Seasonal Tips

You Are Here: Home / Archives / Category / Seasonal Tips

How To Select The Perfect Christmas Tree

Categories: Tags:
Step 1: Choose the Right Tree

christmas tree with ornaments and lightsSelecting the perfect tree is essential when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Get the best tree you can to ensure it lasts and looks great the entire holiday season. There are a lot of Christmas tree options out there from which to choose. Here are some examples of the most common trees out there at hardware stores and garden centers.

  • Douglas Fir. These are the most common trees available. The trees are tall, slender and aromatic and their needles are short, soft and bluish-green. They need plenty of water to avoid shedding.
  • Scotch Pine. Another common tree type. Scotch pines are the #1 sold Christmas tree in the U.S. They have very sturdy branches and also retain their needles better and last longer than some species. Needles are dark green.
  • Blue Spruce. These trees have stiff needles that are a silvery green color. When watered adequately, these trees can last for a month and still look great.
  • Fraser Fir. An attractive tree with green-and-silver, two-toned needles with good needle retention. Often referred to as the “no shed” tree.

If you are cutting your own Christmas tree, there are likely many tree farms in your area that will allow you to choose a tree and cut it down yourself. If you’ll be cutting your own, be sure you leave the house with a hand saw, some twine, a blanket for when you strap the tree to your vehicle and some gloves to protect your hands.

If you will be buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is freshly cut. Touch the needles and branches to see if a significant amount comes off in your hand. Lightly bang the base of the tree on the ground; if an excessive amount of needles falls off, the tree is not fresh. Test the limbs to see if they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of ornaments. Also, if the tree is fresh, you should be able to smell the tree’s fragrance easily. The tree should be a dark green color all over with no areas of brown needles. Check to be sure that the bottom of the tree trunk is sticky with resin. Needles should not break when bent between your fingers. As when cutting down a tree yourself, bring twine and a blanket for strapping the tree to the top of your car, if you don’t have a truck or similar vehicle with room to stow the tree for the trip to your home.

 

  • Step 2: Find the Right Spot

    Find the right location for your tree. A little forethought will help avoid any problems once you have your tree and start decorating for Christmas. Take the time to measure the dimensions of your room. Use a measuring tape to check the height, bearing in mind the dimensions of your tree stand. It’s a good idea to leave at least 6″ from the ceiling to the top of your tree. Don’t forget to ensure that the room is wide enough for the size of tree you want if you’re going to place the tree in a corner or alcove. Write these measurements down. Take your tape measure with you when you go to purchase the tree to be sure the Christmas tree you select will fit.

    When you get your new tree home, be sure to put it into a bucket of water as you prepare to erect it. Don’t place the tree in high-traffic areas where it could get knocked over by children or pets, or where your family could trip over tree light electrical cords. Trees are usually best placed in a corner or in front of a window for optimal effect.

    Safety Alert!

    Never place your Christmas tree near a heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace, as this can present a fire hazard.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider anchoring the tree to a wall with a thin rope or heavy-duty string and an eyebolt as an added safety feature to help stabilize the tree. You can use this safety feature and easily hide it so it doesn’t detract from your tree’s appearance.

  • Step 3: Give It Water

    Water your tree daily to keep your tree alive. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. The average tree can soak up to a gallon of water a day. When choosing a tree stand, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is in it. Consider using Tree Preserve, a water additive that extends the life of the tree, keeps it greener longer, and helps prevent the needles from drying out. Remember, a thriving tree stays green longer and it makes it less of a safety hazard, as water keeps the tree moist and more fire-resistant.

    Safety Alerts!

    A dry tree can be a fire hazard. Before stringing lights on the tree, make sure the bulbs and the light string itself is in working order and intact without fraying or tears. Use lights rated for indoor use only. Do not place the tree directly in front of a heat or air conditioning duct as this will dry out the needles faster.

    When the tree is plugged in, be careful when watering to avoid electric shock.

  • Step 4: Decorate It

    Decorate the tree the way you want. This is the fun part! When adding lights to your Christmas tree, work from the inside, close to the tree trunk and out toward the tips of the branches. When you reach the tip of a branch, wrap your way back toward the trunk. Mini lights and C7 Christmas lights are typically used to decorate indoor trees.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider using LED holiday lights. They’re more efficient than regular light strings and don’t put off as much heat.

  • Step 5: Recycle It

    Dispose of your tree properly after the holiday season—don’t just throw out your tree with the trash. Recycle or mulch it yourself. Many municipalities have recycling centers where you can take your tree or have it picked up for recycling. Check with your local officials to see what options are available.

    Happy holidays! With good care, a Christmas tree can easily stay fresh for a month or even longer.

 

Are Chrysanthemums Annuals or Perennials?

Categories: Tags:
21/09/2018

Are Chrysanthemums Annuals or Perennials?

One of the first questions people have about mums is whether they are annuals or perennials, and the answer is, they’re both! Mums generally come in two types: florist mums (also known as cutting mums) and hardy mums (also known as garden mums). Both types come from the same original parent—a golden-yellow daisylike mum from China. Today’s hybrids in both categories are the results of endless crosses between several species from China and Japan. The result of such hybridization performed over hundreds of years is different types of mums that perform for two distinct purposes.

