by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
The Lain casa is a respite where friends and family feel safe and welcomed both inside and out. Landscape ideas have come from traveling abroad, visiting botanical gardens, and sharing ideas with other gardeners. Lain hospitality blended with a love for gardening is upgraded each season. This beautiful landscape must care for itself! —Lain garden Pinterest Board.
I’m not one to slave over a mower or hand water plants. Here are a few insider garden tips that increase a yard’s enjoyment without creating more work for the gardener.
Remove the Lawn- The month after the last kid moved off to college, the lawn was gone. Soccer games and playing catch on the grass were just happy memories when a weekly allowance no longer cut the lawn! Tumbled pavers cover the area that now feels like our favorite Mexican hacienda, created with new patio furniture, dining tables, and hummingbirds sipping from the fountains. A creeping thyme lawn takes up a fraction of the space, but, on hardly any irrigation, it only needs mowing once per year!
Plant Perennials instead of Annuals- Perennial bloomers return for years of enjoyment. Annuals live large this season but rarely come back after winter. June is the best month to shop for perennial flowers because this is when they are in bloom. No squinting to scope out details on plant tags, because plants delivered from the farm in June are mature and in full flower. Perennialsneed little care except for a haircut sometime in winter and plant food to keep them growing. Those are my kinds of flowers!
Retain the Slope - Mountain homes often have pristine views off steep slopes. A combination of cutting into hills and added retaining blocks to extend a patio, begs for relaxation while watching an Arizona sunset. Good garden soil back filled into a raised bed is a sure success for anything planted. Large container gardens add style that everyone enjoys. Best retaining blocks are found at Yavapai Block, the best filler soil you can grow in is at Wilby’s Compost 928-899-5238.
Flagstone and Pavers - Large flagstone or irregular paving stones replace a weedy lawn and itsall-demanding maintenance. Plant thyme or Corsican mint between the pavers to add fragrance and style.
Widen the Path - Add style and ease by adding to what you already have. If you already have a garden path, double or triple its size to cut down on lawn care and to add more living space. A simple load of crushed granite or pathway pavers will yield an impressive expansion. The area also can be wide enough to add a few easy-care container gardens along the way.
Spread Out - Don’t skimp when adding a deck or patio: the more space, the more options. There will be less yard to maintain, but you’ll have more room for comfy furniture, tables, or a hot tub to enjoy under a starry night sky.
Consider a Courtyard – Before our backyard remodel, a muddy slope encouraged the dogs to track dirt through the dog door, from their great view of the Granite Dells. Now, a courtyard protected by trees begs us to enjoy the outdoors—firepits for backyard s’mores, an island grill, and a hot tub woo us daily to the backyard. For more intimate evenings when it’s just the two of us, we enjoy the best view of ‘The Dells’ from the deck above. The result? A welcoming and low-maintenance courtyard that looks as inviting from ground level as it does from the deck above.
Plant a Garden – Replace a time-consuming lawn with a garden that’s attractive and edible. Mix vegetables into flower beds for stunning plant combos that are not only beautiful, but fun to eat. They are far easier to care for than mowing a lawn. Sunburned garden soil is a real issue in June, so spread a 2-inch deep layer of Premium Mulcharound plants to keep the soil from drying out and burning.
Automate Irrigation – A good house sitter can water a few plants while homeowners are traveling, buta computer does it better. Even a battery-operated timer off a hose bib is better than watering by hand and is far more consistent. From its innate water-saving, automated drip irrigation pays for itself within two years. Now I have plenty of time as a #PlantParent to feed and nurture my flowers with ‘Flower Power’. This custom-blended flower food used twice monthly and infused by automated regular watering, keeps plants blooming.
Go Native- Take your cues from Mother Nature when designing your backyard. Instead of amanicured lawn, use native shrubs, wildflowers, and stone to create a natural Arizona look. The upkeep is minimal, and the garden looks like it evolved naturally.
Summer Gardening ClassAnnouncement - We are going to try holding classes again. The idea is to have the classes outdoors here at Watters Garden Center with lots of plants between each student. We upgraded our P.A. system, with a direct link to our live Facebook stream for the classes, held every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 am. Here is the summer lineup:
June 13 - The Doctor is in the House – How to Heal Sick Plants
June 20 - Perennial Plants that Thrive in Summer Heat
June 27 - Best Mountain Fruit Trees and How to Plant in Summer
July 11 - Plant Better Berries and Grapes
July 18 - Avoid these Common Pests at All Costs
Until the next issue, I’ll be helping folks create local garden designs here at Watters Garden Center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.comor FB.com/WattersGardenCenter.