"Gardening gives one back a sense of proportion about everything--except itself."
~ May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep, 1968
How many of us remember growing up, lying under a shade
tree with our back against the trunk, chewing on a piece of grass, reading a
book or just sleeping?
In addition to great memories, trees bring beauty to all
landscapes, and the right tree provides shade to your home, creating a cooling
insulation from hot summer days. Evergreen or deciduous, many shade trees also
have spectacular flower color, while others are better known for their foliage
color or texture interest.
Most tree planting may be done in the springtime or the fall, but fall is usually the best season to plant trees. Fall’s cooler temperatures and adequate rainfall ease the tree’s transition into its new home and decreases transplant shock and stress.
When planting your tree, consider how it might provide the
maximum shade effect upon your home. A shade tree planted on the east side of
your home will block the heat from the morning sun. Planting on the west and/or
southwest side of your home shields the hot afternoon sun. And finally, a tree
planted on the south side of your home can provide year-round sunblock
protection. All three examples will help to keep your home cooler in the
If you select a deciduous tree, you will benefit in the
winter from the opposite of the sun-shielding effect. Minus the foliage, the sun's
rays can shine through the empty branches and help you warm the inside of your
home. You certainly can't argue with that!
Along with the energy benefits, shade trees provide beauty
to your landscape year-round. They offer habitats to birds, squirrels and other
backyard urban creatures. Trees increase the value of our homes and the beauty
of our neighborhoods. They also give back oxygen to our environment. If you choose a deciduous tree, pick one with majestic winter form.
When you plant your shade tree, do not plant it too close
to your home, patio or walls. Remember, some trees grow to heights of 30-50 feet and taller, which means they will also have a
good canopy spread and substantial, wide root systems.
When planting trees this fall, remember to dig a wide, shallow hole, taking care that the crown of the tree is level with the ground or slightly elevated. Add three to four inches of mulch or compost to retain moisture and reduce the stress of transplantation.
Fall is also the best time of year to plant Fruit Trees and Pine Trees as well.
So come on in for more information about planting trees this fall, and our staff of
nursery experts will help you pick out the perfect shade tree(s) for your home.
Then get ready to plop yourself under your new tree, cross your legs, pull your
hat down over your eyes and ZZZZZZZ.
Autumn is a good time to prepare your lawn for the year ahead, and the best time to tackle any long-term improvements. Tasks such as raking out lawn debris, eradicating moss, feeding, and aerating will improve the quality of your lawn greatly if carried out on a yearly basis.
Under some conditions, grass clippings and debris can form a thick "thatch" on the surface of your lawn. This affects growth of the grass and should be removed with a lawn rake. Raking also removes moss.
If grass growth is poor, aerate the lawn. You can do this by pushing the prongs of a fork about 15 cm (6 in) into the ground. Brush a soil improver into the holes made by the fork. Use sand or a mixture of fine soil and sand if the ground is poorly drained. Alternatively, use peat, a peat-substitute or very fine, well-rotted compost if the ground is sandy. Reseed as necessary; fall is an excellent time for reseeding.
If your lawn is in poor condition and needs reviving, apply an autumn lawn feed. It is essential that you use one formulated for autumn use, as spring and summer feeds will contain too much nitrogen. If the grass contains a lot of moss, apply a moss killer. Use one recommended for autumn use; the mixture known as lawn sand, sometimes used to kill moss, contains too much nitrogen. ApplyDr. Earth Lawn Food or J&L Fall & Winter Lawn Fertilizer. They are both great to help your lawn this fall, and they help prepare your lawn for winter.
You can (and should) tidy an uneven edge whenever it's necessary, but doing a full job of it in autumn will relieve the pressure at busier times of the year. Hold a half-moon edger against a board held in position with your feet.
Lawn looking a little shabby? If weak growth, brown spots and bare
patches are plaguing the (formerly) lush carpet you call your lawn, now
is the time to take action!
Fall is the best time to plant most lawns from seed or sod and it's
also the best time to reseed your existing lawn to help thicken it
up; the exception to this rule would be warm season grasses, such as
Bermuda and St. Augustine, which should be planted in the late
spring. How do you decide whether you should try to rehabilitate an
existing lawn or start from scratch? If your lawn is fairly level,
without unwanted low spots and you have more grass than weeds, you
should probably opt for renovation rather than starting completely
over. On the other hand, if there is very little desirable grass and
the lawn needs to be re-graded, starting over would most likely be
the best choice.
Renovating your lawn is fairly simple. Just follow these easy steps
to turn your grass from "so-so" into "fabulous":
Cut your lawn as short as possible. If you have large patches of
weed growth, it is best to remove them.
Rent a power lawn rake from a rental yard; this piece of equipment will
loosen up the soil slightly (not as much as a rototiller) to provide
a better surface for the grass seed to take root OR
go over the surface lightly with a hand cultivator to loosen the
soil OR if neither of these options is feasible,
proceed to the next step (but remember, the better start you give
your new seed, the better the end result will be).
Apply seed to the area, following the instructions for reseeding on
the package. Try to match the grass as closely to the existing as
possible; if there is more than one kind of grass, go with the most
desirable for your situation, taking into account factors such as
sun/shade and the wear and tear it will receive. If you are not sure
what kind of grass you have, bring a sample into the garden center
for identification. If you are not sure what kind of grass you
have, try using a blend of both Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. This mixture is resistant to many of
the lawn diseases in our area, especially Necrotic Ringspot.
Cover the seed lightly with peatmoss, bumper crop, or soil pep if there are completely bare spots in your lawn.
If you are just overseeding in good grass areas, you do not need to cover the seed, there is still plenty of thatch. Do not skip this step ! In order to keep your seed
wet enough (see next step), you will need to cover it.
Now--water, water, water! Depending on the weather, you may need
to do this up to three times per day at first. It is imperative that
you do not let the seed dry out, because if it does it will not
germinate. If watering with sprinklers, start the cycle and observe
how long it takes before the water begins to run off, then set the
watering time accordingly. Once the seed germinates, you will be
able to gradually decrease the amount of water you are applying. The
seed should germinate in two to four weeks.
Mow the grass when the blades are strong enough to withstand
traffic. Mowing will help thicken your lawn.
Since weed killers should not be applied until the lawn has been
mowed a few times, try to keep weeds under control by weeding by
hand. This will enable the grass to grow better without competition
from unwanted vegetation.
Last step? Sit back and relax, knowing that your lawn will soon be
back to its former glory!
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To some of us, the pansy/viola is a happy, smiling face reminding us of a gardener friend from long ago. The first sign of that special flower brings a smile to our face and warmth to our heart. After all, this flower is known as the 'pixie' of the plant world. How perfect is that to have in your winter/spring gardens!
Sunset Western Garden Book tells us that botanically speaking, members of the genus Viola, which includes the pansy, viola and violets, are perennials. We just happen to treat them as annuals. The varieties that we grow are happiest in cool weather and have become known as one of our best winter bedding plants. Planting them now ensures wonderful color in your spring gardens.
There are many different cultivars of pansies and violas offering a wide range of colors and flower sizes: colors from white, yellow, apricot, violet, blue-purples, dusty rose and combinations of all of these colors! The flower sizes range from 1-4 inches.
Pansies like sun to light shade. If you plant them in deep shade, they will grow, but not reward you with as many flowers. Plant them toward the front of your flower beds along with your shrubs and other flowering bedding plants such as Iceland poppies, alyssum, lobelia, nemesia and all. You may not want to put them too close to the edge if your planter is next to your grass (scary weed whackers may chop off their heads!). But these plants love to trail and would be beautiful in raised beds, planters and window boxes!
Sometimes our pansies don't get a chance to grow up. Don't be too hard on yourself. This is not happening because you have a brown thumb. At times that six-pack coming from the grower has baby plants containing a fungal disease called Rhizoctonia which causes "damping off." In other words, the lower stem near the soil line with become constricted and dark brown. Usually, your little seedling pansy will die. That fungus thrives in wet soil. Knowing that this can be a problem, here are a few planting and care tips:
Plant the little root ball slightly high, or above soil level. This will keep the roots drier, especially after watering.
Water, but be careful to not to overwater.
Amend the soil with planting mix when planting to increase good drainage around the roots.
If you had a problem in one area of your garden with the fungus, switch and grow the pansies in another area for a year or so.
