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Table of Contents Master Gardener’s Tips Veggie Variety

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Pansy Planting 101 Innovative Renovations

Souped Up Kitchens

Page 3 Page 4

Wicked Wreaths

Shrub and Tree Tips

Falling for Fall

Page 6 Page 8 Page 9

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On the Cover A Delta Fire Pansy grows at Stewart’s Nursery in McDonough.

Cover photo by: Emily Barnes Cover design by: Brian T. Clark

Henry Neighbor Staff Mary Cosgrove Editor Nneka Okona Writer Cristy Smith Advertising 2

Emily Barnes Joe Livingston Photography Brian T. Clark Managing Editor

Henry Neighbor Home & Garden October 2012

Above, garden mums are in bloom at Stewart’s Nursery in McDonough. Left, one of the combination pots available at the nursery.

 Staff/ Emily Barnes


Preparation key to fall gardening


By Nneka M. Okona

utumn is often known as the season scattered with the brilliance of crinkly leaves in shades of orange, red and yellow, but the cooler temperatures and winds can often wreak havoc on lawns and gardens. Nancy Kerlin, master gardener and member of the McDonough Garden Club, can attest to that. However, she said the biggest thing at this time of year is making preparations for plants on decks or porches that won’t survive the cold blasts. “It’s time to move pots you are going to bring inside,” she said. “Put them in a shaded area for a couple of weeks before bringing [them] inside.” Kerlin said carefully inspect pots for creepie crawlies that may be lurk-

ing. “Be sure to check for insects, especially ants, because they love to nest in soil,” she said. For plants embedded in the lawn or a garden, this time of year is also perfect timing for sprucing up plants. “Pre-emergent is needed to prevent winter seeds from germinating,” she said. “Also, replace old pine straw and mulch with fresh to prevent mold, mildew and disease.” Pre-emergent fertilizer, as Kerlin explained, is commonly used to prevent crabgrass and must be applied to grassy areas before the weeds germinate. For planting spring bulbs, gardeners should carefully read labels on all packages as to when to plant and how deep. “All bulbs are not planted at this time of year,” Kerlin said. For fall and winter plants, Kerlin suggested Japanese maples, roses, loropetalum, a genius of shrubs; caladiums, flowering plants, mums, pan-

sies, ageratum and zenia. Kerlin also offered tips for purchasing new plants to go indoors. “When buying new plants, always choose healthy, strong stem plants,” she said. “Avoid ones with yellowed and curled leaves and chose plants not bloomed out yet. Getting the plant established before blooming out will make better blooms.” For those who plan to reuse plant pots Kerlin recommends dousing pots with one part bleach to nine parts hot water to prevent diseases. Filling the pot with fresh, fertile soil is also advisable. Kerlin said the beauty of plants is infectious and hopes more residents are encouraged to tend to their lawns or start a garden. “Plants light up our lives and homes and give great comfort we all enjoy,” she said. For more information on the McDonough Garden Club, visit

Nancy Kerlin, a member of the McDonough Garden Club and master gardener, in the garden at Enid Lloyd’s home in McDonough.  Staff / Emily Barnes

October 2012 Henry Neighbor Home & Garden



Wide array of produce thrives in cooler weather By Nneka M. Okona nokona@neighbor

As fall and winter are ushered in, so is a bevy of produce. Glenda Garris, coordinator of the Henry County Cooperative Extension community gardens, knows a thing or two about produce — especially for the seasons. “It is easy to grow a vegetable garden [in the fall and winter],” Garris said. “A lot of people don’t know you can. I really like winter gardening better.” The biggest thing, she said, is that in the cooler months of the year, gardeners need not be concerned about pests, because it is too cold for them to thrive. A wide variety of vegetables can be grown and harvested during this time of year including purple top turnips, Georgia collards, kale, broccoli, cabbage, beets, garlic,


butternut squash, green beans, scallop squash and rutabaga. Lettuce can be grown and harvested, as well, depending on when it is planted. “Lettuce matures in about 45 days,” said Garris. “If you wait to plant it too late, it won’t survive. You have to get it in early.” Garris defined “early” as mid to late September — the same timeline she provided for cabbage, which needs similar conditions to survive the cooler weather and soil. For gardening novices who would like to generate their own source of homegrown vegetables, Garris provided a few tips. The first is location, location, location. Gardeners should think long and hard about where they will place their prospective garden with adherence to one crucial aspect. “Most veggies, whether planted

