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East Africa is home to a diverse range of climates and landscapes, requiring careful consideration when selecting the right grass for your lawn. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore and compare several popular lawn grasses in the region, providing detailed descriptions, characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of each.


Kikuyu Grass  

Kikuyu grass was first properly described in 1903 by  Emili Chiovenda in Kiambaa, Kiambu Central Kenya. It has green leaves folded along the midrib. The blades are thick with runners.

It is a warm-season grass known for its vigorous growth and ability to withstand heavy foot traffic.

It forms a dense, vibrant green carpet that can quickly fill bare areas. Kikuyu grass is highly adaptable to various soil types, but it requires regular mowing and ample water to prevent overgrowth. Left unmowed, it grows into thick unattractive runners and rough foliage only fit for cattle grazing. In large-scale housing projects where Kikuyu grass was the grass of choice, the hum of lawnmowers is a daily experience.


While it excels in full sun, it may struggle in shaded areas. One of the significant advantages of Kikuyu grass is its excellent drought tolerance, making it suitable for regions with limited water availability.


Even when it dries and seems to have “gone” during drought, you will be surprised at how soon it bounces back in the wet season


Once, a client in Limuru asked that we redo their entire lawn as the grass appeared to have died. I advised caution and patience. Barely a fortnight after the rains, she was calling for lawn mower services!


 However, its aggressive growth habit can lead to invasiveness if not properly contained.

  • Kikuyu grass is good for tough surfaces for playing or well-used garden paths and lawns.

Pemba Grass 

 Pemba grass, also known as Napier grass, is a warm-season grass that thrives in coastal regions and is particularly salt-tolerant.


It occurs in two types the right variegated type and the light green type.

 Pemba grass has a coarse texture and can reach significant heights, making it suitable for erosion control and as a fodder crop for livestock.


Pemba grass exhibits good drought tolerance and can adapt to a wide range of soil types, including sandy soils. However, its invasive nature requires regular maintenance to prevent it from spreading beyond designated areas.


Zimbabwe grass

Zimbabwe Grass (Rhodes grass) (Chloris gayana): Zimbabwe grass is a warm-season, perennial grass that offers excellent drought tolerance and thrives in dry areas. It forms a dense mat and recovers quickly from wear and tear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas. This grass has a fine texture and exhibits good shade tolerance. Regular mowing and fertilization are necessary to maintain its appearance. Zimbabwe grass prefers well-drained soils and is not suitable for areas with heavy clay.

Cape Royal  

Cape Royal a full-sun grass that has very thin blades and is a little slow to establish.  Cape Royal is a cool-season grass that performs well in high-altitude regions with cooler temperatures. It has a dark green color and a fine texture, providing an attractive appearance. Cape Royal exhibits good shade tolerance, making it suitable for areas with limited sunlight. This grass has moderate water requirements and requires regular maintenance, including mowing and fertilization. It is important to note that Cape Royal may struggle in hot, dry conditions.

It is a choice grass for golf courses and its not uncommon to encounter  huge teams plucking weeds for cape royal grass in golf courses

Arabic Grass 

Arabic grass, also known as teff grass, is a warm-season grass that is highly tolerant of heavy grazing. Arabic grass establishes quickly and has a dense growth habit. However, it may struggle in shaded areas and prefers full sun. This grass requires regular maintenance to keep it in optimal condition. If you have ample water and you want the best possible lawn, this is the grass to go for.


This is grass for high-profile homes as it requires top-notch maintenance, particularly with regard to water.


Paspalum is a warm-season grass that is well-suited for coastal regions and areas with saline soils. It offers high salt tolerance and can withstand occasional flooding. Paspalum has a deep root system, providing good wear resistance. It forms an attractive, dense turf but requires regular fertilization to maintain its appearance. Paspalum may not tolerate heavy shade and is best suited for full-sun conditions and light shade.

Maadi River

Maadi River is a native grass of the Nile region and is well-adapted to the East African climate. It offers good heat and drought tolerance, making it suitable for areas with limited water availability. Maadi River has a coarse texture and is often used for erosion control on slopes. Once established, it requires infrequent mowing and little water. However, it may not be as visually appealing as other grass varieties due to its coarse appearance.

When selecting lawn grass for your East African landscape, it's important to consider factors such as climate, water availability, shade, and maintenance requirements. Consulting with local experts like Crystal Gardens and considering the specific needs of your lawn will help you make an informed decision. Remember to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each grass variety to ensure a healthy and vibrant lawn for years to come.

Whatever you decide on, always remember a good lawn whichever the grass, is a labor of love. It will not just happen but requires investment in terms of time, labor, and inputs. If you need help with your lawn planting, call on us at Crystal Gardens and we will be happy to help.


An amusing conversation between a friend and his daughter got us all cracking our ribs; When the child was asked where food comes from, she confidently replied, 'The supermarket'. No amount of prodding would have her give a different answer. I knew it was time to get the kids out into the garden, not only to appreciate our food sources but also because gardening is a great learning ground.

