Optimizing Your Garden for Drought or Water Conservation

Optimizing Your Garden for Drought or Water Conservation

Living in Colorado and being a gardener has been rather stressful in the past few years, as this state has been undergoing a rather severe drought. The city is imposing watering restrictions which are not giving enough water to lawns and plants. I’ve had to renovate my garden to make it more water efficient. Now, because of the techniques I’ve employed, I’m the only one in my neighborhood with a garden that isn’t completely brown. So if you live in an area that is going through a drought or if you just want to save water, I suggest you use some of these techniques as well.

First, I took out all my plants. The soil I was using didn’t retain water very well, so I had to water about twice as much as necessary in order to get it to actually absorb into the roots. If you have this same problem, you can fix it by loading the soil up with lots of compost. This not only prevents water from escaping, but encourages the plant’s roots to be healthy and able to survive more.

Once I was done optimizing the soil for my new low water consumption plan, I was ready to replace all my plants. I decided that the placement of all my plants would reflect the amount of water necessary to keep them alive. All the plants that don’t require much water I placed in on one side of my garden, and then just progressed in the amount of required water to the other side of the garden. As a result of my new arrangement, I don’t have to waste water on plants that don’t need it as much.

The installation of a drip irrigation system was another move on my part that reduced the amount of water I needed to fully water my garden. The great thing about these systems is that they constantly drip into your plants, so that every single drop is absorbed. With traditional watering systems, usually the roots get too overwhelmed with the sheer amount of water in the soil. Thus, lots just seeps right past. This is all taken care of with the drip system.

If you still seem to need more water than you can supply to your garden, you might consider which plants you could replace with less water dependent plants. If you want a good shrub that doesn’t use up more than its share of water, look for Heavenly Bamboo. It is not only tolerant of droughts, but looks rather decorative in any garden. Herbs such as rosemary are useful in preparing meals, and are rarely thirsty.

If you’re trying to find flowers that will still be lush and beautiful despite the lower amounts of water, look for penstemon varieties like Garnet, Apple Blossom, Moonbeam, and Midnight. You can attract hummingbirds and butterflies with varieties like Cosmos and Yarrow. The best part about all these plants is that they don’t look rugged and withstanding, but they sure are. Your neighbors wont be saying “Look at them, they downgraded their plants just to withstand the drought. What chumps!” Instead they will be marveling over how you keep your flowers so beautiful in the midst of the watering regulations.

One of my favorite drought resistant plants is the Lavender plant. I could go on for pages about it. A large group of Lavender plants looks unbelievably gorgeous in your garden, and hardly requires any water to flourish. Pineapple sage is another personal favorite. It is a 2+ foot shrub that smells strangely of pineapple. It’s another major attracter of hummingbirds, and the leaves are also useful to add taste to drinks.

So if you are in the position I was, and you’re dealing with a drought and perhaps watering regulations, I suggest you try some of the things I’ve mentioned. Even if you’re just trying to conserve water or be generally more efficient with it, I think you’ll still be able to benefit.

My First Gardening Experience

My First Gardening Experience

Ah, to this day I still remember my first gardening experience. It was such a disaster that I didn’t think I would ever want to garden again. I almost decided to turn my casual hobby into the most rage-inducing topic you could possibly bring up to me.

It all started a few weeks after I moved in to my first house. I was excited just to have my own grass to mow, since I had been in apartments and condos for quite a while. In between plans to paint walls and renovate the inside to exactly how I like, I thought it would be a good idea to start a fruit garden so that I could have some fresh produce and put my yard to use. At that point I didn’t really know anything at all about gardening. But still in my spunky youthful years, I decided I didn’t need help. How hard could it be to start a garden and grow stuff? After all, it happens in nature all the time and nobody even has to do anything.

I already had a grassless patch in my yard where it looked like the previous owner had attempted a garden. But any attempt they had made turned out to be an utter travesty. The area was full of rocks and weeds, with no signs of any agreeable plants. I spent several hours of work spread over several days to clear out the entire area, leaving nothing but dirt. At that point, however, I didn’t realize the difference between “dirt” and “soil”. I was dealing with barren, hard, nutritionless, and unforgiving land.

I made some attempt at making my garden look nice; although I think even Martha Stewart would have had difficulties. I took some stained boards that were sitting in my basement (quite convenient, no?) and used them as a border for my garden, to keep out all the pests that couldn’t jump more than a foot (I figured I would be safe from lawn gnomes). I used the pile of rocks I had collected from the garden to make a creepy shrine looking thing in front of it. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that.