Florist mums are large-flower plants with many possible bloom forms, from quilled to pompon to spider and more. Grown in greenhouses and used only as indoor plants, florist mums produce few, if any, underground stolens, which are necessary if the mum is to survive cold weather. Florist mums planted outside are most likely being used as short-term bedding plants that will be removed when the blooms are spent. You can plant a potted florist mum you receive as a gift, and it may grow for the summer, but it will not survive the winter outside, no matter how much protection you give it.

Garden mums, on the other hand, produce underground stolens and can survive cold better. Most garden mums are perennials in Zones 5 to 9 and much tougher than florist types. Some cultivars are less hardy than others and can be killed by an early spring frost.

Pair mums with other cold-hearty plants like cabbages for stunning fall displays.

How Do You Care for Potted Mums?

Both florist and garden mums make great container plants. They’re just right for popping into a clay pot, lining up in a row in a fall window box, or placing in the center of a mixed container with trailing foliage plants all around. Making sure your potted mums thrive starts with picking the right plant. Never buy a mum that’s wilted; you want to start with the healthiest specimen you can get. Look for a plant with more buds than open flowers; it will last longer and the repotting process will be less traumatic for a plan not yet in full bloom.

Speaking of repotting, it’s one of the best things you can do for your mums. Most mums in containers will have very compacted root balls after sitting in store containers, so gently breaking up the root ball and giving the mum a new home in some good, fertilized soil will set your plant up for success.

And don’t forget the water. Chrysanthemums love full sun and all that heat means they also need plenty of water. Give them a good soak after first repotting, then water every other day or when soil seems dry.

How Should I Use Mums in My Garden?

Because of their tight, mounded habit and stunning bloom cover, garden mums are perfect for mass plantings. To get the maximum effect from far away, stick to only one or two colors. Another possibility is to arrange a gradual transition of related colors in an ombre effect. Look around your yard to see what colors would best complement the existing landscape. Many landscape plants can provide a backdrop for groupings of mums. For texture, choose ornamental grasses, berry shrubs, sedum, or almost any conifer.

If you decorate for fall with pumpkins and gourds, choose orange, bronze, yellow, and creamy white mums. If you have a lot of evergreen plants that provide a backdrop of varying shades of green foliage, try bright pinks, lavenders, pure whites, or reds. With such bold colors, a large grouping of mums can excite even the most drab of fall landscapes.

To get the most from your mums, choose cultivars according to their bloom times. It also helps to coordinate bloom time with the length of fall in your location. Most garden mums will withstand a light fall frost, but finding the right cultivars will provide the longest possible amount of pleasure.

When Should Mums be Planted?

Mums aren’t as expensive as many perennials, so if you choose to, you can plant them as annuals without worrying that you’ve spent too much money on something that might not live more than one season. If you’re an impulse buyer, you’ll probably see pots of colorful mums this fall and not be able to resist.

Fall planting lessens the chance of winter survival, however, since roots don’t have time to establish themselves. If you want something more permanent and are willing to provide proper care such as mulching and pinching to encourage compact growth and more blooms, plant mums in the spring and allow them to get established in the garden. This will improve their chances of overwintering and reblooming the next year. Some plants will even produce a few blooms in the spring before being pinched for fall flowers.

How Much Sun & Water Do Mums Need?

Whether in a pot or in your garden, mums like lots of light. Mums thrive in full sun conditions as long as you give them enough water. Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Plants that don’t get enough sunlight will be tall and leggy and produce fewer, smaller flowers. Just be careful: Light is not the same as heat. Don’t put potted mums out too early in the season when summer’s temps are still in full swing. Plants likely won’t survive well.

Water newly planted mums thoroughly, and never let them wilt. After they are established, give mums about an inch of water per week. When bottom leaves look limp or start to turn brown, water more often. Avoid soaking the foliage, which encourages disease.

What Type of Soil do Mums Like?

Mums thrive in well-drained soil. Heavy clay soil should be amended. If your yard is soggy after the slightest rain, grow mums in raised beds with friable soil for good root growth.

If the soil is too dense, add compost and prepare to a depth of 8-12 inches for best performance. Mums’ roots are shallow, and they don’t like competition. Plant mums about 1 inch deeper than they were in the nursery pot, being careful with the roots as you spread them.

Plants set out in spring should get a 5-10-10 fertilizer once or twice a month until cooler weather sets in. Don’t fertilize plants set out in fall as annuals, but plants you hope to overwinter should get high-phosphorus fertilizer to stimulate root growth.

How Do You Winterize Garden Mums?

Prepare mums for winter after the first hard frost. Mulch up to 4 inches with straw or shredded hardwood. Fill in around the entire plant, spreading well between branches. Pinch off dead blooms to clean up the plant, but leave branches intact. Mums have a better chance of surviving if you wait to prune old stems until spring.

