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Expert Tips on Drainage

By Jeff Willett, Landscape Designer

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. An old saying for sure, but if you have a home one thing you don’t want to see is water, water everywhere! Proper drainage is of consummate importance to your home’s health. A term which is often used in dealing with water issues is “positive drainage”. What this term means is that existing grade or soil level at your foundation is higher than that of an area a certain distance away. Negative drainage would indicate that rain water, water from your gutters and naturally flowing drainage areas, are heading back towards your home. This is not a good thing. Water is a very destructive element. Water sitting against a foundation will eventually cause deterioration in the masonry elements that make up foundation construction. If you have a basement, this scenario is exacerbated by the fact that the foundation walls are being attacked and there may also be water leaking into the basement cavity.

Achieving positive drainage is a pretty simple process. It can be a bit laborious but simple. In most cases, putting material against the foundation and grading it in such a manner that you maintain positive flow for a distance of six feet away from the foundation will create positive drainage. Some very important aspects of this process to keep in mind, always remove organic matter in areas you are going to be adding material to. Organic material can be mulch, leaves or any other product that can decompose. Remember, always use material that is clay based or compactable to grade with. You never want to use material to fill with that has a high absorption rate such as top soil, manufactured soils and the like. See if these simple solutions help with issues you may be confronted with and of course if you don’t first succeed try, try again!

About Jeff Willett - Jeff has been transforming green spaces since 1975, and brings creativity to everything he does. He has the vision and the experience to achieve stunning results with lasting quality. He is a professional Horticulturist, I.C.P.I. Certified and has experienced all faucets of the nursery and landscape industry both regionally and internationally. Think beautiful, think bigger, think Jeff.

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10 Ways Everyday Can Be Earth Day

Earth Day is that day every year that we can celebrate the planet we live on and the environment we all enjoy and want to protect. McDonald Garden Center supports the environmental movement and is dedicated to helping educate our local communities in the ways we can all contribute.

Here at McDonald Garden Center, we carry many plants, products, solutions and ideas that can impact our planet Earth in a positive way. Here are some of the ways we can help make you successful and, in turn, be kind to Mother Nature.

1. Fertilizer – Plants need to be fed, and we carry a wide variety of Espoma Fertilizers. All of the Espoma fertilizers and nutrients are organic. Not only do they offer a quality product that provides results, but the company itself is environmentally and socially responsible. Check out their website for more product details and the history of the company at

2. Solutions – We carry a large assortment of OMRI listed fungicides and insecticides made by Monterey. These are some of the highest quality controls for any of your gardening needs. Whether it is powdery mildew on your cucumbers, or caterpillars eating your trees, we have a product that is not only safe to use but proven to work.

3. Mole & Vole – Seems like it is a never ending battle with the moles and voles in Hampton Roads, but we have found the best way to get rid of them in this area, and both products are completely organic and safe for lawns pets and all wildlife. Milky Spore attacks the Moles food source and Repellex Mole and Vole Repellant gets them out of your yard. Use them in conjunction with each other and eventually they will be no more.

4. Soil – It is recommended that you invest as much into you soil as you do into your plants or lawns. That is why we offer the highest quality soil and amendments for the Hampton Roads area, most of which are organic. McDonalds Natural & Organic Potting Soil is the perfect soil for all your container or raised bed needs. With Peat Moss, Vermiculite, Perlite, and 4 different types of compost, we can also help you amend any soil type, or form your own soil blend for raised beds and any other gardening need you may have.

5. Veggie and Herbs – We offer a huge assortment in veggies and herbs, all of which are NON GMO. We also offer a selection of herbs and veggies that are completely organic and USDA certified. Check us out weekly for our collection is always changing, and keep your garden full of unique and flavorful edibles.

6. Birds and the Bees – Attract birds, bees and bats to live in your yard. Bees will help your garden pollinate and it could be as simple as hanging a Mason Bee house to encourage the non-aggressive bees to live in your yard. Birds and Bats are also a great natural predator to lots of insects including mosquitoes and caterpillars that bother you and eat your plants.

7. Lawn Care – With new advances in lawn care we now offer a full line of products that can make your lawn the best on the block while remaining completely organic. From organic weed preventers to fertilizers and soil stimulants, we can unlock the potential the natural way.

8. Weed Killers – New Pulverize weed killers offer a selective and non-selective alternative to killing weeds in your lawns or in your garden and patios. Use the selective weed killer for lawns and the non-selective to kill weeds and grasses that grow in your flower beds, gardens, patios and anywhere else you don’t want weeds.

9. Animal Repellants – If the native wildlife or your neighbors dog or cat is causing your yard heartache, don’t worry, you can keep any pesky critter from your yard or garden using our large selection of all natural repellents.

10. Mosquitos – Use mosquito dunks to get rid of mosquito larvae in standing water. These dunks have a beneficial bacteria that only hurts worms and doesn’t hurt any wildlife, so you can use it in fountains and birdbaths, or small ponds and other areas that hold standing water. Citronella Geraniums are a natural deterrent to mosquitoes and other insects, use it on your patio to keep them from your party or rub your hands on the leaves and rub on your arms and legs for an all-natural bug repellant.

In addition to these DIY solutions, McDonald Garden Center offers a variety of landscape design services geared toward protecting and maintaining an environmentally responsible footprint. Plants can be used for natural buffers and barriers, as well as natural ways to control erosion. From rain gardens to green roofs, come in and let us help you determine how you can make positive impacts on our planet.

Petunia Party Preview

Mike Westphal, garden guru gives a sneak peak at the newest and most anticipated varieties of petunias and million bells for this weekend's annual petunia party! Mike also offers some invaluable advice on care and maintenance.