I went to the store that very day, and picked out whatever looked tasty. Strawberries? Sure! Watermelon? Yeah! I hacked away a hole in the rock-hard ground and poked the seed in. After that, I think I watered it faithfully every day for several weeks before realizing that it was not going to grow anything. But even after I had that realization, I continued to water in hopes that my seeds would pull a last minute sprout on me. But I knew there was no hope, and I was heartbroken. After all those hours of pulling up weeds and tossing rocks into a pile, I had no fruit to show for my labor.

So, feeling dejected and betrayed, I logged onto the internet and searched for a guide to gardening. I quickly ran across a site that led me to realize the true skill required for gardening. It was then I learned about soil consistency, nutrients, ideal watering conditions, seasons, and all those things. After I read up on my area and how to grow fruits, I learned exactly what to do. I learned how to get the ideal soil, when to plant the seeds, how much to water, etc. Just a night of browsing the internet and printing off sources, and I was totally ready for the next planting season.

If you’re in the position I was, and you’re just itching to start a new garden… I urge you to learn from my mistake. Make sure you do plenty of proper research on the types of plants you’re trying to grow, along with the climate. Spend money on good soil, good fertilizer, and good garden tools. Hopefully you don’t have to go through the emotional disaster that I went through.

Mulching for Free

Mulching for Free

I’m sure that if you are reading this, you have used some form of mulch during your gardening career. However, you probably didn’t know that there are many other options for organic mulching that you can explore. These days, many gardeners are discovering new sources of free mulch that has been there all along; an untapped resource. These include clippings from a lawn, or woody prunings from other plants in your yard. You will be surprised by how beneficial all these things can be, and how often the opportunity arises to use them.

Many gardeners have taken to spreading out their excess grass clippings across the rest of their yard. You may think this will look tacky, with big piles of grass just sitting in your yard as if you were too lazy to rake them up. However, if you spread them out enough then you won’t even be able to tell that there is an excess amount. Leaving the extra grass on the yard acts as a sort of mulch by preventing evaporation and weed growth. With this extra water, you won’t have to water nearly as much to keep your grass green. When I started leaving my grass clippings, I had to adjust the frequency of my sprinkler system because I was worried my yard was getting too much water!

If your garden is in more need of mulching than your yard, it is not unheard of to rake up all the grass and transport it to your garden. By making a small layer around the vicinity of the plant, you’ll apply all the same benefits from leaving it in your yard. My yard is rather green on its own, but I often have trouble with my plants staying green and healthy. So, rather than leave the grass clipping in my yard, I move them all around my plants. It is just a matter of choosing what your highest mulching priority is.

Sometimes, our pruning activities will lead us to have an amazing amount of branches and twigs. If this is the case, you should consider renting a wood chipper to put all of those branches to use. After one day of intense pruning, you would be surprised at just how many branches you end up with. Rather than throw these away, you can turn them into a huge amount of mulch for your plants. However, if your pruning has not left you with that big of an amount, you should bundle it all up and save it to add onto the next batch. This is because the chipping machines can be slightly expensive to rent, and you want it to be absolutely worth it!

Over time, all organic mulches need to be replenished. This is because they will naturally decompose in the conditions of your yard. Usually you can tell for yourself just by looking at it, but sometimes it can look perfectly regular but still have problems. If you start to notice any poor plant growth whatsoever, you should replace your mulch. Always keep in mind that during the process of decomposition, your mulch will use up the valuable nitrogen in the soil. Without this, the plants will be missing a key nutrient. There are several types of fertilizers available on the market that are specifically designed to deal with this problem.

The use of mulches in the yard and garden is something everyone should try. Not only can it save lots of time by reducing the amount of garbage you have to transport out, but it increases the healthiness and integrity of your plants by putting that so called garbage to good use. So if you think you would be able to save a good amount of branches and twigs for chipping, or if you think that you are ready to stop raking up all your grass clippings, then I think that mulching is for you.

Maintaining a Compost Heap

Maintaining a Compost Heap

Many people who maintain gardens have a large amount of organic waste, from grass clippings to leaves and dead plants. Unfortunately, many waste money and time having these wastes transported to a landfill. It isn’t just a waste of good compost; it’s a waste of everything that goes into the process of transporting it (the garbage man’s time, the money you pay for the removal, etc). It is truly a travesty.

