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Preparing Garden Tools

preparing-garden-toolsPrior to a solitary plant even touches the ground in your patio nursery, it is shrewd to invest energy setting up the dirt. Your dirt’s wellbeing is the premise of the achievement or disappointment of your greenery enclosure plants. Much the same as in the familiar adage, “An ounce of counteractive action is justified regardless of a pound of cure;” on the off chance that you set up the dirt legitimately now you’ll have less weeds and ailments and better plant development, blooming, and fruiting later.

Starting From Scratch

If you’re gardening in an established garden plot, skip this section and go right to assessing the soil. For a new garden, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to create a clean planting bed:

# Strip and compost the top 2 to 3 inches of sod or weeds with a spade or sod stripper.

# Remove any deep-rooted weeds, such as sumac and dandelion.

# Dig out and remove any large rocks with a digging fork and use them for walls or walkways.

# If you plan well ahead of time, you can try an alternative method to removing sod. Cover the new garden area in fall with a plastic tarp, old rug, or cardboard. By spring the grass will be dead, and the soil can be tilled without having to remove the sod. However, perennial weeds like burdock may survive and have to be dug by hand.

Assessing the Soil

Once the soil is clear of debris, it’s time to get your hands dirty and assess the health of your soil. A simple test will tell you what type of soil you have. Take a handful of moist soil and rub some between your fingers. If the feeling is slippery and smooth, your soil is mostly composed of clay. If the soil feels gritty, it’s mostly sand.

To further determine the amount of sand, silt, and clay, try a jar test. Place a 1-inch layer of crushed garden soil — free of roots, rocks, and debris — in a one-quart glass jar that’s two-thirds filled with water. Add one teaspoon of liquid soap and shake. Sand will settle in a few minutes. Silt will settle in 2 to 5 hours. The clay will settle in a few days. Measure each layer as it forms. By knowing the depth of each layer, you can determine which type of soil particle is dominant in your soil. For example, if the sand layer is 1/4 inch thick, sand makes up 25 percent of your soil.

Knowing the dominant type of soil you have tells you much about its performance. A clay soil will retain water and nutrients better than a sandy soil, but it’s slow to dry out. Sandy soil is less fertile than clay soil but drains water faster and heats up quicker. Also, certain plants are better adapted to certain soils. For example, portulaca grows best in a sandy soil.

Testing the Soil

Once you know the type of soil you have, assess the nutrient composition with a soil test. You can purchase a do-it-yourself soil test kit that gives a snapshot picture of your soil’s nutrient health, or you can send a soil sample off to a state university soil lab or a private lab for a more extensive analysis. The results usually include levels of organic matter, pH, and major nutrients. If you are gardening in an urban area, you may want a special test for heavy metal contaminants.

Adding Organic Matter

Organic matter provides the essential building blocks of your soil. Adding organic matter annually is essential to your soil’s tilth, fertility,and water drainage and retention. Organic matter can be in the form of compost,aged manure, grass clippings, shredded leaves, hay, or straw. Work the compost into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil with a spade or garden fork before planting.

Adding Nutrients

Soil can’t live on organic matter alone. Based on the soil test, add lime or sulfur to raise or lower the soil pH to the recommended level for most plants — between 6.0 and 7.0. Add fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as recommended. Organic fertilizers, such as soybean meal, have the advantage of breaking down slowly in the soil so they are available when plants need them. Chemical fertilizers, such as 10-10-10, offer a quick dose of readily available nutrients, but they don’t last as long in the soil. Spread the nutrients on the top layers of the soil and work them in with a digging fork or soil rake.

Shaping the Beds

Once the soil is properly amended, it’s time to get creative. Raised beds are a good solution for annual vegetable and flower gardens, especially if you have heavy clay soils. Soil formed into raised beds warms up faster and dries out quicker in spring, and the soil around the roots is less compacted. All of this means better plant growth.

