Reasons you need pebbles for your plant garden

Pebbles are a great feature to have in your garden because they provide a peaceful and exquisite appearance to your landscape. They come in different shapes and sizes and can be beautifully arranged in your home garden. With great texture and visual appeal, the outdoors can be made sophisticated and opulent by using stones into your landscape design. But hold on, pebbles help not just with the aesthetics but also complement your garden in several other ways. Let us look at how pebbles make your garden better.

Stylish Pathways

For people who have an outdoor lawn or garden, having a lovely path paved with pebbles makes a wonderful addition. Beach stones and pebbles come in interesting shapes and colors, so they’re perfect for adding beautiful patterns to your backyard landscaping ideas. To create a walking path made of pebbles, first identify the pathway in your garden. Clear the path by removing the grass, weeds, rocks and mud. Paving the track with well laid out stones help section the different areas of your lawn, prevent weeds from growing in unwanted areas and also stop you from accidentally trampling on the grass.

Garden Mulch

Mulching is the process of coating the soil’s surface with organic or inorganic material. Compost, dried leaves and organic waste are the common materials used for mulching by gardeners. Pebbles too can be a good addition to your garden mulch – while they do not provide nutrients by themselves, they do offer a host of benefits to the surrounding plants by helping in water retention, better aeration, stopping soil erosion and protecting the soil against the extremes of temperature. In fact, small pebbles do add a more appealing and decorative look to mulch.

Soil Drainage

A pebble drain isn’t designed to solve serious drainage issues, but it can help channel runoff from sidewalks and keep water from accumulating around plants, trees, and shrubs especially ones that do not enjoy standing water. In general, a half or one inch gravel should be used for drainage. You can consider using larger gravel in areas where there will be a lot of flow. Rocks are great for your garden’s drainage system because they do not degrade over time and very low maintenance. Please note – a common practice among gardeners is to place gravel in the bottom of flowerpots.  We do not encourage pebbles to be placed there as they stop the excess water from draining from the pot’s bottom, instead it percolates and results in overwatering.

Water Retention

Stones and pebbles stay cooler than the environment and are very effective at holding and retaining moisture. Instead of placing gravel at the bottom of the pot, pebbles can be arranged on top of the soil. Placing a layer of pebbles over the soil slows the process of evaporation. When stones are piled on top of soil, they serve to fill in empty air gaps that would otherwise allow for evaporation.

Stones insulate the soil beneath it, reducing evaporation and water loss to its surroundings.

Fighting off Gnats, Flies and Insects

Finding that your plants seem to be drawing the attention of the pesky flies? Pests like the fungus gnats are drawn towards moist areas or overwatered soil. Once they start laying their eggs, they can be hard to control and can spread pretty quickly. One way to discourage these annoying flies from laying eggs in the soil is to top the soil with a mix of fine sand and colorful pebbles. This procedure would suffocate any larvae in the soil and prevent the gnats from laying any more eggs. You can continue to water your plants as water will seep through the pebbles and at the same time not worry about the gnat infestations.

Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponic Gardening is the art of growing plants without soil. A hydroponic system is easy to maintain, can be used anywhere and plants grow as well as they do in the soil or even better. They are usually done indoors as they occupy very less space. There are a wide variety of plants that can be grown this way. Clay pebbles make an excellent growing medium for a flood and drain hydroponic system.

Some of the most popular pebbles used in gardens are:

River Pebbles: They are circular in shape and are generated by the flow of water in a river. These rocks are great to use in zen gardens, potted plants and fish aquariums.

Mexican Beach Pebbles: They are smooth, well-rounded and grey or black in colour. Very popular in outdoor garden decorations. They can be used in plants beds, surrounding plants and lining your walking path.

Pea Gravel: As the name suggests, it is small, roughly the size of a pea. You have a variety of options in terms of colours to choose from. The pea gravel can be used in patios, balconies and pathways.

Marble Pebbles: These pebbles come in shades of yellow, pink, white and black.

Limestone pebbles: These pebbles come in shades of brown, white and black.

Understanding Companion Planting

Having someone to talk to encourages mental stimulation and positive thoughts in us human beings. We see something similar in our pets – dogs for instance are pack animals and prefer having someone humans or other dogs around to avoid isolation and make them feel better. Plants, like people too, are believed to have preferences for specific types of mates. This is the premise behind the concept of companion planting. Companion planting is done in the belief that certain plants benefit from being planted together.

Companion planting refers to practice of planting different species of plants in close proximity with each other together for a variety of reasons to ultimately benefit the growth and increase the output of the plants.

Interplanting is also a similar technique that has been used by farmers for a long time for growing more crops in a smaller area by matching plants together and utilising the natural development pattern of the plants. In context of home gardens, it is more about maximising space than increasing yield. So, we can pair a large, slow-growing plants with a smaller, fast-growing plants.

Some of the benefits of companion planting is shown below:

Protection against Pests

Through smell created by the secretion of oils, several companion plants help prevent pest insects or harmful fungi from infecting or eating their companion plant.

Natural Support

This is a case of pairing a tall strong plant with a low growing plant. The tall plants provides its companion a natural and organic support

Altering the soil composition

This can be quite challenging, especially identifying the right pair. But, when done correctly, the nutrients being extracted by one plant alters the soil flavour in favour of its companion plant.

Shield against the rough weather

Lot of plants are susceptible against the direct scorching sun and gusty winds. Planting a large plant near these plants provides them a shade and a refuge against the bright sun and also shields against harsh weather.

Better Pollination

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from an anther of a plant to the stigma of a plant for fertilisation. Insects fertilise the plants by transferring pollen present in one flower to another. Certain plants are known to draw pollinators in large numbers and thereby benefitting their companions as well.

Stopping the Weeds

Placing plants close together and by growing thicker shrubs next to its companions, the area and environment needed for weeds is reduced. Square foot gardening is one such common technique that is used to stop the growth of weeds by growing plants closer than normal

While companion planting has not been proven to be scientifically 100% accurate, over periods of time certain combinations of plants seem to do better when together than when left alone. The list is not exhaustive but let us look at some of the popular plant companions.

Rose and Garlic

Facing infestations of aphids, caterpillars and other insects on your beloved roses? Growing the garlic plant next to it repels most pests because of its strong odour.

Cucumber and Beans

Legumes like beans and peas are a gardener’s favourite as they help improve the nitrogen content in the soil. Planting bush beans alongside cucumbers increases the speed of growth as well as the health of the cucumbers

Basil and Tomato

This pair is well known for its combination in the food menu. But, in fact, they are just as good in the soil. The basil plant secretes oil from its leaves that create a smell that is heavenly for humans but a repellent for insects such as flies that flock tomatoes.

Beans and Corn

This is a mutual two-sided relationship. The beans attract certain insects which in turn attack/feed on the insects that pester the corn. In turn, the bean vines are supported as they climb up the corn stalk.

Onion and Spinach

The spinach plant is known to be troubled by pests and weeds. Pair them with the onion plant. The onion plant has a very powerful fragrance that acts as a natural insect repellent.

There are several other companion pairs that one needs to consider when choosing their plants. There are certain combinations that can prove detrimental to each other, and it is very important for gardeners to research on the plants and compatibility before engaging in companion planting.

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