Although garden mums are often called hardy mums, they may not survive the winter if drainage is poor or if you live in an extremely cold climate. If your mums survive the winter, you’ll see new growth developing around the base of the plant in early spring. As soon as the weather warms, pull away mulch to allow new shoots to pop up. The old, dead growth from last year can be clipped away. If nothing develops at the base of the plant, it’s a sign that the plant did not survive the winter.

You can also winterize mums in pots by bringing them inside by first frost and mulching. See Growing Mums in Containers for more info on caring for potted chrysanthemums.

Do Mums Need to be Divided?

Mums grown as perennials need to be divided every couple of years. Divide perennials in the spring after the last hard frost and after you see new growth starting. Dig up the plant in one piece and separate outer pieces from the center with a clean and sharp spade or large knife. Replant the outer portions into a rejuvenated bed, and discard the original center of the plant.

Three to five vigorous shoots are enough to make a showy clump. Once new shoots start to develop, give them a little slow-release granular flower fertilizer and leave them alone. When they are about 6 inches tall, pinch back the tops of each stem by 1-2 inches or so. This promotes compact, bushy growth later on.

Pinching is a grooming practice that produces compact, bushy plants.

What Is Pinching?

The key to those full, rounded domes of blooms that you associate with mums is pinching to create more branching and keep plants compact. Don’t hold back—just a few minutes here and there will reward you with a thick, solid-looking plant.

If you bought large, full plants in the fall, they have already been pinched and are ready for planting. Young spring plants will need pinching for maximum bloom and best plant shape.

Start pinching as soon as you see a good flush of buds. To pinch a plant, remove the growing tip of a stem by nipping it between your thumb and forefinger. Pinch about half of the tender new growth at the top of the shoot; choose some stems with buds and some without. Repeat the process with every 3 to 5 inches of growth (about every two to four weeks) until July 4. Stopping then ensures you will get good bud formation and blooms in fall. Each single pinched stem will divide into two stems.

Do Deer Like Mums?

As a general rule, deer won’t eat chrysanthemums. But it’s really up to the deer. Like people, individual deer have specific tastes. I don’t like sauerkraut, for example, but friends of mine do. Most deer may hate chrysanthemums, but there may be an odd one or two that like them.

When you’re trying to find deer- or rabbit-resistant plants, you’ll need to learn largely by trial and error. (Though deer-resistant plant lists are always a great place to start.)

What are Some Different Types of Mums?

If you think mums are limited to the candy-colored mounded plants often sold in front of grocery stores, think again. There are dozens of gorgeous varieties of chrysanthemums, each with its own unique beauty. Here are a few mum types would look great in any showy front yard display.

Decorative Mums

Also known as florist mums, these chrysanthemums have long, tightly overlapping petals. They can be either incurve (where petals curve up and in toward the flower center) or reflex (where petals curve out and down, away from the flower center). Some of the most common decorative varieties are ‘Coral Charm’, with bright purple, pink, and peach petals, and ‘Fireflash’, which holds true to its name with firey orange- and yellow-colored petals.

Varieties to Try

  • Chrysanthemum ‘Carrie’
    A hard-to-find two-tone decorative flower that is a dark red-bronze in the center with golden-yellow outer petals. This extra-late cultivar shows none of the discoloration of aging petals seen in some older varieties.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Melissa’
    This extra-late mum blooms through late October and was bred for excellent flower form, flower color, color retention, and growth habit. The bright lavender-rose flowers combine beautifully with ‘Erica’, ‘Ingrid’, and ‘Taffy’.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Vicki’
    Another bright “wow” of a plant, these decorative blooms are rich orange with a darker orange center. They have awesome color and a full spreading plant habit.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Zesty Jean’
    An unusual pastel peach-coral color, the early decorative flowers are more fully petaled and retain their color longer than others of this hue.

Pom Pom Mums

Also known as button mums, these fluffy mums produce masses of small, petal-packed blooms in an abundance of colors. Some common varieties of the pom pom chrysanthemum are ‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Barbara’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Ruby Mound’, ‘Garnet’, and ‘West Point’, all possessing small, spherical flowers from summer to frost.

The Pyrethrum or ‘Painted Daisy’ is classified as both Tanacetum coccineum and Chrysanthemum coccineum.

Single and Semidouble Mums

You may often mistake single and semidouble mums for daisies because they look so similar. These mums have one (single), or two to three (semidouble) outer flower petals, growing very close together from the center disk. These type of mums grow a stunning 1 to 3 feet tall, perfect for growing along a garden fence. Some of the most common single and semidouble varieties are ‘Single Apricot Korean’, with shades of peach, and ‘Crimson Glory’, with shades of deep, crimson red.

Varieties to Try

  • Chrysanthemum ‘Blizzard’
    This extra-late variety offers the largest (2-1/2-inch) and whitest flower available in a daisy garden mum. It develops into an almost ball-shaped plant covered with bright white blooms over extra-dark green foliage.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Bold Felicia’
    The early blooms are an unbelievable neon-hot pink daisy with a bright yellow center disk.

The petals of Chrysanthemum ‘Kimie’ Spoon Mum resemble long-handled wooden mixing spoons.

