Gardening Tips: Proper Ways to Give Your Plants a Drink

Watering plants is not as easy as you think it is. If you want to have lovely flowers in your garden, you need to pay attention in perfecting the proper way of watering them. In summer days, when the sun is scorching hot, it is important to ensure that your plants are getting enough water to encourage deep rooting and rich foliage.

When giving them a drink, you need to be familiar on the plant’s qualities as not all plants need the same amount of water. There are certain variables that you need to consider when watering – the soil, type of plants, weather and season of the year.

Watering Advice

Plants in containers, garden beds and planters may need different strategies to drink in order to grow healthy. Those that grow in massive bundles also need different water supply from those living solo.

  • Plants in Rows – plants arranged in rows can be watered similarly to those in hedges. The trick is to make a gutter with holes buried rim-deep into the surface of the soil in intervals. In watering them, just fill the gutter with water and it will do the work for you.
  • Plants in Containers – plant containers are a big deal in keeping the moisture of the soil. Thus, it is highly advised to choose terracotta, large containers compared to small plastic ones. Large containers slow down evaporation and hold more water in comparison to small containers.
  • Plants in Solo – trees and shrubs are most likely living alone in a certain area of your garden. These big trees and shrubs need enough water aimed directly on its roots. You can create a pipe and bury its bottom part directly at the roots while the upper portion of the pipe is at an angle above the surface. This is to ensure that water goes to the roots and no waste is made.

The Proper Tools in Watering Plants

There are several tools that you might consider to lessen your time and effort in watering your garden. With the right equipment at hand, you are assured that your plants get the right amount of water and not most of it goes to waste.

  • Hand Watering Tool – in small gardens, it is recommended to use hand watering equipment. Choose a container with long spout to extend your reach and if you are using a hose, make sure to have a lance at the end of it for easy control of water flow.
  • Automatic Watering Tools – this is ideal for plants in beds or plants arranged in rows. You can install micro-tubing with flexible nozzles tightly fitted on both ends. To water, turn on the outside tap and the water you filled in the containers will go directly on your hanging plans and growing bags.

When watering the plants in your garden, remember that the water has to go directly into the soil avoiding its lush foliage. Keeping moisture in its leaves can start a disease. It is best to water your plants in the morning when the sun is not yet visible. This will avoid water to evaporate and soil to quickly run dry. And don’t forget the mulch, it keeps the surface moist and reduces runoff. Plants don’t need to be watered every day, too much of it will drown the roots, rotten it and worse, cause its death.

Easy Gardening Tips for Disable Gardeners

Gardening is for everyone. It doesn’t require gardeners to be fully functional to perform various gardening activities. Although limited, disabled gardeners can still experience the joy of gardening. With the right tools and a little help from someone, you can create your own unique garden. This is a healthy activity that helps you relieve stress and have an inner peace. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting down on a wheelchair, just recovered from a mild stroke, old with weak grips or with sight loss, gardening is also for you.

You can start by doing simple gardening activities like weeding, digging and tilling. Your health is essential so don’t push yourself too hard, this activity has to be fun and not stress you out.

handicapAppropriate Activities to Loosen You Up

People with disabilities need activities to boost their morale which gardening promises to give. There might be some instances where you may need some help but working on your own definitely helps you gain confidence in yourself.

  • Digging – digging can be a laborious job for gardeners, but you can do it slow and safe. It might strain some parts of your body like arms, legs and back so perform a few stretches before doing it will help. Also, do it on intervals so you can take a rest in between.

  • Pruning – this is important in gardening to avoid plants from getting sick. Removing dry and unwanted leaves or stems also encourages plants to generate flowers and fruits. Wear protective gloves and avoid reaching up too much.

  • Watering – plants need enough water to grow healthy. It would help if you only have drought-resistant plants in the garden this way you won’t have to water them every day. To make the task easier for you, choose sprinklers or watering containers that are lightweight and easy to handle.

  • Raking – cleaning the beds or garden pathways makes the garden look clean and clear. Gather up leaves and weeds as you go so you won’t have to do it all at once. Also, use lighter rakes so you won’t end up straining your arms and back.

  • Sowing Seeds – bending down is hard most especially if you need to do it for a long time. In your case, raised beds and containers built in right dimensions will allow you to sit and work comfortably.

