Soil Preparation for Vegetable Gardens

Properly prepared soil provides a healthy substrate for producing an abundant supply of nutritious vegetables from the home garden.

Characteristics of Properly Prepared Soil for Vegetable Gardens

  • Improved seed germination
  • Increased aeration and drainage
  • Improved soil texture and structure
  • Higher biological activity
  • Improved fertility

Soil Preparation Basics

  • A soil test provides an understanding of soil pH and nutrient availability
  • Proper tillage aerates the soil allowing for better drainage and deeper root penetration
  • Adding organic matter improves soil structure, increases water-holding

Water Conservation in the Landscape

Drought cycles coupled with increasing urban population growth is putting pressure on water supplies in many areas throughout the US prompting calls for increasing water conservation in the landscape.

Traditional landscape practices tend to promote inefficient water use. A shift in thinking is necessary in order to promote water conservation in the home landscape.

Sources of Water Waste in the Home Landscape

    • Leaking outdoor faucets and irrigation pipes
    • Car washing
    • Hosing down driveways and sidewalks
    • Evaporation from bare soils
    • Inefficient

Water Absorbing Polymers


A colored water-absorbing polymer bead soaked in water (left) and original size bead (right). Photo credit: Roger Ahlbrand Flickr CC BY 2.0

Water-absorbing polymers are long chains of molecules designed to hold large amounts of water. Water-absorbing polymers have the ability to retain up to 40 times their weight in water. While they have shown to be effective in some situations, not all situations are appropriate for water-absorbing polymers.

Water-absorbing polymers may be useful in soils with low organic

Types of Mulch

  Gravel is available in different sizes and colors
Photo credit: Leo Reynolds Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  Bark is a very popular mulch and comes in different sizes and colors
Photo credit: R23W Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Choosing the correct mulch material is important when planning a water wise landscape. Mulch can increase water retention in soil, however, using organic mulch with some very drought tolerant plants can cause too much moisture to be retained and potentially cause root rot.

There …

Water Conservation for Container Gardens

Water conservation for container gardens can be achieved through plant choice, efficient irrigation, and pot choice.

Containers offer many advantages and alternatives to traditional gardens grown in the ground.

Benefits of Container Gardening

  • Provides a gardening opportunity for space constrained landscapes
  • Allows for tender plants to be moved and grown inside
  • Easier, more effective soil structure (drainage) manipulation
  • Soil pH manipulation
  • Easier pest management
  • Greater ability to group plants with similar growing needs together in the correct microclimate
  • Can use

Evergreens for Water-Wise Landscapes

Evergreen trees and shrubs retain their leaves during all seasons. Although most evergreen are conifers, not all fall into this category. Examples of non-coniferous native and moderately to highly drought tolerant evergreen plants include:

Water-Wise Herb Gardening

Water-wise herb gardening begins with an understanding of which commonly planted herbs are drought tolerant. Many water wise herbs commonly used in the United States originated from Europe, the Mediterranean region, and Asia.

Herbs have had a place in the garden for centuries. They have been used for medicine, dye for fabric, seasoning and flavorings for food and drink, and fragrance.

In medieval European gardens, perennial flowering plants and herbs were planted together near the kitchen for easy access. These …

Methods of Weed Control in Water Conserving Landscapes

Nothing sucks the fun out of gardening quite like weeds.  They can be persistent, hard to kill, and may even have thorns or toxic properties.

What else can be said for something that stands between you and your hammock on a quiet summer Saturday?

Fighting them is hard work and often discouraging, especially when they come roaring back a few days after they were removed.

Many of the techniques used for water conservation in landscapes also help control weeds. …

Firewise Planning and Landscape Design

Wildfire burning into urban setting.

‘Firewise’ planning, landscape design, and maintenance is important in areas where fires frequently occur. Homes built on the wildland / urban interface are particularly susceptible to the destructive effects of wild fire.

Proper design firewise planning and design includes creating several landscape zones to create a defensible space around buildings and other structures.

Four basic zones are recommended for creating and planning a firewise landscape design:

Zone 1

  • Provide at least a 30’ buffer where tall plants are not