Tips, Tricks and helpful ideas in the lawn and garden world. Place where people can come to discuss and view topics to lawn and gardening.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hot Weather Gardening

Aim at whiteflies One of the worst pests of late summer is the whitefly, a small white insect slightly bigger than a gnat. Clouds of them will fly up from a heavily infested plant when it is shaken. Both the adults and the immature whiteflies feed on the plant by sucking the sap from the foliage. Infested plants will have a sickly appearance and dull leaves. A black deposit called sooty mold often appears, and leaves may turn yellow and fall off. Sooty mold may also be caused by other sucking insects such as aphids and scale.
Whiteflies are somewhat selective in what they feed on – often infesting hibiscus, cleome, lantana, mallow, poinsettia, gardenia, Confederate rose and many bedding plants. When spraying, pay careful attention to thorough coverage on the most heavily infested plants. Repeat applications as necessary.
Plants heavily infested with whiteflies also may be cut back to reduce insect population levels. Just be sure to discard the clippings. In addition, as a last resort, low-value landscape plants – such as bedding plants – may be pulled up and disposed of.
Controlling whiteflies can be difficult, especially when the population levels get high. On ornamentals you can use Talstar, Malathion, acephate or dimethoate. Although oil sprays are not recommended for use in summer when daytime highs go above 85 degrees, highly refined paraffinic insecticidal oils, such as Bonide Year Round Oil, can be used now and are effective against whiteflies. Oils kill by suffocation and are an excellent low-toxicity insecticide. Spray in the early morning when temperatures are cooler. Check the label carefully for the safe and proper use of these pesticides and the listing of plants on which they may be used.

Watch vegetables, tooMany vegetables in the garden now also are susceptible to whiteflies. Those include tomatoes, eggplants, okra, sweet potatoes, beans and others. Malathion, Bonide Year Round Oil, insecticidal soap and Thiodan should help reduce populations, but repeated applications may be necessary. Follow label directions carefully and note the waiting period between application and harvest.
Freshen flowerbedsFlowerbeds past their prime and overrun with weeds can be a common sight in our late-summer landscape. The intense heat makes people reluctant to do much work outside. It’s not reasonable to expect all bedding plants to hold up from the beginning of the summer growing season in early May until its end several months later. Fortunately, nurseries are still well-stocked with colorful, heat-tolerant bedding plants that will grow vigorously from now through late October or early November (when we will plant cool-season bedding plants).
To replant your beds, first remove the old plants and put them in your compost pile. But try to avoid putting any weeds that have set seeds in the compost. Just dig those out and throw them away. You also could spray the weeds with glyphosate herbicide (various brands) to kill them before removing them. This would be especially recommended if you are dealing with tough weeds, such as Bermuda grass, torpedograss or dollarweed.
Next, spread a 1-inch to 2-inch layer of organic matter – such as compost, bagged or aged manure, landscape soil conditioner, grass clippings or peat moss – over the bed. Sprinkle a light application of any general-purpose fertilizer (following label directions) over the organic matter and then thoroughly incorporate everything into the soil. Rake it smooth, and the bed is ready to plant.
When planting late in the growing season, choose well-established plants in 4-inch or larger pots. Make sure the plants you purchase are healthy and vigorous and have been properly cared for. Avoid plants that look wilted or leggy, have poor color or show signs of insect or disease problems. This is not the time of year to nurse struggling plants back to health. Start off with the highest-quality plants you can find.
Gardeners often rip or pull apart the roots of root-bound bedding plants slightly when planting them into the ground. This encourages the roots to grow into the surrounding soil and helps the plant get established. But you should do this carefully or not at all when planting this time of year. Plants’ roots must absorb water rapidly to supply their needs when temperatures are hot, and transplants will not be able to tolerate much damage to their roots now.
Also be careful to plant the bedding plants at the proper depth. The top of the rootball should be level with the soil of the bed. Planting transplants too deep makes them more susceptible to root rot or crown rot. The fungal organisms that cause these diseases are very active in the moist, hot weather we generally see in late summer, so make sure plants are not planted deeper than recommended.
Once planting is finished, mulch with an inch or two of your favorite mulch and water the bed thoroughly. Watering is the trickiest part of planting this time of year. You may need to water the bed fairly frequently until the plants send roots out into the surrounding soil. Watch the plants carefully for wilting, and water when needed.
There are lots of choices for planting now. For sunny beds or containers, choose periwinkle, melampodium, blue daze, purslane, portulaca, pentas, torenia, perennial verbena, salvias, sun-tolerant coleus, lantana, zinnia, marigold, abelmoschus, globe amaranth, cosmos, balsam and celosia. For shady and partly shady beds and containers, choose impatiens, begonias and coleus.

Don’t forget tropicalsIf you still intend to add tropical plants to your landscape, do it now so they will have time to get established before fall. Tropicals love the heat and are not stressed out by it like so many other plants. Feel free to plant tropical hibiscus, cannas, gingers, elephant ears and other tropicals in the landscape now.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fall Aeration Do's and Dont's

Lawn Aeration Do's
There's much to be said for handling a lawn project the right way the first time. Despite the seemingly simple nature of lawn aeration, it's good to know the proper methods for preparing your lawn for optimal seeding and growth. Here's what to do:
  • Do it on time: Aerate in the fall. In arid climates, aerate at least twice per year.
  • Do water well. Water heavily the night before you aerate to ensure soft, pliable soil for the spikes to dig into.
  • Do core aerate. Spike aerators simply make holes. Core aerators pull out plugs of earth and create a perfect nest for new seeds.
  • Do leave plugs. After core aeration, leave the plugs on the lawn to assist in the build-up of microorganisms that help to fertilize new seedlings.
Lawn Aeration Don'ts
Knowing how to aerate means knowing what not to do. Stay away from these common, harmful practices:
  • Don't aerate your hose: A lawn aerator will mash holes into your garden hose and render it useless.
  • Don't use spike shoes. Spike-shoed aerators are a waste of time and money.
  • Don't spike, aerate. Spike aerators don't pull out the plugs of earth that help provide nutrients to developing lawns.
Armed with some know-how, lawn aeration should be a simple step in creating a beautiful and green yard.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Grass Types!

Types of Grasses found in America

Very few turf-type grasses currently growing in America are native to our land. Buffalograss is probably the most common native turfgrass that has been adapted to be grown as a lawn and then only in special circumstances.
Most turfgrasses were brought to this country and then adapted through selective breeding and cross-breeding to provide us with the grasses that we are most familiar with today.

There are a multitude of grass varieties, brands but there are basically only 2 grass types: Cool Season type grasses and Warm Season type grasses. Each grass type is suited primarily for one or the other seasons. There is also a narrow band that crosses the country called the Transitional Zone where some grass types for either the Cool Season or Warm Season can be grown, but that doesn't mean all of them will grow in this narrow zone.

Cool Season Growth Pattern

Best Cool Season Grasses

On average, these climates have cold winters and warm to hot summers. Usually they also have regular intervals of rain throughout the summer months, but grasses will tolerate some extended periods of draught by going dormant. Typical cool season grass types include:

Typical Transition Zone Grasses

There is a “transition zone” between northern and southern turfgrass regions, which follows the lower elevations of Virginia and North Carolina west through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas and includes parts of southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. In this transition zone, neither Warm Season nor Cool Season type grasses are uniformly successful. However, several of the Cool Season type grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, do well across Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Missouri. Tall fescue is the best choice in Tennessee, North Carolina, northern Georgia, northern Alabama and the Texas panhandle. In the lower elevations of these latter states Warm Season grasses do well too. Typical grass types suitable for the Transition Zone include:

Growth Pattern Warm Season Grass

Warm Season Type Grasses

In some ways, growing and maintaining a good-looking lawn in the South is more involved than for northern homeowners. Choosing a grass type is trickier; many turf grass varieties do much better when started as plugs or sod than from seed, as is usually done with Cool Season turf-type grasses. Good soil is critically important for growing a low maintenance lawn in this region. Most all Warm Season grass types will turn brown when cooler temperatures arrive. Some southern gardeners seed their existing lawns with ryegrass each fall to maintain green color during the winter months. This is called “winter overseeding.”
Maintaining ideal growing conditions for your particular grass type is critical, otherwise unwanted grass varieties will start popping up and will be extremely difficult to remove. For example, St. Augustine grass being invaded by Bermuda and vice versa.
Typical Warm Season grass types include:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Planting a Outdoor Herb Garden.

Although, exact requirements vary by plant, here are some general guidelines about herb gardens.

Before you decide where to put your herb garden, figure out how much sunlight the plants you want to grow need. Most herbs enjoy sun.

Determine the size of your garden by deciding how many herbs you want to grow -- usually a dozen or so will give you great variety -- and how much space they need.

Actually map out your garden on paper. This will help you with your planning.

Choose a site that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day and is large enough to meet the needs of your herbs. (Or consider several different plots if necessary.

Locate your herb garden on soil that drains well or improve the drainage by adding organic matter (compost, peat moss, composted manures). You can also use raised beds.

Group herbs according to their requirements. Place herbs that require lots of sun with like herbs and group shade loving plants together.

Drainage is also important. Most herbs do best in well draining soil. Only a few -- such as mint, angelica and lovage -- love fairly moist soils.

Watch out for too much of a good thing with fertilizer. Overfertilizing your herbs will cause more growth, but will decrease the concentration ofessential oils and will make your bushy herbs prolific, but less flavorful.

To prepare your planting beds, dig down 10 to 12 inches and turn the soil over. You can do this with a spade or a garden fork. If you have it, add organic matter so that it gets down to the root level of the plants. Remove any large clumps and stones that you happen to find. Finish the preparation of your garden by leveling it with a rake.

Figure out the best way to propagate herbs. Some don't transplant well and should be directly seeded. Others do better when propagated as cuttings. Good luck and happy gardening.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Summer Lawn Care Tips!

The summer season brings about glorious days of warm weather and outdoor activities that keep us outside of hours upon hours at a time. For some, most of those hours during these months are used to maintaining a healthy landscape around their homes.

While some homeowners know exactly what their lawn needs on a daily basis, most will find that they have issues keeping their grass healthy and, in turn, will be looking at a very     barren dry lawn by the time fall rolls around.
Below are some tips and procedures that can assist any homeowner in making their lawn healthy throughout the hot summer seasons.
summer lawn care tips


healthy lawn does not necessarily mean that it has to be short. When cutting into your lawn, the blades need to be set as high as possible. The length of grass, preferably high, provides numerous amounts of benefits towards keeping the soil healthy and productive.
Tall blades of grass are able to obtain more light during peak sun hours and, in turn, will use this energy to produce and provide more nutrients to the roots and surrounding soil. Taller blades will also provide shade that allows for the soil surrounding each blade of grass to maintain moisture throughout the dry heat of most summer days.


The waste produced in regards to your mowing should not be considered waste. The clippings that you produce during your mowing time should be redistributed across the lawn.
There are certain mowers that do not collect clippings in bags but rather just cut and allow for the shredded lawn to fall back into the grass and the soil. These cut blades of grass will be able to supply the soil with an added supply of nutrients as well as additional shade to further along the growth of a healthy lawn.

? Fertilization

Fertilization at both the beginning of the spring season as well as at the end of the fall season is vital to your grass maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Most organic fertilizers used in the spring allow for the soil to be kick started with an abundance of nutrients to inhibit growth at a more rapid pace. On the opposite side of the spectrum, most winterizing fertilizers allow for the soil to capture nutrients and store there to maintain a healthy landscape during the harsh snow and inclement weather of the winter.

? Seeding

Any patches of lawn that do not seem to grow properly needs to be seeded accordingly. Patience is the key in this situation because some homeowners tend to seed barren lawn patches more than once which in turn will cause the soil to be overworked.
Seeding once and maintaining a proper water schedule on those parts will show some improvements in the days and weeks to come.

? Weeding

Weeds are a nuisance to any lawn across the country. There has to be a conscious effort to walk your lawn on an every other day basis to find any instance of weeds and remove as soon as possible. This will allow you to catch newly formed weeds before they have a chance to grow roots and stake a claim in the soil of your lawn.

? Watering

Hydration is essential to the growth and nutrition of your lawn. The entire landscape surrounding your home needs to have at least an inch of water on a weekly basis. This inch of water can come from rain or can come from manual irrigation through your water hose.
The main keys to remember when it comes to manual hydration are to water as early as possible as well as not to over-saturate your lawn.
All watering must be done in the early morning hours so that the soil can absorb all moisture before any sun and or heat has a chance to dry it up. The watering must be measured, through the use of a coffee can as an example, to make sure that you do not over water the lawn and cause the soil to become infertile due to too much moisture.

? Clean Slate

The landscape of your home should remain clean at all times and seasons, especially in the fall. Leaves and debris will find its way to the ground from surrounding trees and will cause havoc to the soil if not cleaned. If there is no clean-up, the leaves will remain on the ground through the winter months and, in turn, cause an unsafe setup of nutrients and bugs to inhabit the soil and delay growth in the spring months.

Photos of Beautiful Landscaping.

Selecting the right Soil.

Planting a new lawn is like any good adventure: preparation and planning are key. No matter which planting method you plan to use, you need to prepare the area thoroughly to banish weeds and make sure soil won't immediately crust over or compact into lumpy ruts.The most important step — and one that many gardeners skip — is testing the pH of your soil. Do-it-yourself test kids are available from nurseries and catalogs, or you can take advantage of the testing offered by your state's designated agricultural university. "It might seem like a hassle, but testing your soil will save you from pouring money into the ground".

Start by stripping the area of all weeds, including roots, even if that means taking off the top six inches. Then rototill to a depth of at least six inches to loosen compaction and improve drainage. It's extremely important to add loam and compost to enrich the soil; many experts suggest mixing equal parts of loam, sand and your original topsoil. You're best off in the long run if you incorporate a slight slope to facilitate drainage and prevent pooling. Finally, use a roller to pack down the soil, then grade the area with a metal rake. Be as thorough as you can — remember, once you've put your seed or sod down, you can't go back and regrade.
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