  • Moving Around with Tools – yes, this can be challenging most especially if you are on a wheelchair.  To comfortably move around, you can have a belt or apron to help you organize your tools. Trays and lightweight borrows can also help.

  • Planting – when planting choose plants that are easy to grow and doesn’t require too much attention like drought-resistant plants and grasses. Planting in garden beds can take a lot of time and needs lots of movements so consider on doing it by schedule, one section at a time. Be careful when lifting heavy pots, use trolleys if you have to.

Right Tools for Easy Gardening

gardening toolsGardening activities will be easier if you are using the right tools. As much as possible, don’t use heavy and conventional gardening tools in doing your tasks. This might strain you, there are actually certain tools made especially for you.

  • Hand Tools – these tools are usually used to dig, weed and cut. Tools today come in a variety of materials – choose lightweight items like those that are made from bamboo with carbon heads – these are effective and comfortable.

  • Lawn Shears – cutting grasses or trimming the lawn is hard if you don’t have the right tools. There are certain law shears with long handles so you won’t have to bend down. There are also one-handed lawn shears and battery operated shears for easy trimming.

  • Pruning Tools – this can be hard if you are have a weak grip and straining back so to avoid that, use long reach pruners with comfortable handles.

Study shows that people build up strength faster if they engage in gardening activities. So as long as you work slowly using the right tools you are good to go. So don’t be discouraged, start your garden now.

photo credits: amslerpix; Paul Albertella

Compost: The Healthy Dirt for your Garden

Compost is the inexpensive way to fertilize your vegetable or flower garden. Many beginners in gardening prefer the use of pesticides and chemicals because they are instant and the speed up the growth of the plants. However, one should really avoid these products not only they are harmful but also pricey.

Compost is your environmentally friendly way to feed your lawn and your plants. You can benefit from compost in two ways: (1) prevention of harmful chemicals to get into the environment and (2) it is natural form of recycling that minimizes the amount of waste you throw out.

So you have to build or buy your bin and put the materials one by one in order. Beneficial fungi, insects and micro-organisms will turn these decomposing materials into nutrient-rich compost that your garden and environment will truly enjoy once you apply them on the soil. The fresh smell of the Earth soil is definitely relaxing and with the help of compost, you will not only enjoy this but you also prevent the excessive production of carbon that causes the greenhouse effect.

Published books, online blogs and websites don’t get into details about composting but one thing is for sure the waste you are throwing away can still be converted to an organic fertilizer for the garden. If not done right, it can invite rats and other rodents in your garden.

There are a few tips you should be reminded about for a good start:

  • A large container is preferable in composting. You can easily add materials to your pile which is still not decomposing.
  • Remember, your pile should be exposed to sunlight. However, if it’s in an area with partial shade, then it would be okay but decomposing is slower than the one exposed to sun.
  • Make sure to add moisture in you bin. You can have a rain barrel or find a way that your bin gets water naturally.  The chlorine in the water system will slow down the process. Make sure to keep the compost moist, not drowned.
  • If you find a worm in your garden, add them to your bin for fast break down of the materials. You can also use the worms used for fishing.
  • Keep a pile of leaves in hand. When you place new materials in the pile, you should cover them up with leaves to keep the smell down and flies away.
  • Keep them aerated.  You can turn your bin every other day or use a shovel or pork to turn the pile.
  • Make a list of things that are biodegradable and non-biodegradable. This is to remind you of things that decompose and not.

Mixing compost to soil is very essential to feed it the necessary nutrients especially if the soil is depleted from using it again and again for the same crop. Treating them with compost can make them healthier and fertile again.

For farmers, they make use of straw and manure as their organic fertilizer. Since gardeners do not have these resources, they make their own version of the compost to achieve a healthy garden.

Nitrogen and Carbon Ratio

The straw and manure compost of farmers is the perfect example of nitrogen and carbon radio. This ratio should be 25-30:1 which means for every 25-30 parts of carbon, you need to have one part of nitrogen.

Materials in the garden which are rich in nitrogen are woods and the carbon is from grass cuttings or other green matter. So make sure to put more leaves in the pile than the woods.

How important is this ratio? The carbon serves as the food for the organisms beneath the soil while nitrogen is like a protein which is necessary for their growth.

