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.
This is a great time to add some seasoning to your garden. Cool-season herbs grow well in Louisiana’s fall season. Annual herbs to keep include coriander, cilantro, dill, fennel, chicory and parsley.
Perennial herbs keep well also during these colder months. Options include thyme, lavender, rosemary, mint, chives, oregano, catnip (for kitty), and pineapple sage. Chamomile is a perennial, but cannot survive the summer in Louisiana, so think of it as an annual if you choose to plant it.
You will want to plant your herbs as close to the kitchen as possible. The further away they are, the less likely they are to be used. If you do not have an area close to the kitchen, herbs do very well when grown in containers.
Only get herbs your regularly cook with and only a few plants of each. This will keep the space required for planting to a minimum and keep your herb gardening purchases cheap.
Most herbs like well drained soil and to grow at a moderate pace. Do not apply a lot of fertilizer to your herbs. A nice mix of compost will do fine. If you do not have access to compost, and you must fertilize, use a half dose of the recommended amount. Herbs that grow too quickly do not have as much flavor.
You will still reap the benefits in spring and summer of an herb garden planted now. Herbs will have time to develop over the winter and will be better equipped to handle the heat of summer. I hope your herb garden leads to a lot of delicious meals shared with family and friends.
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.
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.
In the previous few years, boxwoods have been repeatedly damaged by an unknown source. Raj Singh, a plant pathologist from LSU AgCenter, noticed this and identified the cause as the fungus Colletotrichum. It causes random die-back of twigs and a black discoloration of the stem. There are currently no official recommendations for treatment for the fungus. Considering this, take extra care to sanitize your pruning equipment to prevent the spread of the disease to healthy plants. If you suspect your boxwoods have been infected, please contact your AgCenter extension. Removal of infected plant matter may help prevent the spread of this new pathogen.
Landscape Disease Control
If you are growing tomatoes, you are either already enjoying yours or waiting for them to ripen, depending on the variety. Unfortunately, some of you may have had some tomatoes that have been affected by blossom end rot and are no longer edible.
Blossom End Rot
Blossom end rot starts at the blossom end of the tomato, hence the name. It starts out as a small, sunken spot. It continues to spread and cause the fruit to ripen early. So look out for a discolored, sunken, dark spot near the bloom end of the plant. Also keep an eye out for blossom end rot in melons, squash, eggplants and peppers. Identify blossom end rot with these pictures.
What Type of Calcium to Use on Tomatoes?
A foliar sprays containing calcium chloride or calcium nitrate applied directly to the tomato and the leaves around it work great. You may also correct soil calcium deficiencies by applying lime or gypsum if you do it prior to planting. This does take some planning and you will have to have a soil test to see what your soil needs also.
Cultural Controls For Blossom End Rot
Plants need water to absorb calcium from the ground. Be sure to not let the soil stay excessively dry. An even moisture level in the soil will keep blossom end rot away as long as there is calcium to absorb. Also, a good layer of mulch will retain moisture longer.
GreenSeasons Homegrown Food
For a basic raised vegetable garden, you will need:
GreenSeasons Homegrown Food
Vegetable Gardens, Chicken Coops, and Fruit Trees
If you would simply like some advice on homegrown food, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help.
Top 10 Ways To Cleanup Your Landscape For Spring
- Pressure washing - winter can cake on the dirt and grime to your exterior walls. Rent, borrow or hire and clean your home and driveway.
- Winter Cleanup - Cut back all the winter die-back on your tropical plants. Tropical plants and ornamental grasses really need this.
- Pull and replace dead plants - winter can be a tough time on your plants. Replace them now before the get stressed from the heat of summer.
- Winter weed control - Weeds in the winter do not grow as fast, but they can take over if left alone.
- Prune roses - Valentines day and George Washington's birthday are great times to prune your roses.
- Dead head flowers - Pinching off withered blooms will make way for new blooms.
- Plant spring annuals - start checking the stores for the early batches of spring flowers.
- Lawn aeration - aerating your lawn will get your grass looking great in the summer.
- Fertilize your garden - a slow release fertilizer now will get your flowering shrubs to pop out.
- Landscape mulch - a good new layer of mulch is essential to having your home look well kept.
Professional Landscape Cleanup
If you would simply like some additional advice, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help.
- How big are the plants. Not how big are they now, but how big will they be in the future. A plant could grow into power lines, into roofs, through fences or into other plants.
- Trees that have large root systems can break concrete. Please do not plant a tree that will damage your home as it grows.
- Before you dig, call LA One Call if you live in Louisiana or your utility company if you live elsewhere. A simple call could save you both money and your life.
Amount of Light
- Areas that get three hours or less direct sun a day would be considered full shade.
- Areas that get between three to six hours of direct sun a day are considered prarial sun or partial shade.
- Areas with more than six hours of direct sunlight are considered full sun.
- Pick the right plant for your area. What does well in Arizona may not do so well here. Normally, stores only sell plants that will do well in your area, so it shouldn't be too hard to do. One thing to look out for is when stores have flowers and plants at a large discount. Usually this is a sign that the plant will be out of season soon and will loose its blooms.
- Place fragrant plants near walk ways or doors. It would be a waste if you had a lovely smelling plant in the back of your garden.
- Be cautious of fast growing plants, especially ground cover. If left alone, it will overrun your garden, yard and possible your home.
If you would simply like some advice on landscaping, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help.
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