All this garbage that people are trying to get rid of can be a better supplement for your garden than any fertilizer or chemical. If you properly facilitate the decomposition of all of the garbage, it will alter chemically until it is in such a state that it can be nothing but beneficial nutrition for other plants. Therefore you can turn all the stuff you would have thrown away into top grade fertilizer for your garden.

Usually compost is maintained in a pile somewhere in your backyard. Usually the thought of a compost heap brings disturbing images to ones mind; heaps of rotten garbage emitting a horrid odor. However, if you maintain it correctly you’ll be able to produce great compost without producing an offensive odor. When I first began my compost pile in an effort to improve environmental health, I made several major errors. These included preventing the pile from the oxygen it truly needed, and keeping it to dry. It ended up decomposing in a very non-beneficial way, and producing an odor so foul that I had government agents knocking at my door.

When you are choosing your spot where you will be putting all of these materials, you should aim for a higher square footage. Having a really deep pile of compost is not a good idea, because generally the deeper sections won’t be exposed to anything that is required for the process to work. It is better to spread it all out over a large area. If you have a shed or a tool shack of some sort, it is a possibility to spread it over the roof (with boards to keep it from falling off, of course). I have seen this done several times, and it helps keep the pile out of the way while still maintaining a large square footage.

A compost heap can consist of any organic garbage from your yard, garden or kitchen. This includes leaves, grass, any leftover food that won’t be eaten, or newspaper (no more than a fifth of your pile should consist of newspaper, due to it having a harder time composting with the rest of the materials). Usually if you have a barrel devoted to storing all of these things, it will fill up within several weeks. It is quite easy to obtain compost, but the hard part truly comes in getting it to compost.

After you have begun to get a large assortment of materials in your compost heap, you should moisten the whole pile. This encourages the process of composting. Also chop every element of the pile into the smallest pieces possible. As the materials start to compress and meld together as they decompose, frequently head outside and aerate the pile. You can use a shovel to mix it all up, or an aeration tool to poke dozens of tiny holes into it. Doing this will increase the oxygen flow to each part of the pile, and oxygen is required for any decomposition to take place.

If maintaining a compost pile sounds like something that would interest you, start considering the different placement options. The hardest part about maintaining a pile is choosing a spot that provides enough square footage without intruding on the rest of your yard or garden. While usually you can prevent the horrible odors that most people associate with compost heaps, it’s still not a pleasant thing to have to look at whenever you go for a walk in your garden.

Installing a Drip Irrigation System

Installing a Drip Irrigation System

If you’re looking for ways to keep your garden watered without wasting too much time and money, you’ve probably gone through a lot of options in your mind. Maybe you’ve considered a sprinkler, a hose, or a good old-fashioned watering can. All of these methods might be convenient, but most of the time you will end up wasting water on plants that don’t need any more. If you live in a drought stricken area like I do, you know that every bit of water counts. I ended up getting a drip irrigation system. I haven’t regretted this decision at all.

When you install a drip irrigation system, you can choose one of two varieties: above ground and below ground. The above ground version drips small amounts of water continuously onto the ground, and allows it to soak in. It is all regulated from a pressure controller, which ensures that the water just comes out at a drip instead of a spray or a stream. These pressure regulators are very inexpensive. The whole drip system can be set up with a pressure regulator and a garden hose with holes poked in it (although it is ideal for you to get a pipe designed for this type of use, I’ve found that the hose method works acceptably).

The underground system is a bit more of a pain to install and maintain. But if you’re really into the aesthetic aspect of your garden and don’t want any visible watering system, then you might consider it worth it. It’s essentially the same as the above ground version, only a small trench is dug for the hose or pipe prior to any planting. This allows the water direct access to the roots for the most watering efficiency. Plus, you can impress your neighbors by having a beautiful garden without ever going outside to water it! They’ll be baffled.

To choose between the two systems, you need to take several things into account. Do you have the same plant layout year round? If it is always changing, you probably won’t want to bury your hose. It can be a pain to dig it up and re-align it with all your new plants every year or so. Even if your plant layout never changes, you need to consider how much you really mind seeing a hose in your garden. If it really bothers you to the extent that you’re willing to work for a few hours to get rid of it, then by all means bury it. But otherwise I would suggest staying above ground if for nothing else than the convenience of repairing and rearranging. One of the main advantages of the drip irrigation system is its efficiency. Instead of spraying large amounts of water willy-nilly like a hose does, it makes the most of your precious water by putting it exactly
where it is needed. It can also provide your garden with constant watering, instead of just having to go thirsty whenever you’re not around to water it.