When your soil do not have this ratio, then you are most likely you plants grow slow or unhealthy. Sufficient amount of nitrogen and carbon will lead to abundant number of microorganisms beneficial to the fertility of the soil.

Compost is a very important practice in gardening. It does not only make the soil healthy but provides nutrients for your plants. This will definitely make you save money, knowledgeable about plants and clean up your garden. Make sure to get your compost ready every time the season changes so you tend your soil to make it adaptable as the temperate drop or rise as the new season arrives.

Compost is your healthiest, safest and cheapest way of fertilizing your garden to produce fresh and healthy fruits and flowers. Remember, the health of your soil is being reflected on the growth of your plants so make sure to include compost.

Winter Landscaping in Texas

Seasons change incessantly. In a non-tropical country or state like Amarillo, Texas, putting up with the shifting condition is to be expected. Landscapers and gardeners are not spared from the ever-changing climate. Winter in the state can be a tricky season for homeowners, especially when it comes to keeping your beautiful gardens intact.

Having an all-year-round landscape is challenging yet rewarding. Ample planning and suitable strategy must be practiced in order to preserve your landscapes and gardens.

You can use a lot of preparation in order to preserve what you have started before this season hits Texas. It would be ideal if you have a contingency plan every winter to counter the possible effects of the climate change to your landscapes.

You don’t have to feel burdened although out the process. You just have to take some measures one step at a time. Remember, winter in Amarillo and the rest of Texas is a yearly event, thus you can always make a strategy beforehand.

If you’re unsure of the weather or climate condition, you can always check the forecast. There’s no harm in being cautious about your landscaping move.

Salvaging Your Landscape Design

You must start initializing your plan before winter freezes everything. You have enough time plan out, and you can always ask help from landscape design experts. Acting upon your landscape earlier and with right timing is necessary. You can take note of the following strategies in avoiding the wrath of the winter god.

  • Transfer your plants – You must avoid exposing your plants in open spaces. If they are transportable, move them in a secured place where the wind can’t go in or reach them directly. If you have a large space in your house, it will be beneficial if you make a storage area. It must be equipped with the necessary alternative elements for the continuous growth of the plants. Don’t forget to include the proper amount of lighting and water.

However, if you don’t have available space, you can make use of plant containers, vases or holders. These will enable plants to be mobilized easily. You can arrange them around your garage or covered shed. You just have to maximize the use of your minimal space.

  • Water your plants – You must keep on supplying the right amount of water for your plants. Despite the weather or climate, always remember that water is still a vital need for your landscape plants. However, during winter, the plants that are non-native or not prone to seasonal changes must be taken into consideration.

You must have a good water system and equipment that can withstand any season. Choosing the right material can be helpful in prolonging the lifespan of your landscape and its elements. You can also use improvised tools if you are not equipped with such devices. Just make sure that the water is distributed with the appropriate amount.

  • Choose your plants – You can always go for plants that are not too climate sensitive. There are species of plants in Texas that can thrive regardless the cold temperature. You can ask help from botanists or horticulture experts in selecting the best all-year-round plants for your landscapes.

Popular choices can come from the very own native plants of Texas. Since they are region-based plants, they have stronger resistance to heat or cold compared to other species. They can flourish and stand different environmental conditions.

  • Don’t over fertilize – You can avoid putting too much fertilizer before winter comes. During the last period of fall, you must carefully plan out the amount that you’re going to mix with the soil. If you don’t know the appropriate amount combination, then you can always ask the right authorities.

Taking Advantage of Winter

Winter also brings the opportunity for you to be resourceful and artistic. Just because it’s freezing and snowing in Amarillo, doesn’t mean you should embrace the coldness and limit your landscaping creativity.

Amarillo’s ground can be extremely covered by snow but, it can’t totally empty your landscapes and gardens. You can take this chance to modify the themes based on the season and upcoming holiday celebrations.

  • Decorating your immovable garden plants – Having immovable plants or those plants that can’t be transferred easily during winter is inevitable. You can only transfer plants that are handy. Those with larger frame and harder roots can’t be uprooted and stored easily. Although it’s heartbreaking to see their leaves fall and there branches covered by snow, you can still innovate them into your own landscape decorations.

