No “Bones” About It

Belgard paversThere is a very common old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Which we all take to mean it’s what a person has on the inside that counts not the overall outward appearance.  What makes each of us unique is the combination of flesh, bones, and soul that all combines to make us who we are, Individuals.   This same concept can be translated to your homes landscape, as well. I know it might seem like a stretch, but hear me out on this.  Of course, when we first look at a landscape, we hope to see pretty plants, clean beds, and freshly laid straw, these items are known as the “Softscape”. This outward appearance can be fussy, or as low maintenance as you like.  The important thing in making a good first impression is clean and neat, but all the fluff is what takes a landscape from good to great. Think about your morning routine, does it take a little or a lot of effort to create your unique look.  Do you make a good first impression? Let’s hope so. [Read more…]

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 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.

Location, Location, Location……….

Perennial Bed_FotorBelieve it or not, we will be changing pansies for petunias very soon!  Annual color is a great accent, but the twice a year change-out can get old.  Perennials can be a great solution, but they can be higher maintenance.  Now, I know you are scratching your head, saying “But perennials are LOW maintenance!”  And you would be right.  Most commonly available perennials are tough, drought tolerant, long blooming, and don’t require a lot of fuss to thrive.  BUT in the wrong spot, perennials might require a lot of care.  How is this possible?  Well, you have to understand the qualities of perennials vs annuals. 

Annual/Perennial…What’s the DIfference

Annual plants put most of their energy into blooms.  They have to set as much seed as possible all through the season so that the species can continue.  Annual varieties are bred for more abundant and more rapid bloom cycles than they would have if left to the hand of Mother Nature, and cultivars that have larger flowers and that easily shed old blooms make a constant show of uniform color.  Perennials, on the other hand, have to live through multiple seasons.  They have to put some of the energy they “earn” from the sun into a “savings account” to get them through the winter, which means that their bloom cycles are more distinct.  Regardless of how healthy or well located the plant, there WILL be times when perennials look messy or tired.  Which brings us to maintenance.

How to Use Perennials Effectively

In general, for an area that is seen up close all the time, perennials need to be frequently groomed to keep them looking their best.  Otherwise, they are less “lush English garden” and more “weed patch”.  (By the way, those lush English gardens usually had a full time staff!)  BUT, if you need color on the far side of a wide lawn, or somewhere that will be typically seen from a moving car, you can use the “plant and forget” method.  Garden phlox and coreopsis are ideal for this type of situation.   Like real estate values, perennial maintenance requirements are about 3 things: location, location, location!

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.

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

 

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.

The Secrets Behind a Life with Bees

bee swarm in georgia

Bees swarm together to create a new hive or continue the work of their current one.

What would you do if you came across a swarm of bees?

Recently, a Facebook friend posted this picture of a swarm he stumbled across; it quickly received comments of “EWWW!,” “Yikes!,” and “OMG!” Yet, before you let the image on your screen cause you to panic or recoil, keep in mind the important role that bees play every year in Georgia ecosystem and beyond.

How important are bees to Georgia gardens and ecosystems?

Bees are an integral part of pollination as well as the creating force behind the honey and wax that is used to make many products we love. It is a shame that many view the site of them with fear. The importance of bees is most evident in ecosystems largely comprised of flowering plants, including vegetables (Think about your beautiful flower beds and vegetable gardens). It is estimated that a third of our food is pollinated by bees, which are commercially produced by skilled bee keepers.

A day in the life of a bee

In a bee colony there are three types of bees, of course there is your regal queen, whose only responsibility is to mate with the drones (male bees) and lay eggs, all other work, from gathering to tending the young and cleaning the hive, is left to the non reproductive females of the group called worker bees.  The bees spend much of their time foraging plants and collecting pollen that will then be converted into honey.  An indirect result of their foraging is the pollination of plants, essentially the pollen from one flower or plant is transported to another flower or plant in order to fertilize the ovule and create a new plant.  Bees gather the pollen to create the honey as a way to store food for the colder months when pollen is not available.

Being a good bee neighbor

In spring, a colony may decide to swarm. Effectively, about 60% of the worker bees will follow the old queen out of the hive in order to find a new home. The old hive will then choose a new queen from one of the females born and the hive will march on without missing a beat.  It is a natural way for colonies to reproduce.

In the last decade, bee colonies have experienced colony decline, a phenomenon where the bee colony will seem to suddenly die off.  Termed Colony Collapse Disorder, it is not entirely clear why it happens or how to control it, but research continues to work to save the bees.

Instead of viewing bees with fear, start to think of how you can work toward saving the bees.  Start with creating bee friendly habitats that have lots of flowers, limit pesticide use, or take a class in bee keeping and install your own back yard hive. In the end, you’ll be helping the Georgia eco-system, working with your bee neighbors, and helping  your garden with a few extra pollination helpers.