So if you’re looking for an easy, cheap, convenient, and efficient alternative watering method, you should go out to the gardening store today and purchase the necessary items to install a drip irrigation system. I think you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to maintain a garden after you have it.

Improving Your Garden by Adding a Fountain

Improving Your Garden by Adding a Fountain

A great way to spice up your garden is to add a water feature. These can be both soothing and aesthetically appealing. I’ve found that there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting on a bench next to my garden and listening to my fountain while I read a good book or do some studying. Putting in a water feature is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive, and will add immensely to the pleasantness of your garden. Also, the maintenance level is minimal.

Usually, people install fountains for the benefit of the natural ambience it provides. For some reason, being around a gorgeous scene of water gives you a positive energy. This is also good if you practice Tai Chi or some form of yoga or meditation. The constant drone of the water is exactly what most people need to concentrate on what they are doing. Even if you’re not into that kind of stuff, just being in a garden with a fountain has a sort of meditative quality to it, even if you’re not trying to do so. I recommend it to anyone.

When you first decide to put in a fountain, you need to put great care into picking out one that will go well with the rest of your garden. If you have any other decorations, you want to consider if it goes well with your motif. Does the fountain you’re considering stand out in your garden like a sore thumb, or does it look like it was meant to be there? If you’re like me, you can’t naturally tell whether the fountain will be a good addition to your garden just by looking at it. So my solution was to bring my sister (a natural at fashion design and that kind of stuff) along with a picture of my garden to the store. I was able to get her expert opinion, as well as see for myself what it would look like. By doing this I was able to pick a beautiful rock fountain that goes marvelously with
the rest of my garden.

However, I still had a slight problem with supplying my fountain with power. You see, my garden isn’t very close to my house. I thought it would look pretty tacky to run an extension cord across my yard, so I had to come up with another solution. I discussed my situation with a Home Depot employee, and he quickly found me the exact solution I needed: an extension cord meant for being buried! All it took was a few hours of digging a small trench across my yard, and I had power to my fountain without an unsightly cord running across my yard. After I got over this little hitch, my fountain plan went beautifully.

So if you’re looking for a way to make your garden a more classy and beautiful place to be, I hope you consider installing a fountain. The whole process is surprisingly inexpensive, and I think that you will be very happy with the results. Having a fountain in your garden is not only soothing, but it also adds a lot of character to an otherwise bland garden. Remember, gardens are not just for giving us vegetables! A garden is a place to go when you want to retreat from the outside world and dwell in your own thoughts with no disturbance.

Growing Your Own Herbs

If you’re not the type of person that wants to spend their time managing an elaborate fruit or vegetable garden, you might consider planting and maintaining an herb garden. While the product might not seem as significant, you’ll still enjoy the constant availability of fresh, delicious herbs to flavor your meals with.

First you’ll want to choose the herbs that you’ll plant. You might have a hard time doing this because of the huge scope of herbs available. But the best way to choose is to do what I did; just look at what you have in your kitchen. By planting your own collection of these herbs, you can save money on buying them from the grocery store while having the added benefit of freshness. Some of the herbs you might start with include rosemary, sage, basil, dill, mint, chives, and parsley among others.

When choosing an area to put your herb garden, you should remember that the soil should have extremely good drainage. If the dirt gets watered and stays completely saturated, you have no chance of ever growing a healthy plant. One of the best ways to fix the drainage problem is to dig a foot deep in the soil, and put a layer of crushed rocks down before replacing all the soil. This will allow all that water to escape, thus saving your plants.

When you are ready to begin planting herbs, you might be tempted to buy the more expensive plants from the store. However, with herbs it is much easier to grow them from seed than it is with other plants. Therefore you can save a bundle of money by sticking with seed packets. Some herbs grow at a dangerously fast rate. For example, if you plant a mint plant in an open space then it will take over your entire garden in a matter of days. The best way to prevent this problem is to plant the more aggressive plants in pots (with holes in the bottom to allow drainage, of course).

When it comes time to harvest the herbs you have labored so hard over, it can be fatal to your plant to take off too much. If your plant isn’t well established, it isn’t healthy to take any leaves at all, even if it looks like its not using them. You should wait until your plant has been well established for at least several months before taking off any leaves. This wait will definitely be worth it, because by growing unabated your plant will produce healthily for years to come.

Once you’ve harvested your delicious home grown herbs, you’ll want to use them in cooking. Why else would you have grown them? Well first the process begins with drying them out. This is easily achieved by placing them on a cookie sheet and baking them 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 4 hours. After they’re sufficiently dried to be used in cooking, you can consult the nearest cookbook for instructions on using them to effectively flavor a dish.

If you want to store your herbs for later usage, you should keep them in a plastic or glass container. Paper or cardboard will not work, because it will absorb the taste of the herbs. During the first few days of storage, you should regularly check the container and see if any moisture has accumulated. If it has, you must remove all the herbs and re-dry them. If moisture is left from the first drying process, it will encourage mildew while you store your herbs. Nobody likes mildew.

So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, or both, then you should probably consider setting up an herb garden. It might require a little bit of work at first to set it up for optimal drainage, and pick what herbs you want to grow. But after the initial hassle, it’s just a matter of harvesting and drying all your favorite herbs.

Getting Started in Container Gardening

Getting Started in Container Gardening

Sometimes, the urge to garden might be stomped out by other circumstances, such as living arrangements or space constrictions. If you live in an apartment, you can’t really operate a full garden, just because you don’t really have a yard! I think that one of the best solutions for this problem is to grow plants in containers. You can hang these, or just arrange them on your patio, window sill or balcony. Just a few baskets or pots, and your whole living area will look much classier and nicer.

A benefit of growing in small containers is the fact that you can move them around to suit your needs. If you rearrange your furniture and you think that it would look nicer if it was in the other area, it’s no trouble at all to scoot it over. As long as the lighting is about the same, your plant shouldn’t mind the transition at all. Another benefit of the containers’ versatility is the fact that you can adapt it to simulate any environment depending on the type of soil you fill it with and where you place it.

If you are trying to make an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of containers and plants, you can adjust the containers to be at different heights by hanging them from the ceiling or placing them on supports. Hanging them will allow you to make the most of the space you have. This is called “vertical gardening”. If you pull it off right, you can make a very pleasing arrangement of plants while conserving your valuable space. If you live in an apartment, you know how important it is to conserve space! One method of vertical gardening is the use of a wooden step ladder. If painted correctly, you can arrange all the plants on it in a beautiful, stylish cascade of color.

The maintenance of container plants takes slightly more time, since you have to water more often and go around to each individual container. However, the square footage for container plants is much less than that of an actual garden, so the time spent on maintenance and watering is more balanced. It is important that you don’t over-water your container plants, as this can be just as fatal to their health as under-watering.

When choosing containers for your plants, you’ll want to buy them all at once along with some extras in case they break or you add more plants later. You don’t want them to be all the same shape and size, but definitely the same style so that the compliment each other. Plastic containers are the best and require the least amount of watering, but if you want to stick with clay or earthen pots then you should line the inside with plastic. This helps it retain water more, as the clay will soak up water.

Another thing to remember when buying pots is the fact that the size of the pot will ultimately constrict the size of the plant. Make a careful choice of pots according to what you wish to grow in each one. If you search for the plant you chose on the internet, you should be able to find specifications as to how much root space it should be given. This can even be an advantage for you if you choose a plant that can grow very large. If you only have a limited amount of space for it, you can constrict it by choosing a pot that isn’t large enough to support huge amounts of growth.

If the benefits of container gardening sound appealing to you, then you should start planning out your container garden today. If you write a list of all the plants you desire to have, you can do the necessary research to find out what size and shape of pots you should get. After that, it’s just a matter of arranging them in a way that makes your home look the nicest.

Dealing with Garden Pests

Dealing with Garden Pests

While tending to my own garden, I have found that one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a gardener is to walk outside to check on your plants. It’s just a routine walk to make sure that your garden is thriving, but you end up finding holes in all of your plants that looked fine only hours before. The explanations for some of these plant-destroying holes are garden pests. Some of the main garden pests are slugs, worms, caterpillars, birds, snails, and the occasional gopher. Although you can never wipe out these pests entirely, after all your hard work in the garden you have to do something.

Insects are one of the worst things to have in your garden; they can live under the soil, in old weeds or piles of leaves, or in a number of other places. In order to help keep insects away, always try and eliminate places in your garden and near your garden that these insects and other plant diseases could be living. Remove old leaves, weeds, or any other decaying matter that insects and diseases could be living in from your yard. Also, regularly turn over your garden soil and break apart any clumps of dirt so that you can eliminate the living spaces any insects that might be hiding underground.