You can’t prevent your trees and shrubs from being naked because of the temperature but, you can always enhance their bareness. You can make use of different kinds of lighting materials as accessories. If you want, you can also make your own oversize money tree or Christmas tree. The ornaments don’t have to be grand. They just have to be pleasing to the eyes.

  • Keeping a colorful lawn – Even if it’s going to be winter, you can still have a green lawn. You can choose species of grass that are best for your garden in between fall and winter. There are also flowers such as roses that can be planted to match the color of the grasses.

You just have to be knowledgeable of the alternative plants that you can incorporate into your landscape area or garden plot. By doing so, you can still preserve the image of having a green garden or landscape. You can also continue to have a spectacular view regardless the chilly weather. These plants will give you a sign of life regardless the lowering of temperature in Texas.

Although the winter is coming, you can still have additional plants and nourish your landscape areas. You can still continue in creating your ideal all-year-round design without all the frills. Just take note that you can always be resourceful and innovative. It is also important that you know your native plants, your weather temperature and other essential facts about your location in Amarillo or other parts of Texas.

Tree Care and Removal for Landscape Beauty

Trees are essential to enhance the beauty of a landscape. One cannot deny the fact that as a tree ages, it beautifies the overall look of a garden, landscape or property.

However, there are certain trees that do not have the opportunity to reach the mature age. Although trees are sturdy from the outside, they still need the proper nutrients and care in order to grow healthy.

How to check your Tree’s Health?

Make sure to include tree inspection in your landscape maintenance. A homeowner should examine the trees for any abnormality in its appearance to identify the problem immediately. You also need to make sure that your trees are growing normally and continuously.

There are four things you should inspect to determine your trees’ health:

  • growth of the twig
  • the size and appearance of leaves
  • the appearance of the branches
  • the number of new leaves and buds

If you see any obvious changes from last week, then probably your tree’s health is at risk. Trees are also prone to insect infestation and plant diseases, so always make sure to observe for anything that may be a sign of tree disease.

Yellow leaves and stem breakage are also other indications that your trees are unhealthy. For this reason, general care is really essential for the health improvement of your trees.

Pruning your Tree

Pruning is essential to get rid of the damaged or dead branches from your tree or to remove it for aesthetic purposes as well. Remember, pruning of mature trees are way different that trimming your plants or bushes.

You need to have a powerful equipment to be able to do the task. So you must hire a professional to prune your trees in a safe way but if you can manage to do that, then you can do it yourself.

When the branches are removed, make sure it will fall in a safe place to avoid damaging your house or your garden. Since a professional usually has plans on what to do with the removed branches, you also need to have your own if you want to keep the branches. You can try to produce mulch out of your branches to be used for landscaping and gardening.

Care for Your Trees

If your tress are native to your location or if they survive your local climate, then there are several tips how to keep them healthy. It is important that you understand how much fertilizer and mulch you should use to avoid any harmful effect on your trees.

Make sure to place the mulch at the base of your trees. When you are dealing with trees which are not local in the area, you should put mulch so the roots can retain water for a long period of time, especially if you usually experience rough weather conditions. Make sure that the mulch does not cover the trunk of the tree as too much moisture leads to decay.

Additionally, how you apply the fertilizer also have a significant impact on the health of your trees so make sure to use enough fertilizer only at the roots of your trees.

There are several factors that affect the trees not to last for decades. It could be the disease, the strong winds, insects, extreme condition and other essential factors. Therefore it is really important that you know and understand very well how to take care of the trees for the improvement of your landscape.

Trees are both functional and aesthetical so as a homeowner, you should include your trees’ health in your to-do list especially for the maintenance of your landscape and garden. Trees are truly magnificent addition to your landscape.

How You Can Cultivate A Natural Form of Home Security

We’re all looking at ways to make our property more secure, but did you know that nature can lend a helping hand when it comes to protecting your home?

As burglars themselves will tell you, deterrents are effective ways of making them walk on by and think about ransacking your neighbor instead—and clever landscaping and the correct choice of plants can be great deterrents.

So what should you be planting in order to keep the crooks at bay?

Stinging Nettles

Having a patch of nettles won’t win you any gardening competitions but it could help you to deter the opportunist thief from entering your property.

