A Garden for a Tiny Home

plants for tiny houses

The presence of plants and flowers can brighten up any home no matter how small it may be. Even the most urban of areas should have patches of green to soothe the busy mind and calm the frazzled soul.

There are no ifs or buts about it – even if you live in a tiny studio or a small apartment, you deserve a garden this year. But how to go about getting one if there’s no real square footage meant for it? Here are some creative ways.


Take advantage of natural light on window sills

This technique works well for your small home in several ways. One, it allows indoor plants to thrive because of all the natural light coming in. Two, you won’t have to provide additional shelves or tables for the plants, so your home doesn’t look and feel even more cluttered. Three, you can have a small herb “garden” in your kitchen to use whenever you need it.


Create a vignette on tables, shelves, and nooks

Combine something organic with your favorite knick-knacks, and you will have a vignette worthy of a lifestyle magazine feature. A small potted plant on a bookcase, a hanging shelf, on top of a bathroom counter, or just about any surface that looks dull and utilitarian will do. Having plants or flowers among ordinary, everyday things can quickly liven up a space and add an accent that no expensive accessory can achieve.


Let it hang!

From lattices to arches, to plain hooks on the ceiling or walls, there are a myriad ways to introduce plants into your home without giving up precious floor space. When in doubt, mount it or let it hang from the ceiling. Let a creeping plant swing languidly in a corner of a room, or install a small jar of blooms on a wall where the sun can reach it. Hanging or wall-mounted plants can be a mix of functional and decorative, so you don’t need to plan an entire decorating budget around them.


Carve a green space in your balcony

If you have even the tiniest balcony to stand on, consider yourself blessed. It’s the perfect space to form a pocket garden even if you don’t have a yard. With some effort, you could already have a small herb garden to call your own. You can use an old bookcase or kitchen trolley to keep your plants and tools organized in one corner. And if you want your apartment unit to stand out, have creeping vines and blooms take over the railings – it’s the best and most natural way to add color to your home’s exterior!


Living with the Pantone 2017 Color of the Year

Pantone colors of the year for the garden


Fresh, hopeful, and redolent of healthy, growing things, the 2017 Pantone color of the year is aptly called “Greenery”. The color institute’s hue #15-0343 symbolizes new beginnings and fresh starts – things a lot of us certainly need in the coming year.

Recalling springtime, the yellowish-green shade borrows from nature while paying homage to it. With Greenery at the forefront of the palette, a fresh approach to many aspects of one’s lifestyle – including interior design, architecture, gardening, and even wardrobe – is to be expected. Here are some predictions on how Greenery can positively influence your home and your life.


A refreshing backdrop for everyday living

Many interior designers are saying that the neutral, clinical palette of strictly white, grey, and black are over and done with. While those hues encourage calm and zen-like attitude in daily living, they don’t really allow room for expression. This year’s Pantone color adds a much-needed punch to liven up the drabness of a neutral interior decorating palette without saturating its minimalist appeal.

Greenery also has a revitalizing quality that you can draw strength from whenever you feel tired or overworked. Optometrists actually recommend gazing at something green as a break from staring too long at the computer screen or reading. So go ahead and add Greenery in your work area – be it a plant, a picture frame, drapes, or an accent piece – and let it rejuvenate you.


A reminder to reconnect with nature

flowers in the garden

Pantone has always been careful about choosing the color of the year, and its choices often become a subtle commentary on current social and political situations. Greenery serves as a symbol of hope in a time of climate change, as well as natural and political upheavals and economic uncertainty.

Like a new leaf pushing itself out of the soil against all odds, this color is a reminder of rebirth. It encourages nurturing growth and positive change in the new year. Greenery also echoes recent ecological consciousness, which includes recycling, gardening with a purpose, alternative housing and lifestyle choices, and a myriad of other green revolution trends in the past few years.


An exciting palette to mix and match

Mother Nature could well be the best designer on the planet, because she can make the most riotous blooms in every hue look great with an all-green backdrop. Take a leaf from her book (pun intended!) and liven up your wardrobe and interior design palette with color pairings that reflect your personality and moods. The Pantone website offers suggestions on which colors to pair with Greenery, for fashion, graphic design, visual arts, interior and exterior decorating, and just about any color application you can think of.


