Good Gardening in 2019 

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June means many things Schools Out, doorway to summer and the Greatest Landscape Show Possible so many things to keep ahead of, on top of with Mother Nature setting the stage with some of longest daylight hours of the year. We know there will be potentially stressful temperatures and humidity so stay smart make wise care / maintenance decisions related to your Plant World. Enabling you to relish greatness and except fact there will probably be disappointment, but ENJOYMENT rules.


Product Labels (read / re-read and understand) before any application-whether fertilizer, or any chemical to your landscape-do not mix at higher concentration rate than stated - can burn plant roots and or damage soils (living micro-organisms) causing plants to decline / struggle or die

When Adding New Mulch-raises soil temperature, watering first to reduce damage potential, make light application of granular fertilizer, then add if needed (or rake lightly to refresh)--total depth (existing + new) herbaceous (between not over plants)-1-2", woodies 3-4" (keep away from bark)

Fertilizers-use type formulated for specific plant i.e. tomato fertilizer, rose fertilizer, bloom booster for annuals, application tip-mulched area best results using powder water mixture-water carries nutrients through mulch and into the soil for plant use, granular types can be held in suspension by mulch, granular or liquid in lawns, pots, un-mulched garden spaces-DON'T feed trees now

Making a Difference Equipment Maintenance-keep all blades sharp, if removing diseased plant material before using on healthy plants dip tool / wipe mower blade with bleach / water mix to de-contaminate, make sure spreaders and sprayers are working properly before each application

Birds-new born (cardinals, finches, robins, doves...) along with parents providing visual fun

Over-all Pests / Insects and Diseases

Examine-plants prone to or with a history of insect and disease problems-proper diagnosis with appropriate fast action can make a huge difference on damage control

Common Headaches-Mealy Bugs, Aphids, Thrips, Mites, Red Clover Mites, Slugs, Japanese Beetle, Bagworms, White Fly, Scale, Grasshoppers, Cucumber Beetle, Leaf Miner-some examples of potential insect problems in your landscape (some very damaging)-check plants in early morning, underside of foliage, along stems-making positive ‘bug' identification before application of insecticide / miticides to save time / money and insuring best results

Underground White Grubs (larval stage / baby beetles that feed on plant roots)-five varieties found in region; May, annual, green June, and Japanese, characteristics whitish curled body, brown head, three pairs of legs, some specifics annual grub found only in bluegrass lawn causing damage from summer into fall, 4 other types can be found anywhere in landscape from lawns to garden / bed space, June grubs push / stirs small amounts of dirt to surface while feeding

High in Tree Cicadas (locusts / re re's)-emergence / presence obvious by ‘screaming sound' and exoskeletons found attached to tree trunks, limbs, branches, major damage done as females slit underside of twigs to deposit eggs, causing twigs to die and drop-no effective control

Yuck What is That-Disease, Virus, Bacteria-damage ranges from aesthetics to plant death earliest correct detection / diagnosis with fast action will get best results but reminder applications after visible signs are obvious will slow / minimize damage, generally won't eradicate, whether in lawn, roses, trees, shrubs, etc.-keep track of first ‘seeing' then in future make fungicide application prior to physical presence could prevent trouble entirely Not Always Disease, Virus, Bacteria Related-Discolored / Undersized Foliage, Lack of Flowering or Fruit Set-can be nutrient / moisture deficiency or abundance


Action for Specific Plant Groups

All Newly Installed Plants-from woody, lawn to herbaceous watch closely, take action as needed to insure good root growth / nutrient moisture absorption to combat summer heat 

Prune These Trees Now-best time for maples (sugar Japanese, red, amur, etc.) birches (river, whitespire, etc.), beech tree (purple, tricolor, etc.), there is less sap flow, cut longer branches in sections 1/3rd length each cut, final cut stub should be ¼ to ½" to trigger proper healing, apply no sealer it is ineffective

Tropical / Houseplants-monitor for sunburn routinely if foliage is burning (sunburn) relocate to shadier location, if plants wilting in morning potting mix is dry, wilting in heat of day moisture retention, can be pruned to shape or reduce size-depending upon variety cuttings can be rooted, fertilize plants if outdoors full label rate, indoors ½ label rate, take cuttings to give as gifts

Annuals-versatility really begins to show from brightest hottest location to deepest shade there will be several options, growing window boxes, small to large pots, hanging baskets, in ground almost anywhere to provide maximum color from white to deep purple, if purchasing new type read tags to make best choice, plants require attention to perform best watering and fertilize according to variety

Lawns-(cool and warm season varieties)-should be emerald green, cool season types will decline later in month and all shaded areas will thin as well, set blade height to cut bluegrass at 3" (helps shade roots), fescues 3" and zoysia 3", water twice weekly to insure 1" water every 7 days, do not water daily for short periods, fertilize zoysia but not bluegrass or fescue, watch for weed explosions

Perennials-removal of spent flowers not essential, some earlier blooming seed heads may provide seeds for birds, fertilize, control weeds-dig and or apply herbicide, water according to plant type