In 2008, Calderdale Police Force in the UK recommended the use of defensive shrubbery to deter thieves, and Crime Prevention Officer Keith Williams claimed that the use of nettles would be effective against casual crooks.

Just remember not to have dock leaves – nature’s natural antidote – close by.

Nature’s own barbed wire

PC Williams of Calderdale Police admitted that stinging nettles “will not deter more persistent offenders,” but there are many more inhospitable plants that will produce more than just an unpleasant rash.

A number of horticultural experts were asked for their views on nature and home security, and while their opinions differed, all of the plants mentioned are capable of making thieves think twice about crossing over otherwise vulnerable access points on your property.

Over at Mahoney’s Garden Centers they advocate the use of Pyracantha, a very attractive plant that catches the eye — but you wouldn’t want to put your eyeballs too close to the thinly disguised, barbed needles that lurk behind the clusters of berries.

Similarly, the leaves of a Yucca Plant have been described as ‘sword-like,’ and this native of the Southwestern US can also be beautiful. While calling it deadly may be an exaggeration, the spiky tips can certainly do a number on human flesh.

Make it obvious

The Pyracantha and the Yucca may look attractive, and unless your designated burglar is a regular reader of Hymotion, they may not be initially deterred from entering your property on sight alone.

However, beauty isn’t a quality often associated with a plant known as the Devil’s Walking Stick. It’s a fitting name for the ugly species, which Growing with Plants’ Matt Mattus describes as “Covered with long, thin and devilishly sharp thorns…

If located properly, such as between a walk and a window, it can quickly produce a nasty stockade worthy of a torture chamber.”

Similarly, the barberry bush grows up to 15 feet tall and is distinguished by wicked thorns. In contrast with other plants that conceal their weapons, these are overtly threatening and more likely to deter potential burglars at first glance.

Nature’s Little Shop of Horrors

Not all plants can be stunningly beautiful, and you’re unlikely to find any of these bad boys at a Dutch Flower Market anytime soon. They scream ‘toxic’ at any intruder even though they may be relatively harmless.

The Bleeding Tooth Fungus needs no further description, and its vivid red spores won’t win any beauty contests, but at least it has a more attractive name than the equally ugly Sea Anemone Mushroom / Octopus Stinkhorn.

Both of these plants look hideous – there’s no other word for it – and if you want a choice of there’s a host of alternatives from the Dolls Eye to the Chinese Black Batflower. If you feel this wouldn’t be enough to dissuade a less squeamish thief, why not get creative and use the plants to spell out phrases such as “Keep Out”?

A caveat: be prepared for a lot of attention on Halloween — might want to start stocking up on candy now.

A list of don’ts

Home security landscaping isn’t limited to leafy things — shore up your collection of hazardous plants by laying down some noisy, crunchy gravel along all of your access routes.

However, there are aspects to garden care that can assist the thieves: Here’s what a criminal looks for when they’re assessing potential targets.

Tall fencing, trees or bushes: A high fence or a thriving crop of Cypress Leylandii might give you some privacy from annoying neighbors, but they can provide cover and shelter for burglars too. If they’re particularly close to your windows, then a thief can simply reach out and break in without being detected.

An unkempt garden or un-mowed lawn is probably a sign of idleness, but it could also give clues that you are away from home. If you’re cultivating stinging nettles or any of the other unattractive plants that we’ve featured here then try to retain a balance between danger and beauty!

Do you have any of these plants growing in your garden? Do you think nature provides its own deterrent when it comes to property theft?

This post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe security systems. Kevin typically covers issues related to home security, tech, crime, and safety. When he’s not tending to his garden, you can usually find him on the basketball court, exercising, or just hanging out with friends.

Xeriscaping: Conserving Water as Much as Possible

Another landscaping practice that is popular for many gardeners is xeriscaping. This type of landscaping requires low maintenance and makes you conserve water. It is mostly used in the Western part of the United States where water shortage and drought are very common.

You can make use of shrubs, plants, and trees in order to make your own xeriscaping. While some may perceive this landscaping as dull since it called ‘”desert landscaping’, it can still bring you appealing and beautiful results.

Importance of Xeriscaping

As mentioned, this type of gardening can make you conserve water. About half of the water resources in many towns are used for garden and landscape maintenance.

However in this landscape, you can cut down your water usage by sixty percent by using vegetation and irrigation methods that save water and other techniques that can conserve water. You can surely save money from low water bills, save the environment by conserving water and you don’t need to spend too much time maintaining this landscape.

Planning your Garden

So to incorporate this to your garden, you need to plan and prepare for this project. It would be ideal if you work with a landscape designer who has the knowledge on how this works. You can also do it by yourself if you plan to save money. Here are some things that you need to take note of for this landscaping project.

Select your Plants

For this dry landscaping, you need to find plants that can tolerate too much heat and drought. You need to choose plants that need less water but it doesn’t mean you only have to plant yucca and cactus. Although these are good choices, there are turfs, shrubs and flowers which you can use that are drought resistant, so your flowering plants can still bloom even in extreme heat.

Make sure to make use of plants that are mature enough and can survive the extreme heat. Also make sure that when you place your vegetations, group them together so all can receive water in the right amount.

Attend to all other needs of your plants like the condition and the type of the soil, and the temperature and climate of your area. Make sure to place the garden in a spot where it receives fair amount of sunlight.

Conserving the Water

This could be achieved in several ways. You can have plants that need less water and you can have your own irrigation system. A sprinkler system can also be your answer by using pipes throughout your lawn and then water are sprinkled in your vegetation.

It is like the morning dew or rain. It also avoids water being evaporated quickly. However, if you prefer the traditional method then make sure to water your plant enough for its needs.

Conserving the Soil

You can use mulching for your soil. It can maintain the moisture and temperature of the soil and reduces your maintenance and energy bills.

Another method is to re-construct the composition of the soil so it can hold water for a long period of time. It might be difficult and expensive but once you see the result, all your efforts are paid off.

Xeriscaping is also a good investment for your garden especially if you are trying to sell your house. A well-landscaped yard is definitely a huge plus for buyers. However, if you are not interested, then you can still benefit because it reduced the time you are in the garden and most importantly, it lowers your water bills.

This is one of the most favorite choices of landscaping across the country because of its benefits. It is really possible to attain a beautiful garden and conserve water since it is perfectly designed to withstand the intense heat. This is also an eco-friendly landscape which can improve your overall yard and the surrounding environment.

Turf Renovation for Fescue Lawns, and Other Cool Season Grass Types

There is nothing better than a lush green lawn, and if you live in a part of the country with cool season grass such as blue grass, tall fescue, or fine fescue, you’ll have to renovate the turf each fall to maintain it.

Areas of the country such as New England, the Upper Midwest, upper Southeast, the High Plains, and Northern California up to the Pacific Northwest have grasses that grow best when temperatures are between 65-80 degrees, and they do most of their growing in the spring and fall.

When I ran my lawn-care company, turf renovation time was my favorite time of the year, as this was the service that had most impact for great results for the following year.

Cool season grasses undergo stress each summer as the hot, dry periods of the year weaken the turf, and a percentage of the turf density dies off with each cycle of the seasons. These conditions make it necessary to renovate the turf each fall, typically from early September until mid-October, to ensure a thick lush lawn the following spring.

If you’re having troubles with your lawn, you might find a good lawn professional in your area. It’s a pretty good service to find local landscapers/gardeners.

Here are the steps to follow ensure excellent results when renovating your turf should you decide to do it yourself.

1: Soil Preparation:

The most often overlooked step is the preparation of the ground prior to applying seed. Most commonly, a machine called an “Aerator” is utilized to prepare the soil. This specialty machine can be rented at most rental stores; an aerator punches holes into the soil alleviating soil compaction, breaking up thatch, and opening up the soil to receive the seed and facilitate germination.

Think of it as a farmer cultivating the earth before sowing his crop; without ground prep, your results will be seriously diminished. The better you prepare the soil, the better the results will be. I recommend performing several passes over the lawn; especially in the extremely bare areas, the soil needs to be churned for proper preparing.

2. Proper seed Selection:

Depending on what part of the country, proper consideration needs to be paid to selecting the appropriate seed type for your lawn as well as the sun exposure it receives.

