The fence is the simplest way to divide boundaries and to create privacy in your yard. The difficulty with fences, however, is that many municipalities only allow for the construction of fences that are 6 feet in height. This limits to the amount of privacy that can be achieved with just a fence. If you would like to have anything taller, there are a few simple ways in which privacy can be achieved. The best such way being, with plants!Read More
From a reclaimed pallet filled with herbs to a 15-story building covered in over 10,000 plants, living walls are becoming more and more popular—and for good reason. Whether indoors or out, they offer much more than just beauty. Living walls improve air quality and increase overall well-being, but can also absorb sound and help insulate your home.Read More
Outdoor living has made a recent surge in popularity, prompting many people to ask themselves, "How could I get an outdoor living room in MY backyard?".
Minnesota seasons are ever changing and there is a degree of preparation that is necessary to enjoy your time outside. When crafting your backyard into an outdoor living space it is important to think about the functions. What do you want in your backyard? A swimming pool? Modern contemporary look? BBQ grill? Pizza oven? Planting Beds? Fireplace? After deciding what you will put in your outdoor living space, then decide how you will install it. What is important? When do you use each space? How can we make the order of events in the space seem natural? After relaxing in the porcelain surrounded hot tub, where are you going to dry off? Do you enjoy an evening cigar while watching the sunset? What kind of outdoor furniture do you imagine within the space? Do you and your honey have a drink of wine on your favorite swing at dusk when the kids go to sleep? Great backyard design becomes great not because it is close to "perfect", but because it is close to you.
Long before it became a scourge upon middle class Americans wanting to masquerade as lords and princes upon their suburban estates, the dandelion was prized for its usefulness making medicine, wine, and food. In these dreary days of March, even the most fervent dandelion hater looks forward to the emergence of this adversary.
Hidden beneath its sunny and fertile flowers are tasty leaves and a taproot that can penetrate up to 15 feet into the ground. I remember when my grandmother visited from Taiwan and strolled through our yard amazed at how successful our salad crop was! So next time you're tempted to curse this humble plant, call off the chemical attack, pick some tender young leaves, and consider making something like this:
Minnesota has a garden and landscape culture unparalleled in most other states, here are 4 reasons to get your children involved!
1. A garden encourages you to spend time together outside
Life is hectic! Between sports practice and their ever growing social life, finding quality time with your kids is an ongoing struggle. Having a garden outside can be a simple way to connect with your children. Gardening is a rather arbitrary task that allows for you to engage in conversation while being outside and in nature. Leave the phone inside and take this time to have meaningful conversation with your child!
2. Grow vegetables that your child wants to eat
Nothing is more difficult than getting a picky eater to eat healthy food. Children are far more likely to be receptive to new or weird foods if they had a hand in the production itself. Perhaps bring your child to the store and let them have a say in what vegetables are grown! Everyone likes to be in charge of something, consider have your child take care of their own section of the garden. This will ensure your kids are glowing with anticipation for harvest time.
3. Teach your children valuable work ethics
Children, even as young as 3 or 4, can participate in tasks around the garden. From an early age a child's understanding of work gets formed. Children want to contribute and do things that make them feel valuable. Chores plant the idea that service is expected in the family. Giving a child a task such as "picking tomatoes" can be a win/win for children and parents. The child gets to be outside learning about plants as well as snack on tomatoes, all while the parents are instilling positive work ethics.
4. A garden is an outdoor classroom
One of the best teaching styles is the "hands on approach". One proven approach is to learn unique and fascinating facts about the garden and how food grows. This will get your child interested, and their inquisitive nature will do the rest. Soon enough you wont be able to stop the "Mom, why do_____?" questions. From the importance of earthworms to how to grow green beans, you could be planting the seeds for a lifetime love for biology and nature.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, rosemary, and basil are staples to a great vegetable and herb garden, providing fresh produce straight to your table. Whether you enjoy canning or cooking with your bounty, gardeners across the land cannot deny the benefits to growing your own food. Now, gardening isn’t a walk in the park. They need a lot of care and attention and I for one am a firm believer in rewarding oneself for hard work. My rewards usually tend to lean towards the adult beverage variety and being a gardener myself I feel like there is no reason why you cannot “spice” up (pun intended) your repertoire by using herbs and vegetables of your own with your favorite cocktails. There are limitless concoctions out there, my personal favorite being The Infused Bloody Mary. To infuse your own vodka for Bloody Marys you simply take fresh garlic, cilantro and jalapenos from your garden, add in your favorite vodka and seal it in a glass container to steep for a few days. Adding this infused vodka to any Bloody Mary mix or V8 or your very own freshly squeezed tomato juice will truly make your experience one of a kind.
I've never been the type to turn down a drink so I use my garden quite often to enhance my cocktail hour. Whether it is growing pearl onions for my Martini’s or adding lemon basil muddled with mint to my world class Mojitos. The list goes on and on with all the different ways you can create delicious beverages from your garden. If you are looking for a non-alcoholic way to enjoy your gardens many uses, I suggest adding rosemary, basil, and mint to green tea. Using a glass container is best, and allow the herbs to steep with the tea overnight in the refrigerator. Also for those punch bowl lovers, you can make ice cubes by freezing crushed fruit, such as blackberries or strawberries and mint in an ice cube tray. It is my experience, that for best results you should use distilled water. That way the ice cubes come out clear and not cloudy. Feel free to peruse the tasty drink recipes if have listed or get creative and see what signature cocktail you can come up with this summer!
Blackberry Mint Julep
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 pint blackberries
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 4 cups small ice cube
- 4 sprigs mint, for garnishing
- Roughly chop mint leaves.
- Puree the mint, blackberries, and sugar in a blender. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard seeds.
- Rinse blender, then return puree to blender, and add bourbon and small ice cubes; blend until smooth.
- Divide mixture among 4 glasses. Garnish each with a mint sprig.
Herbal Sun Tea
- 2 tablespoons loose rooibos tea
- 2 tablespoons dried lemon verbena or dried mint
- 2 quarts cold water
- Honey or sugar, to taste
- Place tea and lemon verbena or mint on a square of cheesecloth. Tie into a bundle with kitchen twine.
- Place tea bag in a large glass jar, and add water.
- Cover, and steep in direct sunlight for 2 hours.
- Strain tea, and discard solids. Stir in honey or sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Lillet Basil Cocktail
- 1 cup ice, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup Lillet Blanc
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- Splash of tonic water
- 1 cucumber spear, for garnish
- 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
- Put ice, Lillet, gin, orange juice, and basil in a cocktail shaker; shake well.
- Fill a glass with ice; strain mixture into glass.
- Add tonic water. Garnish with cucumber spear, cinnamon stick, and basil sprigs.