Category: Companion Plantings

It’s Lovely Weather for a Hoop House

Here's a shot of our hoop houses under this afternoon's fresh blanket of snow. Inside, we've got lots of lettuces, kale, chard, cabbage, beats, peas, and any number of herbs. I hope to have a greenhouse someday but for now these cold frames are working well.


The hoops are made of 1/2" diameter PVC (a terrible product if you live downstream from an irresponsible manufacturer) pipe which is a light, strong, flexible, rigid, inexpensive and basically perfect material for making low arches in between rebar stakes. Three hoops and pairs of stakes are set within a 4' x 8' rectangle of 2-by lumber. The hoops are covered in a

12/10/2012 | Climate | Companion Plantings | Ecology | Edibles | Energy Savings | Outdoor Living | (0) Comments

Plant Your Cistern!

Here's a precipitation-collection tank, or cistern, that's patially burried and hidden by a raised planter bed and a combination of beautiful and edible plants. The easiest way to see where the cistern is in this photo is to look for a brown downspout that elbows from the right post of the portal. That goes into a 650 gallon cistern from which water is pumped and distributed through the backyard with a hose. I took this shot at our a client's residence around this time of year several years ago. One of the reasons to go this route when installing a cistern is to save money on exacavation, but don't forget to figure in the cost of the wood and labor involved in the screening  with the  landscape timbers that make up the raised bed. You will also be limited to plants that sprawl and cover ground even with root systems that get shrunk by the tank which is only 4" to 12" below the ground.

10/26/2012 | Companion Plantings | Ecology | Energy Savings | Lawns | Outdoor Living | Shade | Water Harvesting | (0) Comments

PermaDesign Pays Off in Green

In this economy, it’s not always easy to sell a house, but some wonderful clients just sold theirs in 76 days! After they moved in (just before the crash of 2008), we replaced a whole lot of water-wasting lawn with a gorgeous low-water garden. When they decided to retire closer to family, none of us worried that the place would sell because its narrow backyard resembled nothing if not paradise.

06/07/2012 | Books | Companion Plantings | Edibles | Lawns | Windbreaks | (0) Comments

“Fine Gardening” Features Melissa’s Aesthetic Sense

In my previous post, we explored the power that sex (or at least talking about it) might have on the ever-growing backyard-revolution. Today, we’ll elevate the conversation from sex to attractiveness. The August issue of Fine Gardening is out, and in it (page 34 to be exact) you’ll find expert advice from my wife Melissa. The magazine asked her and six other experts from different regions to describe five of their favorite focal-point plants. Based the magazine’s desire to present a varied palette from all seven regions, one of the five plant descriptions, Fine Gardening said, would not be published.

07/04/2010 | Companion Plantings | Outdoor Living | (0) Comments