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Thursday, April 26, 2018

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Spring Lawn & Garden

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Preparing garden beds for spring and beyond Metro Creative Services Gardening enthusiasts may have been thinking about their landscape plans throughout the winter, eager to once again get their hands dirty with soil. Whether a home gardener is making preparations for edible crops or beautiful flowers, he or she must take time to make the soil amenable to planting. To establish hearty, durable plants, gardeners can focus on three main areas: addressing soil composition, cultivating and adding nutrients.

Soil composition Many gardeners prefer growing a variety of plants in their gardens. Such an approach requires taking inventory of the type of soil in one’s garden and making the necessary modifications so that the types of vegetables, herbs, shrubs, or flowers that will be planted can grow in strongly. In fact, according to the plant company Proven Winners, the most important step to developing good roots is preparing the soil. Take a sample of the soil and examine it to see what is present. If the soil is too full of clay, too sandy, too dense, or too loose, that can lead to problems where plants can-

LEFT: Begin preparing garden bed soil early for new plants.

not grow strong. Work with a garden center to add the right soil amendments to make a rich soil. This may include organic compost or manure, which will also add nutrients to the soil.

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Cultivation Cultivating the soil can involve different steps. Removal of weeds, errant rocks, roots, and other items will help prepare the soil. Mother Earth News suggests working on garden soil when the soil is damp but never wet; otherwise, garden soil can become messy and clumpy. Use a digging fork or shovel to lightly turn the soil when it’s mostly dry. Gentle tillings also can open up the soil to incorporate the nutritional amendments and relieve compaction that likely occurred from freezing temperatures and snow pressure. Tilling also helps with drainage and oxygen delivery to roots. The DIY Network suggests turning over soil at a depth of 12 inches to work the soil — about the length of a shovel spade. However, the resource Earth Easy says that existing garden beds have a complex soil ecosystem and simply top-dressing

with compost or manure can be enough preparation for planting. Gardeners can experiment with the methods that work best for their gardens.

Nutrition Testing the pH and the levels of certain nutrients in the soil, namely nitrogen,

phosphorous and potassium, will give gardeners an idea of other soil additions that may be needed. Soils with a

pH below 6.2 often can benefit from the addition of lime several weeks before planting. Soil tests will determine just how much fertilizer to add to the soil. Complete fertilizers will have equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Individual fertilizers can amend the soil with only these nutritional elements that are needed. Top-dressing empty beds with a layer of mulch or compost can prevent weed growth and preserve moisture until it is time to plant. If existing shrubs or plants are in garden beds, use more care so as not to disturb roots or dig too deeply. Preparing garden beds takes some effort initially, but can be well worth the work when plants flourish throughout the growing season.

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When to tackle weeds in your lawn Metro Creative Services Weeds are the bane of lawn and garden enthusiasts. In garden beds, weeds can steal water from thirsty plants, threatening their survival. A proactive approach that prevents weed growth is easier and less frustrating than dealing with weeds after they have sprouted. That means addressing weeds before they release seeds. According to the landscape experts with This Old House, spray herbicide in June and July before seeds are set. Tilling and installing a new lawn in late August or the beginning of September can help the lawn establish itself before the

first frosts arrive, all the while avoiding weed growth. The experts at Roundup also suggest a springtime application of weed killer. Early treatments prevent weed roots from spreading too far, which reduces the chance that remnants will be left behind to regrow. Those with small lawns or who prefer hand-weeding or nonchemical ways to treat weeds must take early steps. Try suffocating weeds by placing wood, blocks or plastic over them. Wet newspaper used as mulch can block weed formation and also clear patches of unwanted grass so that garden beds can be mapped out. Pouring boiling water on weeds or pulling them by hand is more effective when

roots are young and have not yet spread. The company Lawnsmith suggests a mid-spring weed killer application. This ensures that all weeds that have surfaced are addressed and that none are missed by weeding too early. Town & Country Gardens suggests lawn enthusiasts wait to tackle weeds. By waiting and applying weed treatments in the fall, when dandelions and other weeds are absorbing food and nutrients in larger quantities to survive winter, homeowners can rid their lawns and gardens of weeds efficiently. Weeds are a nuisance. Choosing the right time to treat them can ensure they don’t adversely affect landscapes and gardens.

