Liquidambar specializes in transforming ordinary or difficult sites into gardens that blend function with aesthetics. We use subtainable landscape practices that nurture the soil, conserve water and energy, and recycle or repurpose your materials. Transforming small challenging urban spaces is our specialty.

11 October 2010

Tips for the Lazy (and Smart) Gardener

If you're about to prep your garden for fall, either to plant your veggies or to retard weed growth, this New York Times article shows you how. Here's a brief excerpt:

First, pluck the weeds; next, lay 4 sheets of newspaper and wet the paper; top off with compost or mulch. If you're installing plants, compost is best;  to suppress weeds, lay mulch at least 2" deep.

If you’re starting a new garden the no-till way - which basically means using newspapers to smother the grass and weeds without resorting to herbicides - just add a few inches of compost and plant right through it.

The advantages of not tilling are many. Weed seeds are not brought to the surface of the soil, where they readily sprout and grow. You don’t churn up earthworms and countless other organisms that will aerate and enrich the soil just fine if you feed them compost and leave them alone. And since gas-powered tillers not only pour hydrocarbons into the air, they also release CO2 when they churn up the soil, leaving them in the garage is a good way to minimize your carbon footprint.

When weeds do grow — as they inevitably will, blowing in on the wind, or sprouting from less-than-perfect compost — the article suggests spritzing them, while they are still sprouts, with a homemade solution: a gallon of vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons canola oil (other oils will gum up) and 1 tablespoon liquid Ivory dish detergent. Spray on a regular basis:  'You have to starve out the roots, so don’t wait and let the weeds get big.' Read article here:

01 October 2010

WATER in the garden

Gardens in the old days typically contained a water source from which gardeners could draw water to irrigate plants. Farmers also captured rainwater for this and other domestic uses. In classic Japanese gardens water often is simulated with raking techniques in patterns that suggest waves and rippling water. Other features also evoke water… dry streams of smooth river rock or tumbled glass create the impression of imminent cascading water.

Ponds or pools that reflect the sky and surrounding landscape visually expand a garden far beyond its physical boundaries. The tiniest stone basin or dish adds great mystery and dimension while also attracting birds to feed and bathe. Even the smallest gardens benefit from a water source.

Many inexpensive features are available today readymade and as long as the water is flowing, moved by low-voltage pumps, mosquitoes will not breed. When considering a water element, select a feature that will compliment the style, character and scale of your landscape … here are some examples:

pavers appear to float across the pond

babbling brook rambles through English-style country garden

beautiful Italian ceramic pot recycles gurgling water

cranes quench their thirst in Asian-style garden

framed by robust arbor, wall fountain screens imposing wall

Quan Yin soothes the senses
existing hillside provides perfect backdrop

industrial size & strength metal compliments contemporary style

water bowl nestles in Zen space

rippling water from polished granite fountain is replicated in surrounding plants