The Low Down of Garden Fencing

garden chair and table

Pets like cats, dogs, and rabbits are adorable…until they mess up your garden, that is. The bane of gardening maintenance usually involves critters (not just your beloved furbabies). Wild animals, rodents, and other creatures should be discouraged from eating or messing around in your yard with the help of an effective garden fence. Not sure how to go about it? Here are some practical tips.

Out of sight, out of mind

In most cases, animals can’t have what they can’t see. Blocking your garden from view is an effective technique for critter-proofing. A solid fence will hide a garden and its delectable offering, and consequently, the desire to feast on them. This is especially true if you live somewhere with wild animals like deer, foxes, rabbits, and others roaming about.

You don’t have to invest in an expensive solid brick wall to protect your garden. A fence of wooden planks or bamboo poles in the appropriate height (make sure to check building codes in your area for height restriction) should do the trick.

When it comes to your pets, it’s best to keep them indoors. Provide a different outdoor venue for them to run around and exercise, such as an enclosed “catio” for your cats, or a backyard with no vegetables, flowers, or fruit that dogs can trample on.

Make it dig-proof

If they can’t go over it, they will go under it. Rabbits and other burrowing animals can still get through to your garden by digging under your fence. Prevent this by installing a chicken-wire fence with holes no bigger than one centimeter in diameter. The bottom of the wire mesh should curve 90 degrees outward before being buried in the soil at least half a foot deep. That should discourage Bugs from stealing and feasting on your carrots.

Make it jump and climb-proof

Animals are wily and determined if they’re after a food source. Raccoons and opossums will climb a chicken-wire fence if they see that your garden yields something they can eat. Deer can jump over fences, too. You can install a solid wooden fence not shorter than 6 feet, and then string electric wire at the top. Angle the wire to further deter jumping and climbing over.

Regularly check for holes and gaps

Apart from keeping them out, you wouldn’t want any animal to get stuck in a hole in your fence. Those YouTube videos of dogs peeking out from below wooden gates or poking from holes in privet hedges may be cute, but extracting them could cause lots of effort and risk. Some animals like deer and foxes could also get hurt when they’re stuck, or lash out at rescuers with kicks and bites. Avoid these scenarios altogether by regularly mending holes and gaps in your fence. You can grow climbing plants to cover your chicken wire fence, or board up holes in wooden fences. Keep the soil around and under your fence packed and firm to prevent animals from digging.


Which Garden Matches Your Personality?

There are times when you walk into a garden and immediately feel right at home. On the other hand, there may also be instances when, no matter how neatly manicured and cared-for a garden is, there’s just something about it that doesn’t sit right with you.


Gardens have personalities, too. If you’re thinking about starting your own, it’s a good idea to learn which one matches your personality so that you can live in harmony with it for a long time. When you figure out particular moods and energy you want to convey, you can design a garden with relative ease.


The calm and serene soul


People who want to relax in their garden have no use for fussy, showy plants that distract with their leaves, branches, blooms, pungent aroma…or upkeep. If a plant makes you stare at it and notice its small imperfections and flaws (and your fingers immediately itch to trim or put things right with gardening tools), then that plant probably shouldn’t be in your garden. This means no exotics like Venus fly-traps, plants that are difficult to grow and maintain such as laboriously shaped hedges, blooms or fruit that give out strong scents, and plants sensitive to too much heat or cold.


The good news is that green in itself is a color that relaxes the eyes and encourages serenity. You can’t go wrong with perennials and evergreens because they’re dependable and hardy. Select plants that thrive in most seasons, do not require a lot of cleaning up and trimming, and will not give you grief as far as upkeep goes. Undemanding succulents, forest grass, most vines, and graceful lilies can become points of contemplation whenever you need to quiet your mind.   


The creative collector


On the other hand, if you want to draw energy from your garden, you can fill it up with color, texture, scents, and shapes. If you have a collection of unique trinkets to complement your garden, even better! A nice pottery, jar, basket, or even wine bottle collection can bring out your plants’ natural beauty when artfully arranged in vignettes all over your garden. Intersperse pieces with bright blooms of peonies, cannas, or dahlia, and exotic scents of lilies and roses to truly pique the senses.