Roses-traditional classic (floribunda, grandiflora, miniature, hybrid teas, climbers...) types remove spent flowers from first flush, cut off at first or second 5 leaflet (depending upon stem strength), unnecessary to prune shrub or bush but do so to control shape / size, fertilize, water as needed continue insect / disease control, watch for Japanese beetles (metallic blue green)-remove / kill immediately to minimize damage

Shrubs-prune finished spring bloomers, pruning on summer bloomers will reduce flower count, don't cut back broadleaf or needled evergreens because remaining tips may sunburn, fertilize use formula for specific type of shrub i.e. evergreens need acid loving (contains iron sulfur) to maintain good color   

Vines-(morning glory, moon flower, clematis, red trumpet honeysuckle...) fertilize both annual / perennial (herbaceous and evergreen) varieties, minimize pruning to enhance display potential

Tomato & All Edibles-all plants require great deal of care and maintenance to insure good ‘fruit vegetable production including weed control, watering, fertilizing, pinching, etc. fertilize using types specifically formulated for food production-weather will play major role on harvest-June Strawberries-when finished bearing, thin plants, weed control, fertilize and mulch between rows

Herbs-full sun, very well drained soil for best aroma / flavor also minimize fertilizing and watering

Bulbs-tropical / summer varieties-elephant ears, cannas, caladiums, gladiolas, dahlias, etc. really start making a showing, fertilize / keep watered, any foliage left where spring bloomers grew cut off  

Ground Cover (ivy, sedum, ajuga, phlox, pachysandra, moneywort, etc.)-fertilize, weed (grassy and broadleaf) control with herbicide and or hand dig

Water Gardens / Fountains-(lotus, water lilies, water hyacinth, etc.) growth surge with warmer water temperatures, fountains keep water aerated (reducing algae bloom) 










April showers bring May flowers as April's last day brought an end to one of the most spectacular spring flowering months in memory, everyone is looking forward to May stepping up and showing off it best. Dogwoods, Lenten rose, redbuds, tulips, crabapples, azaleas stepping back off stage as hydrangeas, hosta, yellow creeping moneywort, Japanese painted ferns, sedums explode while maples, elms, birch trees reach out to embrace the skies. Get yourself ready to take action and ENJOY to the MAXIMUM. Let the really colorful games begin right now.   

WEEDS-cool season (i.e. henbit, annual bluegrass-germinated last August / Sept.) are going dormant because of rising temperatures-have been producing and dispatching seed, are now joined by reemerging perennial (i.e. dandelion, violets) along with warm season (i.e. spurge, crabgrass) annual seeds are sprouting explosively if pre-emergent was not applied early this year-now control by hand digging or post emergent herbicide application (make positive identification before application) 

THINK FIRST-before adding new garden / landscape or relocating existing plants-be smart when considering (trees, shrubs, vines, invasive ground covers and perennials transplanting and or installing any plants-think about mature size (proximity to overhead or underground utilities, walks, outdoor seating, proximity to structures, attractiveness to pollinators, downspout discharge, compatibility to surrounding plants, nutrient, drainage requirements), before planting has soil been correctly prepared, problematic weeds controlled is there just below surface restrictive root systems especially from existing trees

STORM DAMAGE REMOVAL, CONTROLLING SIZE, SHAPING = PRUNING-best with sharpen tools (reduces frayed tips which are more prone to bacterial troubles) make cuts at 45 degree angle for better healing, longer branches, stems, twigs recommend cutting off in sections 1/3 at a time with final cut leaving ¼" stub for best healing (never leave longer stubs-can lead to diminishing health)-remove storm damage ASAP, prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after bloom is finished, choosing to prune summer or fall bloomer likely reduces flower count, pruning evergreens could create ‘sunburn' situation to newly exposed needles or foliage, prune hedges at an angle with bottoms wider than top to prevent ‘naked-ness' at bottom due to lack of light (overshadowing top) this applies to in sun, shade, deciduous or evergreen hedges, remove sucker growth from branches, trunks or emerging from ground

PRIOR to APPLYING ANY CHEMICAL (inorganic / organic) to any PLANT-read and understand label-to save real and mental money, helping get anticipated outcome-NO advantage to upping douse likely problem causing, however using chemical for first time cut recommended application rate in half and watch results (self-education) learn and see impact, landscape setting can impact results though chemicals are tested thoroughly prior to releasing for sale-this applies to dry or liquid products whether herbicides, insecticides, fertilizer, fungicides or combinations 

EVERYTHING IS IN NEED OF NUTRIENTS-fertilize-as spring bloomers (bulb, shrubs, perennials...) finish flowering make final application, any and all plants with emerging growth (stem, twig, leaf...), obvious flower bud formation and or those with aesthetic peak still on horizon (i.e. crape myrtle, purple cone flower, sedum ground cover, hydrangea, ferns, hosta...)-last application to cool season (fescue, bluegrass) lawn until September and first feeding of warm season zoysia GROUND COVER-2 fertilizing this month ½ label rate preventing growth surge, check older stands (especially evergreen ivy) to making sure growth (new or established is rooted in soil) if stems have extended leafless areas that are not rooted planting is aged and in decline, major renovation is needed i.e. installing new flats of ivy to infill planted area

SMOOTH TRANSITION BETTER SUCCESS-planning ahead, have location for new plant purchases ready before ‘bringing' plants home-whether under trees (for ground cover), bed space (for annuals or perennials), site for single tree (in lawn), or container / pot (for herbs or tropicals on deck) filled with potting mix-newly arrived plants sitting around above ground for more than a day or two could lead to decline and slow recovery even once installed, new plantings monitor for 2-3 weeks related to water (every other day unless extremely windy / intense sun then daily is suggested), wilting in heat of day not indication of dry root system, if wilted in morning water is needed-remember overwatering can be as detrimental as under watering-for woodie plant material hole should be 3X diameter of root ball only 75% as deep insuring crown is above surroundings allows for settling to correct depth cover crown with mulch

ENHANCING MULCH-some mulch can bind nutrients and absorb surface moisture, prior to spreading new mulch spread a very light application of fertilizer (type according to plant material being mulched-acid lovers get acid based) then water area, mulch depth according to plant-3-4" around woodies (trees, shrubs, hedges...) 1-2" herbaceous (perennials, ground covers, vines, annuals, summer bulbs...)-no mulch around sedums, cactus, herbs, or plants with gray or fuzzy leaves-elevated moisture level may be trouble

WHAT'S GOING ON?!!-unexpected shredded or curled leaf edge, black spotting, holes, undersized foliage, weird lumps on twigs, leaf blisters, undersized or lack of foliage, sticky feel, webbing on leaf stem, visible caterpillars, shiny streaks, unusual colored spots, bruise, leaves curling or discolored...unsure of what action to take avoid mistakes GET HELP determining cause (possibilities include; insects, mites, rodents, wildlife, fungus, bacteria, disease, improper care maintenance...) then take corrective action if necessary-insecticides (unless systemic-absorbed into plant-kills as insects feed) are direct contact killers only  in other words chemical must hit targeted bug directly waste of time, energy and money-BUGS OF THE MONTH (examples)-Eastern tent caterpillars build extensive webbings between branch forks, eat entire leaf except veins when morphing to next life stage drop to ground by webbing threads-destroy web nests to reduce damage-red clover mites (scampering tiny dots-when squashed smear red)-regular insecticides will not kill-apply ‘miticide' for control, pine saw fly larva / caterpillars on conifers eating needles-squeeze or apply insecticide, scale new hatching easily control with various insecticides (inorganic and organic), sod webworms are active, slugs and snails active at night if shiny streaks are visible on shade plant foliage put of slug snail bait,

STAYING AHEAD-any part of landscape with a history of fungal, disease, bacteria problems whether junipers, lilacs, lawn, roses, hawthorn, peonies, crabapple, phlox... start applying preventive control prior to problem being visible to minimize potential physical or aesthetic damage-unsure what to apply check favorite garden center for best solution

UNDERGROUND-moles most prolific damaging / problematic small mammal pest-to locate area of greatest activity, tamp, trample, and flatten all obvious surface tunnels, active ones will pop up with 24 hours, place multiple traps along re-popped tunnels, cover with upside down bucket to keep curious pets away, other options include sitting shovel / digging fork in hand when tunnel area pops, drive tool into soil and pry upwards should bring mole up and out into open, poison include gels injected into active tunnels, repellents are available, flooding tunnels, mothballs and other activities have been used historically with some success

USUALLY MOST EXPENSIVE (mentally, physically and financially) LANDSCAPE FEATURE-Lawn-from equipment, care and maintenance necessities, aeration, dethatching, sodding, seeding, every element need for seasonal adjustments-regions weather is very impactful-cool season types (fescue, bluegrass) go basically dormant in heat of summer, while warm season (zoysia, Bermuda) are peaking aesthetically with reverse scenario in winter-late spring set mower blade height 2 1/2 to 3" (don't scalp increases weed invasion chances), last month for fertilizing cool season types, first month to feed warm ‘seasoners', options include combination formulas of fertilizer / insecticides / fungicides or separate product applications as needed-always read label prior to use  

ROUNDING UP LOOSE ENDS-new or renovating existing beds adding several inches of organic material to create a ‘raised bed' will increase plant performance, installing herbaceous (perennials, biennials, annuals) plants in pots, hanging baskets and or beds remove flowers that sap energy and fertilize, bulbs-as foliage of spring bloomers turn brown cut back at ground level, plant summer bloomers-(canna, caladiums, gladiolas, elephant ears, dahlia...) in pots, window boxes or in ground fertilize when foliage breaks soil surface, ornamental grasses-can be installed, divided or relocated, roses-carefully remove any remaining mulch, fertilize and begin insect and disease control, expect first flowering flush by months end, vines-remove dead stems, birds are great to watch and helpful and they consume many insects and newly formed tree seed i.e. sugar maple squirts, hardy aquatic plants-install into water gardens, mums-pinch back foliage by ½ for bushier plants, houseplants moving into outdoors do not place in sunny location or foliage will sunburn 


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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