To build a raised bed, mound soil 10 inches high in 3- to 4-foot-wide beds running as long as you wish. You can also get whimsical by creating oval, round, or even heart-shaped raised beds. Level the tops of beds with a soil rake or cultivator. Once the beds are made, you can feel confident planting seeds or transplants, knowing your soil is ready to support their growth.

Know More About Landscape Mistakes

landscape-mistakeGreat finishing can increase the value of your home grounds and make them less demanding to tend to. Inadequately done finishing not just can cost you a great deal of squandered dollars and exertion, it can make an unappealing and difficult to keep up yard and patio nursery.

How to get things off to a decent begin? Keep away from the “Main 10 Landscape Mistakes” and you’ll be en route to sound, appealing plantings. Incorporated by Paul Pugliese of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, this rundown of scene “no-nos” contains a word of wisdom, regardless of where in the nation you cultivate.

For example, mistake number one is leaving burlap, ropes, or wire cages on the rootballs of newly planted trees or shrubs. The root restriction they can cause may result in “pot-bound” plant in the ground or a girdling root slowly killing a tree years after it goes in the ground. Number five on the list is one of the most common mistakes — not taking into account the mature height and spread of a tree or shrub and placing it where it doesn’t have sufficient room to develop. Or how about piling up mulch “volcanoes” around tree trunks, which can lead to rot, or applying too much fertilizer, which can harm plants, contribute to water pollution, and waste money?

Pugliese doesn’t just tell you what not to do; he also gives suggestions for correct landscaping practices. Don’t plant too deep; instead look for the root flare on the trunk and set the plant so the flare is level or slightly above grade.

Caring a Perennial Garden

perennial-gardenPerennial gardens require less maintenance than lawns, but they do need regular care to look their best and stay healthy. The following tasks are arranged in order of frequency from weekly to annually.

Tools and Materials

  • Scissors or hand pruners
  • Trowel
  • Water source, soaker hose or sprinkler
  • Hoe with small, sharp blade
  • Half-moon edger or garden spade
  • Lawn rake
  • Steel rake
  • Perennial plant fertilizer
  • Organic mulch

Remove spent flowers. Using scissors or hand pruners, snip off flower stems just above a leaf or bud when they finish blooming to prevent them from forming seeds. Pick off damaged leaves.

Inspect for pests and problems. Look for leaves with holes or ragged edges; sticky, discolored or spotted leaves; chewed or abnormally growing flowers or buds; or damaged stems. If you discover a problem, take samples of the damaged plant to a garden center with experienced staff or contact cooperative extension service Master Gardeners in your area for identification and advice.

Water. Dig into the top 2 to 3 inches of soil with a trowel. If the soil is dry, water until the soil is moist to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation pipes apply water more efficiently than overhead sprinklers. Avoid wetting plant leaves late in the day to prevent the spread of some plant diseases.

Pull weeds. Remove weeds as you see them on your daily or weekly inspection. Use a hoe with a small, sharp blade to slice them off just under the soil surface, or pull them by hand.

Edge the beds. Keep the edges between your garden and lawn well defined and tidy with a half-moon edger or garden spade. Facing the garden, push the tool blade straight down into the edge of the turf about 3 to 4 inches. Pull the handle toward you to remove a wedge of soil. Repeat around the perimeter of the garden. Compost the turf scraps.

Fertilize and mulch. Early in the spring, fertilize with a granular, slow-release fertilizer formulated for perennial gardens. Follow package recommendations for the correct amount to apply. Replace or renew organic mulch, such as shredded bark or leaves.

Seasonal clean-up. In cold-winter climates, protect tender plants after the ground freezes with a 4- to 6-inch layer of loose mulch. Cut back perennials to within 8 to 10 inches of the ground after the tops die back or leave them uncut for protection against the cold. In spring, cut back all dead stems to the ground and rake out the debris.

Tips

Keep asters and chrysanthemums more compact by pinching a couple of inches off their growing tips when they reach 12 inches tall in spring and again in mid-summer.

About Balloon Flower

Balloon flower will prosper whether you begin with seeds or plants. Seeds are easy to start, but because plants do not flower well until the second year, you may want to save time by buying container-grown plants.

To start seeds, barely press them into moist seed starting mix, enclose the containers loosely in a plastic bag, and keep them at 60oF and in moderate light. Seedlings should appear in about two weeks and can be shifted to larger containers a few weeks later. In my zone 7 garden, I keep seedlings outdoors in pots through their first winter, then set them out in the garden when they are a year old. Plants need at least 6 weeks at or below 40°F to flower, but flower best with at least 12 weeks at these temperatures.

Balloon flowers develop heavy gnarled storage roots, so it’s easy to move plants if needed. And, should you want to propagate them, simply take a heel cutting in late spring, when the new stems are about 2 to 4 inches long. Gently dig down to where the stem joins the roots, and use a sharp knife to nick off a stem with a 1/2-inch chunk of root. Pot the cutting, keep it constantly moist, and it should quickly take off. I get close to 100 percent success with this method, compared to only about 50 percent survival of tip cuttings dipped in rooting hormone and set to root in a sandy potting medium.

Care and Feeding

To get the most prolific bloom, situate plants in a well-drained site and fertilize them to support strong growth. In my very average clay, I scratch a controlled-release fertilizer into the soil around the plants in spring; in summer I apply a 2-inch-deep organic mulch. In fall after trimming off the dead stems, I add a little more mulch and then put the wire support ring back in place. Plants are a little late to show themselves in spring, so marking their location keeps me from accidentally digging too close to them later on.

Light deadheading helps to extend the bloom time, and in some years the plants inexplicably produce a second flush of flowers in early fall. If you cut flowers to use in bouquets, sear the stem ends the moment you sever them from the mother plant. Otherwise their vase life may be limited to one day.

Balloon flowers make great neighbors to other plants because they don’t spread and only need dividing about once a decade. In sun, I like to flank them with yellow plume celosia or orange Cosmos sulphureus. In large decorative pots, pair dwarf ‘Sentimental Blue’ with red verbenas. In partial shade, use balloon flowers as accent plants placed among foxgloves, hostas, or lamb’s ears.

Allan Armitage, perennials expert at the University of Georgia, suggests teaming plants with tall yarrows such as ‘Coronation Gold’. He also notes that balloon flower is one of the lowest maintenance and most rewarding of perennials. Plant reviews don’t get much better than that. I give it four stars.

Peanuts Care

It’s a good idea to hill peanut plants when they’re about two-thirds their full height of 1-1/2 feet. Hilling makes it easier for the peanut pegs to bury their tips into the ground.

To hill, use a hoe to pull up the loose soil around the stems of the peanut plants. Once you’ve hilled the plants, don’t disturb them with any tools, including hoes. If the plants need weeding, do so by hand, allowing the roots and pegs to remain undisturbed.

Hilling peanut plants buries and kills weeds around the plants and takes care of most walkway weeds as well. It also creates a natural irrigation ditch by pulling soil from between the rows up around the plants and helps heavy soils to shed water. Hilling keeps the soil better drained and more productive because the earth isn’t packed around the plants. The biggest advantage is that it allows the pegs to penetrate the loose soil easily.

Mulch

Mulching peanut plants can be a little tricky. Because the peanut pegs penetrate the soil, they’ll first have to penetrate the mulch. Therefore, if you decide to mulch, make sure you put down a very thin layer of a material the pegs can easily penetrate, such as grass clippings or straw, rather than an impermeable one, like plastic or floating row covers. Grass clippings help condition the soil by adding nutrients, but if you use them, first spread out the clippings in the sun and let them dry for a day or two.

Watering

Although peanuts are relatively tolerant of dry soils, it’s a good idea to check the amount of moisture in the soil before planting. Dig a hole and if the soil feels moist one foot down, you probably won’t have to worry about watering until after your plants start to bloom.

Even though the plants don’t need a regular supply of water, the critical times for moisture are when the plants bloom and when the pegs enter the soil. A shortage of water at these times will reduce your yield and affect the size of your peanuts.

Be careful not to water the plants when harvesttime draws near. Peanuts may not mature if the soil is too wet, or mature nuts may sprout.

Weeding

Young peanut seedlings can be injured or killed by tools, so it’s better to weed by hand. As the plants grow, continue to control weeds and loosen the soil so that pegs can penetrate the surface easily. When you’re weeding, be extremely careful not to cover branches and leaves with soil; this could kill the plants’ leaves and interfere with flowering. The best time to get rid of weeds is after a rain once the plants have dried off.

Clay Soil Tips

If your garden has heavy clay soil, you know what a challenge it can pose to plants, not to mention gardeners. Heavy clay drains slowly, meaning it stays saturated longer after rain or irrigation. Then, when the sun finally comes out and the soil dries, it forms a hard, cracked surface.

On the bright side, clay soils are usually richer in nutrients than sandy soils are. And clay’s tendency to hold water tightly can be an advantage.

Here are some tips for making clay soil more manageable and easier to work.

Tools and Materials

  • Soil test kit or commercial test
  • Organic mulches: compost and aged manure, straw
  • Wheelbarrow or cart
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Cover crop (wheat, rye, clover, or oats)

Test soil pH, and adjust as necessary. Clay soils are rich in nutrients, but if the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, those nutrients won’t be available to the plants. Use a home test kit or send a sample to a soil testing lab, then follow the recommendations for adjusting pH. For most garden plants, a pH of 6.3 to 6.8 is ideal. Find a lab near you by checking in your telephone directory, or by calling your local cooperative extension office.

Add organic matter. This helps improve drainage and lighten heavy soil. It also provides nutrients for beneficial soil microorganisms which will, in turn, also help improve the soil. Before planting in spring, add compost and aged manure. A 2- to 3-inch layer worked into the soil to shovel depth is a good amount. Throughout the growing season, mulch with organic materials like grass clippings, shredded leaves, or additional compost. Since soil microorganisms literally “eat” organic matter, make a habit of continually adding it to your soil.

Build raised beds. Because clay soils hold water, creating raised beds can help improve drainage by encouraging water to run off. Raised beds can be a simple mound of soil, or can be constructed out of wood, brick, or stone. To lessen compaction, size the beds so you can reach the middle without stepping in the bed.

Mulch beds over the winter. Driving rain can really pack down bare soil, so keep beds mulched with organic matter both during the growing season and over the winter. A layer of straw over the beds will protect the soil from compaction and reduce erosion; it can also help minimize weed growth. In the spring, transfer the mulch to the garden paths.

Plant a cover crop. A cover crop is like a living mulch. Different cover crops are appropriate for different regions. In the north, winter wheat and winter rye are popular choices; in warmer regions, crimson clover and oatsare commonly used. For a winter cover crop, sow after the last crops have been harvested. The following spring, simply till the plants into the soil, adding yet more precious organic matter.

Tips

Improving soil takes time, so don’t expect overnight results. On the other hand, if you follow the above steps you should notice some improvement each year. Within a few years, you’ll have rich, plant-friendly soil.

Butterflies Landscaping Tips

We are frequently informed that one of the most ideal approaches to urge butterflies to visit our property is to scene with local plants. While it’s actual that local plants can be awesome larval host plants and nectar hotspots for grown-ups, numerous butterfly species have likewise adjusted to non-local plants, which can likewise give imperative backing to both caterpillars and grown-up butterflies. Truth be told, by master Sharon Stichter of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, some butterfly species have changed over from a local to a presented host or nectar plant in light of the fact that the local is not effectively accessible or is a less powerful nourishment source.

Writing in the August 2012 Ecological Landscaping Association newsletter, she notes that the lovely black swallowtail butterfly, which used native water hemlock and water parsnip as larval host plants in the nineteenth century, now thrives by using the more widely found non-natives, Queen Ann’s lace, parsley, dill, and fennel, almost exclusively. Similarly, naturalized field clovers and meadow vetches serve as important nectar sources for the adults of many species.