Henry Neighbor Home & Garden October 2012

in the winter or summer, require six to eight hours of sunshine a day,” said Garris. “They will also need one to one and a half inches of water a week and require a pH of the soil to be about 6 to 6.5.” Checking the pH of the soil is important because depending on what nutrients are present, it may or may not be ideal for supporting a harvest, said Garris. The easiest way to determine the pH of the soil is to have it analyzed — a service that the Henry County Cooperative Extension office offers. Drainage and fertilizer are two other things Garris mentioned to consider. “Make sure you have good drainage,” she said. “If you water your garden regularly, add fertilizer. You can purchase a 10 pound bag of 10-10-10 synthetic fertilizer depending on where you buy it from.”

Staff / Emily Barnes

Broccoli grows in the Heritage Village Community Garden for Seniors, in McDonough.


The right accent can make your home spooky in style By Julia Kelley Columnist

Halloween decor can have a touch of mysterious elegance with projects that are as bewitching as they are beautiful. This wreath idea was inspired by the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds,” and will most certainly give trick-or-treaters and party guests something to crow about as they approach your home. A 24-inch oval grapevine wreath draped in moss and adorned with feathers is an easy and fun way to add spooky spirit to your October door. I purchased all of the supplies at local craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby. This design couldn’t be more simple and at under $30 it’s also an affordable decoration that will

last several seasons. The moss is lightly held in place by a dot of hot glue here and there. The stems of the feathers were placed in the left side of the tangled grapevine (it is sturdy, but I applied a little hot glue for extra hold). I wedged a small spray of twigs into the right side of the wreath to allow a natural spot for the crows to perch. You could easily substitute spiders or owls into the design of your wreath for a totally different look. You will agree that creepy never looked so good!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED Oval grapevine wreath Assorted feathers White ostrich plume Bag of gray Spanish moss

Bag of green sphagnum moss Feathered crows Twigs and sticks Hot glue

Julia Kelley is a home accent and gift sales representative, and lives in McDonough with her husband, Beau. For more decorating tips and ideas, please visit

October 2012 Henry Neighbor Home & Garden


Story by Jennifer Crane



Your guide to cultivating one of fall’s most beloved flowers

The first time most beginning gardeners hear that you can plant pansies in the fall to grow and bloom through winter and into spring they can’t believe it. People can’t understand how a flowering annual plant that looks as delicate as a pansy can withstand the cold. Pansies are winter wonders. In regions where winters are colder, and there’s just not much one can do to color up the landscape, pansies are one of a few if not the only flowering annual that will not only survive the winter but bloom through it as well. Severe cold might wither individual blooms, however, during warmer days of winter the plants will continue to produce buds. In early spring, pansies go absolutely wild producing flowers that literally cover the foliage. Pansies come in a wide variety of colors and bloom types and sizes. Some are bicolor; have faces (blotches), while others are solid in color. Some produce smaller but more blooms while others, such as the majestic Giants, produce exceptionally large blooms. While yellow, white and purple are traditionally the most popular colors, modern hybridizing has expanded the color array to cover nearly every shade in the book of colors. Pastel shades of pink, peach, lavender and rose are also available now, and oranges as well as many vivid bicolors. Pansies are edible — yes, this means you can eat them. Try mixing the flowers in a salad for a colorful and tasty addition. Some varieties have a pleasant scent as well. They’re a non-toxic plant that are child- and pet-safe.

Where to Find Pansies If you live in an area where pansies will grow, most well-stocked local nursery and garden centers will carry a large selection of pansy varieties in cell-pack or 4-inch pot containers. There are online sources for seeds if you like starting your own plants indoors.

Where to Plant Pansies When determining where you will plant your pansies, look for a location that provides plenty of sunshine. If you plant them near the house, do so on the side that gets the most warmth from the sun. Under trees is OK as long as they are deciduous trees (lose their leaves during winter) that allow the sun to shine through bare branches.

