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Archive | Diggin’ Spring

Container Gardening: Choosing the right plant for the pot

You don’t need a lot of space to enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables.

You don’t need a lot of space to enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables.

(NAPS)—It’s a growing trend: Twenty-one million households are planting container gardens. It saves space, helps control pests and overcome soil issues, and lets you enjoy fresh, homegrown produce even without a yard.

To ensure your success, it’s important to pick the right plant for the pot. Fortunately, seed companies are developing vegetable seeds well adapted for container gardens.

“Today’s container gardeners now have access to even more plants that are compact in size, yield more, taste great and feature unique colors and shapes,” said John Marchese of Seminis Home Garden seed.

To help you get started, consider these tips from experts at the University of Illinois Extension:

Choosing a Container 

• Anything that holds soil and has drainage holes in the bottom may be transformed into a container garden for terrestrial plants.

• For vibrant plant growth, the containers must provide adequate space for roots and soil media, allowing the plant to thrive.

Soil 

• Soils for containers need to be well aerated and well drained while still being able to retain enough moisture for plant growth.

• Never use garden soil by itself for container gardening, no matter how good it looks or how well things grow in it outside.

• Containers often use soilless or artificial media that contain no soil at all.

• When these mixes are used, they should be moistened slightly before planting. Fill a tub with the media, add water and lightly fluff the media to dampen it.

• When filling containers with media, don’t fill the pot to the top. Leave about a one-inch space between the top of the soil and rim of the pot.

Fertilizer 

• A regular fertilizer program is needed to keep plants growing well and attractively all season.

• The choice of fertilizer analysis will depend on the kinds of plants you grow. High-nitrogen sources would be good for plants grown for their foliage while flowering and vegetable crops would generally prefer lower-nitrogen and higher-phosphorous fertilizer types.

Choosing Plants For Your Container Garden 

• Plants that thrive in like soil, watering and light conditions make successful combinations. When combining plants, size, texture, proportion, color, setting and lighting all play a role.

Caring For Your Vegetables 

• Containers offer the advantage of being portable. As the seasons, temperature and light conditions change, you can move your containers so they enjoy the best conditions for peak performance.

• Most fruit-bearing vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squashes and eggplant require full sun.

• Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and spinach can tolerate more shady locations, unlike root vegetables such as radishes, carrots and onions.

• There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to watering. You have to watch your containers and understand how much moisture each plant needs. Feel the soil—if the first inch or so is dry, add water until it starts to drip out of the drainage holes.

Special Seeds 

“Just because they are using a smaller space to grow the plant doesn’t mean the fruit has to be small, too,” Marchese explained. “For example, if container gardeners are looking for a compact plant that produces large and tasty tomatoes, they should try a new hybrid tomato variety called Debut.”

Container gardeners don’t have to sacrifice flavor for a more conveniently grown plant either. “Husky Red is a medium-sized tomato hybrid that has great flavor. We have also developed a cherry tomato hybrid version called Husky Cherry Red that has the potential to set lots of sweet, flavorful fruit,” added Marchese.

Other compact hybrid tomato varieties include Patio, which produces about a 4-ounce tomato, and a saladette tomato variety called Yaqui that produces large-sized fruit.

Learn More 

For more information on home garden varieties, visit www.seminis.com.

 

 

 

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Seven secrets for a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape

Compact plants like ‘Lilac Chip’ butterfly bush contribute to a low-maintenance landscape.

Compact plants like ‘Lilac Chip’ butterfly bush contribute to a low-maintenance landscape.

 

(NAPS)—Anyone who thinks a low-maintenance landscape has to be plain green and ugly should think again. With a bit of planning, some smart plant choices and the help of these seven garden designer secrets, you can have a yard that’s the envy of your neighborhood—and enough time to enjoy it.

1. Choose plants that will flourish given the realities of your yard. Some plants like full sun while others tolerate shade; some don’t mind freezing temperatures while others are unfazed by relentless heat. Selecting plants that thrive in the existing conditions of your site ensures a healthy, attractive landscape. Observe the light levels around your home—six to eight hours plus of uninterrupted sun each day indicates full sun, four to six hours is considered part shade or part sun, and less than four hours would be a shaded site. Plants at the garden center should have tags that tell you their light preferences. Shopping locally helps ensure that all the plants you see will be suitable for the climate in your yard.

