We often get asked, "What is something I can do to make my garden look better?" Here are some of our most common suggestions for homeowners to improve their garden.
Welcome With Flowers
Flowers inform your visitors that they are welcome. An assortment of flowers near the entrance of your home sends the right type of warm message for company. Flowers add color that attracts the eye while softening hard edges. It would be nice to have flowers everywhere, but most people are on a budget.
Flowers Are Not Just For The Ground
Hanging baskets and raised planter boxes will take your garden to the next level, literally. This method creates visual layers which is quite appealing. Hanging baskets can adorn walk ways and patios. Raised planter boxes can liven up a drab patio. Experimenting is easy since you can simply move them to a new location. Remember to layer your baskets and planter boxes. Three types of plants should be in your containers: something that drapes, something that fills, and something tall.
Choose Flowering Plants
This seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of landscapes are severely lacking in flowering plants. Lilies, irises, and hydrangeas are nice choices for some low maintenance color in your garden. Azaleas, gardenias, crepe myrtles, and camellias should keep your yard in bloom for most of the year.
Hide Your Shed
Sheds are functional, but most do not look great. Try lining your shed with some potted plants that get tall. A trellis with a flowering vine can screen a plain looking shed. Try a vertical herb wall. It will add some character and be useful when cooking.
Make It Memorable
Your backyard is yours to enjoy. Make something just for you that you love. If you have a large backyard, use the extra space to create an escape that you and friends clamor too. An outdoor oasis can include water features, statues, ornate outdoor furniture, grownup tree houses, or other hidden surprises.
Dogs can easily make a mess of your landscaping. Dogs can trample, chew, and dig a garden into a mud pit in no time. Our advice, stop fighting your dogs on what they are doing. Work with their natural instincts to make a place that is good for plants, people, and canines.
Dog breeds differ greatly. Figure out what your dog needs and be sure to include it. Keeping your dog happy will lead to an area that is easier to maintain. Doggy landscaping requires some extra work and a lot of patience.
What should be in a dog friendly garden?
Grass Type - Dogs run a lot. Be sure to pick a grass type that can handle the traffic. Athletic fields in the area use Bermuda grass. It requires full sun, but it can take a lot of traffic and repairs damage quickly.
Running Track - Dogs love to run. They are already running in a set path in your yard. Instead of trying to change their doggy behavior, work with it. Make a nice looking path out of flagstones, smooth pebbles, decking, or concrete. This will keep the paths less muddy and their paws cleaner. If your fur baby runs along your fence, give them a solid path. Dogs patrol the edges of their territory. Enhance their path to keep it looking great.
Marking Post - Give your dog a toilet of sorts. Set up a stump, post, or even a faux fire hydrant in a set area in your yard. Reward the pup for taking care of business in that area. This will lead to less dog spots in your grass and an easier area to clean up after.
Sturdy Plants - Pick strong plants that can take an excited dog running through them. Soft leaves are better for dogs since they shouldn't scratch them. Ornamental grasses work well also. Arrange your shrubs to they will grow densely. Dogs tend to not make a path in places that are hard to go through. Layer your landscaping with dense plantings in front of shrubs.
Shade - Dogs play in the sun, but rest in the shade when it is hot. Shade trees and covered areas are prime real estate for doggy naps. Provide an inviting spot under a shady tree to guide your dog.
Soft Mulch - Mulch that feels good to a dog is mulch that will not be dug out by a dog. If your dog has a favorite place to lay down, a nice soft mulch will make it look better. Be sure to pick a mulch that will not get stuck in their fur.
Borders - Small fences, stones, and hardscaped borders keep your dogs from running through areas they shouldn't. Find an aesthetic that works with your landscape style and go with it. If you don't like the look of borders in front of your landscape, use it as a temporary training tool. After a few weeks, remove the fence and see if the your dog's behavior has changed.
Water Feature - Pick a water feature that looks good, sounds nice, and provides clean water to refresh your dog. Choose a water feature that your pet can get out of in case they fall into it. Also pick one that is easy to replace the water.
Safe Landscaping - Obviously, don't use thorny plants. While they prevent your dog from going somewhere, they can also cause injury. A lot of plants are poisonous to dogs. While dogs don't always eat everything in the yard, cautious pet owners can choose to avoid the option all together. Here is a link to a list of plants that are dangerous to pets. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants
Spring time in Baton Rouge brings nice temperatures and excessive rain. The warm and wet weather leads to a large influx of new weeds popping up in your lawn. The weed seeds have waited underground all winter to rise up and show off. Poa annua, aka annual bluegrass, can be an eye sore for many lawns in Louisiana. The weed is an annual, meaning it will die off on its own each year, which is good. Each weed produces hundreds of seeds, which is bad. The seeds can also lay dormant for multiple years, so you will have to have a good treatment plan in place over a long period of time.
How to Control Poa Annua
Poa annua is best treated by preventing the large amount of seeds in the ground from sprouting. Poa annua seeds start to germinate in late fall, so you need to have a pre-emergent down before that and throughout the winter into spring. Since the seeds can stay dormant, this will need to be done for a few consecutive years to get close to eradicating the Poa problem.
Step 1 - Pre-Emergent Herbicide
We recommend using a pre-emergent that has pendimethalin as an active ingredient in September. Follow that up with another round of pre-emergent containing the active ingredient dithiopyr in November and again in either late January or early February. Be sure to check the product label for usage rates, timing between applications, maximum annual rates, and which types of grass your product can be used on.
Step 2 - Post-Emergent Herbicide
Even with perfect pre-emergent timing, some weeds manage to slip through and grow. This calls for post-emergent herbicide treatment. Look for a selective post-emergent herbicide that lists annua poa as a controlled weed and your grass type as a tolerant turfgrass. Alternatively, if you only have a few weeds, you can pull them when you see them.
If you have a really bad weed infestation, be patient. It will take a couple of cycles to get the problem under control. The good news is you will see drastic improvement in the first year. The other great thing for us is poa annua cannot survive in temperatures over 90 F. When May rolls around, your poa problem will go away until fall.
We have been preaching to anyone who will listen for years. Do not top, pollard, knuckle, shorten, etc. your crepe myrtles. It is bad for the tree's health, it looks bad, everything about it is wrong. It doesn't matter if your parents, grandparents, neighbors, or friends have done this for years. If they or you are still doing this... stop, pretty please.
How to Fix Your Crepe Myrtle
If you have been topping your crepe myrtles for years, there is a way to get them back on track over time. If you have a knuckled mess from years of trimming branches to the trunk, you are going to have to top the tree for the last time. Cut just below the knuckled mess that has been created. If your tree was clear cut at the tops, then you can skip the previous step.
Next you have to wait a few weeks until new growth starts at the top. There should be a lot of small, new growth. Pick a few to keep from the tops of each trunk that are growing up and away from the center of the tree. The rest can be removed with pruners. You will let these continue to grow. Every year to six months, you can remove the smaller new growth and branches that form that grow towards other branches. It is going to take a while to look better. We are talking three to five years. If you are impatient, look into transplanting a new tree to replace it.
Train Your Crepe Myrtle to Grow the Right Way
Traditional pruning, or training, for crepe myrtles should keep splits in branch growth in threes. While not definitive, a good guide to go by is three limbs every three to five feet of height. Start of with three, then nine, then twenty seven. Always train your tree branches to grow up and away from the center. Remove small limbs that cross other limbs. Your goal for crepe myrtles is to have them resemble flowers in a clear vase meaning blooms up top and a center you can generally see through.
Get Rid of Crepe Myrtle Suckers
Small pruning for suckers can be done anytime they pop up. Those are the micro branches that pop out of fresh cuts or just about anywhere. Take some pruners and remove them, especially from the base of a mature tree.
What If My Crepe Myrtle Is Too Tall
If your crepe myrtle is too tall, you need a different variety of crepe myrtle. I know it is not what you want to hear, but cutting the top off looks bad and the point of a crepe myrtle is to look good. Transplant your existing crepe myrtle where it can grow and plant something else in it's place.
Do you have an area of dying grass in your yard and don't know why? During spring and fall you are likely dealing with a lawn fungus known as brown patch or large patch. Spring and fall are prime time for lawn fungus trouble. This fungus problem seems to come back and plague the same properties each year. If you have had brown patch in the past, take steps to treat it each spring and fall season.
What does brown patch look like?
Brown patch can look different depending on the type of grass in your lawn.
Dark brown border with a rounded shape. It can appear circular or irregular.
Thin grass inside middle of the border.
Brown patch damage can vary greatly in size, ranging from a couple of inches to a few feet.
Brown patch fungus problems worsen with the following conditions:
Warm Days (70 F to 90 F)
Too Much Water
Nitrogen Rich Soil
How to control brown patch in your grass?
Only water your lawn when needed.
Only water in the morning so it can dry up by night.
Postpone using nitrogen based fertilizer until the weather is consistently 90 F or above.
Core aerate your yard to break up thatch build up.
Apply a preventative fungicide when conditions favor brown patch. It is easier to prevent than to stop.
If brown patch is active, use a curative fungicide labeled for brown patch. Follow the label.
Everyone loves to get cut flowers. A beautiful display of color and fragrant scents truly liven up a room. A few days later and most people tend to throw out their once vibrant flowers. Well what if there was to get more bang for your buck? Read on to find out how to make cut flowers last longer.
Use these tips to make your cut flowers last longer:
Always use a clean vase
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people reuse vases that have not been washed. Simply was your flower vases between uses and you are in the clear.
Add something to the water
Fill your vase up half way with cool, fresh water. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with some warm water to dissolve it. Add the warm mixture to the vase. The sugar feeds the flowers while the apple cider vinegar kills off bacteria.
Keep the water level high
Try to keep the water level around the half way mark in your vase. A lot of people forget to add water to their cut flowers and they end up dying early from thirst. You can add some extra sugar and apple cider vinegar when you add water.
Rinse the stems
A quick rinse under the faucet can remove bacteria that may have started to form on the flowers. Fewer bacteria means longer life for your flowers.
Cut the stems
Give them a trim before placing the flowers in the vase. Use a sharp knife to cut an inch or more off the bottom of the stems. Be sure to cut it at an angle. Avoid using scissors if possible because they can pinch the stem and prevent it from taking up water.
Cut the flowers again
About every 5 days, take the flowers out and cut off another inch or so from the bottom of the stem. We have found this can extend the life of your cut flowers.
Stick it in the fridge
That's right, stick it in the fridge. Before you go to bed at night, place the entire vase and flowers in the fridge. The extra time in the cool air preserves your flowers like nothing else. There's a reason why you see professional florist using large refrigerated boxes to keep their inventory fresh.
These flower tips will keep your flowers looking great much longer. Give these a try on Valentine's Day and for all of your spring flowers you take inside from your garden. I hope you and your family can enjoy your flowers a little bit longer now.
A compression sleeve is one way to repair a broken irrigation pipe. Compression sleeves work great in tight spaces, like a hole you dug in the ground. You only need a handful of tools to get this job done.
PVC Pipe Cutter or Hacksaw
Two Channel Locks
Rag (for cleaning)
Compression Coupling (or two)
small length of pipe (possible)
Turn off the water. Dig around and find the break in the pipe. Once you uncover it, excavate about a foot or two along the pipe and about half a foot beneath the pipe. For a small break, you will only need one compression coupling. Cut a one inch section of pipe at the break. Clean the area of the pipe where the compression sleeve will go.
For a larger break, you will need two couplings and a small section of pipe. You will cut out a more of the pipe and use the two compression sleeves and the additional pipe to link the irrigation system. If this is your problem, copy the steps below again for the second compression sleeve.
Remove the ends of the compression coupling and push them onto both sides of the broken pipe. Make sure the threaded side is pointing toward the opening in the pipe. Push the rubber washers over each side of the pipe. Give yourself a little bit more room than the length of the compression coupling. Now insert one side of the pipe into the compression coupling and then the other. Try to get the break in the pipe to be in the center of the coupling.
Hold the coupling in place and slide the washer toward it and the do the same thing for the other washer. Next, lightly twist the nuts onto the compression sleeve.
Use one channel lock to hold the compression sleeve and the other to tighten the nuts. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER TIGHTEN. If you tighten too much, the compression sleeve will break.
Turn on the water and look for leaks. If you spot some leaks, tighten a little more until the leak stops. Back fill the area with dirt and you are done.
It is winter in Baton Rouge which means your grass is dormant and the clover looks very healthy! You may be tempted to let the clover take over so you have a very lush, green lawn. If you want to get rid of the clover without killing your grass, we have your solution. It is also an easy fix. Let's get your lawn clover free.
While it matters less when your grass is dormant, you need to know what type of grass you have. Typical desired grass types here are centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, or bermudagrass. This is important. When you select a selective herbicide at the store, you need to be certain your grass type is listed as a type of grass that the product will not hurt. An old go to active ingredient for clover control is 2,4-d. There are a quite a few other products that will work well to achieve your goal. Follow the label for the product you purchase and spray or spread it over the top of grass.
Stop Them Before They Start
When dealing with clover, as well as most weeds, you should attempt to stop the clover before it spreads. Regular fertilization with nitrogen during the warm months will encourage your grass to spread and get thicker. Thicker grass will block out the sun from weed seeds. Another solution to stop clover is to use pre-emergent herbicides in late fall to prevent the seeds from ever germinating.
Natural Weed Control
A natural solution is to use corn gluten meal. Apply twenty pounds of corn gluten meal per thousand feet of clover weeds. After applying the corn gluten meal, water thoroughly and allow to dry. The meal then dries out the clover seeds so that it will continue to spread.
Let's start of by setting your expectations. There is no easy way to do this the right way. You will get wet and dirty. It is also going to take some time.
First you will need to drain your fountain. You can use your fountain pump to do this by redirecting the hose out of the fountain. Unplug your pump when it starts to take air in with water. Use a wet vacuum to get the remaining water from the bottom. If you do not have an easy to access pump, a bucket will work, but it will take forever.
Next, time to clean. Take our your pump. Clean it in a bucket of warm water with some dish soap. Remove anything big by hand. You will clean your fountain based upon what material it is made. If it is slate, clean it with a soap pad. If it is concrete, use a pressure washer with a fan tip. If you cannot rent a pressure washer, use half a cup of vinegar to one gallon of water and scrub everything. You could use two tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water instead of the vinegar solution. Be sure to use waterproof gloves if handling bleach. The pump can be cleaned with either the vinegar or bleach solution. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fountain when finished so it is free of cleaning solution.
If there are any cracks, now is a good time to fix them. Let your fountain dry completely. Use caulk and sealant / paint to get your fountain looking like new. Allow it to dry to the time specified on the label.
Put your pump back in a fill your clean fountain back up. To avoid doing this for a while, keep your fountain maintained. Using a small fishing net is an easy way to keep leaves and twigs out so they won't dirty up your fountain. Use mosquito pellets to keep mosquitoes from breeding while allowing the water to still be safe for birds or pets.
Enjoy your clean fountain!
People worry about weeds in their lawn in the summer, but the best time to inspect your lawn for weeds is in the winter. Grass tends to go dormant in the the winter and turn yellow. Weeds keep their green color and stick out for you to easily spot. Some winter weeds to look out for are white clover, henbit, common chickweed, and annua poa. You should use a selective herbicide labeled for these weeds to take them out easily during the winter. These selective herbicides usually contain atrazine or 2,4-D, but not both. You can use a small amount of product and get rid of the weeds without treating your whole lawn.
You will not see certain summer weeds like crabgrass since they go away for winter since it is an annual weed. If you know you had a problem with crabgrass in the summer, the winter is a great time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the seeds left from sprouting during the warm season. You can use a pre-emergent to treat many of the annual weeds you see in the summer that go away in winter. If you remember where they grew, you can treat those areas for better control.
Also, do not add any weed and feed for your lawn. Nitrogen promotes growth, and your grass should not be growing.