Plants for heavy clay soils are surprisingly quite common and can be propagated as easy as most other gardening plants.

Now we all know heavy clay soil is difficult to dig, it sticks to your boots, it sticks to your spade, even a stainless steels spade, it sticks to everything. And it compacts just by walking on it and water will lay in puddles.

Not ideal conditions for plants then?

Well some plants actually thrive in heavy clay soils and by choosing the right ones you can have perfect flowering borders and beds just the same as anyone who has normal soil.

So, what can you plant in heavy clay soils.

Plants for heavy clay soils should be split into two types, those which prefer shade and those which will thrive in direct sun.

These are few favourites that will perform well in heavy clay soils..

Shade plants for heavy clay soils:

Astrantia
Aconitum
Filipendula
Ligularia
Rodgersia
Tiarella

Sun plants for heavy clay soils:

Astilbe
Lysmachia
Lythrum
Monarda
Phlok
Ranunculus
Trollis

All these plants will benefit from a mulch of well-rotted compost or bark chippings.

Once established you can propagate them as normal and collect seeds, take cuttings or divide, depending on the plant.

But if you want to grow more types of plants you can modify your clay soil, just read on..

Clay Soils Some Answers to Your Problems

Heavy clay soils can be difficult to dig, in fact it’s hard work just turning over a couple of spade fulls.

And walking on the soil will compact it and break down its structure, which prevents water from soaking through the surface.

When the soil is wet air cannot penetrate through the surface. This leads to ideal conditions for slugs and soil diseases. It also means plant roots will usually just rot.

Given a nice hot sunny day and the surface of clay soils will bake solid, start cracking and shrink as it dries hard as rock.

Even just digging can cause the surface to compact if it is wet.

Not much chance of growing plants then!

Well there are some solutions.

Some easier than others and some better than others.

The best solution, and quite easy to do, is to make raised beds. You only need about 23cm (9inch) depth.

But 30cm (12inches) would be much better and is well worth the extra effort.

The next best solution, but fairly hard work, is to dig in plenty of horticultural grit. You will need a good 7.5cm (3inch) layer and it will need to be dug in well.

You may need to repeat this a couple of times to get the maximum benefit.

It is also extremely beneficial to dig in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. By the cartload, the more the better.

Don’t be tempted to just but a layer of grit in the bottom of planting holes. This just makes an ideal place for water to drain in to with disastrous consequences for any plants.

Used for removing weeds and moss from between paving slabs, on paths or patios. Also for cleaning mower decks, tools, boot scraping etc. The sharp edges cut weeds whilst the hook removes the debris. Two of the most popular makes are the Wolf Garten Scraper and the Fiskars Patio Scrapper. Details can be seen below:

Wolf Garten Garden Scraper

Description

The FK-M multi-star Garden Scraper is intended for removing grass, moss and weeds from between slabs, from corners in walls, and stairs. The galvanized, hardened steel blade guarantees a long working life and a precise cut. All handles are suitable for the multi-star Garden Scraper.

Features

Application: Cleaning

Handle / Grip: All multi-star handles

Extras: Galvanized, hardened steel blade

Fiskar Quikfit Double Patio Scraper

Description

Renowned for innovative functionality, Fiskars is dedicated to produce garden tools that set new standards for the industry. Strong, lightweight, high performance tools make garden work more productive, which allows for more creativity and time to enjoy. Fiskars new QuikFit provides a full range of opportunities with one single shaft, as each head completes the perfect tool for every specialized task.

Features

Versatile usage on patios and for removing grass, moss and weeds from between tiles and slabs

Dual usage in cultivating plant beds

Boron steel blades with carbon steel thong

Conclusion

These are just a selection of the scrapers available. For more similar products check out our Garden Scraper page.

Happy weeding.

Garden Hoes

A hoe is a useful agricultural tool used to move small amounts of soil which makes it ideal for your Garden. Common goals include weed control by agitating the surface of the soil around plants, piling soil around the base of plants (hilling), creating narrow furrows (drills) and shallow trenches for planting seeds and bulbs, to chop weeds, roots and crop residues, and even to dig or move soil, such as when harvesting root crops such as potatoes.

Dutch hoes are used to cultivate the soil and remove weeds without bending.