2. Plant drought-tolerant shrubs. These specially adapted plants thrive with limited water once they are established (usually after their first season in the ground). Drought-tolerant plants sail through hot summer days easily, saving you the time and money it takes to water the landscape. Read the tag attached to the shrub for information on its drought tolerance or look for visual cues such as silvery-grey leaves, as are found on Petit Bleu caryopteris, and narrow, needlelike foliage, as on Fine Line rhamnus.

3. Spare yourself the time it takes to prune your plants by opting for compact varieties. Compact (also known as dwarf) plants never get too large for the space where you’ve planted them so you don’t have to bother with confusing pruning instructions. Most people’s favorite plants are available in compact, no-prune varieties: hydrangea lovers can try Little Lime or Bobo dwarf-panicle hydrangeas or the tidy Cityline series of big-leaf hydrangea. Rose fans should take note of the low-growing Oso Easy series with its range of 10 vivid colors, all under 3’ high. Even butterfly bush, a shrub notorious for its giant, sprawling habit, is available in a compact 2’ height with the innovative Lo & Behold series.

The cheery gold of Chardonnay Pearls deutzia can brighten your yard.

The cheery gold of Chardonnay Pearls deutzia can brighten your yard.

4. Choose plants with high-quality, attractive foliage. These look great even when not in bloom, beautifying your landscape for months instead of just a few weeks. Colorful foliage, including the dark purple of Black Lace elderberry or the cheery gold of Chardonnay Pearls deutzia, and variegated foliage, such as My Monet weigela or Sugar Tip hibiscus, make engaging focal points from early spring through late fall. Mix them with such evergreens as Castle Spire holly and Soft Serve false cypress for year-round color.

5. Plant in masses of three, five or seven of the same kind of plant. This gives your landscape a cohesive, professionally designed appearance. Plus, weeds cannot grow if desirable plants are already taking up the space, eliminating that notoriously tiresome garden chore. Planting in groups of odd numbers is a designer’s secret for a bold statement that doesn’t feel too formal or fussy.

6. Mulch. A two- to three-inch-thick layer of shredded bark mulch not only gives your landscape a pleasing, finished look, it conserves water by reducing evaporation. It also keeps plant roots cool and shaded, allowing for healthy, vigorous growth that resists pests and diseases naturally.

7.  Don’t be afraid to re-place the plants that take too much of your time, or those that you don’t really like, with new, easy-to-grow shrubs. At www.ProvenWinnersShrubs.com, there are so many improved varieties available now that there is little reason to settle for anything else.

 

 

 

 

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Five environmentally friendly ways to keep your lawn looking great

DIG-Five-tips(BPT) – Maintaining the perfect lawn is easier than you think and with the right tools, you can be both efficient with your yard work and eco-conscious. If it’s lush green turf that you’re after, but you also care about your carbon footprint, there are a few tools and practices that can help you have it both ways.

Many of the tips for maintaining a truly green lawn can also save you money and time. As you’re gearing up to enjoy your outdoor space this season, here are a few suggestions to follow for a healthy lawn you can feel good about:

* Give back to your lawn. One of the best treatments for your yard is to let a layer of lawn clippings settle on the top of your turf after mowing. The clippings decompose and replenish your soil, encouraging positive growth. A common misconception is that leaving the clippings on top of your lawn leads to the development of thatch, when in fact it’s usually caused by other conditions. Leaving your clippings only helps your lawn, and lessens the amount of work you have to do.

* Go green with battery-powered mowers and lawn tools. Gas mowers’ engines don’t run nearly as clean as more thoroughly engineered car engines and contribute significantly to air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you make the switch to a battery-powered mower, you can start it easily every time without having to worry about polluting the air. With a mower like the GreenWorks Twin Force Mower, you can get the same great performance as a gas mower with up to 70 minutes of run time. The rechargeable 40 volt lithium-ion batteries that power this mower can also be used other GreenWorks lawn tools that include string trimmers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers, making it possible to take your entire arsenal of lawn care tools off gas for good.

