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Spring To-Do List

What to do now:

  • Plant shrubs, container roses, perennials and trees now.
  • Spread pre-emergent on your lawn and in your flower beds if you have not done so yet this spring.
  • You can lay sod in your yard.  It will not be green, but the roots will grow into your soil and the grass should begin to green up by the middle of April depending upon temperature.
  • You can fertilize your rose bushes once you begin to see new growth emerging.
  • Fertilize established shrubs in late March or early April, use an all purpose granular fertilizer (13-13-13) and make sure to water it in thoroughly.
  • Watch for aphids on plants this time of year.  They are small and come in a variety of colors and can be found on the new growth of your plant.  Treat with insecticide and prevent re-infestation with a systemic insecticide.
  • Finish up pruning any summer blooming shrubs by the end of March. 
  • Established perennials should be cleaned up (remove dead stems, leaves, etc.) and fertilized this month or in early April.  Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer (13-13-13) and water it in thoroughly. 
  • Fertilize seasonal color (annuals) with a water-soluble fertilizer to promote growth and flowering.
  • You can continue to prune deciduous trees during March.

What not to do yet:

  • Wait until mowing grass (not weeds) 2 times before fertilizing your lawn.
  • Wait until after your azaleas bloom to fertilize the plant.
  • The soil is not warm enough to plant warm season grass seed like Centipede, Bermuda or Zoysia.  Soil temperature must be over 65 degrees for the seed to germinate.  Wait until our night-time temps are at least 65 degrees consistently (mid April).
  • Do not prune pine trees in March – they tend to bleed more during this time of the year.
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Transplanting Trees + Shrubs

Winter is the best time to transplant established trees and shrubs with December and January being the best months to do so in our area.  February is too “iffy” due to early springs we experience in East Texas. 

Transplanting a shrub or tree is different than an initial planting which can be done any time.  Transplanting means you are cutting the roots of the plant and this should only be done while they are dormant and not actively growing.

Transplants die due to improper removal or installation.  Younger plants transplant better than older ones and deciduous plants/trees survive transplanting more often than evergreens.  Transplanting causes stress for plants so minimizing this is the goal.

It is best to only move a plant when in it’s dormant state, not when it has budded out for spring or in full growth during the summer.

How do I transplant correctly?

  • The condition of the root system is the most important part of transplanting.  Dig carefully and keep as much soil around each plant’s root system as possible.
  • Some experts like Neil Sperry suggest you dig the new hole only as deep and wide as needed to hold the soil ball.  Others say the hole should be 2-3 times the width of the root ball and should be backfilled with amended soil.  I’ve seen it done both ways successfully.
  • Set the plant at the same depth at which it was growing.
  • Water the plant thoroughly.
  • Here’s the hard part – thin and trim 40-50% of the plant to compensate for the loss of roots.  If you don’t the plant stands less chance of surviving the transplant.
  • Mulch over the top of the exposed ground to help hold in moisture.
  • Stake transplanted trees for a period of time to help them stay upright.

If you have a shrub or tree that needs to be transplanted due to it being too large for an area or if it should have been planted in sun vs shade or vice versa then move it.  The plant will never perform well if left in the wrong spot.

If you have specific questions, send us pictures or give us a call. 

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Pruning Trees + Shrubs Series: Abelias

Abelia are known for their gracefully arching branches that are covered with flowers from June to October.  Pruning abelia plants isn’t a necessity – you can allow them to grow freely.  However, pruning will keep your plant compact and neat looking.  Although there are many different varieties available there is no difference in pruning techniques.

The best time to prune Abelias is in late winter or early spring.  Their flowers are formed on new growth (newly grown branches), so you don’t have to worry about losing blooms by cutting branches at the correct time of the year. 

If you have an older abelia that needs rejuvenating, you can prune it to the ground or prune 1/3 of the oldest stems to the ground each year before spring growth begins.  Choose the tallest branches on the interior of the plant and continue pruning stems in a random pattern to keep the shrub natural-looking.  This will promote new, compact growth.

How and What to Prune

– Prune dead stems to the ground.

– If only part of the branch is dead, cut below the dead wood and just above a lateral branch or bud.

– Long, leggy stems called water spouts (we prefer crazy arms) can be pruned to the ground any time.

– Prune the tips of all branches to maintain an even look.

– Use hand pruners for stems less than ½” in diameter and lopping shears for larger branches.

After the threat of frost has passed apply a good granular fertilizer to your abelia making sure to water it in thoroughly.  This will promote new growth for later spring and into summer.

If we have a scorcher of a summer and your abelia looks “tired” in August or September, prune the tips of all the branches.  Once the temps drop out of the high 90s you will begin to see new growth appear and a happy, healthy plant full of new blooms that will last until the first frost. 

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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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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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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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Enjoy a Lush Summer Lawn!

Do you struggle each year trying to keep your lawn looking lush during the heat of the summer?  If so, follow these tips to help your grass look its best.

lushlawn1Mow it High:  By allowing your grass to grow longer by an inch or so more in the summer you cut down on water evaporation from the soil, grow deeper roots, and help shade the soil and cut down of water evaporation.  Only mow 1/3 of the length of your grass at each mowing.  Warm season grass should be mowed between 2” – 3” high.

Water Deeply but Infrequently: Lawns need at least 1 inch of water per week.  It is best to water early in the day to help reduce evaporation and fungal growth.  Frequent, shallow watering encourages grass to grow short roots, causing the grass to stress so be sure to water deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots.   Tip:  place a small tuna can in your lawn to capture water while your sprinkler is on.  When it measures 1” of water then you have watered enough – watch the time and this is how long you need to water each time.

Feed Regularly:  There are conflicting points of view on whether to fertilize your lawn in hot weather.  Within 6-8 weeks of feeding, nutrients in the soil need to be replenished to maintain a thick lawn.  If you irrigate your grass then fertilization is most definitely helpful.  The opposing point of view is that the increased growth results in additional stress on the lawn. lushlawn2

Control Weeds:  Weeds compete with your grass for water – so start a weed management program to rid your yard of weeds.  Use a selective weed spray on actively growing weeds and apply pre-emergent granules twice a year (Spring & Fall) to prevent weed seeds from germinating.

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How to Rid yourself of Snails!

We all know the joy of plants can come at a price, whether it be a plant disease, fungus, or pest. We love growing and caring for our vegetables, shrubs and indoor houseplants, but one snail can ruin a plant in a very short span of time. If you’re not sure if you have a snail problem, or how to fix it, you’re in the right place.snAil

With snails, most of the damage happens at night, when they emerge to feed. They prefer clipping tender, young shoots, but may chew irregular holes through leaves and flowers or feed on soft fruits and the bark of young plants. As they move around, snails leave a slimy trail that dries to a silvery film by morning.

Control of snails is a major problem in all habitats. There are many things that can be done to reduce the potential of a problem occurring. Eliminate (as much as you can), items that are sitting on the ground (as they are possible resting places for these slimy pests) such as boards, boxes, stones, debris, weeds, plants in pots that have runners on the ground or any other items that provide shelter. Reducing hiding places decreases snail survival.121.png

A few options are available to kill the snails. You can treat for snails organically with Diatomaceous Earth or you can also rid yourself of snails chemically. Using a dust or solution that contains spinosad + iron phosphate can lure snails from their hiding spots. Bonide Slug & Bug bugandslugKiller contains both of these chemicals AND prevents those disgusting slime trails! Just spread the pellets around your garden, landscape, or in your indoor plants and start to enjoy your greenery again!

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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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