Increase font size  Decrease font size  Default font size  Skip to content

Lawn Care Information


Lawn Care Guides

Gary's Calendar

Di Mi Do   TMax 13°F 15°F 18°F TMin 4°F -0°F 1°F © 2019
Gary's Garden Blog

Gary Garner



Garden news, thoughts, tips, musings, rumors, gossip and occasional good advice
from Gary Garner, the Guru of Grass.

All Stirred Up September 4th, 2018


I read an article yesterday in an old respected gardening magazine discussing the 10 most dangerous plants to your cat.  The premise of the article was that these plants might kill or make sick your cat.

If that’s the case let me point out if they will harm your cat they will harm other pets as well as your children and you.  I don’t know of a particular plant that will hurt a cat that won’t hurt other animals.  I am not going to get in the particular plants this article named but most of them are common plants that have been around for years.

One plant that was not named and this was surprising to me was a poinsettia.  I owned a garden center for almost thirty years and we sold lots of poinsettias every Christmas and every year a few people wouldn’t buy poinsettias because they had heard they would harm their cats.  I did interviews with WSET several times explaining this was not true.  WSET had local doctors on explaining that they were not harmful to cats.

The truth, is that the with juice that comes out or a poinsettia might sting a little if you get it on your skin.  The yellow seed like in the bloom is bitter if you want to taste it.  According to the poison control center some years back a 50 pound child would have to eat about 350 leaves before he would become seriously ill.  That means a 10 pound cat would have to eat about 70 leaves.  That is several plants.

I think most if not all the plants in this magazine article fall into this same category.  Too much of anything can be harmful but I wouldn’t worry about common houseplants or yard plants.

If you have a question call a reputable Veterinarian or Doctor. You can find information on line but I would trust it no further than I would trust the magazine article I read.  Remember, no one is checking what I write and no one is checking what others write.


The Ways Of Nature August 29th, 2018


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.

Summer Is Fading Fast August 20th, 2018


According to Mother Nature we still have 30 plus days of summer. However, our flowers and gardens, even some shrubs and trees are showing signs that fall is fast approaching.  What should we be doing to get ready for fall?

There is still time to plant some vegetables and get enough harvest to be worthwhile.  Green beans are a very short season crop.  Plant in the next few days and they should produce a nice crop of beans.  Squash should have time to grow and produce a harvest.

Now is the time to start putting cold crops in the ground. Radish will be ready to harvest in about 3 weeks from time of planting.  You could get 2 to 3 crops this fall.  Lettuce, and other greens can be planted anytime starting now. Spinach and other greens planted now can be harvested this fall and should over winter for another harvest in the spring.  Cabbage, broccoli can also go in the next few days. These are just a few of the things that can be planted in the vegetable garden.

Flowers are a little different story.  A lot of summer flowers are beginning to show the signs of wear and tear from the summer.  If they are still looking great I would leave them alone for a few more weeks.  If they are pretty well shot from heat, rain, bugs and disease I would pull them out.  I would not plant anymore summer annuals unless I had a spot that I really needed color.  Then I would look for a garden center ready to make a deal on some late season plants.

Mums and pansies are beginning to arrive in the stores.  Personally, I think it’s a little too soon start buying mums and pansies.  I would wait until after Labor Day.  The early mums are usually small and don’t look all that great. Pansies don’t like the heat and will grow tall and weak in the heat. They could be cut back and then regrown into nice plants.  That just seems like extra labor that could be saved by waiting 2 weeks to plant.

Mums will give you 3 to 5 weeks of color and then be through blooming for the season.  They will come back next year.  Pansies will last all the way through the winter and well into next spring.  In extreme cold weather they may quit blooming and seem to shrink.  Give them a few warm sunny days and they will be right back in bloom.

Now comes the most important part of this blog. If you plan on seeding new lawn or over-seeding your existing lawn get to it.  You should have already killed the existing weeds in the lawn.  If you haven’t then, do it as soon as possible.  Remember, if you apply a weed killer to the lawn you need to wait 30 days before planting new seed. Roundup or similar products are not weed killers.  They kill everything that’s green and in an active state of growth.  They do not affect seed.  You can plant 48 hours after applying them.  They do not hurt shrubs and trees as long as you don’t apply them to the leafy part of the plant.

Fall seeding can be started as early as mid-August.  The earlier you seed the more likely you are to be successful. So, get to it.

Planing For Fall Lawn Care August, 1st 2018


Have you taken a good look at your lawn lately?  I don’t mean the kind you see when you ride over it with a lawn mower.  I mean have you really walked over the lawn and paid attention to the bare spots in the grass and the weeds growing in the yard.  Take a serious slow walk over the yard and you might be surprised.  If you don’t see anything get your wife to walk with you.  Now you will see all the spots you missed.

If you see need for serious work on the lawn now is the time for planning.  If you plan on doing any seeding this fall the earlier you do it the better results you will get. Weather permitting, I want to plant fall lawn seed as soon after August 20 as possible.

If you have a lot of weed growth you need to apply a weed killer as soon as possible.  You should not plant seed until 30 days after a weed killer is applied.  If you decide to completely renovate the lawn and want to kill everything then apply a glyphosphate product.  You can reseed 48 hours after this is applied.

You want to get the yard seeded early enough for the grass to be mowed two to three times before mowing ceases.  You also want the grass to be growing well before the leaves start to fall.  If you have newly planted grass try to remove the leaves at least once a week.  If leaves pile up on new grass it will likely be killed.

Continue to mow the lawn on your regular schedule.  If it’s totally new grass then mow as soon as it reaches a height of about four inches. I will assume you applied fertilizer when you seeded the yard.  Also, lime if it was called for.


They need to be done in three separate applications not all mixed together.  They have different weights and consistencies so they won’t spread evenly if mixed. That said, these three applications can be made all in the same day one after the other.

Keep the leaves off the new lawn through the winter.  Make certain the new seeding has proper moisture.  About an inch of water per week.  Apply two more applications of fertilizer about six to eight weeks apart in the fall.

Come spring you should have a lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

With all that said one more piece of advice.  Hire a good professional and let them do the job.  You will save money and most likely have a better looking lawn.

Keep 'Em Pretty - July 24th


I don’t know about your summer flowers but mine are beginning to show the wear and tear of summer heat, excessive rain and then hot dry days.  Also, some disease and bug damage along the way.  All normal things but put together my summer flowers don’t look all that great.

Should I take them up and plant more?  Should I just let them go until time for mums and pansies or should I look at a third option?  I think I will look at a third option.

I am going to take the pruners in hand and give them a good old-fashioned shearing. When I finish most of them will have little or no bloom left and they may only be three to four inches tall.  I will then throw a good handful of 10-10-10 in the pot or in the bed, in addition I will see they get a good soaking of water, rain or irrigation and step back and wait.

In a few days new growth will be flourishing, in two to three weeks new blooms will be showing and in four to six weeks they will look better than they have looked all summer.  This will be the second time this summer I have performed this kind of surgery on the plants.  Each time I do this they look better than before.

This will keep them looking great and in bloom until hard frost. Probably until close to Thanksgiving.  Now, there is one problem with this. Pansies will be arriving in the stores in just over a month.  I am going to want some as soon as they arrive.  If my summer flowers are looking so pretty where am I going to plant pansies?

I don’t want to wait until frost kills my flowers to plant pansies.  If I do the pansies won’t have time to grow and be nice looking for the winter.  I want my pansies planted no later than the end of September and would like to have them in sooner.  I want them to have plenty of time to grow and mature before hard frost.  Cold is not going to kill the pansies but they are not going to do much growing during the winter.

I try to plant pansies in between the summer annuals where I have room.  I might clip the ends of the annuals to give me room for the pansies.  If all else fails I pull up the summer crops and plant the pansies.  After all, the pansies will be there all winter and the summer crops only have a few weeks left.

July Garden Issues - July 10th, 2018


July brings with it lots of issues for the garden.  One thing we have to deal with is the heat.  At this point, with about one third of July gone we are already in the mid-teens in the number of days the temperature has exceeded 90 degrees this summer.  As a general rule most vegetables don’t mind hot weather.

The problem arises when people misinterpret what happens to a plant in hot weather.  When many gardeners see their tomatoes flopped in mid-afternoon their first thought is to grab a hose and give the plants a good dose of water.  In fact, the plants likely do not need water at all.  Flopping is nature's way of protecting the plant from the heat. Go back out about nine o'clock at night and the leaves have come out of the flop and the plants look great. This is true of other plants as well.

This year we have had nice rains most of the growing season gardens planted in the ground have not needed to be watered.  Raised beds and containers have needed extra water.  I looked at a large garden last night that was beautiful.  It starts with almost 100 tomato plants, several rows of various types of beans, a long row of peppers, several rows of corn, cukes and melons all of which look great.  Some disease caused mostly by the rain standing on the leaves.  The point is that all the water this garden has received was furnished by Mother Nature.  It has not been irrigated at all.

Even in dry years this particular garden receives no water except that provided by rainfall.  It is one of the most productive gardens year in and year out that I know of.  My opinion, for what it is worth, is that most gardens planted in the ground would be more productive if people watered little or none and cut their fertilizer use by half.

Plants don’t flower and set fruit when they are growing.  Excess water and fertilizer produce beautiful plants but usually very little produce. In the garden I talked about above, the tomato plants are only waist to chest high but hanging with large tomatoes. My guess is that the plants will produce 30 to 40 pounds of tomatoes per plant.

Also, a last point is that this garden is bothered very little with garden pests.  Healthy plants have very few pest problems.  The beneficial insects far out-number the pests in the garden.  Spiders do a great job on controlling a lot of pests. Birds and bats clean out a lot of bugs.  A bad crop of beetles or potato bugs can be controlled with a light application of Sevin.

Enjoy your garden, work with Mother Nature and things will work out just fine.  One of the best ways I know to not stress over the garden is to leave the garden alone.  If you don’t have something to do in the garden don’t go check on it.


P. S. Let me know how some of the advice I give works out for you.  I would like to hear what is working for you.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next > End >>

Page 3 of 6

Facebook and Twitter

Follow Backyard Garden Guru on

Follow on Facebook Follow garys_garden on Twitter

Gary's Garden Center • Copyright © 2007 - 2019 • All Rights Reserved
Design by Tech Advantage: Virginia Web Design and IT Services.
Our site is valid CSS Our site is valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional