Good Gardening in 2017 

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December-2017 calendar growing season comes to an end, looking back this year had a wonderful, spring explosion, difficult late summer / fall due to lack of rainfall, unexpected fantastic fall coloration. Now as usual who knows what Mother Nature has in store related to temperature (last year was wonderfully mild) and rainfall amounts. Landscape that were care for and maintained properly should experience minimal adverse impact, but remember in this great marathon called ‘gardening’ expect the unexpected. Make sure to relish good memories, learn and remember past disappointments. Page through catalogs, attend classes / lectures, stop at favorite garden center and Missouri Botanical Garden to gain insight, either subtle or obvious for 2018. Look forward to enjoying diversity of great outdoor and indoor plant material that you can, could, may, might delve into.

Should Ice, Sleet, Snow Occur-don’t beat if off your plants (bruising is slow to heal) and remember using rock salt (sodium chloride-though it is cheaper) can de-hydrate ground / root system, may damage hardscapes, alternatives calcium chloride (90% less de-hydration) or traction sand are less damaging

Stop Guessing Game-find out what is overly abundant and or lacking in your soil by Getting Soil Tested and do so every few years, avoid potentially costly disaster (mental and financial) don’t wait until there’s an obvious problem, don’t bother with do it yourself home kit-several private, universities and not for profit organizations offer service-go on line for possibilities

Indoor Seasonal Pizazz-any plant in bloom, fertilize using type for tropical plants apply at ½ label rate every few weeks while flowering continues-plant options include: Bromeliads-easy care, striking foliage, keep in bright light or color fades, keep water in center leaf cup, Christmas/Thanksgiving cactus-do not over water, set in bright sun repositioning may cause bud drop, Cyclamen (bulb) same care as cactus, Poinsettias-place sunny window (min. 4 hours sun), keep soil slightly damp (not wet)

Iffy Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs-ground is getting colder and possibly freezing (cold soil restricts root system development by bulbs and could impact flowering) but better to plant previously purchased crocus, tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth etc. into ground or larger containers / pots-ASAP, depth 3-4X diameter of bulb, backfill, water, with 1-2” mulch vs. leaving them sit in the garage

Woody Plant Installation-can continue until ground is frozen, dig hole 3X diameter of root ball, only 75-80% as deep to keep crown above surrounding ground if settling should occur, no fertilizer, 3-4” mulch after hole is backfilled, minimize mulch contact with plant bark (bagel factor)

Keep Any Tools Ready to Go When Needed-from shovels / spades to leaf / snow blowers / mowers, store out of weather, sharpen blades, routinely start and run for a few minutes anything motorized

Living with Tropical Houseplants-don’t overwater (if wilting and plant has been watered recently likely root rot cause vs. dry potting mix) so water as needed (look for gap between potting mix and inside of pot-exception blooming plants keep potting mix slightly moist not ‘wet’), no problem keeping small amount of water in saucer to maintain higher humidity level (exception any cactus / succulent-water infrequently-monthly at most), turning plants to encourage more even growth-optional, no fertilizer unless blooming (1/2 label rate) always keep an eye out of anything unusual on all plant parts and yes even in, get proper identification before making any type of treatment-unsure ask at favorite garden center, any infected / infested plant should be isolated during treatment or discarded

Flying Activity Abounds Birds-be entertained by crows, wrens, chickadees, juncos, gold finches mingle with cardinals, blue jays, doves, purple finches are just a few examples of flight patterns to expect, feeding can be in ‘official’ feeders or scattering seed on any hardscape surface, have water available is a plus also-feral cats can be problematic along with thieving squirrels take action if you feel it is needed

Popular Seasonal Decorations (simple string of colorful lights, dangling ornaments to monster sized inflatable)-use common sense whether stringing, hanging or placement as each can generate heat or physically rubbing bark causing potential long term damage to bark, twig, branches to evergreens broadleaf and or conifers, lawns and even herbaceous plants overwintering just below surface

Lawn-easy to forget with so much happening, this past year was very difficult for lawns of any type, from flooding to drought, not unusual fluctuations in air temperatures, unhealthy soil (lack of aeration / composting) could set up an unhappy 2018, last opportunity for winterizer fertilizer (not 12-12-12-components may trigger damaging growth surge on cool (blue, fescue) season lawn, mow (blade height 2 1/2 - 3”) to keep elongation of grass blades and to prevent tree leaf debris build-up both create high humidity / moist environment triggering one or two fungi-yellow patch / winter brown patch, or pink snow mold (no snow needed for this fungus to be present) walk around routinely checking for bleached / pale spots maybe some slimy appearing lawn blades, or overly matted spots with blades having ‘pinkish’ tint, not advisable to core aerate any lawn-exposes crowns of plants to severe damage in extremely cold spells

Yes, There Are Weeds Growing (annual i.e. chickweed, henbit, and perennial i.e. dandelion, purslane, clover) require hand digging but worth effort, herbicides become ineffective  

Looking Out a Window or Walking Through Yard-enjoy sights and sounds and give any and all aspects thought, have energy / time for additional bed space planting, is area / existing plants overgrowing dedicated space, time reduce quantity, convert to another new interest-give any ideas time to be mulled over before setting a course of action

Soil Aeration and Composting Under Trees-makes for healthier soil and trees-every 3 years equipment needed electric drill, earth auger (drill bit size 1-2 inches and length 1-2’) and compost to backfill holes, first series of holes is 1/3 distance from trunk to tree dripline ((circular pattern-each holes 2’ apart and approx. 6”-1’) when entire trunk is encircled with holes move out 2’ repeat process, final circle should be just beyond dripline, it is easier if holes are filled with compost as each circle is complete 

Pruning-minimize routine shaping, size reduction but do remove storm damage ASAP to prevent worsening troubles

Unwanted Guests-Canada geese, voles, squirrels, field mice, deer…closer to homes activity increases as natural habitats go dormant reducing growing season food source, use physical (fencing, corrugate pipe…), chemical (repellents, safe household products-moth balls, Irish Spring soap)-routinely change course of action and products

Don’t Over Mulch-yes, mulch has great aesthetic value with plant / bed space highlighting but to much could damage plant material so add new mulch to maintain depth 3-4” around woodies (evergreen and deciduous) and 1-2” over areas where perennials / ground covers are growing

Potted or in Ground Roses-cut back to 1-2’ (exception don’t prune climbers, shrub roses remove ½ current stem length), cover with 8-10” mulch, treat shrub roses like woody plant only 3-4” mulch

Keep Fallen Leaves Raked Up or Mulched with Mower-to reduce potential fungus troubles



November’s beginning is colorful and vibrant with rhythm created by falling leaves, it is filled with end of daylight savings, elections, Veteran’s day, Thanksgiving and 2017 garden season ending. This month has many facets; making notes related to successes and failures, cleaning and keeping up with care and maintenance i.e. deep root feeding of trees and leaf raking along with setting stage for 2018 i.e. soil improvement, pruning and plant spring flowering bulbs. Set Priorities-Shorter Day Length, Cool / Colder Temperatures can truncate time / energy related to amount of work that realistically can be done. Advice once a project is started stay with it if at all possible until completion to avoid numerous half done scenarios which can create more problems later on.   