Another way to provide good butterfly habitat is to let some of your property grow as meadow or grassland. But in most parts of the county, these areas need to be mowed periodically to keep them open. To benefit the most butterfly species, the meadow should be mowed no more than once a year in late fall, keeping the mower height at least 4-6 inches off the ground to avoid the overwintering larvae at the bases of plants. If possible, mow only a section of the meadow each year, in rotation, so that there is always an unmown area of refuge for insects.

Recommended Gardening Books

Consistently the American Horticultural Society, whose mission mixes instruction, social obligation, and natural stewardship with the workmanship and exploration of agriculture, exhibits its yearly Garden Book Award in acknowledgment of extraordinary cultivating books distributed in the earlier year. Chosen by an advisory group of plant specialists, the current year’s book grants went to four books that cover the cultivating range from eatable to decorative planting.

Armitage’s Vines and Climbers: A Gardener’s Guide to the Best Vertical Plants (Timber Press) is another helpful offering from Allan M. Armitage, who runs the research gardens at the University of Georgia. Based on his years of personal experience growing and evaluating plants, this book contains an A-Z listing of climbing plants, both annual and perennial and including new and unusual choices, that can help you add a new dimension to your landscape design.

Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy (Sierra Club Books) is an updated version of her classic book, first published in 1982, that shows gardeners how to incorporate edible plants into ornamental garden design for a landscape that is both attractive and productive. This new edition contains general information on design, including solving small-space challenges, as well as an extensive encyclopedia of edibles. Beautifully designed, with lots of gorgeous photos, this book will both inspire and guide you.

From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design by W. Gary Smith (Timber Press) guides you in cultivating an artist’s eye and tools in order to create a garden that combines the unique character of your setting with an expression of your own spirit. Full of innovative design ideas, this book will inspire you to craft a unique and personally meaningful garden.

In Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older (Timber Press), author and expert gardener Sydney Eddison confronts the physical limitations we all face as we grow older and gives excellent advice on how to keep gardening a joyful endeavor as the years advance. Drawing on her own decades of experience in her expansive Connecticut garden, as well as the wisdom of other expert yet aging gardeners, she offers both concrete, practical advice as well as suggestions on changing attitudes and expectations, so that gardening can remain a pleasure, not a chore, as we age. Even those gardeners whose knees don’t yet creak will appreciate Eddison’s graceful prose and find much that can help make gardening easier and more enjoyable.

Planting Trees, Here Its Tips

Purchase trees and bushes exposed root, in compartments, or with roots and soil wrapped in burlap. Uncovered root plants are the most efficient. There’s no overwhelming soil to oversee or holders to plant. Be that as it may, exposed root plants, which incorporate just deciduous or generally lethargic plants, for example, roses and natural product trees, are typically accessible just from winter to early spring. You can purchase plants in holders and burlap all through the developing season. Plants in compartments are normally the most advantageous to buy however you may trade off the cost, simplicity of taking care of, and accessibility. Plants with roots wrapped in burlap might be substantial and hard to handle. Here are the means for planting a tree.

Tools and Materials

  • Tape measure
  • Tree or shrub
  • Shovel or spade
  • Water and nozzle
  • Bark or other organic mulch

Site the Tree. Research the mature size of your tree and measure to locate the hole at the proper site. For example, measure a circle 6 feet across, if the plant label says the tree will spread to 6 feet. Note its height in relation to your house, windows, overhead wires, and views. Mark the center of the planting hole where the mature plant can grow without rubbing against buildings or obstructing utilities, traffic, or desirable views.

Dig the hole. Measure the depth and width of the soil in your tree’s container. Dig a hole to that depth and two to three times wider. Pile the excavated soil to the side to be used later. Loosen the soil around the sides of the hole to help roots penetrate into the native soil. Don’t loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole because the disturbed soil may settle and leave the tree planted too deeply.

