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Friday, December 17, 2010

Got planters on your porch?

Use Containers to Brighten the Winter

Even though you can't be growing petunias and pansies this time of year, that doesn't mean all your outdoor containers have to be packed away until spring.

Filling them with different plants and other natural materials as the seasons change keeps that focal point of seasonal interest going on your porch. In the wintertime, in particular, containers bring a bright spot amidst the cold, dormant landscape.
Here are some tips for keeping porch containers working through the winter.
Less is more. During the winter, there is less competition in the outdoors to draw the eye, so use less for more impact. If you normally have three pots flanking each side of your door, for example, scale back to two filled containers. Or make two large containers and minimize the amount of materials in the other four.


Use fewer items in
secondary pots
Thriller, filler, spiller still applies. Even though the materials may be different in winter, follow the same formula used to combine plants in the growing season. Use a tall element like dogwood branches for thriller, rounded items like dried pods, cones or flowers for filler and a cascading component like evergreens for spiller.

Plan an easy transition from "holiday" to "winter" décor. Many elements like evergreens and pine cones used for holiday décor transition well into simple winter interest. By removing the red bows or glass balls that say, "Merry Christmas," the rest of the container can keep the seasonal interest going until it's time to plant pansies.

Take a sustainable look at your landscape. Many of the components for winter containers might already be in your yard. Create your own scavenger hunt and look for:
  • Berries--such as red cotoneaster, blue/green juniper and orange pyracantha
  • Cones from evergreen trees and shrubs
  • Seed pods and dried plants like yarrow, hydrangea or Echinacea
  • Colorful deciduous branches that can be cut such as red-twig dogwood or others with an interesting shape like sumac
  • Evergreen branches from trees and shrubs or the lowest branches that came off the Christmas tree when you put it in the stand
If you still need a few more items, the local garden center can supply the rest.

Take time to create your own look that says "winter" and to appreciate the scaled-back ambiance of the winterscape. Sometimes we have to look a little harder this time of year, but Mother Nature has given us much to see and enjoy outdoors.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Why should you just add water?


The entire landscape is thirsty!

Mother Nature has not supported her plant life well this fall. There's been little more than one inch of natural rainfall since early September and an unseasonably warm fall. This one-two punch has left both trees and lawns parched. They have been losing the moisture that needs to be replaced for the plants to remain healthy. Property owners need to step in and help.

Lawns. Drag out the hoses and run the sprinklers to water the grass. Pay special attention to lawns on south-facing and southwest facing areas and on slopes as they receive more drying sun than other areas and that makes them more prone to winter kill.

Water trees with a deep-root
watering device attached to a hose.


Trees. Next, move on to water the trees. Watering them is not as easy as watering the lawn. But remember that trees were one of the most costly investments when the landscape was installed and as they grow, trees become even more valuable. Caring for them properly is an investment in your ongoing property value.

The key to watering trees effectively involves understanding what the "drip line" is and how to water around it. To picture the drip line, envision a circle around the outer rim of the tree where rainfall will "drip" off and hit the ground. That imaginary circle is the drip line.

Next, do a little math to create another imaginary circle that is beyond the drip line. Calculate the new circle by multiplying the distance from the tree trunk to the drip line by 1.5. For example, if the drip line runs in a circle 10 feet from the tree trunk and you multiply 10 x 1.5, that outer circle will be 15 feet beyond the tree.

The donut area between the drip line circle and the outer circle is the most critical area for watering your tree. This is where the feeder roots live and grow and where you need to add the moisture.

Use a hose connected to a deep-root watering tool that you push well into the soil. This device gets water closer to the roots than watering the surface of the ground. Insert the watering tool in a zigzag pattern at regular intervals a few feet apart throughout the donut area outside the drip line. This process will take a little time and energy--but might be a good excuse to get out to enjoy the balmy weather.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, December 6, 2010

Artificial or real--which one is the greener Christmas tree?

Cutting down a perfectly shaped, growing tree to deck it in lights for two weeks and then send it to the trash heap sounds like a desecration of nature akin to Aztec sacrifice.

Doesn't basic logic suggest that using the same tree year in and year out would be much more sustainable than cutting down a new tree and disposing of it every year? While the logic seems plausible, the reality just isn't so.

An artificial tree must be used and re-used for 20 years to have a lower carbon footprint than a real tree. Grown trees, on the other hand, support Planet Earth the whole time they are growing by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. One acre of Christmas trees creates enough oxygen to support 18 people.

Trees grown on Christmas tree farms are also managed sustainably. For every tree that is harvested at the holidays, two to three more seedlings are planted. The cycle of life continues.

What about all those discarded trees the first week in January? Sending them to the landfill is not a sustainable option. Since most cities have tree recycling programs, however, you can extend the value of your tree through local recycling which will likely turn it into mulch for gardens, hiking trails and animal stalls.

How to select and care for a real tree:
  • Do the freshness test by pinching a needle. A rich fragrance indicates a fresh tree. Remove a needle and bend it. If it snaps like a carrot, that's another sign of a fresh tree.
  • Maintain freshness by cutting an inch off the base and setting the trunk in a stand that holds at least one gallon of water.
  • Avoid the increased fire hazard of a real tree by adding water daily and switching to LED lights. They don't heat up to become a fire hazard. LEDs also use 90% less energy than traditional lights which adds even more to the tree's sustainability factor.
Want to cut your own tree?
The U.S. Forest Service manages 17 national forests throughout the Rocky Mountain region and issues permits for residents to cut down trees within the forests. Learn more.
Consider a "greener" tree this season and enjoy what an artificial tree will never give you--the tell-tale evergreen aroma that emotes the holiday season.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's time to light up the holidays

The long weekend after Thanksgiving is when most of us start hauling out the holiday lights.