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How to remove English ivy from a tree Newsday (TNS)

DEAR JESSICA: I hear conflicting reports: Is ivy good when it climbs up a tree or is it bad for the tree? And if it’s bad, how does one control the spiraling, upward growth? — Bob Snider DEAR BOB: English ivy (Hedera helix) is harmful to trees upon which it grows. It clings to surfaces using tendrils, aerial roots and a sticky substance called glycosides. Those roots and tendrils tend to grow under bark, damaging it, and the weight of the plant, which can easily overtake a tree, can weaken its branches. That weight also places the tree in danger of falling over during wind storms, imperiling people and property. In addition, a blanket of ivy will block crucial sunlight from the tree, curtailing its ability to photosynthesize. This can deprive the tree of nutrients, essentially starving it. Ivy is also a breeding ground for mosquitos and other insects, including those that could further harm the tree, so you’ll want to remove the climbing offender as soon as possible. The process isn’t as simple as yanking it off, however, as those pesky roots and tendrils will hold on tightly, and you’ll inadvertently remove the tree’s protective bark along with the ivy. Instead, using loppers or a pruning saw, cut the ivy all around the tree, about 3 feet off the ground. One by one, carefully dislodge its branches from the lower portion of the plant, which is still growing from the ground. Then dig up and remove it by its roots. Monitor and remove new growth regularly until the plant is depleted. It’s best to wear gloves when handling ivy, as the sticky glycosides will irritate your skin. Leave the severed ivy on the upper portion of the tree, where it will wither and die, and release its strong hold on the tree within a year. DEAR JESSICA: Why do some of the stems of my variegated wandering Jew plant become very thin and brittle in the

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English ivy grows quickly and can suffocate, starve and weaken trees. pot? The flowers around it are dry and brittle, but the rest of the stem with the flower is strong. I have two plants from the same cuttings. I originally had a huge healthy plant a few years ago (outside), and have nurtured all the cuttings and plantings the same way. Why does this happen? —Dee Dee Katz DEAR DEE DEE: It’s possible your plant has become root bound. Slip it out of its pot and examine the roots. Are they crowded, growing in a circular pattern around the soil clump or growing out of the pot’s drainage holes? If so, the roots should be freed by gently and slightly breaking up the root ball with your hands, then the plant should be potted into a mix containing mostly peat moss in a container that’s about 2 inches larger than its current pot. Water the plant thoroughly the day before repotting, and again immediately after. This should be done every two years. Wandering Jew plants also require supplemental moisture during the winter months so, in addition to providing enough water to keep the soil constantly slightly moist, you should mist the plant frequently. Applying houseplant fertilizer at half-strength once a month will help it thrive, as well. When they age, however, these plants can simply lan-

guish, and when that happens, you have two choices: Propagate new plants from cuttings, as you have been doing, and discard the original, or try to rejuvenate the plant by cutting it back.

$

UP TO

If you choose to do this, clip each stem back to healthy growth, cutting each just above a leaf. This will encourage a fuller, branching habit and, hopefully, a healthier plant. Good luck.

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DID YOU KNOW? Metro Creative Services One oft-shared piece of pruning advice is that covering a newly pruned area with tar, paint or varnish can inhibit the fungal organisms that will get into the new cut, leading to a diseased tree, shrub or plant. This myth has been circulating for some time, according to the experts at Fine Gardening. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent microscopic organisms from infiltrating a new cut. The application of a wound dressing may even contribute to faster decay of heartwood. That’s because the tar or paint will keep moisture in the new cut, which helps fungus and other microorganisms grow. Instead of dressing wounds, read up on proper ways to prune and let plants employ their own natural defenses to heal and prevent decay.

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Calliope geraniums offer long season of dazzling color NORMAN WINTER Tribune News Service (TNS)

Calliope has quenched my thirst for long-lasting geraniums. No longer am I jealous of the West Coast as I now have geraniums that I plant in April and they continue to look great at Christmas. Perhaps there should be a caveat or two to that. I grow geraniums in mixed containers and baskets, which is exactly what I was doing in Rincon, Ga., which is about 20 miles northwest of Savannah, Ga. Perhaps winter was late, the morning sun and afternoon shade perfect or maybe the live oaks gave me the ideal microclimate. The point is the South has never had geraniums that bloomed non-stop through the torrid heat of July and August, lantanas do that but not geraniums, at least until now. Syngenta Flowers is the mastermind behind the Calliope geranium series. I say series, now, after a decade of first writing about them, they have

them through the rigors. Calliope was outstanding, blooming until September. They are such standout performers you can forget the thriller spiller filler recipes and let them perform “Mono Magic.” Of course, they will work as component plants too which is what I was doing. Mine were in concrete planters with Campfire coleus, Lemon Ball sedum, and Blue Wave petunias; and the Calliope geraniums lasted longer Syngenta Flowers than the petunias. The Calliope geranium series are Does this mean they will not known for heat tolerance and work in the landscape? The longevity of performance. answer is, of course, they will. In the South, the ideal location would be full sun until just past grown into a series representnoon then a little protection in ing five distinct habits. There are Calliope Compact, Medium, afternoon shade. They prefer Large, Landscape, and Cascade. fertile organic-rich soil with good drainage. You’ll find 34 varieties in a To prepare your soil, loosen habit and color to allow your creative genius to bloom. Since it 8 to 12-inches deep, and add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, they are easy to grow, you’ll like compost or humus. I realso show your green thumb. cently bought 2-foot bags of soil The Dallas Arboretum has conditioner at a local garden some of the most well-known center that was both economitrials in the country. They put

and rake the soil smooth. Geraniums are heavy feeders, and many gardeners do not apply enough fertilizer to meet the plants’ nutrient needs. Feed every two weeks with a dilute, water-soluble fertilizer like a 20-20-20, or apply a granular, controlled-release fertilizer every four to six weeks per formula recommendation. When it is time to deadhead old flowers, don’t just clip the cluster. Pinch or break off the flower stalk at the base. Syngenta Flowers This spring is an exciting Calliope geraniums come in five time to see all of the new flowhabits representing 34 varieties. ers showing up at the garden center. If you love geraniums cal and outstanding. As you like most gardeners, then keep prepare your soil, take the opyour eyes open for all of the portunity to incorporate about Calliope colors and habits one pound of 12-6-6-fertilizer or available. You’ll know you are something slow released and getting a plant that will bring balanced per 100 square feet lots of color from now into fall.

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Select the right fertilizer for your needs on a landscape. Testing where the plants will be placed can yield the most accurate results. Soil tests are available at gardening centers and online. Otherwise, landscaping professionals can conduct tests.

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Succulents are good drought-tolerant plants to include in landscape designs.