Draw Hoes have a blade set at a right-angle to the shaft and is used to draw soil towards the operator when making planting drills or when mounding-up potatoes.

Stirrup hoes are designed with a double edge blade that bends around to form a stirrup like rectangle attached to the handle. Weeds are cut just below the soil surface as the blade is pushed & pulled through the area. The back and forth motion is highly effective with cutting weeds in loose or breakable soil.

This can save hours of back breaking labour if you tried to do this manually. Two good examples of Garden Hoe’s are as follows:

Yeoman Cabon Steel Dutch Hoe

Dutch hoes are used to cultivate the soil and remove weeds without bending.

Features

The cranked handle is made from durable aluminium making it lightweight. The carbon steel coated head makes this hoe durable and hard wearing.

Draper 89097 Carbon Steel Draw Hoe Ash Handle

Features

Pressed steel blade with epoxy coated finish. Ash handle with clear lacquered finish. Sold loose.

Weight: 1.07 Kg

Draper Carbon Steel Dutch Hoe

Features

Pressed steel blade with epoxy coated finish. Head securely fixed to tubular steel handle. With black plastic hand grip with hang hole.

Other types of Hoes exist which are more specialist such as the Onion Hoe.

Hand Held Weeders

Other than the types of tools stated above we also have the small hand held tools that can be used to remove those pesky weeds from your Garden. These tend to predominantly be two or three pronged Forks but more specialist tools do exist such as the Dandelion Weeder.

A good Hand Fork is as follows:

Draper Carbon Steel Heavy Duty Weeding Fork with Ash Handle

Features

Epoxy coated carbon steel correctly hardened and tempered with plated ferrule and lacquered ash handle.

For those of us plagued by Dandelions on our Lawns

Spear & Jackson Elements Hand Daisy Grubber/Dandelion Weeder with 127mm Handle

Elements is a comprehensive range of strong, reliable, “no nonsense” tools providing great value for money.

Features

Hammer finish epoxy coated head for improved resistance to rust, scratches, humidity and alkalines in the soil

Weatherproofed (clear lacquered) Ash wood shaft for greater durability.

Shaft / Handle Size – 5″

These are just some of the many Garden Tools available to make our lives easier.

Details of more Garden Tools will be posted in our next article.

Happy Gardening!

Gardens offer benefits to a home. They are one of the best ways to increase the beauty of any home, and to add a touch of nature, and tranquility. Not only that, but they can serve many purposes and can be used as an extension of your living space.

It is important to put some effort and thought into decorating your garden. One of the important aspects of garden decor is the garden lighting. Lighting is something that can really transform a garden. It not only serves a functional purpose, but also helps improve the ambiance, and atmosphere of your garden. The right lighting can really make all the difference.

There are many styles of garden lighting. If you have a walking path in your garden, you can go for path lighting. These can be small lights, which illuminate the path as it goes along. These can be placed at regular intervals along the path. Path lights not only add beauty, but also help you see the path at night. Similarly, step lighting can be used to highlight the steps of any other unsafe areas in your garden.

If you have a pond or any other water feature in your garden, you can go for marine lighting. These can be around the water source or even under the water. These lights look beautiful, and add a very surreal beauty to the garden. In addition, they bring attention to your water feature, which is one of the most essential parts of your garden. Another type of lighting which is perfect for aesthetic use is shadow lighting. If you have large plants or flowers in your garden, you can use shadow lighting, which creates a very dramatic effect by projecting their shadows on the walls.

Another type of lighting is down lighting. In this type of lighting, objects are illuminated from above, which gives a very natural effect. Up lighting, on the other hand, includes lighting from below, which is mostly used for highlighting focal points in the garden. These can be placed at the foot of trees or plants to illuminate them.

Make sure that the type of lighting you are using is appropriate for your garden. Do not use too many different types of lightings, as these can have a negative effect on your garden’s beauty. Always remember that lighting should serve a functional and aesthetic purpose, so do not only focus on one aspect.

Many people associate home improvement with home beautification. However, this is a very myopic view of the concept of home improvement. In fact, it is large enough to include every alteration, addition or deletion that may be carried out in respect of your home.

Many people who purchase a built-up home find it not fully adaptable to their needs and requirements. There are very few chances that it will be custom made according to your wishes, no matter how hard you search for it in the market. In such situations, alterations and modifications become unavoidable.

A person who has recently purchased a built-up home will find it very hard to spend more money on the home to make it customised. However, it may become necessary if you have old parents and kids in your family. Some alterations may become necessary from the safety point of view while some may arise on account of different needs of young kids and other family members. Ever thought how will you cope with the situation? Well, being a homeowner, taking a loan is not that difficult as otherwise it could be. You can raise upto 80 per cent of equity in your home by way of a secured home improvement loan. However, experts always suggest that if requirement can be easily met without placing your home as security then it is better to avoid bringing your home in the picture.

If you are a first time home buyer, you might be lacking in experience how to start with home improvement work. For this, you should follow some basic guidelines. For example, any home improvement work that you intend to carry out should meet the requirements and rules of the local home councils. It is always better to take necessary permissions and sanctions from the concerned authorities so that no problem arises later on. It is also desirable to have a budget prepared in the very beginning and stick to it throughout the home improvement process. Any deficit or gap in the budget can be met with the help of suitable home improvement loans.

Home improvement loans are offered by several lenders in the UK. You can approach building societies, banks, private online lenders and other financial institutions dealing in such kinds of loans. If you are in a little hurry and wants that your loan application should be quickly processed, online method may bring the desired results.

I live in Fargo, North Dakota with my wife and two children. And there’s a reason my wife’s been humming the melody from an old classic, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore”, sung by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. It’s because I don’t bring her flowers anymore. She put a halt to it. She stated that with the high price of flowers these days, especially her favorite roses, we had to put our money on more practical things.

I know she misses seeing the flower delivery person’s smiling face, though, on Valentine’s Day or her birthday. I don’t want to brag, but I was a bit of a master when choosing just the right arrangement for her. And don’t think I’m talking about just when we were dating either. I continued to bring her flowers long after we said “I do”. The arrangements were always vibrant with her favorite color yellow and had such a lovely fragrance that I know it was difficult for her to give them up.

Then one day I woke up. Even though we live in a climate where we have spring and summer for only about five or six months out of the year, I figured I could still give her a “gift of flowers”, but it would just look a bit different than what she had become accustomed to. I would plant a lovely garden with her favorite flowers in it.

Now, how to get such a project started? I knew that unless I could make it affordable, my wife would still be singing that same old tune when it came to how much it cost.

To this point in my life, I had never grown anything. I was determined I could learn. I started out by planting one of her favorites, Shasta Daisies. I found out the particulars on it this past summer, took a deep breath, and started my garden. Here are the specifics on the flower seed I decided to plant, you need to find out the same information on whatever you decide to plant: *She has a yellow center (maybe only important to my wife, I admit).

*She grows from early spring through September and is known as a perennial (meaning this flower grows back on its own from year to year). Wow; I’m picking up some new vocabulary words already.

*She doesn’t need a lot of water just in case, as a novice, you forget to water her.

*She takes only two weeks to start growing.

*She will stay fresh after you’ve picked her for a big, beautiful bouquet for at least two weeks.

I know it seems silly that I am talking about this plant as if it was a human being but this garden was becoming “my baby”.

And, one more thing; I forgot there were some garden tools I would need, like a hoe and rake. Don’t get your “grubby” clothes on and then remember a trip to the hardware store is needed before you can “break ground”.

It was great fun that first summer watching all my hard work paying off with those beautiful flowers growing in my garden. I presented my wife with a beautiful bouquet for her birthday in July. That felt great! I definitely plan to continue this new hobby of mine. It sure is odd how some of the more negative events in each of our lives end up bringing us the most fun and rewarding experiences.

My husband and I have been growing vegetables and herbs on raised garden beds for more than 30 years now. We have moved a number of times but have recreated the raised garden beds in each location because of the many benefits. Our first home had a concrete backyard and it was the only way we could create a garden, but we appreciated the benefits so much that we have built raised garden beds at each of our subsequent homes. There are more than four benefits but these are the primary ones:

1. More Nutritious Food
The reason that raised garden beds yield more nutritious food is due to the fact that the soil is loose, deep, and rich in nutrients. It is not compacted since the gardener never walks on the soil. Plants benefit from the great drainage and speedy root development that loose soil allows. Earthworms love to call it home. Plants are placed closer together in a staggered or triangular pattern (often called square foot gardening) so that their leaves slightly overlap when they reach maturity. This means the soil stays shaded which inhibits weed growth and maintains moisture. Amendments to the garden beds that enhance the nutrient value cost less because you are not covering the pathways. Compost is added each year, mixed with the soil and peat in the beds, to replace nutrients and beneficial microbes. Healthy soil means healthy plants, which allows us to grow organic food.
2. More Abundance of food
Succession planting is easy with the raised garden. Once you have harvested the spinach, you can plant a crop of green beans in the same bed. It is easy to start a new row of lettuce or spinach each week so you have a continuous supply. Planning is important in an intensive garden like this. Once you understand the growth pattern and spread of the veggies in the garden you can combine more plants together. Spring scallions and radishes can be planted between the broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage, for example, and then harvested before these larger plants grow big enough to shade the entire bed. Keep a garden journal so you can remember where you planted the tomatoes, so that you plant them in a new location the following year and where you planted the beans that fix the nitrogen in the soil. You can also note what plant combinations work well together to control pests.

3. Easy Access
A raised garden bed is best if it is no wider than 4 feet so that the gardener can easily reach to the center of the garden bed. This is the ideal type garden for the person with physical handicaps. The person with arthritis, knee problems, or hip problems has access since they dont have to get to ground level or kneel on a sore joint. I often sit on a five gallon bucket with a seat when working in my garden. A raised bed garden would be accessible to a wheelchair if the pathways were built wide enough and smooth enough. It is easiest to use because of the height of the bed which can be adapted to the person or situation. Our beds have started just 8 inches above the ground but as we have added compost and mulch we have raised them much higher, up to 24 or 36 inches above the ground.
4. Less Maintenance
A raised garden bed is easy to maintain. The only tools required are a trowel and a garden rake. We sometimes use a spade to turn over the top layer but not always. I mentioned earlier that weeding is less since they pull out easier and are inhibited by the close spacing and shading of the veggies in the garden. Simple mulching with grass clippings is usually enough to stop the weeds until the plants are established. Once your organic raised garden is established it is sustained only with compost. Compost can be added from your compost bin in the spring, fall, or just any time if you use it as a mulch layer. Our beds are rich with microbes and earthworms. We have a lot of trees so in the fall we mow over our leaves and put the leaves onto the beds. In the spring they are broken down enough that we just turn them in with a spade or a trowel.
Save yourself time and money gardening on raised garden beds. You need only dig, fertilize, and water the beds, not the paths. You dont need to weed as much when crops grow close together, because weeds cant compete as well. You dont need a tiller because the soil is never compacted.

Iranian architecture displays a class and elegance that cannot be matched with any other style of architecture and design. It is quite distinct from that of Muslim countries. The major features of Iranian architecture are: structural ingenuity basically in vault and dome construction; a skill of decoration with freedom and intricacy incomparable to any other form of architecture.

The pre-Islamic buildings include the remarkable Elamite ziggurat at Chogha Zanbil. Baked brick was used for outer surfaces by the 12th century BC. Most of the greatest buildings were built with a religious purpose, and even in secular buildings religious influences are entirely absent. Palaces were present, and their shapes, sizes and colors varied according to the ruling dynasty.

The first great development of ancient Persian architecture took place under the Achaemenid dynasty during the Persian Empire, from about 550 to 330 BC. There are numerous remains of Achaemenian period, including two palaces, a sacred precinct, a citadel, a tower, and the tomb of Cyrus.

Royal architecture under the Achaemenid also included tombs cut in solid rock, of which the best-known examples are those at Naqshah Rostam near Persepolis. Little is known of the popular building practices of the period, but archaeologists believe that the ordinary dwelling was made of mud brick. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, Greek influence, in its late, Hellenistic phase, was predominant in the arts of Persia. Examples include fragments of bronze sculpture found at Shami, and the Parthian sculptural reliefs at Behistun.

During the Islamic period “mosques” became the major buildings in Iranian architecture. Outstanding examples of early Islamic Iranian architecture include the Mosque of Baghdad built in 764, the Great Mosque at Samarra erected in 847, and the early 10th-century mosque at Nayin.

After the 17th century, Iranian artists copied European paintings and engravings, and the native traditions declined. But Iranian architecture still managed to leave a huge impact on the world.