Tag Archives: landscapemanagement

Fall Landscaping for Spring Beauty

Autumn is here! Yet, with plenty of fantastic fall days still ahead, now is a great time to tackle a few easy tasks that will elevate your backyard and outdoor patio landscaping for seasons to come. In fact, fall is a key season for yard maintenance, setting the stage for a lush and vibrant landscape come spring. Read on to discover our top recommendations for creating a beautiful spring landscape through fall preparation:

Raking Leaves in Phases

One of the most obvious and necessary tasks in fall landscape maintenance is raking leaves. While it may seem like a purely aesthetic endeavor, there is more to it than meets the eye. When leaves accumulate on your lawn, they block sunlight, hindering photosynthesis in the grass and depriving it of oxygen and sunlight. This weakens your grass and can lead to flooding, fungal issues, or pests. We recommend raking and removing your leaves in phases through the season, allowing your lawn to dry out and absorb sunlight as much as possible.

Lawn Aeration

Fall is an ideal time to aerate your lawn. Aerating involves perforating the soil with holes to allow better air, water, and nutrient penetration. It also helps break up compacted soil, improving root growth and overall grass health. Here in Wisconsin, where the ground can become compacted from heavy winter snow and foot traffic, aeration is crucial. It’s like giving your lawn a breath of fresh air, ensuring it can absorb nutrients effectively and withstand the harsh winter conditions.

Our team begins lawn aerations in mid October as part of our fall cleanup process to ensure the healthiest lawn conditions moving into the winter season. If you have questions or are interested in these services, please reach out to our team!

Lawn Overseeding

Fall is an excellent time for overseeding your lawn.  Seeding now helps to repair any damaged areas and allows grass seeds to establish strong root systems before winter. These roots will continue to grow even in cold temperatures, ensuring a robust and healthy lawn come spring.

Planting Perennials, Shrubs, and Trees

Believe it or not, fall is also an ideal time to plant perennials, shrubs, and trees. The soil is still warm, providing an opportunity for roots to establish before winter.  Additionally, planting in fall puts less stress on the plants compared to the heat and drier conditions of summer.  This reduces the risk of transplant shock and provides a gentler transition for the plants. If you have spring-blooming perennials that need splitting before next season, now is also a great time for dividing and transplanting. By splitting them now, when they aren’t blooming, all of the plant’s energy can go toward root and leaf growth.

Visit our Appleton nursery for a selection of perennials, shrubs, and trees to complete your garden and landscape design this fall.  Just make sure to continue watering until the ground freezes, or as we like to say, “Put them to bed with their feet wet”! 

Pruning

We recommend waiting to prune trees, shrubs, and roses until they are fully dormant, preferably late winter for most. Perennials like hostas and daylilies, however, can be trimmed back as long as their bloom cycle is complete. When cutting perennials back, be sure to hedge trim all foliage down to 3″ – 5″ above the soil, using a sharp set of pruners. Keeping a few inches of foliage above the soil will help insulate the roots during the winter months, and will help you locate the plant in the spring, preventing possible damage from spring yard work or mulching. As you work through fall landscaping, though, keep in mind that overwintering the foliage of some perennials like grasses, coneflowers, and black-eyed susans can actually provide food and shelter for birds during the winter months. These perennials can be cut back and cleared during early spring bed work.

The season may be winding down, but the effort you put into your fall yard maintenance will be rewarded with a lush and vibrant outdoor space come spring.  Embrace the fall season and watch your landscape flourish in the seasons to come!

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop into our garden center; we’ll be happy to help you on the way to a healthy, successful landscape this season!

5 Common Questions from Spring Gardeners

The snow has finally melted, those first few signs of growth are peeking out of the planting beds, and the sun is warming up a little more with each passing day. Many of us are starting back in on lawn and landscape care, hoping to nip last year’s problems in the bud, and setting sights on improvements for the coming season. Here at our garden center, we receive many questions and concerns this time of year, and strive to help you build a backyard you’re confident in and comfortable with. Here are a few of our most common spring inquiries and the solutions we recommend:

  1. I had dandelions and crabgrass in my lawn last year. What do I need to do this year to prevent them?

For crabgrass, the best way to avoid a recurrence this year is to apply a preventive herbicide prior to May 10. We use a fertilizer with an herbicide built in as our first step in our lawn care program. Thus, you take care of two early lawn needs at the same time. For dandelions, you need to wait until they begin growth in spring to kill them. Although there are lawn fertilizers with broadleaf weed killers built in, the best way to control them is to use a liquid application of broadleaf herbicide. This does a better job of coating the weed and allows more of the active ingredient to be taken up by the weed to kill it.

2. When can I begin planting my garden?

Wisconsin weather can be very unpredictable in any season, especially spring. (And definitely this year!). For most plantings, you need to know the average last frost date. In the Fox Cities area our average “Last Frost Date” is May 27. If you want to take your chances, the “Typical Last Frost Date” (when you still have a 30% chance of getting hit by frost) is May 10. That said, we normally recommend most plantings of frost-sensitive plants such as annuals, tender perennials, vegetable plants, and seedlings be made after Mother’s Day. Cool season vegetables and annuals can generally be planted out sooner, though; these would include broccoli, lettuce, parsley, carrots, beets, leaf lettuce, radishes, and even peas! Please note, you may have to cover or take in plants showing lush growth if heavier frosts are predicted.

3. My soil is hard. What can I do?

Add compost to your soil and till or work it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to provide nutrients and better soil structure. This can be done a couple of times a year. Also, covering your vegetable gardens in the late fall/early winter with compost, straw, or chopped leaves will help prevent hard soils the following spring.

