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Buying Tips - November 2ed, 2018

BUYING TIPS

Just a follow up on my last blog concerning knowing what you are buying and where it can and can’t be used.  I thought the following information might be helpful when making buying decisions.

There are 14 zones in North America.  One is far north in the Artic and fourteen is at the very bottom tip of the North American continent.  The zone we live in is referred to as seven A.  This means we should not be planting plants that cannot survive zero F to 5f for extended periods of time. I know at times we have colder temps than zero but that is unusual.

Our average first frost is between October 21 to October 31.  Our last frost is normally between April 17 and April 20.  Our average rainfall is 41.62 inches.  For statistical purposes this is measured at the airport.  Our average snowfall is 15 inches measured at the airport.  All of these figures are from the National Weather Service and their office is at the airport.

Now, it goes without saying that these figures may differ significantly from the airport to your yard or my yard.  They are only a guide to work by.  I seem to remember that one of the big rains this summer dropped 6 inches of water in the Forest area and parts of Lynchburg but only an inch at the airport.

We all know frost has occurred much earlier than October 21 and much later than April 20.  We know summer storms drop large amounts of water over small areas.  Even in our own yards the temperature varies from one area of the yard to the other.  We have to go by the guides we have.

Buying because a plant is pretty is not a good reason to buy.  That pretty plant in the store may not live where you want to plant it or it may live and not bloom.  If it doesn’t do what you want it to do then it is not a good buy.

I have given these tips before but know where you are going to put a plant before you buy.  Know if the plant you are buying prefers sun or shade.  Know the hardiness of the plant you are buying.  This information should be on the tag attached to the plant.  If the plant is not tagged ask for the information.

If someone where you are buying cannot answer your questions, go somewhere else to buy.

 
Fall (ing leaves) Have Arrived! October 21st, 2018

FALL HAS ARRIVED

Whether we like it or not fall and the cooler temperatures that come along with it have arrived.  The color has slowly started to change and some leaves have started to fall.  Now the question comes, what do we do with all those leaves?

How can we put those leaves to work?  I hate the thoughts of sending them off to clog up the landfill.  Actually, those leaves can be very valuable.  They contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and trace elements that the tree roots have brought up out of the soil.  Leaves contain nearly twice the mineral content of manure.  The article I read said the leaves from one tree could be worth as much as $50 of fertilizer or humus.  Think how much that is in dollars some of us are throwing away.

The organic matter from leaves lightens dry clay, improves soil structure and increases moisture retention in dry soils.  That is a lot of benefit from something we are thinking about throwing away.  Instead of throwing them away why not compost?  Blow or rake your leaves into bins.  A bin can be easily made from 3 old palettes set on end or some chicken wire formed in a u shape.  You get the idea.

If you want to hurry along the decomposition mow over the leaves or shred them with a leaf shredder.  Mix a little top soil with each layer of leaves, throw in a little lime and 10-10-10.  If you use grass clippings make sure the grass has not been sprayed with any type of weed control chemical.

You now have a great product to use for potted plants or to spread in the garden to enrich the soil.

Leaves are also great used to improve your lawn soil.  Leaving leaves on your lawn improves the soil, reduces the need for fertilizer in the spring and helps to contain moisture in the lawn throughout the summer.  As the leaves start to fall set your mower at about 3 inches cutting height and mow over the leaves weekly.  They will easily decompose over the winter.  Last suggestion, add a little extra lime over the winter as the leaves tend to be acidic.

 
The Ways Of Nature August 29th, 2018

THE WAYS OF NATURE

I guess it’s only natural having been involved in some form of agriculture most of my life but I find the ways of nature fascinating.  I grew up on a tobacco farm, I sold fertilizer and agricultural chemicals for 11 years owned a fertilizer blending plant and farm supply store, landscaped for 15 years and owned a retail nursery and garden center for almost thirty years.  All of this and I am only 39 years old. Believe that and I have some Arizona beach front property for sale.

After all of that I still find the ways of Mother Nature interesting.  I see things in nature daily that raise questions in my mind.  I have a sun coleus in a large pot at the end of my driveway slightly shaded on one side and in bright sun on the other.  The shaded side is very dark in color, the side in sun is light and faded in color.  Did you know the sun will fade a plant just like it will fade a piece of clothing hung out on a clothes line to dry. I can turn that plant around and in a weeks time, the colors will reverse.

That beautiful purple Japanese maple planted as an understory will retain its color almost all summer.  Planted out in full sun, by early summer it will be a dirty looking orange color.  Put some shade over it and it will turn back to the pretty purple it is supposed to be.

As many of you may know some of the blue hydrangeas can be changed to pink or vice versa.  Low ph and the bloom is blue, add lime and raise the ph and the bloom is pink.  Not all hydrangeas change color.  With the way hydrangeas are bred today most of the colors are firm.  Even many of the pinks and blues are firm today.

Why do some plants do much better when planted and then transplanted, while others do much better when seeded directly where they are intended to be grown. Tobacco, tomatoes, peppers, to name a few do much better when transplanted.  Farmers have tried for years to direct seed them but have never had much success.  Corn, beans, melons, seem to prefer direct seeding.  With some crops it doesn’t seem to matter.

Shrubs and trees do strange things also.  A red delicious apple is a freak of nature.  An orchid grower in Oregon some years back noticed the apples on a limb of a tree in his orchard were different. He took some cuttings and grafted them and over time they have come to be what we now know as a red delicious.  By the way, most fruit trees have to be grafted on special rootstock. Plant the seed and the fruit you get will be nothing like what you see in the orchard.

Pink, red and various varieties of dogwood are freaks of nature.  Plant a seed off a pink dogwood and you get a white native dogwood.  All of the colored dogwoods and improved whites are grown by taking cuttings and grafting them to white rootstock.  When you see a dogwood with pink and white on the same tree, usually if you look you can find where a sprout came out below the graft and was allowed to grow.

This is just a few examples of Mother Nature and her tricks.  If you look around you will see examples of things nature does that are hard to explain.

 

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Plant of the Week - Liberty Holly

Liberty Holly 

Liberty Holly

Dense, evergreen shrub with dark lustrous green, deeply serrated leaves that are set along dark stems. In the fall, clusters of bright red berries decorate the foliage. Use in mass plantings or as a hedge to add interest to the landscape.

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