 The To Do’s - Beyond Taking Time Enjoying Outdoors and Tropical Plants Indoors

Stop Guessing Game-collect soil samples for specific locations (lawn, edible, shrub, sun, shade, butterfly garden…) have each area analyzed separately, testing will determine pH and soil nutritional levels both inadequate and overabundant-information can save money spent on unnecessary products and increase chances of greater success and enjoyment 

Routinely Check and Remove Dead Plant (fallen tree leaves, twigs, branches, leaves of perennial, annual, vine, vegetable, herb foliage / stems, fallen fruits…) Debris-to reduce overwintering insect and disease troubles-in herbaceous (annual, bulb, perennial, ground cover…) and evergreen plant beds, and all types of lawns (zoysia, bluegrass, fescue) and Weedy (out of place) Plants to minimize invasiveness of both above and below ground growth  

Tools-keep readily available anything that may be needed i.e. shovels (soil or snow) saws, pruners, carts, wheelbarrows…but as equipment is used for last time clean, sharpen, check mechanical qualities, run motors until gas tank is empty before winter storage

Landscape Chemicals (fungicide, insecticide, herbicide, fertilizers…)-dry goods close / clamp shut, store dry location-off floor is possible to prevent condensation-liquids keep from freezing to avoid possible product contamination

Installation of Spring Blooming Bulbs-can be in ground or pots, well drained medium (whether soil or potting mix) is a must bulb / tuber planting depth 3-4 X diameter after placement back fill 1-2” higher allowing for settling and preventing a depression over bulbs where water may sit causing rot problems, cover with 1-2” mulch and water

Keep Cutting Grass-cool season until growth stops (blade length 2.5-3.0") to keep blade length shorter minimizing winter fungus which can lead to greater problems when spring growth begins, warm season zoysia growth has stopped but make one final cut at 2-2.5” and rake to remove debris  

Watering-continue doing to minimize / eliminate damaging air pockets surrounding root hairs, once ground freezes, discontinue watering, drain all systems (facet / pipe or in ground irrigation) store hoses out of weather

While Enjoying Houseplants / Tropicals-always keep look out shiny stickiness on foliage or stems, insects (from stuck in one place, to crawlers, to flyers) determine what your plants have and or head to favorite garden center for identification help and insecticide(s), isolate infested plants to minimize chance of spreading, watch for excessive leaf / flower bud drop some plants don’t transition well to homes interior-again visit garden center for help, over-all wilting / sagging doesn’t necessarily mean more watering is needed possibly to much water was done and roots are rotted meaning no longer able to absorb nutrients or moisture, fertilize (1/2 label rate) any plant with flowering or budding i.e. Christmas cactus, poinsettias, amaryllis… if making a purchase during cold temperatures be sure and protect plants on way out to car and from car to inside home     

Adding Mulch-many different types available but recommend using product from companies that have proof of testing to avoid potential problems, helps slow soil dehydration, protects plant roots, adds aesthetic qualities, while in place will slowly breakdown enriching soil-reminder don’t overdo it could be waste of money and problematic for plants-depth 3-4” woodies-trees / shrubs (minimal contact with any bark), 1-2” herbaceous-perennial, ground covers, or bulb plantings

Installing / Transplanting Trees and Shrubs-keep plants watered prior to any action, have planting location ready before digging up or un-potting / burlap removal plants to be installed dig hole 3X diameter of root ball but only 80% as deep to keep crown above surrounding surface and allowing for acclimation settling, place into adjust depth and width as needed, add no fertilizer, backfill and water, cover rootball with 3-4” mulch, if staking allow for some swaying in wind, prune any damaged or broken limbs / twigs / branches, protect trunk to prevent sunscald or wildlife gnawing bark with corrugated pipe, vertically slit and placed around trunk

Maintain Proper Soil Moisture-for root health, water insulates physically and fills potentially damaging underground air pockets, moisture amount needed 1" every 10 days, especially critical for evergreens (coniferous and broadleaf both) and new installations

Fading Fall Blooming Perennials-cut spent flowers and reduce overall plant size by ½

Seasonally Unplanted or Developing Areas-work into soil 1-2” compost to help structure, additional benefit is exposing troublesome insects and soil borne diseases to colder temperatures-reminder freshly turned soil can attract small rodents / wildlife control as / if needed-traps, barriers, repellents  

Pruning Woodies-remove any storm damage or dead wood, routine shaping, sizing remove no more than 50% of current size to avoid potential damaging factor if severe winter temperatures occur