Plant the tree. Slip the tree out of its pot or remove the burlap and ties. Prune off only those roots that tightly circle the trunk or are broken. With your hand, loosen and gently spread roots that circle the root ball. Set your tree in the hole, and lay a shovel handle across hole to check the planting depth. The top of the root ball should just touch the shovel handle. Add or remove soil until the top of the root ball is at the appropriate level.

If planting a bare-root tree, shape a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole, and adjust the tree height until the base of the plant is at the correct level. Spread the roots over the mound of soil without bending or breaking them.

Fill the hole and water. Fill the hole half full with the excavated soil. Water thoroughly and allow to drain. Fill with the remaining soil and rake it gently into a low mound over the planting hole. Pull the soil away from the trunk to form a 4 to 6-inch-high, doughnut-shaped ring around the outside of the planting hole. Water again gently.

If you’re planting in very poor soil, or if you are planting a container-grown plant in a lightweight soil mix, amend the excavated soil with 1/3 compost before backfilling.

Mulch your newly planted shrub with 2 to 4 inches of shredded bark to conserve moisture and prevent weeds. Keep the mulch 1 to 2 inches away from the trunk.

Tips

Select trees and shrubs that thrive in your specific soil, sun exposure, and climate. Plants that need moist soil will languish in sandy, dry soil, for example.

Choose shrubs and trees with more than one season of interest. Look for attractive foliage, branching, flowers, fruit, and bark.

Pick The Best Roses

Part of the mission of the American Rose Society (ARS) is the evaluation of newly-released roses. After three years of assessment, each rose is assigned a rating that is included in their annually publishedHandbook for Selecting Roses.

But recognizing that, as a rose is grown more widely over the years, its initial rating may become outdated, the ARS also began reviewing the ratings of established varieties periodically. They have just released the results of their first Quinquennial (Five Year) Survey, done in 2010, in which approximately 500 rose growers evaluated the ratings of all roses introduced before 2000.

As in past surveys, some of the highest rated roses showed a slight decline, but overall the rating of as many roses increased as declined. Ratings range from 9.3-10 for “One of the best roses ever” and 8.8-9.2 for “An outstanding rose in the top 1%” to 0.0-6.0 for “Not recommended” for over 3000 roses now in commerce in North America.

And what roses came out on top? The Noisette rose ‘Reve d’Or’, with medium yellow double blooms, maintained its top billing, with a score of 9.2, although it now shares the spotlight with two species roses, White Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa alba), with single, white blossoms and Lady Banks’ Rose (Rosa banksiae banksiae) (pictured), with double, white flowers, both of which also received a 9.2 rating. Interestingly, in spite of all the new rose varieties released each year, all three of these top-rated roses are heirloom varieties. Reve d’Or dates to 1869, Lady Banks’ to 1807 and the white Rugosa to 1784.

Plants that Bird Love

Perennials. When selecting showy perennials, consider their seed production and their appeal to hummingbirds for nectar. Some perennials good for birdseed are columbine (Aquilegia), zones 3-10; coreopsis (Coreopsis), zones 3-10; purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), zones 3-10; California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), zones 8-10; and goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), zones 3-10. These are hummingbird favorites: columbine, zones 3-10; red-hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria), zones 5-10; cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), zones 2-9; bee balm (Monarda didyma), zones 4-10; penstemon (Penstemon), zones 3-10, depending on species; orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida), zones 3-10; and salvia (Salvia), zones 5-10, depending on species.

Skyline Trees (taller than 50 feet). In a large backyard, you may be fortunate to have space for a skyline tree. These provide a canopy of food and shelter: American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), zone 6; black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), zone 5; black cherry (Prunus serotina), zones 4-8; and white oak (Quercus alba), zone 5.

Annuals. Choose annuals with abundant seeds, especially those in the sunflower family, to lure songbirds such as goldfinches and house finches. Let the flowers stay on the plants to set seeds.