Lanterns can be beautifully showcased in a back yard, and would look especially romantic at night for outdoor dinner parties. The secret in showcasing your creativity and your collection lies in muted curation – both for keepsakes and plants. Select a common denominator among the pieces you want to display, and build your vignettes from there. For instance, an old teapot can be used as a container for small cacti or blooms, or a basket can become a pretty repository for freshly-cut herbs or flowers.


The whimsical individual


Gardens that inspire imagination typically include arches, trellises, gazebos, topiaries, a water feature, and sculptural elements or two. Got a set of garden gnomes or a flock of plastic pink flamingos? Bring them out and let them invade your garden for a true wonderland setting. You can go with a particular theme so you won’t end up overwhelming your garden with a hodgepodge of features. You can also choose to decorate by season, and let the colors of winter, spring, summer, and autumn guide you in your gardening design color and texture palette.


Sinewy topiaries and shaped hedges can become semi-permanent features of a whimsical garden. The same goes for garden trellises and gazebos – these take time, imagination, and devotion to accomplish a playful effect. A quaint garden may look effortless, but bear in mind that the most whimsical gardens are often products of professional gardening and laborious work to accomplish.


Common Garden Pests

a snail on a plant

Not all garden inhabitants are good. While some of them can be very beneficial, some are just plain parasites that harm your plants (and even you). To keep your garden safe and help it continuously thrive, every gardener must know how to avoid or remove these pests. But with the number of bugs, insects and other friendly creatures in a garden, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate the good from the bad. Here are some common garden pests, how you can identify them, and how you can get rid of them in your garden


One if the most common plant pest in the world with about 4000 different species. They favor feeding on new plant growth and feed by the cluster. They are small, soft bodied insects that can either be white, yellow, brown or green in color, depending on the species. They reproduce rapidly and when overpopulation occurs, some of these aphids develop wings (yikes!). Once they reach this level, they can be very harmful to the plant, stunting growth, reducing vigor and causing leaves to wilt, curl, and turn yellow. To control an aphid infestation, you can easily cut off heavily infested leaves and throw them away. For heavier infestations, you can try spraying botanical insecticides or introducing ladybugs in your garden. These ladybugs will feed and feed on your aphid colonies until none are left and the great thing about them is that you do not need to introduce harmful pesticides in your garden.

Blister Beetle

Not only do these beetles destroy crops and garden plants, they can be extremely toxic. When crushed, they secrete a blistering agent called catharidin, as the description suggests, contact with this fluid will destroy tissue. The secretion is so potent; it has been used in products for wart removal. This makes the Blister Beetle harmful to plants, humans and livestock that are near the infestation. When ingested, the catharidin toxin can damage the stomach lining and urinary tract, and can be lethal-even after dead bugs have dried out. the There are about 250 species of the Blister Beetle with varying size and color, and can sometimes be confused with the Asparagus Beetle, another garden pest. Most of these beetles are usually ½ to an inch long with long legs and antennae. Small infestations can be handled by hand picking, just be sure to wear protective gloves to avoid any injury. Put the beetles in a container with soapy water. For larger infestations, try adding diatomaceous earth around affected areas or a garden insect spray. Birds also play a good role in eliminating these beetles without the use of pesticides, invite birds in your garden by providing feed and water source.

Slugs and Snails

These slimy, creepy crawlers have earned quite a negative reputation for gardeners. Usually found in damp, shady areas, they lurk under rocks, heavily mulched, or shady areas in your garden. These nocturnal creatures while glide and slide along your garden, leaving a trail as they munch on seedlings, low hanging fruits and leafy vegetables and plants that they can reach. Handpicking can greatly reduce their numbers. You can also create a bait with shallow containers with beer. The yeast in the beer attracts them and will fall into the container and drown. Opting for rubber mulch instead of organic mulch will also lessen the dark, damp environment that slugs and snails love.


