Essential Gardening Tips for Growing Gorgeous Louisiana Tomatoes
Tomatoes are right at the top of the list of plants that people living in Louisiana love to grow, though it can take a little extra TLC to get a good crop during the hot southern summer. And what's not to love? From bite-sized cherry and grape varieties to brilliant-colored heirlooms, no summer garden is complete without at least one or two of these gorgeous plants. Here are a few tips about when to plant, which varieties do well in our climate, how to fend off tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and how to prepare soil for planting.
Spring, Summer and Autumn Tomatoes
Thanks to a long growing season, gardeners in Louisiana have three planting windows to take advantage of: early spring, midsummer and late summer. Spring crops are planted just after the last frost of the season. In the southern region that's typically around March 15, while in north Louisiana it's usually closer to April 1. Spring gardening is cooler, making it the optimum time for heirloom tomatoes, hybrid varieties and non-heat-set types.
Summer and autumn tomatoes should be planted from mid-July to late August, and produce fruit until the first hard freeze. Gardeners looking for a fall harvest should look for heat-set varieties. Non-heat-set types sometimes suffer from poor pollen set or pollen sterilization due to high nighttime temperatures. Here are a few of the best varieties to grow in the Louisiana climate:
Especial care must be taken during the warmest weather to provide plenty of nitrogen fertilizer and water in the morning when needed.
Getting Your Soil Prepped
When it comes to growing amazing tomatoes, the soil mix makes all the difference. If you are planting in the ground, loosen the top 6 to 8 inches of soil and add a combination of aged manure, fertilizer or compost. Testing soil regularly can help you to determine fertilizer or soil pH adjustments that are needed. Tomatoes prefer a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Placing plants in mounded rows of soil is helpful for providing adequate drainage in packed clay soils.
Tomatoes are also an excellent choice for container gardening. As long as the container is gardening-safe and at least 5 gallons large and has plenty of drainage holes, a well-tended tomato plant should thrive. Because they have extensive root systems, these plants do not do well in small pots. Providing plenty of soil ensures that plants will need irrigation less frequently, preventing the leaching of calcium and other vital nutrients from the soil. Container plants that are over-watered are prone to blossom rot.
What to Know about TSWV
Gardening tomatoes in Louisiana means facing the risk of plants contracting tomato spotted wilt virus. Springtime brings with it a host of tiny insects known as thrips. These pests are carriers of the disease, and can pass it on to the host plant within 10 seconds of piercing it. Plants that contract TSWV before fruit setting will not produce. If fruit has already set, the skin of the tomatoes will form yellow or brown halos.
Once a plant has the virus, insecticides cannot stop it. You should make sure to control insect pests early with a recommended insecticide and plant TSW-resistant cultivars. Infected plants should be removed in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
Some Summary Notes
Remember, it's important to choose cultivars based on their disease and pest resistance. You should also make sure to plant non-heat set varieties in the early spring, and heat-set varieties from midsummer to late August. Finally, preempt disease-carrying pests with a targeted insecticide early in the season, and make sure that plants receive regular irrigation throughout the growing season.
When you are working to perfect your Louisiana landscape, make sure that you consider the many ways that you can incorporate rocks. Any landscaper will tell you that rocks and are incredibly versatile because they serve as groundcover while also adding contrast and texture. As a bonus, they also require almost no maintenance. Knowing more about incorporating them into your landscape opens up a work of functional and decorative possibilities.
Exploring Popular Rock Options
The first step is picking out the rocks that you will use for your Louisiana landscape. Here is a little information about commonly used options and the look and feel that they provide:
Use Rocks Instead of Mulch
A good groundcover can help to protect your plant roots and it offers a finished look. Rocks can be a better choice than mulch because it is a lot more durable and you will not have to pull them all out and replace them every year like you often must do with mulch. Compared to mulch, rocks can also provide a sharper contrast when you choose options that are paler colors. For example, if you want to lay a groundcover under a dense bush or one that is deep in color, a light-colored rock can brighten the area and make your plants stand out. One additional benefit is that when used with a weed barrier, rocks can help in discouraging weed growth, keeping your garden looking clean and reducing the work you have to do to maintain it.