Among the bird-feeding annuals that flourish throughout the country in summer gardens are ageratum, amaranth (Amaranthus), China aster (Callistephus chinensis), basket flower (Centaurea americana), bachelor’s-button (Centaurea cyanus), calendula, celosia, coreopsis, cosmos, sunflower (Helianthus annus), sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), marigold (Tagetes erecta), Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), and zinnia.

Large Trees (25 to 50 feet tall). Plant these large trees for cover and fruit: common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), zones 2-9; cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli), zone 5; common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), zone 5; red mulberry (Morus rubra), zone 6; sassafras (Sassafras albidum), zones 5-8; American mountain ash (Sorbus americana), zones 3-8; and coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), attractive for acorns, zone 9.

Small Shrubs (up to 10 feet tall). Small shrubs are useful in multilevel plantings as a transition from ground covers to trees. These provide both food and cover: Inkberry (Ilex glabra), zones 5-9; fruit-bearing junipers (Juniperus), zone 3, depending on species; northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), zone 2; common chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), zones 3-8; currant and gooseberry (Ribes), zone 2, depending on species; wild rose (Rosa virginiana), zones 4-9; and coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), zones 3-9.

Hedges. Hedges furnish both food and protective cover, including nesting places. Birds prefer informal, unclipped hedges with fruit. Choose plants that form attractive shapes naturally so you won’t have to prune frequently. When you do prune, wait until after the fruit has been eaten.

Check the shrub list, above, for plants to use in hedges. A mix of several types of shrubs in a hedgerow is more effective than using one type of plant for the entire hedge.

Needle-Leafed Evergreens. Large con provide year-round cover, buffering winter cold and summer heat. They also provide seed and create nesting places. Some of the best are arborvitae (Thuja), hemlocks (Tsuga), firs (Abies), spruces (Picea), and pines (Pinus). Berry-producing junipers (Juniperus) also attract, feed, and shelter birds.

Small Trees and Large Shrubs (up to 25 feet tall). For bird-attracting fruit, plant the following: serviceberry (Amelanchier), zone 3, depending on species; hawthorn (Crataegus), zone 5; desert olive (Forestiera neomexicana), zone 7; dogwood (Cornus), zone 2, depending on species; toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), zone 8;holly (Ilex); juniper; sargent crabapple (Malus sargentii), zones 4-8; American plum (Prunus americana), zone 6;American elderberry (Sambucas canadensis), zones 4-9; Sitka moutain ash (Sorbus sitchensis), zone 5; andviburnum (Viburnum), zone 2, depending on species.

Vines. Clusters of tangled vines provide hiding and nesting places for birds. Depending on the variety, they also provide nectar, fruits, seeds, and insects. Two hummingbird favorites are trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), hardy to zone 5, and trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), hardy to zone 4. Vines attractive for fruit includesupplejack (Berchemia scandens), zone 6; Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), zone 4; and grape (Vitis), zone 3, depending on species.

Ground Covers. Low ground covers enliven the floor of the bird garden while providing bird food and cover. Choose from these low-growers (less than 12 inches high): bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), zones 2-8; wild strawberry (Fragaria), zone 5; wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), zone 4; and cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), zones 2-6.

Brambles. This is a large genus (Rubus) of usually thorny shrubs, including raspberries and blackberries. Many native brambles are popular fruit crops, and their prickly, dense growth provides protection and nesting places for a variety of birds including indigo buntings, cardinals, yellow warblers, towhees, and sparrows.

Other Habitat Features

Dead Trees. Retain a standing dead tree if it’s not in danger of falling. Snags, as they are called, provide nesting cavities for birds such as woodpeckers.

Ponds. In addition to providing water for birds, a small garden pond is excellent habitat for aquatic plants and other wildlife, including frogs and turtles. Locate the pond about 5 to 15 feet from protective cover.

Brush Piles. Birds and other wildlife will seek cover, food, and sometimes nesting places in a brush pile. Instead of hauling off your tree trimmings, create a brush pile (mixed with rocks and stones) in an out-of-sight corner of your property.

Meadows. A meadow of annual and perennial wildflowers, low-growing shrubs, and native grasses is a certain bird lure.