4. When potting planters for yard accents, what are the best tips for success?

Make sure your pot allows room for plants to breathe; that is, allows water and air exchange in some way either through its sides, bottom, or both. Drainage holes are very important. Add compost or worm castings to your potting mix for extra organic nutrients in your soil, which will help fuel your plants to produce more blooms or fruit. Know the plants that you want to use and place plants with similar needs together. In other words, don’t put plants that prefer moist soils with plants that prefer it dry, or shade plants mixed with sun-lovers. Finally, make sure that your overall soil level is a couple of inches below the rim of the planter, allowing room for water to soak in (and not run all over your patio!).

5. What is the best way to clean up my lawn in spring, and when should I start mowing?

Assess if your lawn needs to be dethatched. We don’t recommend dethatching if the thatch layer is less than 1/2″ thick. In fact, those thatch levels are beneficial to your lawn: they act like a mulch to conserve moisture and temperature, and aid in root development. Thatch layers over 1″ aren’t good for your lawn, though, as they block water and fertilizer from reaching roots, resulting in drought stress and lawn disease. If you do need to dethatch or rake your lawn, do so as weather conditions permit. Raking when lawns are too wet will result in pulling out large amounts of roots and live grass parts. As you assess the state of your lawn, know that now is a great time to reseed or sod lawn areas injured by the winter, too.

Do not mow the lawn until it has grown at least 2 inches.  The roots are being renewed in the spring and grass needs vigorous initial top-growth for a healthy season.

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center; we’ll be happy to help you on the way to a healthy, successful landscape this season!

7 Garden Trends for 2022

The sun is warming, the birds are singing, and each day is a step closer to the long-awaited spring! If you’re already planning out your vegetable garden, dreaming of bright bursts of colorful annuals, and eager to get your hands back in the soil, you aren’t alone. Now is the perfect time for planning, though, and we’re here to get you started with our 7 top trends for the 2022 season!

  1. Supporting Wildlife and Pollinators

There’s been much justified “buzz” about pollinators recently, but “wildlife friendly” gardening encompasses a wider spectrum, including native birds, fascinating creatures like frogs and newts, and even the overall soil health of your land. Enhancing your landscape to provide food sources and shelter for local species, while caring for the long-term health of your soil and vegetation, opens our minds to the concept of creating and caring for our landscape as a whole entity.

  • Include a diverse mix of native plants to conserve water, provide food sources and shelter for animal species, and provide longevity in your garden design.
  • Include water features or shallow ponds in your landscape. These provide clean water for a variety of insects and animals, give shelter for breeding and nesting, and benefit your yard by attracting dragonflies, which feed on mosquitoes. As a bonus, they create a relaxing and calming atmosphere!
  • Consider using hedges as a divider, rather than fences. Hedges are a great food and shelter source for birds and other creatures, especially during the winter months.
  • If you’re short on space, incorporate flowering climbing plants or hanging baskets into your yard space. They’re excellent sources of nectar for pollinators, and provide shelter space for bees, butterflies, and birds.

2. Porch and Balcony Gardening

Many of us have limited yard space or live in apartment buildings. Luckily, gardening doesn’t have to be a hobby only enjoyed by those with vast yards! With a little planning, you can create a gorgeous and functional porch or balcony garden. Here’s how:

  • Incorporate hanging baskets or planter boxes on porch railings in areas of limited square footage. Herbs and annuals are very successful in these types of containers – just make sure you’re watering enough (daily, especially in sunny locations).
  • Use large pots for mixed plantings. Using a colorful mix of annuals draws attention to your space and creates a beautiful statement piece. Most herbs will also thrive when planted together in a large container. Just be careful with types like mint, dill, and oregano, which can be fast growers and take over the other plants (you can still incorporate them in the planter – just make sure you’re trimming often!).
  • Using a large container, mix your ornamental annuals with culinary herbs! The result will be a beautiful mix of color and texture, with the added bonus of delightful aroma.
  • Use shelving on your balcony or patio to house small herbs, annuals, or your houseplants in summer. This can create an attractive and interesting focal point for your space and give you ample room for housing plant life!
  • Be sure to continually fertilize your planters throughout the season.

3. Tropical Plants

In a world where travel plans and costs are quite unreliable or restricted, many people are choosing to create their own tropical paradises at home! Tropical plants have soared in popularity, and there is a wealth of bold, beautiful colors to choose from.

  • Make sure nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50-55 degrees before placing tropical plants outdoors. Also, don’t place them in the direct sun immediately. They’ll need to be acclimated gradually (over the course of 1-2 weeks) or their foliage will scorch, just like our skin!
  • A few of our favorite tropicals to incorporate are: Mandevilla, Caladium, Rose of Sharon, Rose Mallow and Cannas. They’ll bring a gorgeous burst of tropical color to your patio!
  • Use large-leaf foliage in your tropical arrangements to contrast bright-flowering blooms.
  • Use tropical-colored accents in your decor to enhance your design, like orange furniture cushions, bright pink pillows, or turquoise containers.
  • Use hardy perennials in your beds that will accent the tropical plantings on your patio. Try incorporating bright Hosta, Iris, or Daylily perennials to compliment your tropical plants.

4. Dark Foliage

Nothing brings depth and contrast to an arrangement or flower bed like a richly colored, dark foliage. Whether you’re making bright annuals and flowering perennials pop or creating an interesting palette of textures, dark foliage can bring an incomparably luscious depth to your design. Try pairing a dark leaf alongside chartreuse or silver foliage or placing it as a backdrop to a vibrant pink, orange or yellow bloom. Here are a few of our favorite deep, dark foliage choices to try out!