Another way to rid your garden of the pests is to use dormant spray, which is used to keep destructive insects and diseases under control. It is best that you use dormant spray when your plants are dormant, usually around February or early March. I have used dormant spray many times on my garden and it has worked wonders on keeping insects out. But as I learned from experience, dormant spray is only effective if you follow the correct instructions. When I first decided to use some on my garden, I just dumped it everywhere in hopes of killing everything harmful. Unfortunately I ended up killing my entire garden along with my neighbors. Some insects can be beneficial to your garden though, so be sure to find out which insects help your garden.

Another pest problem I’ve had besides insects has been birds. Whenever I see birds in my garden I run outside a chase them away, but as soon as I step inside they come right back. The solution that I’ve come up with to keep the birds away from my garden is to put a bird feeder in my yard. Instead of costing me time and money by eating my garden, the birds eat at the bird feeder. In the long run it’ll save you money. Not only can a bird feeder help keep birds away from your garden, but they can also be a new part of your yard decoration. Although not completely eliminating my bird problem, my bird feeder has made the problem smaller. Getting a dog has also helped.

If you start seeing mounds of dirt around your yard, and your plants keep unexplainably dieing, you can assume that you have a gopher problem. Thankfully, this is one of the few garden pasts that I haven’t had. However my friend has struggled with a tremendous gopher infestation, so I decided to research it. Gophers are rodents that are five to fourteen inches long. Their fur can be black, light brown, or white, and they have small tails. One method of getting rid of these root-eating pests is to set traps. The key to successfully capturing a gopher using a trap is to successfully locate the gopher’s tunnels and set the trap correctly. Another way to get rid of them is to use smoke bombs, which you place into the tunnel and the smoke spreads through out it and hopefully reaches the gopher.

If you suspect that your gardens are being pillaged by any of the pests I mentioned, I encourage you to try your hardest to eliminate the problem as soon as possible. The longer you let the species stay, the more established it will become.

Creating Microclimates to Facilitate Growth

Microclimates to Facilitate Growth

Many gardeners live in areas where almost anything can grow effortlessly. Just plant the seeds and water it for a few weeks, and you’ve got a beautifully lush plant. But if you live in somewhere like Colorado, you’ll understand what its like to have a slim selection of plants that naturally grow. It can be quite a challenge to facilitate the growth of a large variety of plants, especially when the very world you live in seems to be rooting against you.

Some people solve this problem by loading up their plants with every type of chemical and fertilizer known to man. This usually works, but to me it seems kind of unnatural to rely on man made materials to keep your plants alive. Also, if I’m growing fruits or vegetables, I don’t feel very comfortable eating something that is entirely composed of chemicals.

A gardening theory that I have relied on in the past to grow many types of plants is that of creating a “microclimate” for each type of plant. This is when you regulate the sunlight, shade, moisture, and wind factors for each separate plant. It sounds like a challenge, and it is. But you can regulate these factors in such a way that the plant feels just like it is in the ideal growing conditions. This can be achieved by the use of wind barriers, shading umbrellas, extra water, or different types or amounts of compost.

If you’re ready to make an attempt at creating microclimates, you’ll need to make a detailed plan in advanced. You should start by finding a large shade providing bush or tree that will grow fast and naturally in your area. Just look at some undeveloped plots of land and see what is there. Most likely it grew on its own without any planting or care. This is what you want to happen. Usually the growing of one plant can bring about the growing of another more desirable plant.

If you have a fence in your backyard (you would be surprised at how many people don’t) then you already have a good amount of shade to work with. You can start the microclimate process using just the shade of the fence, combined with (perhaps) a screen or large bush to shade your new plant for the other half of the day that the fence doesn’t take care of. The fence is also useful for shading against wind for very fragile plants.

Once you have established the shade, be it natural or unnatural, you have created a slightly less harsh miniature environment. You must remember this is a gradual process, and find a new plant to put in the shade of the other one. Now your choices are a little more open. You don’t have to go with a rugged plant like the one you did before; you can now choose a plant that survives in cooler weather.

If the plant you are trying to grow next requires more moisture in the air than your area provides, installing a fountain or small pond can fix this problem due to the evaporation. You may think you don’t want to waste water on a pond or fountain, but it’s all going toward the betterment of your garden. It’s just like the watering process, only indirect. As an added benefit, usually fountains are quite aesthetically attractive and a great addition to your garden.

I can’t explain every stage of the process, because everyone’s goals and setups are slightly different. But to reach your goal, you should do research on every plant that you would like to have in your garden. Find out everything you can about the zone that it flourishes in, and ask yourself how you can emulate that zone within your own backyard. Almost always you can take control of the environment and recreate whatever you wish. Usually all it takes is some  planning and strategy.