December Gardening Tip

Anti-desiccant:

dec1_lgSpraying an anti-desiccant could mean life or death to some evergreens. Applying a product such as Wilt-pruf coats the needles on evergreens and broad leafed evergreens such as holly and Rhododendron which reduces the amount of moisture that is lost though the leaf. This product will not harm the plant and will wear off in about 60 days; you may need to reapply this product later in the winter. Read all directions before applying, temperatures should be above 40 degrees before applying since you do not want this product to freeze on. Apply liberally to top and bottom of leaf surface until product runs off. It is very important to treat all newly planted evergreens that are in a sunny or windy area. This is also a very useful tool when transplanting any evergreens or shade trees during the summer months. Be careful when using this product on blue-colored evergreens as it tends to pull out the color.

Winter protection for trees and shrubs:

Protecting newly planted trees by mulching them heavy and being sure to stake them if they are in a windy spot will protect them from the strong winter winds. When heavy snows occur, be careful how snow is plowed. To prevent damage, avoid piling heavy wet snow on them, which will break them up. Ice can be very damaging to pines and birch these plants will bend a lot but can break under the weight of ice. Be careful with ice melt products and plants, when salts build up in soils it gets harder for the plants to take up nutrients and they will struggle and die. When hanging holiday lights be sure they are UL approved. Hang lights so they are loosely attached so that they are not damaging the plant at all. [Read more…]

November Gardening Tip

Fall perennial garden:

nov1_lgAs the first frost starts to blacken the annuals and perennials, it is time for a major cleanup. Start by removing all annuals by the roots, if you can. Remove all dried up stems and foliage that look bad on all perennials; also clean up all leaf debris that has blown into the garden and pull or cut back all weeds. Some people like to leave ornamental grasses standing in the garden for a little structure and aesthetics during the winter months. As the snow hits these clumps, it smashes them down and breaks them up; as the winter winds pick up, it blows this debris all around the garden making it much harder to clean up in the spring. So we do recommend either cutting them or tying them up in the fall. Cutting them also keeps rodents from making nests in these clumps because they are more exposed to the weather. Pick up any limbs or twigs that have fallen, pull out any stakes or supports that were used on the perennials and store them for use next year. Move any decorative pots, statuary, or water feature items to the interior so they don’t crack in the cold weather.

Fertilize trees and shrubs:

By this of the year most trees and shrubs are in their dormant stage. This is the best time of year to fertilize them. For shrubs get a granular, slow-release fall / winter fertilizer applying it directly to the root zone for the snow and rain to move it into the ground over the winter. Be sure to use the amounts indicated on the product label, this will insure that the fertilizer will be at the plants root zone when the plant needs it in the spring. There are also products made for acid-loving plants such as hollies and evergreens. With trees the best way is tree spikes. These spikes are made just for trees and contain the nutrients and the micronutrients that the plants need to grow. These spikes are inserted in the ground at the drip line of the tree, check product label for the amount to be used according to the caliber of the tree. [Read more…]

October Gardening Tip

Fall needle drop:

oct1_lgJust as deciduous trees change color and loose their leaves in the fall, so do evergreens. By mid to late October, most evergreens start to turn yellow on the inside of the plant. This is a perfectly natural occurrence; as the needles drop and build up under the plant, they act as very good natural mulch. These needles will retain moisture and break down to add organic matter to the plant.

Planting spring bulbs:

Fall is the time of the year for planting Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Crocuses, and many other varieties of spring flowering bulbs. Check the bags for planting instructions, it is important to plant these bulbs at the right depth. Never put fertilizer directly in the bottom of the planting hole as this will burn the roots as they emerge. It is better to top dress with a granular fertilizer in the spring as the bulbs emerge or mix a slow-release fertilizer into the soil before planting. Make sure you plant enough bulbs to make a good showing. When too few bulbs are planted, you don’t get the colorful effect you expected. Plant bulbs in groupings rather then in straight lines. Some bulbs, other than those in the daffodil family, can be damaged by rodents (mice, squirrels, and chipmunks) looking for food during the winter months. Also, deer can be very destructive mainly to Tulip and Crocus bulbs. Try to plant these varieties closer to the house or in higher traffic areas to keep these animals away. Lay wire fencing over the area to keep deer and rodents from digging and destroying the bulbs. [Read more…]

September Gardening Tip

Watering plants:

sep1_lgThe hot summer months tend to also be very dry. Look for signs of wilting and try to water slowly, either by hand or by setting the hose on a slow trickle for a set period of time. If you use a sprinkler, use it in the morning rather than midday or evening, so the plants will have a chance to dry out. If you are trying to establish a newly planted landscape, you will need to deep soak these plants at least 2 to 3 times a week, depending on weather. Some plants handle dryness better than others; one plant to base your watering on is a Hydrangea; it is one of the first to wilt, so when you see this you know it’s time to water.

Lawn renovation:

Start of Fall Season. This is the best time of the year to fix any problems with your lawn. Nights get cooler which allows better germination of grasses and slows weed growth. If you are planning to totally reseed an area, and are planning to use Roundup, you will have to apply it at least 2 to 3 weeks ahead. Remember this herbicide only acts on actively growing weeds, so if it is very dry, you may need to irrigate before spraying to push the weeds back into new growth. Remove the existing lawn sod down to the bare soil. Add organic material such as compost or a good organic top soil; rake or rototill it in. Use a hand or mechanical spreader to apply the seed; read label to use the correct amount. Only use a top quality seed mixture. In this area, we have a lot of Kentucky blue grass and fine fescues. If you are seeding in a shaded area, make sure your mix has some creeping red fescue in it. Covering the newly seeded area with penn mulch or straw netting will help to retain moisture and keep soil temperatures warmer for germination; Keep the area moist for maximum germination, water early in the morning so the soil has a chance to dry as the day goes on. Depending on the seed, it could take 10 to 14 days to germinate. [Read more…]

August Gardening Tip

Late summer perennials:

aug1_lgAs larger perennials are done blooming, start cutting them back to the ground: some will develop fresh new foliage for the remainder of the season. Sometimes they manage to bloom again before the frost. To neaten their appearance, cut leggy stems of plants like Coneflower, Daisies, Black eye Susan, Hosta, and Daylilies. To extend the perennial garden into the fall, plant fall Chrysanthemums, and Asters; these are available at garden centers by mid-August. Also try planting fall Pansies and Ornamental Kale and Cabbages to extend your season even after the frost.

Attracting butterflies:

Creating a butterfly garden involves planting nectar-producing plants to encourage butterfly populations to visit. The goal is to provide flowers in bloom thought out the season, especially during mid to late summer when most butterflies are active. Flowers with multiple florets that produce a lot of nectar are ideal to keep new butterflies visiting your garden. The two best plants are butterfly bush and butterfly weed; other good shrubs are Rose of Sharon, Spiraea, and Clethra. There are also a lot of perennials that do a good job of attracting butterflies like Coneflower, Aster, Bee-balm, Black eye Susan, Coreopsis, Daisy, Liatris, Lantana, Mountain mint, Hollyhock, Phlox, Salvias, Sedums, and Yarrow. All butterflies have pacific host plants, these plants are for the adult female butterfly to lay her eggs. When these tiny caterpillars hatch they cannot travel very far to find food, the female lays her eggs on only plants that support these young caterpillars. [Read more…]

July Gardening Tip

Summer roses:

july1_lgRoutinely check your roses for insect damage; mites can infest roses stressed by heat and drought. Fine webbing on twigs and leaf stems is evidence of the presence of mites. They require an application of Neem oil or insecticidal soap as directed on product label. Make sure you are keeping up with your fungicidal sprays every two weeks for black spot. Keep up with your routine pruning check for damaged or broken canes, dead twigs, and faded flowers removing them and any debris that falls to the ground to prevent more disease. Continuous bloomers such as Meidiland, Carefree and Knockout do not require deadheading to maintain flower production but it does improve appearance and helps keep shrubs compact. Prune early blooming climbers and ramblers after flower drop. This will give the roses time to set buds on new wood for next year.

Summer annuals maintenance:

As your annuals get established and start to bloom, it is a good time to add a light layer of mulch. Start by pulling any weeds that are present in the bed, then apply about an inch layer of peat moss or coco shells; these products are light and will let water and air through to the root systems. This will help with evaporation and hold more moisture at the root systems; it will also keep ground temperatures cooler. This is also a good time to give this plant a good shot of fertilizer by spraying the foliage with a diluted kelp-based fertilizer; follow instruction on the label. Some annuals are self cleaning and the flower petals just drop off, but some varieties need to be deadheaded. Decaying flowers promote fungus and disease so deadheading some of the larger ones (Geraniums, Petunias, Salvias, Ageratum, Snapdragons, Sunflower, and Marigolds) is very important. Pinching back Petunias, Begonias, Impatiens, Lantana, and Coleus will produce shorter, stockier plants that will produce more flowers. Staking of larger annuals will keep them from getting knocked down by wind and rain. Start with stakes about a foot taller than the plant, pushing them into the ground right next to the plant, and tie the plant loosely to the stake with soft twine. [Read more…]

June Gardening Tip

Check irrigation systems:

jun1_lgAs hot weather begins, it is time to turn on the irrigation system. Take time to check for broken heads, leaks, clogged drip emitters, and sprinklers that are malfunctioning. Improper irrigation can lead to wasted water or plant problems with over or under irrigation. Avoid daytime watering. Set your timers to water at night or early in the morning to conserve water. Make sure lawn sprinklers don’t spray into landscape beds since these beds should be watered separately to avoid over watering. Check sprinkler heads to avoid over spray onto impervious surfaces such as driveways and walks to conserve water. To also conserve water, be sure your beds have a good layer of mulch to reduce surface evaporation; increase mower height to avoid lawn burnout.

Nutsedge:

This grass-type weed is recognized by its shiny light green/yellow color and triangular stems. It produces many tubers at the end of rhizomes; from these tubers, many plants are formed. Tuber sprouting is promoted by moist soil conditions, hence nutsedge growth in wet areas. Nutsedge is very hard to control because it produces so many tubers. Mulching over it does very little to control it because it can readily grow though mulch. Pre-emergent herbicide, if applied in early spring, will help in the tuber sprouting. The post-emergent herbicide Sledgehammer, applied in woody landscapes and turf, has been found to be very effective. Roundup or products like Roundup can be effective. The biggest problem with this herbicide is the nutsedge leaf has a very shiny waxy coat, which can initially be impermeable. The use of Sticker is very important. [Read more…]

May Gardening Tip

may1_lgRose maintenance:

As new growth fully emerges on your roses, there are a few things to look for. Be sure any new growth coming out below the graft is pruned off. This foliage should look different from the main plant because these shoots are growing from the root stock. Remove all leaf and plant debris, and discard them in the trash, as they might harbor insect eggs and fungi. All roses are heavy feeders so this is a good time to fertilize with a slow release granular fertilizer scratched into the mulch area around the root surface. Most roses would also benefit from an application of a fast acting foliar spray fertilizer throughout the summer. Leggy stem growth and very few flower buds are usually a sign that the plant is lacking sunlight. Try pruning overhead trees and shrubs to increase sunlight or maybe the plant needs to be moved to a sunnier area. Watering is also very important to roses; the spring rains are usually adequate to support lush new growth. But as summer brings more sunny hot weather, it is very important to add moisture to these plants, thoroughly soaking this plant at least once a week with a hand wand. Be sure to apply water to root area and not to foliage; water lying on foliage will cause fungi. If overhead watering is necessary, be sure to water early in the morning so foliage has a chance to dry out. Also keeping a thick layer of mulch on them will help to hold more moisture.

Planting annuals:

With the last frost in this area around May 15, early May is usually a safe time to plant annuals. Eventhough annuals can sometimes be a lot of maintenance and need to be planted every year, there are no other plants that give you so much color all summer long. All annuals are very heavy feeders so preparing the bed is very important. Start by turning over the soil and mixing either peat moss or any other organic material into the soil at about a 50/50 rate. Add a slow release fertilizer by scratching into the top layer right before planting. The best time to plant these small transplants is on a cloudy day or late in the day so new transplants will not be stressed from the sun. It is also very important to water these small transplants in at planting and also follow up for the first week to get them well established. By turning up the soil you will lose all pre-emergent that was put down earlier in the year, so you might need to hand weed these areas until the plants are established. Then you can reapply pre-emergent; check label to confirm the use around tender annuals. Also lightly mulch them at this time. [Read more…]

April Gardening Tip

Fertilize perennials:

apr1_lgIn order to retain your established perennials’ appearance, apply a slow-release fertilizer by scratching it in around the newly emerging perennials. Most perennials are very heavy feeders and this will provide a full season of fertilizing. This fertilizer may also be applied to ornamental grasses to give them good color and vigorous growth.

Edging and mulching:

With the spring season here, it is time for edging and mulching. Edging is done either by hand or with a machine; this creates a distinct, physical definition between bed and lawn area and prevents grass from growing into the beds. Mulch should be applied to all bed areas. 1 to 2 inches should be applied to existing beds making sure that mulch is pulled back away from the crown of the plant to avoid crown rot. Mulch is applied for many reasons–it helps to control weeds; as it breaks down, it supplies organic material for the plants; it holds moisture, and it insulates the soil from extreme temperatures. [Read more…]

March Gardening Tip

Garden Pond Start Up:

mar1_lgWith spring just around the corner its time to get your pond or water feature ready for summer. The first thing is to clean out as much of the organic materials that have fallen into the water as possible (leaves, twigs, and any other plant debris). Pull all filters and flush them with water or replace worn or damaged filters if necessary, install pump and turn on. Spring is the best time to pot or repot water lilies and other aquatics plants.

Spring cleanup:

With spring approaching, it is time to get out in the garden and start cleaning up. Cut back perennials of all dead growth remaining from last season. Also cut back all ornamental grasses that are still left standing from last year. Cut all the larger grasses to about 8 to 10 inches from the ground. Also cut back liriope to the ground; this plant looks much better if it is cleaned up every spring and left to come back as new shoots. Clean up all leaves and branches that have fallen on lawn and bed areas, being sure to clean up all leaves in and under all plants to get ready for the coming growing season. [Read more…]