I’m afraid I’m going to have a disappointing spring garden this year. Last Fall, I carefully chose some charming bulbs which I lovingly planted in all the visible bare spots of my garden. I placed most of them near the front of the border where I will see the best in spring.
I planted in clumps of 7-12, thinking carefully about color harmonies. Sounds O.K., doesn’t it? So why will I be disappointed? Because I failed to integrate those great bulbs with my existing perennials!
I fear most of the blooms will be displayed against a backdrop of bare soil, and the decaying bulb foliage at the front of my border is going to be an eyesore right into June.
Here’s my plan for next year:
I’m going to take plenty of photographs this spring, especially of the areas I’m dissatisfied with. At fall planting time, when the summer’s growth is lush and full, I will study my spring photos so I can place my bulbs properly. My aim is to have bulbs emerging in close harmony with the leaves of my perennials.
In some cases, the perennial will bloom along with the bulb, but in most, the young perennial foliage will serve as a compliment to spring bloom, and will later grow up to obscure the bulb’s fading foliage.
I will weave the bulb plantings in amongst my perennials, and remember to plant the taller types further back into the border. Many perennials need lifting and dividing in the fall, and even if they don’t need dividing, most are fine with being lifted provided you are kind to them.
This is the perfect opportunity to be super organized and tuck in some spring bloomers in close association about eight inches away from the crown of the perennial plant. Stay about a foot away form peonies, and do not disturb poppies, baby’s breath, or get too close to Japanese maples.
Here are some associations I’m eager to try:
- Allium behind Lady’s Mantle
- Daylilies and Daffodils ( a perfect marriage – the daylily foliage will merge seamlessly with daffodils)
- Crocus growing through ajuga
- Hosta and white tulips or daffodils such as ‘Thalia’
- Pink bleeding hearts with blue muscari in front
- White bleeding hearts with ‘White Triumphator’ lily-flowering tulips
- Creeping phlox with tulips (but be careful with color harmonies here – the phlox can be very bright!)
- White violas and iris reticulata
- Brunner (perennial forget-me-not) and pink and white tulips
Other perennials suitable to mask fading bulb foliage include peonies, summer-blooming phlox, yarrows, hardy geraniums, Siberian iris, sedum, anemones (especially the sylvestris, or windflower), monarda and asters.
The idea is to plant tall bulbs like tulips and narcissus behind the perennials so the fading foliage is masked. This planting trick will make the most of a small space and extend the season of bloom dramatically.
Many early spring bloomers will do just fine under deciduous shrubs and trees that have not leafed out in the early spring. I’m going to plant dozens of tiny bulbs under the shrubs near my front walk. Even better if I add a groundcover such as lamium for the bulbs to grow up through.
Of course, with these little bulbs the dying foliage isn’t nearly so noticeable, but the combinations can be so pretty. Possibilities for this treatment include iris reticulata, scilla, dwarf narcissus, snowdrops, Kaufmanniana and species tulips, chionodoxia, and the list could go on…
All of this planning builds up tremendous anticipation and is one of the great joys of gardening. I really don’t mind if my imagination’s garden is forever six months to five years ahead of the present.
I and my garden are far from perfect, but we’re growing and evolving together. Dreams may turn into reality someday soon, but I’m certain that by then my vision of perfection will have moved six steps forward.
You enjoyed sipping your iced tea in the garden all spring and summer and now you are reaching for your hot teas more often. The weather is cooling, the leaves are falling and it is time to turn your attention from the anticipation of your garden’s springtime blooms and fruitful harvest to the cleanup that takes place each autumn.
Fall Gardening Tips – Getting Your Lawn Ready for Winter
Summer has gone, but your time out in the yard is far from being done. Just because the grass is starting to turn does not mean there is no work left to do. Now is the time to get your lawn ready for next year as well as maintaining it for the remainder of the fall season. A little care now will go a long way in making sure that your lawn comes back in green and plush next year.
What You Need:
- Water supply
- Lime or sulfur (see below if actually needed)
The first thing you need to do is to find out if your lawn has cool or warm season grass. Depending upon the type of grass you have will dictate the watering and fertilizing methods. For example, cool season grasses will require watering to last throughout the winter, as well as fertilizing treatment (one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft of the lawn).
If the grass is warm weather grass, you can use winter ryegrass seed in the area. This will give the warm weather grass color throughout the winter. When mowing the lawn, extend the height of the mower blades by half an inch.
For cold weather grass, keep the mower height normal and spread the ryegrass in bare spots to fill in bare areas.
If you notice any broadleaf weeds, apply the herbicides as needed.
If the lawn did not grow properly during the summer months, there may be a problem with the acidity or alkaline content of the soil. To lower the acidity, apply lime. To lower the alkaline content of the soil, apply sulfur.
Use your rake to remove any leaves that have gathered. If leaves are allowed to sit on a lawn, they can cause deterioration. This will also help toss the soil. If the dirt is compact, you may need to aerate the lawn. You can do this yourself with aeration shoes or hire a landscaping professional to do it for you.