Gardening is a great way for children to learn about nature, responsibility, and the importance of hard work. It can also help them to develop important life skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, and creativity.


Here are some of the benefits of teaching your children about gardening:

1. They will learn about nature.

 When children garden, they get to learn about the different parts of plants, how plants grow, and how they interact with the environment. They also get to see how plants are affected by things like weather, pests, and diseases. This can help them to develop a greater appreciation for nature and the importance of protecting it.

For example, you can teach your children about the different types of plants, how they grow, and what they need to survive. You can also teach them about the importance of pollination and how plants reproduce. And, you can show them how to identify different types of pests and diseases and how to protect their plants from them.

2. They will learn about responsibility. 

Gardening requires a lot of responsibility. Children need to learn how to care for their plants, which includes watering them, fertilizing them, and protecting them from pests. This can help them to develop a sense of responsibility and ownership.

You can help your children learn about responsibility by giving them specific tasks to do in the garden. For example, you can ask them to water the plants, weed the garden, or harvest the vegetables. You can also help them develop a garden plan and teach them how to track their progress.

3. They will learn about the importance of hard work. 

Gardening is not always easy. There are times when it can be hard work, such as when you have to weed or pull out a stubborn plant. However, hard work is often rewarded by the satisfaction of seeing your plants grow and produce food. This can help children to learn the importance of hard work and perseverance.

You can help your children learn about the importance of hard work by letting them help you with gardening tasks. This will show them that hard work is necessary to achieve goals.  Praise them for their hard work and help them see their efforts' value.

4. They will develop important life skills.

 Gardening can help children to develop important life skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, and creativity. For example, when they encounter a problem with their garden, such as a plant that is not growing well, they will need to figure out how to solve the problem. This can help them to develop problem-solving skills. They will also need to work together with others, such as their parents or siblings, to care for their garden. This can help them to develop teamwork skills. And, when they are allowed to be creative with their gardening, such as when they are choosing what to plant or how to design their garden, they can develop their creativity.

You can help your children develop these skills by giving them opportunities to use them in the garden. For example, you can ask them to come up with solutions to problems that they encounter in the garden. You can also encourage them to work together with others and to be creative in their gardening.

5. They will have fun. 

Gardening can be a lot of fun for children. They get to spend time outdoors, get their hands dirty, and learn about something new. And, when they see their plants grow and produce food, they can feel a sense of accomplishment.

You can help your children have fun in the garden by making it a positive experience. This means being patient, encouraging, and supportive. It also means ensuring they have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

If you are interested in teaching your children about gardening, there are many resources available to help you get started. You can find books, websites, and even community gardens that can provide you with information and support.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Start small. Don't try to do too much at once. Start with a small garden and gradually add more plants as your children get more experience.


  • Make it fun. Gardening should be fun for your children. If they are not having fun, they are less likely to stick with it.


  • Be patient. It takes time for plants to grow. Don't get discouraged if your children's garden doesn't look perfect right away.


  • Praise your children. When your children do a good job with their garden, be sure to praise them. This will encourage them to keep working hard.

Gardening is a great way for children to learn about nature, responsibility, and the importance of hard work. It can also help them to develop important life skills



How to Landscape and Garden in Nairobi on a Budget: Landscaping and Planting Tips


Landscaping and gardening in Nairobi, Kenya's bustling capital city, can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, even if you're on a budget. You can transform your outdoor space into a beautiful garden oasis with a little creativity, planning, and knowledge about suitable plants and landscaping styles. This article will provide practical tips and suggestions on how to garden in Nairobi on a budget, including the use of different landscaping styles and the selection of affordable yet stunning plants. Additionally,  explore how Crystal Gardens, a leading gardening service provider in Nairobi, can assist you with your garden needs.

  • Understanding Gardening in Nairobi

Nairobi's climate falls within the subtropical highland zone, characterized by mild temperatures and two rainy seasons. This favorable climate provides ample opportunities for gardening and landscaping. Before diving into gardening on a budget, it's essential to assess your garden's size, sunlight exposure, soil quality, and drainage. Understanding these factors will help you make informed decisions when selecting plants and planning your landscape.

  • Landscaping on a Budget

a. Start with a Plan: Planning your garden's layout is crucial to avoid unnecessary expenses. Sketch out your garden space and consider factors such as walkways, seating areas, and focal points. A well-thought-out plan will guide your budget-friendly landscaping decisions.

Wondering what a focal point is? Well, this feature in the garden attracts the most attention. It could be a tree, a unique plant, a water fountain, or a sculpture.

b. Repurpose and Upcycle: Look for creative ways to reuse materials you already have. Repurposing old containers as planters, using discarded tires for raised beds, or incorporating broken tiles into a mosaic pathway are all cost-effective ways to enhance your garden's aesthetic appeal.


c. Use Gravel and Mulch: Gravel and mulch are affordable materials that can improve the overall look of your garden while minimizing maintenance needs. Gravel paths can add a touch of elegance while mulching your flower beds helps retain moisture and suppresses weed growth.

d. Go for Native Plants: Native plants are well-adapted to Nairobi's climate, making them an ideal choice for a budget-friendly garden. These plants require less water and maintenance, reducing your overall gardening costs. Some popular native plants include African daisies, flame lilies, and Kenya roses.

e. Create Vertical Gardens: Vertical gardens are an excellent way to maximize space in small gardens. Utilize walls or fences to install vertical planters, hanging baskets, or trellises. These structures not only add visual interest but also provide additional growing space for herbs, vegetables, or flowering vines.

  • Affordable Plant Choices

a. Herbs and Vegetables: Growing your own herbs and vegetables is not only cost-effective but also rewarding. Nairobi's climate is conducive to a variety of edible plants, including tomatoes, spinach, kale, parsley, basil, and thyme. Start small with a few pots or dedicate a section of your garden to a vegetable patch.


b. Ornamental Grasses: Ornamental grasses are a great choice for adding texture and movement to your garden. They require minimal maintenance and come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and shapes. Examples of affordable ornamental grasses suitable for Nairobi gardens include pampas grass, fountain grass, and zebra grass.

c. Succulents and Cacti: Succulents and cacti are drought-tolerant plants that thrive in Nairobi's climate. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them an attractive addition to any garden. Succulents like jade plants, aloe vera, and echeveria are low-maintenance options that add beauty to your outdoor space.


d. Annual and Perennial Flowers: Annual and perennial flowers can add vibrant colors and fragrances to your garden. Marigolds, petunias, zinnias, and impatiens are affordable annuals that provide season-long blooms. For perennials, consider plants such as African violets, hibiscus, and agapanthus, which require less frequent replanting.


Gardening in Nairobi on a budget is a feasible and rewarding endeavor. By implementing cost-effective landscaping techniques and carefully selecting affordable plants, you can create a beautiful garden space that suits your style and preferences. Remember to plan your garden layout, repurpose materials, use gravel and mulch, opt for native plants, and consider vertical gardening options.

So Start your budget-friendly gardening journey today, and at Crystal Gardens, we will help you transform your outdoor space into a green haven of tranquility and beauty. We will compare notes, advise and share opportunities to garden in a more affordable way

Call us for free consultation-0722447283



Why You Should Have Plants in Your Office - and How To Care For Them


In today's fast-paced work environment, finding ways to enhance productivity and improve the overall well-being of employees has become a top priority for organizations. One simple yet effective solution that is gaining popularity is incorporating plants into the office space. Office plants not only add aesthetic appeal to the workspace but also provide numerous benefits for both employees and the work environment. In this article, we will explore the advantages of having office plants, their positive impact on staff performance and health, and offer some tips on how to care for them effectively.



Office Plants and Work Environment:

A sterile and dull office environment can often lead to decreased motivation and creativity among employees. From my own experience, I can tell the morale within an office just by its appearance, yet introducing office plants can instantly transform the workspace into a more vibrant and inviting place. The presence of greenery has been found to enhance overall job satisfaction and contribute to a more positive work atmosphere. By incorporating plants strategically, such as on desks, in common areas, or near windows, organizations can create a calming and visually pleasing environment that fosters productivity and creativity.

Office Plants and Staff Performance:

Numerous studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between office plants and employee performance. The presence of plants in the workspace has been shown to increase concentration, focus, and cognitive abilities. It has been observed that employees surrounded by plants are more engaged in their tasks and exhibit higher levels of creativity. The natural elements of office plants create a soothing ambiance, reducing stress levels and boosting overall morale. By investing in office plants, companies can create an environment that encourages optimal employee performance and productivity.

Office Plants and Health:

Beyond their aesthetic appeal and impact on performance, office plants also offer significant health benefits to employees. Indoor air quality is a concern in many office buildings due to the presence of pollutants and toxins. Plants act as natural air purifiers by absorbing harmful substances and releasing oxygen, thereby improving the overall air quality. This leads to a reduction in common workplace ailments such as headaches, dry eyes, and respiratory issues. Additionally, studies have shown that the presence of office plants can help alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety, resulting in improved mental well-being and employee satisfaction.




Care of Office Plants:

While the benefits of office plants are undeniable, it is essential to provide proper care to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. Here are some tips to help you care for your office plants:


  • Choose the right plants: Select plants that are suitable for indoor environments and can thrive in low-light conditions. Some popular options include pothos, snake plants, peace lilies, and spider plants.
  • Provide adequate lighting: Most office spaces have limited access to natural light. Ensure that your plants receive enough indirect sunlight or invest in artificial lighting solutions to meet their needs.
  • Watering and humidity: Avoid overwatering or underwatering your plants. Maintain a consistent watering schedule, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Additionally, consider using a humidifier to combat the dry air commonly found in office environments.
  • Proper positioning: Take into account the light requirements of your plants and position them accordingly. Keep them away from air vents or drafts that may cause temperature fluctuations.
  • Regular maintenance: Monitor your plants for any signs of pests or diseases. Trim dead leaves and provide support for taller plants with stakes or trellises. Regularly dust the leaves to keep them clean and allow for proper photosynthesis.