What's broken? What's out of date? What can we put up for more WOW-factor this year? Can I cut the energy cost and still have high impact?
Here are some ideas for a fresh and cost effective look for your holiday lights in 2010.

Multicolor is out
Multi-color displays have been on the downturn for awhile. For 2010, the lighting designers are featuring simple color schemes with white and one other color, or no more than white and two colors.

To gain maximum effect with these uncomplicated color schemes use strands of bulbs in varying sizes. Read on for examples.

Don't pitch the icicle lights
Even though icicles have been around for awhile, they're not passé. They are, however, being used in new combinations that up the impact. String icicle lights as they are traditionally hung to cascade off the gutter line of the roof. This year, add a string of larger white lights with bulbs about 1 ½ inches long (C-7s is the technical term) along the gutter line. The size variation in the lights creates two kinds of light and the appearance of twinkling lights. Small variation, big impact.

New style for trees
Trees also take on a better look when combining mini-lights with the larger bulbs. The larger bulbs give bigger, brighter light. The smaller bulbs add softness to the overall display. Create a new look in your yard by wrapping the trunk of the tree with white mini-lights and making a canopy of one bright color, such as red, in larger bulbs on the limbs.

How to string lights on trees:
  • Wrap lights around evergreen trees. If there is more than one evergreen in your yard, wrap lights in the same direction and keep spacing between rows consistent from tree to tree. This technique makes for a uniform appearance.
  • For deciduous trees, avoid wrapping light strands in a circular pattern in the branches. Instead, play off the tree's natural structure for a more dramatic look by running the lights along the length of the limbs.
Be creative
Lights don't have to be limited to trees and roof lines. Use other structural elements like pillars, fences and gazebos that can easily be illuminated to add to your display. Also think of lighting whimsical items like old skis, a wheel barrow or the little red wagon for a welcoming focal point close to the front door.

Go sustainable
This year, replace worn out lights with LEDs. They are just as user-friendly as they are environmentally friendly. Have you heard that you can connect 120 strands of LEDs end to end and plug the whole line into one extension cord that goes into a single power outlet? That's the ultimate no-jolt job.

LEDs also use about 80% less power than conventional holiday lights and they last four to five times longer. You will pay more up-front, but that cost is soon recovered in energy cost savings and fewer replacements. Using less total material over a longer lifetime is a major sustainable advantage.



Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall and Winter Watering Tips

Fall and Winter Watering
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07211.html


by J.E. Klett and C. Wilson1 (7/08)

Quick Facts...

Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.

Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover.

Established large trees have a root spread equal to or greater than the height of the tree. Apply water to the most critical part of the root zone within the dripline.

Dry air, low precipitation, little soil moisture, and fluctuating temperatures are characteristics of fall and winter in many areas of Colorado. There often can be little or no snow cover to provide soil moisture, particularly from October through March. Trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns can be damaged if they do not receive supplemental water.

The result of long, dry periods during fall and winter is injury or death to parts of plant root systems. Affected plants may appear perfectly normal and resume growth in the spring using stored food energy. Plants may be weakened and all or parts may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise. Weakened plants also may be subject to insect and disease problems.

Plants Sensitive to Drought Injury
Woody plants with shallow root systems require supplemental watering during extended dry fall and winter periods. These include European white and paper birches; Norway, silver, red, Rocky Mountain, and hybrid maples; lindens, alder, hornbeams, dogwood, willows, and mountain ash. Evergreen plants that benefit include spruce, fir, arborvitae, yew, Oregon grape-holly, boxwood, and Manhattan euonymus. Woody plants benefit from mulch to conserve soil moisture.

Herbaceous perennials and ground covers in exposed sites are more subject to winter freezing and thawing. This opens cracks in soil that expose roots to cold and drying. Winter watering combined with mulching can prevent damage (See fact sheet 7.214, Mulches for Home Grounds.)

Lawns also are prone to winter damage. Newly established lawns, whether seed or sod, are especially susceptible to damage. Susceptibility increases for lawns with south or west exposures.

Watering Guidelines
Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. A solid layer (persisting for more than a month) of ice on lawns can cause suffocation or result in matting of the grass.

Plants receiving reflected heat from buildings, walls and fences are more subject to damage. The low angle of winter sun makes this more likely in south or west exposures. Windy sites result in faster drying of sod and plants and require additional water. Lawns in warm exposures are prone to late winter mite damage. Water is the best treatment to prevent turf injury (see fact sheet 5.505, Clover and Other Mites of Turfgrass).

Monitor weather conditions and water during extended dry periods without snow cover—one to two times per month.

Newly Planted vs. Established Plants
Newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury. Woody trees generally take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter. For example, a two inch diameter (caliper) tree takes a minimum of two years to establish under normal conditions.

Trees obtain water best when it is allowed to soak into the soil slowly to a depth of 12 inches. Methods of watering trees include: sprinklers, deep-root fork or needle, soaker hose or soft spray wand. Apply water to many locations under the dripline and beyond if possible. If you use a deep-root fork or needle, insert no deeper than 8 inches into the soil. As a general survival rule, apply 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree needs 20 gallons per watering. Use a ruler to measure your tree’s diameter.

Newly planted shrubs require more water than established shrubs that have been planted for at least one year. The following recommendations assume shrubs are mulched to retain moisture. In dry winters, all shrubs benefit from winter watering from October through March. Apply 5 gallons two times per month for a newly planted shrub. Small established shrubs (less than 3 feet tall) should receive 5 gallons monthly. Large established shrubs (more than 6 feet) require 18 gallons on a monthly basis. Decrease amounts to account for precipitation. Water within the dripline of the shrub and around the base.

Herbaceous perennial establishment periods vary. Bare root plants require longer to establish than container plants. Perennials transplanted late in the fall will not establish as quickly as plants planted in spring. Winter watering is advisable with late planted perennials, bare root plants, and perennials located in windy or southwest exposures.

