6 Mistakes Homeowners Make

That Landscapers HATE to Fix

Overplanting

While more MAY be better in some cases, it’s not better to have more in your landscape. Not spacing out your plants and over-filling them may offer instant gratification for the first year your new plants are in the ground, but in two years, your plants will begin to die because they’re fighting for space and nutrients. This common mistake is a HUGE WASTE of time and money.

HINT: Fill in empty spots with annual flowers until your shrubs mature!

Not Knowing Your Landscape’s Needs

You’ll want to have an idea of what your yard requires and then choose plants that fit those requirements. How much direct sunlight does your yard get daily? Is your soil clay-based, sandy, or rocky? Are there any water restrictions? Are there drainage issues? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the best choices for your landscape. There is NO REASON not to research and learn more about the plants you are putting in your landscape. Planting shade plants in sun, or sun plants in shade is an inexcusable snafu in any landscape.

Starting Without A Plan

Don’t go to a Garden Center with a “my heart will guide me” mentality. This will lead to over purchasing and a major loss of money. You’ll also run into issues during your landscape install that could’ve been solved by planning ahead.

Not Paying Attention To The Style Of Your House

Your landscape should complement your home and increase your curb appeal! Different landscape styles work better aesthetically, so always use the look and structure of your house when deciding on garden bed shapes (i.e. A farmhouse-style home won’t work with a formal landscape). Unsure where to start?

HINT: Use a garden hose to help aid in the process of figuring out the shape of each bed; lay out the hose on the ground and use it as your guide, it’s soft and can follow the curves of your house, leading to perfect garden bed shapes.

Planting Too Close To Your Home

When planting, you must bear in mind that bushes, trees and plants WILL get bigger! Where you plant them is SO important – typically, leaving a minimum of 1-3 feet between your plants and your house. Ignoring how large a tree or bush will get can lead to walkway, sidewalk and foundation damage – or, even worse, it can rot your siding, allowing moisture and bugs to creep into your home. Not cool.

Relying On Pinterest To Do Your Landscape

It is SO EASY to get excited and jump into a project when you scroll through Pinterest. HOWEVER, you need to keep in mind the time, resources, and money that go into the ‘simple’ photos you see online. While it can be helpful for ideas, you have to get real about where you and your yard are located zone-wise and how much the project will cost overall.

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How To Plant In Red Clay Soil

So many people in the South have red clay soil.

This stuff is mushy and disgusting when it is wet; but when it is dry, it takes on a form almost like concrete. Worst of all? It’s completely nutrient deficient.

Red clay soon becomes waterlogged during rainy weather. When soil stays wet, the water can cut off the air supply to roots, as well as to microorganisms in soil that are important to your plant’s well being. Root rot, suffocation, and many other diseases can occur.

Adding to the plant’s misery, when clay soil finally does dry out, roots struggle to spread through the hard soil. How can a poor plant survive?

Don’t give up! While you need good drainage for plants to survive, having red clay soil and nice plants in your landscape isn’t impossible! With a little prep and TLC, you can grow beautiful shrubs, just by enhancing the texture and drainage of your soil. Below is a drawing, courtesy of Encore® Azaleas of how to prep and plant shrubs in clay soil!


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Low Growing Shrubs for Almost Any Area!

Keeping with the theme of low growing shrubs here are two groups – those for shady spots and for sunny to partial sun areas.

Shade:

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Mojo Pittosporum – Evergreen, low mounding shrub with light green and cream  variegated leaves.  It is salt tolerant, deer resistant, and has orange smelling blossoms in the Spring.

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Soft Caress Mahonia –  This airy plant has bamboo-like foliage and bright yellow flowers at the top of the plant that bloom in early winter.

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Carex or Sedge –  Mounding, grass like plant that can be used as accents or planted in multiples to give year round color to a shady garden.  Most varieties offer variegated or striped leaves.

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Wheelers Dwarf Pittosporum  Dark green, glossy leafed, mounding shrub that requires almost no trimming.

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Dwarf Hydrangea – Enjoy beautiful Hydrangea blossoms on smaller plant varieties   available now.  In blue, pink, or white, they will brighten up your garden.

 

 

 

Sun to Partial Sun:

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Little John Bottlebrush – The bright red flowers which resemble a bottle cleaning brush is where this plant gets its name.  It blooms intermittently throughout the Spring and into the Fall.  The foliage is narrow and blue green and is deer resistant.

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Multi-Blooming Azaleas – multiple colors (red, white, pinks, and purple) are available in plants 2’ – 3’ tall.  They will bloom 3-4 times during the year bringing color to your landscape or containers.

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Dwarf Spirea – Several varieties are available with different leaf color – dark green, lime green, golden yellow – with blooms during Spring and Summer.

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Drift Roses – One of the most popular shrubs.  They bloom from Spring to late Fall in a variety of colors – red, peach, apricot, white and pink.

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Dwarf Abelia – Evergreen foliage in either variegated or solid green colors.   Cluster of small, fragrant, white flowers bloom from late Spring to early Fall.

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Grass Got the Summertime Blues?

You’ve been watering your grass all summer long and it may look bleached out.

Make it look like spring again with Ironite!  This granular iron product is simple to apply to your lawn and will make your lawn or plants turn green – not overnight but almost.ironite-fertilizer-mineral-supplement-canada-reviews-broadcast-spreader-settings

You might ask, why not just use some fertilizer?  DON’T!!!  Applying fertilizer to your lawn at this time of the year can burn your grass and can easily stripe your yard.

The Importance of Iron

Plants need iron and cannot properly create chlorophyll without it. This results in poor growth because chlorophyll plays an important role in photosynthesis.  Chlorophyll also gives plants their green color, and the primary symptom of iron deficiency are leaves that are yellow between their veins.

ironite-lawn-fertilizer-hi-yield-iron-plus-grassHow to Apply

A 10 pound bag covers 5000 sq feet and is easily applied with a spreader.

HINT:

Combine a granular ant killer with the Ironite into your spreader and get a 2 for 1 punch.

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The Best Small Trees for Your Yard

chastetreeChaste Tree

One of our favorite trees!  Who wouldn’t want a tree that has blue flowers throughout the summer?  This fast growing tree is known as a “Texas Superstar” for how well it performs and the Texas Department of Transportation uses them in landscape designs on highways throughout the state.  It is deer resistant, prefers full sun, is drought tolerant and likes well draining soil.  If you trim off the spent seed pods you will be rewarded with another bloom cycle in late summer to early Fall.

Crape Myrtlestuscarora1-400_grande

These summer blooming trees come in 4 main colors – white, pink, red and purple.  There are many different varieties available from trees that mature at a height of 10’ to those that reach 25’.  They bloom best when planted in full sun and can be planted as a stand alone specimen plant or in groupings.  For something different try planting 2 or 3 small plants of different colors in the same hole – it will look like 1 tree that has different color blooms.  You see them lining driveways and is another staple tree used by DOT.

japmapJapanese Maple

If you have a shady spot, consider planting a Japanese Maple.  Whether you choose an upright variety or a graceful weeper they add an array of fall color to your garden.  These are slower growing trees who require well-draining soil and will tolerate morning sun but like afternoon shade in our Texas summers.

Teddy Bear or Little Gem Magnoliateddybear

Enjoy the fragrant white flowers of the stately Southern Magnolia but on a much smaller tree.  Both are shorter varieties with the Teddy Bear being more compact of the 2.  Grows best in full sun, but is a slower growing tree.  Part of its appeal is that it is evergreen and does not drop its leaves in the Fall.

PinkRoseofSharonTree_400_1-01_grandeRose of Sharon

Many new hybrid varieties have been introduced within the past few years bringing about renewed interest in this old favorite.  They bloom in a variety of colors; white, pink, red, purple, throughout the summer months.  They will reach 10’ – 12’ tall and prefer full sun to partial sun for best performance.

Tulip Treetulipmagnolia

These pink to burgundy colored flowering trees bloom early in the spring.  They are a multi-trunk tree that is a slower growing tree but will eventually reach 15’ – 20’ tall and 15’ wide.  They are also called Saucer Magnolias and are actually a Magnolia but most people call them Tulip Tree due to the tulip shape of the bloom.

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Top 5 Shrubs to Use for Screening Purposes

  1. Elaeagnus – terrible name, great plant!  The silver-green leaf color gives you great contrast in your landscape.  Highly drought tolerant once established and can
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    Elaeagnus

    handle almost any soil conditions.  They grow quickly to a 8’x8’ and taller and thrive in full sun or part sun.  They are DEER RESISTANT too!!

  2. Southern Wax Myrtle – Olive-green aromatic foliage makes this plant stand out along with the bluish berries
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    Wax Myrtle

    produced by the female plants. The standard size will reach 15 feet tall while the dwarf species reaches 6-8 feet tall.  It is drought tolerant once established and grows well in both moist and dry soil conditions.  n full sun or part shade.  They are DEER RESISTANT too!!

  3. Pineapple Guava – Beautiful, exotic red and white flowers bloom on this large shrub in the spring, followed by guava fruit in the fall. The leaves are light green,
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    Pineapple Guava

    leathery with soft gray undersides.  It will grow to about 15’ – 20’ tall in full sun or partial sun.  Deer do not seem to bother these plants.

  4. Nellie R Stevens Holly – Very attractive holly with dark green, leathery foliage. Dense branching
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    ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly

    makes it an excellent hedge screen.  It produces large, bright orange-red berries in late Fall.  Fast growing tree/shrub reaching heights of 15’- 25’.  Grows well in sun or partial sun in both dry and moist soil conditions.

  5. Leyland Cypress – A fast-growing coniferous evergreen tree – up to 3’ of growth per year. Has a natural Christmas tree shape but
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    Leyland Cypress

    can be grown close together and trimmed as hedges.  Prefers full sun for best performance.  This tree can reach 50+ feet if left untrimmed.

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Mighty Mint: All About This Old-Fashioned Favorite

Mint, or mentha, is grown practically everywhere in the world; therefore, it makes appearances in almost every cuisine. This versatile culinary herb is delicious both dried and fresh.

So, why do people hate growing mint? Bring up the topic of mint with many a 2019-8-7 13.36.57.658gardener, and you’ll be greeted with a resounding, “Don’t plant mint! It will take over your yard!” With thoughtful preparation and placement, however, mint can be a wonderful and containable addition to your culinary garden.

Perennial or Annual?

Mint is a hardy perennial that is one of the first to arrive each spring. It also retains its potency of flavor over the years.

How to Plant Mint

  • Where: Mint performs its best in full sun if the soil is kept moist, but it also thrives in partial shade. Mint is considered an invasive plant, since it sends out “runners” and spreads vigorously. Don’t let that fact deter you from enjoying fresh mint in your garden. Opt to grow mint in containers or, if you want to plant mint in the ground, submerge it in a large container and leave about two inches of the rim exposed above the soil to prevent spreading.mint_PNG24
  • When: Plant mint at any time. Mint is sturdy and resilient. Don’t waste your time starting mint from seed.

How to Cultivate Mint

  • Soil: Mint thrives in moist, rich soil. To keep the soil moist, cover the soil with a little mulch.
  • Sun: Mint can grow in sun or part shade. If you are planting mint indoors, where it also performs well, make sure you place your container near a sunny window.
  • Water: Regular watering is really the only maintenance mint needs. Always keep the soil moist.

How to Harvest Mint

Mint is another herb that is easy to harvest, and can be harvested at any time. In fact, regular harvesting is encouraged, in order to prevent legginess. You may opt to harvest most of the plant at once, clipping away up to 2/3 of the length of the stems, or you may clip away only what you need.

Use these tips and you’ll be feeling MINTY-FRESH! 

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Building Curb Appeal

15 Seconds……………

That’s about how long you have to create a good impression when a buyer first views your home. The moment they pull up, even before the car door opens, they’ve formed an opinion and you had better be sure it’s a good one!

“Because today’s buyers have much more to choose from in the way of inventory, any home for sale must make a positive first impression,” according to the National Association of Realtors.®

But the good news is, you can shape your prospective buyer’s opinion by maximizing your home’s curb appeal – and it’s not going to cost you a fortune.  Here are some ideas of how you can quickly improve the appeal of your home so that it doesn’t stagnate on the market and fetches the best possible price.   These same ideas work for those of you who just purchased a new home and wish to improve upon your existing curb appeal.

  • Eliminate Weeds

Kill them, pull them, dig them – whatever method you choose is up to you, but      get them out of your flower beds, sidewalks, driveways, and paths.

  • Prune or Trim existing plants and trees

Overgrown beds hide the beauty of your home.  Trim back overgrown shrubs,       prune branches from trees, thin out overgrown areas in your flower beds.  If you      are unsure how to properly trim or prune your shrubs and trees look on the internet for advice.  Neaten up any overgrown beds.

  • Plant Rye Grass (if selling in the fall / winter)

Make your yard stand out by having a bright, cheery, green lawn all through the    fall and winter.  It is simple and inexpensive to over-seed your existing lawn with           rye grass.  Just make sure you have not applied a pre-emergent to your lawn – it will prevent the rye seed from germinating.

  • Apply Pre-Emergent

If you are not going to over-seed with rye grass then apply a pre-emergent on your lawn.  This will prevent any cool season weed seeds from germinating and growing into weeds.  Your lawn won’t be green, but it won’t have weeds either.

  • Freshen Mulch

Spread a thin coat of mulch in your existing flower beds and it will make the bed   look much cleaner and new.

  • Replace Dead Plants

            If you have dead plants in existing landscapes then replace them with healthy       plants.  Dead plants give the appearance of neglect and a potential buyer will     wonder what else hasn’t been tended to other than just the plants.

  • Create an instant garden

Container gardens add a welcoming feel and colorful appeal to any home exterior — quickly and affordably. You can buy ready-made containers or create    your own with your favorite plants.

A staggered, asymmetrical arrangement of 3 to 5 pots creates a dynamic setting or flank both sides of the door with single matching pots.  Choose bold colors to add the “wow” to the neutral color of most homes.  The current trend is to combine several different type of plants into your pots designs – small shrubs, ornamental grasses along with an area for seasonal color.  The best part is you can take them with you if you are selling your home.

  • Add Outdoor Fountain to cover road noise

If you happen to be on a busy street and road noise is an issue in your outdoor     seating area you can minimize it with the sounds of falling water from a water           feature.  Offered in a variety of sizes and styles (ornate, contemporary, earthy) let the burbling sounds of falling water take the place of the sound of cars rushing by. Place fountains on level ground in optimum hearing and sight vantage points.

  • Add Seasonal Annual Color to Existing Beds

            Colorful annuals planted in groupings can make a statement that is easily seen     from the road.  These pops of color brighten up the yard and can help draw            attention to them and away from another area of the yard that you might want to          de-emphasize.

  • Create a new planting bed

Add contrast and color to your home with a new planting bed. Prime spots are at the front corners of the yard, along driveways or walkways, and immediately in         front of the house. When creating a new bed, choose features that will frame your home rather than obscure it.  Take advantage of our  “Plant by Number” design program – we design it and you plant it.  Best of all it’s free.

  • Outdoor Lighting

Low-voltage landscape lighting makes a huge impact on your home’s curb            appeal while also providing safety and security. Fixtures can add accent lighting to trees or the house or can illuminate a walking path. If you aren’t able to use lights that require wiring, install solar fixtures (but understand that their light levels are not as bright or as reliable).

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Going “Bananas” for the Banana Tree Plant

Banana trees are one of the common trees that come to mind when dreaming of the tropics, but did you know that it is not really a tree? It is the world’s largest herb.transparent-banana-9

The trunk is composed of the main fruiting stem enrobed by leaves. Still, due to its size, it is commonly thought of as a tree.

How to Grow a Banana Tree

You may plant a single banana plant but you will end up with several – so choose a spot that will accommodate several plants.  There are different varieties available, the main difference being their height and leaf color.

The question we get the MOST is “Can my tree produce bananas?” Sadly, our growing season is not long enough to produce ripened bananas.  They will set fruit and it is most interesting to watch them change from the flower stage to bunches of small bananas.

  • Light

Banana plants prefer full sun.

  • Soil

The soil should be well-drained, deep, and organically amended. Slightly acidic soil (5.5 to 6.5 pH) is preferred.

  • Water

Since banana trees are tropical and hail from rain forests, they need a lot of water and plenty of moisture in the air. They do best when planted in groups rather than as single specimens. Being close together helps them retain moisture in the leaves. Provide 1 or 2 inches of water weekly or MORE (especially during the heat of July and August) and check frequently to make certain the soil stays evenly moist. Make sure they are not over-watered, so you do not develop root rot. The soil should always be moist but not soggy, if possible.

  • Temperature and Humidity

Bananas thrive in warm, humid conditions. When temperatures drop, growth slows down, and very cold temperatures cause plants to die back.  It is best to cut the plant down to ground level and cover with mulch for the winter.  Only in the extremist winters have we lost hardy banana plants due to prolonged below freezing temperatures.

  • Fertilizer

Banana plants should also be fertilized very well. Use a balanced fertilizer once a month. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the plant in a circle extending 4 to 8 feet from the trunk. Do not allow the fertilizer to come in contact with the trunk. Feed container plants on the same monthly schedule using about half the rate for outside plants.

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How to Install a Disappearing Fountain (It’s Easier Than You Think!)

Disappearing Fountains – they offer relaxing sounds, a pleasant view for the eyes, and are a unique feature for any landscape. While they may look difficult to create, they are actually easier to put together than you think!

It is called a disappearing fountain because the water disappears into the rocks below, which disguises a basin below that holds the water and the pump. It’s a simple project to install, although it will take some time and some heavy lifting. It’s a great workout if your back can handle it. If you want the glory but not the grunt work, have someone dig out disappearing-water-fountain-2-disappearing-container-water-fountainthe hole for you—then you can set up the fountain! Get someone to help with the rocks if they are too heavy, or work on them in stages.

To install your disappearing fountain, you only need a few materials and a can-do attitude!

How to Install a Disappearing Fountain

Materials (all available at THGC)

  • Piece of Pottery of your choosing
  • Basin (which comes with a grate as well – size of your choosing)
  • Pump (you’ll need the appropriate GPH depending on pottery size)
  • Fountain Container Kit (if the items are purchased at THGC we will install this for you!)
  • Stones or Landscape Glass (to cover basin)

Preparing to Install a Disappearing Fountain

  • Measure the space for the basin. For example, if your basin is 45” x 45” x 14” deep, you’ll make the hole 48”x 48” x 15 inches deep.
  • Dig the hole for the basin. If the space is under mature trees, be mindful of the roots. Place the hole as far away from the tree as you can, and even then, be careful with the roots.
  • Tamp down the soil where the basin will go. You’ll want the hole to be level in all directions.

Install the Disappearing Fountain

Now you are ready to add the basin to the hole and backfill the areas around it with soil to hold it in place.

pondlesspottery001Now is the time to install the Fountain Container Kit. If you purchase your materials from THGC we will do this step for you!
Take your desired piece of pottery for the fountain and drill a hole into the bottom to install your container kit tubing – you’ll then install fountain kit as per the instructions. Again, if the materials are purchased at THGC we will do this step for you.

  • Place the pump inside the basin and Attach the pump kit to the fountain pump as per the manufacturer’s directions.

Testing and Adjusting the Fountain

  • Test the fountain by filling the basin with water so that the pump is totally submerged.
  • Plug the pump into an electrical outlet. Ensure the outlet is reachable without an extension cord, if not install an outlet closer to the fountain or have an electrician do it for you.
  • Adjust the flow valves for each hose so that the water is flowing up the piece of pottery in a pleasing manner.

The Final Design Work (all optional, but GREAT ideas!)

  • Place lights around the fountain so that the water can shimmer at night as well as the spotlight the surrounding plants. I would also recommend LED lights inside the top holes of the fountain to remove some of the shadows.
  • Place 2”-6” river rocks, landscaping glass, etc. around the base of the fountain to cover the basin.
  • You can add large landscaping rocks into place creating a natural structure and add more river stones if desired.
  • Add plants to the garden beds around the fountain, to make it look like it has been there forever!

We have everything you need and MORE to create the Disappearing Fountain of your dreams at The Home & Garden Center! Come see us today to get started!

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