When planting in flower beds, individual pansy plants should be spaced 4 to 6 inches apart for best effect.

Pansies can be grown in flower beds or containers provided the soil is well-drained. Consistently wet soil is a killer. Flowerbeds - It’s best when planting pansies in the garden do so in a well-prepared raised flower bed. A raised flowerbed provides good drainage while also creating attractive, contoured raised mounds throughout the landscape. A raised, mounded flower bed will also help your flowers to stand out in the landscape. Position raised flower beds as focal points throughout your landscape. Entryways are a great place to start, such as at either side of the entry to your driveway or around the mailbox or near entryways to your front door, walkways and paths or outdoor living areas. When planting in flower beds, individual pansy plants should be spaced 4 to 6 inches apart for best effect. Containers, Pots and Planters - Pansies can also be planted in any type of container: planters, pots, window boxes, hanging baskets etc. When planting in containers, make sure to use a light professional potting mix (not cheap-grade potting “soil”) and containers that have holes in the bottom that will provide adequate drainage. When planting in containers, you can plant pansies closer together than when planting them in the garden beds. In containers, spacing can be as close as 2 inches.

blooming. Alternatively, you may use a natural or organic fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks to promote health and increased blooming. Removing faded blooms will also stimulate more flower production. Pruning - Pansies do not require pruning, however deadheading (removing spent flowers and stems) helps to increase flowering. If you purchase pansy plants that have “stretched” (become leggy) in the pots they are growing in, cut them back by 50 percent of their height at time of planting. Doing so will promote quicker “rooting in” and a bushier plant that will produce more stems and flowers. Watering - Water your pansies only when necessary and during the morning hours. Watering in the late evening or at night may cause fungus development. Overly-saturated or consistently wet soil can promote the onset of damaging disease such as stem rot. Allow the soil to dry out a little between waterings to avoid this and other diseases. Remember, during the cooler months soils do not dry out as quickly. Pest and Disease Problems - Pansies don’t have many problems with insects as most are not active during the cool season. If you plant your pansies in well-drained soil, and don’t over-water, diseases are usually not a problem. If any individual plants develop stem rot, identified by a black ring or section of the stem, remove them immediately and discard to avoid spreading.

How to Care For Pansies

Pansy Companion Plants

How to Plant Pansies

Pansies are very easy to care for when planted in the right type of soil. Feeding - Pansies are a low nutrient plant meaning they do not require much fertilizer. At time of planting ,fertilize with a timed-release plant food to feed your pansies over many months. Use a specialty Pansy Food that contains nitrate nitrogen. Mixing the fertilizer into the soil before setting out the plants is recommended. Reapply fertilizer in late winter/early Spring to promote profuse

Other plants will thrive in the outdoor landscape during the winter months — and many of these are perfect for combining in beds and/or pots with pansies.

For more gardening tips Visit

Ornamental / Flowering Vegetables - Perhaps the most popular pansy companions are the many selections of flowering cabbage and flowering kale, which are two among many colorful cool-season vegetables plants. These “flowering” vegetable plants can be used ornamentally in the garden and make perfect accents or centerpieces in combination beds or container plantings with pansies. Evergreen Ornamentals - Evergreen conifers, such as the conical-shape Golden Arborvitae, Hetzi Column Juniper, the silver foliage Carolina Sapphire Cypress, Leyland Cypress and many others, make excellent centerpieces or backdrops for pansy plantings. Too, these conifers make perfect little Christmas trees that can be lighted during the season. In late Spring, when pansies are done, these evergreens can be removed from the bed or container and planted elsewhere in the landscape where they can grow to their mature size. Bulbs - Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths and other springflowering bulbs can be planted at proper depths beneath pansies in garden beds or container plantings. In the spring, foliage and flowers from these bulb plants will rise above or be nestled among your pansy flowers. Creative gardeners can really come up with some neat combinations of textures and color. Fragrant Plants - To add fragrance to a pansy combination planting, plant Rosemary or Tea Olive - both of which are evergreen and flower during the cool season. Other Cool Season Flowering Plants - Other cool season flowering annual and perennial plants, such as Dianthus, Diascia and Snapdragons provide a different texture and flower-look in pansy combination plantings. Other annuals and perennials , such as Dusty Miller, Heuchera and perennial evergreen ferns, such as Autumn Fern, provide interesting foliage color and texture in pansy combination plantings.


