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How To Determine A Healthy Blend Of Topsoil

Topsoil should not contain too much clay or have an acidic pH. You existing soil can be tested to detect mineral levels and overall health.

First, what is topsoil? Is it different from garden soil? Why is it important? Topsoil is the outmost layer of earth. Usually it will stretch anywhere from the top two to the top eight inches of soil. It has an extremely high concentration of microorganisms and organic matter. At this level, most of the Earth’s soil-based biological activities occur. For example, the vast majority of plants concentrate the roots in the first few inches of earth. This highest layer of soil ends at the first densely pack layer of subsoil. There are many factors that go into maintaining healthy topsoil, which also happens to be the key to most quality crops.

To start, garden soil and topsoil are very different. For those who plan to purchase specially formulated earth for their gardens, it is important to understand the distinction between the two. Generally, topsoil has less clay and sand composition because these materials retain too much water. It is typically used for larger scale landscaping projects. It also is a multipurpose option that contains fewer added ingredients and minerals. Conversely, garden soil has a higher concentration of sand, silt, clay and other minerals. Packages are often specifically designed for a type of garden such flowers, vegetables or herbs.

To make the right choice in topsoil composition, a gardener or landscaper must understand his or her needs. Will there be crops growing in this field? Will shrubbery and flowers dominate the area? Is there going to be livestock? For instance, crops of peaches do best in sandy soil, while a massive plot of grass can survive well with a less expensive multi-purpose option. Once there is a consensus on what exactly is needed, homeowners or landscapers should perform tests on the existing soil to find out what is already there. Sometimes, adding a specific mineral can balance the pH or increase phosphorus levels, which can minimize the cost and time spent on the project.

A soil test should be performed when beginning a gardening or landscaping endeavor. There is a full gambit of minerals to check to make sure the topsoil is healthy. To begin, the pH or acid/base level should be within 5.8 to 6.2. This means a slightly more basic than water, which is the standard of neutrality. Phosphorous and potassium should be in the index of 50. Manganese, zinc and copper should be less than 25 on the index. Additionally, calcium should be 40 to 60 percent of the Cation Exchange Capacity or CEC.

To learn more about soil in Morgan Hill please visit this website.

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Find the LAM staff out and about in May:
May 3–7

Lightfair International, New York City…read more

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The Benefits of Using Landscaping Materials for a Great Outdoor Space

All designers need variety and cost effective options. Landscaping materials can fulfill this need as you create the perfect outdoor space.

What is the more important choice you will make for you outdoor space? Will it be the furniture? Is it the water feature? Is it the bar? All of these components will really enhance your space and make it personal, but think a little bit more basic. Deciding what to put under your feet will greatly affect the style and feel of your outdoor space. A plot of sand can define a tranquil rock garden or a vibrant volleyball pitch. Grass will invite your children to play their favorite games while gravel may line the flowerbeds for a natural partition. Your plants and accessories are necessary components of the design, but the ground will bring the entire space together.

Landscaping materials can be expensive, but usually, they are cheaper in bulk. This means you have a cost effective means of sprucing up your backyard or front porch. You can make beautiful walkways of various stones or stamped concrete. These durable options come with a large variety that does not have to break a budget. Stones like sandstone, slate, granite and limestone offer unique looks that can aid in creating an eye catching and inviting layout. The expense varies but there are beautiful options within every price range.

Your average outdoor area will likely have grass and maybe a fence, but it is up to the homeowner to give it life and individuality. Even in the biggest home improvement chains, if you ignore the landscaping section, you may be limited to adorable signs and fun furniture. While these are ideal for a great outdoor space, you can’t skip the foundation. How will you designate a seating area more thoroughly than just placing chairs and a table? How do you give the children a place to play without reverting to a sand box and a swing set? The answer is easy. Use the floor.

Additionally, many landscaping materials give you a balance of natural and man-made. Stones and gravel are a great way to incorporate or accent the surrounding environment. A dark slate often provides good contrast to bright green grass or pale gravel and is commonly used for patchy walkways. If you want a more regular and geometric design, some stones come in various sized rectangular blocks and provide both symmetry and unexpected patterns. While the space may function based on a plan, it can still look like it occurred naturally with just a touch of help from the homeowner. To learn more about landscaping materials in Gilroy, for a great outdoor space, visit this website.

