August Landscape To-Do’s

Can you believe that it’s already August? For many gardeners, the month of August starts the slow trickle into off season. However, if you’re in a warmer climate (and Atlanta certainly qualifies), you can still take advantage of a second wind in gardening that will help keep your flowers, shrubs and vegetables going longer, plus take advantage of opportunities to get a head start on the coming spring. Here are a few ideas for your garden in the month of August from the Bloom’n Gardens team:

  • Plan and purchase spring bulbs for planting
  • Freshen up mulch or pine straw as needed
  • Prune summer-blooming shrubs like Hydrangea, Clethra and Caropteris as their blooms begin to fade.
  • Begin dividing perennials
  • Begin planning your fall veggie garden, keeping leafy greens (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale) and root vegetables like sweet potato and carrots in mind.
  • Plant gorgeous fall-blooming bulbs like Crocus and Lycoris so they’ll bloom on time, offering a wide array of colors like purple, yellow and white.

Watering Basics in Summer container planters

While August does begin the off season, frequent watering is still very important during this typically dry month. For best results, remember to water early in the morning, and water the soil not the leaves. Additionally, you’ll get better results if you water deeply and occasionally rather than watering a little bit all day long. Keep a special eye on containers (like the ones to the right) and hanging plants as well. A quick tip: you can push your fingers down an inch or so into the soil to check the moisture levels.

If you have a birdbath in your outdoor space, help your feathered friends out by changing the water regularly and keeping it clean. Standing water can be an inviting breeding ground for mosquitoes, and who wants that in their landscape?

What other gardening tasks do you tackle during the month of August? Share with us by leaving a comment below!

Raise the IQ of your landscape’s water source during Smart Irrigation Month

Usually during the summers in Georgia landscapers, homeowners, and business owners are worried about drought; this regularly brings up the topic of irrigation and watering techniques, and which techniques or tricks you can apply to your garden space. As this year has been filled with enough rain to welcome an ark, irrigation is probably one of the furthest things from your mind, but a great landscaper knows that irrigation doesn’t just help in times of drought, but also when the rain doesn’t seem to stop.

july is smart irrigation month

July is Smart Irrigation Month

This month is National Smart Irrigation Month, a particular time in which we can all trade tricks for better irrigation, share tips, and apply these techniques to our landscapes. Proper irrigation helps your gardens, flower beds, vegetable patches, and lawns get the water they need while helping to curb the negative side effects of over-watering. By making use of the most efficient watering techniques for your landscaping, you save money, water, and even can produce a stronger and healthier yield on your blooms and bounty.

sprinkler system

Landscapes from Buckhead to Serenbe can benefit from smart irrigation techniques.

Raise your landscape’s Irrigation IQ

Ready to make your landscape irrigation smarter? There are a few tricks of the trade to help. Some of these you could do yourself, but Bloom’n Gardens is here to help should you wish to have a Georgia landscape professional on-hand:

  • Install Sensors on your irrigation system: If you’re just using a timer on your irrigation system, you’re missing out on the newer technology available. Now, irrigation systems can come with weather sensors and moisture sensors to help them regulate how much water your landscape needs. These systems take into account the amount of rain you’ve had, weather forecasts for the future, and can even measure the moisture levels in the soil so that  your beds are only getting water when they need it.
  • Consider different forms of irrigation systems: Pop up, sprinkling irrigation systems are effective, but they’re not the most efficient irrigation systems in Georgia. Check out drip irrigation systems. These systems water a more targeted area, but do so through dripping water rather than spraying it, keeping more of it on your plants and less of it in the wind on a breezy day.
  • Plant smart. Smart irrigation isn’t just about the system itself, but also the garden and landscape being watered. Group plants with similar moisture needs together and adjust settings or watering habits to suit their needs.

How do you help conserve water and raise your irrigation IQ? Tell us your tricks of the trade in a comment.

Images via Smart Irrigation Month and Flickr CC

 

Plant Housekeeping: Deadheading your plants!

Ready to start some plant housekeeping? Want to spruce up your garden and keep your plants neat and blooming? If so, grab your shears! Today’s post is all about “deadheading”! Below we have put together why to deadhead and how-to deadheading your plants!

Why should I “deadhead” my plants? Why is it important?

The phrase “deadheading plants” refers to the removal of dead or spent flowers and stocks. The reason for deadheading is to help your plant with new growth. It’s important to begin deadheading towards the end of summer and beginning of fall.

How do I “deadhead” my plants?

Each plant is different and when it comes to deadheading there are a few techniques to use. In general, it is difficult to harm a perennial when deadheading but to stay on the safe side, follow these tips!

  • Snip Away! Use hand pruners or sharp scissors to snip away unhealthy or spent flowers. This will help with new growth! Suggested flowers to snip: phlox, peony, aster, coneflower, coreopsis, hosta, zinnia, lily, and Rudbeckia.
  • Break-off : Breaking off dying daylilies will add to the plant’s appearance and will help with the overall flower productivity. impatiens
  • Pinch versus cutting or snipping: Pinch off old blooms and it will give new buds room to grow! You can deadhead without gardening tools! Pinch vs. cut impatiens, marigold, pansy, petunia, viola, dianthus, poppy, cosmos, and columbine.

If you have questions about deadheading your plants, don’t hesitate to contact us. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for daily gardening tips, tricks, and photos.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

There’s a fungus among us: Landscaping issues of the Georgia rainy season

rainy forecast for Georgia

Rain has been the constant forecast for Georgia throughout the month of June.

Georgia residents and homeowners are used to a rainy season in late April and humid, dry summers. This year, the weather has chosen to be a bit more surprising, with rain having a constant hold on the forecast. While rain has it’s place in your garden and landscape, too much of a good thing can cause problems. Do you know how to deal with the various issues from an over-watered lawn?

Over watering problem 1: Root rot

Root rot is a very real risk for your plants and your trees during the Georgia rainy season and throughout heavy periods of rain. Roots are essential for plants to “breathe;” when over-watered or dealing with too much rain, the roots can start to drown, and end up rotting. Watch for signs of moist soil to help keep your plants and trees from experiencing root rot; the sudden appearance of mushrooms is a great indicator of over-saturated soil. Help plants dry out by moving potted plants to a dry place. For trees and planted varieties, the best bet is prevention. Carefully choose your plants’ locations throughout your yard; fertilize them to keep them as healthy as possible so that they’re more capable of fending off root rot should the rain continue to pour down.

Over watering problem 2: Brown Patch and Zoysia Patch

If you’ve noticed large places of brown, sad looking grass in your lawn, your lawn may be the victim of “Brown Patch.” Brown Patch is a lawn disease that attacks fescue lawns and other cold-weather lawns in the summer. The humidity and heat that comes with a rainy Georgia summer perfectly primes your lawn to grow the fungus Rhizoctonia, the cause of Brown Patch. Warm-weather lawns can also experience a similar disease this time of year called Zoysia Patch.

While there is no cure for these lawn diseases, your lawn can be treated chemically to help stop or slow the development of  Brown Patch or Zoysia Patch.

rainy lawn through a window

With a little bit of prevention, you can help keep your lawn from suffering from the constant downpour.

Other landscape issues to look for after rain

With the rain we’ve been getting in from Mableton to Serenbe and beyond we’ve also had some intense storms and winds. Be mindful of the trees in your landscape and look for storm damage after an intense night of thunder and lightning. If your trees are showing signs of damage, contact us for an assessment; you may need to have your trees trimmed or stabilized to prevent future damage to the tree or your home.

Bottom photo via Flickr CC.

Outdoor Entertaining: Lighting the Perfect Al Fresco Dining Space

I don’t know about yours, but with all the rain we have had this spring, utilizing my patio has not been on the forefront of my mind. I typically love to entertain and dine al fresco; one of the cornerstones of my garden is a a wonderful outdoor kitchen that my family loves to utilize just about every night. Hopefully, the constant rain showers will soon come to a close and we can again enjoy our patio regularly. To help welcome the sunshine back, I’m making some changes and upgrades to the space to make it more appealing and functional.

patio lighting in Georgia

Creating a welcoming, functional space with the proper lighting for your outdoor area.

Add ambiance and functionality through proper lighting

One element that I will be adding this year in order to extend the use of my outdoor space is landscape lighting. You might see this a frivolous add on, but it can really help to get the most out of the investment you make in your landscape.

I have friends that drag out a multitude of tiny strings of white lights (think Christmas lights) every time they want to throw a big party. This is a great way to get started lighting the landscape, but setting up the lights each time can be very time consuming, not to mention that these types of lights seem to wear out quickly and, in the long run, can be very expensive.

Understand your patio lighting options

When looking at landscape lighting, think beyond the flood lamps that are installed for security.  There are uplights, downlights, and lanterns offering you the perfect option for any situation. All you need to get started is an electrical receptacle, transformer, wire and few fixtures.

Tips from the team

When designing your outdoor lightscape, a few tips will help you achieve professional results:

  1. Make sure to maintain proper voltages. Improper voltage amounts will shorten the life of your fixtures and transformer.
  2. Use enough variety in your fixture types to make things interesting.
  3. Avoid too much symmetry; this is especially important when utilizing path lights. Straight lines can be reminiscent of a landing strip, and can be avoided by staggering lights.
  4. Balance your lighting across your space to avoid dividing your garden up.

If you want a more intricate landscape lighting design, or aren’t too sure of yourself when it comes to electricity in an outdoor space, it is always best to seek the assistance of a professional. In the end, a properly done lightscape can increase your overall enjoyment of your outdoor space, thus maximizing the investment you have made into your home.

Hydrangeas 101: The Basics You Need to Know For Hydrangea Success

If Spring were to have a poster child, it would be the hydrangea. These beautiful, clustered blooms are the darling of weddings, Spring table settings, and gardens, offering a burst of color and softness to any niche or bouquet. While effortlessly popular, these blooms are anything but effortless. Caring for your hydrangea isn’t a painstaking process, but it does require some basic knowledge and know how to grow them successfully.

Hortensialilac

Hydrangeas are gorgeous, especially when properly pruned and nourished. 

Pruning Your Hydrangea

Not all Hydrangeas are created equal. Different hydrangeas have different pruning needs, and for these flowering shrubs, timing is everything. Hydrangea Macrophylla, also known as “big leaf hydrangeas,” are the the large, typically blue-blooming hydrangeas many of us are used to seeing. Bloom’n Gardens recommends following the advice of the United States National Arboretum, which recommends regular pruning for this variety of hydrangea with the following stipulations:

“Removing about one-third of the oldest stems each year will result in a fuller, healthier plant. This type of pruning is easiest to do in winter, since the absence of leaves makes it easier to see and reach inside plants.  [As] igleaf and oakleaf hydrangea…flower on previous year’s growth, [they] should be pruned shortly after flowering is complete.”

Hydrangea Paniculata, or “panicle hydrangeas”, require a different style of pruning, as they “flower on current year’s growth and can be pruned anytime from late summer until early spring.”

Altering the Coloration of Your Hydrangea

When buying hydrangeas, the name of the plant does little to tell you which color it will bloom. “Nikko Blue, Pretty in Pink, Forever Pink and Blue Deckle, all have an almost equal chance of blooming pink or blue, depending on the soil they are planted in,” says Gardeners.com. If you wind up with a hydrangea that’s a different shade than what you wanted, don’t worry; there are things you can do to alter the coloration of the blooms.

While you can’t exactly turn a white hydrangea blossom blue or turn even the brightest of pink hydrangeas red, you can alter the coloration of your hydration with soil additives. The vibrancy and shade of your hydrangea can vary based on the pH of your soil; most Georgia soils are low in pH, leaving you a lot of room to alter the balance by adding lime or ammonia sulfate. First, you’ll need to test your soil’s pH level. Once you know that, find the target pH for the color you’re trying to achieve:

  • Having a pH of 5.2-5.5 will encourage blue coloration
  • Having a pH of 6.0-6.2 will encourage pink coloration

To raise soil pH, you will need to add garden lime, wood ash, or dolomitic limestone. The amount of each item you will need to add will depend on the soil you’ll be planting in; follow directions on your product packets carefully.

To lower soil pH,  ammonium sulfate or aluminum sulfate. If you prefer a more organic approach to gardening, you can try adding naturally acidic items such as ” conifer needles, sawdust, peat moss and oak leaves.”

See Hydrangeas at Their Finest

Planning to get a hydrangea, but not sure what to do it with it yet? Trying to decide which additives to try for your hydrangea’s coloration? Kate and the team from Bloom’n Gardens will be at The Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival on June 1st and 2nd. Come out and see other competitors in the Flower Show or take a Garden Tour. Have questions about Hydrangeas? We’re happy to help!

 

Are you growing hydrangeas? Have you tried soil additives? Tell us about your growing experience, successes, and woes in a comment!

Companion Gardening: When Plants Work Together

The climbing temperatures in Georgia are heralding in the start of Summer, and with it, the time for vegetable gardens. Whether you’re on an apartment patio or have an expansive back yard, you have space for a few vegetables of your own, and how you use your space will determine how many different kinds of veggies and fruits you can enjoy. Companion gardening allows your plants to work together, making the most of your space and efforts while also helping to reduce insect issues and to boost flavor.

marigolds in a garden

Marigolds are an excellent companion plant, keeping insects off of veggies, fruits, and other plants.

Companion gardening for beginners: The first steps

If you’re using your garden for vegetables this summer, you probably already have a few tasty plants at the top of your planting wish-list. Make a list of the items you want to grow, then take a look at which plants they pair well with using a companion planting chart.

Once you have a list of good neighbors, think about the space you have available, as well as challenges your garden might face. For instance, do you have limited shade? A tall neighboring plant can provide shade for a shorter plant that needs partial instead of full sun. Is there a particular, bothersome insect that’s common in your area? Plant a bug-repelling plant nearby the vegetables most popular to this predator. Soon, you’ll have a complete list of good companion plants to fill your space.

Maximize flavor while you minimize pests

Companion gardening is perhaps best known for its ability to help with pest control. By planting marigolds around your veggies, you’ll cut down on the number and species of insects that are attracted to them. Herbs, such as basil and sage, also help deter certain pests. Other plants help with pest control by attracting insects to them and away from other plants; Nasturtiums attract aphids, protecting other plants they love, such as sugar snap peas, from this common pest.

In addition to offering protection, companion plants can even offer an enhanced or altered flavor to help your vegetables taste the way you’d like. Some gardeners say that planting basil next to tomatoes will enhance the flavor and yield of the crop. Another popular combination is summer savory and beans, where summer savory is said to also improve the growth and flavor of the beans.

Understand your enemies

Your garden is like a social circle–Some plants will make great companions and bring out the best in each other; others just won’t get along. Some plants do not do well with other, specific varieties, i.e. onions and garlic are said to inhibit the yield from peas. Others, like fennel, do not seem to get along with most other plants and should be planted separately.

Don’t be afraid to try new things

As you plant your garden this year, don’t be afraid to jump into the world of companion gardening. Make the most of your pairings in pots (tomato plants and basil both do well in containers, especially when planted together) or in your large garden bed. Helpful guides are readily available to give you the who’s-who when it comes to friends and foes of the flora, so study up and let your garden work together for a tastier, higher yielding garden this year.

 

Are you already trying companion gardening? What groupings have you found success with?

Photo via Flickr

It’s Not Too Late for Winter Pruning

Professionally Pruned Garden by Bloom'n GardensYou might not notice right away that your yard’s landscape changes.  Over time, some places that used to be sunny are now partly shaded by maturing trees and shrubs.  Even though February is almost over and springtime is right around the corner, there is still time to give your yard a facelift.  Late winter pruning promotes healthy growth when the weather gets warmer, it keeps your yard aesthetically pleasing and keeps it easier to maintain.  Of course, Bloom’n Gardens can help you with your winter pruning along with your other landscaping needs but if you have the extra time and patience to spare, here are some helpful tips and tricks on how to prune like a professional. [Read more…]

Natural Holiday Decorating

As with every year, we welcome the end with lots of festive celebrations, first came Halloween, then Thanksgiving, now we are on to Christmas.  Having so many celebrations one right after the other can be taxing on the wallet, even in a good year and transitioning decorations from one holiday to the next can seem overwhelming at best.  Why not take a step back from all the commercialization of the holiday season and celebrate the season with a more natural pallet.  Decorating with natural elements is so simple that you do not have to be Martha Stewart to be successful.  [Read more…]

Why and how we prune crape myrtles

By: Kate Wright, Owner Bloom’n Gardens Landscape

As early as mid December, I began seeing crimes committed all over the area, terrible, heinous crimes of the landscape.  What is sad to say is that most people do not even realize they have committed CRAPE MURDER; they are simply following the lead of their neighbor’s neighbor. Unfortunately, for those folks, I feel my advice may be a bit mute for this year, but as a Bloom’n Gardens Client, I wanted to educate you on how we will prune your crape myrtles. [Read more…]