* Be wise with your water. With a few strategic adjustments, you can significantly reduce the amount of water you use to keep your lawn healthy. Water less frequently with a good soaking each time, the water you use will go further. Watering in the morning will also help your lawn soak up the water, rather than having it evaporate before it makes it into your soil. Installing a rain barrel is also a great way to reuse the water that runs off your house without ever having to turn on the spigot.

* Buy a discerning fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers might offer quick results, but organic fertilizers often provide more staying power as they focus more on improving soil quality rather than the quick fix of applying nutrients directly to the plant. To make sure you are effective with your fertilizer use, take a soil sample to a local garden store to analyze it and they’ll recommend the best fertilizing mix for your lawn.

* Allow your lawn to protect itself. Mowing too short is a key mistake many people make. A good rule of thumb is to never cut more than one-third of the current height. This will ensure that your grass can develop deep enough roots to thrive and won’t get scorched when summer temperatures arrive.

You can have a beautiful, green lawn without putting extra stress on the environment. For more information on environmentally friendly lawn tools that offer gas-comparable performance, visit www.greenworkstools.com.

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What’s in for outdoors

Outdoor kitchens and food gardens are growing in popularity in the American landscape. Photo credit: Stephen Stimson Associates

Outdoor kitchens and food gardens are growing in popularity in the American landscape.
Photo credit: Stephen Stimson Associates

(NAPS)—If you want to get more enjoyment out of your yard, you can consider creating attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and good for the environment.
American homeowners are increasingly drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties. That’s what the most recent Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects discovered. The survey results also show demand for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.
Landscape architects who specialize in residential design were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. Ninety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in demand, followed by grills, seating and dining areas, and lighting.
Decorative water elements— including waterfalls, ornamental pools and splash pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes. Spas and pools are also popular.
Terraces, patios and decks are also high on people’s lists.
Americans prefer practical yet striking design elements for their gardens including low-maintenance landscapes and native plants.
In addition, more people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards.
Good to know
If you’re thinking of joining them, a few food-growing facts and hints may help:
•    Food gardens can be easy, rewarding and sustainable. For starters, you can use fallen leaves in autumn and grass clippings in spring and summer as mulch and weed suppressant.
•    Perennial plants can be low maintenance—they come back every year without replanting. Some great examples include asparagus, blueberries, blackberries and rhubarb.
•    Herbs can make for an especially sustainable food garden, as many prefer hot and dry areas of your yard, with chives, sage and tarragon returning every year.
Learn More
Additional information on the survey and on residential landscape architecture in general can be found at www.asla.org/residentialinfo and (888) 999-2752.

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Sure-grow guidance for first-time gardeners