These wood munchers can create nests in the roots of your plants. While they mostly consume dead wood, some of them have been reported eat the plants and even crops like bell peppers. That and their nests nestling on your plant’s roots makes them vulnerable to other garden pests! Non chemical options include introducing beneficial nematodes in your garden. They seek out a wide range of garden pests including termites. Another alternative is to swap out organic mulch with rubber mulch to discourage termite infestation in your garden as they cannot feed on those.


There are many harmful pests that can grow and thrive in your garden. They will always find your garden as it begins to thrive or grow beautifully. The important part is taking precautions and learning to recognize the common culprits and nip their growth by the bud so that they do not create extensive damage.


Raised Bed Gardens

Picture of a Raised Bed GardenHow to create a Raised Bed Garden

A raised garden bed is a must have for the advanced gardener. In a nutshell, a raised garden bed is like a huge plant box that offers a lot of benefits to the gardener by creating a controlled environment designed to provide a plant’s needs to grow better and yield more produce.

Ready to start creating a raised bed garden? Here’s how:

4×8 is an Ideal Size

After picking a free spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight, it’s time to measure your raised bed dimensions. 4 feet wide by 8 feet long is usually a good size because most lumber are sold in 4-feet or 8-feet increments. You don’t want to make your raised bed garden too big so you can plant a variety of plants that thrive in different soil mixes while avoiding spread of diseases. If you are planning on using a bigger part of your garden, consider creating multiple raised beds.

Multiple Raised Garden Beds


Prepare the Area
There are a couple of ways to prepare the area for your raised garden bed. The traditional method is called Double dig. It involves removing top soil and loosening the subsoil while replacing the top soil with organic matter. This can be quite labor-intensive but provides excellent irrigation, traps warmth in the soil, and allows deeper rooting for your plants. The minimum depth of your bed is around 6-12 inches

picture of someone double digging garden beds


Building your Bed
The bed can be made of timber and other types of woods like cedar, blocks, bricks or even plastic (faux) timber. Assemble the construction materials using screws or galvanized nails.

Woman assembling a garden bed


A Good Potting Mix is a Good Start
Some produce thrive better on acidic conditions, while others like a more alkaline environment. This is where you can make sure the plants get exactly what they need to thrive. Add your potting mix and start planting or transplanting your greens!


Plant in potting mix


Raised bed gardening allows the gardener to give their plants the environment it needs to thrive. It’s also a great option for areas that have problematic soil that are prone to pests, frost, nutrient-deficiency, and compacting.


Five Creative Garden Party Ideas

table in a gardenSummer is almost here, so let the outdoor parties begin! A garden in full bloom or an immaculately trimmed lawn could already serve as pretty backdrops, but if you’re the creative type, you may want to up your outdoor decoration game a bit. Here are some great garden party decorating suggestions you could try for your next al fresco gathering.


Tell a little gardening story with your menu


Are you serving salad with ingredients from your own herb or vegetable garden? Tell the story of how they were lovingly planted and harvested with your guests in mind. You can make a short description of the salad in the menu by adding that they were grown in your own backyard. You can also serve up food buffet-style and label each dish with a framed text of how they were picked and prepared.


Intersperse potted succulents with cupcakes


Cupcakes and cacti: never the twain shall meet? On tiered cupcake holders, they can. Give your dessert table a fresh twist by arranging your favorite succulents in-between cupcakes or other sweet treats you are serving. If cactus isn’t your thing, you can place fresh flowers, instead.


“Float” flowers and candles in water as a centerpiece

candles floating in water

For romantic candle-lit dinners, look no further than your own flower beds for inspiration. Put some water in a long shallow dish – just enough to make votive candles and cut flowers float. You can also use bowls or other clear containers. The harmony of velvety petals, soft lighting, and reflections on the water will create a calming effect on guests.


Put up little canopies all over your garden


What is summer without a little picnic? Even a small shade is welcome if the sun is shining too brightly. Don’t worry if your garden or lawn doesn’t have trees: a piece of canvas stretched out with rope over your picnic spot should do the trick. You can also use beach umbrellas to provide shade for your guests.


