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Novel gardening trends for 2016

Every spring, gardeners around the world and state make plans to come up with new garden designs, new plant varieties, and check out the new gardening tools or techniques to grow healthy plants in unusual ways. 2016 is no exception. Here are some suggestions of this year’s interesting trends to try.

With the help of your iPad, smartphone or Android device there are a couple of new apps that would be very useful to add, for a small fee or free, to your personal gardening library resources collection, including Gardener’s Handbook App and Garden Plan Pro App. Gardener’s Handbook is a free app for Android with 10 different sections of tips, design ideas and useful information, almost like having a pro gardener by your side; while Garden Plan Pro is just as its name suggests — a visual aid app that helps you with plotting your garden before actually doing the work. It has information on more than 140 different species of plants, using data from more than 6,500 weather stations in 20 countries.

Some of the cool-looking gardening tool trends to use are the hand-held Bosch Isao hedge and shrub trimmer for $62 and the G-Max 2-amp cordless pole saw for $177. Both look to be great tools that are very easy to use due to their size and lack of power cords or fuel. The hedge trimmer is small enough to use with one hand instead of the standardized larger power trimmers or old-fashioned traditional shear trimmers used with both hands. It comes with a lithium-ion battery that can be used for an hour on a single charge before recharging. Also it has an anti-blocking reciprocating motion that allows continuous cutting where most other trimmers stall. While the convenience of a battery-operated cordless pole saw that weighs only about 10 pounds, with an 8-foot extension bar, means reaching those higher or hard-to-reach branches and limbs it also will be easier on your limbs and shoulders too. The G-Max pole saw comes with a four-year warranty and a two-year warranty on the battery and also in a more expensive four-amp model.

I’m always looking for the new innovative ways to make gardening easier and enjoyable on my aging body as I get older or fun for my teenage kids and grandkids to help and learn how to garden and grow healthy food in the backyard. I’ve come across four technique trends that I’ll be adding to my yard or inside my home: Plastic soda bottles gardens, indoor vegetable gardens, rain gardens/bio swales (for those really wet spots in your yard year-round), and dogscaping.

If you use Facebook, you’ve probably seen or heard about the plastic Coke bottle technique where you cut a hole in the side of the bottle or cut the bottle completely in half and invert the top half in to the bottom half that is filled with water. Fill the whole bottle (first type) or the top half with soil then planting a seed or seeding inside, depending on the size bottle being used, the 16-20-ounce bottles or the larger 1-2 liter bottles. This technique is perfect for gardeners who have small yards or live in apartment complexes where there might not be any yard at all. This is great for growing herbs, lettuces, peppers, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables and edible flowers like the next technique.

Indoor vegetable gardens are great because with a 16- to 24-inch diameter pot or 5-gallon container, some small gravel, soil or potting mix, one can just about grow any kind of vegetable or anything including herbs, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, radishes, carrots, asparagus, onions, bush variety peas and beans, even potatoes.

With all the spring rains or lack of rain in some areas, rain gardens/bio swales have become very popular. These are areas where your plants are suited for droughts or for collecting rainwater in catchments, rain barrels or large underground storage containers to reuse when watering lawns and plants since rainwater is becoming an important auxiliary source.

The last trend is for your useful garden helper, the four-legged digger/gardener — the family dog. If yours is like mine, they love digging where your prize daffodils and lilies are planted under the tree or taking a nap on top of them, then this is the dogscaping technique is for you. This is making a spot in the garden just for them, complete with the doghouse, kiddie pool or sprinkler during those hot summer days.

Set up a small area of plants that you don’t mind getting crushed a bit and that aren’t poisonous if they happen to accidentally chew on. Maybe some Creeping Phlox, Candytuft, Prunella or any one of the many flowering ground covering plants.

These are just a few of the many ideas you might see this year in your neighbor’s yard, or you might want to start as new trend in the neighborhood. Check them out to see they’re a good choice for your gardening needs.        

The Lafayette County Master Gardeners is a service organization that provides assistance to the Lafayette County Extension Service. Master Gardeners receive university-based training and are required to sustain their training and service activities each year. To arrange for a free consultation with a Master Gardener about your gardening challenges, call the Lafayette County Extension office at 662-234-4451.

colleen b. McCHESNEY is a Lafayette County Master Gardener.