How to Cure Cabin Fever in the Southern Garden

Do you ever get a case of Cabin FBloom n gardens daffodilever? Being from Maine, I heard that term every winter. Of course, winter there can be really brutal and……………LONGGGGGG!  I cannot say that I miss those winters much. Sure, I love to see snow every now and again, but being cooped up in the house all the time can wear on you a bit.  One of the great things about Georgia is the fact that we do see a variety of seasons, but they definitely are mild compared to our neighbors to the north.  We are lucky that we don’t typically have weather events that relegate us to the interiors of our homes for days on end very often, but alas that was not the case this year. Here comes SNOWPOCOLYPSE 2014 ROUND I AND II, whew!  Is it possible to suffer from Cabin Fever after just a few days? Well I say, of course! And my recommended method of treatment is to go outside, now that it is beginning to warm, and explore all the plants that begin to pop out just as the thermometer climbs out of winter.   [Read more…]

Don’t Get Convicted of…….CRAPE MURDER

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 if you have not pruned your crape myrtles yet, please heed my warning and instructions. 

First and foremost, you must prune your crape myrtles during the right time of year.  If you prune them later in the year, say November or December, you run the risk of having them try to produce new growth, if we get a warming trend in January, that new growth will freeze when temperatures cool again and this will be very stressful for your plant.  In actuality, pruning tells a plant it is time to grow, so hold off until later in January and February.  The next important factor to consider is to use good, sharp tools that will make clean cuts.  It is most healthful for a plant if cuts are clean and free of jagged edges or tears otherwise you are opening up the plant to potential invasion from unwanted pests and disease. 

Bloom N Gardens Crape Myrtle-001When you begin your pruning, first start by removing any dead, diseased or crossed branches, this is also a good time to remove any suckers from the base.  Next, begin thinning the canopy, a general rule of thumb is to remove twigs that are less than a pencil width.   With that done, as you examine your tree, you will typically see two lateral branches emerge close to where you cut the previous year.  You will want to head back these branches to within 6” of last year’s growth; this will prevent the “knuckle” look that can be so unattractive and unhealthy for the plant

One of the biggest excuses many people have for pruning their crape myrtles incorrectly is that they do not want their crape myrtle to be too big.  This problem is best solved by removing the tree and choosing one that is better suited to the confined space. There are many varieties of crape myrtle that grow from shrub sized to giant sized and all sizes in between.  Choose wisely from the beginning and you will be happier in the long run. Additionally, there is a fallacy that drastically pruning a crape myrtle will make them bloom more.  In reality, a correctly pruned crape myrtle will produce twice the number of branches, and therefore, twice the number of blooms than the previous year.  Additionally, the branches will be stronger and better able to withstand the weight of the heavy bloom. 

If you have a crape myrtle that has been incorrectly pruned for many years, there are ways to improve the overall health and look of the plant by reconstructive pruning, a process that you may want to bring in a professional to provide. Good luck and happy pruning.

Mark the Years With Changes to Your Landscape

From Drab to Fab

From Drab to Fab

As this month comes to a close, we realize soon January 2014 will be a thing of the past. WOW where did the time go; seems to have flown right out the window. No matter, I always thought that January was a funny month anyway. Why, Oh I don’t know, somehow it makes us reflect on what went right and what went wrong in the past and in the end it makes us want to institute changes in our lives (are we really ready?). As we move on from year to year, many things happen, first and foremost we get older, tiny lines and wrinkles begin to appear, we might get a little thicker around the waist, a grey hair becomes two, three….. Many of these things we would like to forget or at least ignore but in the end it really does no good they keep happening.

What is your landscapes current state?

It is important to remember that our landscapes change as well. Changing with the season is nothing new, but I am talking about BIG change. Areas that were once very sunny are now shading as trees get bigger. The opposite can happen if a large tree needs to be removed due to disease. Plants that may have once looked great may have outgrown their space. Grass that was once green and lush may now look thin and bare. Good news, many of these problems are easily solved with a little redirection and redesign. The solution may be a simple fix like changing out some shrubs or now might be the time to install a patio that has been on the “to do” list for quite some time eliminating a problem area all together. Either way can really invigorate a tired landscape.

Freshen up your landscape in Winter

Winter can be an exciting time of year because it gives you the opportunity to look at the “bare bones” of your outdoor space in order to solve these ever present issues. Taking the time to address the basic structure in your yard is important in how it will look, and function, come spring and summer. Ignoring the tell tale signs of a dull landscape could force you to remain on the inside looking out for yet another year.