  • Heuchera, a perennial (also known as Coral Bells)
  • Ninebark, a perennial shrub (Try “Tiny Wine”, with deep purple foliage and a delicate, showy white flower)
  • Weigela, a perennial shrub (Try “Spilled Wine” or “Minor Black” for dark foliage contrasting with a vibrant pink flower)
  • Sweet Potato Vine, an annual (a perfect trailing element in arrangements)
  • Purple Basil, an annual herb (has a delicious, slightly spicy flavor in dishes)

5. Gardening for Peace of Mind

In a time of uncertainty, many of us have taken to exploring and developing calming hobbies, unplugging from the digital world, and spending more time outdoors. It comes as no surprise, then, that our own backyards have become our havens and place of peace. If you find yourself drawn to this concept, but are unsure of design elements to include or, even, where to start, here are a few ideas to get the gears turning:

  • Begin with intentional elements. Focus on a color that brings you joy, aromas that are pleasing or relaxing to you, or even plants that have a sentimental value to them. This could be a certain rose that grew at your grandmother’s house, or a small vegetable garden that you can enjoy with your children.
  • Incorporate elements that appeal to each of your senses. Choose colors you enjoy seeing, or herbs and flowers that bring a pleasant aroma. Consider a water feature, gentle wind chime, or even long grasses that can create a gentle, peaceful sound. Herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers that can be picked and nibbled on can be wonderfully rewarding. And finally, focus on textures, such as edging walkways with soft plants that gently brush against you as you walk through.
  • Think about what brings you peace and what you enjoy. Rather than concerning yourself with what is trendy in the design world, find what speaks to you!

6. Cut Flower Gardening

There’s nothing quite as welcoming as a beautiful arrangement of flowers on your table or mantle. But purchasing fresh bouquets from a local market or store isn’t always cost effective or convenient. If you find yourself loving the ambiance cut flowers bring to your home, consider incorporating them into your landscape! Planning a cut flower garden is a simple task to take on, and one that will reward you all season long.

  • First, pick a location with lots of sun and well-draining soil. Don’t worry if you don’t have room for a dedicated cut flower bed; annual or bulb flowers can be incorporated just about anywhere: in planters, in your vegetable garden, or between perennials and shrubs.
  • Plant flowers with the tallest in the back and shortest in the front. Be sure to include a trellis for trailing plants like nasturtium.
  • Mulch in your plants to help retain moisture; plants that stay well-watered in healthy soil will produce bigger, better blooms. Be sure to remove spent flowers and foliage to encourage the best new growth and blooms, too, and fertilize regularly.
  • A few of our favorites to include in a cut flower garden are Zinnia, Dahlia, Poppy, Alstromeria, Lavender, Sunflower, Celosia, Phlox, Artemesia, and Coleus.

7. Bringing the Outdoors In…. and the Indoors Out

You’ve probably heard of this concept attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright and, if you’re not incorporating it into your home design, now is the time to implement it! The positive response to nature and our drive to connect with it, known as biophilia, has firmly rooted itself in the design world. Take this concept a step further, though, and consider bringing the “indoors out” to bring comfort and convenience to your outdoor space, too!

Bringing the Outdoors In:

  • Plant an herb garden and keep it on a sunny window ledge.
  • Use grow lights in dark rooms to help indoor plant life thrive.
  • Plant your outdoor plants where they can be seen from inside. Or place hanging planters and trellises near windows, so they can be enjoyed from inside, too.

Bringing the Indoors Out:

  • Use outdoor lighting to extend your evening patio hours and create a cozy atmosphere.
  • Incorporate fire features into your design for cool evenings and a comforting ambiance.
  • Create a “garden room” – this could be a dedicated nook for reading and enjoying a glass of wine, or a full dining area for entertaining guests. Depending on your intent, focus on the details needed to enhance the space; for example, a dining area could entail a great grill, large table, beverage refrigerator, shade feature, and countertop space.
  • Naturally screen or outline areas with hedges or hanging plants.

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center.

Whether you’re just starting your landscaping hobbies, a first time home owner, or an avid, lifelong gardener…. we wish you a happy and bountiful 2022 season and look forward to seeing you!

To Cut or Not to Cut: Tips on Fall Trimming, Pruning and Cleanup

To cut down, or not to cut down? Now that fall has arrived, many gardeners find themselves wondering whether they should cut back their perennials and seasonal plantings now or wait until spring. For most perennials, the answer depends on what you want from your landscape during the winter months. If your concept of the perfect winter scene is an uninterrupted, pristine blanket of snow, plan on cutting back and clearing out the perennial border each fall. Clearing out expired perennials such as hostas and daylilies will give your beds a much cleaner appearance, and are far easier to prune back in fall than in the springtime. When doing this, hedge trim all foliage down to 3″ – 5″ above the soil, using a sharp set of pruners and making sure the plants are past their bloom cycle. Keeping a few inches of foliage above the soil will help insulate the roots during the winter months and will help you locate the plant in the spring, preventing possible damage from spring yard work or mulching.

However, if you are hoping that your landscape will continue to provide interest right up to spring, schedule much of your bed work for early April. By keeping the foliage of ornamental grasses and perennials such as sedum in place, you allow your landscape to provide color and movement right up until the arrival of deep snow. Besides the show, keeping the foliage in place for the winter helps to accumulate snow over the plants. This blanket of snow is nature’s protective mulch against the extreme cold of a Wisconsin winter. Another benefit of keeping select perennial foliage in your beds is that seed heads of plants like coneflowers and black-eyed susans will provide food for birds during the winter months.

In addition to selective trimming, there is plenty of yard work to accomplish on these lovely fall afternoons. Here are a few recommendations from our team of horticulturists:

  • Divide your spring-blooming perennials in fall. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant’s energy can go toward root and leaf growth.
  • Start lowering your mower height in preparation for the last mowing of the season, which should be at 2″ height.
  • Spray flowering crabs with dormant oil to help control apple scab next summer.
  • Aerate your lawn to help promote root growth by allowing air, water and nutrients to circulate the soil. Fall is a perfect time for aeration, thanks to cooler temperatures and warmer soil, and will give you a greener, thicker lawn come spring.
  • Remove all leaves and debris from planting beds and pull out any remaining weeds.
  • Prune your oak trees between mid October and mid March to prevent the spread of oak wilt.
  • Remove fallen leaves in phases. Don’t allow them to pile up, as a thick layer of leaves deprives your lawn of necessary oxygen and sunlight. This can lead to flooding, fungal issues, or pests.
  • Winterize your yard tools (like pruners, mowers, weed eaters, rototillers, loppers, etc.) by removing debris and gunk. Also, replace worn parts and apply oil as needed.
  • Wait to prune your trees, shrubs and roses until they are fully dormant, preferably late winter for most.

Its a perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh fall air. Take advantage of the season with an afternoon of fall cleanup, ensuring a gorgeous home and landscape come spring. Our team is here to help you along the way, so stop in to our garden center or give us a call with any questions or concerns. And until next time, enjoy the season!

The Buzz About Pollinators

Summer is in full swing, the gardens are full of luscious plants and beautiful blooms, and you probably have seen a wealth of insects, birds, and butterflies buzzing around your yard and beds. These small creatures, also known as pollinators, play a crucial role in plant reproduction and sustaining our ecosystems. In fact, 75% – 95% of flowering plants need help with pollination, relying on animals like birds, bats, bees, butterflies, and beetles to transport their pollen as they move from flower to flower.

In recent years, these hard-working helpers have seen a decline in populations due in large part to loss of feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, chemical use, and changing climate patterns also play a role in affecting the pollinator population. Luckily, through public awareness, community programs like “No Mow May”, and helpful gardening techniques, there has been a strong movement to save our pollinators and their habitats, ensuring the continuation of healthy ecosystems and plant reproduction.

Positively impacting the pollinator population is easy to do in your own yard, too. Incorporating blooming plants for each season, reducing pesticide use, and choosing pollinator-friendly perennials in your landscape are all small ways to make a big impact in creating a thriving environment. Many of the plants that pollinators like best also boast long bloom seasons, giving your yard a long season of gorgeous color, as well as bringing attractive wildlife like butterflies and songbirds to your home.

Incorporating pollinator-friendly perennials into your landscape is an easy step, and we’re here to share a few of our favorite varieties. Read on for our top 5 perennials, sure to bring a wealth of pollinators, not to mention seasonal color, to your yard!

Bee Balm (Monarda)

Bee Balm is a native favorite for attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and for good reason. This hardy perennial boasts vibrant red, pink, purple or white flowers (depending on the variety) that will last for a good portion of the summer season. Growing 3′ – 4′ height, it is a beautiful backdrop for beds or a great stand-alone in the landscape. Bee Balm prefers most soil a sunny location, although it can tolerate partial shade. Leave the seed heads intact after the blooms are spent, as they’ll attract songbirds in the fall and winter season!

Anemone

With bright, yet dainty, blooms and attractive, wiry stems, the Anemone is an attractive statement perennial in any landscape. Originally native to Asia, varieties of anemone have been cultivated in Japan for centuries and are available in an expanse of colors and bloom seasons. The Anemone is an appealing perennial, as well, thanks to its deer, rabbit and insect resistance. Most varieties will grow to an average height of about 2′, making it an attractive border planting or front focal point in flower beds. Anemone will benefit from a good layer of mulching, as it enjoys a rich, evenly moist soil. Don’t be deceived by the delicate blooms – Anemone is a resistant, low maintenance perennial once established, and you’ll be enjoying its beauty for many seasons!

Russian Sage

With grey, fragrant foliage and delicate lavender flowers, Russian Sage is a versatile perennial to use as a standalone, ground cover, or backdrop in beds. This sun-loving plant thrives in drier soil and is deer and pest resistant. Most varieties will grow to 3′-4′, and requires little maintenance outside of pruning. Since it has a tendency to spread, gardeners are encouraged to shear the top 1/3 of spreading stems to encourage upright growth and prune any unwanted growth. Spent blooms can also be trimmed to promote new buds, ensuring that you’ll have a long season of color. Despite its name, Russian Sage isn’t actually related to the sage herb. It was coined the name because its crushed leaves emanate a sage-like aroma!

Speedwell (Veronica)

Ranging from creeping to upright, Speedwell is another versatile perennial that comes in a range of blue, purple, pink or white hues and will bloom all summer long. Speedwell is a truly hardy perennial, tolerating a range of soils and preferring sun to partial sun light levels. Upright varieties can grow up to 4′ height, and make a beautiful addition to cut flower bouquets. This low-maintenance plant is a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, while tending to be deer resistant. In Ireland, Speedwell is traditionally pinned on the clothes of travelers to keep them safe from accidents!