October’s Color-fall’s first full month with highlights ranging from harvesting wine grapes, gathering fallen walnuts, seeing large fields of corn / soybeans cut / loaded , watching some deciduous tree, shrubs and vine foliage transition from green to reds, yellows, browns and fall, to shorter daylight length and emergence of fall or Halloween landscape decorations to squirrels finishing winter nests, local birds more frequently visiting feeders and bird bathes to enjoying emerald green cool season lawns as warm season varieties go tan and dormant to coniferous and broadleaf evergreen trees, shrubs, vines, ground cover gain attention and appreciation, to earthworms and grubs begin to migrate deeper into soils while deer, chipmunks and others ‘fatten up’, the list of happenings on depends upon where you live and the surroundings as 2016 growing season ebbs  

Crucial / Critical Watering-Do Not Put Sprinklers / Hoses Away or Turn-Off Irrigation Systems-adequate soil moisture essential part for plants to ‘toughen up’ related to winter hardiness normally it is especially important for evergreens i.e. azalea, magnolia, holly, pines, cypress, spruce, yew or any new (less than 2 years in ground) but this year any plant from lawn / ground covers upward into tall trees will need some additional watering beyond rainfall (hopefully it will come)…

October is get it done month-Things to Do

Bulb Factoring Tropical Bulbs / Tubers-elephant ears, cannas, dahlias caladiums are falling asleep-so dig or remove from pots, place in location allowing soil to dry, when dry gently shake to expose tuber / bulb, wrap / layer with newspaper place in cardboard box or paper bag, store where temperatures remain above freezing, discard anything suspect / soft / blacken / smelly

Hardy Bulbs-next year’s blooming and aesthetic success depends upon several factors-in ground or pots that remain outdoors 1). planting site-soil improved and well drained, 2). planting depth 5-6X actual bulb size 3). clustering groups of same variety, minimum of 6 in close proximity 4). water after installation, cover 1-2” mulch-potting for wintertime indoor forcing-use only pots with drainage holes and potting mix (not potting soil), fill bottom 1/3 pot, position bulbs (with minimal contact), planting fill pot / covering bulbs to ½-1” top of pot, water, if potting mix settles refill to correct level and water enough so water comes out of drainage holes, place pots in cool location (temperatures remain above freezing-(spare refrigerator, garage) for 6 (smaller bulbs) or 12 (larger bulbs) when removing water pots, place in sunny location, foliage will emerge in few weeks followed by flowers    

Your in Flight Coloring Book Many varieties of birds can visit your landscape, especially if you provide seed and water, so whether a beginner or long timer, rearrange as needed birds are very adaptable so moving and or adding feeder(s), bird bath to give you better visuals from indoors is no problem, many birds prefer a specific seed i.e. thistle seed = finches, oiled sunflower = cardinals, mixed seed = doves…keep in mind ‘robber’ squirrels and other mammals are on constant look out for food, so consider baffles, feeder placement, etc. with that in mind, added plus check trees / shrubs for old nests, try to determine what bird built it

Your Yard / Landscape Give Thought, Evaluate are Changes Needed Enthusiasm and energy should determine if there a need to increase, reduce, and or improve bed space? Whatever decision is made, first step is soil preparation ‘key to success’-be realistic, don’t undertake to much at once, give area(s) a priority ranking work first in most important / impactful site(s) Step 1). do real research ‘SOIL TESTING’, whether existing plant performance was satisfactory or not 2). existing vegetation in area decide what will happen i.e. kill, transplant, place in temporary holding area 3). measure area / sq. footage, order / pick up soil improving compost (1-2 cu. yds. per 100 sq. ft.) 4). work rototill / spade top 6-8” of soil (caution under trees / root damage, underground utility lines, slopes erosion potential) 5). spread 2” of organic matter over surface and mix with existing soil, repeat until all compost has been added 6). rake to level, if adjacent to hardscape / structures slope surface 1” per 10’ to insure positive drainage 7). converting beds to lawn only 2” of compost needs to be added and worked into existing soil 8). always work amendment into soil never just lay on surface-it doesn’t help any plant only makes for disappointment

