Home & Garden

The Dirt: Home and garden tips and events


Learn how to build a rain barrel at a workshop Nov. 17 at the Lexington County EMS Training Facility on Ball Field Road.

The 10 a.m.-4 p.m. workshop is $20, which includes rain barrel materials.

The morning session features sessions such as Stormwater 101 and What is rain harvesting? In the afternoon, participants will build their own rain barrel to take home for rain harvesting.

The event is sponsored by the Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium. The cost is $20 and the session will be limited to 25 people.

For more information:



Welcome fall with an inviting entry. Set the stage for the new season with containers of flowers and foliage for a warm reception at your front door. Nurseries are packed with pots and plants to decorate our doorsteps.

Pick a pot. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, from elegant urns to rustic troughs to long toms for vertical impact. They may be made of terracotta, stone, metal, wood, concrete or fiberglass.

Choose pots to complement your home's style. Scale matters: Select the appropriate-size pot for the space. A common mistake is to go too small.

Pots can be heavy, so place them before planting. Frame your door with a pair of large containers to make a symmetrical statement. Or group containers for greater impact. A group of three to five similar-style pots in varying sizes is pleasing.

Make sure the container drains well. If you can't drill holes, use it as a decorative cache pot and arrange potted plants within the vessel. Fill deep containers with shards or pebbles, if necessary, to elevate your potted flowers.

The color palette. There's no shortage of plants that celebrate fall's traditional colors of plum, purple, gold, bronze, red, orange and yellow. Overwhelmed with choices? Go monochromatic or stick to two or three colors. A simple approach: Plant one variety per pot, and group the pots.

Or plant a harmonious, one-color container whose plants have varying leaf shapes.

One mix to try: golden oregano, creeping jenny and `Cuban Gold' duranta.

For a larger container with multiple plants: Choose a specimen for the center of the container. Then surround it with complementary plants in equal distances, like numbers on a clock. For example, place purple fountain grass in the middle for height. Add mums at noon, three, six and nine o'clock for a full look. Then tuck cascading ornamental sweet potato vine at other positions to soften the edges.

Shapely subjects. The best-size plants balance a container creation; form and texture provide a polished look. Taller spiky or fountain like types to give containers a vertical lift include butterfly iris, yucca, cordyline, daniella, ornamental grasses and russelia.

For medium- to full-bodied bloomers, consider asters, geraniums, begonias, petunias, million bells, snapdragons, straw flowers, calendulas, osteospermums and ornamental peppers.

Foliage options include crotons, coleus, perilla, ferns, ornamental cabbage and kale, Swiss chard and dusty miller.

Trailers to spill from your arrangement include ivy, alyssum, lobelia, verbena, Silver Falls dichondra and sedum.

Culture. Choose plants with similar light and moisture needs. Use a well-draining potting mix, and add a time-release fertilizer.

Containers in full sun will need more watering than those in shade.

Frequent watering flushes nutrients. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer once or twice a month if needed to boost plant vigor.

Trim plants to shape and discourage a leggy look. When plants overgrow containers or to change the scene, transplant them into your gar-den and start over.

Finishing touch. Tuck a few pumpkins and gourds among your pots. Hang a seasonal wreath to extend a warm welcome.