Cool Ideas for Hot Summer Days

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Lazy bones. That’s me in August, the month I say no way to yard work. A little lightweight gardening, maybe. Sneaking out to browse a nursery or take a class, definitely. But projects that substitute creativity for down-and-dirty toil suit me best. Bare spots in the flower bed? I cheat by packing containers with annuals to disguise the barren areas. I like impatiens for shade and common geraniums for sun. I like white flowers because I can see them after dark when it’s cool. If I need height, I upend one pot and stack another on top of it. Instant results. Deadheading is another task I can handle. It’s mindless and rids the garden of bedraggled flowers and foliage. Sometimes my reward is a fresh wave of bloom. These things get me through the dog days, but they pale next to the ideas Sacramento landscape designer and contractor Gary Kernick of Change of Seasons shared with us this month. He’s a master at combining color and creativity, and consistently enlivens his projects with imaginative and unexpected twists on the traditional. Take a look. Be inspired. Once you get started, you’ll invent your own ways of giving your garden a lift—without wearing yourself out.
To brighten a spot in his own Arden Park garden, Kernick planted Geranium ‘Rozanne’—known for its violet-blue blooms—contrasting it with the vivid greenish-gold foliage of edible oregano. Both plants pack a color punch and are relatively trouble-free.
 

 

 

Need a new look? Check your yard for something old
There may be no more worthy candidate for a mid-summer pick-me-up than that workhorse of the backyard—the Adirondack chair. “This is a project I did with my daughter, Callie,” says Gary Kernick. At the time, Callie was 7 years old and picked the paint colors—the same ones she had in her room—lime green, aqua blue and white. She’s 15 now, and the colors still look fresh. “It was so easy, the paint makes the chairs look brand new and injects some fun into the yard,” Kernick says. “Using bright, contrasting colors can really make a space look less confined.” If your chairs are plastic instead of wood, Kernick suggests Rust-Oleum Specialty Paint for Plastic Spray. The label says you don’t need a primer, and the paint can be applied to PVC, fiberglass, vinyl plastics and polypropylene. Because he’s a great dad and a landscape contractor, Kernick also made Callie a little creek in the private space he carved out of the previously unused side yard for the chairs. No-mow fescue sod from Delta Bluegrass in Stockton provides the perfect groundcover for
bare feet.

 

 

 

 

 

Garden within Reach
How’s this for a stand-up idea? A petite growing ground of vegetables, herbs and flowers with no bending, squatting, sweating, swearing or weeding. That’s exactly what Christopher Steimle of Green Acres Nursery & Supply created in this standing cedar planter, which measures a compact 36-by-32 inches and is 33 inches tall. Steimle used one sweet pea, one tomato, one sweet basil (all 4-inch pot size), along with a 1-gallon Thai Dragon hot pepper, two 4-inch perennial flowers and a 6-pack of marigolds. The planter holds 6 cubic feet of soil. Steimle likes GreenAll Soil Booster specific for vegetables mixed with a tablespoon of Soil Moist granules. Tips: Moisten soil before you plant. After, Steimle says, apply “water in small amounts often.” To boost your grow power, add a handle at the top and some heavy-duty casters to the planter legs. That way, you can roll it around with the sun. You’ll need a drill to assemble the planter, and if you can get a friend to help, great. The large planter is $100; the smaller version (18-by-34 inches) is $75. Plants and soil are not included. Available at Green Acres Nursery & Supply, 8501 Jackson Road, Sacramento, and 901 Galleria Blvd., Roseville. Call (916) 381-1625 for more information.