The Dirt!

A blog dedicated to organic gardens, landscaping ideas, and optimal business practices!

Whether your yard is a blank slate that needs form and color or a hot mess that needs to be re-imagined and refurbished, a landscape designer can help. How do you find the right person for the job?

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To set your garden in motion with flying, fluttering and crawling pollinators, plant what they need to live. Flowers provide food in the form of nectar for the insects and hummingbirds. Other plants act as host plants for the larvae of butterflies and other pollinators. Here are a few garden favorites that will bring pollinators to your garden.
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A landscape that includes perennial and annual flowers and plants along with its trees and shrubs can enhance any home. When that landscape also includes edibles, the benefits increase.

“We’re definitely seeing an uptick of people growing food,” says Gardens of Babylon landscape architect Ryan Fogarty. “In this pandemic, people are tending to go toward growing more of your own food, so you know where it comes from,” she says. “We’ve had significantly more raised-bed garden installations since this pandemic began.”

Start with a plan

To include food in your landscape, start by assessing the conditions in your environment and what you hope to grow. Consider the amount of space you have, and whether you want to grow a garden in the ground or in one or more raised beds. Also note where the sun comes in and where you have shade. “Pretty much every edible, whether it’s trees or blueberries or herbs or vegetables, is going to need full sun to do their best,” Ryan says.

When you begin to think about what to include in your landscape, consider plants that serve a dual purpose: ornamentals that look good all year and that produce something you can eat. Here are a few that Ryan suggests:

Trees and shrubs

Serviceberry. This large shrub or a small tree blooms with white flowers early in the spring and produces fruit in early summer that is similar to blueberries in size and taste. In fall, the foliage of Amelanchier turns bright yellow, orange and red, and its gray bark stands out against a stark winter background.

Fig. The fruit of Ficus is a sweet treat when it ripens in the summer. ‘Brown Turkey’ is a variety that is hardy enough to survive a typical winter in Middle Tennessee. If there’s not room for a full-size fig tree in your landscape, Ryan suggests the dwarf variety ‘Little Miss Figgy,’ which tops out at 4 – 6 feet and can be grown in a pot.

Blueberry. These shrubs are not maintenance-free, but can provide a satisfying crop of tasty berries if the right conditions are met. Blueberries grow best in acidic soil that drains well, so soil preparation at the outset is key. Once established, your biggest problem may be finding a way to keep some for yourself while sharing with the birds that will inevitably find them.

Blackberry and raspberry. These are the most common types of plants horticulturists call “brambles.” Both are often grown as hedgerows, may benefit from trellis structures to keep the berries off the ground, and require regular pruning. They should also be planted away from potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or strawberries, which are all prone to similar disease problems. 

Herbs and vegetables

Thyme. As a landscape plant, creeping varieties can be an effective groundcover between stepping stones. In the kitchen, use thyme in cooking meats, sauces, soups, stews and vegetables.

Rosemary. The popular culinary herb grows as a small, spiky shrub that can be a good backdrop for other low-growing plants. Not all varieties are reliably hardy in Middle Tennessee, but ‘Arp’ and ‘Tuscan Blue’ are two that will likely withstand winter here if planted in a protected location.

Vegetables. A garden will always be evolving, Ryan says, and a garden bed of perennials may have space to include edible annuals that die at the end of the season. Think about adding vegetables or herbs that have a tidy growing habit, such as lettuce, spinach and kale in late winter and spring, changing those out to plant summer favorites such as basil, peppers or okra.

A final note: Gardens of Babylon offers a Personal Farmer service to help you plan your garden. “We give you what you want and what we know will do well,” Ryan says.

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Here are five easy-to-grow, almost foolproof favorites for the garden. They can also grow in containers on a sunny deck, porch or balcony. Most of these are perennials, which will remain in your garden for several years.

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Ask a gardener what she grows in the kitchen garden, and the first thing she likely mentions is tomatoes. If you enjoy this nutrition-rich vegetable (technically, a fruit), nothing is better than a ripe tomato plucked from the vine in your own back yard.

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“A backyard oasis can be your own personal escape,” says Eric Van Grinsven, a landscape designer with the Gardens of Babylon design team. “It’s the area where you can be when you’re stressed from work or things are getting to you, your little spot you can disappear to or just relax and be surrounded by nature.
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Gardens of Babylon Landscapes is hosting a Plant Swap October 18th! Make new friends and leave with new plants!
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At Gardens of Babylon Landscapes, we strongly believe in leaving the weeds for the bees, using natural methods of plant control, and encouraging pollinator growth! We refrain from using any products containing neonicotinoids and we create landscapes that bloom throughout the season to allow for an ample food source for our local pollinators.

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To ensure your landscape beds and vegetable gardens are ready for their first spring sprouting, we’re sharing 3 reasons why fall cleanups are so important from our company experts. (Not to mention now is a great time to get the landscape looking tidy for the holidays...)
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Dormancy Not Death!

 As one of Nashville’s top landscaping companies, our professional horticulturists know that plants in Nashville experience dormancy during cold weather—not death! Therefore, planting a perennial bed in your landscape in fall means that your plants will have a healthy environment to establish before they go dormant in winter.

Cooler temperatures means more soil moisture

The heat of summer creates a constant cycle of water evaporation, and can cause a lot of unnecessary plant stress. That’s why planting in the fall is the optimum time to plant. Watering plants in the spring and summer can be a tedious task, but in fall, landscapes in Nashville retain more moisture than they do in the sweltering summer sun.

Fall Landscaping Discounts!

We know landscaping services can be an investment, so that’s why we want our clients to take advantage of the fall landscaping discounts we offer throughout the fall and winter seasons. After the spring and summer landscaping rush in Nashville, fall begins to quiet down. We offer discounts in fall for many of our new and existing clientele and especially around the holidays. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with our seasonal promotions.

Planting in Fall Gives Spring a Jump-Start

No better time than fall to get those roots established before spring. Planting in fall when the soil is still warm from summer allows roots to establish and build a better chance of success for next year’s drought and heat.

Earlier Spring Flowers Means More Pollinators!

Planting in the fall means earlier flowers that serve as vital food sources for crucial pollinators, and our landscape company values the power of beneficial insects and how crucial they are to our natural ecology. Starting pollinator plants in the fall ensures success for butterflies and bees in March and April.

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In celebration of our 15th birthday, we’re sharing 15 interesting facts about ourselves and what makes us one of Nashville’s most beloved locally owned landscape companies and garden centers. 
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Happy Birthday to us! We're turning 15 and celebrating the spring kick off on April 14th, with free cake and ice cream, records, balloons, and a chance to win a free landscape services package through our silent landscape services auction.
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