Deck renovations for fall are cost-effective Smiley Home Improvement

Atlanta Builders & Remodeling, Inc.

Dave Smiley opened his business in DeKalb County in 2004 before relocating to McDonough. He has been in the home improvement business for 14 years, beginning his career in New York, following in his father’s footsteps Information: (770) 896-1828,

Scott Belanger, a 30-year veteran to the remodeling industry, is the president of this 20-year McDonough business. Atlanta Builders is a state-licensed contractor, fully licensed, insured and carries an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Information: (678)432-9300,

By Mary Cosgrove mcosgrove

With the summer in the past and temperatures becoming more crisp, spending time outside is more enjoyable — whether its firing up the grill for a game day cook out or just relaxing in the backyard watching the leaves turn. The deck of a home can be the center of where outdoor time is spent, but sometimes, it’s what needs the most sprucing up. Dave Smiley, owner of Smiley Home Improvement in McDonough, said because of weathering, decks tend to start looking worn after a few years. And oftentimes, when a homeowner is looking to make home improvements, a deck is a great place to start, said Scott Belanger, president of Atlanta Builders & Remodeling, Inc., of McDonough. “Remodeling decks is a cost-effective, often budget-friendly renovation that adds curb appeal and a ‘face-lift’ to an existing home,” he said. Belanger said most times, when a homeowner decides to renovate their deck; the structure has deteriorated to the point where replacement is necessary. But Smiley said sometimes ren-

ovations can be kept to replacing rotten boards and spindles and repainting. He said repainting in a stone finish has become very popular recently. Belanger said some low-cost options include changing out the deck spindles, or pickets, from wood to wrought-iron, which is gaining popularity. He said pressure washing the surface of the deck and repainting or re-staining is also an option for perking it up. Both Smiley and Belanger agreed, however, that deck renovations are affordable. “It’s very reasonable,” Smiley said. Belanger said prices can start as low as $1,000. But then they can move up toward $30,000 if homeowners are interested in high-end remodeling. Belanger said his company has built octagon-shaped decks, multilevel and two-tier decks, as well as adding decks around swimming pools. Atlanta Builders & Remodeling, Inc., has also built outdoor kitchens. “These structures are as nice as any indoor kitchen and oftentimes include stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, stacked stone fireplaces, stacked stone steps, walls,” he said.

Staff / Emily Barnes


Henry Neighbor Home & Garden October 2012

Dave Smiley, owner of Smiley Home Improvement, stands in his McDonough home.


Fall shrub and tree planting tips By Brent Wilson

When fall is here, the weather is becoming cooler, and we gardeners are migrating back outdoors after the heat of summer. At one time or another, most everyone has heard the saying “Fall is for planting,” and it’s true. In addition to planting pansies, garden mums and other perennials, fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs in the landscape. Contrary to popular belief, it may be the best season to plant trees and shrubs, surpassing even the spring. Many people prefer planting shrubs and trees in the spring, which is a good time for planting, however, planting during the fall months, and even through winter in the South, offers distinct advantages. Fall planting follows the heat of summer, and precedes a cool winter season. Shrubs and trees planted in fall use this to good advantage. Plant roots grow anytime the soil temperature is 40 degrees or higher, which may occur all winter in areas of the South. During the winter months, the root

systems of the fall-planted specimens develop and become established. Then, when spring arrives, this expanded root system can support and take advantage of the full surge of spring growth. If you are planting larger “ball-andburlap” trees and shrubs, which have been dug from a field, the dormant season (late fall and winter) is the optimum time for planting these. Balled and burlapped plants have ample time to recover from transplanting and proliferate roots before spring growth begins. If you are planting bare root plants such as roses, pecan trees, fruit trees etc, these should be planted in late winter when they are completely dormant.

Those in the plant selling business year-round depend on repeat customers, and only by selling customers quality plants can there be assurance of future business. When buying plants, keep in mind that the price tag, especially the cheapest one, is not the best guide for purchasing the best plants. That being said, when it comes to price, you’ll find that most local nursery and garden centers are very competitively priced when compared to chain stores. Not to mention, at your local nursery and garden center you’ll find professionals who can answer your questions and assist you in the decision-making process.

Growing Requirements

All plants have growing requirements. Think about the plant’s needs before you inWhen looking for plants to add to your vest. Does it grow well in your USDA Zone garden, make sure to pick out healthy plants. — do you see the plant or tree growing well in other landscapes in your Typically, you’ll area? Is it adapted to your find the highest area’s soil? Will it grow in quality plants at sun or shade? Does it need your local and reputable nursery and Visit a wet or dry location? Is it cold hardy? Some nursgarden center.

Buy Healthy Plants

For more gardening tips

eries provide this information on sign stands placed near each group of plants.

Plan Ahead

A little planning before you plant is always a good rule of thumb. Whether you are planting a single plant or an entire landscape, plan first before digging. Good planning is a worthwhile investment of time that will pay off in greater enjoyment of attractive and useful home landscapes and in increasing the value of your home. It’s much easier to move plants on paper than to dig them after planting in the wrong place. A plan saves many planting mistakes.

Plant Properly

You can buy the healthiest plants on the market but if you don’t plant them properly they will not grow and may even die. Consult with your local nursery and garden center professional as to proper planting techniques for specific plants, such as Japanese maples. Fall is for planting. So, visit your local nursery and garden center today, and beautify and add value to your home.

October 2012 Henry Neighbor Home & Garden



Kitchen remodeling a popular home improvement Stews, chili, soups and roasts are all on the fall menu, but what if the sight of your kitchen is unappetizing? It could be time to usher in some renovations.

10 Henry Neighbor Home & Garden

By Mary Cosgrove mcosgrove

Kitchen remodeling is beneficial, because it’s a boost to home values, said Dave Smiley, owner of Smiley Home Improvement of McDonough. Scott Belanger, president of Atlanta Home Builders & Remodeling of McDonough, said renovations can have as high as a 70 to 80 percent return on the investment, but it’s typically that high when a full remodel is done. Smiley said kitchen remodelings are among the most common of home renovations. In the industry, kitchen remodels are “trending,” Belanger added. “What was once popular in new construction is now outdated, or homeowners have opted to renovate instead of selling, and they use home equity to have the kitchen of their dreams,” he said. Both business owners said remodeling can be cost-effective. Changing out countertops, cabinetry, hardware and backsplashes are some of the most

common renovations. Belanger said switching to granite countertops is highly popular. “Granite countertops can be a cost-effective ‘wow’ factor,” he said. Smiley said going to granite can be cost-effective if a homeowner chooses a granite laminate material, which looks exactly like granite. He said the material is bought in linear feet, and a homeowner can purchase a 12-foot piece for as little as $100. Belanger said for a quick, inexpensive fix to spruce up a kitchen, a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. New hardware on cabinets is also a viable option. Smiley said most times when homeowners update kitchen hardware, they opt for stainless steel knobs and handles, most often to match the kitchen appliances. New lighting, flooring and backsplashes can also be quick fixes. Smiley said glass backsplashes with chrome finishes have become popular and a 12 foot by 12 foot sheet is easy to pick up and install.

Staff / Joe Livingston

October 2012

A custom-built kitchen by Atlanta Builders and Remodeling.

“Islands are definitely becoming more popular, as they lend more productive space and free up countertop space...” While many times Smiley and his crew handle most of the project, Smiley said many clients have become involved in the process of remodeling. “These days with TV shows like what’s on HGTV, customers are very aware of materials,” he said. And backsplashes come in a large variety other than chrome-finished. Belanger said ceramic tile and stainless steel backsplashes are popular. He also said islands are becoming mainstream. “Islands are definitely becoming more popular, as they lend more productive space and free up countertop space,” Belanger said. “We are seeing a trend in islands to include small vegetal sinks and bar-top seating/eating areas.”

Staff / Joe Livingston

Right, Atlanta Builders and Remodeling Construction Specialist Scott Belanger shows custom built slide out drawers with auto closing features.

October 2012 Henry Neighbor Home & Garden


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