If areas of your lawn do not get much sun, use a shade-tolerant type of seed such as a Creeping Red Fescue, likewise for the areas that receive full sun; you’ll want to use a sun-tolerant variety; Pennington is a popular producer and name brand Tall Fescue which is a great drought-tolerant fescue seed that performs well in full sun.

Kentucky 31 is a similar, more economical brand; however, it contains a higher percentage of weed seeds in its mix and will not perform quite as well as the more expensive name brands such as Pennington and others.

3. Application of seed:

Now that you have performed the hard work of soil preparation and done the homework for proper seed selection, it wouldn’t be prudent to skimp on the amount of seed to sow. A good rule of thumb is to use 5 lbs. of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. or approx. 200 lbs. of seed per acre. So if your lot is a ¼ acre, one 50 lb. bag will cover the lawn sufficiently.

If your lawn is small, you can broadcast the seed by hand; if it’s larger than a ¼ acre, you will need to use a broadcast push spreader to spread the seed evenly. In the areas that are very bare, you will need to apply the seed a little thicker.

4. Post Seeding Watering:

After you aerate and overs-seed, will you need to water the freshly sown seed immediately. This will help work the seed into the soil and create the moist conditions fresh seed will need for proper germination.

Monitor the weather; if you are getting one or two soaking rains per week, this will increase the chances of success; if no rainfall arrives, you will need to use a sprinkler to supplement, or the seed will not germinate nor mature before the impending winter.

A beautiful lawn is hard work. The annual aeration and overs-seeding is a critical step in the process to establishing and maintaining a lush lawn. Invest in his piece of the formula, and you’ll be delighted each spring and summer.

Causes for Pine Trees Losing Their Needles

For all of the benefits pine trees can offer, they also suffer from their share of problems. One of the most common and vexing is when your pine tree starts losing its needles.

When this happens, it can spell the death of the tree. Unlike the leaves on deciduous trees, pine trees never regrow their needles.

If the tree loses too many, it won’t be able to survive. Therefore, it’s important to spot and treat problems before they prove fatal to your tree. Here are some of the common reasons that pines lose their needles.

Needle Blight

Dothistroma needle blight (caused by the fungus Dothistroma pini) and diplodia tip blight (caused by Diplodia pinea) are common explanations for needle loss in pines all over the U.S..

Dothistroma needle blight generally affects the lower crown of a pine tree. East of the Great Plains, this has resulted in the death of nearly all Ponderosa pine plantings, and caused severe damage in plantings of of Austrian pines in the central and southern region of the Great Plains.

Both of these pine species are highly susceptible to this specific fungus. Along the West Coast, plantings of lodgepole and Monterey pines have been affected.

The first sign of Dothistroma appears as dark-green bands and yellow spots on the needles. The bands and spots eventually turn brown. Along the West Coast the bands turn a reddish color, which is why this infection is also known as “red band disease” in that region of the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the fungus is commonly found in, and frequently spread by older transplants produced by landscape nurseries.

Diplodia tip blight is most common in mature, two- and three-needle pines such as the Austrian, black, red and Mugho varieties. It has also been detected in young nursery plantings that are growing quickly.

Needles infected with Diplodia will expand and turn yellow, then brown. At the base of dead needles, small fungal fruiting bodies can often be found. Should the fungus infect wounds within the tree’s stems and branches, the disease has been known to cause girdling cankers.

The fungi that cause these diseases prefers wet, cool springtime conditions and takes advantage of injured trees. Restrict pruning to the winter when the fungus isn’t present.

Regular and thorough watering will help the tree be more resistant to problems. If infection should occur, using a strong fungicide can provide some control.

Pine Wilt

This fatal condition is caused by a certain roundworm species called the pine wilt nematode.

This tiny, destructive worm eats the pine tree’s cells, causing it to wilt from an inability to transport water and nutrients. It is common in most mid-Western and Eastern states, most notably in North Carolina.

The pine wilt nematode, frequently spread by the longhorned beetle, generally does not attack pine trees younger than five or six years old. The most susceptible pines are mature Austrian, Cluster and Loblolly pines, as well as the black and red varieties of the Japanese pine.

These species are likely to die within 30-90 days after symptoms are initially identified.

Unlike most of its soil-dwelling brethren, the pine wilt nematode infects the upper parts of the tree. Symptoms include needle wilting, yellowing and eventual browning, leading to the death of the entire tree.

According to North Carolina State University’s College Of Agriculture and Life Sciences, pines diagnosed with this disease must be removed and burned or buried immediately to prevent the infection of other pines.

Keeping pines healthy is the number one method of preventing this disease altogether. If you want to save an infected pine, nematicides are available, but they are expensive.

Pine Bark Beetle

These insects tend to infest ailing pine trees and aren’t picky about which pine species they exploit. Adult beetles are tiny– sometimes as small as 1/16 of an inch in length.

Once they find an unhealthy pine to attack, they release a pheromone to attract other beetles. They chew their way underneath the bark creating tunnels, or galleries, where females will lay their eggs. Larvae will hatch and continue to eat away at the tree until they become adults, hindering the tree’s ability to transport nourishment and water.

If you notice many squiggly lines in the bark, it is likely the tree is hosting these destructive pests. Needles on infested pine trees will turn yellow and then red before dropping. Resin, or pitch, often develops on the surface of the bark.

You may also notice very fine boring dust accumulating in bark crevices, underneath areas of infestation and at the trunk base.

Keeping pines watered and fed properly will help them resist infection and degradation. Infected pines should be removed and burned to prevent additional infestations.

Phytophthora Root Rot

This soil-borne fungus infects pine trees, harming or killing them in the process. The pathogen will infect roots in waterlogged soil conditions, presenting itself when trees are planted in containers or in areas with poor drainage.

It a frequent issue among nurseries using overhead irrigation during the growing season.

This type of fungus attacks the roots, causing them to rot and die. Although it lives in the soil, the symptoms are presented on the above-ground portions.

Signs of an infection include:

  • reduced growth
  • reddening or browning needles
  • dying branches
  • falling needles and eventually…
  • …death

Younger pines frequently die outright when infected, while mature trees may first develop cankers on the trunk accompanied by split bark and oozing pitch.

Phytophthora Root Rot can be prevented by planting pines in well-drained locations.

Professional soil tests from your local inexpensive tree care company or university agricultural extension can tell you if this fungus is present in your soil. If infection occurs, commercial fungicides are often helpful.

Landscaping Plants – Vines

People will go through all the different types of plants they might want to use when working on any type of landscaping project.  There are hundreds of different options to choose from so make sure that you take your time to check each one out.

vines1One commonly overlooked type of plant is the vine.  Vines are excellent for covering fences and other objects in your yard which you might need, but don’t really like the look of.  They can climb up the sides of houses, trees, fences and just about anything else, making them one of the many unique plants available.

There are many different types of vines to choose from. A great example are regular climbing vines that offer a little more than green covering to crawlers like morning glorythat have brilliant flowers on them each morning throughout the summer months.  Most people would rather have an option with attractive flowers and leaves.

Here are some considerations that you can take prior to planting vines on your landscaping project:

Planting Vines

A great benefit of using vines is that they are quite easy to plant.  In fact, they really require just a few seeds to be planted in shallow soil.  You can also take a piece from other vines and have it planted.

Vines are quite hearty and can survive in most areas whether they get a lot of sunlight or not.  If you just plant one vine it will grow not only up a fence or other object, but also out to the left and right.  Since most vines drop seeds they will spread out over the years so make sure you are ready for it. 

Vine Maintenance

Vines typically require very little maintenance to keep them growing healthy.  They do best when they have something to climb on but beyond that you can simply sit back and watch them grow.

If the area where you’re placing them has a lot of other plants or weeds, you might want to pull those out to give the vine room to grow for the first month or so, but after that most vines can really fend for themselves and will do quite well.

Vine Problems

While vines are simple to plant, hearty and require very little maintenance, there are some issues associated with them if you’re not careful.  Vines will keep spreading out more and more each year if you let them.

Vines can be used as a good covering for the walls that serve as your house fence. However, if they are not well-maintained, they will creep to other areas of the house that is not within your landscape design plan. This will result to getting the beauty of the landscape destroyed and a difficult time getting rid of the excess vines.

These plants can also climb trees and cover other plants. You will have a difficult time cutting them down if they are left to crawl and thrive. That is why you have to maintain these fast crawlers regularly to ensure that they stay in that specific area you planted them.