Posts tagged "mulch"

Curb Appeal: Five Inexpensive Front Yard Enhancements

Curb Appeal Front Yard Porch and Gardens

Enhancing the curb appeal of your house doesn't have to be expensive.

Wether you are interested in improving the look of your  front yard for personal enjoyment or for  selling your home, here are a few of my top recommendations.


This blog post is part of the Garden Designers RoundTable blog theme about "First Impressions."

Please visit the blogsites posted at the end of this article for more inspired ideas!


1. Mulch Your Garden Beds!

peach-pit-and-glass mulch in garden bed


Nothing says "finished and well tended" than a garden that is weed-free and mulched.

There are a variety of mulch products that can be used in your garden from free pine leaves to decomposed granite to decorative recycled glass and more!

The horticultural benefits of adding mulch to your soil are undisputed- it helps to retard weed growth and aids in moisture retention in the soil.


I enjoy the decorative benefits of a rich colored top dressing for the soil.


If you have a small garden, you can buy bags (usually 1 to 2 cubic foot size) of your preferred mulch or order large scoops at your landscape center and have it delivered.

Prices vary according to your selection.

Standard, "nothing special redwood nuggets or shredded bark " can cost from $4 per 1.5 cu ft bag, more or less depending on where you live.

Inorganic pebbles and stone costs me approximately $10 dollars for a seventy-five-pound bag.


Apply  mulch around your plants but avoid piling it up against the stems as this may encourage plant rot.

A two or three inch depth is adequate.


My favorite mulch for my Southern California garden are recycled peach pits and tumbled glass.

If you follow my blog, you know I have a fondness for seashells and wine corks too!

For in depth information read my post, "Mulch 101: The Art of Selecting the Perfect Garden Mulch."


I always say, "If your garden bed isn't mulched, it isn't finished yet!"



2. Add Potted Plants Near Your Front Door!

Potted Plants Near Front Door


Even if you can't afford to relandscape your entire front yard, place a few colorful containers with fragrant flowers near your entry for impact.

Your eye will be drawn to this bright focal point.

Need inspiration?

Read my blog post "Creative Container Garden Ideas."



3.Paint Your Front Door An Accent Color!


Painted Front Door for Curb Appeal


I have to admit, if it weren't for the bright fushia-colored front door, this yard would look very boring!

The bougainvillea is captivating but it doesn't sport color year round.


Select a paint color that compliments the foliage or prominent plant color in your garden to unify house and landscape.

Painting a front door is a lot like putting on lipstick.

Instant smile!


4. Beautify Your Mail Box!

creative mailbox planters

Need I say more about the uplifting affect of a plant-filled mailbox?

I was contacted a few month ago by the designers of Creative Mailbox Planters, a company that specializes in mailbox planters.

What a great idea!


For around $80, you can have "practical art" in your front yard.

Take a look at their photo gallery.


(This is not a paid endorsement, but please feel free to send me some "swag!)



5. Hide Your Water Hose


Decorative water hose urn


This tall, elegant urn is hiding an ugly secret…a waterhose!

A water hose is a practical element in your garden that can become a decorative feature, if you conceal it.

This urn was on sale at Target for  under $40 dollars. Not a bad deal.


Since I wasn't in the mood to spend ANY money, I repurposed a planter I had sitting around my yard.

I gave it a job.

Planter used as water hose storage





The planter is shallow so I don't have to dive in to pull out the hose.

It also matches the style of the other planters in the garden.


Go Add Some Curb Appeal To Your Front Yard!

A few small details can make a big difference in adding curb appeal to your yard.

Always follow the path of least expense.


Mulch your soil, paint your front door, display some colorful planters,  add decorative detail around the mailbox and hide your hose.

You get the idea.


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Please join the Garden Designers Roundtable bloggers today as we explore the best of First Impressions:

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA





Mulch 101: The Art of Selecting the Perfect Garden Mulch!

EdenMaker Tip:

Recycled tumbled glass mixed with broken tile is used as mulch in this garden vignette

Mulching your garden bed is an art form?

It is to me! 

When I have over one-hundred different materials that can be used to mulch my garden bed, I select the one that is most suitable for the site and plants, compliments the design and is priced within my budget.

I don't consider my garden work complete if I don't give my beds a finished look with mulch.

With so many options its worth taking a look at the benefits, disadvantages and aesthetic value of different mulch materials.



Watch  Shirley's video on selecting the perfect mulch for your garden.

What is Mulch?

Mulch is any organic or inorganic material that is used to "top dress" or cover the soil in the garden.