Avoid Potential Fallen Leaf Problems Don’t think fallen leaves as cheap mulch, take action to prevent fallen leaves from piling (greater than 3” deep) up over living plant (lawn, ground covers, perennials…even though heading for winter dormancy) material, an overly moist circumstance can occur triggering reactions ranging from bacterial, fungus, disease troubles-weakening plants, making them more susceptible to further damage from insects and or other diseases during dormancy or next growing season-What To Do-continuously remove fallen leaf debris by sweeping, mowing, raking and or blowing, recycle / compost collected leaves

Maintaining Tropical Paradise Houseplants-use caution and don’t overwater (wilting foliage / branching can mean either under, over watered or unhealthy-take time to determine cause before reacting), only fertilize those with flower buds or in bloom, routinely check (stems, leaf bottom / top, potting mix, underside of pot) all plants recent purchases or longtime residents whether spent summer indoors or outside for signs of insects, disease, or unexpected decline-be sure of prognosis before making treatment(s), over-all appearance is unhealthy consider discarding vs. trying to save, keep troubled plants isolated from healthy to minimize spread

Lawn Activity Mow (blade height 3-4”) while actively growing, sod laying  overseeding / herbicide / pre-emergent application results could be hit or miss weather and setting determining factors, fertilize only cool season varieties use winterizer, areas heavily infested with weeds consider hand digging

Gathering Seed for Sprouting Next Spring Have fun collecting from vines, ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals i.e. crabapple, junipers, castor bean, sweet alyssum, purple cone flower, hyacinth bean vine, place dried fruits, pods, seed in paper envelope, label and store in dry location, next February get seed starting potting mix and plant several varieties of woody and herbaceous plants can self-seed meaning seeds dropped during growth cycles may germinate next year

Perennials Don’t hesitate get to work installing any new purchases, gifted plants or divisions to give root systems time to establish, to prevent uprooting during typical freeze thaw cycles later this month, cut off and discard brown stems / foliage to eliminate spots where insects / diseases may overwinter  

Procedure for Tree / Shrub Installation Watch out for ‘end of season clearance sale plants’ inspect thoroughly, keep root system watered prior to planting, dig hole 3-4X diameter of root ball but only 80% as deep to keep crown (trunk / twig root system intersection) above surrounding ground (allowing for post installation settling), lower root into hole, backfill and water, cover root ball with 3-4” of mulch, no fertilizer, stake loosely, water every few days for first 2 weeks

Water Gardens Cut back hardy plants, clear debris to prevent pumps clogging and toxicity to fish, cover with netting


Always Stop and Appreciate     



SEPTEMBER-Multi-Facetted, its 2018’s beginning as 2017’s is beginning its closing

First eight months of 2017 for plant material and all those who enjoy and or work in the botanical world a hyper-charged roller coaster ride. Though winter was mild leading everyone to think this is going to be a great growing season and in some scenario it was but over-all it was difficult anticipate anything halfway normal in this region where weather wise normal means abnormal. As August closed its doors many trees are dropping large number of leaves, under cared for and even properly cared plantings were showing signs of stress. All are hoping that this month will be a push of the re-set button by Mother Nature making last few weeks of summer and first of fall aesthetically rewarding.    