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflowers are a classic favorite amongst perennials, and for good reason. This tough, native plant is drought resistant and thrives in well-drained soil and bright sun. It is available in a variety of colors from soft, muted tones to vibrant, show-stopping colors and will bloom from mid-summer all the way until a frost. When flowers begin looking ragged, gardeners can simply snip them back by about 1/3, encouraging another burst of colorful buds throughout the fall. Appealing to butterflies, bees and birds during the warm season, coneflower seed heads will also attract songbirds during the fall and winter months.

Planting a pollinator-friendly yard is not only beneficial to animal habitats and plant populations, its also a low-maintenance, sustainable way to bring long-lasting color to your home! To learn more, stop in to our garden center to speak with our team of knowledgeable, dedicated horticulturists. They’d love to talk plants with you!

Common Fungal Issues in Early Summer

Early summer brings with it the excitement of watching your beds bloom, your vegetables sprout up, and your trees blossom. But the unwelcomed presence of fungus can put a damper on your yard, affecting your garden’s yield, damaging foliage, and inhibiting growth. The good news is that most fungal problems can be solved and prevented with a bit of knowledge and early planning. Here are a few of the most common fungus we see in the early summer, and how our experts recommend handling them:

  1. Powdery Mildew- Powdery Mildew is a common fungus that produces whitish spots on plant leaves, making foliage look like it was dusted with flour. The spots will primarily appear on the tops of leaves, although they can pop up underneath or on stems and flowers. Powdery mildew appears in warm temperatures with a fair amount of humidity, often occurring when days are warm and nights are cool. There are many plants that can be potential targets of powdery mildew, but a few of the most common include begonias, mums, roses, dahlias, melons, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce, pumpkins, peppers and tomatoes. Here are a few tips for treating and preventing powdery mildew from burdening your garden yield:
  • Thin garden vegetables to provide adequate space, circulation and sunlight for individual plants
  • Remove infected or dead foliage from all plants
  • Treat powdery mildew infestations with an organic fungicide

2. Cedar Apple Rust– This type of fungus requires two hosts (located within about a mile of one another) in order to complete its life cycle. The first family required is a juniper species or eastern red cedar; the second is an apple, crabapple, hawthorn, quince or serviceberry species. The symptoms of Cedar Apple Rust vary widely depending on the species infected: apples, hawthorns, and serviceberry will typically show orange and red spots on their foliage, which gradually develop black spots on the tops of leaves and small, fungal tubes on the bottom. Apples and crabapples are most susceptible. Juniper and red cedar, however, will develop woody galls on their small branches in the fall. Come spring (especially in wet weather), these galls will produce a gummy, orange growth that shrivels as the weather dries out. There are ways to prevent this interesting fungus… here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Don’t plant juniper/red cedar varieties in close proximity to apples, crabapples, hawthorns, etc.
  • Inspect junipers and red cedars in the late fall and early spring. Remove woody galls that you may find; this will prevent the formation of the orange growth that spreads spores to apple varieties
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties of crabapples and apples
  • Remove infected leaves and branches from apples and crabapples

3. Apple Scab– Apple Scab is a fungus that affects apples and crabapples. It will first appear as pale yellow or olive green colored spots on the top leaves, with dark, velvety spots spreading to lower leaves. In severe cases, foliage will become twisted, puckered, and eventually fall off the tree. On fruit, it creates scabby, sunken spots that start light in color and become larger, darker, and cork-like in texture. Eventually, the fruit will become distorted and cracked. Apple scab starts over the winter in fallen leaves and soil, developing in wet, cool weather. The best ways to treat it are:

  • Make sure to rake under trees in the fall and dispose of the dead leaves
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties when possible
  • Keep trees well-pruned, keeping an open canopy for air circulation and sunlight, and remove upright suckers from tree bases
  • Use a sulfur plant fungicide in early spring, applying as leaves just begin to emerge

Fungal issues can create problems across your landscape but remember: knowledge, proper care, and early-season planning can be your best tools in prevention and treatment. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to our team of garden experts and horticulturists to learn more!

Cool Weather Blooms to Brighten Your Home!

We’ve reached that unique time of year when the sun begins to warm our daytime hours, but the ground is still cool and the nights downright frosty (literally). And chances are, your beautiful winter container arrangements are beginning to look…. well… a little crispy. Its the time of year that makes us all eager for fresh life and colorful blooms. But how early can you plant spring containers and what, exactly, is available to use? Read on for spring planting guidelines and our favorite cool weather blooms!

Cold tolerant annuals are those flowers that prefer cooler temperatures, and tend to slow or cease blooming once the temperatures rise to a consistently warm level. That said, care must be taken not to put them out too early. Most hardy annuals can tolerate a light frost, but not freezing. Typically, here in Wisconsin, that means that mid-April is the standard go-to time for planting spring flowers. And, although you may not think it, there are plenty of gorgeous annuals that can bring interest, texture, and a burst of color to your front door. Here are a few of our tried-and-true favorites:

  1. PANSIES

Chances are when you think of early spring flowers, Pansies are one of the first to come to mind. Their wide range of vibrant color, reliable and extended blooming period, and tolerance for temperature drops make them a classic staple in spring plantings. Pansies will love full to partial sun during the cooler spring months, but will prefer a shadier location as summer approaches and the sun begins heating up. At approximately 7″ tall and boasting bright, cheerful colors, Pansies will make a great focal point in your planters. Keep Pansies evenly watered and remove dead or faded flowers to encourage more blooms to grow and extend the plants’ season.

Fun fact about Pansies: Pansies are a symbol of love and affectionate thoughts. In Victorian England, people gave them as gifts to express romantic feelings.

2. SNAPDRAGONS

Bring a beautiful element of height and color to your spring planters with Snapdragons. Coming in just about any color you can think of, Snapdragons have a lovely vertical shape and a long bloom cycle that will keep your planters looking top notch throughout the season. The flowers will begin from the base of the stem, working their way upwards. You can snip off the top of the stems for a fuller look, or keep their natural shape to bring an elegant height to your planter. As Snapdragons prefer cooler weather, you will see them slow or cease blooming during the hotter months. However, if you move them to a partially shady location and keep them well-watered, they can re-bloom in the fall season.

Fun fact about Snapdragons: Snapdragons got their name because the flower resembles a dragon’s face. When the flower is pressed gently on the sides, its mouth can open and “snap” shut.

3. SWEET ALYSSUM

With an abundance of delicate flowers, full foliage, and soft colors, Sweet Alyssum is the perfect trailing element for your spring planters. Growing to only about 5″ height, its white or lightly-colored hues will perfectly offset bolder and taller elements like Pansies and Snapdragons. Sweet Alyssum will spread and trail, and can also be a great choice for edging your beds. As the summer approaches and the weather heats up, shear them by about 2″ to encourage new growth and move them to a partially shady location. Don’t be fooled by their delicate appearance – Sweet Alyssum is a hardy, drought-resistant grower!

Fun fact about Sweet Alyssum: With a subtle honey scent, they are a favorite of pollinators and can provide a welcoming aroma to your home and yard.

4. DIANTHUS

In pink, rose, lavender, and bi-color hues, Dianthus is a pretty, bright addition to any spring planter. Growing in a mid-range height, it’s a wonderful choice to include in the body of your arrangement for a delicate, yet colorful, touch. Dianthus is a hardy, tolerant plant that can bloom through light frosts. Much like other cool-weather flowers, they will slow or stop flowering as the summer heats up; cutting them back by about 1/3 of their height will encourage them to bloom again come fall.

Fun fact about dianthus: ‘Dianthus’ comes from the Greek words for ‘of Zeus’ (‘dios’) and ‘flower’ (‘anthos’).

5. DUSTY MILLER

Dusty Miller’s cool, silver foliage and velvety texture is the perfect compliment to offset the colorful blooms in your spring planters. In addition to their attractive appearance, its lacy leaves are also deer, drought and disease resistant, making it a popular addition to containers and landscape beds alike. Dusty Miller loves a sunny spot and, unlike many other cold-tolerant annuals, can carry on an attractive grow period through the summer months (although summer trimming is encouraged to keep it from looking too leggy).

Fun fact about Dusty Miller: Even though its best-known as a foliage plant, Dusty Miller does produce small clusters of yellow flowers in the summer.

In addition to flowers, spring is a fantastic time to incorporate additional elements into your planters. Think about bringing height to your arrangement with curly willow or pussy willow stems. Bring interest to the base and body of your planter with moss or vine balls, colored Spanish moss, or even colorful Easter eggs.

Our team is ready to help you create a stunning, successful spring arrangement. Stop in to our Spring Open House on Saturday April 24 (8-5) to select spring annuals, accessories and containers. Our Potting Shed will be open and our design team will be on hand to help you plant a show-stopping arrangement! Click here to check out the event on Facebook! Or follow this link to sign up for one of our one-on-one spring container workshops – you’ll be able to work with one of our garden center designers to select material and create your own custom container.

We look forward to helping you learn about, design, plant and enjoy a landscape that you and your family will be proud of all season long. Happy Spring from all of us at the Vande Hey Company!

Spring Gardening: When to Dig In

Here in Wisconsin, the spring season can be a bit of a tease. Just when you think it must finally be here for good, you wake up one April morning to find your lawn covered in a fresh blanket of snow. After a long winter, though, most of us can’t wait to get out into the yard, dig our hands into the soil, and start watching seeds grow into luscious crops. Whether you’re a first time gardener, a new homeowner, or a longtime hobbyist, you may find yourself wondering: Isn’t it time to get started?! The good news is: Yes! Our team of gardeners and horticulturists teamed up to share a few rules of “green thumbs” and gardening tips!

AVOIDING KILLING FROSTS

The biggest concern with planting many vegetables and annuals is the occurrence of killing frosts. A general rule of thumb in our area puts safe planting dates around Memorial Day for most years, give or take a week or so. This is an average date; meaning, the likelihood of a killing frost happening after that is rare but, as we all know, can certainly still happen. If you’re looking for a more specific answer, there are web resources to help. You can even find sites that will give you planting recommendations based on your zip code!

SEEDS TO PLANT FIRST

Luckily, there are many frost-tolerant vegetables that can be planted earlier than what we just discussed. These include onion, lettuce, arugula, parsley, spinach, radishes, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, kale, collards, brussel sprouts and broccoli. They actually enjoy the cooler temperatures of early spring and will begin germination when the ground is over 40 degrees. Seeds will fare better than transplants; if you start any of these vegetables in the house before planting, you’ll still want to wait a couple of weeks later than the seeds before putting them in the ground.

SEEDS TO PLANT NEXT

The majority of typical vegetables should be planted after the risk of killing frosts. These include corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, okra, melons, cucumbers and beans. They will be most successful when the ground has warmed enough to retain its temperature during any weather swings. Expect these seeds to shoot up within about a week’s time. If you’ve started any of these vegetables indoors, wait about another week before planting the transplants to ensure the soil and night temperatures are adequately warm.

You’ll still want to keep an eye on the weather, and cover plants with a blanket on nights that hold a risk of frost. Typically, the most damage can occur on cold, clear and windless nights.

