Saturday, March 27, 2010

Transplant Tree or Shrub (How to)

Planting a tree or shrub is not difficult however purchasing a healthy tree or shrub may be a little tricky. Many trees and shrubs sold are root balls wrapped in wax-coated burlap. If purchasing from a nursery ask to check the root ball.

Look for a healthy root that is growing outward. If the root ball is tightly matted then it better to purchase a tree or shrub grown in a container. Before purchasing the tree or shrub, check the bottom of the container, if roots are growing out the drain holes this is a good indication of a strong root. Another way to determine a healthy tree or shrub is to look for a full tree or bush with new growth.
Redbud tree transplant in spring

Planting Tips
Set the container on its side and gently role the container on the ground. This method will loosen the root ball from inside the container.

Remove the tree or shrub from the container. Thoroughly wet the root ball prior to planting. By wetting the soil, you may loosen some of the roots from the root ball. If the roots are stubborn, and are growing in a tight circle, use your hands untangle the roots. Gently pull them away from the root ball. This is a necessary step to enable the roots to grow outward into the soil. 

Clear the planting site by remove all of the grass. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and as deep as the container. Add six inches of compost to the bottom of the hole. Mound the compost into the center of the hole. Set the tree or shrub on top of the mound. Spread the roots out so that they will grow outward into the soil. Fill the hole with the remaining soil and water thoroughly.

Apply two to four inches of mulch around the tree or shrub trunk. The mulch will add nutrients to the soil, retain moisture, and will prevent weeds. Water your tree or shrub daily in the morning before the heat of the day.  The soil should be evenly moist but not wet.

Notes From Susan:   Plant your tree or shrub in the late afternoon when the sun is not intense or plant on a cloudy day.

Learn how to transplant tree by viewing this youtube video:


Monday, March 15, 2010

Zinnia Flowers for Sun Gardens

Zinnia flowers are the perfect choice for sun gardens as these flowers like it hot and will brighten your yard and garden from summer to fall. 

Every year I shop online at and will buy seeds in bulk if they are avaialbe.  I grow zinnia flowers in the masses because they remind me of growing up and picking the flowers from my Dad's garden.

Zinnia flowers have a long bloom time and  they are a maintenance free flower that provides repeat blooms that brightens my gardens. 

As a kid I recall seeing the zinnias growing along the side of our chain link fence and they did flourish.  There was some afternoon part shade that prevented them from baking in the 100+ temperatures.   

I like the way the zinnias look when they are grown as a border along a fence but I have a wood fence and need to grow the zinnia  two to three feet away from the wood fence to make sure flowers get adequate air flow. 

One way to plant zinnias is to plant them in a garden with purple coneflowers or scarlet red bee balm.  The purple and red are eye appealing contrast colors that will accent your zinnia flowers.

Another way to grow zinnias is to plant them in containers.  As long as you meet zinnias growing requirements; full sun, hot weather, well drained soil, and watered in the morning at the soil level with drip irrigation then you can grow zinnias easily from seed.

Image credit by Vallian

Planting zinnias by growing the flower seed indoors on a sunny windowsill or under a grow light. When the zinnia seedlings are three inches in height, and the danger of spring frosts has passed then transplant them outside.
Grow  Zinnia CALIFORNIA GIANT Flower From Seed

Caring for Zinnias

Apply one inch of mulch around the stem to help aid in moisture control and to deter weeds.  
Care for zinnias by watering them in the morning with drip irrigation as it is not wise to get water on the leaves.  
Plant zinnias in an area where there is good air flow. Zinnias are susceptible to powdery mildew.

Learn more about growing zinnia flowers from seed by viewing this garden tips video:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lavender Growing Tips and Uses


Growing lavender is easy, and the benefit of its beauty and fragrance will return every season. Lavender is a perfect plant for those hot sunny locations in your yard where nothing else will grow. I grow lavender directly outside of my dog kennel and along the gravel path that leads to my patio. I also planted lavender in containers; wheelbarrow, vintage footed bathtub and also in a wooden barrel.

I grow English lavender because it is a fragrant and pretty flower.  The plant features dense branches that will grow to the heights of three feet and the leaves are long and narrow. 

Lavender Usage

Lavender herb is a natural way to repel stray cats and mosquitoes from your yard and garden, you can also plant aromatic lavender close to your dog kennel.  I like to dry the lavender and use it in floral arrangement during the fall and winter months.  It looks nice in harvest wreaths and also sensational when you tie a bunch of lavender flowers with silver or gold ribbon and then decorate a Victorian Christmas tree. 

You can also make a bar of lavender soap, here's how:

Another way to benefit from the lavender herb is to mix it with rose petals for an aromatic potpourri or make heavenly scented sachets for your drawers.  There are many benefits for growing lavender, why not plant some seeds for windowsill garden or outdoors in container or yard.

Create a cozy spot in your garden by growing Lavender

Growing Tips for Lavender Herb:

  1. Grow lavender in a sunny location that has sandy soil that is well drained.  
  2. Lavender prefers a location where the soil is dry.  If the root receives too much moisture it will rot.  
  3. Start the lavender seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks prior to the last spring frost.  The best way to achieve this is to plant the seeds in starter kits. 
  4. Grow lavender indoors in a windowsill herb garden.  
  5. Set the container garden next to a window that has a southern exposure or you can grow lavender under an artificial grow light.  It takes approximately 8 to 12 weeks for the lavender seed to germinate.  
  6. When plants are four to six inches in height transplant them outdoors after the threat of spring frost has passed.


Lavender is a flowering herb from the mint family.  The lavender flowers produce nectar and thus honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the lavender blooms.

Introduction photo by Heron/ Wikipedia Creative Commons 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Conserve Water in Your Yard

During the heat of summer when the thermostat is soaring well into to the nineties one will water their yard and gardens twice daily. 

While the gardens are flourishing and your neighbors may be complimenting you on your grass and flowerbeds, your water bill has crossed over to the danger zone. Your first reaction to offset a costly water bill would be to cut out useless water usage. You may stop watering your yard daily and depend on nature to water your yard; however, this may mean that your grass, gardens and prized flowers and vegetables may dry up and die. Before taking such drastic measures, you may want to consider these useful tips on how to conserve water in your yard.

Where I reside the summer months are brutal, many days peak at over 100 degrees and it is impossible to keep many plants hydrated.  A few years ago I installed a dripline watering system and find it to be the best way to water my plants, shrubs and flowers.  The dripline flows at the soil line and that is where the water is needed as the water seeps into the soil and gets to the roots. I have my dripline on a timer and set it to start watering at 6 am and to stop watering at 7am.  By watering early in the day enables the water to get to the roots and not to evaporate.  The dripline watering system has helped me to save energy as I am not watering twice a day.  

Conserving water is always on the top of my to do list as water is costly and during the summer months we have drought conditions.  In the spring I make a point of collecting the spring rain water.  I have several rain barrels that I place directly under the gutter down spout.  When one barrel is full I move it and set up another.  Collecting rain water in a barrel is good way to water your flower and vegetable gardens. 

Note:  Water your grass when needed. Do this by stepping on your grass, when you remove your foot and the grass stays flat to the ground then water your grass in the early morning. 

View youtube video for more tips on conserving water in your yard and garden: