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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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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
    elaeagnus

    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,
    pineapple guava

    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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How to Use Bat Guano

Bat guano, or dung, has a long history of use as a soil enricher. It is obtained from only fruit and insect-feeding species of bats. Bat guano makes an excellent fertilizer; it’s fast-acting, has little odor, and can be worked into the soil prior to planting or during active growth.bat-guano-400x266

What Do They Use Bat Guano For?
There are several uses for bat guano. It can be used as a soil conditioner, enriching the soil and improving drainage and texture, and a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green. It can be used as a natural fungicide and controls nematodes in the soil as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process. With so many uses, why would you not use bat guano?!

How to Use Bat Guano as a Fertilizer
As a fertilizer, bat guano can be used as top dressing or worked into the soil and can be use fresh or dried. Typically, this fertilizer is applied in smaller quantities than other types of manure.

Bat guano provides a high concentration of nutrients to plants and the surrounding soil. According to the NPK of bat guano, its concentration ingredients are 10-3-1. This NPK fertilizer analysis translates to 10 percent nitrogen (N), 3 percent phosphorus (P), and 1 percent potassium or potash (K). The higher nitrogen levels are responsible for fast, green growth. Phosphorus aids with root and flower development while potassium provides for the plant’s overall health.

Note: You may also find bat guano with higher phosphorus ratios, such as 3-10-1. Why? Some types are processed this way. It’s also believed that the diet of some bat species may have an effect. For example, those feeding strictly on insects produce higher nitrogen content, whereas fruit-eating bats result in a high phosphorus guano.

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“Which fertilizer should I use for annuals?”

We hear this question daily.  All plants – annuals, shrubs, perennials and trees need proper nutrients to grow, stay healthy and look good.  But there are so many fertilizer choices it is easy to be discouraged and end up choosing the easy route – a slow-release fertilizer.  Apply it once and be done with fertilizing for the season.fertilized vs unfertilized plants

Sounds easy, right?  While great for many plants (shrubs) it is not the best for your annuals and hanging baskets.  They need more than a slow-release fertilizer can give them.  They are best fed with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Water soluble fertilizers are fertilizers that can be dissolved in water and makes it is easy to control the precise amount of nutrients available to your plants.  Soluble fertilizers usually have N-P-K numbers listed on their label.  bloom plusThe N is for nitrogen, the P is for phosphorus and the K is for potassium or potash.

Of the 16 (12 of which are contained in water soluble fertilizers) known elements necessary for plant life, N-P-K, are the three that are of the most importance and always listed on water soluble fertilizers, in that order.

  • Nitrogen is the most important of the nutrients and is essential to the production of chlorophyll and is responsible for leaf growth, as well as, overall size of the plant.
  • Phosphorus is necessary for photosynthesis and provides for energy transfer within the plant and is associated with the fruiting or flowering stages of growth.
  • Potassium, or potash, increases chlorophyll levels, helps plants make better use of light and air and increases growth by cell division.

all purposeThe ultimate goal of fertilizing is to supply your plant with the right amount of liquid feednutrients.  Applying a water soluble fertilizer to the annuals and perennials both in the ground and in containers every 7 to 14 days can make a remarkable difference.

Ultimately, your plants will only be as great as the care they receive, and while understanding the best fertilizer for the job may take a little bit of work, the rewards of healthier, longer-lasting plants is the pay off.

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What’s Mulch Got To Do With It?

Want to save $$ and water your flower beds less – maybe even 50% less?

Proper use of “nature’s moisturizer” – that’s what some call it, can make that big of a difference.  I’m talking about mulch – and that’s only one of the advantages of its use.mulch before and after

What is mulch?  It is any type of material that is spread over the surface of the soil.  Shredded wood, pine straw, shredded leaves, pecan hulls, gravel to name a few.

  • It is used to retain the moisture in the soil and to cut down on evaporation when spread at 3” deep.
  • Shielding plants’ roots from temperature extremes is also another benefit. Mulch provides protection from heat in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • By blocking out light to the soil it also discourages the growth of weeds.
  • It can add color and texture to the space between plants, giving a flower bed a finished look.

mulch 2The most asked question is, “How much mulch do I need for my bed?”

  1. Find the total square footage of the area: length X width = square footage.
  2. One cubic foot will cover 4 sq. ft. 3” deep.
  3. Ex: your bed measures 10 x 5 = 50 sq. ft.  50 divided by 4 = 12.5 cubic feet to cover the bed 3” deep.
  4. (Or you can call us and we can calculate it for you)

A word of caution, don’t mound mulch up on the trunk of trees or plants.  This will keep the trunks too moist and the plant will develop problems.

Shredded bark mulch can be purchased in bags or more economically by bulk loads.

Your mulch will decompose over time, so check to make sure you have good even coverage at the proper depth.  You can add an additional inch to thin existing mulch and gain another year of protection.

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What’s the Deal with Drip Irrigation?

Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigating.

While sprinkler systems are around 65-75% efficient, drip systems typically are 90% or higher. What that means is much less wasted water!  It is easy to install, easy to design, can be very inexpensive, and can reduce disease problems.

Drip irrigation works by applying water slowly, directly to the soil. The high efficiency of drip irrigation results from two primary factors. The first is that the water soaks into the soil before it can evaporate or run off. The second is that the water is only applied where it is needed, (at the plant’s roots) rather than sprayed everywhere.

If you have access to a water faucet then you can install a drip irrigation system in your flower beds, garden, planters, and containers.  By adding a timer you can schedule when and for how long the system will run.

The basic idea is to run ½” tubing through your landscape beds and attach ¼” tubing to it which will deliver water to each plant. The amount of water per plant is determined by the size of the emitter (1/2, 1 or 2 gallon).  You can also use spray stakes, bubblers, drip-a-long tubing, etc. in your design.

It is easy to add emitters to your system as you add new plants to your landscape or increase emitter sizes as a plant grows larger.

Components used in drip irrigation (listed in order from water source) include:dripguide1

  • Pump or pressurized water source
  • Water filter(s) or filtration systems
  • Backwash controller (Backflow prevention device)
  • Pressure Control Valve (pressure regulator)
  • Distribution lines (main larger diameter pipe, maybe secondary smaller, pipe fittings)
  • Hand-operated, electronic, or hydraulic control valves and safety valves
  • Smaller diameter polyethylene tube
  • Poly fittings and accessories (to make connections)
  • Emitting devices at plants (emitter or dripper, micro spray head, inline dripper or inline drip tube)

Ready to get started on your own drip irrigation system? We have all the parts you need at THGC today! Give us a call for more information or come in-store and see for yourself!

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The Word on Worm Castings: How do they work? What can they be used for?

Worm castings are the richest natural fertilizer known to humans. That’s right: as little as a tablespoon of pure worm castings provides enough organic plant nutrients to feed a 6″ potted plant for more than two months. 

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Worm castings stimulate plant growth more than any other natural product on the market. Unlike animal manure and artificial fertilizers it is absorbed easily and immediately by plants.

What Can Worm Castings Be Used For?

Worm Castings can be used as an ingredient of potting soil (as plant nutrients) for plants in and around the house. It can also be used as a planting additive for trees, vegetables, shrubs and flowers and because Worm Castings will never burn plants, you can use as much of it as you like.

Benefits of Worm Castings

  1. Removal of toxins & bacteria
    • The humus in the worm castings extracts toxins and harmful fungi and bacteria from the soil. Worm Castings therefore have the ability to fight off plant diseases.
  2. Assists with nutrient absorption
    • The worm castings have the ability to fix heavy metals in organic waste. This prevents plants from absorbing more of these chemical compounds than they need. These compounds can then be released later when the plants need them.
  3. Works as a barrier in undesirable soil pH levels
    • Worm Castings act as a barrier to help plants grow in soil where the pH levels are too high or too low. They prevent extreme pH levels from making it impossible for plants to absorb nutrients from the soil.
  4. Stimulates plant growth
    • The humic acid in Worm Castings stimulate plant growth, even in very low concentrations. The humic acid is in an ionically distributed state in which it can easily be absorbed by the plant, over and above any normal mineral nutrients. Humic acid also stimulates the development of micro flora populations in the soil.
  5. Increases water retention
    • Worm Castings increase the ability of soil to retain water. The worm castings form aggregates, which are mineral clusters that combine in such a way that they can withstand water erosion and compaction, and also increase water retention.
  6. Reduces carbon and increases nitrogen in soil
    • Worm Castings reduce the acid-forming carbon in the soil, and increase the nitrogen levels in a state that the plant can easily use. Organic plant wastes usually have a carbon-nitrogen ratio of more than 20 to 1. Because of this ratio, the nitrogen is unavailable to plants, and the soil around the organic waste becomes acidic.

How to use Worm Castings:

For Germinationwiggle magic_01

Use 20 to 30% Worm Castings with sand as an excellent germination mixture. It will also ensure continuous and lush growth for about three months, without you having to add any other plant food.

As a Soil Conditioner

If you hoe a layer of barren soil, add a layer of Worm Castings and give it some water, you will be surprised at the growth of your first season’s plants.

As a Fertilizer

Sprinkle Worm Castings around the base of plants or lightly dig it in, and then add water. They can also be sprinkled on a large scale with a spreader. Remember: you cannot use too much Worm Castings, they cannot damage your plants.

As a Liquid Fertilizer

Worm Castings can easily be mixed with water. Use 1 cup Worm Castings for every gallon of water and wait 1 week. This liquid mixture can be used as an excellent fertilizer or leaf foliate spray. It also helps to control insects. Many people prefer this method of application.

We have known for hundreds of years that earthworms are the best way to improve plant growth and to increase plant yield, such as fruit.

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