Spoon Mums

The name truly fits this type of mum, which sprouts beautiful spoon-shaped petals. These flowers only grow about 4 inches in diameter, making it a petite mum to add to your garden that won’t take up too much space. The most popular of the spoon mums is ‘Kimie’, showing off golden yellow petals in a single row around a tight center disk.

Brie Williams

The Chrysanthemum ‘Lava’ Spider Mum looks resembles a firework caught mid burst.

Spider Mums

Spider chrysanthemums look a lot like the quilled and anemone mums. The only difference is in their thin, spider-like petals! Some of the most common spider mums are ‘Western Voodoo’, sprouting colors of orange and yellow, ‘Yellow Rayonnante’, showing off curvy petals, and ‘Seiko Fusui’, containing long, yellow, spider-like petals.

Quilled Mums

Quilled mums resemble the single daisy type, only with the tubular petals. This is different from the full quill flower form, which is almost always seen only in florist, or decorative, mums. Some of the most popular varieties for quilled mums are ‘Mammoth Yellow Quill’, spikes of yellow, and ‘Seatons Toffee’, with red spikes resembles sparklers on the Fourth of July.

Anemone

Resembling the long petals of ‘Spider’ and ‘Spoon’ mums, ‘Anemone’ has long petals, just more flat than it’s semi-twin. This mum has one or more rows of single flat petals topped with a raised center of tiny disk florets. The florets are usually a darker color. These cute little flowers only grow about 4 inches in diameter, just like ‘Spoon’ mums. The most common anemone varieties include ‘Dorothy Mechen’, showing off light purple flowers, and ‘Adrienne Mechen’ a close cousin sprouting a pink center, trailing into bright white flowers at the tips.

Begin Your Fall Seeding Projects With The Right Products

Categories: Tags:

Seeding Guide

Why should I overseed my lawn?

Overseeding is planting grass seed over an existing lawn.  Overseeding is usually done to correct thin lawns that have been damaged by environmental stresses.  The results from overseeding will only be maximized IF new and improved turfgrass varieties are seeded into your lawn.  Black Beauty grass seed guarantees your success!  Black Beauty will fill in bare spots quickly and create the green, lush, healthy lawn that you’ve always desired.

The best time for overseeding is in the late summer or early fall.  The seed will germinate better because temperatures are cooler, rainwater is plentiful, the ground is warm and weeds are less active.  You will also have several weeks for the grass to germinate before tree leaves start falling.

Begin your seeding project with the right products!

Before you begin preparing the seed bed, make sure that you have the following products:

First, as stated above, choose Black Beauty grass seed mixtures when seeding for a beautiful, dark-green look that will also give you outstanding drought, disease, and insect resistance.

Second, IF you have a pH that is low (below 6.2), then be sure that you have Mag-I-Cal to adjust it.  Your lawn’s pH should be between 6.2 and 7.  A pH tester, found in most garden centers and hardware stores, is an easy way to figure out your soil pH.  If you pH is fine, then skip to the next step.

Third, IF the soil is very hard, then be equipped with Love Your Soil to loosen it.  To test for soil compaction, push your finger into the soil.  If the soil doesn’t come up to the first knuckle, then you have a compaction problem.  Growing a lawn in such an area will be difficult because water and air will not be able to penetrate the root zone.  Of course, Love Your Soil will correct the problem.  If you soil is not hard, then skip to the next step.

Fourth, Green-Up for Seeding and Sodding is a lawn food that is specially formulated for seeding and sodding.  It is rich in potassium, an essential nutrient needed for grass seed to develop deep and dense roots.  You will use Green-Up for Seeding and Sodding with Black Beauty grass seed ON THE SAME day that you are seeding.  Of course, if you have a soil problem (pH and/or compaction), then you will use Mag-I-Cal and Love Your Soil ON THE SAME DAY, as well.  Let’s get started.

How do I plant and grow grass seed?

First, rake the soil with a metal tine rake to remove any dead grass, thatch, or residue build-up.  If you have a large area to rake, then a thatching rake (or “power rake”) can be rented from a tool rental center.  It is very important to create grooves in the soil for the grass seed to properly lodge into.  This is known as “seed-to-soil contact”.  Such contact is critical to achieving the maximum germination.

Second, apply the grass seed (Black Beauty) with a spreader.  Use the settings on the back of the bags for ALL products – grass seed, lawn foods, or soil conditioners – to secure the proper rate. If your spreader is not listed on the bag, then simply visit the Jonathan Green website (www.jonathangreen.com), click on the “Spreader Settings” icon, locate your spreader, and use the rate listed for it.

Third, apply the seeding lawn food (Green-Up for Seeding & Sodding).

Fourth, if your soil needs a pH adjustment, then apply Mag-I-Cal.

Fifth, if your soil is hard and not crumbly, then apply Love Your Soil.

Watering the lawn of a private house with the help of irrigation sprinkler

Last, keep the seed bed moist.  The seed bed should be wet for a few weeks while the grass seed is germinating.  Light waterings, 2 to 3 times per day (early morning, early afternoon, late afternoon), are of benefit during the early days when the newly sown seed is establishing.  Within a few weeks, after the newly formed grass is mowed, you can decrease the watering schedule.  NEVER water it at night.  Excessive moisture on established grass leaves can lead to fungal problems down the road.

When will my grass seed sprout?

Black Beauty grass seed takes about 10 to 14 days to germinate.  As a general rule, perennial ryegrass germinates the quickest (about 7 days).  Fine fescues – including the creeping, chewing, and hard types – usually take about 10 to 20 days. Tall Fescue usually takes 10 to 14 days, but can be slow to establish under very cold temperatures.  Kentucky bluegrass is the slowest germinator, usually in 20 to 30 days, but even longer with cold temperatures.  Remember, “germinate” means a start to grow.  You can’t expect a filled in lawn in 10 days!

Mow the new grass once it reaches a height of 4”.  Keep the mowing height at 3”, except for the last cut of the year which should be 2 inches in height.  This is very important for your lawn during the winter months. The shorter mowing height helps the grass plant roots survive winter stress.

With Daniel’s Lawn & Garden Landscaping services we can help you create your ideal outdoor living space. Let our expert staff show you how!

SAVE 10% OFF YOUR FALL LANDSCAPE SERVICES FROM DANIELS!

Our Landscaping Service includes:

  • FREE ESTIMATES – CONTACT US TODAY
  • Residential and Business Projects
  • Creation and Installation of Garden Beds, Walls, Walkways, and Patios.
  • Installation of Trees, Shrubs
  • Grading, Seeding, and Installation of Lawns
  • Above Ground Pool Installation

We are ICPI certified, fully insured, and offer FREE ESTIMATES. References available on request.

PA Contractor License #PA013212

If you are interested in developing a ‘do it yourself’ project, then consider our new in-house landscaping design program. We’ll provide you with the guidance and direction to do it right the first time. Contact our staff to schedule a 30 minute in-store consultation. We also offer other home improvement project services…please inquire and we can help you with your needs.

Our landscaping services are available throughout Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh and Berks Counties and not limited to the following areas: Harleysville, Skippack, Trappe, Collegeville, Perkasie, Souderton, Telford, Vernfield, Schwenksville, Red Hill, Green Lane, Pennsburg, Sellersville, Dublin, and Quakertown.

Our finished project gallery will be available on our website in the near future.

Lawn Seeding Tips

Categories: Tags:

patton-lawn (1)

Even in well maintained lawns, spot or general lawn seeding is sometimes needed. Lawns can thin because of weather, a result of damage caused by insects, or grass diseases. Some badly damaged lawns need to be completely “rebuilt” before regular maintenance can do much good.

There are three general categories of seeding: spot seeding, lawn renovation and overseeding a lawn, and renovation. What type is right for growing grass on your lawn depends on the condition of your turf. Spring-Green professionals can help with all of your lawn seeding questions and needs.

Whatever type of seeding is done, there are three important rules to follow when seeding a lawn:

  1. High quality seed should always be used
  2. The seed has to make good contact with the soil
  3. Enough water has to be supplied to assure germination and establishment.

Tip #1: Choose the lawn seeding system that’s right for you and your turf.

Spot seeding is a quick and easy way to repair things like ruts along driveways, areas worn by foot traffic, and small areas that have died for any reason. When spot seeding a lawn, use a stiff rake or potato hoe to cultivate the soil and break open the surface. Apply seed to the open seedbed and gently tamp down.

Overseeding a lawn broadcasts the seed over a large area. This works well when the lawn just needs a general “thickening up.” Overseeding can be done along with lawn aeration or by itself, but doesn’t work too well when there is a heavy thatch layer.

Lawn renovation is for lawns that have excessive thatch, or are so thin, that only a complete rebuild will get the lawn back on its feet. Lawn renovation can be done several ways: old sod can be removed with a sod cutter; the lawn can be de-thatched and seeded; or slice-seeding can be used. Slice-seeding (or verticut seeding) is probably the best for growing grass because it “drills” the seed into the soil without having to remove a large amount of thatch.

Tip #2: Before you begin seeding a lawn, consider the current season.

It’s true that seeding can be successful any time of year, but spring and summer lawn seeding require more care and water, and weeds and crabgrass cause a lot more competition. Seeding a lawn in late summer or fall is ideal. Early fall is preferred because seeds can germinate faster in the warm soil and continue to establish itself through the cooler weather of fall and winter. There’s also more natural water in the fall so less sprinkling is needed.

Tip #3: Whatever time of year you choose for seeding your lawn, remember to keep the seed moist until you have good germination.

Tip #4: Sprinkle lightly several times a day during hot weather until the grass is 1” tall.

Tip #5: Avoid any type of weed control until the new grass has been mowed 4 or 5 times.

Why Fall Is An Excellent Time To Mulch Your Flower Beds

Categories: Tags:

mulching_garden_plot

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the main reasons to mulch is reducing water loss in soil, suppressing weed growth, and protecting plants from the temperature extremes of Pennsylvania weather. Our professional staff will assist you by delivering your mulch or you can pick it up at our garden center in Harleysville or have it delivered free (5 yards or more).

Fall mulching will protect your plants from the temperature extremes we live with in Pennsylvania. Mulch protects your plants on the final warm October days and the sporadic wintry November nights. Often an overlooked benefit, mulch is an insulation that keeps roots cooler on warm days and warmer on cold night. Which is especially important during rapid temperature changes.

Mulch’s ability to conserve soil moisture has long been is most recognized feature. While test results differ, it is apparent that moisture evaporation from soil covered in mulch is reduced in the range of 10 to 50 percent. It also plays a key part in retaining dew and water drawn up from the subsoil from escaping. The water conserving value of mulching can’t be overemphasized, especially with times of water restrictions and shortages.

Studies show that weeding time is reduced by almost two-thirds through the use of mulches. Proper mulching can mostly eliminate the need for weeding and cultivation. It is important to make sure the much is weed-free, also the mulch must be deep enough to prevent existing weed seeds from germinating. Tougher weeds may find a way through your mulch, but it will be easily plucked when growing in a mulch bed.

As we have shared the added benefits are not only in the appearance it will bring to your landscape but how it will effect your plants. In St. Louis mulching is key to keeping a properly designed landscape. Daniel’s lawn and Garden center is specializes  in landscaping design and offers free landscaping design consolations. Visit our location in Harleysville and our professional staff will assist you in what mulch will fit your needs and teach you more about why mulching is so important. Also, our assortment of colors will ensure we match your landscaping design needs.

8 IMPORTANT FALL GARDENING TIPS

Categories: Tags:

fall gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gardening season is coming to a close, but it’s not entirely over yet. If you’re an avid green thumb, you can still squeeze a little more out of the growing season. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of the end of the year and how to get your garden set up for next year.

Plant Bulbs For Spring Flowers

Fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs like tulips, irises and crocuses, which need a winter freeze to start their growing process. By getting them in the ground now, you will ensure a colorful garden by early spring. For best results, plant bulbs once temperatures are in forties and fifties, but several weeks before the ground completely freezes.

Look for Discounts

Get a jump on next year’s garden by buying gardening equipment, seeds and plants at discounted prices. Many garden centers slash prices in the fall months to move unsold stock. Store seed packets in the freezer to keep them fresh, and keep discount seedlings going indoors until you can replant them next spring.

Repot Overgrown Plants

If a summer’s worth of growth has caused your plants to outgrow their homes, take some time this fall to replant them in larger containers. Dense or compacted soil, poor drainage, or roots creeping out of the bottom of a pot are sure signs that plants are root bound and struggling for more space.

Winter-Loving Plants

Depending on what region you live in, winter doesn’t have to be a dead season. Some hearty plants like kale, lettuce, broccoli and chard thrive in colder temperatures and can even tolerate the occasional frost. As long as snow stays off the ground and the temperatures don’t dip below freezing for too long, these plants will continue to grow, allowing you to garden into the winter months.

Plant Some Quick Growers

September isn’t too late to grow a final crop. Many vegetables can go from seed to table in as little as four to six weeks, giving you vegetables by late October or early November. Radishes can be grown in around 25 days, and some leafy greens like spinach take as little as 40 days to grow, so get in a final few vegetables before the frost sets in.

Plant Shrubs and Saplings

If you plan on adding trees and shrubs to your yard, fall is the best time to do it. By planting these plants in the fall, you’ll give their roots a chance to get established and avoid the withering effects of the summer sun. You’ll want to plant trees and shrubs in the ground a few weeks before the first frost, and if you live in an area with colder temperatures and heavy snows, wrap their  branches and leaves in burlap to protect them from their first winter.

Trim Perennials

Once your garden has gone to seed and perennial plants have run through their life cycle, it’s time to trim them back. Not only will it clean up an overgrown garden, but it will give the plants more energy next year, and limit potential garden problems like powdery mildew or insect infestations.

Fertilize the Lawn

While it might look like your lawn has shut down for the season, a little lawn care in the fall months will guarantee a lush, green garden next spring. Growth slows above the surface in autumn, but beneath the soil, your lawn is still hard at work establishing strong roots. Help it out this fall with a good mix of phosphorus-rich fertilizer, which helps strengthen roots.

When to plant mums?

Categories: Tags:

Every year in the fall, I suffer a bout of mum madness when garden centers and big boxes brim with chrysanthemums. They produce lovely fall colors, but when is the best time to plant mums?

When to Plant Mums

In autumn, mums and asters are everywhere, from six-inch pots to bushel baskets of orange, yellow, pink, and copper mounded behemoths.

Chrysanthemum

Planting Mums

All mum plants at garden centers are hardy, meaning that they are perennials in most climates. However, if these plants are put in the ground from August on, most won’t make it through the winter in areas where temperatures dip into the single digits. The reason is that mums planted late in the season are near or at the flowering stage, and they don’t grow roots to sustain plants through the winter. All the energy is put into blooming. That is why mums are best planted in the spring.

Gardeners in northern states where temperatures regularly dip below zero can lose even spring-planted hardy mums to winter. You can changes the odds in your favor by leaving the dead foliage on mums and asters instead of shearing for neatness. An Iowa State University study found that unpruned plants survive at much lower temperatures than those that were pruned. Be sure to add 4 to 6 inches of mulch after the ground has frozen for more protection.

Chrysanthemum

Potted mums from the florist or grocery store and exotics like huge football chrysanthemums, delicate spiders and spoons don’t survive cold winters either and are not good choices for landscapes. They are not bred to be hardy; it’s their form, color and size that are prized. Think of them as disposable decorations, along with the gourds and blue pumpkins you buy.

Overwintering a Mum

If winters are too cold for a favorite or you didn’t plant them early enough, overwinter chrysanthemums in the basement or a dark, cold closet. Pot up plants after the first frost if they are in the ground; include as much root system as possible. Water well and place in an area where it is totally dark and 32ºF to 50ºF. The plants will hibernate for the winter if you keep their roots damp. Check pots weekly. In the spring, acclimate plants to light gradually and set them out in the garden after the last killing frost.

With a bit of forethought and care, you can keep your mums blooming year after year!

With All This Rain, How Should I Be Mowing My Wet Lawn?

Categories: Tags:

lawn mowing

Everyone has heard the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”  This may be because spring is often the time of year when most of the country receives plenty of rain. Mowing can be a real challenge when it seems like it rains every weekend.

For those of you who use a maintenance service, your normal mowing day is often pushed back due to rain delays.  Since these companies are in the business to mow lawns, sometimes they have to “push it” to make sure that each client is serviced in a timely schedule. Still, they have to take precautions to avoid damaging lawns. For those of us who still mow our own lawns, the weekend is usually the only time we have sunlight and the spare time to mow. Here are some best practices for mowing wet grass.

Take Precaution

If you have to mow your lawn when it is wet follow these 2 precautionary steps.

  1. Make sure you have a sharp blade on your mower, it is always a good idea, but even more so when the grass is wet.
  2. Be sure to clean the underside of the deck as the grass will stick to the underside of the deck. Use extra caution when performing this task and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for accessing the underside of the deck.  If nothing else, be sure to disconnect the spark plug wire.

Potential Risks

If possible, wait for the grass to dry off before mowing. Mowing when the turf and soil are wet can lead to other problems:

  • If you are using a mulching mower or a bagger attachment, they will often get clogged with wet grass and not function properly.
  • Wet soil will compact easier than dry soil, which can lead to poor rooting of the turf.
  • If you use a riding mower, you could tear out sections of grass when:
    • making turns
    • mowing on sloped areas
    • Starting a new pass from a dead stop.

Length Matters

Ideally, you should set your mower so that you do not remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any time.  However, that is not always possible in the spring when it seems to rain all of the time.

Lawn Mowing

As long as you are mowing high and not leaving behind large clipping clumps it won’t be detrimental, if you do cut more than one-third of the leaf blade off. When this happens on my own lawn, I will set the mower at the highest setting and mow in one direction and then I lower it one notch and mow in a perpendicular direction.

Summer will arrive soon enough and mowing will turn into a normal weekly event. There may even come a time later in the summer when it becomes dry and you may not even need to mow your lawn. Just remember to mow your lawn high and it is always a good idea to leave the clippings behind to recycle the nutrients back into your lawn.

Shrubs for Summer Color

Categories: Tags:

Shrubs for Summer Color

 

summershrub2

Many gardeners assume that the brightest flowers are only seen in spring, but there are many stunning shrubs that have great color all through the summer. Some feature outstanding blooms while others have equally showy foliage and can brighten up any yard. But which will look best in your yard?

Top Summer Color Shrubs

There are a number of tried-and-true summer-flowering shrubs that never fail to be impressive. Consider these favorites to enhance your landscape all summer long.

  • Hydrangea
    This very popular mounding shrub is an old-fashioned favorite, but it doesn’t have to be just your grandmother’s shrub – there are hydrangeas for every situation and taste. Flowers appear in early summer and can last for several weeks. Choose from pink, blue (use an acidic fertilizer to maintain this unusual color) or white blooms. Large flower heads great for drying or make outstanding arrangements and bouquets when cut. These shrubs do best in light shade or sun. One of the easiest hydrangeas to grow is the native American oak-leafed hydrangea has lobed leaves with fragrant, conical-shaped flower heads.
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
    This dramatic shrub is truly a butterfly magnet, and hummingbirds love it as well. One of the most fragrant flowering shrubs, butterfly bush blooms from early summer to autumn frost, and different varieties can thrive in a wide range of growing zones. The flowers can be pink, purple, blue, yellow or white, and often feature elegant spiked panicles, arching branches and interesting foliage. These shrubs do best in full sun and come in different sizes to suit different landscaping areas.
  • Spirea
    A generally low-maintenance choice, this shrub features golden yellow to lime-colored foliage all summer with pink or lavender blooms in late spring through summer. Goldmound, Gold Flame and Anthony Waterer are all great cultivars and easy care shrubs growing to about 2-4’ by 3-5’. This truly is the perfect shrub to use anywhere in the landscape, and it can tolerate sun to part shade growing conditions.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)
    This is one of the showiest plants of the summer, and Rose of Sharon is also one of the easiest to grow. Dense growing and upright when young these shrubs will spread with age, so take care to plant them in appropriate spaces to avoid overcrowding. The dark green foliage contrasts nicely with large, showy flowers that can be up to 4” across. Flowers open in July and will continue blooming through late summer and into fall. Flowers are sterile, eliminating seed problems. This shrub is ideal to plant as a screen, hedge or focal point in full sun.
  • Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris)
    This shrub is a great plant for late summer color with bursts of purple-blue flowers just when many other plants are growing dull. Its low-growing, mounding habit reaches 2-3’ wide by 2-3’ tall. Blue Mist Spirea is easy to grow and can tolerate some neglect. It should be planted in full sun, and will bloom from summer to fall.

With any of these shrubs in your yard, your summer landscape can be just as colorful and eye-catching as any spring flowers or autumn foliage.

July Gardening Tips

Categories: Tags:

July Gardening Tips

Regional Gardening Tips for Summer

Harvested vegetables from the garden


Westend61/ Westend61/ Getty Images

July gardening chores run the gamut. If only July were more predictable in the garden. It doesn’t matter how wet the spring was, rain can become very elusive in July. Humidity begins to peak. It’s the beginning of the rainy season in Florida. And warmer zones are actually passing out of prime growing conditions into the lethargy of the dog days.

So there’s no definitive list of gardening chores for the July garden.

Gardeners just have to play it by ear. Most importantly, keep a close eye on pests and disease, then sit back and enjoy your garden and all the efforts you put in earlier in the year to get it where it is now.

July Gardening Chores for All Hardiness Zones

  • Slow down and give you and your plants a rest from the heat. It can be very stressful growing and setting flower buds for several months, let alone doing it in heat.
  • Give plants a mid-season feeding or side dressing of compost, to get them through to the fall.
  • Keep tabs on rainfall and water as needed. Most plants need at lest an inch of water per week, more if the weather is very hot and dry. Remember to water deeply.
  • Stay ahead of weeds. Pulling them before they flower could save you from thousands of new weeds.
  • Replace mulch as needed. It naturally decomposes and may need replenishing.
  • Check garden centers for mark downs on remaining plants. Be sure to check that they are healthy and not pot bound or full of weeds.

  • Keep lawns at about 3 inches, to protect from summer heat.
  • Keep bird feeders and baths clean.

Special Care for Ornamental Plants in July

  • Keep up on deadheading. The more you deadhead, the more your flowers will re-bloom.
  • Shear back spent annuals by one-third. The old foliage gets worn out by mid-summer and shearing it back will encourage fresh new growth to fill in.

  • Focus on heat and rain resistant flowers like: coleus, hibiscus, melampodium, pentas, plumbago, portulaca and zinnias.
  • Do a final pinching by mid-July, of fall blooming flowers like mums and asters.
  • Divide Iris.

Vegetable Garden Maintenance in July

  • Harvest daily. Some vegetables, like zucchini and cabbages, can mature in the blink of an eye. Don’t let them get tough or split open.
  • Find a Plant a Row for the Hungry program to donate your surplus vegetables to.
  • Succession plant bush beans and lettuce, to replace fading plants.
  • Start fall crops of peas and cole crops. Keep them well watered, until temperatures cool down.
  • Time to dig the garlic, onions and early season potatoes. Onion tops will fall over when they are ready to harvest. Garlic and potato plants will start to decline as they mature underground. Dig a few to test.
  • If your potatoes are not quite ready to harvest, treat yourself to some new potatoes. Carefully loosen the soil under your plants to find a few small potatoes to harvest.
  • Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden. It will feed the soil and keep weeds from moving in.

July Fruit Care

  • Check your berry bushes regularly to harvest before the birds get them. Birds will start munching on berries such as raspberries and blackberries even before they are fully ripe.

  • Clean up fallen fruits under trees. Rotting fruits are an invitation for diseases, insects, and foraging animals.
  • Check fruit trees for water sprouts (branches growing straight up from limbs) and remove them while they are small. They will only draw energy from the fruiting branches of the trees.

July Tree and Shrub Care

  • Prune summer flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade. The plants will look better and they can store their energy rather than spend it developing seed.
  • Hold off on planting until the fall. It is too hot and dry in July for most plants to handle the stress of transplanting. The exception is potted plants that are struggling in their containers. If you must transplant, keep them well watered.

Pests to Watch For in July

  • Thrips (distorted flowers)
  • Spider mites (undersides of leaves)
  • Tomato fruitworm
  • Tomato horn worm
  • Chinch bugs in lawns
  • Japanese beetles.

July Gardening in Warmer Areas (USDA Zones 8 and Above)

  • It can be too hot to grow vegetables this month in many areas. If that’s the case, consider planting a quick cover crop, to feed the soil.
  • Your prime gardening season is coming up, especially in the vegetable garden. It time to start planning your fall garden.
  • Start seeds of heat loving vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, and cucumbers
  • It is still a good time of year to plant container grown citrus trees and tropical fruits.
  • Succession sow sunflowers (every 2 – 3 weeks) for a steady supply.

Special Garden Consideration for the Gulf Coast and Florida

  • Prepare for hurricane season and keep dead limbs pruned