Dear Readers,

I have a bit of a problem with the neighborhood kids; they are always playing in my front yard, jumping off the porch steps on bikes and scooters and running around the place, usually right after I put down organic fertilizer on the lawn to try and fix the patches in the grass.

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It always worries me that they will hurt themselves on something I’ve left out or doing something stupid on my property by investigating the chickens or the shed or even the dogs getting out. The last thing I want is a lawsuit and my yard seems to be the only one they do it on.

It seems to be something I have noticed in Utah that kids appear to think that anyone and everyone’s property is their right to enter and play in and there’s never a responsible adult anywhere nearby.

I have tried repeatedly talking to the kids and politely asking them to leave, as has my husband.  However last night was the last straw with the kids throwing stuff at each other from a pile of trash (branches and twigs for chipping into mulch and cement I dug out).  I yelled at the kids to get off my property and received open mouthed looks by all of them which would have been given if I had just committed murder right in front of them.

Rant over.

Defining Boundaries

I decided that my front yard needed a boundary putting up to stop the kids from coming onto it. Ideally, I would have installed a fence but I’m not exactly swimming is cash. 

I’ve been reading a lot about permaculture recently and since there isn’t much in the way of animal habitat in my neighborhood, I decided on planting a hedge. I wanted something which would attract bees, butterflies and birds into the yard.

Luckily, the nursery was having a sale on perennials for $2 a pot so I picked up some asters, grasses and some other flowering plants to add to the herbaceous shrubs.  I really wanted some dogwood, hawthorn and blackthorn but the nursery didn’t have any.  We already had some holly at home, rather sad looking rosemary and a leggy smoke bush which had really seen better days so I decided to use those in making my hedge.

I set about digging holes along the front of the yard and planting the holly bushes, smoke bush, St. John’s Wort and rosemary along the sidewalk.  The grass has not been doing well in that area and it was one of the main areas the kids some in.

Why didn’t I dig a full border? 

I mostly didn’t dig a full border because I didn’t have enough mulch to fill in the border after it had been dug.  I also wanted to try mulching the weeds out and try building a no dig border naturally.

I want the hedge to attract wildlife and fill out over a season or two and have space where I can build up flowering perennials to attract beneficial insects, grasses to provide shelter over winter for good bugs, a small rock pile to attract garter snakes to keep the slugs and mice away and some purple robe locust which bees absolutely love.

Building up a wildlife area, privacy screen planting and general landscaping can be very expensive.  I have learned how to take cuttings from hardwood and softwood plant parts to be able to propagate plants inexpensively.  Many perennials can be divided in fall or early spring to create more plants; irises, hosta, blue fescue grass, yarrow, asters, red hot pokers and mums are all examples which are divided to propagate plants.

Learning to propagate plants is an important skill which any gardener or homesteader should try to master.

Many shrubs which you may have in your garden can be propagated by cuttings.  Softwood or hardwood cuttings can be taken throughout the year to increase the number of plants. The following plants can be propagated by cuttings:

Propagating plants shrubs which can be propagated by cuttings

  • Currants
  • Berries like gooseberry
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Honeysuckle
  • Lavender
  • Jasmine
  • Willow
  • Mulberry
  • Buddlija (Butterfly bush)
  • Dogwood
  • Philadelphus (mock orange)
  • Holly
  • Rose
  • Hazelnut or filbert
Softwood cuttings

These are taken around June/July on the current season’s growth.

Choose strong, healthy shoots.  These will be more likely to root than sickly or diseased growth.

Using pruning shears or secateurs, cut a shoot a bit longer than the final cutting will be.  Generally a cutting is about 4 inches or 10 cm. 

Cut straight across the shoot just below a leaf joint and cut the leaves in half which are on the cutting.  This reduces waster loss.

Dip the base of the cutting into rooting hormone powder if desired.  Take a look at this article for natural rooting hormone. at Attainable Sustainable

Place the cuttings into good quality compost in a pot.  Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or cloche.  Keep the pot in a warm place but not in direct sunlight to root.

Keep the compost moist.

Urban Homestead Library

Hardwood cuttings

Usually taken in late fall and winter with the harder wood and is ideal for climbers, trees and shrubs.

Use healthy shoots taken from growth in the current year.  Cut about 6 inches (15 cm) long.

Cut above a bud with a slope about 45° angle to allow water to shed.  The base should be cut horizontally just below a bud.

Dip the base into rooting hormone powder if desired.

Hardwood cuttings may be placed into a pot of compost like with softwood cuttings or placed in a nursery trench outside.  These cuttings should be placed into the ground or compost about two-thirds of the way into the soil.

Cuttings should be left in place until the following fall if kept outside and kept moist.  If placed into pots, the cuttings may be ready sooner.

I recently purchased an air propagation or Air-layering Propagation Kit from Amazon to try.  By wounding the cambium layer in the bark on a shrub or tree and placing the clam-shell around it with the growing medium and rooting hormone, roots grow out of the wound into the soil in the clam-shell allowing you to sever the stem and plant up more quickly.

I’m excited to start propagating plants over the winter so I can start increasing the number of plants in the gardens ready for spring.

Do you have a favorite way to propagate plants?  If you have any tips please share them in the comments or at the Misfit Gardening Community Forum, we would love to read about them.

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