What time of day should I water?
Water when your plants are dry-morning, noon, or night. Daytime watering may result in more loss to evaporation, but waiting until night to water may result in drought damage. Evening watering may promote some lawn diseases, and mainly only in the fall, when brown patch is most common. Whenever possible, keep water off plants' foliage during hot, sunny weather. Otherwise, if the plant is dry, water it then, no matter the time!
How much should I water?
During summer, apply 1 to 2 inches of water per week. During spring and fall, apply 1 to 2 inches of water every two weeks. During winter, apply 1 to 2 inches of water per month. (These amounts include rainfall totals.)
What are the best shrubs for shady areas?
There are many, including aucubas, cleyera, fatsia, fatshedera, gardenias, hollies, hydrangeas, mahonias, osmanthus (false hollies), and viburnums. Azaleas and camellias do well with afternoon shade.
How can I get grass to grow in shade?
All of our lawngrasses grow best in full sunlight. Don't be confused by statements that St. Augustine or fescue need shade. They're simply more tolerant of it than bermudas and buffalograss. If you've tried those two shade-tolerant types with no success, either prune the trees to remove lower limbs, so more light can sneak in early and late in the day, or plant a more shade tolerant groundcover such as monkey-grass, liriope, ajuga, vinca or one of the ivies. Remember that failure of grass to grow in the shade comes from a lack of light. Adding water and fertilizer may help, but they're not the real solution to your problem.
Rabbits keep eating my young flowers and plants. What can I do to keep them out?
Rabbits are very damaging to young plantings, especially to pansy and other cool-season annual gardens during the winter, when many of their other food sources are dormant. Some garners sprinkle mothballs in the garden, while others soak felt weather-stripping in creosote and lay it on the bare ground at the perimeter of the garden. Commercial animal repellents may work, and you might try sprinkling blood meal over the garden. Its smell sometimes repels rabbits. If all else fails, drape tree netting over the beds until the rabbits move on.
Should I leave the fallen tree leaves on my lawn over winter, to protect the grass from the cold?
No, It may seem like the grass is greener under the leaves, but you run a substantial risk of diseases starting in the dark, humid conditions. Also, if a strong wind should suddenly blow the leaves away, your grass could be left exposed and vulnerable. Rake and shred them, then put them in the compost.
Benefits of Mulch
Mulch blocks the sun. This helps protect plant roots from heat damage and prevents weeds from taking hold.
Freezing, melting and refreezing water can cause heaving, which is when shallow-rooted plants pop out of the ground. Mulch lessens this effect and can help your perennials make it to next spring.
As the ground gradually warms up in early spring, perennials start to bloom. Mulch slows this ground-heating process so late-winter warmth doesn’t trick flowers into blooming before it’s really time.
Using mulch slows evaporation from the soil so your plants soak up more of the water you give them. This makes mulch a cost effective investment, especially in dry climates, by saving you time, money and water.
Mulch helps prevent the soil around your plants from eroding during heavy rainfall.
Drawbacks of Mulch
Blocking sunlight to the soil can prevent seeds from germinating. Tip: if you’re applying mulch in the spring, wait until after seedlings have emerged.
Plant-eating slugs and earwigs enjoy the cool, dark shelter mulch provides. Tip: only apply a thin layer of mulch 3 to 5 inches away from plant stems if pests become a problem.
Slowing down the ground-heating process in spring may cause some flowers to bloom too late. Tip: rake back mulch to encourage perennials to bloom, and then recover the area once the plants are established.
Reduced evaporation isn’t always a good thing. If the weather is wet for several days straight, the soil could remain soggy and damage your plants’ roots. Tip: rake mulch away from your plants during prolonged rainy periods to promote better drying.
Choosing and Applying Mulch
Since it’s possible to overcome pretty much every drawback of mulch in most situations, you may decide it’s right for your garden. To ensure you don’t regret your decision, choose your mulch wisely and apply it properly:
Choose a bark mulch product to promote healthy soil. Stone and gravel are other options, but don’t expect them to improve the soil’s composition.
Shredded bark and bark nuggets are the most popular forms of mulch. Your options include pine, cypress and hardwood trees.
Larger pieces of bark are heavier, making them a good choice if you’re worried about your mulch blowing away in the wind or washing away in a storm.
Dark-colored mulch absorbs and retains heat, which is a great benefit for cold regions. Light-colored mulches reflect heat and light, which is more desirable in hot regions.
A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch is plenty for most applications.
You can apply mulch at any time of year. Just be mindful of the way it slows the ground-heating process in the spring and prevents heaving in the winter.
When comparing the cost of different mulches, always consider your longevity needs. Perennial beds deserve quality mulch that will last several seasons. Annual beds may do fine with cheaper mulch, since you need to till this patch of soil every year before replanting anyway.
If you need help preparing your garden for another growing season, please contact icutgrass4u.com. We provide many landscaping services, including spring clean-up services, to help you achieve your most beautiful garden yet.