Tips and Tricks
Tips and tricks for producing great flower gardens. After gardening for 30 years I have stumbled across some tips and tricks that may help in your gardening quest. I do not claim to know it all but I am passionate about gardening and I have produced some of the most beautiful gardens. I have had great success with plants known to be difficult. I have also had my fair share of failures but from each of those I have learned something.
Do not be afraid to move a plant if it appears to be struggling and has not been in the ground to long. If you suspect the location is at fault, just move it. I've been known to move even shrubs and trees after two seasons. If it appears I could lose it I just move it. I have a 99% success rate on the plants I have moved. There are so many factors to each location that changing the location can make all the difference. If you have to move something the spring is the best time to transplant. The temperatures are cooler and the moisture higher.
When possible always purchase plants in potted containers. Even trees are better potted, they may not be as big but they soon will be. Potted plants have not had their roots chopped, instead they have been grown that way. My potted trees easily caught up with and passed my balled and burlapped trees in just 2 seasons. Root bound potted plants are thankful to be put in the ground and they are ready to thrive.
Do not water late in the evening, this promotes fungus and mold. If you have to water late in the day, try to do it at least an hour before sundown so the leaves have time to dry before the cooler temperatures arrive. The best time to water is early am, this gives strength to the plants to fight the drying sun. The only time I prefer watering in the evening is during those days of excessive heat and sun. This is when I like to give a moderate sprinkle to help cool down the soil and roots. A lot of people think that heavy watering is required, not true with flowers, since they have a fairly shallow root system excessive watering does no good. The best thing to do is provide a drip system that distributes the water very slowly. Rain barrels are also great for reducing municipal water needs not to mention the benefits of minerals and nutrients the rain water contains.
Mulching is a must! There is no better way to protect your plants roots and retain moisture. Mulch also adds nutrients to the soil and improves the soil quality as it breaks down. I recommend nothing but a good hardwood mulch like cedar. Stay away from the dyes, pine and big chunk mulch which do nothing for the soil. Softer mulches can also create a bug problem and attract termites.
If you intend to decorate with stone, be sure the plant is well rooted and established. I do not recommend stone around any plant other than trees and some very hardy shrubs. Stone can generate an extreme amount of heat when baked in the sun, this puts stress on the roots and tender leaves of many plants. Since trees and vigorous bush roots grow deeper they are able to withstand the higher temperatures.
If you have absolutely horrid soil and don't have the patience to improve it, try adding a berm of healthy soil. I owned a property that was impossible. I created a huge berm by digging the grass, turning it upside down over the area and then adding good soil on top of it. The dying grass added nutrients below while the plants had time to grow in the good soil above.
In established gardens the soil should be turned every spring. Roots need to breath and the soil naturally compacts over time. Turning the soil the best you can will help your plants take off in the spring. Mix some compost or fertilizers in while doing this to add back some of the nutrients used the prior season.
You do not have to follow tags to the tee. I have often found that plants do very well outside there recommendations. Try something different and if it does not work you can always move it. The tags are just what it says, recommendations.
Install some benefits like water features. Water features bring beneficial insects that improve garden production. Insects need to drink just like all other creatures, providing them with a complete environment will keep them and your plants happy.
Keep your flowers pinched back if they are that variety. The only way to have abundant bloom all season is to keep up with pinching back flowers like Geraniums, Roses and Petunias. I check mine everyday while I water.
If you have a really trouble spot and just can't get anything to grow there, try an accessory or planter there. You can fill in trouble areas with almost anything and create interest at the same time. Statues, water features, gel burners and boulders are just a few options.
Try using your fallen leaves in your garden beds, just mulch the leaves and mix with the soil. They provide an abundance of nutrients and help separate the soil. There is nothing better than natural nutrients for garden beds.
I will continue to add tips and tricks to this page as I remember them and find new ones. Everyone deserves to have a garden paradise and if everyone did, the world would be a happier place.