Container Plants: Dressing up the Yard

Container gardens are a great way to spruce up an area where there is no access to soil. It’s a wonderful way to accent or draw attention to an entry way, deck, or patio. They can also be used to separate or screen certain areas where we like to linger on summer days.  Container gardens are all play and no hassle. You can skip the weed pulling and all the shoving and play with color and texture of plants. Depending on how large the pot is, you can plant anything between perennials, annuals, and even dwarf evergreens.   Here are some steps to making a magnificent container garden:

Pick a Pot or Container

Unless you have certain plants in mind, choosing a container first is the way to go. Find something that reflects your personality or something that would blend with the house well. For instance, a stone or neutral colored pot would be perfect for ornate home. Clean lines or geometric shaped pots might be a great fit for a modern home. Colorful pots may contrast with the plants to give the area some pop. No matter what pot you chose, keep in mind that if you would like a mixture of plants, then you will need a pot that is no smaller than a foot wide. It’s very easy to stuff plants into a container and have them outcompete IMG_0233each other.  When you are shopping around, note the weep holes at the bottom of containers. If a pot does not have a weep hole, it could cause serious damage to the plants if the soil is waterlogged. There will be instances when we will receive copious amounts of rain in the summer.

 

Purchase the Plants

Instead of planting a single plant, why not try combining different annuals, ornamental grasses, or dwarf evergreens? Go for a mix ofcolors, texture, and foliage to make your container stand out. It usually a great idea to plant something that will give the container some height. For instance, using ornamental grass in the center of the container and layering plants from tallest to smallest from the grass to the rim of the pot. Stick to about 3-5 different plants per pot. Any more, and it begins to look too overwhelming or messy.  Be sure to pair plants that can handle the same amount of sun exposure- this is key to their survival!

If you do not have time to plant a container garden, but would love one, contact us! We have fine gardeners on staff who can meet every expectation with skill and finesse.

What Goes into a Great Lawn?

There is no magic answer to growing a perfect lawn. However, there are a few actions you can take to making your lawn look beautiful.

Mow height plays a crucial role in the health of your lawn. In the spring and early fall, it a good idea to keep your lawn at about 2-3” high. The last mow of the season is the only time you can cut it down to about 1 ½”. The summer season is the trickiest one. With the sun blazing and temperatures breaking records, it can be tough to keep your lawn healthy and lush. The secret to keeping the lawn from burning is by keeping the lawnmower blade set up higher than 3”. Keeping the blade sharp is another useful tip!

If you pluck a piece of grass from the lawn that has been recently mown and notice a brown jagged edge at the top, it means that your blade is dull. Homeowners should sharpen their mower blades at least 2-3 times a year. Damaged ends leave the grass blades susceptible to pests and diseases. One other danger to be aware of is over-watering.

Mike and Dorothy Tsostis house, Rutland, MA, 2009

Over-watering a lawn can cause more damage than letting the grass wilt. During peak growth, lawns will need about 1-1/2” of water a week so that the soil becomes moist 4-6” down. Keep an eye on the weather since it might not be necessary to turn on the sprinklers if rain is expected that week. Fertilization is another factor to keep in mind.

Some homeowners believe that over-fertilizing the lawn can be helpful when in fact it can really hurt the growth of the grass. There are only four times when the lawn should receive some fertilization: spring, summer, early fall, and after the first frost. Fertilizer helps boost the soil and provides some of the building blocks of food for the grass. Other than that, the grass is producing its own food directly from the sun. Over-fertilizing can cause the microbes in the soil to die and can create a sterile environment.

 

Keep a good eye on your lawn this season. Preventing problems is much easier to deal with than recovering from them. Routine maintenance equals a happy lawn. Call us for any questions or if you’re looking for a maintenance program. We are happy to help keep your lawn lush!

Time to seed the lawns

Did you know that we have just entered the VERY best time of the year to seed and establish a lawn? The reasons are simple- Turf grass in our area is a cool season crop, the most noxious or troublesome weeds in our area are warm season crops. SO in other words, the weeds germinate and grow as it gets warmer in the summer. Turf germinates and thrives in cooler temperatures. So if you seed in the spring, while the grass seed will germinate, it will soon be out competed by broad-leaf weeds and crabgrass. However if you seed now the broad-leaf weeds, crabgrass and the like are all dying a natural death. Your newly seeded grass will germinate and have 3 months this fall and another 3 months in the spring to establish before competing with the weeds.
So if your lawn is in tough shape or you are thinking maybe next spring you will seed your lawn, DON’T do it. Plant your seed now and in approx 10 days you will be mowing your new turf for the first time and by the middle to end of September you will have a lush green lawn that will be the envy of your neighbors!

Early spring

It is April 20th and everyone in Massachusetts who loves their landscapes and yards should be praying for rain. We are in a moderate to severe drought. The plants and turf are going through dormancy typically seen in August. The good news is that the rain seems to be on it’s way and the plants are resilient and all will be in great shape once the rain starts. Let’s hope it is this weekend!!

Be vigilant

Lawns in Massachusetts have suffered mightily this year.  We have been fighting fugal outbreaks in turf for the better part of 2 months.  And we have seen some very recent relapse’.  But now we are finding grub infestations on lawns which have been treated properly with imidacloprid. 

The treatment for these pests are totally different, and the health of your lawns in many cases depends upon quick response.  If you have any discoloration in your turf grass you need to figure out the issue and react quickly.  If you have no idea, call a professional.  Most times lawns can be saved if the proper course of treatment happens.