Garden Basics

The NEW Sunset Western Garden Book

March 22, 2012 65 comments
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16 years ago, when I took my first horticulture class, The Sunset Western Garden Book was the very first book I bought. Its status in the West is such that I owned three copies by the end of my first year: one old edition which had the best basic gardening tips, one new edition with […]

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How Small Can I Prune My Shrub or Tree? A Rule of Thumb

November 15, 2011 15 comments
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This is a question most of us pros have come to dread. Not because we dislike answering questions, but because the subtext is so often, “I want a particular tree, but I don’t have room for it. May I have your professional go-ahead to hack the holy hell out of it to keep it to […]

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Fall Garden Tasks in the Pacific Northwest

September 26, 2011 9 comments
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This time of year, my landscape maintenance company is busy as anything, pruning and helping all the gardens recover from months of wild blooming abandon. While a lot of what we’re doing right now is pruning to keep things at the right size in relation to their surroundings (we don’t want the plants leaning boorishly […]

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Ditch the Sunhat: Sun Protection Tips You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

August 5, 2011 10 comments
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Hold up, don’t report me to the Melanoma Society just yet. You probably shouldn’t actually ditch your sun hat. But if you’re like me and have never been able to get into wearing hats while gardening, here are two odd things I do to get a bit more protection than the average “slather self in […]

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Cheap Soil Testing: How and Why To Do It

January 19, 2011 13 comments
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One of the best things about writing for this site is that occasionally, other gardeners will write in with their excellent garden tips. This was the case with Kathy Ormiston, a landscape designer and landscape gardener in the San Francisco Bay Area (south bay region). Kathy was kind enough to share a tip about an […]

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Five Books: for Beginning Gardeners

January 4, 2011 2 comments
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Newbie gardeners are greeted to the gardening book section by thick encyclopedias on Crocus, for example, or how to design in specific styles. But when I was a new gardener, I didn’t know what style I wanted to design in. And I was still working my way through the common, easy-to-grow plants – I think […]

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Fall Leaf Raking: Finding the Middle Ground

November 6, 2010 17 comments
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All gardeners evolve. There is something about being outside and working hard in nature that inspires learning and growth. The issue of fall leaves is one I’ve been struggling with lately. Last year I wrote about why you shouldn’t let your fall leaves stay, and all of those reasons are still true, but… This year […]

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Fall Leaves: Leave ‘Em and Weep

December 5, 2009 5 comments
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To read about why fall leaves are so beneficial to wildlife, and how to leave them in your garden without adverse effect, check out this article: Fall Leaf Raking: Finding the Middle Ground. Once upon a time some newbie garden writer thought it’d be a great idea to encourage people to leave their fall leaves on the […]

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Calculating How Much Mulch or Compost You Need

November 21, 2009 2 comments
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So your garden’s mulch is getting thin, and you’ve decided that you want to add 2 inches of wood chips to top it up. Great! But how much mulch do you need to buy to make that happen? You can do this using math (yuck!), or you can use these great calculators I’ve found online. […]

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Rubber Mulch: Where the Rubber Meets the – Soil?

October 2, 2009 14 comments
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At Costco recently, I was happy to see some acquaintances coming out of the garden section, until… what in the WORLD was in their cart? It looked like bags of mulch, but… wrong somehow. They patiently explained to this landscaper that recycled rubber mulch is the newest thing and would look very pretty in their […]

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