Posts Tagged With: outdoor gardening

Get a Head Start on Spring Gardening with Fertilizer

fertilize your garden this fallThe kids are headed back to school, the summer flowers are fading and – here’s the big news  it’s no longer taboo to fertilize your plants in the fall. Now that we know more about the year-round development cycle of plants, giving them a boost in the fall with fertilizer may be just what they need to survive the harsh winter.

Fertilize to protect plants from the elements

Once it was thought that fertilizing in late summer and fall would cause a plant to develop new growth that would be damaged in the first cold snap. Scientists now believe that in the fall plants store food and nutrients in their root systems to help them survive until spring. Fall fertilizing can help strengthen a plant.

A soil test shows what’s missing

Not all plants will need an extra boost of nutrients in the fall. Do a soil test to see what nutrients and minerals may be missing from the area you would like to treat. Many testing facilities will analyze the soil and give you their recommendations for the type of fertilizer to use.

More is not always better

A common mistake with fertilizing is to assume that every plant will benefit from a dose. If the soil is healthy, then the plant may not need extra nutrients. Soil testing also helps to determine if an area has been over-planted. Remember – more is not better. Just replenish what is missing from your soil. Too much fertilizer can kill your plants or grass.

It’s all in the numbers

All fertilizers have a three-numbered code or NPK code on the bag. This corresponds to the amount of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) in the fertilizer.

  • Nitrogen promotes foliage growth
  • Phosphorous stimulates root growth
  • Potassium is important for proper cell function and overall plant health

The right mix will work wonders

In September apply a 20-8-8 mix fertilizer to your grass to help it recover from the summer heat and drought. Apply a 13-25-12 mix at the end of October to encourage root growth. For perennials, a high phosphate/low nitrogen mix will strengthen the plants and produce more blooms in the spring. Adding a phosphate mix when you plant bulbs this fall will help roots establish.

There’s a lot going on

Scientists have discovered that a garden is a year round living organism. Even though plants are dying above ground in the fall, there is a lot of activity going on beneath the soil surface. Roots continue to grow, storing nutrients from the soil. These nutrients help a plant fight off disease and strengthen the roots. When the temperatures drop to around 40 degrees, plants also release amino acids and sugars that help them withstand freezing.

2 Types of Fertilizers

Organic Fertilizers:

  • Made from natural plant and animal sources, such as manure, wood, fish and bone meal and seaweed
  • Not water soluble
  • Usually in granular form and take time to release nutrients into soil
  • Remain in the soil for an extended period
  • Stimulate beneficial microbes, which help break down the organic material and release soluble nutrients
  • Help improve the quality and structure of the soil
  • Best if applied in the fall so nutrients are released to soil over the winter months, making them available for plants in spring

Synthetic Fertilizers:

  • Manufactured chemical compounds
  • Water soluble
  • Make nutrients immediately available to plants
  • Can “burn” foliage and damage plants if too much is applied
  • Leach out of the soil quickly
  • Can contaminate ground water, streams and ponds due to runoff
  • Do not improve soil quality
  • Best when applied in the spring when ground is cold and microbes are inactive

Keep your plants happy – fertilize!

Good soil preparation, mulching and adding fertilizer where needed will keep your plants happy, healthy and thriving. Your garden feeds your body and your soul. Return the favor. Your plants will love you for it. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. From a rake and a shovel to a wheel barrow and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening Checklist

5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening ChecklistFor do-it-yourself gardeners, the summer season is just starting to heat up! Now’s the time to enjoy all the beauty that your garden, yard and landscape have to offer — at least until summer’s end, which isn’t until September 23.

Yet, a gardener’s work is never done – from mowing the lawn to weeding flower beds – the best way to keep your home grown oasis looking fabulous is regular maintenance. The more care and passion you put into making your garden grow, the more enjoyment you’ll receive, not only from puttering among the begonias but from relaxing to take a look at your handiwork. With this helpful gardening checklist, you’ll be well on your way to enhancing your garden experience!

1. Re-plant Annual Flower Beds: Replace cool-weather annuals that have stopped blooming or have already died back with heat-loving varieties such as verbena, lantana and geranium (in some areas of the country, these plants are considered perennials). Adding new annuals refreshes the garden with color and abundant flowers.

2. Add Tropical Flair: Surround your patio or deck with bird-of-paradise, fig, elephant’s ear, hibiscus, dracaena or bougainvillea, warm-climate plants that love the heat and humidity, which intensifies during the dog days of August. In the fall, move these tropical plants indoors and enjoy them as houseplants. Also, check the supports of palm trees, which are required for the first six to eight months to deter them from toppling over. Do not nail the supports to the trunk of the tree.

3. Add a Water Garden: From in-ground ponds with water lilies to container water gardens that display green and burgundy cannas, papyrus or pitcher plant, a water garden can actually add a cooling element to your landscape.

4. Tend to Vegetables: At this time of year, stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb so these perennial edibles can prepare for next year’s crop. Mulch the area to prevent weeds from taking over the beds. Protect precious tomatoes from hornworm by inspecting the foliage in the morning and evening, when the big green-and-white caterpillars are feeding. Pick them off the plants with gloved hands and drop them in a jar of soapy water.

5. Prune Shrubs: Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, hydrangea and spirea should be cut and shaped immediately after flowers fade. Wait until late summer or early fall, when there’s no danger of pruning away next year’s developing flower buds.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From planting advice to landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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