You are here

The Blog: Let's Talk Gardening
Dendrobiums and Oncidiums Orchids
Mums
Air Plants
Anthirium

Decorating with Houseplants for Fall

Decorating with Houseplants for Fall

Outside, the leaves are starting to fall but in our houseplant departments, our tropicals are thriving. We have some beautiful new additions to help you celebrate fall. Use them as table centerpieces for parties or in combination containers. Displayed with pumpkins and gourds, these plants will be a simple and pretty way to welcome fall.

Florist Mums: boast large flowers and come in many different colors. These bright and happy mums make the perfect centerpiece or gift.

Anthuriums: go well with many other plants making them the perfect plant for a combination container. Shades of red, burgundy, orange, white, and purple are sure to make a unique fall arrangement

Air Plants: use our pumpkin and ghost air plant holders to celebrate fall and Halloween. These little jack-o-lanterns make great use of an already interesting plant.

Orchids: Dendrobiums and Oncidiums in shades of orange, red, and yellow can help you create a dramatic and beautiful fall display.

Anthirium
Anthirium

Our New Favorite Houseplant: Anthuriums

A houseplant that has the potential to bloom year-round is hard to come by. Luckily, we have the solution: anthuriums. This houseplant really makes a statement…and it is easy to care for. We carry anthuriums in several colors including pink, purple, red, and white. Grow anthurium alone or in combination containers with other houseplants.

This plant does best in bright, filtered light. Anthuriums can be potted in regular potting soil but a peat based mixture is preferable. It is very important to choose a pot that has a drain hole. Pot the plant so the root ball is an inch or two below the surface of the soil. Do not pack the soil too tightly around the roots. Water enough to keep the soil lightly moist but never wet. Fortunately, anthuriums tend to be forgiving, even when they dry out a little too much. Regular fertilizing will help your anthurium to grow and continue to bloom again and again. A balanced fertilizer on a monthly basis works well. The larger the plant grows, the larger the blooms will be!

Be sure to look out for two more Anthurium colors coming this fall: black and orange!

Beautyberry
Dogwood

Fall Paints Stunning Garden Scenes

Autumn is my favorite time of the year, especially in the garden. For the most part, annoying bugs go away and plant diseases disappear. And, some plants like roses produce their most stunning blooms in the fall, because they are not stressed by heat and pest problems. For me, fall is the time to enjoy the sights of colorful shrubs and trees. Here are some I like:

One of my favorite trees is Virginia’s native dogwood, which features crimson red leaves and berries. A problem-free version of the common dogwood, Cornus florida, is Cornus kousa, or kousa dogwood. Native to China, it resists the fungal leaf diseases that plague native dogwoods on the East Coast. It displays eye-catching fall foliage, and tolerates more sun.

A black gum tree, or Nyssa sylvatica, will stop you in its tracks with its ball of scarlet red leaves in October. Thankfully, it’s not a tree that drops gumballs. It’s a tough tree that likes most soils and isn’t fussy about sun or shade conditions. Pests rarely bother it, and it grows slower than maples but faster than oaks, reaching 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide, which is a nice size for most yards. Best of all, it really needs no pruning and lives a long, long time, giving you years of pleasure for your money.

In the blink of an eye, bright yellow fall foliage cover blankets a ginkgo tree, or Ginkgo biloba. The well-behaved, medium-sized tree has been around since the beginning of time, so it’s no wonder it’s very disease and insect resistant. A word of caution: Buy the male species, because the female produces messy, smelly fruit.

When it comes to fall’s finest shrubs, my first pick is American beautyberry, or Callicarpa. This native species still grows at Monticello where Thomas Jefferson admired its beauty. In late spring, its cascading stem habit is laden with clusters of lavender-pink blooms, followed by tight clusters of bright purple berries that stop you in your tracks when you walk your garden. Once the foliage drops, the berries are still there but not for long if birds frequent your yard.

Virginia sweetspire, or Itea virginica, is a deciduous fall shrub with long-lasting leaves that turn into shades of maroon, yellow and orange. Native sweetspire comes in a Henry Garnet version, which is commonly sold. It’s easy to use because it grows only three to five feet tall, and features graceful, arching branches that bear hundreds of small white flowers in spring. The blooms attract all kinds of pollinating insects, too. In summer, its leaves make attractive backdrops for semi-shade perennials.

Lastly, red chokeberry, or Aronia brilliantissima, offers tremendous red fall color. Late spring clusters of white flowers are followed by large, bright red berries in October. Another forgiving plant, chokeberry likes sun to part shade and tolerates all soils, including clay.

If you don’t have these or any fall-type shrubs in your yard, now is the perfect time to plant them. Winter’s cool weather and frequent rains help new plants establish roots before summer arrives again.

To plant properly any time of the year, dig a hole a foot wider than the circumference of the root ball and the same depth as the root ball. If the plant is coming out of a pot, take your fingers and try to loosen some of the roots, so they will continue to grow outward instead of in a circle the shape of the pot. Set it out in the middle of the hole, and back fill with the soil you just dug out. Water slowly, and apply two to three inches of mulch, making sure that you do not push the mulch up around the stems.

Remember, fall can be the start of your gardening season – not the end of it.

Kathy Van Mullekom gardens in southeastern Virginia Beach; contact her at kvanmullekom@aol.com

Fall is Prime Time for Lawn Care

Fall is Prime Time for Lawn Care

by Kathy Van Mullekom

It’s that time of the year – your cool-season fescue lawn looks tired and worn. It’s been a scorching, hot summer, one that’s taken its toll on a grass that prefers cool temperatures and naturally goes dormant in summer. I’ve had fescue grass most of my life, and it’s a turf that needs TLC to stay green and healthy. Which is why I always give it the special care it needs now through December, so it rewards me with a lush-green carpet many months of the year.

Over the years, Virginia Tech’s Virginia Cooperative Extensions cool-season lawn-care calendar has guided me through that process. The month-by-month listings tell you exactly what to do and when to do it, so there is no guessing game. You can find the calendar – and also one for warm-season lawns like Bermuda and zoysia -- online at http://pubs.ext.vt.edu.

I look forward to the cooler days and nights of September, knowing I can get outdoors and work in my yard without wilting. I hate weeds, so I often hand weed the yard as much as I can but also use a weed killer to spot control minor invaders. Once that’s done, hubby and I broadcast a Virginia Tech-researched and approved turfgrass seed. The annual recommendations by the Virginia and Maryland National Turfgrass Evaluation Program are based on test plots grown in sites such as the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center on Diamond Springs Road in Virginia Beach. You can walk those labeled plots and see for yourself how good grass grows – or does not grow, depending on the variety.

Here’s how to renovate your fescue lawn each fall:

  • Before you sow seed, cut the lawn shorter than usual and use a steel rake to scratch the soil’s surface so any seed makes contact with the ground.
  • If you play hard on your yard -- and have pets or children who run a lot and pack down soil – you may want to aerate your soil before seeding. A core aerator pulls out small plugs of soil, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients and oxygen in the soil. Aerators can be rented or lawn-care companies provide the service.
  • Using a hand-held or push-type drop spreader, sow the seed over your existing lawn. I recall the days as a child when my father used to hand throw seed, doing it in a sweeping motion that covered the yard in a nice, even stand. I have tried but just can’t get it looking as good as he did.
  • Avoid using a whirly spreader, which is best for putting down fertilizer, because it will broadcast grass seed into your mulched beds, meaning you will have hundreds of grass seedlings to soon remove.
  • Once your seed is down, moisten it – avoid watering too much or you risk moving the seed and rotting it. Instead, water lightly and often, making sure the new seed stays moist until new grass emerges. This is also the time to overseed warm-season lawns like Bermuda and Zoysia with annual rye for wintertime green. Some turf experts, however, warn annual rye can delay warm-season turf’s emergence in spring.
  • Now, a word about thatch and the process called dethatching, or removing that tightly packed layer of organic matter between the grass blades and soil surface. Thatch is sort of an old wives’ tale, something people thought they had to do. Thatch really does not build up unless you go weeks between mowings and allow clumps of grass to lie on top of your yard – ick, ugly sight. Grass clippings are your friend because they decompose and return vital nutrients and moisture back into your soil. Just make sure you cut your grass often and use a mulching mower, and you will never have enough thatch to worry about.
  • Last, but not least, raise your mower blades and let your fescue lawn grow taller in the cool days of fall, winter and spring. Your lawn will reward you with the lushness of a thick carpet that tickles your toes and makes you feel good all over.

