Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Yard and Garden Checklist

Autumn is when you clean up your yard and gardens to get them ready for the winter season. There are many tasks to be completed so it is best to manage your time by making a checklist and then work in your yard and garden every day during the autumn season until the list is completed.

Before beginning any yard and garden work I find it is best to take a note pad and walk through and to jot down areas of concern.  Take your notes and make a checklist. The list will allow you to be efficient in your yard and garden clean-up. Organize the jobs so that they are all in one area.  Then complete one task before moving on to the next.  You will find that the checklist will keep your focused and you will work faster. Bellow is my yard and garden to do list.

Autumn Yard and Garden Checklist

Prune all summer blooming shrubs to shape them.  Also prune all dead branches and remove tree branches that have died.

Check Gardens for Overcrowding
Divide perennials if there is an indication that there is overcrowding.  Do this if you have one month of fair weather before a killing frost.  Roots need a minimum of one month to become established. 

Flower Gardens
Remove the spent blooms from black-eyed Susan’s, and purple coneflowers if the days stay warm they may have new growth.     If it is late in the season, leave the spent blooms as they will provide food for birds throughout the winter season.

Cut down all flowers that have died back and are not eye appealing. 

Weed the garden beds in autumn. Weeding will prevent weeds from growing in early spring.

Water gardens if the fall season is dry.  Stop watering when there is a hard freeze. Remove the hose from the faucet and put it away for winter storage.

Watch for garden pests; slugs and powdery mildew.  When the temperature tips bellow an average of 85 F zinnias and bee balm are susceptible also watch for web worms.

Rejuvenate container gardens by planting cold hardy pansies, chrysanthemums and Vinca minor or ivy to trail down the sides.

Harvest any remaining crop; tomatoes, corn, lettuce or herbs.  If you enjoy cooking or healing with herbs then transplant the herbs into containers and moving them indoors.  Grow them on a sunny southern exposed window and enjoy the herbs during the winter season.

Manicure Lawn
In the fall the grass dies back. Before the leaves cover your lawn it is best to cut your lawn and use the edger to trim back where your lawn more can't go. Manicure your lawn so that it looks presentable during the fall, winter and early spring season.

Lawn Repair
If your yard is in need of repair September is the best time to use a tiller to ready the soil.  Work organic matter into the soil before planting grass seed.  For spot seeding it is best to remove the dead grass then till or use the spade to loosen up the soil. Mix organic matter into the soil and then spread the seeds.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost and top with a layer of dried grass clippings or straw.  Water the newly planted grass seeds and keep the seeds evenly most until the blade of grass in healthy and strong.

Leaf Removal
Rake the leaves from your yard. Recycle the leaves by adding to your compost or put them in a leaf shredder. Make fine mulch. Use this mulch for gardens and for your shrubs.
Plant Spring Bulbs
When the average temperature is 60 degrees you would plant spring bulbs; tulips, daffodils, anemones and hyacinths.

Trees and Shrubs
Autumn is a good time to plant trees or shrubs.  If you intent on transplanting a tree or shrub or planting a new one make sure to plant them a month before a hard frost. 
Apply a thin layer of mulch on the garden bed, around the remaining flowers and flowering bushes.  After the ground freezes add a thicker layer of mulch.

Garden Tools

Clean Your Lawn Mower in fall here's how:


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Evergreen Groundcover - Baltic Ivy

The Baltic ivy is a fast evergreen ground cover that not only adds interest to your yard and garden it also is a good way to prevent erosion.   The leaves on this ivy are blue green with white veins making this ivy eye appealing when grown in rock gardens , on walls and it is very attractive cascading down the sides of a container.   

Planting Tips for Baltic Ivy
Plant Baltic ivy in the spring after the danger of frost has past.  If you intend on  planting the ivy in masses, then it is best to purchase them as a bare roots.   I bought my Baltic ivy as a bare root and I got more plants for less money because I was a member at  

Planting a bare root does require a longer rooting and growing time.  On average it took 14 days for the leaves to form on my plants.  Now if you going to plant the Baltic ivy in a feature garden or in a container garden then it is best to buy a nursery grown plant. 

Ivy grown by patio table
Choose a garden site that has rich soil, good drainage and sun to partial shade.  If your summers are Hot, temperatures in the mid 90’s to 100’s partial shade in the afternoon would benefit the Baltic ivy.

Hydrate the  bare roots by filling a pan with tepid water.  Set the roots into the pan of water and allow them to hydrate for an hour before planting. 

Get Garden Site Ready

  1. Loosen a track of soil along the foundation wall or the back border of your rock garden. 
  2. Remove the grass, weeds and rocks. Work a generous amount of compost into the soil. 
  3. Plant the ivy bare roots in a hole that will accommodate their root up to the stem.  
  4. Firm the soil around the stem.  
  5. Plant a nursery grown ivy he same depth of their nursery container. Space the plants ten inches apart.  
  6. Water so soil is evenly moist.

Care for Baltic Ivy
Apply two inches of mulch around the ivy. The mulch will help to control moisture and will reduce weed growth.

Water the ivy in the morning so that the soil is moist but is not wet.   

Here are some of my photographs of Baltic Ivy. The photos bellow show you the quality of the plants that I bought online at  Know I have enjoyed the ivy for the last ten years.
Baltic Ivy in Winter : snow
Baltic Ivy stays green in winter


  1. Climbing comes natural to the ivy, in a few weeks you will see vigorous branching .
  2. Feed the ivy in early spring with a water based fertilizer like miracle grow.
  3. Add Baltic ivy to containers, and window boxes. The green leaf with the white veining will accent the flowers. 
  4. When the flowers die off the ivy will add color to your containers throughout the winter.
  5. Grow Baltic ivy in zones 5-6-7-8. 
  6. When the Baltic ivy is mature the height will be 12 inches.  

Garden Idea:
In the autumn, plant yellow daffodils mixed with red tulips in front of the ivy. The backdrop of the Baltic ivy will look beautiful when the flowers bloom in spring.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Grow Persian Silk Tree from Seed

The Albizia julibrissin silk tree is commonly referred to as the Persian silk tree or the mimosa tree.  Many homeowners grow this ornamental tree for the fern like leaves and the showy fragrant flowers.
The flowers bloom in early summer and are rose pink tipped with red. These flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  The Persian silk tree will accent your landscape beautifully with its eye appealing greenery and exotic flowers.
Grow the Persian silk tree from seed , when seed in planted in the fall it will grow two feet by the end of the following summer. This fast growing tree can reach the height of 25 to 40 feet within 10 years and is a good landscape tree for shade.
Growing the Persian silk tree is easy provided you have a way to get the seeds. The best way to get the seeds is to ask a neighbor who grows the tree for a seedpod, most homeowners are eager to give away the seeds because if they seeds are left on the tree and they fall to the ground the seedlings will germinate quickly and this is how the tree becomes invasive.   
Harvesting Persian Silk tree Seeds
Allow the seedpods to dry out on the tree.  When they are ripe and ready for harvesting the outer shell will be dark beige.  Collect the seedpods from the tree and lay out on a paper towel.  Break open the seedpod and remove the brown seed.  Set the seed in an envelope for fall or spring planting.

Planting Silk Tree Seeds
Plan to plant the seeds in spring or late summer.  If you plant in late summer do allow 6 weeks before hard frost.
Persian Silk tree grown in container

Plant seeds in a container or in the ground.  Many times I will grow seeds in a container and put the container in the greenhouse over the winter. Come spring the seedlings are approximately 12 to 18 inches in height and ready to be transplanted into the yard. 

Persian silk tree grown from seed in the ground, 4 months old
 Another way to plant the silk tree seeds is to sow them into well drained acidic soil with a PH of 4.6 to 5.0.  Silk trees grow best in full sun to part shade.  If you plant more than one silk tree space the trees 20 feet apart.
Get the growing site ready for planting by clearing away the grass.  It is best to clear a circle of 2 feet wide.  By doing this the tree will not be competing with other plants or grass for hydration. 
Work the top 10 inches of the soil with your shovel; loosen the soil that it is a fine texture.  Amend the soil with compost or manure.   Plant the seed in a hole that is two inches deep.  And water well.  Cover the planting sight with organic mulch; pine needles, dried grass clippings or thin layer of straw.
Care for Persian Silk Tree
Keep the growing site evenly moist but not wet. Do not allow the soil to dry out as it puts stress on the seedling.  Germination for the seed is 7 to 14 days.
Persian Silk Tree Tips
  1. Flowers are high in pollen and may cause people to have an allergic reaction.
  2. Leaves will fold inward and appear closed at night and during periods of rain. 
  3. Deep rose colored flowers will bloom mid-summer.
  4. The flowers are a good nectar source for honeybees.
  5. Grow the Persian Silk Tree in USDA Zone 6a to 10b
  6. The seeds can be harvested for livestock feed or for forage for wildlife
  7. The Persian silk tree is commonly referred to as the Mimosa in the US. The mimosa tree is related to the silk tree but the flowers are different.
  8. When Seedling is 10 inches tall fertilize the small tree with spray n' grow. 
  9. Stake the tree to support it and to help it to grow straight.
  10. Helpful to add a mulch ring around the base of tree to protect it from lawn mowers and trimmers.  
View video of mature tree grown from seed:

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Honeysuckle Vines Growing Tips

    Honeysuckle is a fast growing evergreen vine that is eye appealing gown on trellis, walls, chain link fences, rock wall and on mailboxes. The trumpet shaped flowers are highly fragrant and bloom continually during spring and summer. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are attracted to the sweetly scented flowers. 

    If you love wildlife then I would recommend growing a honeysuckle.   Honeysuckle is available in 150 varieties and you can choose from white, pink, red and yellow flowers.   

    Growing tips for honeysuckle vines:
    Get the garden site ready for planting by removing the grass, weeds and rocks. Turnover the soil with tiller or shovel. Add some compost or manure to your soil.
    Japanese honeysuckle is invasive

    Plant the honeysuckle the same depth as the nursery pot. Allow eighteen inches in-between plants. Place a trellis directly behind the vine. 

    Water the plants thoroughly. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Do not allow the soil to dry out. It takes two years to establish the vines in your garden. Once established the honeysuckle is drought tolerant.

    • If you have a slope in your yard where it is hard to mow then grow the trumpet honeysuckle as it will quickly cover the ground and it will control erosion.
    • Prune the honeysuckle in the autumn or when the flowers stop blooming.
    • Watch the honeysuckle vine so that it does not choke your other plants. The honeysuckle has an entwining growing habit and if left unattended it can become intrusive.
    • Honeysuckle is deer resistant
    • Some honeysuckles produce a fruit.  This fruit is forage for bluebirds, cardinals and other birds.
    • Grow is USDA Zones 4 to 9
    • Fertilize the honeysuckle in the spring after the danger of frost has past. Feed with an all purpose fertilizer 10-10-10 or 20-10-10.
    Here is a video on growing tips for Mexican honeysuckle: