Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Professional Look in Mulching

This spring has been milder and warmer than normal for my Zone 5 area. My gardening business has been very busy with garden clean up and mulching. Business is much better this year than last and I hope that it means that the economy is improving. Most people are just eager to be outside again after those long months of winter.

This year I have spent more time mulching than I ever have. Mulching helps to retain moisture in the soil and reduces weeds. It adds nutrients back to the soil as it breaks down and it really makes for a clean attractive garden after it is down. In the Midwest, people mulch their gardens with mulch made from shredded hardwood, cypress, pine or cedar. Mulch can be purchased in colors from black, dark brown, gold or red depending on your personal taste. If you want to mulch your garden and have a professional look after you are done, here are some simple rules to follow.

  1. Cut your grass before mulching. Many people fertilize and the grass grows tall and hides the edges and lines of the garden beds.

  2. Edge the garden beds to give them a clean crisp look.

  3. Clean up the beds by raking out old leaves, trash, and shrub clippings. Cut back last years dead perennials. If your shrubs need or can be pruned, now would be a good time.

  4. Remove all weeds from the garden beds. You may want to add fertilizer or weed preventer in the beds before mulching.

  5. Mulch the beds. I prefer to use a nice dark hardwood mulch at 1 to 2 inches deep in my garden beds. The color looks more natural and it shows off the plant colors far more. Keep the mulch away from stems, crowns and branches of plants. Never do volcano mulching around the trunk of your trees. Volcano mulching will damage your trees over time. You can buy mulch in bags of 2 to 3 cubic foot or buy it in bulk where it is sold by the cubic yard and delivered to your home. It you have not started your spring clean up and mulching, now is the time. Have a great gardening season!
Tip: Did you know that you could buy mulch with a weed preventer already in the mulch?

Happy Gardening!

The Creative Gardener

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grape Hyacinths

You always know that spring has come when the Grape hyacinths start to bloom in the garden. They always add that beautiful splash of blue, mixed in with the colors of the tulips and daffodils. Grape hyacinths or Muscari armeniacum bloom in my zone 5 garden in April. The foliage looks similar to grass and the plant grows from about 6 to 9 inches tall. It's the flowers that really draws attention to this little plant. The deep blue flowers look great in a mass planting, in rock gardens, woodland gardens, as a companion plants to other spring flowering bulbs or for naturalizing. They grow in zones 3-10. Grape hyacinths grow in full sun or light shade in locations with rich, well-drained soil. Plant the bulbs in the fall about 3 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. Grape hyacinths will thrive if left undisturbed and will multiply rapidly.They will benefit from the addition of some 12-12-12- fertilizer. The bulbs can be purchased at garden centers, nurseries or from online nurseries.

Happy Gardening!
The Creative Gardener

'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood

Years ago, I purchased a very small tree that was only 6 to 8 inches tall. It was a 'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood. It had beau...