Once your pansies are getting established and blooming with smiling faces, don't forget to deadhead. Removing the finished blooms will increase the number of blooms and bloom time.
And here is the number one rule: start your morning with a stroll into your garden to gaze on all of these smiling faces. Oh sure, you can take your cup of coffee or tea along with you, too.
We love to see daffodils showing their faces in spring. Customers come rushing in wanting to plant the bulbs of yellow flowers. But we are forced to tell them “Sorry, it’s too late.” Fall is the time to plan ahead for spring bulb color.
Tulips, crocus and daffodils are the traditional standby bulbs. But for those that like the unusual there are many spectacular varieties ones to choose from. They can be layered in containers or in your flower bed so that the colors just keep popping up. Crocus are the earliest blooming. Throw them into a flower bed and plant them where they land. Tulips are great in containers to show off your favorite pot in early spring. For a great show and color display, plant 8-10 daffodil bulbs in the same large hole.
Lilies, narcissus and hyacinths need to be planted in the fall as well. Don’t forget hyacinths and oriental lilies are fragrant. Plant them where your nose as well as eyes can appreciate their beauty.
And last but not least, fall is the time to plant garlic. Planning ahead for a summer garlic harvest requires putting the bulbs in the ground in the fall. For a mild flavor try elephant garlic. The bulbs are larger but just as easy to grow as regular garlic.
Don’t be disappointed in the spring when your neighbors have daffodils and crocus popping up in the yard next spring. Plan and plant ahead. To enjoy spring blooming bulbs, plant in the fall. Please download a copy of our
Fall Bulb Planting Guide for more details about this fun fall activity. Click here to Download.
Lawn Problems - Chinch Bugs
Is your lawn turning yellow lately? You might check your lawn for chinch bugs. Chinch Bugs (pronounced sinch or
chinch) are small insects, which live in and feed on lawn grasses. Irregular patches of dead or stunted grass surrounded by
yellowing, dying grass often provides the first clues of the presence of chinch bugs. Chinch bug damage is often mistaken
for drought stress, or lawn diseases and have been very severe this summer.
Chinch Bugs can destroy your lawn with little or no warning. Chinch bugs cause damage to lawns because of the way
they feed. They live above the soil and feed on living grass plants by means of a piercing mouthpart called a stylet (similar
to a mosquito). The insect inserts its stylet into the leaves, stems or crowns and sucks the juices out of the plant. The insect
leaves behind its saliva, which has phytotoxic effects. Apparently, feeding by chinch bugs blocks the water and food conducting
vessels of grass stems. By blocking the water, the leaves wither as in drought conditions. The manufactured food
from the leaf doesn't get to the roots, so the root dies as well. The damage looks quite similar to drought symptoms and many
homeowners mistakenly assume that their lawn only needs more water to restore its lush green appearance.
You will need to treat your lawn this fall because chinch bugs do not die in the winter; they will hibernate until spring.
Also, the grass will not recover on its own, so you will need to plant new grass seed in the dead areas. Use a mixture of both
Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass seed. Perennial ryegrass is more resistant to insect damage. Please download a
copy of our Chinch bug handout for more details about this fun fall activity. Click here to Download.
Morning Glory Control
Wild morning glory is also known as field bindweed, creeping jenny and several other names not used in polite circles.
Do not confuse wild morning glory with the annual morning glory vines that are easily controlled and bloom beautifully all
Wild morning glory grows in almost every part of the world and is one of nature's most smothering, persistent plants with
roots penetrating the soil to a depth of eight feet or more. In addition to it's tenacious, perennial nature, seeds are produced
each year that may germinate over a 20 year period or more. Yes, wild morning glory is a tough problem in your yard, but
you can do several things to battle the invader.
The best time to start controlling Morning Glory is 'NOW', whatever time of the year it is. However, The Very-Best
Time of the Entire Year to spray to control Morning Glory is right after the First Frost (mid-October).
After the first frost, morning glory is still actively growing, but instead of putting its energy into top-growth, it starts putting its energy
into food storage in the root system. If you spray while morning glory is transporting food to it's root system, you will kill the root
system deeper into the soil than you can by spraying during the spring or summer. Please download a copy of our Morning Glory
handout for more details about this fun fall activity. Click here to Download.