DIG-First-time-gardeners1
(BPT) – Each year, thousands of first-timers will join the millions of seasoned gardeners who already know the satisfaction of picking a perfect tomato at its peak, serving up salads from greens just grown right outside the back door, or harvesting home-grown peppers and specialty herbs never even seen at the grocery store.
DIG-First-time-gardeners2Most of us want that home-grown, healthy goodness that veggie and herb gardens provide, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out just where to start. Diligent effort and smart investment can result in less-than-expected results, but starting your own produce plot and reaping its rewards is not out of your reach.
Even a small garden can fill your table with fresh, nutritious food, and help save money, too. In addition to the satisfaction you’ll get from growing your own food, gardening delivers a host of other health benefits, from low-impact exercise to boosting vitamin D levels with the hours you’ll spend in the sunshine.
Whether you start with a few containers on your patio, create a raised bed in a side yard or go big and plant a grand victory garden, gardening can be easy if you start with these six simple steps.
Step 1 – Pick transplants
While every plant starts from a seed, transplants make establishing your garden easier, and help ensure better success. Transplants, like Bonnie Plants which are grown regionally across the country and available at most garden retailers, nationwide, can trim six to eight weeks off growing time, and allow you to skip over the hard part of the growing process when plants are most vulnerable – so they’re more likely to survive and thrive.
Bonnie Plants offers a wide variety of veggies and herbs, available in biodegradable pots, making the selection process easy. Plant what you eat and try some easy-to-grow favorites, like these:
* Easy herbs – The volatile oils that make herbs valuable in cooking also naturally repel many insects and garden pests. Try basils, parsley, rosemary and something new, like grapefruit mint, which tastes as refreshing as it sounds.
* Bell peppers – You’ll find the Bell peppers grown in your own backyard will taste sweeter than those bought from your grocer. Harvest them green or red, when vitamin levels are higher. Bonnie offers the classic “Bonnie Bell,” that’s a productive proven winner.
* Eggplant – Eggplant thrives in hot weather. Try easy grow “Black Beauty” or something different like the white-skinned “Cloud Nine.”
* Lettuce – Go for “leaf” lettuces like “Buttercrunch,” “Red Sails,” or Romaine. They’ll tolerate more heat than head lettuces and if you keep picking the leaves you’ll get multiple harvests.
* Summer squash – Squash are easy-grow too, and very productive. Try zucchini “Black Beauty” or new-for-2013 Golden Scallop Patty Pan Squash. Many gardeners call this the flying saucer squash because of its unique shape. The flavor is delicate and mild, similar to zucchini.
* Tomatoes – These crimson favorites are the most popular backyard vegetable. Choose disease-resistant “Better Boy,” “Bonnie Original” or the extra-easy cherry tomato “Sweet 100.”
Step 2 – Location, location, location
Be sure the spot you choose for your plants gets six to eight hours of sun.You don’t need a lot of space to begin a vegetable garden. If you choose to grow in containers, you don’t even need a yard – a deck, patio or balcony will provide plenty of space. The amount of space you require will depend on what you’re planting and how many plants you intend to cultivate.
Sun-deprived plants won’t bear as much fruit and are more vulnerable to insects and stress.
Step 3- Suitable soil
Success starts with the soil. Most vegetables do well in moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter like compost or peat moss. Adding organic material loosens stiff soil, helps retain moisture and nourishes important soil organisms.
Step 4- Feed your food
All edible plants remove some nutrients from the soil, and can quickly exhaust soil without the help of a fertilizer. Since one of the reasons for growing your own vegetables is to control exactly what your family consumes, be sure to use all-natural, safe products like Bonnie Plant Food, which is derived from oilseed extract such as soybean seed extract. Research shows plants are healthier and more vigorous using organically based foods, rather than chemical based options.
Step 5 – Water well
Most vegetables aren’t drought tolerant, so you’ll need to water them regularly. The closer your garden is to a water source, the easier it will be to keep plants hydrated. One inch of water weekly is adequate for most vegetables.
Step 6 – Pest patrol
Let natural predators fight your battles, hand-pick pests or dislodge them with a jet of water. If you spray, do it late in the day when beneficial insects are less active.
You can find plenty of resources to help guide you through the planting process, from websites like www.bonnieplants.com to your local community college’s agricultural extension. Read up, watch videos, take a class and get your hands dirty.

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Add tasty edible plants to your landscape

(ARA) Window boxes overflowing with blooms, decorative pots lining the driveway with striking colors, and even a flowering vine climbing up the mailbox. The growing season has arrived, and it is time to decorate the landscape.

The latest gardening trend is growing your own produce, so incorporate edible plants as a beautiful compliment to the typical annuals and perennials. This year, spice up the landscaping decor with some tasty options.

Edible plants—whether herbs, vegetables, fruits or flowers—add a creative variety of interest to your landscape, and also produce a delicious bounty for your dinner table come harvest time.

Here are some ideas to help incorporate edible plants into your landscaping:

Decorate an arbor in the garden, along a walkway or near the house with grape vines. These vines can help shade an area and also can produce grapes good for eating, juicing, making into jams or jellies, or even wine. Different grapes thrive in different areas of the country, so research your region first before attempting to start some vines.

Switch to edible flowers like nasturtium, violets, chamomile, dandelion, hollyhock, honeysuckle, and pansies in your window boxes and decorative pots.  Do not eat flowers grown for ornamental purposes, instead, start edible flowers as seeds and grow them yourself. These flowers work great in salads, teas, summery drinks like sweetened tea, mocktails, and lemonade, and also can be crystallized to decorate cakes. To crystallize flowers, separate the flowers from the stem, and wash and dry the bloom. Heat up equal parts of water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, and the liquid becomes an amber color. Let the syrup cool. Take flower blooms and quickly dip the pedals into the liquid mixture, turn back over and let dry blossom face up. Stronger petals with form and shape work well.

Mix an herb or two into container gardens. Lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano and lemon grass are just a few that grow extremely well in containers, and mix attractively with other blooming flowers. Not only are the herbs edible, but also emit delicious scents when picked or touched, making a great choice for window boxes or path plantings.

Pot a tomato plant right in the front yard. Or, the backyard. Tomatoes grow well in full sunlight, and are decorative when the vines drape along a trellis or arbor. Tomatoes also work well as a natural screen along a porch or patio. Also good for use on an arbor or trellis are cucumbers, smaller melons and squash, beans and peas. Inter-plant vines with containers or landscaping, and your small vegetable garden will get a pop of interest to make it stand out – and provide a great harvest for your family.

Create a hedge with berries. Try blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and even gooseberries to make a unique hedge along the edge of your property. Just remember, your family will not be the only samplers of the fruits. Consider covering the hedge with netting to help keep birds from stealing all the berries. Combining beautiful landscaping with delicious foods to serve at dinner is sure to create many compliments – both from visitors enjoying the front and backyard views, and from dinner guests enjoying the produce harvest. Follow these tips and this year your garden will look good enough to eat.

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Save time and energy with tips for smart home improvement

(ARA) – The weather is warm and the sun is shining, making it the perfect time to start your home improvement projects. Whether it’s a little tidying up, or a full-on home repair, some tips will help you complete your projects without a lot of headaches.

Winning the battle against rust

As the sun begins to shine brighter, imperfections around the house begin to appear. Metal products that haven’t been properly winterized or have simply been out in the elements too long can begin to show signs of wear and tear, and worst of all, rust. Combating rust can be a real challenge, and too often, people would rather toss out the rusty bench, garden tools or even the lawn mower and simply buy something new.
Protecting your items from rust is easy with a little help from the new Rust Protector spray paint from Krylon. It dries in just eight minutes, so you don’t have to worry about grass, leaves or other particles getting stuck in the fresh coat of paint. Plus, it provides the ultimate protection against rust, keeping your outdoor items looking like new, regardless of the elements they face.

Continue cleaning up outside

Give the outside of your house a little TLC. Start with the roof and gutters, since they’ve collected a lot of buildup and have experienced their share of wear and tear throughout the colder months. No one wants to spend hours dealing with inside water damage or worse—mold. Stop the drama before it starts by inspecting the roof and gutters and looking for damage such as holes, loose shingles or leaks.

And while you’re outside, give your siding a glance, too. While you were warm and toasty inside this past winter, the exterior of your house was getting a beating. Cold weather, snow, ice and even wind can cause problems to the siding, so be sure to address any issues quickly.

Check for a cool breeze

It’s probably been a few months since the air conditioner was turned on, making now the perfect time to check that it’s still running smoothly. Your air conditioner is important because it not only keeps your home cool during the hot summer; it also dehumidifies your house and keeps mold from developing inside the walls.

First, check the AC filters and replace them if they appear dirty, since a dirty filter can cause strain and damage to your air conditioner by making it work harder than necessary. Turn your air conditioner on for a test run; once it has been running for a while, check the refrigerant levels by feeling the pipe connected to your AC unit. It should feel cool to the touch; if it doesn’t, you may be low on refrigerant and will want to refill before the long, hot days of summer.

Make the inside sparkle

Outside projects shouldn’t get all your attention. As you move inside, start off with small cleaning projects so you don’t get overwhelmed. Scrubbing your bathroom, vacuuming your carpets and dusting every inch of the house can take some time, which most of us don’t have. Simple tasks such as cleaning one room a day, clearing off cluttered countertops as you walk into the kitchen, creating an organization system and donating unused products to charity can get your house clean in no time.

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Tabletop gardens are edible centerpieces

(ARA) – Do you want to have fresh vegetables but don’t have room for a full garden? Tabletop gardens are a fun and decorative way to expand into new planting opportunities.

Growing your own produce elevates the popular buying-local trend to a new sphere. Starting your very own edible garden can be a fun and economical way to serve the freshest herbs, greens and vegetables. For those seeking more gardening space beyond the backyard, “table-top” gardening is the new container gardening solution.

Container gardening for produce offers gardeners ways to grow all sorts of plants indoors and out. For example, decorate a table or bench inside your home with beautiful pots, filled with scented herbs or even crisp lettuce greens. Put your creativity to good use and find containers you can easily recycle—old serving bowls, pots, or even watering cans and juice containers. Drill a hole or two in the bottom of containers for drainage, or simply place the plants in a smaller plastic container inside that you can take out when watering. That old cooking crock or ceramic bowl has a new and purposeful life.

If you have a deck or patio, you can expand to larger containers, and thus, larger plants like tomatoes and peppers. If space is limited, see if your local garden center carries any dwarf vegetable varieties. Also, keep in mind that vining plants like cucumbers or squash can be grown up out of containers by simply placing the pot near a fence or trellis for vertical support.

Remember the delight herbs bring to your menus. Herbs are easy to grow both indoors and out, and adapt extremely well to containers. If you are an herb garden beginner, try the Miracle-Gro Culinary Herb Garden, which contains everything needed—potting mix, a pot and seed disks—to grow herbs on a window sill or on your kitchen table.

To help beautify your garden, consider mixing in edible blooming flowers. Pansies and violets are two beautiful and delicious blooms that can be tucked right into container gardens. In order to eat these flowers, they must be grown from seed. Both varieties grow well in the cooler spring and later fall months. These blooms not only add a mild sweet flavor to salads, candies and teas, but also add decoration as well. Other edible flower options are nasturtiums and carnations.

Starting a table-top or container garden is a great way for any homeowner to get into the gardening spirit. Soon you will be inviting friends and family over to enjoy delicious meals with vegetables and herbs grown in your kitchen or back patio.

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CURB APPEAL from the ground up

Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and TV host, says that color plays an important role in boosting your home’s curb appeal.

Family Features

 

When it’s time to sell your home, you want to do everything you can to make it enticing to potential buyers. One of the most important things you can do is boost your home’s curb appeal.

In fact, the National Association of Realtors says that curb appeal sells 49 percent of all homes. To help you build curb appeal from the ground up, TruGreen and Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and TV host, have teamed up to give you some simple, doable tips to improve your lawn and landscape.

 

Water Right

 

Improper watering can be a big drain on curb appeal. Check the working condition of sprinkler heads and water lines to make sure they’re working properly. To ensure your manual or automated watering system covers the landscape efficiently, set a one-inch deep empty food can in the middle of your lawn so you can measure the depth of water collected each watering cycle. In addition:

• Don’t over water. Watering too much can result in shallow plant roots, weed growth, storm water runoff, and the possibility of disease and fungus development. Give your lawn a slow, steady watering about once a week. Adjust your watering schedule depending on rainfall, as well as your grass and soil type. Trees and shrubs need longer, less frequent watering than plants with shallower roots.

• The best time to water is early morning, between 4 and 7 a.m. This helps reduce evaporation, since the sun is low, winds are usually calmer and temperatures cooler. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that you can lose as much as 30 percent of water to evaporation by watering midday. Always be mindful of local water restrictions.

• Take advantage of rain. Let nature water your landscape as much as possible. Rain barrels are a great way to harvest rain for watering your plants later on – and it saves you money on your water bill, too.

 

Complement With Color

 

Create an instant pop of color to help your home’s curb appeal bloom this spring. Consider your home’s exterior when selecting flowering plant combinations for plant beds, window boxes or front porch planters. With a white house, any color combination will work well. With a yellow house, red or pink blooms tend to complement best.

Here are some other colorful tips to keep in mind:

• For a calming effect, use cooler colors like blue, green and purple. They blend into the landscape for a peaceful look.

• Bold colors add excitement to the landscape. Warm yellows, oranges and reds make the garden lively. Yellow reflects more light than other colors, so yellow flowers will get noticed first.

• To brighten up a dark or shady corner, use pale colors, like pastel pinks and yellows.

• Not all color needs to come from flowers. Foliage can be a great landscape enhancer, so look for colorful grasses and plants like silvery lamb’s ear, variegated hostas, and Japanese painted ferns.

 

Grass vs. Weeds

 

Weeds are plants growing where you do not want them to grow. They can be unsightly in both your lawn and landscape beds.

Grassy weeds can be subdivided into annual and perennial grasses. Annual grassy weeds, such as crabgrass and annual bluegrass, are generally easier to control than perennial grassy weeds like dallisgrass and bentgrass. Left uncontrolled from seed, crabgrass alone can choke out desired turfgrasses and develop ugly seed heads in the summer and fall that lay the groundwork for next season’s crop.

No matter what your weed problems are, a lawn care approach that works in one region of the country doesn’t necessarily work the same in another area.

According to Ben Hamza, Ph.D., TruGreen expert and director of technical operations, TruGreen will design a custom plan to provide your yard exactly what it needs to give your lawn the right start.

“We offer customized lawn care designed specifically to meet your lawn’s needs throughout the year based on climate, grass type, soil condition and usage. And we back it up with our Healthy Lawn Guarantee,” Hamza said.

 

To get more tips, and to watch Jason Cameron in seasonal webisodes on curb appeal on behalf of TruGreen, visit www.TruGreen.com.

 

3 Ways to Boost Curb Appeal for Under $100

 

Want to add curb appeal, but don’t have much money to spend? Here are some simple things you can do for under $100.

• Clean up the yard. Put away unused items, like lawn furniture. Clear leaves and branches out from under shrubs, other plants, and the house foundation. Make sure the lawn is free from debris and that grass clippings are not left on the driveway or sidewalk. Borrow or rent a power washer to clean off the driveway, steps, sidewalk and porch.

• Trim, prune and divide. Overgrown plants can block light from getting inside the house, and they make the house and yard look unkempt. Trim shrubs, making sure to remove dead branches. Get rid of dead or diseased plants in the landscape. If you have perennial plants that have gotten too big, divide them and plant them in other places around the landscape.

• Add new mulch. Mulch not only helps your plants, but it gives garden beds a neat and tidy finish. Wood mulch comes in different colors, but to showcase your plants the most, consider a dark brown mulch – it resembles fresh, healthy soil, so your eyes are drawn toward the plant and not the mulch itself.

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Five spring steps for a beautiful summer yard

(Family Features) Think ahead with a good yard-care routine this year so you’ll have a backyard oasis through the year for entertaining or simply relaxing and enjoying the hazy, lazy days of summer with family and friends. There’s simply nothing that compares to running barefoot through the lush green grass, here are some tips to get started:

Fertilizers with slow release nitrogen produce long lasting green lawns.

1) Begin with a good spring clean up, which includes raking leaves and removing debris, tree guards and burlap. Just be careful not to remove mulch from perennials or shrubs too early, or to rake your flower garden too vigorously. Doing so could damage the soil, tendering new bulbs and emerging plants.

2) Clean, repair, sharpen, lubricate and tune all of your garden tools, mowers and trimmers, so they are ready to go when you are.

3) Testing your soil is the starting point of any lawn fertilization program. Consider testing your soil each time you plant new seed. State Extension services and private labs offer kits that let you mail in soil samples for analysis. The reports will give you an accurate reading of what your lawn needs and how much of it should be applied. While tests don’t have to be done every year, they are a good idea every three or four years.

4) Control crabgrass, dandelions and clover, three of the most common weeds you’re likely to see trying to take hold in your lawn. Crabgrass is best tackled before it emerges from the ground and begins to grow leaves. Conversely, members of the broadleaf weed family—like dandelions, clover, plantain, chickweed, and spurge—require a treatment that comes into direct contact with the plant’s leaves, so they must be dealt with, once they’ve made their appearance known. Be sure to choose a product that is best suited for your region.

Look for lawn fertilizers with a slow-release nitrogen ingredient for strong roots and long lasting results. Once you get it on the lawn, you’ll be done for the season because the slow-release nitrogen provides your lawn with controlled, steady nutrition, resulting in thicker, healthier grass. That means no excess growth, and less mowing.

5) Set your mowing height at 2 1/2 to 3 inches and mow at the same height all growing season. Try not to remove more than 3/4 inch of grass at any single mowing. Whenever possible, mow during the cooler morning or evening hours to avoid damage to the turf.

For additional lawn care tips and more information about the complete GreenView with GreenSmart product line, visit www.greenviewfertilizer.com or call 1-800-233-1067.

 

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