Create Walkways on Your Property
One of the best uses for rocks concerning your Louisiana landscape is to create walkways to better direct traffic on your property. It is common to place walkways in your garden area, from the sidewalk to your front door, from your driveway to a door and in your backyard going from your backdoor to a seating area.
Gravel rock is often the easiest to work with for walkways. A layer of two to four inches of gravel is usually ideal for a walkway, but make sure that the walkway is even and level before putting the gravel down. You should dig down into the soil two to four inches and place the gravel within this to keep it in place and to keep your walkways level with the rest of the ground area. This also makes your walkways appear neater and more defined. You might also consider lining the sides of the walkways with larger rocks or dense plants to help keep the gravel in place and to offer a decorative touch.
Frame Your Flower Beds
It is common to use large stones or wood to frame your flower beds, but rocks can offer a more natural look while serving the same purpose. For this element of your Louisiana landscape, start by planning your flower beds and marking them off with rope or string. Once the areas are planned, plant your flowers first so that it is easy to make adjustments to the size and shape of the beds if necessary.
Once your flowers are in place, dig out a small trench about two inches deep around the perimeter of your flower beds if you are using small rocks. You will place the rocks within the trench so that they stay in place. Ensure that the layer of rocks throughout the trench is even and level for a clean and professional look. If you are using larger rocks, you will not need a trench and you can simply place them around your flower bed perimeter.
Anchor and Accent Your Container Garden
A container garden can be a cool idea for an elegant Louisiana landscape. Start by picking out your containers and outdoor vases and getting your plants properly planted inside of them. Place the lower one to three inches, depending on the overall height, of your containers or vases down into the soil and pack the soil down around them. Then, you just need to fill the space in with the rocks that you chose. Smaller rocks are generally a better option for a container garden since it is easier to spread them around and ensure an even cover for the area.
Build a Simple Driveway
If your driveway is comprised of dirt and soil, gravel is a quick and simple solution for enhancing your Louisiana landscape. Placing this type of driveway can typically be done over the course of a weekend. This prevents issues, such as a muddy driveway on rainy days and the soil getting overly worn down, resulting in unevenness and dips that can make your driveway more difficult to walk and drive on.
Start by framing out the area where you plan to place the gravel for your driveway. Dig at least six to eight inches into the soil and make sure that it is level. Once it is level, ensure proper drainage and place a geotextile fabric down across the entire dug out area to help prevent erosion. Lay the gravel down in layers, with the first layer going directly on top of the fabric that you put down. This helps to make it sturdy so that it does not sink and dip in certain areas. Each layer should be even and approximately two inches deep, and you want three to four layers.
Your Louisiana landscape can be just about anything that you want it to be. What is nice about rocks is that they are very flexible and you can easily make changes as your property evolves. Whether you get help from a professional landscaper or you choose to tackle the work on your own, start with a plan and just make sure that what you choose works with the overall look and size of your property.
When it comes to mowing your lawn, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a professional mow. Remember that you do not have to hire a professional landscaper or grass cutter to make it look great. In fact, a few alterations to what you are already doing is often enough to make a big difference in the look and health of your grass.
Maintain Your Lawn Mower
When it comes to cutting your grass, your tools are just as important as your technique. Before you get ready to get some mowing done, give your lawn mower a quick look over and make sure that the moving parts, such as the blade, have nothing obstructing them. You should also look to see if they need some oil. About once a month, examine the blade to determine if it needs to be sharpened. This is a task you can do yourself with sharpening tools that are available at most hardware stores. Lastly, make sure that the blade height is proper for the type and height of your grass.
Make Sure Your Grass is Dry
It is important that you never attempt to cut your grass when it is wet. This can quickly result in your mower becoming clogged since the wet blades of grass will stick together. Mowing wet grass might also make it more susceptible to fungus, insects, certain diseases and other factors that can compromise its integrity. You can easily determine if your grass is dry or wet by running your hand across it. If you get moisture on your hand, wait a little longer for it to dry completely.
Use a Fine Trimmer for Places a Mower Cannot Reach
When you get a professional mow, they will bring several tools with them that operate as a grass cutter. In most yards, it is just not practical to use your lawn mower for all areas of your grass. For example, you do not want to get too close to structures or plants when you are mowing since you might accidentally damage them or your lawn mower. A fine trimmer is the perfect solution because you can get very close to plants and structures, make sure the grass is even with the rest of your lawn and it only takes a matter of minutes.
Mow at a Moderate Pace
There is a right speed when it comes to mowing your grass. If you go too slowly, there is the risk of the underside of the motor getting clogged with grass clippings. However, on the other hand, if you go too quickly, you might miss areas or mow your grass unevenly. Using the pace that you normally walk with is generally a good rule of thumb and can help to ensure that you are moving at the right speed.
Take Advantage of a Clipping Catcher
Many newer lawn mowers already come standard with a bag that attaches to your lawn mower and collects all of the clippings. If your lawn mower does not have one, you can often find an aftermarket option at a lawn or hardware store that will do the trick. This just makes it easier to keep your grass free from debris and you will not have to go back after mowing and remove all of the leftover clippings. If you do not yet have a clipping catcher, a leaf blower is often one of the easiest ways to gently remove the clippings from your grass. Get them onto a hard surface so that they are easily to sweet up. Whether you use a catcher or you remove the clippings manually, you can dispose of them in your regular trash.
Mow on a Regular Schedule
Depending on the amount of precipitation you are getting and how fast your grass is growing, you should schedule your mowing for every seven to 14 days, on average. Plan to mow either in the mid-morning hours or just before the afternoon sun gets high in the sky. You want to make sure that any moisture on the grass that might occur at night is gone, but the grass should still be cool to the touch.
Change Your Mowing Route
When you talk to a professional grass cutter, they will often talk about the route you take and why it is important for a professional mow. If you always mow using the same route, you might notice that your grass eventually starts to grow back irregularly or that weird stripe patterns start to emerge. This could have a negative impact on both the health and appearance of your grass. When you are mowing, use a vertical route one week and then the next week, opt for a horizontal route. This is a quick and simple way to avoid accidentally creating an unsightly pattern.
Be Sure to Water Properly
It is a common thought that grass should be watered on a daily basis. However, in most areas throughout North America during the growing season, most lawns should receive about an inch of water per week. Make sure that you are taking into account the precipitation that has happened recently when determining if you need to give your lawn a little extra hydration. If you do need to add a little water, you can do it after mowing. This way, it is easier to see and touch the soil to determine how dry it looks and feels.
Be Mindful of Grass Height
You do not want to cut your grass too short or this could compromise its overall health. In general, you want to keep your grass about three inches high. At this height, it usually has a healthier root system and it looks better. This can also help to discourage weeds from invading.
You can see that mowing your lawn in a way that provides a professional mow is not too difficult. The techniques here are mostly what a professional grass cutter would do if you hired someone to come in and take care of your landscape. You can easily implement these methods on your own and watch your lawn thrive.
2017 Southern Landscaping Trends
It is vital to take care of your landscaping in Louisiana. A beautiful yard can impress the neighbors and potential buyers when it comes time to sell your house. If you own commercial property, then a beautiful landscape greets customers and provides a fantastic first impression. For homeowners with yards that leave something to be desired, it is natural to want to mix things up and completely change the aesthetic of the lawn. Anyone unsure of what route to take should consider landscape trends that are really making an impact in 2017.
Going green means more than just planting more foliage. It is a good idea to think about what type of plants are going to be good for the local environment. It is typically best to stick with natural flora. Additionally, using flowers native to the region is going to be better for the bees when they come to pollinate.
You should also think about what plants are not going to require a lot of irrigation. Many properties use far too much water to keep a lawn looking pristine. Even though it tends to get fairly hot in Louisiana, you should plant flowers that can stand up tough to the heat.
In the past, property owners would use a number of items in their landscaping. Fences, borders and hedges would be used to separate certain areas from one another. It can look great, but more people have been opting toward natural borders. For instance, if you wanted to separate two different flower patches, then it would be ideal to use rocks or boulders to divide the two. Decorative rocks can be a stunning addition to a property, and it will help make the area look more like it is part of nature.
Many people like having an array of colors in their gardens. As long as everything complements one another, this can be a glorious route to take. However, more homeowners have been sticking with green shades in 2017. From the grass to bushes, various shades can be much more impactful than a bunch of colors that do not really go together. This year, people have realized green can be used for more than just filler in a garden.
Gardens do not have to stay on the ground. In fact, many homeowners are opting to go vertical. Hanging gardens are one of the most popular landscaping trends of 2017. The plants can be arranged in any manner you see fit. You can create some wonderful designs or keep the plants fairly homogenous if you like. The one thing to keep in mind is how you are going to irrigate the plants that are high on the building. Sprinklers will probably not reach them. This is one reason why it is beneficial to go sustainable. You will not have to worry about watering as much if the plants you hang on the wall are adapted for a dry environment.
Certain flowers go in and out of style. In 2017, hydrangeas are the flowers to get for any landscaping project in Louisiana. Apart from simply looking beautiful, hydrangeas can be implemented in numerous ways in a garden. They can be used to simply fill in areas around the foundation or you can plant them around a picket fence for a one-of-a-kind aesthetic. There are numerous types of hydrangeas you can get, including:
People are no longer being confined to relaxing indoors. In fact, many people are turning outdoor space into an area to convene with friends and family. As a result, many homeowners want an area in a yard that is suitable for setting down a few chairs and other accompaniments. It is still good to have a little green in relaxation areas, and many homeowners like having a couple potted plants by the chairs so that they can still feel like a part of nature. Once your cozy area is set up, you will want to go outside as often as possible to curl up with a good book.
A Little Glam
As mentioned previously, many homeowners are seeing the appeal of simply having green fixtures in a garden. However, that does not mean you cannot add a little color with some truly glamorous flowers. Wisterias and Itoh peonies have become incredibly popular, and once you get a good look at them, it will be no wonder why they are one of the main landscape trends of the year. It is important to keep in mind that some of the more glamorous flowers take a little more work to maintain. Adding just a few flowers here and there for emphasis can still be a worth endeavor to take.
Different Grass Varieties
For many years, many people have said the best thing to do is to lose grass completely and replace it with something that does not require watering that often. This was recommended for aesthetic reasons, but it also helps with droughts some states, including Louisiana, sometimes face. Today, that is not too much of a concern, but it is recommended for homeowners to incorporate grass that is suitable for drought-prone cities. You can enjoy a green lawn while knowing you are doing your part for the planet.
One trend that has really taken off is the idea of taking trees that are ordinarily huge and getting smaller versions. A compact version of a tree is much easier to maintain. It also offers a unique visual addition to a standard yard. These days, there is no need to make a lawn look imposing with trees that tower over the building. You will adore how cute your yard has become once you invest in some dwarf trees.
Naturally, you can do whatever you like for your personal landscaping in Louisiana. Perhaps you want something that goes against one of these landscape trends, and that is perfectly fine. Ultimately, the best thing is whatever you like best, so find a gardener who is committed to making your vision become a reality.
Do You Need to Hire a Gardener?
Whether you own a residential or commercial property in Southern Louisiana, you want to make sure your property looks great to everyone who comes past. This involves ensuring the landscape looks pristine. However, it takes a lot of work to keep a garden looking great in the Louisiana climate. You may lack the horticulture expertise to ensure every type of plant gets the nourishment it needs, so for reliable landscape maintenance, it may be in your best interest to hire a professional gardener. Here are some steps to take to help you determine if hiring a professional is ideal for you.
Look at the Garden
Before you start making any phone calls, you really want to consider the aesthetic of your garden the way it is now. If you end up hiring a professional, then you would want to know what kind of work would need to be done on a regular basis. For example, the expert may only need to mow once in a while and prune some trees. For more ornamental gardens, a lot more maintenance will be required.
Additionally, you want to consider what the garden is ultimately going to be used for. If it is going to be used for parties frequently, then you may want to think about hiring a gardener more seriously because a lot more work will be done to keep it looking great to guests. However, if you want it to be a peaceful, calm place for you to relax, then you may not need a horticulture expert as often.
Finally, you want to consider if there is a certain way you want your landscape to look like. If it is currently fairly bland but you would like a more Oriental aesthetic, then you should hire an expert who is knowledgeable of that appearance. There is no need to draw up blueprints right this second, but you need to know what to look for in a professional before conducting research.
Interview Several Different Professionals
After you have a good idea of what you want, you are ready to start scheduling consultations with gardeners. This does not mean you eventually have to hire one, but it does show you are serious about having the most pristine garden possible. As such, there are several questions you want to ask the gardener to make sure he or she is the best person for your landscape maintenance.
Finally, you should mention if there are any aspect of the garden you would like to handle yourself. Perhaps you do not have a problem mowing the grass once a week, and you do not feel like paying someone else to do it. Make sure you mention this information so that the gardener knows to eliminate a responsibility. Taking care of some chores yourself can help cut costs, and you will feel a greater sense of pride in maintaining your own yard.
Think About Your Personal Situation
After interviewing several different companies and having price estimates for each one, you may still have some lingering thoughts on whether to pull the trigger and hire someone. You really need to think about your personal life and whether you have the time and energy to give your lawn the attention it deserves. If you work crazy hours at your job, then it may be best to take one chore off your shoulders. Additionally, if you are arguing with your spouse about who should take care of the landscape, then it is probably best to let someone else handle it.
It is important to bear in mind that you can still do some gardening tasks on your own if you want to exercise your green thumb. Perhaps you want to plant a few fruit trees and harvest the fruit at various points in the year. It can be a great lifestyle choice, but fruit trees require a lot of work. You can focus on what you are passionate about while someone else handles the dirty work. There are plenty of compromises, and gardening professionals will work with you to develop a system everyone is happy with.
If you are ready for your garden to start impressing everyone in town, then you should seriously consider hiring a professional landscape maintenance service. A gardener who understands a thing or two about proper horticulture will be a great asset. It can be an investment you enjoy for years to come.
GreenSeasons is a great choice for a gardener in southern Louisiana. We have licensed horticulturist, licensed arborist, and degreed landscape architects to assist you with your gardening problems. Call today at (225)752-2333.
The method of lawn fertilization is sometimes as important as the type of fertilizer. During this time of year, avoid liquid treatments if you can. If you have to use liquid, try to use it before 9 in the morning or in late afternoon.
Use granular fertilizer, fungicide, and insecticide products in the middle of summer. Apply granular products either with a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader to get the best coverage. A drop spreader will give you better control when applying products, but make sure you don’t overlap your walking paths. Drop spreaders also take a lot longer. They are really good choices for small areas of grass.
A broadcast spreader throws the product over a much larger area. They also require some overlap on your walking path to ensure proper coverage. You can cover an area much faster with a broadcast spreader than you could with a drop spreader.
Smart Methods for Choosing an Irrigation Company
With summer right around the corner, you’re likely interested in getting your landscape in tip-top shape. One of the best ways to create a flourishing environment around your home is to install the right irrigation system. But how do you go about finding the right company to accomplish the task? Well, it requires doing some research into your local service providers and determining who can get the job done properly. A professionally installed sprinkler system can be the way to a truly luxurious yard. Spend some time looking into how to make the right choice by using some of these smart methods in the process.
Ask Them About Their After-Sales Policies
Once the initial service of installing the sprinkler system is complete, most professional irrigation companies offer to extend their hand for later services as well. After all, there’s more than the one season to contend with. Ask your local service providers what services they make available to their longstanding customers. They should be happy to offer their help for winterization preparation and spring start-up methods, so pay close attention to any mention of those after-sales services.
Discuss What Kinds of Equipment and Products They Utilize
Any professional landscape contractor should be able to discuss at length the procedures with which he or she conducts business. Once the contractor has surveyed your yard and come up with a suitable estimate, it’s important to start asking questions about how the process works. This allows you, the customer, to determine how qualified the company is for the job and what kind of result your yard is going to be left in. Take the time to understand the components of installing an irrigation system and why the person’s ideas will be the smartest approach for your specific landscape.
Always Ensure That a Warranty Is in Place
Understanding the policies and warranty offers of your provider is key before signing on the dotted line. A one-year warranty is generally the industry standard, but the company may discuss different time variations depending on certain system components. While this isn’t abnormal, relieve yourself of stress later by taking the time to understand the concepts and reasoning behind the decisions.
Determine How Best To Proceed
Once you’ve gathered enough information from multiple irrigation companies regarding your home’s sprinkler system, it’s time to choose the right service provider for your personal landscape. With your newfound knowledge to guide you, finding a suitable, trustworthy company should be an easier decision to make.
3 Things To Consider Before Choosing a Mowing Company
Maintaining a lawn may not seem like a hard-enough job to require much research into the business you hire to do it. However, choosing the right mowing company can potentially save you a lot of arguments and frustration in the future. After all, you are paying someone to cut your grass, which is money right out of your pocket. Don’t you want the relief and security of knowing your choice is dependable and works hard for the payment? Consider these three things before choosing a company to mow your lawn.
Seek Out References on Their Reliability
Finding the right lawn mowing services can require a little background detective work on your part by looking into previous customer referrals. Look for customer reviews and determine the average rating of the business. Furthermore, it’s important to directly ask the company in question for references on its grass-cutting efforts. If the supervisor is slow to hand them over, this could be a sign that you should be wary. Professional and well-reviewed businesses will often be proud of showing off their great customer feedback.
Determine What Trade Organizations They Belong To (If Any)
Oftentimes, you are unlikely to find many landscaping services that belong to trade or professional organizations. However, this is why finding one can ultimately be rewarding. Those companies that are involved show that they are dedicated to providing hard work and excellent customer service. They are staying up-to-date on changing trends, constantly re-educating themselves on new rules and policies and generally just showing they care about the grass they are supposed to perfect. Such indicators are signs of a stalwart business model and can generally be the right path to finding a trustworthy company.
Ask for Information Regarding Their Equipment
The handling, quality and maintenance of the equipment can be very telling of work ethic and responsibility to the job. Offhandedly ask the local lawn providers questions regarding how often they change their equipment, most notably the blades. If they don’t acknowledge their procedures or don’t tell you the blades are sharpened after on a regular schedule of mowing, then it’s time to move on to a more dependable service.
Use This Knowledge To Make Your Choice
Once you have received good intel and customer reviews, choosing an honest, hardworking lawn mowing company can be a far easier task. You can avoid the burden of losing money to whoever is tending to your grass when you take the right actions beforehand.
Termites can be a nightmare for home owners. Pest damage on your structure would be a problem for anybody. Termite damage costs Americans over $5 billion dollars a year.
Termites like to stay hidden. They usually stick to dark, moist, and warm areas. This makes them hard to detect. Termites are small, soft, and have white bodies. They feed on cellulose in wood. In Baton Rouge and New Orleans, we deal mostly with native termites and formosan termites. They are subterranean termites, meaning they live underground.
Termites venture out to find wood and water, or to reproduce. Winged termites are flying about at dusk trying to find a new home. If they find a place with dirt, wood, and moisture, termites are staying. Termite detection early can reduce the cost of repairs. Typical home owners do not notice termites until their house is heavily infested. Hiring a pest control professional to inspect and treat your home for termites is always recommended in south Louisiana. Below are some signs of termites.
Termite tunnels are a sure sign of termite activity in your home. This is the reason to have your foundation exposed and siding/brick not touching the ground. Walk around your home and look for a small trail of packed mud leading from the ground up to your house. This is the path termites take from subterranean nest to get to the wood in your home. The view of termite tunnels can be obstructed when they are on piers under your home, behind stucco touching the ground, or if you have dirt higher than your foundation.
Termite soldiers click their mandibles and tap their bodies on wood. This is how they communicate with the termite colony. In heavy termite infestations, this can be heard in a quiet room.
Termite frass is essentially termite poop. Termite frass usually forms at a point of entry into a pile. It resembles a mound of coffee grounds. This is another strong sign of termite activity.
Termites have wings when they are looking to reproduce. Finding these inside your home is reason enough to get an inspection. If you already have a termite infestation, you will walk into a room that is filled with flying termites. Swarming termites are often attracted to light and wings can be found beneath recessed lighting or on window sills.
It is summer in Baton Rouge and it is HOT. The intense heat can turn a couple weeks without rain into a major problem for your flowers, shrubs and trees. Keep your landscape healthy with an well designed irrigation system that properly waters. Here are some things to look for when you want a new irrigation system installed at your place.
GreenSeasons installs both residential irrigation systems and commercial irrigation systems. Please give us a call to schedule a FREE consultation today. 888-353-1971