  Crystal Gardens - Experienced Office Plant Professionals:

Caring for office plants can be a demanding task, especially for businesses with limited time or expertise. In such cases, partnering with professional office plant service providers like Crystal Gardens can alleviate the burden. Crystal Gardens specializes in creating and maintaining green spaces in commercial environments. Their experienced professionals can assess your office space, recommend suitable plant varieties, and provide ongoing care to ensure optimal health and aesthetics.


Integrating office plants into the work environment offers numerous benefits for both employees and the overall atmosphere. From enhancing the aesthetic appeal to improving staff performance and health, the positive impact of office plants cannot be overlooked. By following the care tips mentioned above and considering the assistance of experts like Crystal Gardens, companies can create a thriving and pleasant workspace that promotes productivity, well-being, and employee satisfaction. So why wait? It's time to bring nature into your office and reap the rewards it offers




Securing Your Home-Fences Or Walls?

If society was perfect, we all would wish for an open living style where one lazily hangs on the couch with a mug of their favorite drink, and watch the world go by. But as its is this is hardly possible. Security has become a prime consideration in any living arrangement. The question then comes, how do you secure your home or property? What you decide will be guided by several factors and in this article we list the factors to consider before choosing a wall or a fence.

Fencing and walls are two of the most common ways to secure a home. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.


Advantages of Fences

  • Fencing is typically less expensive compared to walls.
  • Fencing can be installed more quickly than walls. Yes,  your fence can be up before you return home from work however large your home is.
  • Fencing is more flexible than walls. It can be easily modified to accommodate changes in your needs. When your taste and wish to upgrade, you can easily move from a wooden fence to a Clear View Fence
  • Fencing can be more aesthetically pleasing than walls.  Certainly, because of the availability of different materials and styles, fences can be made more appealing.
  • In most areas you do not need a permit to install a fence as they are considered temporary.

Disadvantages of Fences

  • Fencing is not as secure as walls. A determined intruder can usually climb over a fence.
  • Fencing can be damaged by animals or weather. Particularly vulnerable here are wooden fences and chain links
  • Fencing can block views.
  • Fences need regular maintenance like the painting of wooden or metal surfaces.

Advantages of Walls

  • Walls are more secure than fences. They are more difficult for intruders to climb over.
  • Walls are more durable than fences. They are less likely to be damaged by animals or weather.
  • Walls can provide more privacy than fences.
  • Walls can add to the value of your home.



Disadvantages of Walls

  • Walls are more expensive than fences.
  • Walls can take longer to install than fences.
  • Walls can be less flexible than fences. They are more difficult to modify to accommodate changes in your needs.
  • Walls can block views.

Types of Fences and Walls

There are many different types of fences and walls available, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs and budget. Some of the most common types include:

  • Wood fences :Wood fences are a popular choice for their natural beauty and affordability. They are easy to install and maintain, but they can be damaged by animals or weather.


  • Metal fences: Metal fences are more durable than wood fences and are less likely to be damaged by animals or weather. However, they are also more expensive and can be more difficult to install.
  • Vinyl fences:
  •  Vinyl fences are a low-maintenance option that is resistant to damage from animals and weather. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to install.


  • Chain-link fences: Chain-link fences are the most affordable option and are easy to install. However, they are not as secure as other types of fences and do not provide much privacy.


  • Live hedges: Live hedges are a natural way to secure your home. They provide privacy and security, and they can also add beauty to your landscape. However, they can take time to grow and require regular maintenance. Besides they are not as secure as walls or fences.


Choosing the right Fence or Wall

The best way to choose the right fence or wall for your home is to consider your needs and budget. If you are looking for a secure option that is easy to maintain, a metal or vinyl fence may be a good choice. If you are looking for a more affordable option that provides privacy, a wood fence or live hedge may be a better choice.

No matter what type of fence or wall you choose, be sure to install it properly. A well-installed fence or wall will be more effective at deterring intruders.

In addition to fences and walls, there are a number of other ways to secure your home. These include

  • Security lights: Security lights can deter intruders by making it difficult for them to hide.
  • Security cameras: Security cameras can provide a visual deterrent and can also be used to identify intruders after a crime has been committed.
  • Deadbolt locks: Deadbolt locks are more secure than standard doorknob locks.
  • Window locks: Window locks should be used on all windows, even those that are not accessible from the ground.
  • Home security system: A home security system can provide peace of mind by giving you the ability to monitor your home from anywhere in the world.

By taking these steps, you can help to keep your home safe from intruders.


Should you be in need of any fencing or wall requirements, do not hesitate to call us at Crystal Gardens for help. Installing fences, walls, and paving is part of our hardscaping segment that goes hand in hand with soft landscaping.

How To Find A Landscaper In Kenya

You have finally built your dream home, and dispensed with the contractors. Now you need to turn the house into a livable home that suits your taste and style. Or you recently "parachuted" into Nairobi and you want your new abode re-done to your liking. Where do you start?

When it comes to creating a beautiful and well-maintained outdoor space, hiring a professional landscaper is essential. Landscaping services in Kenya offer a range of expertise to transform your garden or commercial property into a stunning and functional landscape. Whether you are looking for gardening services, experienced landscapers, or the best landscapers in Kenya like Crystal Gardens, this article will guide you through the process of finding the right landscaper to meet your needs.


9  Easy Steps to Find A landscaper in Kenya

1. Define Your Landscaping Goals

Before you start searching for a landscaper, it's important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your outdoor space. Consider the specific services you require, such as garden design, lawn maintenance, irrigation systems, hardscaping, or tree care. Determining your landscaping goals will help you narrow down your search and find a landscaper who specializes in the areas you need assistance with.

2. Ask for Recommendations

Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best way to find reliable and experienced professionals. Talk to your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues who have had landscaping work done in Kenya. Inquire about their experiences, the quality of work delivered, and their overall satisfaction with the landscaper. If they had a positive experience with a particular landscaper, likely, you will too. 

3. Conduct Online Research

Let's say you are new in Kenya with few contacts or networks. Or the recommended landscapers don't just appeal to you. In today's digital age, the internet is a powerful tool for finding landscaping services in Kenya. Search for landscapers in your area, and explore their websites, social media profiles, and online reviews. Pay attention to their portfolios and the range of services they offer. Look for landscapers with positive reviews and examples of their previous work that aligns with your desired outcome. 

4. Check Credentials and Experience

Once you have shortlisted a few potential landscapers, it's crucial to check their credentials and experience. Verify if they have the necessary licenses and certifications required by local authorities. Experienced landscapers are more likely to deliver high-quality work, so inquire about their years of experience and ask for references from previous clients. A reliable landscaper will be transparent and willing to provide this information.

5. Seek Multiple Quotes.

Obtain detailed quotes from at least three different landscapers to ensure you are getting a fair price for the services you require. The quotes should include a breakdown of the costs, including labor, materials, and any additional charges. Be cautious of quotes that seem significantly lower than others, as they may indicate subpar workmanship or the use of low-quality materials.

6. Schedule Consultations

Before making a final decision, schedule consultations with the shortlisted landscapers. This will allow you to meet them in person, discuss your landscaping goals, and assess their communication skills and professionalism. During the consultation, ask questions about their approach to landscaping, the timeline for the project, and any concerns or specific requirements you may have. A reliable landscaper will listen attentively and provide valuable input based on their expertise.

7. Assess Communication and Customer Service

Effective communication is vital for a successful landscaper-client relationship. Pay attention to how the landscaper responds to your inquiries, whether they are prompt, clear, and professional in their communication. A landscaper who values good customer service will prioritize your satisfaction and keep you updated throughout the project.

8. Evaluate Past Work and Reviews

Take the time to evaluate the landscaper's past work and read reviews from previous clients. Request to visit some of the properties they have worked on to see the quality of their craftsmanship firsthand. Additionally, online reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the landscaper's reputation, reliability, and attention to detail. Be careful though about landscapers with only positive reviews about their work. If a landscaper has done many projects, they may face some challenges with clients. These will find their way into online reviews. What is important is not the negative comments, but rather how the landscaper responds to the criticism. Are they open about it, willing to address the client's concerns or are they dismissive and haughty? That should inform you about their work ethic and attitude.


9. 9.

9. Consider Specializations

Different landscapers may have unique specializations or design aesthetics. Consider whether a particular landscaper specializes in the specific services you require or has experience with the design style you prefer. This will ensure that they can bring your vision to life and create an outdoor space that aligns with your preferences

Crystal Gardens

Among the many landscapers in Kenya, Crystal Gardens stands out as one of the best. With a team of experienced professionals, they offer a wide range of landscaping services to meet your needs. Crystal Gardens has a proven track record of delivering high-quality workmanship and exceptional customer service. Their portfolio showcases beautiful gardens and well-executed landscaping projects, demonstrating their expertise in creating breathtaking outdoor spaces.

In conclusion, finding a landscaper in Kenya requires careful research, recommendations, and consultations. Define your landscaping goals, seek recommendations, conduct online research, check credentials, and gather multiple quotes. Schedule consultations to assess the landscaper's communication and customer service skills. Evaluate past work, read reviews, and consider specializations and design aesthetics. By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect landscaper to transform your outdoor space into a picturesque haven. And if you're looking for the best landscapers in Kenya, Crystal Gardens is undoubtedly your best bet.

Pets and Your Children

For many boys who grew up in the countryside, having pets was almost a rite of passage.  You were not somebody until you could point to your rabbit. You couldn’t sit in the council of boys until you had pigeons, a dog or a fowl.

How Children Benefit from Having Pets?

This possession of pets taught us responsibilities to no end; your rabbits had to feed. So after school one had to forage for weeds. Your dog needed to be safely kept-so one had to put up a kennel.

Pets can enrich a child’s life. But they both need to learn how to treat each other and require supervision.

For children, having pets can teach them empathy and concern. Pets can help children learn to love and trust others.  If you have a dog and you trust it enough to feel safe before it, you certainly are trusting. 

As children play with pets, they engage in physical activity. This becomes a fun way to make exercise a part of their lifestyle.

The love and care for other living things can be nurtured through having pets. Over the pet’s lifecycle, child minders can teach children various aspects of life processes; birth, illness, death.


How to Choose a Pet for Your Child

 Small breeds of dogs or puppies or kittens may not always be the best for your younglings. Rather go for a big adult dog or cat that can tolerate active playing and handling.

It is better to have a veterinarian check and give the pet a clean bill of health rather than purchase a dog or cat that can risk infecting your child. Does your child or anybody else in the family suffer allergies related to suggested pets?

At home the onus falls on the adult to manage the interaction between the pets and children.

For a dog, the child shouldn’t be the only person holding the leash. Rather show him how a leash is held by holding it together.  Even for small pets like kittens do show the child how to hold or carry them. Train your children to never run from a dog; neither should your dogs chase children around. Dogs, being chasers, will have their predator/prey instincts prompted by a screaming, running child

Children have a knack to poke, hit or grab animals. This can not only provoke an attack, but can harm small animals. Dangling of fingers, legs or hands before pets in attack games should be firmly discouraged.

A brooding animal is sensitive. Children should be kept away from a pet’s young brood as they get defensive and could attack if they feel the young ones are at risk. When an animals is eating, sleeping or starts to hiss or growling, children should keep their distance.



Practice Good Hygiene

Hygiene is critical in the care of pets for your children. Children should stay away from litter boxes or feeding bowls. Pets’ feces can be highly contagious. A through washing of hands should be done after every playful activity with the pets.

When children are playing with pets, be on the lookout for any bites or scratches. These should be attended to immediately-if need be by a doctor. Your pet must have a time to rest. Often, children will want to play with the animals in rotation without knowing that the animal gets fatigued. A quite place away from children can help it rejuvenate and avoid being irritable.

Even though you bought the pet for your child, the pet remains your responsibility. The child can help with pet care but that is just how far it goes. He will feed the dog and water it, but you have to measure the food. He can walk the dog, but only in your company. Children are better off with small, safe and simple tasks done under your supervision





How to Grow Zesty Zucchinis

Zucchinis are also called baby marrows,  Courgettes or Summer squash. Zucchinis are what  is referred to as New world vegetables; they were  not available in their present form  until fairly recently. While they  may be delicious, Zucchinis will require some tender loving care though.

It was the Spanish conquerors who discovered Zucchini in Quatemala and Mexico . They later brought it to Europe in the 16th Century. Zucchini was introduced in the USA  in the 1950s by Italian immigrants where it became a very popular  vegetable .

In Italian Zucchini means sweetest while Europeans use the name Courgette which is a French word.

What are the advantages of Zucchini ?

Zucchinis are fast maturing and will ripen within 2 months of seeding. In addition they have frequent and continuous production. Even from the smallest spaces, you can have your zucchini up close. For the kitchen, Zucchinis are highly versatile. They appear in a wide range of recipes.

Zucchinis for your Kitchen

Zucchinis can be steamed or boiled and served with butter or spices. They are tasty in potjies.

A very healthy and nutritious method to prepare them is to slice them lengthwise, and after drizzling a little olive oil, add salt to taste, grill in oven until lightly scorched.

Zucchins can also be roasted, fried, sliced in salads like cucumber and pickled.

Advantages of Zucchini meals

Zucchinis are low in calories and are therefore ideal for dieters. They are high in vitamin  A and C , calcium and Iron .  The challenge is to be able to eat more Zucchinis and remain slim!

Growing Zucchinis

The following steps will be helpful in growing Zucchins.

  1. Sow seeds in containers, tin cans or flower pots. Place them in a protected warm area
  2. Sow seeds in plastic mini tunnels  closed with soil all round  to keep  them  more or less  airtight. The soil  is  warmed  by the sun  in the day  and heat prevented from  escaping  by the plastic.
  3. Make sunken areas  where  you can sow the seeds and  cover with  a sheet of plastic  level with  the soil –similar to the mini tunnels way.


Soil preparation and sowing

Zucchinis need  good soils that are fertile and well composted for vigour and productivity. The soil  should be free draining. The idea soil should have a pH 6-7


Spacing for Zucchinis should be 60cm-a part  in the rows and  120cm  apart between rows. Spray against cutworms before planting as these can be a menace.  Zucchinis are very productive, so just plant a few. Plant two seeds at a time, and when they sprout, remove the weaker seedlings.

Since Zucchinis are fast growers they require ample nitrogen. Apply nitrogen heavy fertilizer near each plant when they reach 3-4 leaves. Water well and apply mulch around the plant.


You can prevent moisture  loss and suppress weeds by mulching around the stems. Avoid having the mulch too close to the stem as pests can crawl up the stems. 

Pest and Diseases

For Zuchinis pests and diseases will appear   towards the end of the season.  You need hawkeyed vigilance. Powdery mildew can be a problem in later stages. If caught early systemic products can control the disease. Powdery lesions in older leaves should be sprayed immediately. Repeat the spraying every two weeks.

In cold areas pumpkin fly appears later in the season . Organic control this by  making a bait from 80g of sugar  and 2ml of malathion  in 1litre  of water.

Apply course droplets on the foliage and surrounding bushes.

You can also make a sleeve from old newspapers which you can wrap around the young fruit leaving only the end open for bees to pollinate. Various viruses, spread by aphids also attack the crop in late season. Watch out for pale plants and lumpy fruits. Pull out these and spray for aphids.


Harvest your zucchinis before they get too mature. Use a sharp knife to server the fruit and avoid damaging the plant.

Zucchini hacks

Always stack the plant

Keep picking up fruits as they mature. If picked too late, they will grow large and stop producing.

Practice crop rotation. It is better to plant at a site where the previous crop is not affected by eelworms.


Making Creamy courgettees and pasta dish.


20g of ribbon pasta

1/3  cupof sour sauce

Paemesan cheese1/3 cup grated

30g of butter

1/3 cupof cream

4 baby marrowa

Pepper dew and courgeettee flowers for garnish

Cook pasta in boiling silted water until tender,drain

Do not peel baby marrows

Use a vegetable peeler to cut marrows into lengthwise thin slices. Melt butter and add baby marrow slices, gently stirring until tender. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and cream. Season to taste. Add cooked pasta and return to stove and gently  heat. Do not allow to boil . Remove and add grated permesum cheese and baby marrow slices.

Serve garnished with slice peeperdews and coquette flowers.



It has been a trying season for garden owners. Parched lawns, drooping shrubs and dead filler plants  are the awful sight that you around town.

The rains have delayed and resulted in drought conditions. Gardeners are now forced to choose what to save and what to sacrifice in the garden.

 With limited water, gardens are relegated to the rear in terms of water needs. The result is that in a few weeks the scorching heat will leave our gardens fried dry. And come the rainy season- in April - homeowners will be out on the prowl to replace died out plants.

Yet this need not be the case. You can avoid the gardening sorrows associated with drought if you drought-proof your garden.  By using the techniques outlined below, you can wriggle through drought with your garden still thriving.

Use Indigenous Plants

The easiest way to drought-proof your garden is at the planting stage. Here choose plants that are indigenous to the locality. Indigenous plants are those plants that occur naturally in your local area and have adapted   to the local environmental conditions. As a result they carry themselves through the seasons with less tending-after all they have survived it all; the changing seasons, the severest of droughts and the human impact.  An added advantage of indigenous plants is that they provide food sources and habitats for local fauna; insects, birds and rodents. Though some plants may not be originally indigenous to your area, they nevertheless may have come from areas around the globe with similar environmental conditions as your area.  Such will easily blend in and exert less demand on resources including water.


Plant zoning

Plants differ in their water requirements. Some plants require less water than others. Group plants with similar water needs together. This zoning will ensure that watering is done separately and that no plant receives more than it really needs. An impatiens or Iresine herbastii  lumped together with day lilies or succulents may upon showing signs of water stress trigger a wholesale hosing of a border which may not be necessary.

Plant location and Mulching

Position plants in the garden according to their requirements. Plants that require shade will need frequent watering when grown in full sun thereby using more water than they would otherwise need.

Again note that plants that are healthy and vibrant require less water than sickly ones. You can nourish your garden by incorporating lots compost in the soil. Compost not only feeds the soil with nutrients but also helps in water retention.

Apply mulch to your beds to help reduce water evaporation. Mulch also helps control weeds which use up water meant for your plants. As it decomposes, it breaks down into organic matter that attracts micro organisms, which burrow it into the soil-improving, the soil structure.

Plant drought tolerant

These are plants which by nature are adapted to dry conditions. These drought tolerant plants have certain adaptations that help cushion them against water loss. Such adaptations range from reduces leaf size like lavenders, aromatic oils in rosemary and thyme and grey leaves in for wild olives. Then there are the traditional water savers in garden. Plants like Agapanthus, bouganivilleas, bromeliads, succulents, agaves and cactuses thrive with bare watering. By planting these types of plants you will be assured of less water demand upfront.

All around Nairobi, Bougainvilleas are thriving unpertubed by the drought conditions.

Trenched Beds

When growing vegetables, it is advisable to use trenched beds. Here trenches are dug and under laid with organic matter. The trench is then topped up with soil. This bed system is self contained as little water and nutrients leach out and trenches allow for water harvesting.

Harvest water

While we hope to cope with the drought, harvesting your water during the rains could make your  situation more bearable. If only many households could harness and harvest this water channeling it into tanks, pans  and ponds , many of our gardens wouldn’t be in such a sorry state during this dry spell –and the water bill wouldn’t be such  an irritating expense after all.