Kathy Van Mullekom gardens in southeastern Virginia Beach; contact her at kvanmullekom@aol.com

Fall Lawn Care
New Grass Seeds for 2017
Fall Lawn Kits

NEW Grass Seeds for 2017

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.” Michael Polan

Beautiful lawns normally don’t just “happen.” They are the result of patience, persistence, and tiresome preparation. Luckily, McDonald Garden Center has figured out a way to take the guesswork out of Hampton Road's lawns.

Proper maintenance, mowing and nutrition are all essential to attaining those blades of glory but ultimately success rests on the grass seed itself. Whether establishing a new lawn or maintaining an existing one, matching the best cool or warm-season grasses to your growing region is crucial.

For more than 70 years, our lawn experts have been gathering valuable information and products to help you establish and maintain successful lawns here in Hampton Roads. To help you on your road to lawn success, we've developed easy-to-use lawn kits specifically formulated for our area. In addition, we're offering complimentary lawn classes every Saturday at 11am, through October 14.

The good news is that we have something no one else will have. We have three tall fescue varieties that are all on the Virginia Tech Category 1 list for 2017-2018. Not only are they all top rated grasses but two of them have the “Lateral Spread Characteristics.” Basically this means it has the potential to spread, which is the hope for fescue as they make advancements. Another benefit to a potentially spreading fescue is the root system is more vigorous and deep, therefore better in our drought and heat conditions we experience in the summer.

The three varieties we offer in our mix are Spyder LS, Firecracker SLS, and Raptor III.

Spyder LS - tall fescue is an initial release from Mountain View Seeds Lateral Spread Technology™ (LS) research program, striving to develop fescues that, through natural mechanisms including increased tillering or rhizome formation, exhibit greater potential for tighter density, particularly under stress, and self recuperation from traffic, wear, or injury. Spyder LS has scored in the highest NTEP grouping for overall turf quality under medium maintenance, traffic exposure, and shade. It is dark in color, vigorous and aggressive, with broad disease resist-ance, particularly to brown patch. Quicker to fill-in, weed presence is minimal. Its drought tolerance is also top rated, reducing irrigation costs and conserving water resources.

Spyder LS is versatile. Its excellent turf performance occurs under varying climates and soil conditions, well down into the transition zone. The inherent genetic characteristics of color, compact growth, and texture and density result in a more manicured appearance under only normal maintenance. Spyder LS is suggested for finer quality residential and corporate turf, sod production, and sports areas, as well as golf course roughs.

Firecracker SLS - is the top-rated, tall fescue performer in the most recent NTEP trials and continues on the tradition of excellence established by the original Firacracker LS. Firecracker SLS offers excellent salt tolerance, allowing it to be used in applications that require effluent irrigation or along roadways and sidewalks. Fire-cracker SLS has excellent Lateral Spread potential as well as great resistance to brown patch and net blotch. Firecracker SLS is dark green and dense, producing a very aesthetically pleasing turf that’s ideally suited for all types of high-quality turf applications.

Raptor III - is the next generation tall fescue in the highly successful Raptor line. Raptor III is one of the top-rated NTEP performers in the latest tall fescue trials. Raptor III ranked #1 in mean turfgrass quality. In addition to its outstanding turf quality, Raptor III is a compact, wear tolerant, tall fescue. Raptor III has excellent disease resistance scoring high in all the NTEP disease trials and showing outstanding resilience to Brown Patch. Raptor III also shows excel-lent turf density, ranking high in both the fall and spring trials.

TIP: Be sure to keep up with mowing, as the grass is growing at a rapid pace this time of year. Mow often enough to avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade in one mowing. Continue to mow your lawn at the highest setting recommended for your lawn.

Lavender
Rosemary
Snake Plant (Mother-in-Law's Tongue)
Peace Lily
Aloe Vera

Go Green for a Better Night’s Sleep

Most of us at one time or another have struggled to get to sleep and there’s nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning all night before being awoken by the sound of your alarm clock – only minutes after you finally managed to doze off! These sleepless nights can take their toll on your energy, productivity, mood and overall quality of life. Poor air quality from pollution and odors and molds can impact our breathing, making a good night’s sleep seem impossible. The good news is there are a variety of plants that can filter the air while you sleep – in fact, NASA did a whole study on it!

Plants tend to create a calming, purifying effect and filling your home with beautiful plants can pave the way to a better night’s sleep. So if counting sheep doesn’t solve your lack of sleep troubles, try adding a few of these plants to your space:

Lavender – produces one of the most popular forms of essential oils and is known for its sleep inducing properties. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the smell of lavender may help slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure, helping you to relax and get to sleep. This low maintenance plant loves bright light, so try placing a pot on a sunny windowsill. In the summer, place it outside on a porch or any place that gets full sun.

Rosemary – like lavender, rosemary has healing and relaxing qualities. Applied externally, it can ease muscle pain and tension making it easier to sleep at night. Rosemary is another one of those herbs that contains powerful antioxidants that protect against stress and toxins and improves overall air quality. Rosemary prefers a sunny window. Excess water will damage the roots and cause the plant to die, so let the soil dry, then water thoroughly. Move outdoors in the spring to refresh.

Snake Plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) – we all need oxygen in order to survive but getting increased levels at night leads to a better night's sleep. Most plants release oxygen during the day and rest at night, but the snake plant releases oxygen all the time — even when you sleep. This plant has also been proven to be effective in treating headaches, eye irritation and respiratory problems. Snake plants can live in just about any type of light, just be sure to water it once every few weeks.

Peace Lily - this everyday houseplant is a natural air purifier and removes harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, airborne mold and other types of allergens and releases purified oxygen into the air. And, keeping your air clean provides for a better night’s sleep. The peace lily also helps add humidity back to rooms that are too dry, typically around 5 to 10%. This is good news for those who suffer from dry skin or a dry mouth. Peace Lilies don’t require a significant amount of sun, which works well in rooms with little direct sunlight. Water it once a week, but if you keep the plant near a window or keep the heat on in the winter, consider watering it twice a week.

Aloe Vera - listed as one of NASA’s top air-improving plants, aloe vera works much like the snake plant by emitting oxygen at night. Increased oxygen supply is believed to help with insomnia and improve overall quality of sleep. Aloe is a superb indoor plant and is easy to care for. Keep it on a bedroom window, as it requires direct sunlight. Unlike other houseplants, the aloe keeps water in its leaves, not the soil until it needs it so, be sure not to over water.

The Five W's of Watering
Butterfly Radius Sprinkler
Watering Wand
Neverkink Hose
Frog & Terracotta Plant Nanny's
Color Storm Stake Sprinkler
Watering Bag

The Five W’s of Watering

by McDonald Garden Center's Garden Guru, Mike Westphal

When the temperature rises and our rains are less frequent, it is important to know the 5 W’s of watering (Who, What, Where, When & Why). Efficiency and effectiveness are the two most important things. You want to get your watering done as quickly as you can, so you can enjoy your lawn and garden. You also want your watering to be effective, so your plants get the most out of what you give them.

Who – you of course, but we want to help, so check out the last section on HOW to water, and you’ll be equipped to tackle any watering project.

What - specific plants and lawns need more water during the warmer months of the year the Hampton Roads area. Fescue lawns may require supplemental watering during the summer as well as your broadleaf evergreens and conifers that may be used to a slightly cooler climate. Most importantly are those you have planted this past spring and summer. Plants take root much quicker than we think, but it will take a full year before a plant can be fully sufficient to acquire water on its own. Keep these plants in mind when it gets hot and hasn’t rained in a while.

Where – the roots, of course. Very few plants actually take moisture through their leaves and this practice can actually cause fungus and disease. The safest bet is to always water the soil surrounding the plant from the drip line in. The drip line is determined by the width of the plant. The branches or leaves that are the furthest away from the center of the plant. Below the drip line is where the smallest roots most likely are and usually are the ones that want the water the most. But understanding how deep roots can go will also help determine how long you water for; keep reading for more tips on this.

When – watering at a specific time of day will insure that your plants get what they need when they need it. Plants require moisture during the day as they loose moisture through a process called transpiration. This process cools the plant down and therefore it is more important then ever during the hotter months of the year. The best time to water is in the morning, so the plant can use it throughout the heat of the day. When night comes and the temps get cooler, transpiration is slowed and plants require less water. Also, dampness and darkness cause fungus, so watering in the morning is always the best time to water.

Why – very little water is actually used to make plants grow; a majority of the water is used in transpiration. But without water, plants will wilt and leaves will turn yellow and new leaves will be hard to form. And when roots get really dry, they can no longer take up the moisture needed and then die. Water is also the only way nutrients and minerals used to make plants grow get through the system of a plant. Watering is crucial in helping the plant grow and mature.

Who – you
When – in the morning
What – plants that need it
Where – the roots
Why – to insure plant survival

How – our motto is water more, less often. Going out and giving your plants a little water every day will not encourage root development. Give your plants a good watering and then allow the plant to dry out some before watering again. During this drying out phase, the plant will search for water, which will develop a larger and deeper root system over time and allow you to enjoy your plants and lawn more.

Hoses and watering cans are used to transport water from its source to the plant. I recommend you have both, they are essential garden tools. Soaker hoses and drip hoses are also a great way of watering, especially newly planted plants, or areas that dry out more frequently or seem to require more water then other plants (tip for soaker hoses, let them run longer then you think, since water is slowly coming out it can take longer to get adequate water to the plant’s roots.)

Sprayers and wands are attached to the end of a hose that aid in watering. Sprayers are great for many different uses in the yard and around the home. Most sprayers come with the option of being able to cycle through different stream configurations to give you lots of choices. We have a new sprayer called the Butterfly Radius Sprayer and Sprinkler. So not only can you use it to water plants, but you can flip it upside down and it is turns into a lawn sprinkler. Watering wands are a necessity here at the garden center; you will see one attached to every one of our hoses that we use to water our plants. Basically it is a long solid aluminum pipe that attaches to the end of the hose and delivers the water where you want it in a nice, gentle shower. These are great for containers, hanging baskets, and plants in the ground. No more bending over and wands deliver water right to the roots. We carry both of these products in our stores year-round.

Sprinklers are usually designed for lawns - not trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials. Sprinklers only get the top 1-2 inches of soil moist, and most plants want a much deeper watering then this, so we recommend sprinklers for lawns. Oscillating sprinklers usually cover the largest areas and mimic true rainfall when the water comes down. Impulse sprinklers are the easiest to use, as they can cover shapes and sizes of yards.

Oasis Watering Bags or Tree Gators are an easy way to water large trees over a longer period of time. The water slowly drips directly down to the root system and can be refilled when empty.

Plant Nanny’s and watering picks are a great way to water container plants or indoor plants when away on vacation or any time. The clay spike will allow water to pass through its pores when the soil around it dries out. Once it becomes moist, it closes back up again.

These products are available at our stores year-round and will aid you in getting water to your plants in an efficient and effective way.

Consider a fresh coat of paint
Evaluate the walks and driveway
Consider the view from the street
Improve the entry with proper pruning

Welcome Home, Creating Curb Appeal

by McDonald Garden Center Owner, Eddie Anderson

The greeting message provided by your home is one of the important considerations when developing the street view. The architect developed the style and function of the house. The builder is often the one who lays out the walk and driveway system to the home. In Elizabeth Lake Estates, the city maintains the sidewalks in front of most homes. The layout of the lawn, trees and shrubs ties it all together. These are the basic factors that work together to compose the entry system to your home.

When maintaining existing plantings or preparing the home for sale, take a few minutes to evaluate the greeting message you are sending. A general rule of thumb is that every 20-25 years the foundation planting needs renovation work. Shrubs become woody and hard to care for, the shade patterns have changed or plants have just out-grown the site. Styles may have changed or your taste may be different than it was a few years ago. The exterior areas of your home will typically account for about 10% of the total value of the real estate and can increase from there depending upon paving, plantings, walls and fences, structures and art.

Here are 10 tips that will help you decide what if any changes are needed to insure a warm welcome to your home:

  1. Evaluate the trees. Are they over growing their location? Is the canopy raised high enough to create good air flow? Are the branches framing the view or blocking the view? Would removing one or more trees help to strengthen the remaining trees and shrubs?
  2. Evaluate the walks and driveway. Are they clean? Over time mold and algae can make a nice entry look old and tired. “Wet and Forget” or “Spray and Walk Away” can help clean up the concrete or pavers. (Works on the roof as well). Power washing and a sealer afterwards will add life to the cleaning. Are the walks wide enough? Generally walks are 48 inches wide. That is great for single file but may seem a little close when greeting a family coming for a visit. Narrow walks may reduce the value for a couple of prospective buyers walking to the front door. A row of pavers set on either side of the walk can be an inexpensive solution. Insure that shrubs are not encroaching on the people space you have created. If plant growth is more than a foot tall I like to have at least 12 inches from the edge of the walk clear of foliage and branches. This includes the driveway and the sidewalk in front of the home. It is no fun to get out of your car and be greeted with a slap in the face from a wet branch. We pride ourselves in having a walkable neighborhood. Be sure your sidewalk is open and easy to navigate.
  3. Improve the entry with proper pruning. In preparing this article I discovered that over time I have allowed a branch to grow into the view of my entry system. It is easy to miss the changes that are occurring as plants grow. Those changes can turn a charming entry into an uncomfortable or even claustrophobic experience. Spring growth is slowing down now and it is a good time to prune Hear encroaching shrubs. The internet has made it possible for us to learn how to solve many of the home care issues. If you are uncertain about the proper pruning of your plants you can easily watch a You Tube video on the subject. Many grounds maintenance companies have skill at doing the work for you. Be sure you check for certification, training time and experience level. Look at their work and check references. It is one thing to mow and blow and a whole different world to bring to life the vision of the design, recognize disease, identify the weeds and properly prune the wide variety of plants in the garden.
  4. Safety first. The city will take care of the cracks and heaving of the side walk in front of your home. It is up to you to insure safe passage for family and guests. More on this in later articles.
  5. Evaluate the View. From the street is your eye guided to the front entrance? Do the plantings frame and support the entrance? Color can draw the eye in a sea of green plants. In-ground plantings may be a nice addition. Often a color coordinated ceramic planter can help bring the eye in the direction you would like. A nice fresh, well maintained planting in the pot can send a cheery greeting and the message that we take extra care.
  6. Evaluate night time entry. Do you stand at the door trying to find the door knob or the place to insert your key in the lock? Today time clocks, photo cells and motion detectors can make it much easier to light the entry at appropriate times. Low voltage LED lighting has become a great inexpensive way to solve the problem. You can use the easy-to-install runway approach with using photo cells or consider the more up scale use of moon lighting, wall washes or focal point high lighting.
  7. Evaluate the plant selections. Mature size, shape, texture, flowering, microclimate, fragrance and ease of care are some of the considerations when choosing the plants for your entry. More on this at another time.
  8. Screen unsightly views. It is always important to find ways to screen unattractive aspects of a home. Can you find a convenient home for the trash cans that neighbors and visitors do not see. Utilities can often be screened with shrubs or a small fence. A shade canopy from a tree or building can help the air conditioner run more efficiently. Ladders, wheel barrows and other maintenance equipment need a home out of sight as well. In Hampton Roads hiding boats and trailer storage is often a challenge. Folks living on the water expose both the front and back of their home to neighbors, friends and boat visitors as well.
  9. Consider a fresh coat of paint. Color trends are constantly changing. It is easy to add a fresh new look with paint. Matching the new color theme with complimentary accessories can bring your home in tune with the times. Salt treated lumber has added years of service to decks, steps and fences. Over time the lumber takes on a very old and weathered look of yesterday. A fresh coat of paint can make that look more like a part of your home.
  10. Hire a consultant. Not confident in your own taste and skill? There are a number of talented professionals that can help. Architects, landscape architects, landscape designers, painting contractors, realtors and home staging specialists to name a few. Magazines like Architecture, Coastal Living, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern Living all offer exciting ideas to help freshen you home. Prefer the internet? Try www.houzz.com, https://www.pinterest.com/ or https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=home+landscaping+ideas.
Ticks in the Landscape
Jonathan Green Organic Insect Granules
Cedar Mulch
Fertilome Bug Blaster Granules or liquid spray
Hi Yield Turf Ranger Insect Granules
Fertilome Broad Spectrum Insect Spray

Ticks in the Landscape

Summertime - time to get outside with your family and friends and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather in your yard. The last thing you want to do is cover up and spend the whole day checking the kids and pets for ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts summer 2017, to be the biggest tick-fest season ever. Why? Because there will be more ticks. The reason - last winter's mild temps weren't enought to kill these little pests.

Although ticks don’t pose a direct threat to the overall health of your turf, they can threaten the potential health of your family, friends and pets. Ticks hide in lawns and can cause potential health risks such as skin irritation, fever, aches & pains, rashes and diseases like Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia as well as, while rare, the deadly Powassan virus (often carried by blacklegged ticks) or paralysis. It’s important to understand that with tick populations on the rise, there is an increased risk of contracting these diseases. The good news is it's not too late to do something about it. Below are six simple strategies, which can help you create a tick-free zone and minimize the likelihood of tick-related problems for you and your family.

  1. Prune back trees and shrubs to allow in more light. Ticks prefer hot, humid habitats, so be sure to allow as much light in as possible.
  2. Keep grass clipped to allow in more light and limit moisture. Ticks like tall grasses but do not cross into trimmed, clear lawns.
  3. If you mulch, choose cedar nuggets or chips. Not only is cedar a natural repellant for ticks and fleas, the nuggets retain less moisture and are therefore a stronger repellant of ticks.
  4. Keep it tidy. Pick-up and neatly stack empty gardening containers to reduce hiding and nesting spots for mice.
  5. Utilize deer repelling plants in the landscape. Deer are HOV’s (high occupancy vehicles) for ticks. Child-safe plants that might repel deer include strong-smelling herbs such as mint and lavender.
  6. Apply insect repelling & eliminating solutions. We recommend:
  • Jonathan Green Organic Insect Granules - kills and repels over 100 insect pests with a patented blend of organic plant oils including ants, fleas, spiders, ticks, chinch bugs, ants, earwigs, army worms, spiders, billbugs, beetles, mealybugs, millipedes and many other lawn insects. Environmentally safe.
  • Fertilome Bug Blaster Liquid Spray or Granules - provides broad spectrum control of insect pests in lawns, landscapes, perimeter around homes and buildings. Controls fire ants, fleas, ticks, mole crickets, chinch bugs, European crane flies, scorpions and other listed insect pests.
  • Fertilome Broad Spectrum Insect Spray - for use on lawns, ornamentals, listed garden vegetables, and fruit trees. Provides four month control of insects indoors and up to six-weeks of control of insects outdoors. Kills insects and pests that damage roses, flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and lawns. Controlled ants, armyworms, crickets, mosquitoes, ticks, and many more listed on the label.
  • Hi Yield Turf Ranger Insect Granules – a broad spectrum residual insecticide for the control of certain insects in home lawns. Controls ants, army worms, chinch bugs, crickets, fire ants, fleas, grasshoppers, sod webworms, scorpions, spiders, European crane fly and others listed on label.

The benefits of enjoying the great outdoors far outweigh the risks related to tick bites. However, with the increase of people contracting Lyme’s disease and other tick-related conditions, anyone who spend time outdoors during the hot and hazy days of summer needs to be aware of the potential threat associated with ticks. Following these recommendations and precautions can help reduce the risks and keep ticks away.

Miniature Gardens
Creating a Miniature Garden
Creative Kids & Miniature Gardens
Fairy Gardens
Miniature Gardens

Creating Unique, Miniature Gardens

School’s out and the kids are bored. If you are looking for a fun activity for your little ones (or maybe for yourself), look no further. You can create unique miniature plantings with containers you already have…so dust off those old tin boxes, glass bottles, or whatever else you have on hand and get inspired. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • If your container does not have drainage holes and you cannot drill a hole, add a layer of gravel and charcoal for drainage.
  • If you are considering creating a closed terrarium, stray away from succulents and cacti as they prefer more air flow.
  • We offer a wide selection of mini plants from ferns to cacti. Choose plants that “get along” with each other (succulents and ferns do not make the best partners). We can help you find plants that pair well.
  • If you prefer not to add potting soil directly to your container of choice, you can leave your plants in their plastic pots, set them inside your container, and add moss to hide the plastic pot.
  • If your container is metal, add a layer of foil or plastic before you add soil to help prevent rust.

Once you have chosen your plants, the possibilities are endless. Arrange them however you like in your container and then dress it up. You can add moss, rocks and shells from your trips to the beach, fairy figurines, or whatever sparks your imagination. Next thing you know, you will be scouring your home or the thrift stores for your next unique miniature garden containers. Happy mini gardening!

Pages