Why You Should Make Your Own Compost

Why You Should Make Your Own Compost

Compost is one of the key components to a healthy garden and there is no reason why you can’t make your own.  It will save you the cost of buying it come springtime and you can use household food waste at the same time keeping it out of the landfills.  That is why you should make your own compost, now let’s look at just how to do it.

What to Put in Your Composter

You can put in uncooked vegetable waste, fruit, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, flowers, leaves, and grass clippings.  Make sure that you don’t put in things that don’t belong, never ever put meat in your composter or you will end up with vermin.

Where to Put Your Composter

You can get a composter from your local garden center or home improvement store.  Find an out of the way place in your yard to put the composter.  It is far easier just to buy the composter than try making your own.  It takes very little space and it gets to the right temperature for decomposition quickly.  It keeps the contents at the right temperature and humidity levels and you get your much needed compost much quicker.

Making Compost

Your compost is going to need to reach at least 122 degrees and you need oxygen so it will have to be mixed.  If the temperature gets too high then you start losing nutrients.  If the temperature doesn’t get high enough that means you won’t get the compost that you need for your garden.  Too low temps are usually because of the level of humidity and that can easily be fixed.

Humidity

Humidity is necessary for decomposition to take place and you want to keep the humidity to somewhere between 50 and 60% and it needs to be that humid all of the time.  You will also need to mix your compost on a regular basis so that you get adequate oxygen.  It will take a couple of months for your compost to mature, you know it is done when the compost is very dark and almost powdery in texture.  Your compost should smell like soil not like something that is still rotting.

You can add fertilizer to your compost to make it even richer.  If you have a lot of yard waste then you might want to add potassium and phosphorous.  Before you add it to your garden you may want to run it through a sieve to get rid of any sticks and stones.  Once your compost is ready to go then you can apply it to the surface of your soil. Then you can plant whatever flowers or vegetables you want in deep rich soil.

Growing Winter Veggies

Growing Winter Veggies

Most gardeners plant their veggies in the spring and harvest everything near the end of September.  The summer months have the best temperatures and you will do more gardening in the summer but that doesn’t meant that you can’t grow veggies in the winter.  In the fall you should be preparing your soil for winter and the following spring but you can still continue to grow veggies long beyond September.  Let us show you how.

Beyond the Fall

There are season extenders that you can use in winter to keep your plants warm and it will protect them from the elements like wind and snow.  You have options when it comes to size you have a ton of options.  There are small row covers that will cover a couple of your plants or you can get a bigger system like a green house where you can work inside.  With a portable greenhouse even the winter sun will keep your plants at a warm enough temperature to grow.  However the temps will drop at night so you should choose plants that have some resistance to the cold.

Planting in the Fall

There are several types of veggies that you can plant in the fall or even later in the winter. These are referred to as “cold season” plants, these are meant to be planted late in the year and don’t grow as well in the spring.  If you are using beds that have been used in the summer then you want make sure the any of the dead plant matter left behind.  Just like in the spring you will need to till the earth and use compost.  You can also add some fertilizer if you need to.

Cold Weather Plants

If you want fresh vegetables in the winter some of the best winter veggies are root vegetables or tubers.  You can get potatoes started and have them ready while everyone else is just starting to plant.  Broccoli and cabbages are also vegetables that do well in colder weather.  Make sure to keep the plants from freezing by either using a green house or cold covers.

Winter gardening is a way to keep you in fresh vegetables throughout the year. Not only that you can still get out into the garden and play in the dirt even in the winter months.  Follow these tips and you will have a bumper crop of vegetables for you and your family to enjoy.

What is the Right Sod for Your Garden?

What is the Right Sod for Your Garden?

If you have just built a new house or want to redo your landscaping then you need to choose the right sod for your garden.  The first thing that you need to consider is the climate that you live in.  There are two different classifications of grass, cool season and warm season.  There are other factors too such as how much foot traffic your yard will see, the amount of sun and of course the soil.  You may also have a budget that you need to stick to so that must be taken into consideration as well. Let us give you some tips on which sod options that you have.

Cool Season Grasses

If you live anywhere in the northern half of the US then you have cold winters.  The summers are hot but there is regular rain that happens.  There are a couple of different types of grass that will work in the climate you live in.  Ryegrass, Bentgrass and Kentucky Bluegrass will all be perfectly suitable.  They work best in colder climates because they can go dormant during hot summers with little or no rain.  They grow best in the spring so you will have a great lawn once summer starts.

Warm Season Grasses

If you live in the south then you need a type of grass that can handle the heat.  The same warm season grasses look good but they don’t tolerate the cold well at all.  You will have to take care of your sod during the winter months and you may have to reseed from time to time.  The most popular types of warm season grasses are Bermuda, Centipede and St Augustine.

