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Flame Weeding Pros And Cons: Is Flame Weeding Bad Or Good

It is time to take stock of the damage we do to the earth. Everything we put into it will come back to haunt us in the future. Flame weeding is an organic labor-saving way to eradicate weeds without the use of harmful pesticides. That is why flame weeding is so earth friendly. The small amount of CO2 is offset by the lack of chemicals which can harm beneficial insects, foul water sources and damage invertebrates, as well as the ease and speed of the task.

While these pros of flame weeding may certainly spark your interest, you should become aware of the disadvantages of flame weeding too, before you follow your burning desire to invest in this weeding strategy. Read on to see if the pros stack up in favor of weed flaming and if it’s right for you.

Flame Weeding Pros – Benefits of Flame Weeding Gardens

(Bonnie’s viewpoint) Most annual, and some perennial, weeds are effectively eradicated by flame weeders. Broadleaf weeds are the best targets. The process is simple. A canister of propane is the fuel source and most models have adjustable flame levels. The flame essentially explodes the weeds’ cells, disrupting water and nutrient flow, killing the leaves and preventing photosynthesis, and turning the visible portion of the weed into ash. The ash mixes with soil and is not harmful to other plants. There is no chance of “drift” common with chemical sprays, no toxic residue, no digging or heavy labor, and all evidence of the weed is removed – a win-win.

Flame weeding is environmentally friendly. Environmental benefits of flame weeding are the main reasons to weed with fire. With spraying and chemical use, the user exposes him or herself to dangerous compounds during mixing and use. Flaming is not invasive to soil, as there is no disruption which can remove the protective top layer, exposing an area to the potential of erosion or other soil loss. It leaves behind no dangerous substance which can get into water supplies or harm wanted plants. You don’t have to worry about chemicals rinsing off if a rain occurs after flame weeding.

They’re not too costly. Another benefit? It’s not overly expensive to use. The cost is minimal with most wands going for $200 USD (150.00 GBP) and the propane tanks are affordable.

Flame weeders are easy to use. Flame weeding is used in large scale, commercial growing operations, but the home gardener can enjoy using the tools as well. For older gardeners, the units are lightweight and don’t require bending, pulling or lifting. The wand is long enough to use without having to stoop in most cases. Some kits even have an extender. For most plants, applying the flame for 10 seconds should do the trick, but deeply rooted species will need heat for longer to destroy the cells. Some weeds are so tenacious that they will grow back in a couple of weeks. Check back on areas you have flamed and redo any weeds that are resprouting.

Note: Caution should be taken when using flame weeders, as they can cause unintentional burning if not used correctly. Avoid flaming around wooden siding, bark mulch and other obviously flammable sites. Carry water with you as you work to avoid any unpleasant accidents.

Cons of Flame Weeding in the Garden

(Shelley’s viewpoint) In my opinion, flame weeding should become “shame weeding” instead, and here’s why:

You’ve become an unwitting arsonist. Is flame weeding bad? Well, it goes without saying that anything with an open flame has the potential to be dangerous. The risk of fire is always there. The dead or brown material (twigs and leaves, for example) surrounding your target weed could become flammable. Flame weeding too close to structures poses a risk. Flame weeding during exceptionally dry weather conditions is not advisable. This is why flame weeding should only be used by the most conscientious of gardeners who practice flame weeding properly.

It’s dangerous. Accidental fires aside, a medical emergency could also transpire if your feet get in the crossfire or if curious children or beloved pets venture too close. There are also lesser known repercussions of flame weeding. You could cause undue harm to yourself or others by breathing in the vapor/smoke from the flamed leaves of poison ivy, which will cause a rash to your skin, eyes, and lungs! This means that you must be aware of what you are flame weeding.

Your green thumb has turned brown or should I say black as ash. A poorly executed flame weeding session could tarnish your gardening reputation if you do not keep a safe flame weeding distance between your deplorable plants (a.k.a. weeds) and your cherished ones. You must especially be careful in newly sown areas of your gardens. If you are not vigilant of when your seedlings emerge, then your gardening efforts will be rendered for naught by a poorly-timed flame weeding session in or around that area.

It’s not 100% effective. One sweep of the flame weeder may be enough for young annual weeds, but several passes throughout the season may be necessary to eradicate established older weeds, due to re-sprouts from underground taproots.

The fallacy of “environmentally friendly.” You may have heard how environmentally friendly flame weeding is compared to the use of chemicals to combat weeds. Granted, this may be true, but we are overlooking the fact that some model flame weeders use disposable propane cylinders which clog up landfills and pose issues for the environment. In North America alone, 40 million disposable propane cylinders are discarded every year.

It may not be comfortable. When vetting different flame weeders, keep in mind that the propane tanks on some backpack flame weeders can weigh up to 34 pounds when the tanks are full. This weight may be too heavy a proposition for some, especially those with bad backs.

How the Benefits Compare to Disadvantages of Flame Weeding

Of all the reasons to weed with fire, the fact that it’s fun is perhaps one of the top considerations. Blasting away those annoying weeds brings a sense of self satisfaction and glee to many gardeners fighting battles with these unwanted plant denizens. No chemicals, easy to use, low maintenance, affordable, soil preserving, safe for use (when done responsibly), and many more reasons make flame weeding a practice perfect for any home. Unfortunately, the many merits of flame weeding can be offset by the risks. The use of a flame weeder bears with it a lot of responsibility in order to make sure that life, property and desirable garden plants remain intact. The choice is yours.

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Sunflower Planting Pros And Cons

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are as hard to resist as puppies, with their bright petals and happy “faces” that turn toward the sun. And they can serve many useful purposes in your garden. Still, they have a few downsides that a gardener needs to take into account as he or she is making the big decision. Read on to learn the benefits of growing sunflowers as well as a couple of reasons to think twice, as issues with sunflowers sometimes happen too.

Sunflower Planting Pros

(Teo’s viewpoint) There are so many reasons to grow sunflowers that it is hard to know where to begin. Sunflowers make great garden focal points with their tall, strong stems and large, cheerful blossoms. Here are my sunflower planting pros:

Their impressive height has advantages. These plants can shoot up just like Jack’s beanstalk to attain a full height in short order, usually rising to 5 to 12 feet (1.5 to 4 meters). This height can serve a gardener well, and not just for vertical interest. Some plants, and even veggies, prefer dappled shade. Even in a full sun garden, you can provide partial shade by planting under the sunflowers. And a tight row of sunflowers makes an attractive temporary hedge to hide the compost or liven up a bland wall.

They attract helpful pollinators. Gardeners like sunflowers for their vivid colors, but we aren’t alone in this admiration. Nature’s top pollinators are bees, and sunflowers’ showy outer petals draw many different species, including honeybees and bumble bees, to the high-quality nectar. The bees are quite likely to pollinate other plants during their stay. The pretty flowers also bring birds to your yard to eat the sunflower seeds. Not only do wild birds add song and movement to a garden, but they also polish off a few insects while they are there, insects that might otherwise hurt your crops.

Sunflower seeds limit weeds. Did you know that sunflowers can also keep down weeds in the backyard? Their seeds contain a chemical that other plants don’t like. The effect of this “allelopathic” chemical is believed to inhibit the growth of nearby plants, like weeds.

Sunflower roots help with contaminated soil. That’s not all the benefits of growing sunflowers…the roots of these amazing flowers can also help detox heavy metals from the soil, like lead, arsenic, zinc, chromium, cadmium, copper and manganese.

They’re beautiful and have edible seeds. Don’t forget the obvious. Sunflowers in a pretty vase are the floral equivalent of sunlight in a room. With abundant sunflower plants in the garden, you can cut some stalks to grace the dining room all summer long. And you’ll also have a supply of edible, nutritious sunflower seeds if you beat the birds to them first.

Cons of Planting Sunflowers

(Liz’s viewpoint) Sunflowers are big, beautiful, and easy to grow. I personally have never planted one deliberately – they just appear in the garden and take off. But while there’s big payoff in those giant flower heads, there are also a host of problems. You’ll find a few of the negatives of growing sunflowers here.

Sunflowers can kill. Of all the issues with sunflowers, perhaps the most interesting and dire is their tendency to repress the growth of other plants. This is because sunflowers are allelopathic – they exude toxins that stop nearby plants from growing. Have you ever noticed that the grass doesn’t grow underneath bird feeders? That’s why. It’s good from the sunflower’s point of view, since it leaves a wide open space every spring for new seedlings to grow. But it’s bad for gardeners who want to grow lots of different plants in close quarters. Most plants are affected at least somewhat, but pole beans and potatoes are especially susceptible and should not be planted anywhere near sunflowers.

Sunflowers attract squirrels. Ever notice how quickly the neighborhood squirrels can track down and obliterate a new birdfeeder? They’re big fans of sunflower seeds on the plant too. And once they polish off those seeds, they’ll start eyeing your vegetables. Sunflowers are also known to attract aphids and whiteflies.

They can blow over. Another of the negatives of growing sunflowers is their shape. Sunflowers tend to be tall, with big leaves and flower heads, perfect for catching the wind. A big storm can take one right out, and there’s a good chance it’ll take out the plants around it too.

They’re a pain at the end of the season. One of the most exciting things about sunflowers is their sheer size – some varieties are a real sight to behold. But at the end of the season, they’re still there (if they didn’t blow over). Unlike some other plants that all but dissolve with the first frost, sunflowers stand where stood, tall and woody and unwieldy. And because of their allelopathic properties, they can’t be left in the garden or they’ll get into the soil and cause problems in the spring. They have to be torn down, chopped up, and composted – hard work for cold hands in the fall.

Are the Issues with Sunflowers Worth it?

There are several cons of planting sunflowers, there’s no denying it. But they’re beautiful and striking enough that most gardeners choose to plant them anyway. In the end, it’s really up to you.

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Drawbacks And Benefits Of Growing Annuals

Annual plants are beautiful and can be wonderful in a garden but, unlike perennials, they demand constant attention from spring until the first frost in fall. It’s important to understand the growth habits of both, including annual flower pros and cons, before you go shopping for seeds or plants. While there are benefits of growing annuals, there are downsides too. Read on for all the information you need to figure out whether annuals are right for your garden.

Annual Flower Pros – Reasons to Plant Annuals

(Teo’s viewpoint) If you aren’t sure about the differences between annuals and perennials, here’s an easy way to remember it. An annual event takes place once a year, like Christmas or your birthday. Annual plants “take place” once a year as well. That is, annuals germinate, grow, bloom, seed and die in one growing season. Perennials live at least two years or more. While that may seem to give perennials a big advantage, there are lots of benefits to growing annuals too. Below are just some reasons to plant annuals.

Annual flowers grow quicker and bloom longer. Annuals have a lot of work to do in one season, so they are efficient plants, germinating and growing quickly. And they often stay in flower all season long. Perennials have more time but start slower, often blooming for just a few weeks, then putting energy into preparing for the next season.

Annuals come in a multitude of colors. Another of the benefits to growing annuals also stems from their short lives. Annual blooms are usually bright and vivid. They need to attract pollinators and they don’t have time to waste. You can count on filling up empty beds quickly and dramatically with annuals, mixing colors and heights to create the palate you want.

Annual plants are not expensive. Annuals cost less than perennials, whether you buy them as seeds or seedlings. That makes sense when you consider that perennial roots live for two or more seasons. But it also means that for a lot less money, you can fill your garden with bright annual blooms. And change your color design year after year.

Many types of annual also self-seed. You may have to sow seeds every year for annuals, but you may not. Many species of annuals reseed themselves, saving you the trouble.

Annuals are so easy to grow. You plant, water and sit back and enjoy the show. With perennials, you have to worry about giving the plants the maintenance they require to continue to grow year after year.

Cons of Annual Flowers – Reasons Against Planting Annuals

(Mary’s viewpoint) Although they continue to be wildly popular, there are many disadvantages of annuals in the garden. Annuals may not be the best choice for gardeners who are unable to dedicate the tremendous amount of time required to keep these colorful but short-lived plants looking their best. Consider the following reasons against planting annuals:

Cost can add up year after year. Annuals, which tend to be relatively inexpensive, last only for a single year. So, in the long run, they are substantially more expensive than perennials, which live at least three or four years and usually much longer.

Most annual plants cannot take cold. Annuals are sensitive plants that can’t handle much cold. As a result, they can’t be planted until you’re certain the last frost of the season has passed. This means a short blooming season for chilly northern climates with short growing seasons.

They tend to require more frequent watering. Watering is tricky and some annuals, especially those in hanging pots, must be watered daily (sometimes twice during hot, dry weather). However, while most prefer rather moist conditions, they tend to rot easily if they are overwatered.

Insects attack them more. Annuals are more pone prone to slugs, aphids, and a variety of other harmful pests.

They require more maintenance for continual blooms. If you want to keep annuals blooming, most varieties must be deadheaded frequently – often daily. Otherwise, the plants will go to seed and blooming will rapidly decline. This is a time-consuming task if you plant a lot of annuals. Also, regular fertilization is required to keep annuals in full bloom. Additionally, some annuals get spindly and unsightly in midsummer. Pruning and trimming are necessary to keep them looking good for a few more weeks.

How to Overcome the Disadvantages of Planting Annuals

If you’re a busy person without a lot of time to spend in the garden, perennials make more sense since they tend to care for themselves. That’s not to say that you cannot still enjoy having annuals in the garden. If you like the pop of color that annuals provide, plant a few in strategic locations. Also, look for annuals that are self-cleaning, such as calibrachoa or wave petunias, as well as those that are more tolerant of drought so you won’t have to water as often.

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Fall Vs. Spring Planting Pros And Cons

For many gardeners, deciding when flower and vegetable seeds should be planted into the garden can lead to frustration. Learning how to best meet the needs and growing requirements of various types of plants often involves careful research and attention to local conditions within one’s own garden.

While some plants may grow well when planted in the spring, others may thrive when planted in the fall. Deciding upon the season in which to plant could be the determining factor that most greatly impacts the yield of crops within the garden. Here we will present both sides – reasons for sowing seeds in spring and autumn seed planting.

Fall Planting Pros – Reasons to Plant in Fall

(Tonya’s viewpoint) While most gardeners are familiar with
planting during the spring, there are actually many fall planting pros to
consider. Here are just some of the reasons to plant in fall:

Easier to grow cool
climate plants
. Growers who experience high heat, humidity, and other
adverse conditions throughout the summer season may often have great difficulty
growing cool season crops. For this reason, many gardeners consider fall
planting in both the vegetable garden and in hardy annual flower beds.
Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and lettuce are just a few
examples of cold tolerant plants. Fall planting not only extends the vegetable
garden harvest into winter, but also allows plants to mature under more optimal
growing conditions.

Improves overall
growth
. Additional reasons to plant in the fall are directly related to the
overall growth habits of the plants. Hardy annual flowers, which are resistant
to frost in certain growing zones, may also be planted in the fall. When
planted at this time, flowering plants continue to become established
throughout the winter and into the early spring. This period of growth results
in plants that are overall larger and more robust before they begin to bloom in
the spring. Certain cold tolerant herbs, such as chamomile, also benefit from
fall plantings in much the same manner.

Seeds germinate
better
. Growers advocate for autumn seed planting for many reasons,
including the ease at which seeds are able to germinate. Fall weather patterns,
which include increased rainfall and cooler temperatures, contribute to
conditions which promote the germination of seeds. Seedlings are also able to
become better established as decreased temperatures and decreased insect
pressure allow for a greater chance of survival and stress free growth.

Why Plant in Spring vs. Fall

(Darcy’s viewpoint) Whether you’re looking for grass, vegetables
or ornamental plant seeds, in the springtime you’ll find seed aisles at nearly
any store. Sowing seeds in spring is traditional, and spring planting pros
abound.

It’s only natural.
Spring is a time of new beginnings, fertility, birth and growth. Days grow
longer, as the sun moves closer to us, warming the earth beneath our feet. The
warming soil and springtime rain spurs germination in the dormant seeds from
last fall and new life bursts out. Mimicking the natural cycles of growth,
farmers and gardeners have sown seed in spring for thousands of years.

More options and
availability
. While certain plants do prefer to be sown in fall or winter,
generally most plants will grow well when planted in spring and it is easier to
obtain seed or young plants. In fact, many nurseries, garden centers and other
stores only carry seed or seed starting equipment in the springtime. The
nursery stock at garden centers and nurseries also tends to become sparser
after spring. You may miss out if you put your planting projects off until
autumn.

More time to prep the
garden
. Why plant in spring? Tradition and availability aside, planting in
spring also allows us adequate time to properly prepare our garden beds, while
also giving plants a nice long season to grow, mature, bloom and seed before
winter.

Winter chill helps
limit pests
. In northern climates, fall planting may not be an option
because of early frosts and freezes. However, these frosts and freezes kill off
weeds, insect pests and even some diseases, giving us a clean slate in spring.

Sowing Seeds in Spring vs. Fall

While the decision of when to start seeds may vary depending
upon where one lives, there is no doubt that there are positives and negatives
to planting in both fall and spring. By familiarizing oneself with particular
plant growth habits, growers are able to better access the timing needed at
planting time. This, in tandem with routine garden care, will reward gardeners
with bountiful vegetable harvests and an abundance of spring and early summer
flowers – regardless of when you plant.

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Pros And Cons Of Monochromatic Gardening

Have you ever surveyed your garden with a critical eye and lamented that your garden has no cohesiveness and is merely a hodge-podge of wildly colorful plants? If so, then you might want to consider a monochromatic gardening style versus a skittle (all colors of the rainbow) type of garden. Monochromatic gardening can be fun, especially if you feel very strongly about your favorite color. On the other hand, if not carefully planned, it can be kind of boring. There are many cons of monochromatic gardening too, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t experiment a little. Just keep it to one bed or container so you can see what the impact is really like before you jump in.

Monochromatic Gardening Pros

(Shelley’s viewpoint) You may be giving up the skittles, but a monochromatic garden will still be eye candy. Read on to discover reasons for monochromatic garden designs.

It’s not boring. When some people hear the term “monochromatic gardening,” they think that all the plants are one identical color and deem that rather uninteresting. If that were true, then I’d agree it was boring, but this is a misconception. In a monochromatic garden, your color opportunities are much more because you are working with a palette featuring shades and tones of one specific color, and you are incorporating plants of varying shapes, textures and sizes. For instance, a purple monochromatic garden would have hues of violet, mauve, periwinkle, deep reddish purple, and purplish black. It could feature lavender plants, purple smoke bush, purple flowering Buddleia and lilac trees, just to name a few. As you can see, a monochromatic garden has the potential to be visually compelling with a lot of variety and contrast.

You can’t go wrong. Over time we have a tendency to add plants that we fancy to our garden with no thought given to design and then one day we realize our grievous error. If you adopt a monochromatic gardening style, this will never happen to you. Monochromatic gardens are harmonious gardens because all the colors on your palette are guaranteed to work together.

Decision making is easier. I don’t know about you, but I agonize over plant selections due to the overwhelming amount of choices available. When choosing plants for a monochromatic garden, your selection of plants is narrowed down because you are no longer choosing from the entire rainbow. This does make it somewhat easier for undecisive folks like me. However, it’s still not going to be a total cake walk because…

You still have a lot of choices. Gardeners love choices and they love daydreaming through stacks of seed and plant catalogs, ogling plants online and admiring plants at their local lawn and garden store. You may be concerned that a monochromatic garden will be a killjoy in the sense that it will only offer you a few hardiness zone appropriate choices and that you will end up missing your former more free-reigning gardening style. Rest assured, as you begin shopping for your monochromatic garden, you will discover that you will have more than enough options to choose from.

It’s a garden problem solver. Certain monochromatic garden color schemes, such as blue, green and violet, can make a small garden space seem larger and more open. A monochromatic garden can also help a garden steeped in shade. With whites or light pastel shades, you can make that shady space seem much brighter. Monochromatic gardens can also convey a feeling you are aiming for. Serenity and calmness are associated with blues and greens and violets. A feeling of excitement will be elicited by reds, oranges or yellows.

Cons of Monochromatic Gardening

(Mary Ellen’s viewpoint) Gardening in just one color is a trendy move in modern landscape design, but traditionalists know better. Limiting nature to one color is a crime. It’s boring, limiting, and emotionless. Here are some real drawbacks of monochromatic gardening.

Lack of impact. Monochrome gardening has the potential to make a big impact, but really only if you limit it to one bed. If your entire garden or yard is one color, it’s bound to look boring. There will be nothing special, even if you really focus on variation in shape and texture.

No depth or contrast. One of the big drawbacks of monochromatic gardens is that they look flat. No matter how hard you try to work on shape and texture within one color, it’s going to come up flat. All green, even if it includes grass, hills, and shrubs of various sizes is still going to look flat and dimensionless.

Limited plant choices. If you insist on sticking with just one color, a big drawback is that you will be extremely limited in your choices. This becomes a special challenge if you have conditions that also limit your options, like a lot of shade. You may find yourself cutting out 90 percent of the seed catalog or local nursery, and that’s not fun.

It’s not natural. Look at a green, cultivated lawn compared to a flowering meadow. The difference is that nature is varied, and much more beautiful. Unless you want a sterile, unnatural-looking garden, mix those colors.

Monochromatic Garden Design Flaws vs. Positives

Monochromatic garden design flaws are potentially numerous. That said, this strategy can work, but it’s not easy. You run the risk of having too few plants to choose from and ending up with a boring, unnatural-looking, flat space. Why go boring? Spice up your yard by not being afraid of color. All the colors of nature go together, so you can’t go wrong by mixing it up. Then again, monochromatic gardens can be just as visually appealing as their all-colors-of-the-rainbow counterparts with careful planning. They are more fool-proof, easier to shop for, and have the potential to resolve garden dilemmas – these are just some of the monochromatic garden benefits to consider. And, also, keep in mind that a monochromatic garden design doesn’t have to consume your entire gardening space. You can do just a small section or experiment with it in a container planting.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Alternative Lawns

Fresh cut grass and well-manicured lawns are often thought
to be synonymous with summer. However, homeowners in many regions may find lawn
maintenance to be a difficult undertaking. Between fertilization routines and
the frequency at which the lawns need to be mowed, the process is not only time
consuming but can become quite expensive. In recent years, the rising
popularity of lawn
alternatives
has resulted in people weighing their options in terms
of replacing their lawns.

Types of alternative lawns may vary greatly, from mixed
native plantings to the use of concrete and gravel. By exploring the pros and
cons of developing an alternative lawn, homeowners are better able to make
informed decisions regarding the best course of action to take. Here we will
provide info on why you should replace your lawn as well as reasons to keep
your lawn as is.

Pros – Alternative Lawn Benefits

(Tonya’s viewpoint) Reasoning why you should replace your lawn
may vary from person to person, specifically depending upon your growing
region. Here are my alternative lawn pros:

Drought prone regions
can avoid frequent irrigation
. While some areas of the country receive more
than enough rainfall to sustain a lush lawn, certain regions may experience
periods of intense heat and drought. Those living in drought prone regions
often begin to explore the concept of alternative lawns as a desire to find an
option better suited to their climate. In these cases, alternative lawn pros
obviously include the ability to provide increased curb appeal and the ability
to thrive without frequent irrigation. Native and xeriscaped garden areas offer
a sustainable and efficient option for those wishing to restrict water use.

Native plantings can
entice pollinators
. In addition to creating waterwise plantings, many lawn
alternatives serve as a haven for pollinators. Homeowners who choose to
incorporate native flowers and plants within the landscape can help to create
biodiversity, as well as create lush green spaces with much needed flowering
plants.

Less maintenance is
required
. Since these plants are native to the growing region, little care
is often needed, as native plants prove to be much more tolerant and adaptable
to growing conditions. These natural lawn alternatives are not only low
maintenance, but also allow for cooler temperatures within the garden due to
their natural composition. Hardscape areas offer even less in the way of
maintenance.

Provides homeowners
with cost effective landscapes
. Alternative lawn benefits extend well
beyond drought prone regions. For many, the cost and effort required to
maintain a beautiful lawn may be an expense in which homeowners simply cannot
afford. The allure of these no-mow,
cost effective landscapes is undeniable. By planting hardy and reliable plant
alternatives
, or replacing lawn areas with hardscape
features
, homeowners are able to create a visually interesting space
which is both useful and beneficial.

Cons of Alternative Lawns

(Mary Ellen’s viewpoint) Alternative lawns have always been
around, but they have never really taken off for several reasons. Who doesn’t
love a lush, green, grass-filled yard after all? There are many reasons to keep
your lawn as it is. Here are just a few of the top ones:

The workload.
Just think of all the work you would have to put in to stop grass from growing.
Or imagine the cost if you have to pay someone else to rip it out. Taking out
grass is a big effort of time and physical endurance if you do it yourself.
And, if you replace the lawn with attractive beds and paths, the maintenance
requirements will be through the roof.

The expense. Even
if you do much of the labor yourself, an alternative lawn will cost money.
Native plants, artificial turf, gravel, pavement, and other materials can cost
between $3 and $15 per square foot.

Negative
environmental effects
. Many lawn alternatives, like gravel, artificial
grass, and concrete can have a negative impact on the local environment. Many
are not water permeable, which means rainwater won’t soak back into the ground;
instead, it will run into storm drains. This can promote erosion too, whereas grass
holds soil in place. Also, these alternative materials tend to produce a heat
island effect, raising local temperatures. Hard surfaces and materials, like
rock and concrete, will increase noise in your yard.

Ire from neighbors.
Your neighbors may not thank you for tearing out your grass, especially during
the transition phase when your lawn may look like a construction site. Even
when it’s done, and it looks nice to you, neighbors may become enemies if they
don’t appreciate the new alternative.

Homeowner
restrictions
. In some places, you may not even be allowed to mess with your
grass to any large extent. Neighborhood and homeowner associations tend to
restrict big changes that make one yard look much different from the others.
Break the rules and you could face penalties and fines, not to mention being
forced to put grass back in.

Should Disadvantages of Alternative Lawns Sway You?

Regardless of the rationale, choosing to install a lawn
alternative is quite an important decision. Some people manage to replace grass
with a pretty, environmentally sound alternatives. But those types of
alternative lawns take money, a lot of work and time, and long-term
maintenance. You can do whatever you like with your own yard, as long as there
are no homeowner association requirements, of course. But why would you stray
from the tried-and-true grass lawn?

However, with careful planning and consideration, homeowners
can make informed choices regarding which course of action may be best for
their own growing circumstances. And, if you want to try an alternative, maybe
try it in just one small area first and “grow” from there rather than all at
once.

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Grass Seed Vs. Sod: Reasons To Seed Your Lawn Or Use Sod Instead

A lawn is a very important part of a home’s curb appeal. Revitalizing
an existing lawn or developing new ones requires an important decision – should
you seed it or sod it? Here we will explore both sides, reviewing the benefits
of sod lawns as well as reasons to seed
your lawn
.

Grass Seed Pros – Advantages of Grass Seed Over Sod

(Shelley’s viewpoint) While I’m not opposed to laying sod per
se, I feel it is more worthwhile to sow seed when putting in new grass. So,
when it comes to sod, tell it to sod off! These are my reasons why:

It’s cheaper. If
you were to calculate the cost of seeding your lawn versus sodding, you would
discover that the cost of seeding was far less. This is one of the biggest
grass seed pros. In fact, many sources suggest that the cost of sodding could
be as high as 10-20 times more than seeding. Depending on the size lawn, grass
type, and whether or not you are enlisting professional services, this could
mean the difference of several thousand dollars saved by choosing grass seed
over sod.

More choices.
When you take into account the number of seed varieties available as opposed to
sod, there simply are more choices with seed. Having more choices means that
you can identify a grass variety that is better suited for your climate, soil
and lighting conditions. It also increases your access to varieties that have
better resistance to drought, pestilence and disease. This, in turn, leads to
better performance and less maintenance for you.

Easy to install. Seed
is considered to be less-labor intensive to install than sod. The use of a
spreader can help you disperse grass seed easily, quickly and uniformly on top
of prepared soil. Sod, on the other hand, can be much more cumbersome to work
with when you consider that sod rolls are heavy (approx. 30-40 pounds each), so
those with achy backs or bad knees need not apply. Installing sod is also
somewhat akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle – you will be laying and
trimming sod as you go along, ensuring that the pieces fit good together and
aligning with the borders and contours of your yard. So, in other words, be
prepared to work a bit harder installing sod than you do with seed!

Stronger root system
development
. Sod rolls have roots that have been severed. The roots, as a
result, are short, shallow and limited, which may make the establishment of
roots in your location a bit of a challenge. Grass seed, in contrast, grows
undisturbed from where it was sown, developing a stronger and deeper root
system from the outset, and over the long term, results in a thicker,
low-maintenance lawn. Deeper roots reach more water tables, enabling the grass
to endure drought easier. Deeper roots will also have improved nutrient uptake,
reducing the need for fertilizer.

Cons – Why Sod is Better Than Grass Seed

(Darcy’s viewpoint) With our hectic, busy lifestyles, we barely
have time in the garden to stop and smell the roses, let alone stop and watch
the seed grow. One of the leading reasons why sod is better than grass seed is
because it provides us with an instant lawn and instant gratification. It can
take all season or even several seasons to get a thick, lush lawn from grass
seeds, but sod takes root in only a couple, short weeks. What other advantages
of sod are there?

No protection needed.
Seeding the lawn requires barricading the area off and covering it to protect
the seed and fragile little seedlings from birds, animals, foot traffic and runoff.
Sod, however, can be walked on almost immediately after it is laid, and you
don’t have to worry about losing seed to hungry wildlife or the elements.

You can lay sod
anytime
. Speaking of time, our garden chore lists are already extremely
long from spring through autumn, but for best germination rates, lawns should
be seeded only in spring or fall. Sod, on the other hand, can be laid or
patched any time of the year, as long as it can be watered regularly and has
adequate time to root before winter freeze.

It’s great for
difficult sites
. Sod can also be used in difficult areas, such as slopes,
where seed would just wash away every time it rains. On slopes, sod just needs
to be staked down until it takes root.

Low maintenance. Though
it is essential that sod be watered regularly and thoroughly its first growing
season, it does not require any fertilizer applications in the first year. The
only maintenance requirements besides watering is mowing, which can be done
within weeks of laying sod.

Locally sourced. Another
benefit to sod is that it is usually locally sourced, which not only helps
support local sod farmers, but also prevents transplant shock and other
problems that may occur from plants not acclimated to your specific climate.

Weighing the Benefits of Sod Lawns Over Seeding

When it comes to grass seed over sod, sometimes it’s better
to have a seedy disposition. There are many reasons to seed your lawn. Seeding
your lawn is cheaper, offers more selection for grass variety, is easier to
install and has the potential to produce a healthier lawn. On the other hand,
if you’re not a patient person and need instant gratification, or if you just
want something low maintenance that can be done at nay time, you may want to
stick with installing
a sod lawn
.

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Weighing In The Pros And Cons Of Grow Lights

For many novice growers, one of the most difficult aspects of gardening relates directly to the process of starting seeds indoors in late winter and early spring. Vegetable garden favorites, such as tomatoes and peppers, will require (in most cases) that growers sow seed and grow transplants indoors until the last chance of frost has passed. Without the implementation of grow light systems, this process is often quite challenging. It is for this reason that many begin to contemplate the purchase of grow lights. However, it is first important to weigh both the positive and negative aspects of this decision.

Pros – Best Reasons for Use Grow Lights

(Tonya’s viewpoint) Whether growing rare and exotic plants indoors, overwintering tender flowers, or simply wishing to get an early start in the spring vegetable garden, grow lights are highly regarded for their ability to produce lush plant growth.

They provide essential light. Quite the obvious, grow lights provide the lighting most plants need. In fact, one of the main reasons to use grow lights has much to do with the quality of light which is produced. These lighting systems are different than common light bulbs in that the full spectrum of light colors are produced, not just those which are visible to the eye. This is especially important, as high volumes of certain types of light are responsible for vigorous plant growth and increased flowering.

You can grow plants nearly anywhere. Grow light systems also serve as a viable means by which homeowners are able to utilize even the darkest of spaces, such as basements and interior rooms.

These lights can be cost effective. In addition to the ability of grow light systems to produce healthier and more vigorous plants than those simply grown near a window, other grow light pros, such as efficiency, allow for even energy conscious growers to utilize lighting systems to their full potential. While gardeners on a budget can achieve desired results through the use of fluorescent grow lights, recent advances in LED lighting systems offer even more grow light positives to home gardeners in heat protection and energy efficiency.

Grow lights offer a more controlled environment. Regardless of price, when grow light systems are in use, growers are able to control the amount of and intensity of light provided to plants, thus better fulfilling the requirements of each type of plant being grown.

They can actually be visually appealing. Innovations in technology not only allow for better heat regulation of lights, but also greater versatility when used as a visually interesting aspect of home interior design. In fact, many grow lights double as attractive lamp features in the home.

Cons – Negatives of Grow Light Usage

(Amy’s viewpoint) I think it’s safe to assume that we all know that plants need light to grow, but how they get that light might be up for debate. In an ideal world, plants are grown outside in perfect conditions in which Mother Nature provides ideal amounts of water, nutrients and light. Most gardeners roll with what Mother Nature tosses and adjust the amount of water or nutrients that may be lacking, but light is another matter. Sometimes, artificial light must be used to stimulate growth in plants, especially when growing inside a house or a greenhouse, but there are several problems with using grow lights.

It can be costly. The saying goes that nothing is free, but in the case of Mr. Sun vs. grow lights, one of the biggest negatives of grow light usage is cost. There are many grow light options available and some of them are extremely pricey and, of course, they’re usually the best. Even if you opt for your lowest cost option, grow lights will cost you on the energy bill.

You may need to use more than one type. If you want your plants to grow though, cost isn’t the only consideration. Plants primarily use red and blue light for photosynthesis. One of the lowest cost options are compact florescent lights. One of the cons of this type of grow light is that multiple lights need to be used since they have a lower output compared to other bulb types. They are not ideal for large growers and because of their low-light output need to be close to the plants.

CDL bulbs have their own set of problems. High intensity grow lights are a step up from CDLs, but they produce a lot of heat that requires ventilation and exhausts and they need a special hood and ballast. Other cons of grow lights is that they have a short life span, can’t be plugged into a standard socket, and will definitely increase the electric bill. LED lights are the best option, as they are the most energy efficient grow light. That said, they cost more at start up and are not always as advertised.

Grow lights aren’t always worth the trouble. Along with the punch grow lights can pack to your budget, the grower must consider other negatives of grow light usage. Grow lights often provide uneven distribution or too little or too much light and may be give off too much heat. Space must be considered as well since some types of lights will require ventilation.

How Do the Problems with Using Grow Lights Compare to Their Usefulness?

The use of grow lights is on the upswing since fewer people have access to an outdoor garden or because they wish to garden year round. Grow lights have their place, but be sure to do your research and be aware of all the problems associated with using grow lights. Regardless of the reason that one may choose to implement grow lights, doing so undoubtedly comes with both positive and negative attributes which must be weighed. As with any garden technique, personal preferences and conditions within one’s own garden will dictate the usefulness and need for grow light systems.

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Indoor Herb Gardening: Learn About The Pros And Cons Of Indoor Herb Gardens

Herbs are great, and many of these plants can be easily grown in the
home, or so they say. Get the facts here on both the benefits and disadvantages
to growing
herbs indoors
.

Pros – Reasons to Have an Indoor Herb Garden

(Shelley’s viewpoint) In my opinion, there’s nothing better than
having your own “homegrown” herbs in the kitchen. These reliable plants are
always there when you need them, but that’s not all. Here are some other
reasons to have an indoor herb garden.

Herbs year round. An indoor herb garden gives the gardeners afflicted with winter malaise an opportunity to lovingly tend to more plants and enjoy herbs year round after the outdoor growing season has ended.

Low maintenance. Many herbs are relatively low maintenance to grow, all it takes is being mindful of the minimal watering and lighting requirements for each. Some really easy-to-grow options include lemongrass, chives, mint, and parsley.

Save money. One of the best benefits of growing herbs indoors is the cost savings. You can grow your own herbs for the fraction of the cost you spend on them at the supermarket or farmer’s market. The cost of fresh basil, for example, can be $2-3 (possibly more depending where you are located) for a few ounces. The cost of a packet of basil seeds is only a dollar or two and, if you nurture your plants, will yield you a bounty of fresh herbs on a weekly basis for a very long time.

They’re truly fresh. When you snip off herbs in your indoor herb garden, you know they are the freshest they can possibly be. How long do you think the herbs at your grocery store have been sitting there? The answer is ‘a while.’

They’re a healthy option. It is possible to boost the flavor of your everyday meals without adding fat, sodium or sugar. Fresh herbs are a great low-calorie and delicious way to add zest and flair to your cuisine, making this one of the most compelling indoor herb gardening pros. When you cook with fresh herbs, your dishes will never be bland or boring.

They’re pleasing to the senses.: Herbs are edible but are also ornamental and will definitely add an element of interest to your existing décor with their various foliage colors and shapes. And, in some cases, there are aromatic herbs whose foliage gives off a nice fragrance.

Cons – Disadvantages to Growing Herbs Indoors

(Nikki’s viewpoint)
I certainly have nothing against herb plants. In fact, I grow many of them in
my garden. But growing herbs indoors is something altogether different. Outside
of the garden proper, indoor herb gardening problems abound – at least
for me anyway and probably many others feel the same. These are my top cons of
indoor herb gardens.

Herbs require lots of light. Most all herb plants require at least 6-8
hours of sunlight to thrive. While outside this isn’t normally an issue,
indoors is quite another story. The average home may not have sufficient light,
making the likelihood of your plants’ survival hanging in the balance. The best
lighting can be found in a south-facing window, but not all homes have this
option, which leaves the only other option as supplemental grow lights. Leggy
plants is a good sign that those herbs need more sunlight.

Additional lighting can be
costly.
For those having
little light and in need of more, this is simply another added cost to growing
herbs in the home. While it may not be a steep expense depending on the type of
lighting you get and for how many plants, it’s still something to be considered
and factored in before considering that indoor herb garden.

Warm temps are important. It’s no secret that most herbs like heat.
In fact, many are native to warm regions. That said, indoor heat during winter
can be quite dry and not exactly the best for thriving herb plants. While you
can spend time misting your plants to keep them from drying out or even set
them on a water-filled tray of pebbles to improve humidity, this can lead to
additional problems if you’re not careful.

Watering can be tricky. As you mist your plants to keep their
foliage moist and lush, water becomes yet another issue with indoor herb
gardening. First, if you have high sodium content or your water is treated with
chemicals, this could ultimately be harmful to plants. And as most herbs prefer
drier conditions; unfortunately, we tend to kill our plants with kindness,
especially in winter. Too much of a good thing really is, as too much water can
be detrimental, leading to root rot and the eventual demise of your much beloved
plants.

Better double check for
bugs
. While you’re busy
watering, you’ll have to be on the lookout for pests that may be hiding in the plants,
like aphids
or spider
mites
, especially when potted plants are brought indoors from outside.
Others may be attracted to the soil, as is the case with fungus
gnats
.

Given Adequate Care, Indoor Herb Gardening Pros Win in the End

Growing herbs indoors can be immensely satisfying. Being able to grow
more plants indoors is great for those gardeners whose green thumbs are
twitching during the long, arduous winter months. Cooking with fresh herbs will
also make you feel like your most favored famous chef by bringing the wow
factor to your meals in a healthy way. And let’s not forget the tremendous cost
savings of growing your own herbs versus buying from the store.

So, yes, these are all great reasons to have an indoor herb garden.
That being said, it’s important to make sure you factor in all the possible indoor
herb gardening problems BEFOREHAND, which will save you the disappointment of
losing your herbs instead of enjoying them. As long as you can provide these
plants with what they need, growing herbs indoors is always a good thing.

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