For more information, see the following Planttalk ColoradoTM script.
1751, Fall and Winter Watering: during drought

1J.E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension horticulture specialist and professor, horticulture and landscape architecture; and C. Wilson, Extension horticulture agent, Denver County. 1/04. Revised 7/08.

Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating.CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

Be Careful What You Throw In The Compost Pile!


Oak Leaves are not
 good for compost

The last pumpkin has been picked and the tomatoes are gone, so the final chore in the garden is fall clean-up.  Much of the veggie garden and other landscape debris is great fodder for the compost pile. But before you pitch everything in, consider some dos and don'ts for fall clean-up and composting.

Why remove garden debris in the fall?  Leaves and dead plants left on top of the soil can harbor insects over the winter and perpetuate diseases into the next growing season.  For the sake of the soil and the success of next year's garden, it's best not to procrastinate on the clean-up.  As with many landscape chores, clean-up done at the end of one season builds into the success of the next one.

Tomato plants.  If your plants had problems this year with insects or disease, you'll be better off not putting dead tomato plants into the compost pile.  Not every home compost pile reaches and maintains the high temps needed to kill insects or disease.  In the long run, it's best to play it safe and pitch those plants into the trash.

Squash and pumpkin vines.  The debris from squash and pumpkins will take up to three years to decompose sufficiently to be used as compost.  Again, it's better to discard this debris in the trash. But go ahead and put other plant material like pepper plants into the pile.

Leaves from trees
  • Leaves to avoid.  Certain leaves are high in tannins which you want to avoid putting into the compost.  In Colorado, the most common leaves to leave out are oak and cottonwood.  

  • Shaken not stirred equals raked not shredded in the compost cocktail.  For leaves that you will pitch into the compost, avoid shredding them before composting.  While it's convenient to mulch the leaves with the lawn mower and collect them in the bag so you can just shake them into the pile, don't be tempted. If you want to use leaves for composting, rake them instead.  Raking keeps leaves fluffy and this helps to aerate the compost.  

Evergreen needles.  Needles from pine, spruce and other evergreens are high in acid and contain sap.  Since these ingredients aren't good for the compost mix, don't pitch needles into the pile.


If you're still going strong after the fall clean-up:  do your garden a favor and till in some compost.  Adding compost in the fall and tilling it well into the soil will give it the time it needs over the winter to break down.  Next spring at planting time, your soil will already be in prime shape to grow early season veggies.  




Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gardening At Altitude: This anniversary is all wet

Check out the article featured in The Boulder Daily Camera. FLM Account Manager DJ Caldwell was interviewed for this piece. This is also the first time a daily newspaper has mentioned the Landscape Industry Certified Technicians program! This same article is also running in the Longmont Times-Call and Loveland Herald.
http://www.dailycamera.com/lifestyles/ci_16319366

Friday, October 8, 2010

Don't get caught with frozen sprinklers!

Last year right about now, hundreds of Front Range homeowners had serious damage to their sprinkler systems when temperatures took an early dive well below freezing. As current nighttime temps keep falling, we know this year's first freeze can't be far away.
The backflow is outside,
usually next to the foundation.

The unseasonal surprise last year caught many homeowners off guard because their sprinklers had not yet been winterized or protected. If you haven't yet scheduled to have your system winterized by having it blown out with compressed air, set up an appointment with a landscape professional.

Next, protect your system from a freeze that may occur before it's winterized. The most vulnerable part of the system is called the backflow prevention (BFP) device. It keeps the water that's in your sprinkler system from backing up into the domestic water inside your house. It is also one of the most expensive components of the sprinkler system.

Here's what you can do now to protect the backflow device from an early freeze. These precautions protect from those early freezes and still allow you to run your sprinkler system.

  • Turn the valve handle at a 45 degree angle.
  • Wrap the device with a towel.
  • Then wrap everything with a plastic bag that you tape or secure in place.
After you have stopped watering for the year and before your system is winterized, take these additional precautions before winter sets in.
  • Drain the backflow so there is no more water inside. If you don't know how to do this, call a pro.
  • You won't be able to operate your sprinkler system after draining it, so you are ready for the final step of irrigation system protection which is having the system winterized.
Winterizing the sprinkler system requires hooking up an air compressor to the sprinkler system. The compressor pushes air into the lines to blow out the water. Water expands when it freezes. So pipes full of water will burst from the expansion and pressure when the water freezes. Repairs can be extensive and also expensive.

That's why it is critical to have the sprinkler system properly winterized. It is one job that's usually best done by a professional who has both the equipment and the know-how to get the water out of the lines.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, October 1, 2010

Water by the thermometer, not the calendar


The calendar says it's officially fall, but the last two weeks in September have been more like the first two weeks in August in terms of precip and daily high temps.

This September has been about the sixth hottest and driest on record, so the standard operating procedures for watering Kentucky bluegrass lawns do not apply.

September and early October are critical times for lawn care and moisture. The absolute worst thing you can do for a lawn is to allow it to become drought stressed just prior to going into winter. Drought stress will push the lawn into early dormancy causing it to shut down its energy before the grass plants have had time to store up nutrients needed to survive the winter months.

Think of bears that need to stoke up on food and fatten up before hibernating. It's similar with turfgrass. It needs to be in optimal health before taking its long winter nap.

Turfgrass is a perennial plant that moves through an annual cycle that involves spring/summer growth, storing energy to prepare for winter, winter dormancy and re-emergence in spring. So, what's the plan for right now?

Water. If your lawn is moving into dormancy and drying out, make sure it gets sufficient water. Keep watering about twice per week. Push a screwdriver into the soil to see how hard the soil is. It should go down several inches and easily.

Winterize the sprinkler system by blowing out the lines with compressed air. Remember it was a hard freeze the first week in October last year that damaged many non-winterized sprinkler systems along the Front Range.

Keep watering even after the system is winterized. Haul out the hose and keep watering as long as temps are warm.

Water all winter long--usually about once per month. Winter is when lawns lose their density due to lack of moisture and it takes far more water in spring to bring a lawn back than if you do winter watering. Check south and west facing lawns as they dry out faster due to more sun.

Fertilize one more time in the last half of October. Ironically, it's the two fall-ish fertilizations--the one around Labor Day and the one in late October--that are two of the three most important times to fertilize the lawn. Remember those bears.

Aerate if you can. Spring aeration is most beneficial, but if you can aerate in the fall it's another healthy step for your lawn.

Finally, mow the last couple of times to tuck your lawn in neatly for the winter.

Lawn under control, settle into fall. Plant some bulbs. Carve the pumpkin. And enjoy the down time 'til spring.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall is for loving your lawn


The calendar may still say summer. But in Colorado, the thermometer is already saying fall-ish.

We've noticed daily highs getting cooler and the daylight hours getting shorter. But did you notice the much cooler nights?

Right now, average night-time low temps are more than 10 degrees cooler than they were on August 1st. Cooler night-time lows mean fall is in the air and especially so, for the lawn. Cooler nights combined with fewer hours of daylight slows lawn growth considerably. And that means it's really time to crank down the water and soon, slow down the mowing.

Grass in fall mode needs less water and less mowing the closer we get to the official start date of fall in just a couple weeks.

Even with the grass slowing down, you still need to love your lawn a little longer this growing season with a bit more TLC. Do these fall lawn activities and you will build a hardier lawn for the winter and see a stronger come-back next spring.
  • Apply a final application of fertilizer timed around the first day of fall, September 23rd. Using the same fertilizer you used earlier this season is fine. But if you need to buy more, look for a formulation high in Nitrogen and Potassium because these minerals are good for the roots.
  • Core aerate the lawn before winterizing the sprinkler system. Aeration pulls plugs of soil and sod out of the lawn and these holes open up the soil so that the roots can take in maximum moisture during the winter.
  • Zap turf weeds. Here's your last chance for this year to get after turf weeds. Giving one last round of control will really pay off next spring in terms of fewer weeds at the start of the season.
  • Get expert help if you have had fungus or other turf disease or insect problems this summer.
Cultural practices like fertilization and aeration go a long way to reduce disease. But it's still a good idea to get problems properly diagnosed so you know what to do now and maybe next spring to get problems under control for good.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Get out the pruners and shape up some plants!


Long Handled Pruners
Hand Pruners are the basic pruning tool


By Labor Day, the flowers are taking care of themselves and the veggies only need picking, so most gardeners can easily turn their attention to pruning their trees and shrubs. Late summer pruning is very good for deciduous trees, especially. You can remove unneeded foliage that can overload with snow and break branches when those early snowstorms come before the leaves have dropped.

Make sure you have the right tools for the job:

  • Hand pruners are the basic pruning tool. Use pruners to cut branches up to 1 inch in diameter.
  • Long-handled pruners cut branches up to a 2 to 2 ½ inch diameter.
  • A hand saw can cut larger branches, but use it standing on the ground.
  • A pole pruner or pole saw will extend your reach high into the tree. Again, use it while standing on the ground.
  • Got a ladder? Leave it in the garage. If you need a ladder to prune, you need to call a tree specialist because he will have the right equipment for the job.
What can you prune in the fall? Basically most shrubs and deciduous trees that need to be lightened to avoid early storm damage or that have overgrown the available space.

Are there plants you shouldn't prune now? Spring-flowering plants like lilac and forsythia have already set the buds that will be next spring's flowers. So if you prune them now, you will lose those spring blooms. Prune flowering plants next spring after they have bloomed. Ornamental grasses should also be left in place for winter interest.

Tips to make the best cut:

  • Avoid what's called a flush cut that severs the branch right next to the trunk of the tree. Look for the tree branch collar where the branch joins the tree and cut outside that collar.
  • Never cut the main leader of a tree unless it is damaged.
  • Don't chop off a branch half-way between the trunk and the tip of the branch. Either cut the whole branch off or thin it by removing secondary branches.
  • Leave the pruning wounds open and natural. The tree knows what to do to seal off the cut and covering the wound with paint or tar is neither necessary nor helpful to the tree.
  • If large branches need to be pruned or if you're not sure how to prune for the proper shape, call a professional arborist who has been trained to prune both for the plant's health and its good looks.
 
Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, August 27, 2010

Does your lawn look sick or healthy?




Really hot temps mean stress and disease problems for lawns. If your lawn looks less than lovely, here are some tips to help you diagnose potential problems.

Drought stress
Does the lawn have a bluish cast? Has it turned a straw color in some areas or throughout the lawn? If you push a screwdriver into the soil, is the soil hard, keeping the tool from going very far into the soil? "Yes" answers indicate drought stress.

What to do: If there are patches of dry grass like the one above, check out the sprinkler system for problems that impede water coverage. Drought stress due to high temps and lack of water will turn Kentucky bluegrass a blonde color. If there is no traffic on the lawn--such as kids playing soccer--the grass will recover on its own as temperatures come down.

If the lawn has traffic, increase water to bring it out of dormancy. Avoid applying fertilizers while the grass is dormant as that is too much of a shock. When the grass begins to green up, you can fertilize.

Dollar Spot
Do you look across the lawn and see rounded or oblong spots that look bleached? If so, you may have Dollar Spot. The bad news is that lawnmowers can spread the spores of this disease from one area of the yard to another. The good news is that of all the turf diseases to have, this one is the least serious.
Dollar spot usually develops when the turf is heat and drought stressed and nitrogen deficient. Regular watering and some fertilizer along with regular mowing will usually relieve the problem within a couple weeks.

Necrotic Ring Spot (NRS)
Do you see very large rings or donut-shapes about 6 to 8 inches across that are scattered throughout the lawn? The donut shape looks brown and dead while the hole inside is green.
If this is what you see, you may have NRS--a more serious fungus problem. NRS is a root problem that actually happened in May, but doesn't show up until the intense heat of July/August. Since the roots are dead, there is little you can do for the brown areas now and that is why applying a fungicide this time of year won't help.
The most effective treatment for NRS is an ongoing health program that will build strong roots that are resistant to disease. Provide adequate water without over-watering. This fall, aerate the lawn, top dress with compost and seed with perennial rye.

Melting Out
Does the lawn look very gray and does the grass look collapsed? These are signs of a less common but serious condition known as Melting Out. If you suspect your lawn has this condition, act quickly and consult with a lawn pro.
Melting out typically requires a fungicide applied right away that's followed with adequate watering and fertilizer at the right time. This is a serious turf grass problem that will take considerable care and time for recovery.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flowers--where do they come from?

Judging in progress at 2010 trials.

Petunias, geranium, coleus, impatiens, begonias. They're giving us a good season of color decorating our private porches and patios and public restaurants and malls. But do you know before they all got there, where those flowers came from?

Here's a Colorado-proud moment: many of the flower varieties not only enjoyed by us--but the rest of the country--got their start in Colorado. We've got what it takes to separate the fluff from the hardy: pounding hail, harsh winds, scorching sun, dry climate.

It seems the rest of the country appreciates that if an annual can survive in Colorado and keep on bloomin', it could live darn near anywhere.

Last week green industry pros gathered at one of three Colorado plant trials, this one hosted by local grower Welby Gardens at Country Fair Garden Center in Arvada. Judges evaluated nearly 600 different annuals that were all started underneath 2 acres of greenhouse last January. Catch a glimpse of this flower extravaganza in the photo above.

At the annual CSU plant trials, judges evaluate 1,200 annuals.


Colorado State University hosts another one of the 20+ annual All-American Selection trial gardens. Last year, CSU researchers presented more than 1,200 annuals for evaluation.

The 2010 trials are now underway and open for public view on the campus. If you're delivering a student this year, head over to the east side of the campus after the stuff has been dumped at the dorm. Seeing so many flowers in one place is hard to pass up.

The progression of a flower from development to plant trials to patio takes about 10 years. To become a winner, the new plant must be better than what is already on the market in terms of fragrance, form, disease/pest hardiness and more.

The winners must be the showiest and hardiest to survive the cut. All the other blooms that sat pretty for the judges at the trials have long since gone by the wayside so that we can keep enjoying the best of the best.
And that, Virginia, is where flowers come from.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Get Picking! It's payback time in the Garden!



For the best flavor and texture, pick veggies in their prime.

All those hours of composting, planting, weeding and watering the veggie garden are now paying us back with tomatoes, broccoli, corn, cukes, squash, beans and more. But when do we pick this great harvest?

Timing is everything. The time to pick is when flavor and texture are in their prime--which is, after all, a compelling reason to grow your own in the first place. Vine ripened, full-flavored tomatoes picked 10 minutes before they're plopped in the salad are always better than ones from the store.
Pick right before eating/cooking if you can. But most important, pay attention to each veggie's own character that tells us when it's best for picking. Here are some tips to help you pick veggies in their prime.
Cut, don't yank. In general, clean cuts with scissors or hand pruners are best when removing veggies from plants.
Beans (Snap): Pick before the seeds bulge through the pod. They should snap easily into two. Check daily as it doesn't take long for beans to go from tender to tough.
Dried Beans: To get dried beans, leave beans on the plant until the pods turn brown. Harvest when beans rattle in the pod. Remove beans from the pod and put in the freezer 3 to 4 hours to kill any insects or larvae that might be on them. Store beans in a dry, cool container.
Broccoli: Pick and eat broccoli before the flower heads bloom, so check unopened flower buds frequently. Don't expect Colorado garden-grown broccoli to grow as large as the heads from the market as our climate generally produces smaller broccoli.
Carrots: Because carrots are underground, it's obviously harder to tell when to harvest. The tops may show at soil level depending on the variety and that will give a hint of the size. If tops don't show, dig up a carrot with a lot of foliage to check crop development. Mature carrots can be harvested right away or they can be left in the ground to harvest later.
Corn: About 3 weeks after silks form, they will turn dry and brown. Pull back the husk a bit to see if the kernels are filled all the way to the tip of the plant. If they are nice and tender when you take a thumbnail to them, they should squirt milk letting you know it's time to pick.
Cucumber: Because they grow quickly in the August heat, cukes need to be checked daily and harvested young. When to pick will vary by variety, but fruits should be firm. Over-ripe cucumbers can be very bitter or pithy, even before they start to turn yellow.
Squash: Pick all varieties when young and check the plants often. Skins should be tender enough to poke a fingernail through. Use scissors or pruners to harvest.
Tomatoes: Harvest them when fully colored all the way to the top of the fruit and slightly soft to the touch. Gently twist and pull tomatoes from the vine.
Herbs: Cut herbs and use some while they are fresh and let the rest dry for use later. Cutting the plant back will allow it to bush up again.
Late season reminders:
Keep the garden mulched. August brings hot, dry weather, so keep mulching the garden with straw, wood mulch or grass clippings to retain soil moisture. Also keep mulch away from seedlings and the base of plants.
Plant in September. Even if you didn't plant a garden earlier, you can still get the soil ready to plant a cool season crop with lettuce, carrots, onions, garlic and spices like saffron crocus.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, August 6, 2010

Keep planting, it's only August!



We may be on the down side of the growing season, but now is a great time to add plants that give long lasting value to your landscape.

There are a few good reasons why August is a good time to stay active in the landscape. Some perennials aren't even available from the nurseries until late summer. If you want those plants, you have to wait until about now to buy them.


Garden centers and nurseries will also start end-of-season sales during the next few weeks. Those bargains can bring even more value for your landscape dollar.

Around early August is also when we start thinking about autumn being around the corner and the need to show fall color in the yard. And the most compelling reason of all to stay involved in the landscape is that the more we plant this season, the more plants we'll have to enjoy this time next year. Factor in that perennials are planted once and enjoyed for years to come and you have landscape value you can't afford to pass up.

The showy pink plant above is one you may be seeing in landscapes right about now. Disco Belle Hibiscus is one of the plants that blooms mid-season-about the time we're over the petunias and missing the Columbine and ready for a fresh face in the garden.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now that most plants are really taking off in the garden, it's time to give some support to maturing plants and check for health problems.

Companion Plants like these ward off insects


Upgrade tomato cages
When tomatoes outgrow their first tomato cage, stack another one on top of the first one. Then tie tall branches to the new cage to keep the plant growing upward. While you're at it, thin tomatoes by pruning away smaller branches close to the inside of plant. Also prune any branches that are touching the ground.

Create a tepee for climbing beans
Pine, cedar and bamboo are excellent materials to create a support that is both sturdy and fun. Let the kids paint or decorate the tepee poles for extra interest.

Check plants for insects and disease
Here are some common problems with their tell-tale symptoms:
Flea beetle infestations show up with lacy, torn leaves. Remove and dispose of the infested leaves.
Early Blight, Leaf Spot and Rust have characteristic brown or black spots on the leaves, which will then turn yellow. Remove damaged leaves still on plants and any leaves on the ground.
Blossom End Rot is recognizable by black spots or lesions on the bottom of tomatoes. Remove and dispose of the infected tomatoes. Typically, end rot only shows up on the first crop of tomatoes and not on the ones that follow.
Since end rot develops from inconsistent watering, adding straw or grass clippings as mulch around the plants will help hold moisture and create a more stable environment. Fertilizing with calcium also helps.

Avoid insect damage with proactive planting
Companion plants such as nasturtium, basil and onions strategically placed in the garden will attract and trap insects such as aphids that you don't want on tomatoes or other veggies. Nasturtium is even more effective than marigolds as a pest deterrent, and maybe, even prettier. And did we mention they are also edible?

Water consistently
Since most fungus and bacteria problems are the result of too much or inconsistent watering, follow these watering tips for best results:
Water early in the morning; avoid watering in the hot part of the day.
Use drip irrigation or soak the soil with a hose when watering as over spraying with a sprinkler can promote bacteria growth.

Rotate plants
Make a note of where you planted your veggies this year and rotate them to another location next year. Rotating crops each year so that the same plants aren't grown repeatedly in one spot, helps deter fungus and bacteria growth.



Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, July 12, 2010

When it's hot there are weeds

When we get to July and the temperatures are hot, the summer crop of weeds shows up en mass in flower beds and shrub beds in particular.
Anytime you're dealing with weeds, the best defense is the proverbial offense. Being proactive right from the start gets weeds under control and keeps your landscape looking neat and trim.

What IS a weed?
We think of the common weeds like dandelions and thistle when we hear the W-word. But a weed can be any plant that is growing in the wrong place. An acorn that falls and starts to sprout an oak tree that will grow under the eaves of your house is really a weed. Any plant that is misplaced for aesthetic or practical reasons needs to be treated like the standard weed and removed.

Hot season weeds
Typical weeds in the hottest part of the growing season include spurge, purslane, mallow, bindweed and thistle. With the exception of bindweed and thistle, one of the best controls is simply using mechanical means to eradicate them-namely, pulling them out or hoeing, if the area permits.

But don't pull that thistle or bindweed!
If you've ever noticed that some weeds seem to proliferate after you pull them, you're right! This actually happens with certain weeds that have regenerative root systems. Literally, the more you pull them, the more weeds you'll get back.
When it comes to thistle and field bindweed, stop before you pull! Both of these weeds have amazingly long root systems. When you pull these weeds, most of the root system remains underground and will simply grow more weeds to replace the one you pulled.
The best control for these weeds is applying a treatment that will kill the above-ground plant and the root system so that they will be dealt with for good. If these weeds are in the lawn, be sure to select a product that will not harm the grass.
Some herbicides used to zap the designated weed may be harmful to other plants due to drift. Be very careful what you spray and when, as even a slight breeze can take the product where you don't want it.


Need help getting your weeds under control?
Call FLM at (970) 472-0690 or email us at foothillslanscape@comcast.net




Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, July 2, 2010

Water your garden efficiently, one drip at a time


As gardeners, we are often torn between wanting to provide all the water our plants need to stay healthy, and knowing we also need to conserve water. Drip irrigation is the practical solution to that creative tension.

With drip systems, water is applied directly to the area of newly planted seeds or to a plant's root zone, so there is almost no water loss from wind or general evaporation.

Drip irrigation can be used to water veggies and herbs, annual flowers, perennials and shrub beds. Drip systems are also practical because they can provide automatic watering for hard-to-reach places. The small tubes can be routed to hanging baskets as well as containers on the porch or patio.

Many of us have automatic sprinklers that take care of the lawn when we're away, but still have to ask a neighbor to water the flower pots. With a drip system, all of your plants can be watered automatically--and the neighbor will be glad to know she's off the hook.

Since it requires very little water pressure, drip is usually an easy add-on to an existing sprinkler system. Three basic types of drip irrigation include:


  • Micro sprays which emit a mist of water. These sprays are very effective to keep the soil moist while seeds are germinating. They are also good for misting certain veggie crops like lettuce.
  • Laser tube is placed on top of the soil and emits water directly from the tube. It is effective around the base of plants like tomatoes. It can also be run to hanging baskets and patio containers.
  • Sub-surface irrigation, as the name suggests, is placed underneath the soil and emits water in the root zone of the plants.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pet Friendly Landscape Tips

When it comes to pets and the yard, it will be easier to keep pets out of the proverbial dog house if you do a few things to accommodate their needs and to eradicate ongoing problems.  


Even a small water feature will cool pets on hot days.


Cool pets with a water feature.
  • Most people think that water features are anything but pet-friendly and worry about having both pets and a water feature in their yard. In reality, water features are good for dogs.
  • Water features provide an ongoing source of drinking water, but you need to use non-toxic cleaners in the water. Even a pond-less (stream like) feature will provide the water a pet needs.
  • They also allow dogs to cool their feet. Since dogs perspire through their feet, keeping their feet cool helps them cope with the heat of summer.
  • Making sure dogs stay hydrated on hot days when you are away from home is a major challenge solved by a water feature. A pet-friendly feature requires a few design and maintenance considerations, but little to no more expense than any other water feature.

Deal with puddles.
  • Sporting breeds instinctively dig when they see water, so the best solution is to eradicate low spots that become puddles and lead to muddy paw prints across the floor.
  • Short term fixes are as easy as placing rocks or bricks in holes and depressions. Swampy and puddle areas due to low spots in the yard or drainage problems should be dealt with by re-grading for the long-term solution.

Create shade.
  • Female dogs, especially, like to nest and will dig a nest in cool places next to foundations. In wet weather, the nesting area holds water that can lead to foundation problems. This is one reason why dogs need to be encouraged to find shade in the right places.
  • If there are few tree-shaded areas encourage dogs to seek shade by giving access to the north and east sides of the house or by making other shaded areas like the space underneath a trampoline accessible.

Beware of dangers on decks.
  • Sadly, many dog owners have learned what dangerous places decks can be for their pets who have suffered heat strokes and other mishaps by being confined to the deck in hot weather. Dark wood decking gets extremely hot and wood decking often has painful splinters if not sanded regularly.
  • If you are building or replacing a deck, consider a more pet-friendly choice if your pets will spend any time on the deck. One made of recycled products like Trex in a light, reflective color will be cooler and less maintenance than wood. Decks from recycled products are also splinter-free.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, June 14, 2010

Plant a container today, pick a salad tomorrow



In less than 3 square feet, you can grow a salad plus some herbs to flavor it and flowers that are as practical as they are pretty. You can grow them all in a movable, self-watering, self-fertilizing container called an EarthBox which ALCC has in place again this year in the 9News Kitchen Garden.


Anyone with a small balcony or patio that has light can use an EarthBox--or any container for that matter--to grow favorite combinations of flowers, herbs and veggies. Dimensions of this planter are small-space friendly at 29 inches wide, 13 1/2 inches deep and 11 inches high.


At the time of purchase, the box comes with enough soil and slow-release fertilizer for the first growing season. All you have to do is add plants and pour water in to the water reservoir. When plants are small, water will need to be replaced every few days. When the plants are mature and bearing fruit, the reservoir may need to be re-filled every day.

These plants, in the EarthBox at 9News, are well suited for container gardening.

Cucumber 'Lemon' - a cucumber that looks just like a lemon. Though somewhat drought-tolerant, be aware that cucumbers are typically shallow-rooted and require regular watering. Harvest before the cukes get too big as the plant will stop producing if mature cukes are left on the vine.

Tomato 'Grape' - the small size of these tomatoes makes them popular for salads.


Squash 'Papaya Pear' - produces high yields of 6-oz., pear-shaped summer squash that have tender flesh and great flavor. It produces fruit all season long.

Pepper 'Red Cheese' - a sweet, round pimento pepper that grows to about 18 inches tall by 12 inches wide.


Peppers: 'Redskin' and 'Mowhawk' - grow only 8 to 10 inches high--but produce large, healthy fruit over well-branched plants. The peppers grow 4 to 5 inches long and can be picked green or after they mature to a rich red color.

Add some flowers that do more than look good!
Nasturtium 'Peach Melba' - here's a flower that's pretty, edible (adds a peppery flavor to salads) and also deters whiteflies and squash bugs. It's a keeper.

Marigolds - in addition to adding great color, they also help repel insects.

Enjoy these combos in your containers and the tasty salads that are soon to follow!


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vining plants like squash grow best planted from seed 



Time to plant more veggies!
It's been 4-6 weeks since most gardeners planted the first crop of veggies--like lettuce, mustard greens, carrots, onions and radishes--that can be planted early. These plants are all getting a good start on the growing season and some can be harvested soon.

When these veggies are picked, where's the replacement? That needs to get going right away by planting a second crop of cool season veggies. And since we're moving into summer, those cool season veggies would thrive best if planted in a somewhat shaded location.



Sequential plantings during the summer will ensure a consistent harvest for months. You might be able to go all season long without having to buy a head of lettuce!

It's also time to plant warm season veggies

Now that the weather and soil are warming up, get the warm season veggies growing. Some varieties are best to grow from seed, such as corn, squash, cucumber, pumpkins and melons.

A general rule of thumb is that any vine-like plant in the squash family should be started from seed as these plants don't transplant well. In fact, plants like pumpkin started in the garden from seed will actually catch up in size to a transplanted one.

Vegetable plants started indoors that can be transplanted easily include tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and many herbs.

Before you buy

Look at the root system of plants. If roots look or smell moldy, don't buy the plant. Also, check for insects by brushing against the plant. If you see white flies, don't buy the plant as these flies are difficult to deal with--and they are very common on veggies.

White fly deterrent: nasturtium--the annual flower--is a deterrent to white flies. Plant nasturtium with your veggies and harvest the flowers to toss into your salads. These flowers are edible and add a peppery flavor!

Tips for tomatoes:

Proper support for tomatoes improves exposure to sunlight and helps protect against breakage in strong winds. Use staking material or metal tomato cages for support.

Pruning tomato plants can double the harvest. Pruning away the lowest branches gets more sunlight onto the soil and promotes better plant growth and yield. As the tomato plant grows, continually prune away the lowest branches. For large plants, you can remove up to 18 inches of the lowest branches.



Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tired of rain, snow, gray days?


Then plant some flowers!
Columbine, coral bells and pin cushion
are showy, early season perennials.



It's a stubborn year when winter won't give way to spring. Still, there are many flowers to be planted and enjoyed in spite of the frost.
Some are perennials--the hardiest of plants that come back year after year. And there are also many cold-hardy annuals.


Now is prime time to go to the nursery or garden center and see all the spring-blooming perennials. Look them over and decide which plants you'd like to see flowering in your yard this time next year. Then take them home and get the in the ground. By planting them right away, they'll have a very long growing season to get established--and that will enhance their good looks next year.




Dianthus--frost hardy annual.
 


With our delayed start to spring and lingering cold temps, this would be a good year to choose annual flowers from the cold-hardy varieties. Especially at higher elevation, there will be more threat of frost in your future. The good news is that you can still have annual flowers. Just chose carefully.


Frost Hardy Annuals - withstand temps to 20 degrees or less. Alyssum - Anemone - Cherianthus - Dianthus - Dusty Miller - Flowering Kale & Flowering Cabbage - Pansies - Perennials - Ranunculus - Snapdragons - Statice - Verbena rigida - Viola.
Frost Tolerant Annuals - withstand temps down to 20 degrees. Calendula - Nicotiana - Petunias - Phlox (Annual) - Salvia Victoria - Salvia greggii - Stocks - Verbena canadensis.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC
Half-Hardy Annuals - tolerate very cold temps, but no direct frost. Ageratum - Asters - Gazania - Geraniums - Lobelia - Verbena (Upright). These plants need to be covered to be protected from frost. Use cloth rather than plastic as plastic will attract the frost to any part of the plant it touches.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Say Happy Mothers Day with a container full of plants!

Instead of the traditional bouquet of flowers, treat mom to some plants that will bloom for months come. Design mom's container yourself and play to her favorite colors and flowers. You can even combine beauty with function by mixing herbs and veggies alongside flowers or putting them in separate containers.

Here are some tips to get started.

Thriller, filler, spiller, is the design formula
When you go to the garden center, remember thriller, spiller, and filler as you pick out your plants. Thriller is the tall and often dramatic plant that is usually placed in the center of the container. Filler includes all the rounded or mounded plants that will fill out the container. And spiller is the trailing plants that will spill over the side and visually break the sharpness of the container's edge. Spillers can be either flowering or foliage plants. With plants in all three categories, you'll be headed in the right design direction.
Next, think color
Incorporate mom's favorite color by combining plants with different shades of one color. For example, hot pink and rose petunias can be planted with light pink Calibrachoa and pink verbena with white centers. Another interesting combo is made up of all foliage or foliage with a pop of just one color. Think about what mom likes and make it happen.

Veggies in pots are great for moms who are limited to growing plants on balconies or patios--or just want to pick their tomatoes close to the kitchen. For container gardening, look for veggies that are compact, produce smaller-sized fruits and grow more like a bush, rather than a trailing vine. Also look for varieties that mature rather quickly.
A great small-fruited variety, that has a shorter maturing time, is Tomato Tumblin' Tom. It grows handfuls of round, cherry-like fruit and has a weeping habit that will spill over the side of containers. This attractive tomato will grow in hanging baskets, window boxes and tall containers.
Several herbs can be grouped together or used as the foliage component among flowers. Their variety of sizes, shapes and colors offer some great combos. Select mom's faves and you will create a long-loved gift.

Reminder: The last average date of frost is May 17th so there's still the threat of frost. And since plants right out of the greenhouse aren't ready for cold nights, they will need to be covered if temps will hit near 32 degrees. Use cloth rather than plastic to protect your plants.





Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sustainable lawncare is as easy as mowing the lawn!

Reduce, reuse, recycle is the sustainability mantra and it pays off for your lawn when you cut the grass with a mulching mower.

Here are some facts about grass clippings:

  • 1,000 square feet of bluegrass lawn generates about 200 pounds of clippings each year.  
  • Yard waste makes up 20 percent of all debris sent to land fills.  
  • Hauling yard waste to landfills is labor, energy and emissions intensive.
  • A mulching mower solves these problems by cutting up all the clippings as you mow and depositing them on top of the lawn.

Not only does mulching stop waste, it turns clippings into a green by-product that makes the lawn healthier.

Clippings left on the grass provide additional shade and green matter that helps keep moisture in the soil. Clippings are actually about 75 percent water.

Mulching is a water-saving process. If you change to a mulching mower, be sure to decrease the amount of water from what you've usually applied to the lawn. In some cases, this can be as much as half the amount. Monitor soil moisture and the weather and adjust accordingly.

Clippings are nitrogen-rich and will provide 25-30 percent of the nitrogen needs for the lawn. Since nitrogen is the primary ingredient in fertilizer, that means you will need less fertilizer to achieve the same results.

Clippings break down rather quickly and that process encourages beneficial microorganisms and earthworms which also promote lawn health.

  
Mowing tip: Unfortunately, many people sharpen their mower blade in the spring and forget about it the rest of the mowing season. Be good to your grass and sharpen the blade about once a month. A dull blade actually tears the blades of grass and can open the way to disease and other health issues. Keep the blade sharp--and keep mulching!
 
 
 
Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC