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Garden and Plant Care


A plant care walk-through is provided upon completion of each job for every client of Gardening Graces.

Watering is probably the most essential key to the successful establishment and health of your newly planted flowers, trees and shrubs. As plants begin adapting to a new site, watering must be carefully maintained. The first year is especially critical. Property owners should be careful to monitor plants to make sure they have sufficient moisture, especially when rain is scarce and temperatures soar. Avoid wetting leaves as much as possible and aim for the roots with a slower, gentler watering. Containers usually need daily watering and must be checked regularly. More tips on successful watering follow.


Properly Watered and Maintained

Water is a precious commodity. No water, no life. Here are eight important considerations when it comes to watering.

1. Do not be fooled into thinking that because it rained once or rained a little that this is by any means sufficient to keep your plants healthy. Monitor your plants and if you're gone, make sure the person tending your house monitors as well. Remember, in extreme heat and drought, you must water more.

2. Do not rely on your irrigation to take care of all your watering needs, especially those of newly planted trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.
Careful hand watering, usually via hose or soaker hose, is required. Predetermined zone times for irrigation systems for established beds and grass will never meet the needs of newly planted material or younger plants that don't yet have adequate root development. Those who are attentive get the best results.

3. Established, healthy trees and shrubs in an average climate don't necessarily need irrigation except during very dry summers or a dry fall (especially evergreens preparing for winter.) Do not neglect watering your plants in times of prolonged rainlessness. You are jeopardizing the future of your landscape.  (I know water usually isn't free, but neither are new plants.)

4. Generally, flower and vegetable gardens need watering if it has rained less than 1" that week.

5. Mulched gardens, closely planted gardens, gardens in clay soil or soil rich in organic matter often get by with no watering even with less than 1" of rainfall. But watch out. Raised beds and sandy soils may require more.

6. Try to water deeply. The goal is to make the moisture meet. That means applying enough water from above, so it joins the water deeper down, with no dry layer in between.

7. The best policy is to water the soil, not the leaves since the droplets act as lenses that concentrate the sun's rays, perhaps giving some of your plants a sunburn for sure.

8. While choosing plants that can handle water shortages and rarely require extra water can be wise, I have seen even my most drought tolerant plants begging for a drink. For the most part, however, they are often times more drought tolerant. Call GARDENING GRACES, we can help.


Our practice is to give plants the best possible start through proper horticultural practice. When fertilization is done by Gardening Graces, it will be "as natural as possible" through the use of mostly slow-release, organic foliar or granular products. Feeding and pruning are done according to individual plant needs and requirements. We will test soil ph and nutrient content upon request and make adjustments based on test results as necessary. We practice soil amending with compost, peat, etc., as necessary, believing that excellent preparation increases the likelihood that the plantings will be healthy and robust both at planting and for years to come. The up-front costs pay dividends now and into the future.

Healthy Fertilization

When planting pots and containers,  special polymers to provide better water retention and keep them from drying out as quickly and slow-release fertilizer can be added to soil mixes upon request.


More Garden Tips

Milk as a Fungicide

Turns out that milk is an effective treatment for the common fungal problem of powdery mildew, which can kill zucchini, squash, melons and other fruits and vegetables.The telltale sign is white powder on the leaves. This remedy will also work for black spot on roses. Just mix one part milk to two parts water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plants once a week. This is cheaper than products you can buy in the garden center so you save $.

Always Weed Diligently

Weeds steal water and nutrients from your plants so pull them when you see them. Also, pull them before they make seeds so you don't have to pull a billion more of them later. To prevent weeds from returning put down at least a 3 inch layer of mulch. See article below on the importance of mulch.

Mulch is Vital for Growing Healthy Plants

After reading this you will feel so good about the fact that you have mulched your beds this year or you will realize you better get to it now.

Ever heard of the soil food web? Jeff Ball has written about it in his column in the Detroit News. This web consists of the earthworms, millipedes, centipedes (ahhhhh!!!!), soil mites, microscopic bacteria and fungi that make their home in our soil. Their food - the mulch. Soil with a well populated food soil web will grow your plants healthy and trouble free. Bare soil has no food for the soil food web whereas soil covered with the proper kind of mulch has food readily available for the soil food web.

We think that our mulch disappears because it decomposes, but most of it is pulled down into the soil by the earthworms, millipedes and centipedes making it into a deli of sorts for the soil food web which in turn is what feeds your plants. Spring and fall mulching is best. Once a year is a minimum.


Testimonials

"Dear Barb, What a difference your hard work has made in our yard! We have definitely gone from ugly to beautiful. It is such a joy to be out there now! I can't wait to care for it and add to it and watch it grow into stunningly gorgeous! Thanks for a fantastic job. You are really talented. I will recommend you to everyone!"

Myrna Hathaway | Canton

Dear Barb,

"Thank you so much for the great job you and your guys did today. It looks great. You were easy to work with in the design and planning and I am confideent it was all done well. The guys were great too. God bless you as you continue to love and serve Him."

Bev - Canton

Testimonials

Thanks so much, Barb, for your attention to detail and the beautiful design. You are a pleasure to do business with. Thanks so much,

Cindy Ellis - Canton

Testimonials
Testimonials

Dear Barb,

David and I want to thank you for your support and patience throughout the Geddes Improvement Project. We wouldn't have survived it without your input and expertise. It will be fun to see the berm come alive this spring. (2016)

Best wishes,

 

Janet - Ann Arbor

"Hi Barbara, The yard looks great. So good to see you and your crew. (I liked them too.) How long can I keep the hostas before planting them? Hope till after I get home in a week! Thanks again for your help."

Char | Ann Arbor

Testimonials


Be on the Lookout for Boxwood Leaf Miners


Leaf miners in boxwood have become more and more prevalent here in southeast Michigan in the past several years; making their first appearance at my house last season! Herein lies a bad news good news tale. I will tell you what I did to get rid of them and show you how well it worked in this series of photos I took earlier today. I urge you to rid yourselves of these pests because even though they may not kill your boxwood outright, they will weaken the plant enough so that they eventually will succumb. And they look pretty bad on their way to succumbing.


Boxwood Leaf Miner Damage Boxwood Leaf Miner Damage

First the bad news: the first two photos are two of my boxwoods that showed no sign of miners last year. Hence, I did not treat them. But look at them now! Covered in many yellowish and brown leaves. If yours look like this, pull off a few leaves and open them. If you see little yellow wiggly worm-like creatures you’ve got miners. I have had clients who had so many miners that you could literally hear the chomping of these tiny pests as they chewed their way through larvahood.

The next picture shows the varmints both in the leaf and a couple I flicked onto the counter and exposed for their photo shoot. Boxwood Leafs

Leaf Minor Free Now the good news: The next picture shows some of the boxwood I had treated last year by Turf Pro (Contact information on endorsement tab on our website. www.gardeninggraces.com) They used a soil injected systemic insecticide and look, no sign of miner damage now. The view out the window is of early spring in its glory. The boxwood in the foreground are miner free. Their less fortunate cousins in the front yard are not so happy. They have requested treatment.

Winter Plant Injury Treatment


Treatment of Winter Tree and Shrub Injuries

Winter 2013-2014 has caused more damage than usual to many trees and shrubs and extreme temperatures may cause delayed leaf and plant development. Much of this damage will require assessment throughout the spring to determine the extent of it, the subsequent treatment required, and in some cases to make the determination if the plant will survive at all and if it needs to be replaced.

Our plan for the spring 2014 season for dealing with winter burn and excessive browning of holly, boxwood, azalea, rhododendron, grape holly, etc., is to apply extra TLC by using higher doses of slow release fertilizer and watering on site to encourage regrowth of winter burned leaves. For best results, please continue to water the damaged shrubs we are treating on a regular basis. Then comes the wait and see as we and you patiently monitor the hoped for recovery. This will require more time than usual and while most plants will probably come back, it will require patience and time before we see the hoped for lush growth we normally associate with spring. Some plants may even begin to leaf out only to collapse later.


Those of you who have us out less frequently may want to give us a call about the status of the recovery since we are not there as often and so cannot monitor it.

We will be trimming broken and dead limbs. But keep in mind, a final spring ‘clean-up prune’ for some plants may come later in the season as we see just exactly what the plant will push out in terms of new growth, recovery and survival.

Rodent and deer damage are another issue. Extensive girdling and feeding by hungry animals will usually lead to the death of the plant. Again, we will have to monitor these situations and make decisions that may require removal and/or replacement.

Bottom line: We all may have to put up with a visually less than perfect landscape in the beginning especially, as our plants seek to recover after the worst winter in any of our memories.  Patience is a virtue and we are all going to get our share of practice.