STARTING SEEDS INDOORS

Some of the best seeds to start indoors are early transplants, like cauliflower, brussel sprouts or cabbage. Because they take a longer time to mature, they’re a great choice to get a jumpstart on early in the season. Other easy plants to start from seeds are: tomatoes (sown indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost), watermelon (4-6 weeks before the last frost), peppers (8-12 weeks), herbs (6-8 weeks), and lettuce (8 weeks).

There are, however, a few plants that shouldn’t be started indoors. Root vegetables (like carrots, radishes, potatoes, and beets) don’t transplant well because damage to the roots will lead to a poor harvest. Squash, cucumbers and beans typically grow rapidly, making them difficult to transplant and easy to damage in trying to do so.

Here at the garden center, we can’t wait to start watching those first vegetables pop up out of the ground, too! Stop on in to pick up your seeds and speak with one of our horticulturists to learn more about successful gardening in our area. We wish you the best of luck in your growing season, and hope to see you soon!

5 Ways to Start Gardening Sustainably

The term “sustainable gardening” may sound daunting at first, but it really boils down to a simple concept: enhancing your space while choosing methods that cause little harm to it. Concern for our environment and the desire to protect and preserve our world for future generations has prompted us to learn, explore, and implement sustainable practices in many aspects of our lifestyles, and landscaping should be no different. There are many ways to bring a bit more “green” to your yard, and we’ve got five easy tips to help get you started!

COMPOSTING

Composting creates nutrient-rich soil with re-purposed organic material, meaning you’ll be improving the size and quantity of your produce, promoting bigger flower blooms, and cutting down on the amount of garbage being sent to the landfill. To get started:

  • Begin with a closed bin about 3′ in size in your yard (you may want to put up a chicken wire fence around it, as well).
  • Compost yard waste, such as leaves and grass clippings, and most kitchen waste (even egg shells, coffee grounds/filters, newspapers, tea bags, toothpicks, and hair!)
  • Avoid composting dairy products, animal products (including bones and fat) and pet waste. These can attract unwanted animals and create unpleasant odors.
  • Equally balance “green waste” (like fruits and vegetables) with “brown waste” (dried lawn clippings, leaves, newspapers). Your compost shouldn’t be sopping wet (and smelly) or very dry; aim to maintain a moist, soil-like texture.
  • Turn with a shovel every week or two.
  • When compost resembles soil, it can be sprinkled and worked in to your gardens!

We compost here at Vande Hey’s, too! Our compost is made from locally-obtained yard materials such as leaves, grass clippings, and garden waste.  Once on our site, the materials are left to break down naturally, usually over 24 to 36 months. The material is turned as often as possible to aid in decomposition and to ensure as much material is broken down as can be. When the yard waste materials are sufficiently broken down, we bring in a shredder to mix in sand and pine fines to firm-up the compost and keep it from becoming overly saturated. Our final blend is about 10% sand, 10% pine fines, and 80% broken-down organic yard waste materials. This blend gives the soil an ability to retain moisture as well asensures adequate drainage. This compost can be purchased at our retail center, as well!

INCORPORATING NATIVE PLANTS

Native plants refer to those that grow naturally in an area, and they hold a vital role in supporting regional wildlife and habitats. Native plants are generally low-maintenance, as they’ve evolved to the area’s climate, soil, moisture, and pest resilience. Because of this adaptation, they generally require much less water and minimize flooding. They also play an important role in supporting your local wildlife! Many native plants provide seeds and nuts for local animals or nectar for pollinators like bees, birds, and butterflies. Try incorporating a few of these favorite native plants in your yard:

  • Columbine: With pretty, vibrant red flowers, this plant is a hummingbird favorite
  • Bee Balm: This plant blooms in various shades of purple, supports a variety of birds and insects, and is a great plant for beginners
  • Aster: An attractive late summer/fall bloom, these plants also support pollinators and are flexible to soil types
  • Wild Geranium: These plants have delicate purple flowers, are flexible to soil and light levels, and pollinator-friendly
  • Butterfly Weed: With bright orange flowers, these plants are excellent for monarch butterflies

MULCHING

We all know that freshly mulched beds are an attractive, effective boost to your home’s curb appeal. But did you know it plays a big role in supporting a sustainable yard? Mulch serves many different purposes, from holding moisture in the soil and maintaining a consistent ground temperature to giving plants a higher survival rate and adding visual interest to your landscape. Because bark mulch is a natural material, it will decompose, leaving behind a nutrient-rich compost that aids in plant growth. Click here to check out our variety of available mulches!

PLANT TREES

Whether it’s fall colors or beautiful spring blooms, trees bring beauty and value to your yard in numerous ways… and they’re a key component in sustainability! Here are a few reasons why:

  • Combating Climate Change– Absorbing carbon dioxide, storing the carbon, and releasing oxygen back into the air, trees do some heavy lifting when it comes to helping out mother nature!
  • Cleaning the Air- Reducing the greenhouse effect and filtering toxins, trees absorb many pollutants and help keep our air clean.
  • Keeping Things Cool- Trees literally keep things cool by offering shade and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves, cooling temperatures from 2 to 9 degrees. Trees, especially those on the west side of your home, can also help save on your summer cooling costs by providing shade during the hottest part of the day.
  • Preventing Erosion- Trees extensive root systems can help hold soil in place and slow runoff.
  • Supporting Wildlife- Trees provide protection and homes for birds, bees, squirrels and a variety of other species.

RAIN BARRELS

Rain barrels are a simple addition to your home that can really benefit sustainability, as well as your wallet! You can reduce your water bill during the summer months by saving hundreds of gallons of water for garden care, watering flowers, and washing cars. Its also beneficial for plant and soil health: rain water has more oxygen and less salt, chlorine and flouride in it.

Setting up a rain barrel is an easy task! First, make sure you select a spot that’s easily accessible (close to your plants, garden, or patio) and a level surface. Also, you’ll need to make sure its located by one of your home’s downspouts. If you prefer to use a rain barrel with a spigot (rather than just scooping the water out), you’ll probably want to raise it up (cement blocks work great) to make it easier to fill watering cans. Use a flexible downspout to connect the top of your downspout to the rain barrel. You’ll also want to consider adding an overflow hose leading away from the barrel so that any overflow doesn’t empty out right next to your foundation. Finally, you may want to add a screen over the top to keep bugs or other critters out.

As you design your yard, garden, or even seasonal container plantings, keeping sustainable practices in mind is an impactful benefit to our environment. At Vande Hey Company, we are excited to expand, educate and share our knowledge with you! Stop in to discuss native gardening, tree options, or any other sustainable practices with our team – we’re happy to help!

Garden Trends to Dig Into This Year!

Spring is nearly here and we can’t wait to get back outdoors! 2020 brought with it a huge surge of interest in gardening, outdoor living, and other home-related activities. In 2021, we’ll see the influence of this evolving appreciation as we dig back in to the spring season!

  1. Exploring Sustainability

Sustainable gardening is the idea of using practices that cause little harm to the earth and its inhabitants while attempting to actually enhance it. Concern for our environment and the desire to protect and preserve our world for future generations has prompted us to learn, explore, and implement sustainable practices. The good news? Its easy to do! Try these simple tips to make your yard more sustainable:

  • Conserve water by planting drought-tolerant and native plants.
  • Compost food scraps like vegetable and fruit waste, bread, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, used paper towels, and more! Start a bin, and use the finished compost on your garden and beds for rich soil.
  • Make sure your beds have adequate layers of mulch to save water, decrease weeds, limit erosion, and increase nutrients in your soil.
  • Plant trees on your property for shade that naturally cools your home in the summer months.

2. Creating a Garden Getaway

With all of us spending more time at home, the appeal of investing in our own outdoor haven is greater than ever! Creating a comforting space to relax, enjoy time with your family, and relieve the stress of the outside world is a healthy way to re-center your mind, slow your heart rate, and calm your senses! Consider these ideas as you start planning:

  • Think about the soothing benefits of sound. Perhaps a water feature will provide a calm presence and cancel outside noise. Or you may want to include bird-friendly flowers and feeders to attract songbirds to your space.
  • Nothing beats the warm touch of sun, but its easy to overheat in the middle of summer. Make sure you have a shady spot to relax, as well! If you don’t have a mature tree in your yard, consider options like a patio umbrella or pergola.
  • Maintain privacy and quiet while keeping a soft, natural appearance by incorporating privacy hedges.
  • When selecting furniture, assess your habits and priorities. Is lounging around an evening campfire your favorite way to relax? Do you eat family meals outside whenever possible? Evaluating your needs ahead of time will help make the process of selecting furniture a simpler one!

3. Family-Friendly Gardening

Introducing kids to gardening at any age is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together and share values. Plus, you’ll have a bounty of delicious, home-grown meals to enjoy as a family!

  • Let kids help pick out what flowers and vegetables to plant
  • Start seeds indoors for a fun spring project, then watch them grow and care for them until its time to transplant
  • Get your kids their own inexpensive garden tools like gloves and trowels
  • Read and learn about gardening and cooking together
  • Let them help plant, tend, weed, water, and harvest. Its a great way to teach responsibility while enjoying hobbies together!

Check out our upcoming Young Gardener’s Day event on March 20th, filled with family-friendly gardening ideas and activities!

4. Container Plantings

A quick, effective way to bring color and curb appeal to your home is by incorporating decorative containers filled with seasonal plantings. Whether you prefer bold, bright tropicals or an elegant palette of monochrome hues, your home will be sure to look beautiful and welcoming. Plant your own for a great family project, or reach out to learn more about our Color 365 services!

5. Growing Your Own Food

Interest in home gardening is surging! There’s a special joy in growing food, even if you don’t have room for a large, traditional garden. Try raised bed or container gardening (perfect for tomatoes, herbs, and small vegetables) or even mixing edibles into your existing flower beds. If you’re limited on space, consider planting high-yield plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and peas to get as much out of your space as possible. Finally, stop in to pick up your seeds early – they’re selling fast this year!

6. Houseplants

Whether they’re brightening up your living space or rejuvenating your home office, houseplants are hot in interior design right now and rightfully so. Not only do they look attractive, they also improve air quality and lift your mood! Check out a few of the benefits of including these attractive accents in your home:

  • Reduce stress levels
  • Ease depression, anxiety, and Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Boost productivity
  • Improve indoor air quality

Stop in to our garden center to check out our wide selection of interior plants, pair it up with one of our fun containers, and bring an instant pop of color and interest to your home or office!

7. Outdoor Living

Have you heard of the Norwegian concept of “friluftsliv”? Pronounced free-loofts-liv, it means “open air living” and encourages a lifestyle of plenty of fresh air, unwinding outdoors, and simply understanding the healing effects of nature. An important lifestyle for all ages, its particularly crucial for children: studies show that kids who spend ample time outdoors have increased creativity and critical thinking, better behavior and test scores, and a stronger sense of purpose. So take a walk outdoors, enjoy a meal on your patio, and embrace the fresh air!

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center.

Whether you’re just starting your landscaping hobbies, a first time home owner, or an avid, lifelong gardener…. we wish you a happy and bountiful 2021 season!