Serve up fruit kebabs in a rainbow pattern

shish kabob

Fruits are sweetest and at their most succulent in the summer. Shine a spotlight on their juiciness and bright colors by serving them up in skewers at your party. You can follow a rainbow pattern by using strawberries or cherries first, followed by orange slices, then pineapple chunks, kiwi, blueberries, and grapes.

Organic Mulch vs. Inorganic Mulch

rubber mulch and wood mulch

Organic Versus Inorganic

Because organic mulches decompose, they need to be replaced.  Depending on the type of mulch used, replacement intervals vary from one to four years.

Biodegradable mulches

These break down gradually to release nutrients into the soil and help improve its structure. Layers will need replacing when the material has fully rotted down. Among the best materials are leaf mould, garden compost, spent mushroom compost, wood chippings, processed conifer bark, well rotted manure, straw (for strawberries), spent hops (poisonous if eaten by dogs) and seaweed.

Replenish mulch when there’s 1 inch or less of it. How often you need to replace it depends on how fast the material decomposes, exposure to the sun, temperature, the amount of rainfall, and the length of your growing season. Generally, I top off my mulch once a year. To keep from disturbing the soil, simply add another layer to the existing mulch.

Recycled rubber mulch is an attractive, durable alternative to traditional wood mulch, and can save money over time. Replacing mulch every year becomes time consuming and expensive. Compared with the expense of annually applying wood mulch, the up-front purchase of rubber mulch actually costs up to 65 percent less over a nominal five-year period.


Organic mulches require annual replacement because they break down and decompose, eventually adding organic matter and nutrients into the soil. Bark and wood nuggets must be maintained at a depth of 2 inches to provide the best benefits, so fresh mulch must be added on top at least once a year to maintain this depth.

When to replace mulch in the garden depends a great deal upon the type of mulch and what you want to accomplish. Winter mulches should be removed in spring, after the danger of frost has passed, while summer and spring organic mulches are generally replaced annually. Many gardeners wait until after they prune to replace the mulch so that pruning cleanup and mulch replacement is combined into one task.

Maintain mulch. Replace mulch as needed during the growing season to maintain the 2- to 4-inch depth. Rake up and replace organic mulch in the spring, especially around roses and fruit trees.










How to Design a Rubber Mulch Pathway

Rubber mulch pathway

Sustainability has become a watchword not just in terms of food production, packaging, and architecture, but also in the decorative aspects of many lifestyles. In recent times, rubber mulch has become an unexpected solution to landscaping projects and outdoor decorating. It not only offers alternative design ideas – rubber mulch also cuts down on repetitive maintenance and expensive upkeep.

You can start your own sustainable exterior design project with a simple rubber mulch pathway. Here’s how:

Rake, remove debris, and prep the surface area

A pathway has a lot of foot traffic, so after defining the area where that occurs, it’s time to prepare the surface. You can choose to use paving stones surrounded by mulch, or have a walkway that’s completely covered by rubber mulch. Either way, prepping the surface area is a must.

Rake the area to grade it and to ensure a level surface. Remove all loose stones, debris, and fallen twigs and leaves from the area. Weed if there’s any presence of it. Then dig a one-inch demarcation for the path so that water can be allowed to flow. This is especially important if you are planning to have shrubbery or trees flanking the pathway.

Flatten the terrain

Use a garden hoe to further flatten the area where the mulch will go. If there is a lot of dirt, you can evenly distribute it and pat it down using a shovel. Break or remove calcified dirt; it can create lumps in the landscaping fabric if you don’t.

roll of geofabric

Install landscaping fabric

Carefully roll out the landscaping fabric over the prepared area. If you want plants or other decorative accents in the walkway, cut an X the areas where they will go on the fabric using scissors. Secure the edges of the fabric using landscape spikes. Take special care not to create air pockets in the fabric as these can be inviting to weeds.

Apply rubber mulch

Select the color of rubber mulch you’d like for your pathway. Use a shovel to lay the rubber mulch in place over the landscaping fabric. If you have a decorative mosaic in mind, carefully mark the patterns using different colored mulch before filling up the outlines with more mulch. The rubber mulch should be around two inches deep for effective shock absorbency and weed protection.

