already sporting a shed, and it is not exactly the most attractive feature in your yard-there is still hope. You could paint and add decorative features to make it look more appealing, or you could install a trellis, and add some climbing vines that will eventually disguise the structure. Hedged and shrubs are options to obscure the view of an unsightly structure. I have in the past, encountered an “ugly shed”. I simply added a couple of old storm windows, (salvaged from a home scheduled for demolition) and some shutters. A few plants and some decorative edging and pavers added enough improvement that the problem of the “ugly shed” became out dated.

What ever your garden shed looks like, you should consider what size you need and where you are going to place it. You need to have easy access and plenty of room to bring things in and out of the shed. Many items that we store in a garden shed are bulky and require a larger doorway to move them in and out through. You also do not want the shed to obstruct your view of the garden and become the only focal point in your yard.

#6. Play areas

If you already have children, you are aware of how much space they can require. They need a space to play, run, and use their imaginations. You may want to have a specific area for kid type features such as sand boxes or swing sets. In my garden, we did not section off a specific area to have all the kid’s equipment. We have a swing set attached to a tree house.

july 2 2006 035

I used to have it on an angle…until the new greenhouse went in…now it stands parallel with the fence.


I painted it with brown, muted green and rusty dark red to look like a rustic tree house. It adds charm and interest as well as blends into the scenery. Many children’s toys are very brightly colored and unsightly. I did not want the swing set and tree house to over power the garden, so I altered the primary colors to suit the surroundings.

A sand box might be placed in another corner of the yard, as to keep the sand separate from the grass and flowerbeds. Depending on the size of the sandbox, you may want to consider a cover/lid. This will deter any stray cats from using it as a giant litter box.

Children come with many interests and the equipment to go with them. You will need a place to house toys, bicycles and other items. You could consider one of those outdoor toy box/storage benches, or you could simply reserve a portion of your garden shed for these items.

In your play area, you may also want to consider the need for shade from the hot summer sun. Placement of your play equipment will depend on the source of shade you choose to provide for this area.

Swimming pools and trampolines are favorites for all children. If you have a portable/inflatable pool, you may wish to consult your local by-laws for regulations regarding safety and barriers to keep unsupervised children away from these attractions.

#7. Plantings

Where you place your flowerbeds, will depend on what you are interested in planting, and the type of garden you are looking for. If you are landscaping your entire yard, you may want to have several different flowerbeds all over the area. If you are simply looking for one area to add curb appeal or interest to your property, you must decide on the most effective location. The amount of time you wish to devote to the maintenance of this garden will also determine the type and size of it.

If time is an issue, you may wish exclusively to plant perennial plants and shrubs in your garden. Many of these plants are native or tolerant of the conditions of your area.

Consulting your local garden center or nursery will make the choices of plantings easier. You will need to consider your climate and the size that the plants and/shrubs will grow to, as well as the plant’s tendency to spread.

Some plants are considered invasive. This means that over time the plant will spread. They will spread enough that it could choke out other plantings that you may want to keep. Some areas of your garden may require such a plant. I use these types of plants along the back side of my fence, beside the back alley. This planting helps keep the inevitable weeds down to a dull roar.

#8. Drought and water issues.

If water is an issue in your area, and you are do not want to commit to watering daily with the garden hose, you may wish to install an underground water system. You could also plant drought resistant plants that do not require much attention or water.

Those are some examples of what might be on your wish list. They have all been on my wish list at one time or another! My list is always growing…changing and being checked!


What is on yours? Did you resolve any issues to discover new items to put on your list? Do Tell!
...or better yet... share it with us for Fertilizer Friday! It's only a little ways away!

Until next time…Happy Gardening!

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