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The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is getting an overhaul to improve its environmental performance and create new areas for commissioned works of art, thanks to the Walker Art Center and the city’s Park…read more

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Tips on How to Apply Mulch

Pick the right mulch for you then spread an even layer around your garden. Replace it every few years and your garden will thrive.

Before you apply mulch, you have pick and purchase the right mulch. To figure out the right variety for your purposes, ask yourself what you need the mulch to do. Do you need to control weeds? Are you covering a pathway? Do you need moisture control? Some mulch specializes in one area or the other. For instance, if you want something that will naturally degrade, you should consider bark, leaves or woodchips. If you want a different aesthetic or longer lasting material, try rock or glass. Depending on how permeable you want your garden floor to be, you might need a layer of sheeting to deter weeds and watering. Choose what is best for you then follow these tips on how to apply mulch.

Begin with preparing the designated area. Remove all weeds either by hand or with a weed-wacker. The mulch will naturally discourage future weeds as it blocks the sunlight. Perform a soil test on your garden if you plan to enrich the topsoil. If you plan to use a landscape fabric or plastic, now is the time to lay it down, cut it and secure it. Be sure to outline the edge of mulch area. Measure this area to figure out how many cubic feet of mulch you need. Account for a fairly thick layer of material.

The average thickness of a garden bed will be about two to four inches of traditional woodchip mulch. This width will encourage water retention while simultaneously prevent weed growth. Use a rake to spread an even layer over the entire space. If you plan on planting something, either leave the space uncovered or plant before spreading the mulch. For those who choose the former, save excess mulch to cover the area after you are done. Avoid crowding the stems of plants or tree trunks. Allow four to six inches of space for breathing room.

Conventional mulch is meant to naturally degrade which makes it environmentally friendly and great for garden soil. However, this does mean regular seasonal maintenance to keep your garden in top shape. For example, you can prune a plant before winter and then cover it to provide insulation. Remove insulation layers come spring and replace the entire area regularly. This can be done every few years or months depending on the climate. You can churn the soil to incorporate the decaying matter into the topsoil and then spread fresh mulch over the old area. This will help keep your garden thriving. To learn more about mulch in San Jose, please visit this website.

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Net Zero Water & Landscape Architecture

I just hosted an event where twenty-five people watched a video of a flushing toilet and gave it a standing ovation. Granted, I live near Hollywood in Los Angeles, but this was not a showing…read more

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What Are the Uses of Gravel

Gravel is widely used for industrial and personal projects. It is an integral component of concrete and outdoor design alike.

Gravel is found everywhere in the United States from the traditional parking lot to your beautifully designed home garden. It is used to build homes and highways as well as make concrete, mortar and plaster. Gravel is quite literally an integral part of the fabric of any city with functional architecture or landscape design. The material is simply a collection of small rocks and pebbles that are over two millimeters in diameter. Anything smaller is considered to be sand. Gravel can be both decorative and functional. It can be used as mulch in a home garden or as a method of erosion control. Many industries use this material in their day-to-day functions.

For gardens, gravel can either be the main feature or functional mulch. Many people are turning to rock gardens to save water or build a more creative outdoor space. The rocks can come in a range of colors and sizes, so people can create mosaic type areas. Additionally, gravel does not require as much maintenance as grass or mulch. Traditional woodchip mulch decomposes and much be replaced as it decays or discolors. Gravel is much more durable and can be cost effective in the long term.

In design, gravel is often seen in between stones or pavers as a decorative measure. It can create a functional or temporary driveway for those who enjoy hosting or having parties. However, landscapers can also create truly beautiful walkways with a contrasting gravel and stone set up. For example, white gravel is common and inexpensive just like slate slabs. After an afternoon, a homeowner can have an inviting garden path that leads guests through delicate flowerbeds. If anything must be replaced, it is as simple as replacing a patch of gravel with fresh material. There will not be a need to start completely from scratch. Although if the homeowner wants an entire redo of the area, the gravel will be easy to remove and replace.

Industries that are involved with commercial or private construction often use gravel as an ingredient for building materials. Concrete and mortar are commonly used for large buildings that must be able to withstand hard weather conditions. Gravel and sand are key ingredients in the widely used Portland formula. In fact, they may make up to 85% of concrete composition. Environmental protection agencies may need to prevent erosion on beaches or islands in order to protect wildlife or profitable investments. Gravel is an excellent means preventing corrosion because it is cheap and effective. To learn more about gravel in Morgan Hill, please visit this website.