Andrea Mueller

Five tips for raised planter beds

Raised planter beds not only add better ergonomics to gardening, but also provide structure to your outdoor space. They can be custom made or ordered out of a variety of materials, sizes and styles. Materials: Choosing a safe material for your raised bed is critical. Most experts agree that you shouldn’t use pressure-treated wood manufactured prior to 2003. Rot-resistant and chemical-free woods such as cedar or redwood are ideal, but are also more expensive. Repurposed wood is great too, as long as it wasn’t manufactured prior to 2003 or was never treated with chemicals. You can also build raised...

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Seeking out shade: Pergola or pavilion might help provide a cool spot this summer

Summer means it’s time for shade! If you aren’t lucky enough to have a mature tree to shade your outdoor space, a pergola or pavilion might do the trick. Open pergolas provide dappled shade, depending on the spacing of the overhead beams. Pavilions provide a structure with a roof for solid protection against sun and rain. Structures can come prefabricated or can be totally customized. Looking to add some character to your landscape? Many built structures also provide more than shade by being a focal point for your garden and creating added living space. The most simple, economical option...

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Creative containers

Flea market finds, and just about any object that can hold something, can be repurposed to a container. If the item is wire, be sure to add a coco liner and if the item is solid, be sure to provide drainage holes near the bottom. Everyday household recyclables (coffee, yogurt, bottles, etc.) can be painted and given a new life — bent license plates, old kitchen bowls and colanders, those few extra concrete blocks you have sitting next to the garage, and even logs and stumps can be transformed with soil and plants. The main takeaway is to be...

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Perennial native naturalizers make for great groundcover

Plants grow in communities based on soils, exposure, climate and rarely stand alone. Yet, humans have the odd habit or aesthetic style of making shrubs green islands in a sea of mulch. Not only does this create more work and expense, this segmented, unnatural style also contains very little diversity. By nature, native plants that have co-evolved with native insects for millions of years will provide nectar, host, and food sources for insects, pollinators, birds and the entire ecosystem. If you have a tough spot or a large area to cover, these native naturalizers are especially good at taking...

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Native plants that won’t make you sneeze

Allergy free gardening? Is there such as thing? While you can’t eliminate allergens and pollutants in the air and carried by the wind, you can certainly choose plants based on an allergen scale to help. This would work best in urban areas without the abundance of ragweed in nearby fields. In Thomas Leo Ogren’s book, “Allergy-Free Gardening,” he gives an A to Z listing and rates plants’ allergy potential. The ratings start at one for the lowest allergen scale and go up to 10 for high allergy plants. With more than 14 million Americans with asthma, 35 million with...

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