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Serena Manickam

Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.

16 Beautiful Plants for Landscaping Under Cedar Trees

Landscaping around trees can be a difficult task, and cedar trees come with their own set of challenges. These dense evergreens cast thick shade and significantly reduce the amount of rain that reaches the ground directly beneath their canopy. Plus, their fallen, decomposing leaves increase the acidity of the soil. The trick, then, is to …

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8 Tips for Beautiful Landscaping Under Oak Trees

Oaks (Quercus spp.) are often considered hardy trees, but careful consideration should be taken when landscaping under oak trees in order to protect the trees from damage and encourage them to thrive. Perhaps you have a vision of a lush, green lawn spread under the stately oak in your backyard, but instead, the canopy spreads …

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8 Creative Landscaping Ideas to Hide Utility Boxes

You have beautifully landscaped your house, carefully designing and implementing the garden of your dreams. But the unsightly utility box continues to stick out, seemingly mocking you every time you step outside to enjoy your lovely garden. How can you possibly disguise the necessary eyesore? After all, it’s designed for, well, utility, not aesthetics. As …

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6 Landscaping Ideas Around Septic Tank Areas

Landscaping around a septic tank and related components not only makes the area more attractive but also provides benefits to the septic system itself, enabling it to function properly and last a long time. Plants help stabilize the soil over a septic field and prevent erosion, which can damage the system. They also join soil …

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Occultation in Gardening: No-Till Bed Preparation in 4 Easy Steps

While tilling is a quick and relatively easy way to prepare the garden for planting, it also destroys the soil structure, disrupts beneficial organisms, increases erosion, and brings weed seeds to the surface. No-till practices, on the other hand, nurture the soil and its microorganisms, working with natural systems for healthier plants. The no-till method …

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14 Pretty Pink Succulent Plants To Brighten Your Home

If you have fallen in love with the unique grouping of plants called succulents, you know that they come in a wide variety of forms, from sharp spikes to elegant rosettes. Most come in shades of green, but quite a few have dusky blue leaves or even pink hues. These pretty pink succulent plants make …

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Create a Refuge for Endangered Flowers: 16 Rare Plants of the US

As gardeners, we know that plants hold immeasurable value, from intrinsic beauty to life-saving medicine. Yet an alarming number of plants have gone extinct, and one in five existing plants is in danger of disappearing as well. More than four thousand of these endangered plants grow in the US, and you can help save them …

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Landscaping With Knock Out Roses: 9 Delightful Ideas for Your Garden

Roses add classic beauty to any garden, their thorny stems topped by ruffled, elegant blossoms in shades of yellow, white, pink, or red. Many cultivars also perfume the air with their fragrance. Unfortunately, though, roses can be finicky and difficult to grow, requiring deadheading, pest and disease control, and otherwise careful maintenance to ensure they …

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Western Monarch Day: 7 Ways to Save Butterflies on February 5

Twenty-five years ago, in 1997, the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count logged 1.2 million monarch butterflies overwintering in California. This past November (2021), just under 250,000 were observed. Although this represents a remarkable hundredfold increase from the previous year, the western monarch population remains more than 95% below its size in the ’80s. To help …

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8 Tips for Landscaping with Hydrangeas in Any Garden

Hydrangeas are one of the darlings of the gardening world, adding mounds of showy, airy blossoms to the landscape. Almost no garden is complete without at least one hydrangea. Perhaps you’ve come to this conclusion and want to plant a hydrangea somewhere in your garden. But where, how, and with which other plants? The tips …

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