You can buy mulch at your local nursery or landscape center or you can find "free" organic mulch like pine needles and leaves around your yard that can be shredded and used as mulch.

Did you know that  seaweed can be used as mulch?

Inorganic mulches include non-living materials such as stone, shredded rubber, black plastic and tumbled glass.

Recycled peach pits from Pit's In Pieces makes a gorgeous and aromatic mulch with a uniform look.

Pit's In Pieces peach mulch repels snails, is long lasting and does not use nitrogen to break down.

My all time favorite mulch!

I use it in my garden.

Why Mulch?

Birth control for the garden!

When your garden soil is covered by a two or three inch layer of mulch, the sun can not penetrate the soil and stimulate weed growth.

In this case, mulch acts as a physical barrier for germination and photosynthesis of those unwanted and "unplanted" plants.

A thicker layer of mulch-up to 4"- inches can be used in cold winter gardens to insulate plants from freezing temperatures. 


Recycled rubber tires are colored, shredded and used as a garden mulch and walkway material.

This is a practical mulch for commercial or institutional gardens as they are long lasting and come in a variety of color.

Great for wind-prone areas because of extra weight and I like it in the garden more than in the land fill.

Does Mulch Work?

Not as well as most birth control methods, but effective enough to keep my weeding to a minimum!

If these odds are not to your liking, abstain from gardening 'cause there is no guarantee.

(Have you seen weeds growing through sidewalk cracks?)

That is a serious will to survive.

 Another reason to use mulch is to help maintain moisture in your soil by insulating it from the drying heat and to moderate temperatures around the root zone.


Shredded redwood mulch looks best in an informal garden like this one with ornamental grasses and sage where there are large open areas between plant.

 Can Mulch Cause Problems?

Yes, when mulch is applied too densely or incorrectly, it changes from being your garden's friend to it's foe.

Thick layers of mulch do not allow water to percolate into the soil, so your plants die from thirst.

Mulch that is mounded up against a plant is an invitation for root rot in plants, fungus  and harmful bacteria.

Too much trapped moisture can lead to plant death from drowning.

Some mulch materials such as wood chips, shredded newspaper, and shredded bark are great for deterring weeds, but they use up valuable nitrogen from the soil to break down and contribute no valuable nutrients to the soil. 

Compost, on the other hand, can be used as a mulch material and enriches the soil with beneficial organisms and nutrients.

The only drawback is that weeds can find this environment "beneficial" too.

Get the hoe ready!    

Redwood soil conditioner enriches the soil and improves texture but does not offer the best protection against weeds unless you apply a THICK layer!

That said, redwood soil conditioner is neat looking when "clean" lines matter in your garden design.


Cocoa mulch can be deadly to your pets!

The ingestion of as little as 2 ounces of cocoa mulch has been implicated in severe stomach upset, and more serious illness and death at higher doses!

Dogs and cats may find the chocolate aroma irresistible and can be poisoned by the caffeine and theobromine in it.

Cocoa mulch should only be used in pet-free yards.

I found out the hard way when my dog started snacking on my cocoa mulch and threw up.

It was a lot of work to remove it from the garden and it the cocoa mulch cost more than a lot of other mulches.

The upside for "pet-free" gardens is that cocoa mulch provides great weed suppression and does not rob nitrogen from the soil to breakdown.

The downside is that your garden will be "pet-free" if your dog or cat eats the cocoa mulch!  

Shredded melaleuca makes an ideal cover under tree groves 

Is Mulch Expensive?

If you have a large garden, you may want to consider purchasing a "scoop" or "skip" of shredded redwood or cedar mulch from a landscape center and have it delivered to your house.

A bulk order will be less expensive in the long run than buying a lot of 1 or 2 cubic foot bags from the nursery.  

Stones and gravel are useful mulches for succulent and other dry gardens.

Stone and gravel are long lasting, do not break down but should be installed with a weed barrier cloth underneath to keep the gravel from sinking into the ground.    

Designer Shirley Watts uses broken mosaic as mulch.

Clever and artsy!



I use seashells as mulch in container gardens.

If you have enough to cover a garden bed, it looks beautiful in a seaside garden.  


Shredded wood  from construction wood pallets are a great repurposed mulch.


I would use shredded wood from construction pallets  in an informal garden.

There is a perfect mulch for every garden need, budget and style.


Don't forget to pamper your soil with plenty of organic compost before covering it up with mulch.

Refresh your mulch as needed- usually once a year.

For more gardening tips, garden design, edible gardens and "how to"  videos by Shirley Bovshow, visit