Residential or Commercial Property

The type of grass you choose will also depend on how you plan on using the sod.  Commercial property generally has a lot less foot traffic but a residential property with kids sees a lot.  If you are using it on a residential property that has kids, playground equipment and family gatherings you want to choose a grass like Bermuda, it can withstand almost anything. Shaded yards with little or no sunlight then St Augustine might be a better choice.

Regardless of the type of grass that you ultimately choose you are going to need rich topsoil so that your sod takes root.  Head over to your neighborhood garden center and pick the right sod for your situation.

Are Your Plants Nutrient Deficient?

Are Your Plants Nutrient Deficient?

Are the leaves on your plants looking a little yellow instead of a lush green?  If you are new to gardening then you may not know what is wrong with your plantor what nutrients that your plant needs.  Don’t worry, even the most experienced gardeners struggle to figure out why plants aren’t looking healthy.  Identifying nutritional deficiencies in plants comes with experience.  Here is some help in figuring out what is wrong with your plant and how to fix it.

Identifying the Problem

You notice that one or more of your plants have drooping leaves or yellow spots even though you know that you have been watering regularly.  You have added the right fertilizers yet you still don’t understand what the issue is.  There are a number of things that could be causing the problem, insects or the soil isn’t draining the way it should.  Insects are pretty easy to identify, they are either on the plant or leave some type of waste behind.  You can check the soil to see if it is too wet and that will let you know if you potentially have root rot.

Ruling Out Other Causes

Aside from water and insects there are other potential causes that you need to rule out too.  Is your plant getting too much sunlight or not enough?  What about the temperature, has there been wild changes in temperature that your plant can’t tolerate.  You also need to be cautious of the amount of fertilizer that you are using it is very easy to overdo it and “burn” the plant.

Nutritional Deficiencies

One way to identify nutritional deficiencies are by taking a good look at the leaves of your plant.  Do they look dead or dying?  If you have dead or dying leaves at the bottom of your plant that could indicate a lack of magnesium, red spots means that you need to add phosphorous.  Minerals are as crucial to your plant as they are to you and if they are lacking in the essentials it will show up on the plant.

Fixing Nutritional Deficiencies

As was said plants need nutrients just like you do.  They need lots of potassium, calcium, nitrogen, magnesium, sulphur and phosphorous to survive.  They are also going to need trace amounts of other minerals like iron, copper and zinc.  Plants get their nutrients from the soil they live in and water helps bring them to the roots.  If the soil is lacking in any of these minerals then your plant is going without and can get sickly looking.  It is easy to fix, you can grab some plant food from any garden center and give your plants all the nutrients that you need.

Hiring a Gardener

Hiring a Gardener

You may love the beauty of a garden in full bloom but lack the green thumb to do it yourself, or you just don’t have the time needed to tend to it.  You can hire a gardener to take care of all that work for you.  Working with a professional gardening service has its perks, they have the expertise to make sure your garden looks beautiful, but first you need to find the right gardener and we can help you do just that.

What Do Need?

The first step to finding a gardener that can help you is to figure out exactly what you want.  Do you need a little bit of weeding and mowing or do you need full blown landscape design?  What are the tasks that you expect the gardener to perform?  Gardeners can do everything from the initial design, lawn care, maintenance, pruning, planting and weeding.  Are there any tasks that you want to take on yourself or do you want the gardening service to take care of everything for you?  Once you have all of that figure out it is time to search for a gardener.  You can check Google, Angie’s List or Home Advisor to find one.

Check Their Credentials

To have someone come in once a week to mow your lawn is something that almost anyone can do, but if you want something more complicated then you want someone that has some credentials. You want someone with experience in landscape design.  Many reputable landscapers studied botany or another related field before opening their business.

Get Some References

If you found a gardener online then whatever site that you found them on will have reviews.  You can find out what previous customers have had to say and whether they were happy with the job.  You can also ask the company directly for references.

Compare Prices

The prices that gardeners charge can vary drastically so it is in your best interest to get at least three quotes from different companies to compare them.  Most will come to you to have a look at your property and see the work involved.  Pay close attention to the details of the quote, you want to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.  The lowest price isn’t always best and the highest price doesn’t mean they will give you the best results.

There you have it now you have a gardener that can make your property look spectacular.

Best Smelling Flowers to Put in Your Garden

Best Smelling Flowers to Put in Your Garden

Nothing smells as good as flowers blooming in the garden.  Countless companies have tried to bottle that smell but none have succeeded.  A garden in full bloom is absolutely gorgeous and smells divine.  However not all flowers smell as good as some others, everyone has their favorites but here are the most popular flowers that are universally loved because of their scents.

  1. Roses: When you think of flowers that smell good then roses are probably the first thing that comes to mind.  Roses are adored by everyone and they have been given to loved ones for hundreds of years because of their tantalizing scent.
  2. Lavender: Lavender scent has been used in soaps and lotions for hundreds of years and France has fields and fields of lavender because the plant is so hugely popular. Lavender is also used in essential oils because of its relaxing properties.
  3. Jasmine: Like lavender, jasmine is another scent that is popular in soaps and deodorants. It reminds you of hot summer nights in the Deep South, jasmine is not just sweet smelling but the scent lingers leaving your rooms and gardens smelling divine.
  4. Lilacs: Lilacs don’t bloom very often only a couple of times a year but the smell makes it worthwhile.  These delicate purple buds indicate the first sign of spring.
  5. Gardenias: Gardenias not only smell fantastic but they bloom all of the time and they don’t need you to do a lot of work. Gardenias are often featured in wedding bouquets.
  6. Hyacinth: Hyacinths come in a variety of different colors and each color smells unique.
  7. Sweetshrub: These flowers were named after a Goddess so that alone should tell you how good they smell.  It is said that each person gets a different scent when they smell these flowers.
  8. Eucalyptus: You should note that there is a eucalyptus tree and a shrub, the one that smell divine is the shrub.  The scent is subtle yet sweet and it would make a fine addition to your garden.
  9. Geraniums: Geraniums come in over 200 varieties so you can find one that looks amazing in your garden all of them have sweet smelling flowers.  You can add different colors throughout the garden.

There are dozens upon dozens of different flowers that you can add to your garden that smell beautifully.  If you don’t already have some favorites then take your time and choose something that you can enjoy for years to come.

Most Common Types of Weeds

Weeds are simply plants that grow where you don’t want them to.  There is technically no classification for weeds, what one gardener finds intrusive another will cultivate.  Dandelions are prime examples of this, homeowners pull them out of lawns yet others cultivate them for food.  Clover is another plant that fits the bill, in a pasture it is food for animals but when it shows up in your flowerbeds it has to go.

One commonality that distinguishes weeds is the fact that they grow quickly and vigorously.  They have strong roots that reach far into the ground, that allows them to grow so fast and makes it extremely difficult to yank out.  At the same time they are pretty resilient and hard to kill.  The reason that gardeners hate them is because they use all of the water, sunlight and nutrients in the soil crowding out the plants you are trying to grow.  Gardeners and landscapers spend a significant amount of time yanking weeds.  Let us look at some common types of weed and how to handle them.

Bindweed

This weed comes from the same family as morning glory.  This weed grows around other plants and twists around the top until they reach the top of the other plant.  The weed strangles the cultivated plant so they need to be pulled out promptly.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is irritating to your skin but in addition to that the plant grows roots from the stem and that allows it to cling to and climb up walls, fences or even the side of a tree.

Chickweed

These weeds grow absolutely everywhere and they can be found in cold climates or in the tropics.  They will grow all year round even when other weeds are dying off in the cold.  Look for star shaped flowers that will open even in the winter months.

Dodder

If you have dodder in your garden then you need to get rid of it right away or it will kill your other plants.  These plants are incapable of photosynthesis so they need to rely on other plants for food.  They will wrap themselves around your cultivated plants and using their roots they will absorb nutrients from the other plants. Dodder has an orange/yellow stem so if you see it get rid of it.

Creeping Weeds

Creeping weeds is a catch all term for different types of weeds that can grow underground.  Dandelions actually fit into this category as well as burdock and a couple of other weeds.  These weeds have extensive root systems that grow extensively, they are nearly impossible to pull out.  The root systems can grow horizontally rather than just deeper underground and new plants can pop up all over your garden

Moving Your Holly Bush to a New Spot

You have a beautiful holly bush in your yard but it is in the wrong spot and it just doesn’t work with the rest of your garden.  Transplanting your holly bush is something that you have to do carefully or you can kill the plant.  If you want to transplant your holly bush successfully then read on and we will show you how to do just that.

When to Move Your Holly Bush

You can’t randomly decide to move your holly bush it is best to do so in the early spring.  That will help your plant to not lose its leaves from being moved across the yard.  The springtime is a rainy time of year and it is still a bit cool outside, it will help the plant keep the roots moist.  When holly bushes dry out they start dropping leaves, to hang on to the moisture in the roots.  Technically you can transplant the bush in the fall but do so cautiously, you may lose leaves but the bush will probably be fine after all.  Now if you do lose your leaves it is not the end of the world, they will regrow and your bush should be just fine, although probably not in time for the holidays.

How to Move it

Before you dig up your bush from the current location you need to prepare the new area first.  You want to move it quickly from one location to the other quickly, that will prevent the leaves from falling off and stressing your plant. In the new location you need to make sure the hole is deep enough so the roots can fit comfortably.

Once you have the new location ready then you need to start digging up the holly bush.  Go to the outside perimeter of the leaves and then 6 inches beyond that, now you want to dig down at least a foot to make sure you get the roots.  Once you have it dug out then you can move it quickly to the new location.  The roots will need to be spread out in the new location and then you want to add the soil back in.  Once you have your holly bush back in the ground it is going to need some water.  For the first week or so you’re going to have to water it daily so the roots take hold and your holly bush will thrive.

Holly bushes are lovely if a bit delicate, don’t worry if you follow the steps you can have the bush moved easily and without any problems.

Helping Your Potted Plants Survive the Winter

Helping Your Potted Plants Survive the Winter

Growing plants in pots is a great way to have beautiful plants and flowers when you may not have enough space for a big garden.  Growing plants in pots does come with challenges especially when winter rolls around.  Your plants can dry out, the temperature drops and you can end up with root damage that kills your plants.  Even if the flowers are dead you can still have a healthy root system just waiting for spring.  Your job is to protect your plants’ root systems until the warm weather rolls around again.

Put Your Pots on the Ground

In the winter the temperatures can fluctuate pretty drastically.  Once the sun goes down the temperatures plummet and this fluctuations can harm your roots.  When plants are in the ground they are mostly protected from big fluctuations, don’t leave your pots on pavement but rather put them on turf.  Pavement warms even more during the day and damages your roots.

Use Bigger Pots

The bigger the pot your plants are in the more soil is there to keep the roots insulated.  You may have to do some transplanting in the fall to move all of your plants into bigger pots but it is well worth it.  Small containers are perfect for showing off your plants but not for keeping them warm.  Small containers run the risk of freezing during a cold snap, your roots can dry out quicker and that too can damage your plants.  Choose a pot that is an inch thick or more for your plants.

Transplant Early

As soon as the temperatures start to drop then it is time to transplant.  Let them spend some time in the bigger pots.  Once winter rolls around your plants are already healthy and grown and they are in a better position to tolerate the cold.  Don’t wait until the last minute or they probably won’t survive.  You should also pick plants that can handle the cold in your area.

Pick a Spot

Where you put your pots for the winter makes a big difference, you want to find a spot that is shaded.  Pots that sit in direct sunlight will go through big temperature changes throughout the day so you want to avoid that if you can.  You want to keep them out of the wind if you can so the temperatures don’t change too much.  Hearty plants that thrive in the climate you live in and make sure you prepare them they will have no problem surviving the winters.

Bermuda Grass: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

In warmer climates one of the most popular grasses used on lawns and golf courses is Bermuda grass.  It is cheap to buy, looks good, and can take some abuse.  That sounds good so far right?  But it does have some drawbacks that make homeowners opt for a different type of grass.  Before you re-sod your property let us give you the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to Bermuda grass.

The Good

First of all, Bermuda grass is inexpensive to buy and that makes it the number one choice of homeowners and property managers choosing a new lawn.  The turf farm can churn out a crop of Bermuda grass quickly so the faster grass grows the faster they can get it to market.  It is low maintenance so even if it is neglected all it needs is a good mow to look good again.  When it comes to fighting off pests you can use almost any type of protection against weeds will suffice.

Ideally Bermuda grass should be mowed fairly short, there are exceptions to that.  If you have lots of shade then you can cut it slightly higher but if you are in the full sun throughout the day then keep it short. The leaves are fine and soft so it works well in a family yard.  It can not only handle the abuse of kids and pets it will withstand droughts or dry spells pretty well too.

The Bad

While Bermuda grass can fantastic most of the time it isn’t perfect, it does have its negative aspects as well.  You need to consider the good and the bad before you make a purchase.  Bermuda grass is prone to thatching even when you mow it on a regular basis.  You are going to have to de-thatch it every so often to keep it looking good.  Bermuda grass needs sunlight and lots of it, if you have lots of trees in your backyard you’re going to end up with bald spots.  Bermuda grass that is in direct sunlight grows really quickly so be prepared to mow regularly.

The Ugly

There really is no ugly, Bermuda grass looks fabulous.  There is no perfect grass there is only grass that works for your yard.  You will decide what type of grass you like and that works for your lawn, there are tons to choose from.  However Bermuda grass has a lot going for it which explains why it is so popular.  Do your research and chat with a local landscaper or home improvement center to pick the best choice for you.