Need help rediscovering the beauty in your landscape. Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscape, our Registered Architect can help you take your landscape from Drab to Fab this winter.

 

 

Georgia Grass: Aeration and Overseeding

Aeration and overseeding is crucial to keeping your fescue lush and healthy for the holidays and the upcoming year. Most landscaping professionals choose fall for lawn maintenance. Late July and early August heat withers your grass, encouraging the development of dead patches, dry spots, and an overall scraggly yard. But the warm days and cooling nights of autumn in Atlanta send root-growth into overdrive, making your gardening efforts doubly effective.aeration

What is Aeration and Overseeding?

Summer heat bakes and compacts the soil in your garden and lawn, stagnating effective root growth and leading to thatchy grass. Aeration pulls plugs from the ground, creating even holes across your yard. This process allows oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the soil to the deepest part of your plant, revitalizing your landscape from the ground up. Aerating lends itself to overseeding, because your newly nourished grass is primed to produce new plants. The seeds fall in and around the holes in your yard, taking root where they are guaranteed moisture, shade, and fescue food. The new seed will meld with your established lawn, filling patches that have developed from heavy foot traffic, dog spots, poor irrigation, and too much sun or shade.

Benefits of Aerating and Overseeding Your Lawn

  • Decompresses the soil
  • Oxygenates soil and plants
  • Allows nutrients to reach plant roots
  • Improves the soil’s moisture intake, conserving water and optimizing rainfall
  • Makes fertilizer more effective, with less waste from runoff
  • Encourages new growth

Fall lawn care is necessary to keeping your yard verdant, strong, and ready for the year ahead. Bloom’n Gardens wants to help you keep your Smyrna, Vinings, and Atlanta landscapes looking lush year-round.Check  next week’s blog for home how-to on aerating and overseeding.

photo from flickr

Before You Seed

weedingIn Atlanta, we enjoy an extended growing season, giving us plenty of time to plan our landscape. Whether your yard is suffering summer wear-and-tear or the influx of rain we’ve seen from Buckhead to Decatur, fall is the season to resuscitate and repair. Fescue lawns depend on autumn aeration and overseeding to revitalize grass for a full, healthy yard in the coming year. We’ll explore the whys and hows of aeration and overseeding in the coming weeks, but for now let’s examine an important question: how do you prepare your yard for renovation?

Learning Your Landscape

Aerating and overseeding is most effective in September, but accomplishing maintenance tasks ahead of time will make the process go more smoothly. The first step is to identify the problem areas. Bare and dying patches of grass may develop from poor hydration, heavy foot traffic, or bad soil. Identify the location and cause, and then determine how to prevent a similar problem next year. Learn about irrigation, consider creating a footstone pathway, and replace any soil that’s eroded or lacking in nutrients. There’s a process to planting, and by learning your lawn you can create a better long-term landscape.

Weeding

Weeds are the proverbial thorn in a gardener’s side, and you may feel the prick of new patches well into the fall. Cooling temperatures means tougher soil; difficult growing conditions for grass, but a veritable playground for weeds of all kinds! To give your garden its best chance, start strangling those pesky problems before you plant. Whether you’re picking out bulbs or planning your fescue restoration, eliminating weeds is a crucial step to a healthy lawn and garden. Identify the hotspots and stock up on Roundup. Killing weeds clears the way for your fescue to thrive.

Problems sprout up all year long, but fall is the ideal time to kill weeds, identify drainage problems, and revamp your garden basics. The Bloom’n Gardens team is happy to provide any tips and insights you may need to keep your landscape lush and living large.

Autumn Powers Bring Spring Flowers

Summer is a time for rest, relaxation, and let’s face it, carting kids all over creation. But now fall is nearly upon us, and with the kids cultivating their minds and digging through homework, it’s the time for busy moms to tackle those overgrown Georgia gardens. No matter how well tended your plants, there are plenty of ways to prep for next spring—and give your fall flowers a face-lift.Peanut Pods

Preparing Spring Planting

If this rain has taught us anything, it’s that landscape design relies on foresight and preparation. Lawns have trickled into streams, flowerbeds flood like pools, and more plants than just yours have suffered the effects of root rot. But landscape maintenance should start long before you plant your first bulb. Take this late summer lull as an opportunity to assess your year’s troubles and keep them from cropping up again come spring. Set aside an afternoon to determine your drainage problems and manage your garden’s water flow. Consider whether you’re working with your landscape or fighting its natural inclinations. Design your spring garden and problem-solve before you plant. Then decide what your landscape needs to flourish in the future. Fall is prime time to:

  • Arrange beds and plant spring bulbs
  • Protect tender plants from winter’s oncoming chill
  • Move planters inside, first checking for disease and pests
  • Fertilize lawns and plant sod
  • Aerate and overseed
  • Prune hedges

 Autumn Landscape Design

Once you’ve mastered your Buckhead landscape, start digging toward those holiday blooms. Fall is a great time to step outside the flower box and discover unexplored vegetation. Investigate vegetable gardens, think ahead to the holidays, and saturate your garden with color by investing in berries or fall blooms.

If you’re not sure which flora is right for fall, ask a professional how to adapt your garden to the upcoming season.

photo from flickr

Plants: Avoiding the Pool

Waterlogged GardenPatio furniture isn’t the only thing getting soggy this summer; with the excess of rainfall, plants have been getting more hydration than they can handle. While many plants are greedy drinkers, too much water can lead to insufficient oxygen and fungal growth in the roots

Recognizing root rot starts above the surface. Yellow, withering leaves is one of the first signs that something’s not right in your garden. Other signs include browning stems and visible mold on your foliage. Stagnate water pooling around your plants is another indicator, and nearly unavoidable these last few months. But once you’ve recognized the problem, what to do about it?

While plants with root rot are difficult to rescue, the task is not impossible. The first step is to manage the flow of water. You can’t stop the rain, but you can control it. Digging runoff streams will direct pools away from your plants and make managing hydration simpler. You can also cover problem plants during expected storms to prevent them from getting flooded. Irrigation monitoring systems are helpful ways of knowing just how much water your plants are getting so you can combat or supplement the Georgia weather as needed.

Once you’ve controlled the source of the problem, it’s necessary to examine the environment of your plants. Is your plant getting nutrients? Cleaning the diseased roots is difficult in mature plants, but making sure they have the strength to fight goes a long way to facing root rot. Is the topsoil staying too wet? Remove a portion of the soil, taking care to leave the roots covered. Then ask a professional about mulching techniques that encourage drainage.

As we approach the early fall months, the rainfall may wane. Consider implementing irrigation techniques now to prevent garden disease in the years to come. Root rot goes deep and is difficult to fight, but with a little help from its gardener your plant can develop the necessary resilience to make it through another year.

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

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

 

Shot Hole Borer Attacks Stressed/Weakend Trees

Have you ever witnessed a relatively healthy tree seemingly die overnight, or so it appeared.  Well this is exactly the experience we had recently at a client’s home.  Granted it really didn’t die overnight, but the death was relatively quick.  The exact tree in question was an ornamental weeping cherry tree that was fairly young, approximately 5” in diameter.  From examination, I found tiny round holes all through the bark almost as if a BB gun had attacked the tree Al Capone style.  This is a distinct indicator of Shot Hole Borer. 

Shot hole borer (Scolytus rugulosus) is a bark beetle that lives between the bark and the surface of the wood where it can feed on the succulent phloem tissue.  The larvae overwinter in this space and emerge in spring into early summer to feed at the base of the leaves or small twigs until it is time to tunnel back into the bark.  The adult beetles will then create galleries parallel to the grain and lay approximately 50 eggs. The larvae will then expand the tunnels at right angles to the primary tunnel which effectively girdles the plant. After pupating the beetles will burrow exit holes in the bark to start the cycle all over again.  The numerous entrance and exit holes are the defining characteristic of the infestation.  Two life-cycles can effectively occur each year creating havoc in our landscapes

In Atlanta, we experienced a severe drought, in the mid 2000’s, that lasted several years.  Witnessing a Shot Hole Borer infestation is just one indicator that our trees are under stress.  Unfortunately there is little remedy for Shot Hole Borer except to keep trees healthy and vigorous.  Good watering practices along with a consistent fertilization program will help to aid trees recover from stressful situations like drought.  It is important to remove and burn any infected trees in winter before the adult beetles can emerge in spring.  Shot Hole Borer is mainly a problem in fruit trees like apple, pear, cherry, and plum.