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Watering in the fall - why it’s good for your plants

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “when do I stop watering in the fall?” For some that might seem like a relatively simple question to answer – “summer is the season for growing and fall is when everything starts to die, so when autumn rolls around it’s time to stop watering, right?” Well, no, not really. The question – and answer – is a little more complicated than that.

Different plants have different needs. Fall is when shrubs and perennials get busy growing their roots. After spending the summer putting all their time and energy into leaf and flower growth, and then fruit and seed production, they use autumn to take better care of their root systems.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

Stepping Back: Tips for when life calls you away from gardening

Let’s face it. Life doesn’t always go as planned. Family and work issues crop up. Turmoil happens. And when life gets in the way of your gardening you need to be prepared to deal with it.

The good news is, if your landscape was well-tended before that unexpected surgery, parental crisis, or another unplanned event, your garden would be just fine for a period of time. Mother Nature will cut you a break because you've been so conscientious about tending to your landscape. BUT….her patience will only last so long. She waits for no one, including you, and that means that plants will continue to grow and that means ALL of them - even the ones you don’t want. It’s called succession.

Regardless of what’s going on in your life, some minimal threshold of care has to be provided to your landscape on a regular basis. Look at it this way – good dental health requires daily tooth-brushing. You may be able to periodically skip more involved and lengthy professional dental care, so long as you floss and brush. But you have to at least brush!

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

Spring into Summer Action: Completing Your Garden Plant Assessments

Here in New England, the growing season is in full swing after a cool, wet spring. For gardeners, the challenge has always been when to truly dive into active garden editing. In other words - when can we start tweaking in the form of digging, dividing, moving, adding and even chucking plants? Once the hint of warm weather arrives, many gardeners succumb to the urge to do everything at once and end up making rushed and often bad decisions…including buying plants with no plan of where they’ll be planted.

Here’s One Golden Rule of Gardening: Spring garden assessments should happen in the latter half of the season. In New England, that means after Memorial Day. Period. This timing gives your garden a chance to rebound from winter so you can see both the plants and the full composition of your garden. Trying to assess in March, April, or even May can lead to bad decisions.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

3 Tips for Busy Homeowners: How to Have a Well-Tended Landscape

Most traditional landscape management has been based on principles of control rather than cooperation. Historically, gardeners have worked hard to achieve what they considered “natural perfection.” Lush, well-tended flower beds and perfectly-shaped shrubs and hedges bordering thick, green lawns.

Of course, all this “perfection and control” takes a terrible toll – on the gardener and the landscape. Hours of backbreaking labor is needed to weed, prune, water, and tend needy plants that don’t really want to be where they’re planted. Tons of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers are applied in order to keep everything and everybody in line. As a result, landscapes are all too often ecological nightmares.

Today, it’s appropriate to consider entering into a new relationship with the natural world. Taking a step away, if you will, from everything that we’ve collectively (mis)learned about “proper garden care” and how a cultivated landscape should look. Gardens need to be less wasteful and more environmentally benign.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

5 Best Money-Saving Landscape Tips

Even those of us who are passionate about landscaping and gardening can be equally passionate about saving time and money doing it. Minimizing effort and expense on your landscaping chores is all about knowing the best times to perform certain tasks around your gardens and lawn. Whether it’s maintenance or planning or installing – understanding the seasons is key for making sure you time your work so that it’s cost- and time-effective.

If you’re ready to lessen your burden when it comes to maintaining your landscape and all the elements in it, here are 5 tips to make your life easier:

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

5 Top Fall Tasks To Give Your Landscape The Biggest Bang For Your Buck

Many homeowners don’t realize that fall is a critical time for lawns and gardens. Even though the summer bloom is off, bright colors are beginning to fade, and winter is just around the corner, fall is actually an important time to get your property ready for the next growing season.

Here are five helpful fall tasks that will save you time and money by tackling the right tasks at the right time using the right techniques:

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Landscape and Garden Maintenance Commercial and Public Landscapes

How to Weed your garden Like a Pro: Part II

In Part I about weeding your garden like a pro, we discussed mindset and approach. Now, it’s time to demystify all those weeds. What are they all about anyway? I mean, why do they even show up in the first place?

Let’s find out what the heck is going on with weeds.

Some say a weed is any plant you don't want. And on some level that’s true. If you have a specific design – a garden expression -- and an unplanned plant shows up, sure, you can call it a weed and pull it. But is it really a weed? Is a seedling from a maple tree or a Rose of Sharon a weed? Are the new little Black-eyed Susans or Verbena bonariensis blooming in the middle of the boxwood border really so bad?

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance Seasonal Garden Interest

How to Weed Your Garden Like a Pro: Part I

What is it about the task of removing unwanted plants from our garden that causes us to hate it so much? Weeding seems to be the one thing that can turn every gardener into a world-class complainer. Could it be that it is deeply dissatisfying drudgery? Or that it feels endless and soul-crushing? Oh, the dreaded task of weeding!

It seems like something we need to discuss.

First, if you’re a gardener at heart, I’ll bet I can improve your attitude and brighten your spirits if you'll just stick with me through this blog.

Let’s start by talking about two critical components to effective, positive weeding. The first is mindset. The second is approach. When you align the correct mindset with the right approach, weeding isn’t such a painful exercise.

To get into mindset, let's take a shallow dive into the topic of maintenance in general and attitudes toward it and be sure to watch the how-to-weed video below.

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance

How to DeadHead Salvia

…and the answers to many other questions about this popular plant

Salvias are like that old childhood friend you still love to hang out with; easy-going, dependable, and undeterred by life’s ups and downs. Salvias are perhaps the easiest perennial, next to daylilies, that just about anyone can grow with success. There are so many amazing choices of Salvia that it’s hard to get bored by them.

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Landscape and Garden Maintenance Landscape How-To Videos

3 Secret Confessions of a Landscape Professional

When you have worked for a number of years in any profession, there are stories you could tell, mistakes you've made and, yes, even some things to confess. With all of them comes hard-won knowledge and experience that can serve you well if you pay attention.

Topics: Ecological and Sustainable Landscapes Designing Gardens and Landscapes Landscape and Garden Maintenance