Monday, May 10, 2010

River Of Life - Second Post

I've had a few friends ask me how to make it from a previous post so I got the instructions from mom and dad for putting together the tree snake that they like to call the "river of life".

On your tree, measure where you want it to go, plus a few extra inches. Get that length of landscape fabric (not punctured plastic) and chicken wire with 2" holes. cut the fabric to the circumference that you want, maybe 2-2 1/2' around is easier to manage for your first time. Lay the chicken wire down flat and the fabric on top of it. Use hot glue or a strong waterproof adhesive along the edges of the fabric to connect the sides to make a long sack. Also seal up one end, that will be the bottom. Fill the sack with perlite planting mix (perlite, shredded coconut shell & peat moss) or other LIGHTWEIGHT planting mix. Lay this "snake" back on the chicken wire and wrap the wire around it. This will keep the flowers in place once they start getting bigger. Pinch the wire tightly closed at each end. *Do not cut the chicken wire width-wise because it become like a Chinese finger trap and not hang right, just overlap when you wrap it around the fabric snake.

You should now have a long snake of chicken-wire-wrapped landscape fabric, filled with lightweight planting medium. Gather top of the snake's chicken wire together to make a wire "rope" then make a loop out of it to hang it from. Get on a ladder and position this on the tree, secure the top of the wire loop to the tree with a large screw or nail or tie around a low limb with strong wire.

Now poke small holes in the fabric (through the 2" chicken wire holes) wherever you want to place an impatiens plant. these don't have to be real close together because ea plants will get big enough to fill in about a 6" area. make sure to get the roots well within the soil.

This snake took about 5 flats of impatiens, but you need less if you are making a smaller and skinnier snake, which would be best to do if it is your first try. Check the moisture daily by poking your finger through some of the holes. If it gets dry the plants won't fill in good and you'll have bare fabric showing. On very hot days you will need to water extra. It's easier to lay a soaker hose or drip irrigation tubes on top of the snake and let the flowers cover it as they grow. you can cut the hose to the exact length of the snake so you can just attach a garden hose to it for a couple hrs when it needs moisture, (or most of the day during heat waves) and then disconnect it again, leaving the soaker hose in place. Because of gravity you may need to water the top portion of the snake more often, or only position the hose on the top half of the snake and let gravity bring the water down. The hose can be attached to the snake by using zip ties from Home Depot electrical section. Fasten it every foot or so.
My dad uses Rapid Grow with a hose attachment once a week to keep them nice and full.
This snake should last about 5 yrs, they just leave it in the tree over winter and put more plants in the same holes every year.
Any questions? just leave it in the comments.

I still haven't tried one yet myself, but am planning on making a round one to put around the base of a tree that nothing will grow under. I'm thinking this should work because it is a big ring of good soil that stays in place, and being on a flat surface easy to water and fertilize. We'll see.

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