Recovering from Atlanta’s Polar Vortex

HardinessZones-compressedWell, I declare, Spring is in the air.  Soon it will officially be summer, but I must admit, it has been a tough row to hoe this winter and our landscapes have taken a bit of hard beating.  By now you should be able to tell what survived the extreme cold and what is best left for the compost pile.  From my observations there were about a half a dozen shrubs that were hit particularly hard.

Remember those USDA Hardiness Zone Maps, yeah the ones that say our area is labeled ZONE 7B, well for many years we have sort of “tricked” some plants not officially rated for our area to grow and thrive in our landscapes.  Or plants were only marginally hardy here, and well, guess what, they bit the dust, especially those plants that were not in particularly good health anyway. [Read more…]

Don’t Pull Your Hair Out Over Weed Issues!

bloomngardenslandscape Yard Cleanup Before and AfterDo you gaze out your window each summer and just want to pull your hair out there are so many weeds?  Why does your neighbor’s yard look so weed free, when you never see him out there pulling and pulling and pulling.  Stop suffering from yard envy and do what the pro’s do. Put out PRE EMERGENT HERBICIDES (Pre-M).  What exactly is this wonder of a substance? Pre-M is a class of chemicals that you spread/spray in the spring and fall that prevents germinating seeds from growing.  Mind you this means just about all seeds, including those that you actually wanted to germinate (more about that later).  They work by forming a chemical barrier in the top 1” of soil where most seeds lay in wait until optimal growing conditions rise allowing them to pop open and begin to grow.  They don’t prevent the seeds themselves from germinating, but interrupt the process before a sprout has the opportunity to push through the soil.

Are you ready to jump on board the PRE-M train?

Well, first off, timing is critical for Pre-M to be effective. As the chemical barrier begins to break down after six to eight weeks, you do not want to apply it too early, else you lose effectiveness.   But applying it too late can mean you missed out as well. Tricky, Tricky, Tricky, I know, but you need to actually read the weather cues to hit the mark. Additionally, if you plan to plant any new plants from seed (i.e. seeding a Fescue Lawn or direct sowing perennials), you must skip the PRE-M step and deal with pesky weeds after the new plants are established. Oh and by the way, as with any chemical, make sure you follow the label instructions when handling and applying the product.

Why do I still have weeds?

So, you put out your PRE-M, but you still have weeds showing up, what gives? Well several factors could affect the application. The first obvious cause for failure is that your weeds did not germinate from seeds but were perennial weeds that rose from existing root stock. Pre-m only works on seeds. If this was not the case, did you put your PRE-M out too early, or too late? Maybe you never watered it in. The easiest way is to apply it right before a rainstorm or you can use your irrigation system to water the area down. One other cause might be that the soil layer was disturb somehow breaking down that chemical barrier. Lastly, I hope you weren’t trying to save a few pennies and did not put it out at the appropriate rate listed. READ THE PRODUCT LABEL.  

In all, one chemical is not foolproof, but with good attention to detail, you can greatly reduce your weed population and get the landscape that you love.

Every (Snow) Cloud Has a Silver Lining…..

bloomngardenslandscape snow framingThe Great Snowtastrophe certainly caused a lot of headaches and woe, but believe it or not, all that white stuff can be a boon to the landscape.  Besides insulating from extreme temperatures and soaking moisture into the soil to prep for spring, it is a great design tool! What the heck does a snowfall have to do with landscape design, you ask?  Well, it covers up potentially distracting details and creates a perfect opportunity to look at the big picture in your outdoor space. 

A white blanket of snow allows you to clearly see the lines of the landscape, areas of dramatically different texture, and masses of trees and shrubbery that frame views.  Next snowfall (IN FIVE YEARS!!!!!), suit yourself up till you can’t lower your arms, put on your cleats, go out into your yard and look around. 

Look at areas you see every day, paying special attention to entrances and exits.  Without traffic, you can safely walk in the road and see what visitors see as they arrive at your house!  Look for the landscape lines.  What do they point to?  Look for masses of vegetation at the edges of open areas.  What’s the picture in that frame?  If there is not anything to interest or excite you, go inside, make yourself some cocoa, and get settled in with books, magazines, or the good old internet! 

 Now how’s that for a silver lining to the snow clouds?

How to Effectively Transplant an Existing Shrub with the Greatest Success

Tree Installation Have you ever experienced that “Oh dear” moment when you realized that a plant has been planted in the wrong place and is now beginning to take over.  Perhaps it is a Japanese maple planted along the front walk, or a Camellia Japonica planted too close to the foundation.  The best way to avoid these mistakes is to put careful planning into selecting the proper plant for the spot in the first place, but hey hindsight is 20/20, right. So what can you do about it now?

Transplanting shrubs in the landscape

Many shrubs and small trees respond reasonably well to transplanting. How quickly you can transplant after you have made the decision depends a few factors.

1.      How important is it for your transplant to be successful?

2.      How soon do you need to transplant?

3.      What type of plant do you want to transplant?

Ideally, you want to root prune your shrub at least 6 months in advance to ensure the most successful transplant.  Root pruning reduces the overall size of your shrubs root ball. You see, the workhorses of the root system are the feeder roots found at the outer perimeter of a plants root ball. By cutting down the size of the root ball, in advance of transplanting, you allow the plant to produce new feeder roots giving your plant a better chance of survival after transplanting. So how do you prune the roots if they are underground? Since the majority of a plants root system is 6”-24” below the soil surface you can simply take a sharp spade and cut a ring around the plant that is slightly smaller than the root ball you want to transplant.  If you want to transplant a larger specimen, you may want to actually dig a trench around the plant and backfill it with fresh soil. 

Transplanting Day, Hurray!

So you have done everything right and it is now time to perform the actual transplant. The most important thing is to first dig the new hole where you will be transplanting your shrub to.  This will minimize the amount of time your root ball is exposed to the outside air.  Next carefully, dig around your plant releasing the root ball from the soil and wrap it in natural burlap to hold the root system together.  Use either twine or pins to lash the burlap tightly around the root ball. Always use a wheelbarrow or cart to move the plant from one location to the other so as to protect the root ball from cracking and breaking. Plant the root ball slightly higher than in the previous hole, back fill, mulch and water immediately.  Pay close attention to watering especially during the first growing season following transplant. 

Remember root balls can be very heavy, let the expert staff at Bloom’n Gardens Landscape assist you with any plants that may need to find a new home in your landscape.

Tackling Winter Pruning: Roses

rose bushMany a movie has portrayed a similar portrait of the Southern woman: perfectly coiffed hair, a smart blouse, and stylish gardening gloves wielding pruning shears over brilliantly blooming rose bushes. The perfect presentation may be a myth, but it’s no exaggeration that roses are a Southern staple. Whether you prefer trimmed rose bushes against a white picket fence or wild blooms in an English style garden, proper care is essential to keeping your roses healthy. Here are three things to keep in mind when you pick up your pruning shears.

  1. The best time to prune roses is winter. Thanks to our temperate Georgia climate, Vinings gardeners can prune their roses as early as January. Winter pruning allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each bush. The unimpeded view allows you to cut away dead wood and thin overfull areas of your rose bush. Winter pruning primes your plants for spring growth, but their dormant state keeps your bushes from blooming too soon. Research the hardiness of your variety of roses and schedule your pruning between late January and early April.
  2. Overgrown roses die more quickly. Unlike trees and most shrubs, roses don’t grow exponentially larger. Old stems tangle with new ones, blocking sunlight and air from new blooms. Thinning and shaping your rose bush redirects nutrients to newer canes, allowing your roses to flourish.
  3. The biggest detriment to bright, hearty roses is a lack of preparation. Always wear heavy gloves to protect your hands from sharp thorns. Sharpen your shears before you begin pruning; dull blades will damage and tear the tender parts of your plant. Make each cut at an angle mimicking the natural growth of your rose bush. Assess how much height and thickness you want to remove before you begin pruning, but step back and reassess every so often. Poorly trimmed rose bushes can take seasons to recover.

Does your garden need a touch of grace? Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscape to help you incorporate Southern garden classics into your Smyrna landscape.

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.