Spruce up your dormant landscaping with attractive - and deer proof - plants and accent objects that show well against gray skies and winter snow. Use these techniques to cheer up your yard in winter and early spring.
The Iroquois had it right when they planted the 'three sisters' - corn, beans and squash. They added something fishy to the soil, which made all the difference. Listen to this 'fish tale' and learn how 'shadbush' got its name.
Maintaining an attractive and rewarding landscape is not rocket science - but it does require constant effort toward improving management skills. Here are some tips on how to keep those landscape challenges from getting you down.
"Hi-yo, Silver Maple, away!" or so the 'Lawn Arranger' might have said in a particularly bewildering fit of pun-itis. Early spring means a return to lawn care - and all those fancy bag products that promise what nature already provides. Listen to why you can 'bag' the heavy lifting and spreading this year.
When your landscape plants begin to get a bit long in the limb, do them - and yourself - a favor. Trim them back, and don't be shy. If you do it right, they will come back better and healthier than ever.
Snappy lawns do not just happen - they result from thoughtful planning, regular maintenance and a bit of friendly competition from that neighbor with the green thumb - and the perfect hedge. If your lawn is looking a bit retro, think makeover. You can bring your lawn into the 21st century with these simple tips.
For centuries the Japanese practice of shakkei has enlived landscapes by framing what is already there. The idea is to 'borrow from the scenery around you.' Why build it if it the space around you is already a breathtaking masterpiece? Words of wisdom from the master landscaper on how to make the most of your space, whatever the condition of your surroundings.
Take an inventory of your home landscape. Chances are each of those shrubs and trees you planted long ago fall into one of three categories: the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. Now may be the time to clear them out, select hardy varieties that will be happy in your yard for many years to come.
As Jim has said before, you can never have too much mulch. Just make sure you have nature's mulch, free of chemical additives that leach into the ground and spoil soil. Be natural. Mulching is not rocket science, but it can launch a great new look and feel across your landscape.
Delicious right off the shrub and spread on toast or ice cream right out of grandma's preserve jar, Juneberries are a real treat, full of flavor and good for everyone. Juneberry shrubs make a terrific addition to any landscape. If you have never heard of them, stay tuned. The word is out.
Two things required to get your landscape plantings off to a good start - and keep them happy - are fertilizer and water. Landscapes look great and stay healthy where natural fertilizer and water work together in a process Jim refers to as 'fertigation.' Don't just irrigate... fertigate!
Has that old stand of Burning Bush flamed out? Looking to add some pizzazz to your landscape? Don't settle for same-old-same-old. Check out Jim's list of high quality cultivars from growers with reliably high standards.
A rose is a rose is a rose... or so they say. The same cannot be said for lilacs. There are all kinds of lilacs, and some are better for your landscape than others. And, if you thought lilacs came from France, grab a lilac muffin and have a listen. You might be surprised.
We just can't stop talking about lilacs. They are easy to grow, generate a fragrance to die for, and add terrific, showy color to the spring landscape. If only they were not so quick to drop their blooms. But wait! Here's news about a new variety called the Bloomerang that Ted Collins, dean of the Rochester Lilac Festival, calls the 'ever-bloomer.' Amazing.
Remember what Grandma used to say... 'If the soil ain't happy, ain't no tree, shrub or clingin' vine happy!' Okay, so that's not what she said, but it IS the point of this commentary on building high quality, highly productive soil.
Flowering bulbs bring joy to springtime - and then are forgotten. Remember to feed them, even when they are dormant. You will see the difference next spring and beyond. And don't cut those green stems just because the flowers are gone - let them go brown before you cut them down.
Hey, Vets. Remember that fun drill back in boot camp? 'Dig a hole; fill it in. Dig a hole, fill it in.' Didn't realize Ol' Sarge was preparing you to become a weekend warrior, did you? Next time you dig a hole to place a tree, or shrub, or bedding plant, make sure 30 percent of what goes back into the hole with that plant is compost. Then, stand back and watch the plant take off. Compost is full of the best nutrients nature has to offer.
Take Control! Rage against the Machine! Power to the Peonies! The 'Machine' we refer to is, of course, the lawnmower. Ever feel like it's holding you down, keeping you from reaching your full potential on, say, the golf course or the trout stream? Here are tips for cutting down on the cutting down and, in the process, bringing a more verdant and sustainable approach to maintaining your landscape.
That ugly green sheen on your favorite weekend boat shoes... 'grass' stain from walking behind the mower, right? Not so. Grass does not stain. Weeds do. Here are handy tips for getting gardening stain off your hands. And, when weeding, be SURE to wear gardening gloves. You never know when you might find yourself pulling pigweed, poison ivy or other noxious plants.
Remember that old adage that diamonds are forever? Well so are styrofoam cups, plastic liners, disposable diapers, even cigarette butts. Paper and wood products break down in a matter of weeks, returning to the soil from which they came. Plastics are a different matter. Here's a sobering commentary on the importance of staying natural.
Slugs. They creep while you sleep, often wreaking havoc on garden plants along the way. Fortunately there are ways to fight back. Maybe a slug mug filled with beer or a solution of ammonia and water that kills slugs on impact while fertilizing your plants at the same time. Learn how you can slug it out with slugs and snails.
Which is better, morning sun or afternoon sun? And where does mid-day sun fit into the growing cycle? Well... it all depends. To learn how and why, grab your polarized sunglasses and tune in as Jim sheds light on the many shades of sunlight.
As the summer roles on, landscape and garden soil becomes drier from constant sun at its most intense. Many plants go dormant, but that does not mean they are dead. They are very much alive and will appreciate your occasional offer of liquid refreshment. Water your plants during the cool part of the day to keep them happy.
Question: Name a woodland creature that will leap a six foot chain link fence in a single bound to get to that luscious-looking vegetable garden on the other side but will not leap a four-foot slat-sided fence through which it cannot see. If you said 'hippopotamus,' please review your field notes more thoroughly before attempting our next quiz. If you answered 'deer,' you are correct. Deer are smart - but you can outsmart them. Here's how.
In this commentary, Jim's daughter Rachel describes lots of uses for disposable coffee filters in addition to filtering what she calls her vitamin 'C.' Rachel will have you asking yourself 'Why didn't I think of that!" She's a chip off the old block, and serious about taking care of the only planet we have.
Knowledge may be power, but wisdom is the real deal. Wise weekend warriors read the label - and follow the directions. In this commentary Jim talks about how we sometimes get in the way of Mother Nature and, that when we need to nudge her a bit, we should do so wisely.
Are you developing a chemical dependency as you manage your landscape? After killing weeds with herbicides, do you try to kill them AGAIN with a second application? Friend, it is time to enter rehab. Jim has some tips to help you avoid putting your plantings in harms way in the first place.
It's fall, the time of year we start thinking about closing up the garden shed and moving inside. Before you put away that shovel, plant a tree. Fall is the ideal planting season for trees, shrubs and other hardy plants. Their roots will respond well to the head-start on spring.
What's white and black and red all over? A sunburned polar bear in a black bikini? Okay, not so funny. Global warming is no laughing matter. But for all its negative effects, the extended growing season in this region may not be one. Jim has some startling news.
Feeling cranky because it's too hot, sticky and uncomfortable to work outside? Think of it this way: when is the last time you had to shovel sunshine? To improve your disposition, jump into a cold shower, then go out and water those thirsty plants and trees. Nothing to it - just add water.
The 'Dog Days' of summer. Not much more to do in the garden, but the weeding goes on. If your sidewalk or patio cracks are in a weedy pickle, put the gherkin to workin' on the problem. You will relish the results.