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When most people think of a ‘sustainable landscape’, they view one that is boring, filled with few plants which is why they are often surprised to see how beautiful they are.
 
Over the past couple of weeks, we have talked about small steps that you can take toward a more sustainable landscape and today, we will finish up our series with a few more steps you can take in your own garden.
 
Re-think what you plant in pots.
 
Leaf lettuce, garlic, parsley growing along side petunias.
 
If you are like most people, you have a few pots that you fill with flowering annuals, which you fertilize on a semi-regular basis.
 
But, how about thinking outside of the box about what we add to pots.
 
For example, did you know that many vegetables do great in pots and are also attractive?  I like to grow vegetables in my pots and add a couple of annual flowers in for a little color.
 
 
While some flowering annuals can be a bit fussy (pansies, for example) – herbs are not.  They look great in pots, are on hand whenever you need a bunch of fresh herbs for cooking and they don’t need as much water and fertilizer as flowers.
 
Crown-of-Thorns, Lady’s Slipper, Elephant’s Food and a cactus.
Succulents make beautiful pots with their varied textures.  Because the store water inside, they do not need as much water as other container plants.



A helpful tip for planting a large container – fill the bottom third with recyclable plastic bottles.  Most plant’s won’t reach to the bottom of large containers and it is a waste of money to fill up the entire pot with expensive potting soil.  Another bonus is that it also makes your pot a bit lighter.


Use natural or recycled materials when possible.

Gate made from old Ocotillo canes and tree branches.
Often, when we are adding elements to our landscape, we overlook the many things that are recycled or natural that can fill that need.
 
For example – did you know that you can create a ‘living’ fence made from Ocotillo canes?  It’s true! I have seen them my local nursery.
 
Pathway made from recycled, broken concrete.
If your landscape needs a path – instead of buying new pavers or step stones, use recycled, broken concrete.  Or use natural stone products like flagstone.
 
 
It is hard to overstate how boulders can help a landscape go from ‘okay’ to ‘fabulous’.
 
Boulders add both height and texture without needing any water or pruning.  In addition, boulders make plants look better when they are planted alongside.
 
 
Eliminate or decrease the use of pesticides.
 
Leaf-roller caterpillar damage on Yellow Bells shrub.
Our first reaction when seeing insects damage on our plants is to run for the nearest pesticide in our misguided attempt to rescue our plants.
 
But, did you know that most plants can handle some damage from insects without any problem?
 
In fact, once damaging insects take up residence in our favorite plants – soon after new bugs come along that devour the bad bugs.
 
Bougainvillea Looper Caterpillar damage.
 
If you see something is eating the leaves of your plants, you have several options that are not harmful to the environment:
 
– Ignore it
– Prune off the affected foliage
– Pick off the insects (or spray off with water).
– Apply an organic pesticide such as insecticidal soap or BT (Bacillus thuringiensis).
 
You can also help to prevent damaging insects by planting ‘companion’ plants, which bad bugs do not like.  For example, planting garlic around roses helps to keep aphids away.
 
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I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts on sustainable landscaping.  My hope is that I have helped to inspire you to make some changes to your landscape to make it more sustainable.
 
I’d love to hear your thoughts or any ideas that you have done in your own garden to make it more sustainable.
 
For a complete listing of these posts with links, click here.
 
 
 

Do you know what the definition of the word ‘conundrum’ is?


I do.  Actually, I had to look it up – but it basically means a “difficult situation”.  That sums up what I am facing in my back garden.


Here are the ‘parts’ that make up my conundrum:

First, there is my wonderful husband….


 You may have noticed that he is bit camera-shy when it comes to appearing on my blog 😉

The second part is the nest box that my husband made to attract leaf-cutter bees.


 As you can see, there are already some occupants in some of the larger holes.

You may be wondering why my husband is trying to attract leaf-cutter bees.  Well, he has recently become interested in beekeeping and is considering raising honeybees someday.
In the meantime, he decided that he would try to attract leaf-cutter bees.  

I was more then happy to encourage him in his experiment.  Leaf-cutter bees are important pollinators, are non-aggressive and rarely sting. 

But, that was then……

Do you know what else leaf-cutter bees do?


Like their name suggests, they cut circular sections out of leaves which they use to line their nests with.  They then store a supply of pollen and nectar, lay eggs and then leave.

Now my husband’s nest box is located right above my roses….



 Guess what a leaf-cutter bee’s favorite type of leaf is?

You guessed it….rose leaves.

So, you see what my conundrum is?  

I want to be a supportive wife…

I want pollinators in my garden…


Bees are in huge trouble and their populations are declining and I’d like to help…

I don’t mind some holes from leaf cutter bees, which won’t hurt my roses.  However, I would rather not have too many holes cut out of my rose leaves…

So, what should I do?

I will ask my husband if he wouldn’t mind moving his nest box elsewhere in the garden.  That way my roses will not get too ‘holey’, I’ll still have pollinators in my garden and my husband still gets to have fun attracting leaf-cutter bees.

I think that works, don’t you?

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Roses can handle a fair amount of activity from leaf-cutter bees, although too many holes will affect the health of your roses.  Remember that it is leaves that make the ‘food’ for your plants.

I don’t like to use pesticides if I can help it in the garden, but they wouldn’t help me against leaf-cutter bees.  Since the bees don’t actually eat the leaves, the pesticide is useless.  **More importantly, I don’t want to harm the bees, so I wouldn’t use pesticides against them, regardless.

If you don’t want to see any holes in your rose leaves, you can cover them with cheesecloth or fine netting to keep the leaf-cutter bees away (as people who exhibit their roses in shows do).

**So how about you?  Have you experienced a conundrum in the garden?  Who or what was involved?  I would love to hear about it 🙂