Your Fall Garden Chores
It is true that much of the work is behind you – – yes, you recall all that labor you put in to ensure your blooms were beautiful and your harvest successful. But even after all that work, it doesn’t mean you can pack away the gardening gloves just yet. Winter will arrive soon enough and for now, you have your fall garden chores before you. These are important tasks and can help set the stage for another gorgeous spring and bountiful garden.
You guessed it; those falling leaves are a gentle reminder that your fall cleanup season has arrived once more. So, feel free to start by raking up those leaves. You especially want to dispose of the leaves around plants that can be susceptible to powdery mildew. Consider building a compost bin for your fall leaves.
Out with the old! Now is the time to remove rotten fruits from around the ground of your trees, remove diseased foliage and discard it entirely. Don’t put diseased plants in your compost pile; bag and toss those instead. Remove dead branches from your rose and fruit trees. Remove weeds now rather than letting them hang out through winter. You should clean out old annuals and weeds before seeds drop.
However, with all your removing don’t forget to leave the free bird food. Those sunflowers and other seed heads and berries will bring in the birds and you will be able to bird watch all winter.
Mulching your garden with chopped leaves and grass clippings will help maintain soil quality. In some cases, such as to correct soil compaction, you may want to plant a fall cover crop. Mulching after the ground freezes can help protect your perennials. Finally, protect your gardening gear before you pack it away for the winter season. Use vegetable oil on the blades of your garden tools and clean handles with sandpaper.
Summer Gardening Tips for Arizona
Everyone dreams of having a beautiful yard, but what happens when you live in a desert like Arizona? Well, when you are thinking about doing some property management in Arizona, you may want to stop to consider the warmer months of summer when you’re putting your garden together.
Will you be swapping your spring plants for summer plants, or do you want something that will be well suited for the year-round beauty of your landscape design? These are the questions that you are going to want to answer before you even begin planning your landscape.
Handling the Heat
As you may already know, there are many different types of plants that are well suited to the high temperatures of the Arizona summer. Some of the best plants you can add into your landscape in the summertime are the umbrella plant, the sago palm, and cardboard plant, among many others that can survive with little water.
Get to know the native plants; this will help ensure that you have chosen the hardiest breed of plant life to grace your landscape.
Perhaps a Shrub?
If you aren’t a fan of these hardy plants, it is possible to plant things such as shrubs and cycads beneath a nearby tree to provide them with the shade they need. Just remember, however, that they can be fairly difficult to maintain if you over-water them.
If you are new to landscaping or planting gardens that are native to Arizona, you may want to consult with your local nursery or horticulture expert to ensure that you’re caring for your plant life properly.
The same applies in instances where you cannot move your more tender plants that require more shade and water. Using mesh covers or natural shade from trees will allow you to have just about any plant.
One thing to remember however is that even though you may have planted rows upon rows of desert plants in your garden, they will require more care as the temperatures begin to soar.
The care and maintenance of each and every plant will vary, so getting to know the species you have invited into your landscape is of the utmost importance.
Remember, watering in the morning or late evening hours will give your plants the highest chance of getting the moisture that they require in the summer months.
Take Your Time Deciding
Overall, the best tips for summer gardening in Arizona are to choose your plants wisely, get to know what they require to flourish in your landscape, and then provide the water and shade that they will individually need to survive the harsh Arizona climate in the summer months.
Remember, an expert can help you achieve the perfect desert garden; all you need to do is ask for a little helpful advice.
Spring Grass Turf Maintenance Tips
With spring now here, people’s thoughts are turning towards the garden. Time to roll up your sleeves, get the tools out and get your garden ready for the BBQ season.
Of course, the lawn plays a large part in how your garden looks and spring is an important season for your grass turf. By following the tips below you can ensure that it looks great in time for those summer garden parties.
Cutting it right
When you give your grass its first cut after the winter period it is important that you don’t set the blades too low. If you cut the grass too short there is a chance that the lawn will become stressed. Ideally, you should look to cut around a third of the plant off each time you mow.
As you move through the springtime you can increase the frequency of mowing, whilst reducing the height of the blades, until you reach your required finish.
Feeding your lawn
During the springtime, the grass plants will be growing very quickly in comparison to the rest of the year. In order to be strong and healthy, your grass turf needs all the right nutrients. Look for a lawn fertilizer that includes weed and moss killer and you will be rewarded with a denser and greener lawn.
If you have some stubborn weeds then take the time to remove them by hand before they get an even stronger hold. You may need to use a knife to make sure that you get rid of the roots.
If you grass turf has had a particularly tough winter and is showing signs of wear and tear; early spring is the ideal time to overseed. Mix some of the appropriate lawn seed with some topdressing, before brushing into the grass. When the seeds germinate they should cover up any patchy areas.
The process of scarification is done to reduce the buildup of dead grass, moss, and roots with the aim of reducing the amount of stress on the grass plants. You can scarify your lawn by taking a spring-tine rake and pulling it through the grass. You can also purchase or hire electric scarifying machines from DIY stores and garden centers.
A good Airing
By aerating your lawn you can improve drainage, relieve compaction, and allow for more air to get into the grassroots. All of which will help provide a healthier lawn. Aeration can be carried out using a simple garden fork, or with a spiking machine.
Invading weed grasses
If you notice any weed grasses in any part of your grass turf then do not ignore the matter. The best course of action is to cut the weed grass out completely. Be sure to reseed any bare patches, which will reduce the chances of it growing back in the same spot.
A healthy lawn will usually see off weed grasses, so be sure to feed and cut regularly. Also fill in any patches with seed as soon as you spot them, even if you don’t see any weed grass nearby.
Your Gardening Checklist for the Month of April
March is a busy month for most gardeners. The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and it’s time to start preparing your garden for the summer. It’s easy to overlook some essential gardening tasks at this time of year, as your to-do list gets bigger and bigger. Here’s a quick checklist to help you get started.
If you’ve found yourself neglecting your garden in favor of the warmth of the living room during the winter, then now is a good time to catch up on some of the more common winter tasks. Trim and prune fruit trees, and clean up your garden in preparation for the spring.
Spring Cleaning Your Garden
Cut back what’s left of last year’s perennials and spend a while cleaning out your flower beds. Thoroughly weed your garden. Work systematically and slowly. Remember that if you miss even one small spot of weeds, they will grow back quickly. Once you’re finished, add a layer of protective compost to your flower beds.
Prune any late-flowering shrubs, summer-flowering clematis, and wisteria. Don’t prune your evergreens yet. These are best left until April when the weather is warmer. When you are pruning shrubs, remove around one-third of the flowering stems (taking care to leave at least a couple of inches of old growth) in order to promote fresh new growth this year. Take good care of new growth as it appears.
If you have a slug problem, invest in some organic pellets. Use them only in areas where there are susceptible plants. Avoid pellets that contain metaldehyde, as this can be dangerous to wild animals and household pets.
Love Your Lawn
Late March/early April is a good time to lay new turf. If you plan to add turf this year, take some time during early March to prepare the ground and treat it with a little compost or fertilizer. If you aren’t planning on laying fresh turf, then treat your existing lawn to a thorough mowing and raking. Your garden will instantly look neater, and better tended.
Seeds and Crops
Keep an eye on the temperature of your garden this month. Once the soil reaches 6C you can start planting seeds outside. Even small gardens can be used to grow a few delicious herbs and vegetables. If you’re new to growing your own food, start with rocket, mustard, and other quick and easy food.
Once you get a taste of fresh-from-the-garden food, you’ll find yourself wanting to expand your repertoire. There are a lot of fast-growing, hardy vegetables for you to experiment with, and you should be able to have something growing at all times throughout the year.
The work you do this month will pay off quite quickly. Take advantage of the mild spring weather to do some much-needed pruning, dose out some compost, and do the heavier work that your garden will require to be neat, bright and colorful this summer.
What To Do In Your Garden In June
With another month passing, it’s time to once again consider what you need to be doing in your garden to ensure you’re not neglecting any duties! So it’s time to consider what June can mean to any keen home gardener.
Firstly we’ll look at the two main things you may actually be looking to grow in your garden – vegetable and fruit.
While it may seem late in the sowing season, it actually isn’t so far down the line that you can’t still plant some vegetable seeds to enjoy later this season. You can still kick off some salad crops, like beetroot, radish, and even pak choi.
It’s also time to get vegetables outside and into the soil. If you’re looking to enjoy summer corn on the cob with your BBQ’s over the summer, make you plant them outside in blocks. You should choose block planting over planting in rows to help with fertilization and in turn cob production.
If you have been growing some tomatoes indoors or in your greenhouse (or any other crops that you may have been nurturing indoors), it is now time to plant them outside. When you do this, make sure they are supported (with canes) and that you have ‘pruned’ the plant (such as the top shoot and the side shoots) as this will help ensure that the plant focuses on the fruit when growing.
For your cucumbers, similarly, ensure that they supported and not all over the ground when you plant them outside. You can also feed them on a regular basis with tomato food.
You need to make sure that your softer vegetables (like tomatoes) do not split in the sun, so ensure that you water them regularly enough to prevent this. Also, weed removal will help with this as it ensures that all the moisture available is going to the plants you actually want to grow.
It’s all about the berries at this time of year. With raspberries, when the new shoots start to appear, make sure you then shorten their canes, similarly with blackberries, train in the shoots for good summer fruit. With strawberries, you need to tie or peg down the runners so that they can root well to produce good fruit in the next couple of months.
If you have fruit bushes (such as gooseberries or currants etc.) then it would be wise to prune the bushes as this will again ensure that the growth will concentrate on the fruit and not leaves.
It may be that you actually have some fruit or vegetable that are ready to harvest, so make sure you thoroughly check all your products throughout the month to see if there is any reaping to be done.
With the summer sun around the corner, you need to make provisions to stop the plants from being scorched or dried out. Therefore you need to make sure your greenhouse has shading. This can be done by putting up shades within or over the glass to even using some sort of homemade paste on the windows that can later be washed off (using flour and water has been known as one homemade solution). Ensure also that there is ventilation in the greenhouse and that you once again, water regularly.
So in June there is still work to do. You can still plant some vegetables as well as start to see the fruits of your labor coming through. It’s all about being prepared and maintaining.