Green Green Grass of Home-Lawn-healthy well maintained cool season lawns should be recovering, while healthy well maintained warm season lawns will keep good aesthetics, if either type is showing unhealthy appearance, regardless of cause get proper / correct diagnosis is vital, before any action is taken or disaster may become worse mentally and financially-Cool Season Lawn (bluegrass / fescue) seeding-core aerate, spread seed and seed starter fertilizer then top dress with ½-1” compost, sod installation only if soil is prepared prior to laying sod-Warm Season Lawn (zoysia) no fertilizer-All Lawns regardless of type keep watered to insure 1” every 7-10 days, keep mower blade at 3.5-4.0” allowing for maximize amount of chlorophyll (food) to be generated

Landscape Websites that Aren’t Internet-3 Distinctive Types-1). Most damaging-spider mites-damaging to numerous varieties of plant material, webbing located usually between leaf surface and stem, feed on underside of leaf causing discoloration / speckling-control with miticide spray on underside of leaf or washing plant with stream of water can knock spider mites off but may move to nearby plant or return to original 2). Larger scary looking but minimal damage-fall web worms (caterpillars)-on tree branching / forks truly not major damage but if webbing is not destroyed (simply tear apart with stick / broom handle) population can increase (worms stay original tree hatching site or nearby) over time can weaken tree 3). Over-all beneficial-‘normal spiders’ seen on ground covers, in shrubs helpful by catching variety of troublesome bugs   

If Saving Tropicals Houseplants for Migration Indoors-if unhealthy consider not moving, even healthy appearing plants need full inspection for disease / insects if any detected determine specifics and take corrective action prior to bringing indoors, all migrants do not fertilizer, reduce watering, no matter type of plant brighter sunlight indoors is better to make transition less impactful

Get the Dirt on Your Soil by Testing-reduce / eliminate guess work-contains information (nutrient levels, soil chemistry pH…) essential in setting course of action, separate test for lawn, each unique bed spaces i.e. edibles, woodies, perennials (sun / shade), roses…

Rehabbing or Building New Bed Spaces-determine fate of existing plants (donate, kill, place in holding area) rototill designated area, layer on 2” raised bed mix compost, rototill, repeat 1 or 2 more times, adding 4-6” of compost (2 cu. yds. per 100 sq. ft.) creating excellent raised planting area-Plant Installations-ideal time warm soil temperature trigger new root growth, less intense rainfall allowing for absorption into the ground keeping root systems hydrated, above ground growth-dormancy is beginning-Planting Tips-remove flowers any damaged stem, branches, dig hole-3X diameter of root to aid in lateral growth but only 80% as deep to keep crown above surroundings, gently spread roots, back-fill firming soil around roots, water, monitor soil moisture for 2 weeks to prevent dehydration, water if plants appear wilted in morning not during heat of day

Summer’s ‘Tropical’ Bulbs Dimming-shorter days may cause existing foliage browning, smaller new leaves, diminished flower production, but still plenty of enjoyment just a little less pizzazz and size-dormancy-browning, noticeably smaller leaves or lack of flowering-dig, allow drying, store in paper bag-cool dark dry spot

All Plants-Soil Moisture-Water Amount Needed-1” every 7 days-causes roots to grow deeper making all plants healthier and hardier-soaking ground for extended periods of time is best- fills sub surface air pockets reducing collection points for cooler air that could impact feeder root hairs, cleans foliage, needles and stems reducing hibernation sites / points for some problematic insect / mite and fungus / bacteria / disease / virus incubators, etc.

Post Emergent Herbicides Becoming Less Effective WHY?-air temperatures dropping under 70, warm season annual weeds are dying with cooler days, perennial (herbaceous and evergreen) weeds are slowing towards dormancy-Pre-Emergent Herbicide Application Effective Kill-germinating annual cool season weed seeds i.e. annual bluegrass, henbit, chickweed, Persian speedwell… 

Alien Growth Sightings-puffball, mushroom, toad stools grow only on dead plant material i.e. imploding roots, thick thatch, un / improperly composted material worked into soil, spreading un-rotted manures or ‘uncooked’ mulch onto lawn / landscape-whether on ground, lawn or mulched beds do have alarming appearance but really are not harmful to living plant material-However On Tree Bark-can indicate internal problem-if tree is important recommend getting professional diagnosis

Growing Plant Population-several summer annuals (sweet alyssum, portulaca, impatiens) and perennials (purple cone flower, sweet autumn clematis, hollyhocks) can self-seed (produce and drop viable seeds that will germinate next year), others (black eyed Susan, zinnia, columbine, hyacinth bean vine, castor bean) may self-seed or seed collected, stored and planted next year and last but not least perennial plant dividing (asparagus, hosta, ferns, coral bells, Asiatic and day lilies, bergenia, thyme, butterfly weed), options first plant should be healthy, dig entire plant (includes stem, crown and root) split off pieces making sure each has stem, crown and roots or leave plant in ground and dig out ‘pie wedge’ piece with stem, crown root, backfill any hole with soil matching existing type

plant listings in text are used as examples 

AUGUST-each year this mid-summer month never knows what it will inherit from July as calendar page is turned. July 2016 was one of the wettest on record and now 2017 July is one of the driest. Activity level is accelerating even though temperatures and humidity are some of the years highest, options include: cutting back elongated annuals to stimulate thicker growth and more robust flowering for remainder of ’17 growing season, realistic evaluation of over-all landscape plants and design are changes needed, deciding on pruning, shaping, transplanting that could make a difference for this gardening season. Hummingbirds and butterflies will be passing through on their way to warmer climate, squirrels make improvements to nesting creating a mess with dropped twigs, cicadas sing while voles, robins, cardinals, hawks, blue jays, moles, starlings and chipmunks born this year begin to look and act mature. It can be said that August is august as preparation for launching anew while appreciating memories in rear view mirror. Blooming now purple coneflower, abelia, lotus, mimosa, ornamental grass, crape myrtle, butterfly bush, silver lace vine, rose of Sharon, sweet autumn clematis, black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, hardy hibiscus, water lily, plus annuals and tropicals.

Don’t forget Check with Brightside St. Louis-about annual spring bulb sale, go to

Are You Web Siting? (not internet)-large (multiple inches across) seen in various locations are beneficial spiders that catch many troublesome bugs, not to be confused with small (1” across) damaging spider mite-control hose off with steam of water or apply miticide

Prevent Dehydration-Water-1” every 7 days-all plants lawns, perennials, ground covers, vines, roses, shrubs, trees, edibles, etc. reminder longer time periods, less often drives moisture deeper and can help plant / root system health-ideal time is morning but anytime works exception being evening-could trigger an explosion of disease/virus/ bacteria problems

Pruning-any spring flowering tree or shrub-can reduce next year’s flowering but doesn’t harm overall health, if more than 25% is cut off there is a greater chance of weather related damage

Herbs-morning harvest peak time for aroma and flavor, minimize fertilizer and watering

Purchasing Instant Color-Flats or Potted Plants (keep watered and fertilize)-mums-once blooming begins flowering period is 2-3 weeks, pansy-flowering until frost, deadheading will help aesthetically

Keep Visual Heat Turned On-Annuals, Tropicals, Summer Bulbs-(containerized or in ground) if kept fertilized, watered, can provide 3 more months of great color, revive worn out plants with deadheading and or cutting back 

Feeling Energetic-Adding or Changing a Space-outline area (flags, hose, or landscape paint), remove existing plants (kill, discard or hold in protected location, keep watered), rototill or spade area, weed control for 2 weeks, then purchase 1.5 -2 cu. yds. compost or compost blend mix per each 100 sq. of bed area to create raised planting area (elevating plant crowns above surroundings for better acclimation), how to-spread 2-3" of amendment across bed, blend into existing soil, continue layering / blending until all amendment added, cover area with 1-2" mulch, continue weed control, until new plant installation-September is ideal

Beyond Annuals Eye Catching Summer / Fall Bloomers-toad lily, anemones, asters, sweet autumn clematis, roses, butterfly bush are examples-fertilize using lower (i.e. 5-10-5) nitrogen type

Sharing with Others-(having had great success)-divide spring flowering sun or shade perennial varieties, foliage is likely yellowing make it perfect time to transplant or give away, allowing plenty of time to acclimate to new location   

Stop Guessing-determine source of trouble in this region can be one or all of the following; weeds, bugs, soil, disease, physical, wildlife, bad plant selection and or siting, lack of proper care / maintenance-first correct diagnosis of situation essential, second realize some troubles can take extended periods (maybe years to eradicate complete) of timely and correct treatment / action to eliminate-choosing to make application yourself, allows read / follow label instructions precisely-REMEMBER Professional Help is an e-mail, phone call or garden center visit away

Most Expensive Part in Most Landscapes-Lawns-get soil tested especially for cool season lawns before fall fertilizing begins realize fescue / bluegrass types go dormant in high summer temperatures but turnaround could begin by months end (if lawn was healthy going into summer), as nighttime temperatures cool begin cool season care / maintenance (core aerating / top dressing ½” compost), overseeding, weed control (pre and post emergent as needed), watch for insect, virus, bacteria, fungus damage treat immediately, all sod types can be installed-water daily first 2 weeks for establishment, for any lawn keep mower blade height (3.5-4.5”) longer blades offer shadowing to reduce sunburn damage, properly cared for warm season (zoysia) will look great, near months end fertilize for last time-REMEMBER tree roots can have a huge impact on lawn success, and no lawn in this region will be picture perfect can’t happen!

Two Possible Headaches-Summary-moles-surface tunneling (seeking earthworms-main diet, eat little plant material-do consume any type of insect grubs, centipedes…found while tunneling seeking earthworms) exposes and dries root systems-action flatten tunnels most active areas will pop up within day-control place several traps along active tunnel-realize abandoned can be used by other damaging rodents (voles…) to enter and eat / damage plant root system, additional information there can be several moles within a landscape, better yard more earthworms = more moles, 2 tunnel system with surface for seeking food, lower tunnel (1’ deep) is fast access to sleeping den, general habit eat for few hours then nap, other control options flooding tunnels, using in ground sound vibrators to repel newcomers, digging or stabbing at suspected mole locations…white grubs-(beetle larva)-5 different types in region-annual, May, green June, and Japanese)-damage ranging from root system to foliage and flowers may consume root systems located just below soil surface-description body curled in ‘U’ shape, head brown, three pairs of legs, abdomen shiny / transparent, high concentrations (6+ per sq. ft.) can do severe damage to cool season lawn, if browned areas are easily lifted (root system cut off) and grubs observed apply grub control, in browned will not lift easily then problem is not grubs but could be older, un-properly cared for lawn, disease problem, female dog urine, most damaging adult grub is Japanese beetle (shiny bluish green) spray insecticide directly on bug, use systemic insecticide, or knock off into cup of soapy water to kill-REMEMBER keep an eye out, take action at earliest signs to minimize damage  

Be Careful-Don’t Swing or Swat-yellow jacket / ground hornet (bite / sting both) activity becomes more up close and personal as day length shortens and workers fatten queen for winter hibernation, if high number become apparent look for nest area there will be a steady stream of ‘bees’ flying to / from same location usually under shrubs / vegetation, look closely for entrance / exit holes ½” in ground-REMEMBER very aggressive-consider contacting professional service

Unexpected Growth and or Discoloration on Trees / Shrubs / Roses-galls-lumps on tree branches especially oak, cause small wasps eggs hatching-treatment ineffective, fire blight-brown branch tips on apple family members both ornamental (including pears) or fruiting, rose rosette-maroon canes large number of thorns and or distorted flowering-remove plants immediately disease transmitted by variety of spider mites, fungus / mushroom-growth on dead plant parts (roots, trunks, branches, twigs) or surface of mulch -no treatment, if observed in lawn-lawn needs dethatching if cool season next month, warm season wait until green-up occurs next spring-REMEMBER some infected plants are best removed


Wonderful Gifts-All Unique One of a Kind!!! designed and made by Tracy

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Good Gardening--To each and everyone that stops by-I say to you the world of life and gardening is simply wonderfully wild and crazy

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