Smooth the surface over

Once installed, use the garden hoe to smoothen the rubber mulch surface. This ensures that you have an even walkable surface and prevent people from tripping or slipping. Smoothen the area further after installing ornaments or path lights. In the case of plants, be sure not to pile up rubber mulch near the roots so that there’s room to breathe.







Top Ten Mulching Mistakes

mulch with a shovel in it

For a lot of people, mulching seems like a pretty straightforward tool and task – just spread it over your garden soil, and you won’t have to worry about weeds anymore! Unfortunately, this is just one of the biggest mistaken notions about mulching. Below are ten more common ones that need to be corrected for your garden’s sake.


  • Not clearing weeds before mulching

Mulch smothers weeds, but it won’t be very effective if you don’t weed before applying mulch. Actually, you’re more likely to cause harm to your plants if you neglect weeding as a first step because they will be harder to control under a bed of mulch. It’s important to eradicate all weeds, spores, and fungi prior to mulching to really make sure that your garden soil is weed-free.


  • Not giving mulch ample time to compost

Many professional gardeners agree that composting is a great way to keep plants nourished and thriving. However, improperly composted materials, when used as mulch, could harm your plants instead of helping them. Manure, tree bark, straw, and other organic materials that aren’t composted could provide excess heat that will make plants wither and die.


  • Mulching too little

Mulching is a must, and those who don’t do it are subject to a whole lot of gardening consequences (chief among them is that weeds can penetrate the thin layer of mulch). In a similar fashion, those who mulch too little would just be wasting their time, effort, and money. There is a proper way to mulch, but rest assured it isn’t about…


  • Mulching too much

Too much mulching is also a big no-no. The appropriate amount of mulch to use is between two and three inches. More than that can stress the plants, especially in harsh weather. A very thick layer of mulch could also prevent water and fertilizer from getting through to the plant roots and soil which need them most.


  • Choosing quantity over quality

Sure, your location may have an abundance of rocks, wood chips, or sand that can be had for cheap or for free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best material for your gardening or landscaping needs. Wood chips, for instance, can attract termites and other insects to your garden and home. Rocks and stones radiate heat and can cause stress to plants. Choose the best quality mulching material according to your gardening and landscaping needs very carefully – consult a professional gardener if you have to.


  • Uniformly mulching all the plants in your garden

Different plants require different mulching techniques. For example, annual plants and flowers don’t need a lot of mulch because it can increase humidity, which in turn could discourage blooming. Tree sizes have to be taken into consideration for the amount and the perimeter of the mulch you will use. Acid-loving plants also react differently to mulches, but they have been proven to thrive when mulched with composted materials.


  • Not mulching regularly

As previously mentioned, there’s a variety of mulching needs for different plants, but one thing they have in common is that mulching needs to done regularly. For organic materials, this could mean total mulch replacement or replenishing every few weeks for maximum nutritional benefits. For inorganic materials like rubber mulch, a year is enough for top-ups. Checking your plants regularly and observing changes in their stems, leaves, and blooms is also a must.


  • Mulching in the wrong places

There are wrong ways to mulch, and piling them up against the base of trees and roots of plants is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Gardeners refer to this as “volcano mulching” because of the shape it takes, and also the amount of heat generated by the mulch that harms the plant or trees. Don’t heap mulch around a plant; instead spread them evenly over the soil. For trees, leave a six-inch radius around the trunk free of mulch to allow the area to breathe.


  • Not using mulch creatively

If you find yourself with an abundance of excess mulching materials, don’t just throw them away. Be creative about them, especially if you have a DIY project that needs extra color, texture, and shape. Rocks can line pathways and flower beds, rubber mulch can form mosaics in different colors, and autumn leaves can be gathered for fall decoration projects.


  • Not thinking long-term when it comes to mulching


Mulching, for the most part, seems to be an instinctive activity where the best materials are literally just a stone’s throw away. But long-term benefits for your garden require long-term considerations. For instance, you might initially balk at the price tag of rubber mulch, but weighing the convenience and benefits it provides with the short-term pros of other mulches could prove to be illuminating.