Middle South

June, 2012
Regional Report

Be Consistent with Design

If you are a do-it-yourself garden designer, take note. The key to a professional-quality job is consistency. In other words, establish a theme and stay with it. Use similar materials from one area of the garden to the next, stick with either straight lines or curves, simplify the plant palette, and choose structures and ornaments that reflect a single style.

Widen a Walkway

If you have a sidewalk that's a tad too narrow for comfort, use precast concrete pavers to widen the path. Simply remove the lawn on either side of the sidewalk to make a base for the pavers, digging down 1.5 inches further than the thickness of the paver. Then layer 1.5 inches of coarse sand over the native soil, compact it with a sod tamper, and set the pavers in an alternating pattern.

Cap Plant Stakes

If you're using wooden or rebar stakes to support 2 to 3-foot tall vegetable plants, make them more visible and user friendly by cutting a gash in old tennis balls and slipping the balls over the tops of the stakes. Then, if someone bends down over the plant to pick a pepper or other fruit, they're less likely to injure themselves.

Use Vines as Mulch

It's no secret that weed seeds need light to germinate. To shade the soil and prevent weeds, consider double-cropping, using a vine such as cucumber under a taller crop like eggplant.

Quick Dry Herbs

On especially hot days, you can dry herbs inside your car in just a few hours. Spread newspapers topped with a layer of paper towels in the seat of a car or the back of an SUV. Then, spread the herbs and cover them with a second layer of paper towels. Close the vehicle but leave windows slightly cracked. At the end of the day, collect the herbs without crushing to preserve their flavor, and then store them in airtight containers.

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