GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2003 show39
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Show #39

We're working again at the Georgia lake house. This week we're concentrating on the "green space" or "common area." The lots of several homes feed into and look into this area. It has been declared "green space" because water from the surrounding hills channels into this space, then goes into the lake. It is a rugged area, overgrown, some of the neighbors have been using it as a dumping ground, even damming the flow of water in an attempt at reducing the flow of silt into the lake. Instead of planting unnecessary, high maintenance plants we will attempt to take advantage of the many native plants, let people view the lake and generally create a beautiful, park like setting.

Jim Almand is with Earth Products in Marietta, Georgia. Earth Products supplied the rock for this project. In the creek bed Jim chose river flats, their thickness and shape is similar to what would naturally occur in a dry creek bed. He chose river slicks because of their bulk and ability to keep sticks, leaves, etc. out of the creek bed. Both are reasonably uniform in size and provide a nice base on which to walk as well they slow down the water flow. The key point is to slow the water as it moves through this area. By slowing it down erosion should be less of a problem. The path of the creek bed was determined, then a landscape fabric was placed to block weeds, yet allow water to drain through. There is space between the rocks, this will allow silt or smaller debris to fill in between the rocks. If desired some plants could actually be planted in the creek bed cracks. Since this area is lower, moisture will be present allowing roots to grow. The rocks are light colored but will naturally darken over a few months because of the tannins in the leaves. Lichens and moss may also grow over time.

Earth Products has rocks in different colors - reds. blues and purples - from Arizona, for example. It is more economical to buy rocks from your area, it saves on shipping and fits with the environment. Jim has used pea gravel - some also call this river rock, in the stream. It creates a natural filter and helps collect silt. It also fills the bottom, not allowing standing water, which is helpful in controlling mosquitoes.

Another rock used is called gray crab orchard. Jim chose it because it is thick. In the boggy area it doesn't sink and it is sandstone, thus not as slippery as other stones. He spaced them as one would normally walk which is about 2 and 1/2 feet apart. Again these were placed on top of the fabric. In between the stones the area has been mulched. The fabric keeps the mulch above ground, keeping the area from becoming too mushy.

Bill Hagen's company Anything Under The Sun designed this green space area. His thinking behind the design was to keep everything natural. He created a cathedral feel by limbing up the trees, which also increases the view in the area.

Bill chose to keep the natural plants and remove the weeds. He shows us some of the saved plants. Flaming Azalea is native to our part of the world, it blooms towards the end of spring before the leaves pop out. Since he wanted this tree to be a focal point he mulched around the tree to draw our eye to the area. As well he cleared out surrounding brush, providing the plant with more water and nutrients, it will then hopefully reproduce.

Bill points out wild ginger, it is a smaller plant, but unusual. It is glossy green, an evergreen and a low ground cover. A tea could be made from this plant according to Bill. Its' scientific name is Asarum Hatwegii, it produces a small flower although hidden underneath the leaves.

Ferns are plentiful. They are natural, they're informal and relaxing. The Christmas Fern, Polystychum, is very hardy, is reasonably drought tolerant and may even be present in winter with snow on the ground.

Andy Givhan grows and sells aquatic plants throughout the southeast. His company name is Givhandy's. Andy started in his backyard developing a wildlife habitat that required a source of water and a birdbath wasn't enough. They turned that into a pond and it grew from there. What started as a hobby has become a business. According to Andy, aquatic plants are popular and have been increasing in popularity the past 10 years. In fact, during that time they have been the fastest growing segment in the nursery industry. Andy shows us some of the plants intended for this area. Umbrella Palm, Cyperus Alternifolius, is a great bog plant. It thrives in totally damp situations as well as dry conditions. He has placed it next to a wall because he wanted some height to hide the wall. It will grow another foot or two and provides a tropical look. Andy cleared overgrown bushes, shrubs and weeds, then made a channel for the run off water to follow. The plants help define that channel. He has curved the channel and built up one side with mud, this gives an informal look and enhances the natural beauty. Many of the bog plants can be simply placed in the soil in the water and they will start rooting. The Scarlet Hibiscus, Hibiscus Coccineus, or Swamp Hibiscus will tolerate a wide range of situations. It likes full sun, it's a flowering plant but once the flowers are spent the pods are ornamental. It produces an abundant amount of seed, thus they reproduce easily. It has a brilliant red flower that attracts Hummingbirds and other insects. It will grow to 6-8 feet tall and will continue to bush out. Andy places it in a very shallow hole, covers the base, it should be happy in this wet situation.

Pickerel Reed or Pickrel Rush, Pampaderia Cordata, is probably the most
recognized aquatic plant in our area. It is a reliable bloomer and can tolerate full sun or partial shade and is a native. Some states are cracking down on collecting these plants so it is safest to buy them from a nursery. Blue Eyed Grass is out of season right now and into its' dormant stage but in early spring it will be one of the first plants to bloom. It has 1/2 inch dark blue flowers that are a treat in springtime. It does well in shade but the flower will be a little paler blue. In full sun the flower is darker blue, almost purple, It is reliable and very natural looking.

People don't typically think of trees for wetland areas. Andy has an American Bald Cypress, Taxodium Distichum (he thinks). This tree could grow to as much as 100 feet tall, although in this environment it will probably be much smaller. It drops its' beautiful foliage in the fall but will have "knees." These are what you see coming out of the water, they provide oxygen for the root system.

Horsetail Reed or Equisetum Hyemale is often used as a backdrop. It is very vertical and is evergreen, has a flower that looks like a little pine cone at the top of its' stem. It is appropriate for wetlands although versatile enough to be used in perfectly dry landscaping applications.

Andy creates combination bog gardens, a lot of different plants in a small area. A homeowner could have a bog garden in an area as small as a container. Something 10 - 15 inches across and a couple of inches deep. They can be all by themselves or on a deck or patio. The root systems of aquatic plants grow quickly and that is where the filtration takes place. The root system may be several inches thick. There are different size roots - ranging from almost microscopic to 1/4 inch or so. They slow down the water, take nutrients and silt before they get into the lake. With this group of plants, Andy plants them by simply plopping them in the mud.

One of the indications of the health of an area is the presence of different insects or animals. Andy has found a Crayfish or Crawdad. This is an indication that there isn't much pollution in this area because they feed on material on the bottom and are constantly filtering water through their system. When working in the area Andy also saw Salamanders and some little water snakes, which are harmless if left alone. Some people mistake them for Water Moccasins because these water snakes come in a wide range of colors and patterns.

We hope you've enjoyed the show. We tried to take a wasteland and turn it into a beautiful, outdoor area for the neighbors to enjoy. We started with a dry creek bed, placed river stone to slow the flow of water. We created a sitting area using old logs and other natural aspects. Curved lines were incorporated to provide a carefree feeling. The bog area was enhanced with interesting plants. To accent the area mulch was used extensively particularly around the swing located right next to the lake. This borrows a view, makes an enjoyable area for all and makes excellent use of a space that had fallen into decline.

Link :: Earth Products

Locations :: Anything Under The Sun - 770-421-1249

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