Responsible watering

Finally practice responsible watering. A lot of the watering is done casually- alight sprinkling to arouse plants. This shallow watering has most of the water evaporating. Watering should be sustained so that the roots are deep drenched. It is better to water less often but deeply than to routinely water shallowly. Deep watering encourages deeper root development which in turn helps the plant scour for water and nutrients underneath.

If you water shallowly, the roots will come up to the surface to look for water. During drought, these exposed roots will



Traditional clay pots loose moisture through the porous surfaces. One way to keep them moist is to do double planting. Install the plant in a plastic pot, then place in inside a clay pot. There will be less evaporation.

If you apply these approaches   your garden will survive the dry season unscathed.






Space is a precious commodity, so limited and expensive in towns and cities that it makes sense to enjoy every inch you have. If like many of us, you live in  apartments that now define our urban landscape, the challenge is how to engage your children in meaningful outdoor activities. However you need not despair. By using your outside space, no matter how small, you can stylishly extend the boundaries of your home and rope in a play area for the children.


Balconies, basements, rooftops, window sills and flower beds are space options that can be turned into retreat area for the young ones. But why bother with creating play areas for your kids?

Playing is an integral part of a child’s growth. It is at the play ground that children learn and pick up new skills like team work, communication and endurance. Here they learn to explore, to smell-to touch and discover for themselves how the world around them works. Role play flourishes at the playground. It is a critical aspect of a child’s development. More importantly though having a play area at home ensures that not only do you impart these skills yourself, but also the safety of the child is assured.

It therefore becomes necessary that you meet your children’s need for a space in which they can satiate their playful instincts, follow their wild imaginations, daydream or simply unwind.


Fortunately, a children’s retreat need not cost the earth. Nor do they have to elaborate installations. Instead, they can be made from simple materials, some improvised that will not only fit frugal budgets, but also adaptable to small spaces. When setting up such a facility, a key consideration is the need to observe safety. As such children’s play areas should be located within immediate reach and at a spot that can easily be watched over from the kitchen window, porch or terrace. Where this is not possible, then a parent or responsible adult must be physically present.


Before setting up any play area understand the personality of your child. Is he sedentary or hyperactive?  Does he have special needs? Hyper active are the rough cut lots; the type that runs all over engaging in exacting activities like riding, skating or ball games. For such hard surfaces in form of paved concrete, bricks or stonework are appropriate. For a lawn, a tough turf of kikuyu or Maadi river grass that withstands trampling is highly recommended.


On the other hand sedentary children are the contemplative types who spend most of their time in one spot absorbed in moulding, drawing or erecting stuff. This group will make do with a few toys, sandboxes, teddy bears, or swings. Some children may have special needs, especially if they are physically or mentally challenged. For these, a minder to lead them through play should be availed. Similarly, the play equipment should be suitably tailored to meet their needs. Physically challenged children will require ramps while those with impaired hearing may require bells and other noise generating equipment to aid in their hearing and sound identification.


If children are discerning enough seek their views as to what they would prefer for play tools so that you don’t install features that are not in tandem with their interests. Climbing heights are almost a universal childhood favourite. So, seek to install heights in form of trees, ladders or raised ramps. Similarly, most children adore dirt which seems to have an infinite allure for them. Rather than risk having them grovelling in unsafe materials, provide cleansed soil or sand with which they can play.


Having identified the nature of your child, where then do you site the play tools?


The roof top

For families in the higher up apartments the roof top can be turned into a vibrant living environment. In the Middle East and the Orient where space shortage is a cute, the roof top is part of the house quarters where children will be seen engaged in play. A roof top play area is ideal for sedentary children. Where swings, ramps and huts are erected it follows that unaccompanied access to the roof top is denied by having lockable access gate. In most cases though the preferred safety measure is to hedge in the play area at the roof top with trellises.



A small space like the balcony or window sill can also be useful to children as a play area. Here a small garden can be set up that will bring the natural world home. They can raise their own plants, relax from school work, play truant and still be able to learn the basics of science. Again, it is here that children can keep a pet.


Spare these for those with seemingly boundless energy, the uncontrollable lot who greatly enjoy the out doors. Thy relish challenge and will do physically demanding games like racing, ball games and athletics.



If you are lucky to have some space, mazes provide an appealing play option for almost all children. Easily 

made from arranging hay bales, the trick is in getting a good designer who can create something to fit your space without having you break the bank. I have seen for instance, members of a gated community pool resources to instal a maze-much to the joy of estate children.


The common refrain that children will always be children is an allusion to their need to vent energy no matter the environment. This implies that regardless of where they grow, they will still need to exercise their playful instincts. As a parent you owe them an opportunity to address this desire in a safe and timely manner.

 Whatever play options you provide, it should be a cardinal rule that a First Aid kit be within instant reach. Bruises and cuts are terms that may be part of your regular conversations.

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