Gardening during a drought Metro Creative Services

During the early and oftentimes rain-drenched days of spring, it can seem like there may never be a time when plants will struggle to get their share of water. But drought can affect any area, and arid climates in particular. Ensuring gardens can survive drought takes patience and forethought. Drought can be particularly troubling for avid gardeners because it can wreak havoc on lawns and gardens. In addition to causing changes in the physical appearance, including wilted, dried out leaves and stalks, drought can weaken the integrity of plants. This makes plants more susceptible to disease and attacks from plantpreying insects, according to Better Homes & Gardens. In addition, it can take years for plants to recover from drought. So what can gardeners do? While they may not be able to prevent damage to plants from drought, gardeners are not helpless. u Water well infrequently. Get plants used to a thorough watering every week or every other week. This will help develop strong, deep roots rather than shallow ones that will need frequent watering to thrive. u Choose drought-tolerant plants. Homeowners can work with garden centers and landscape professionals to create gardens that are full of water-wise plants and flowers. Some examples of plants that can survive with minimal water include the blanket flower, Spanish lavender, euphorbia rigida, and kangaroo paw. u Apply a layer of mulch. Mulch can protect delicate plants and the rest of the landscape by reducing the evaporation of soil moisture. Mulch will keep soil cool and moist. u Skip the fertilizer. Since fertilizers encourage plant growth, it’s best to skip them during drought, as growing plants require extra water. u Invest in rain barrels. When it rains, maximize the amount of water that can be collected by connecting rain barrels to downspouts on the house. This water can be used to water gardens when dry weather returns. u Use organic materials. Amend the soil with organic materials, like compost. The Grow Network advises that light, fluffy soils with air pockets in between the soil particles route water efficiently during floods and retain moisture for plants. Therefore, such soils can perform very well during drought. Gardens can survive drought with simple actions and smart planting.

For plants to truly flourish, the right growing conditions and soil that offers the right nutrients is of paramount importance. Fertilizer enhances soil so that plants and flowers can thrive. However, fertilizer is not a one-size-fits-all mix. Choosing fertilizer can be a little overwhelming thanks to the variety of formulations available at neighborhood lawn and garden centers. Shelves contain all-purpose products, such as those billed as vegetable fertilizer, and even formulations geared toward specific flower varieties. Others may feature buzz words like “all-natural” or “organic,” and consumers may not be sure just what they need to keep plants healthy. The following guidelines can help any wouldbe gardener or landscaper grow more vibrant plants.

Start with a soil test It’s difficult to determine what plants need without an

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Know the N-P-K ratio

Most fertilFertilizer amends soil to grow stronger, more izers will come resilient plants. accurate picture of what’s going on in the ground. A soil test can paint a picture of what’s going on and indicate if any nutrients are lacking. A common misconception is that gardeners fertilize plants. But fertilizer amends the soil that feeds plants, according to the soil-testing lab professionals at Virginia Tech. Soil types vary by region, and conditions may even vary between spots

with information concerning the nutrients within. Most notably it will have a breakdown of how much nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) is in the mix. Judging by the soil test, gardeners can choose a product that will give them the right ratio to amend the soil for the type of plant they are hoping to grow.

See FERTILIZER, page 6

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Fertilizer From page 5 Complete fertilizers often have NPK in the formulation. Incomplete fertilizers may have only one or two nutrients. This allows a person to customize fertilizer even more without overdoing it with a particular nutrient.

Grow plant knowledge A cursory knowledge of the plants being planted in the garden also can be helpful. Gardeners must recognize that some plants will not tolerate excess amounts of a particular fertilizer component, while some may need more. Checking books out of the library, seeking information online and consulting with landscaping experts will help expand homeowners’ knowledge about plant types and the needs of each particular plant they hope to grow.

Solid and liquid fertilizer Fertilizers are generally sold in pellets, spikes and liquid forms. Pellets or granules are dispersed over large areas and will gradually offer nutrients when the soil is watered. Liquid fertilizer is concentrated and fast-acting. These may be used for container plants or smaller areas. Spikes usually are placed in houseplants or to feed individual trees or shrubs. Depending on the formulation, fertilizer may need to be reapplied once a month or more. Consult the product packaging for the correct application advice.

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Milkweed feasting more than you realize NORMAN WINTER Tribune News Service (TNS)

My brother, scouting what I consider of the butterfly. for monarch and queen the most beautiful The landscape caterpillars like everyof all, the great itself will also As we all strive to one else, was stunned purple hairstreak, become a picture get our hands on every to find thirteen or more appreciating the of the color. Plant native milkweed for hairstreak butterflies and milkweed nectar. them in full sun our states and to the bees, too, hitting on the At the National with fertile, wellultimate benefit of the blossoms. I’m a hairstreak Butterfly Center drained soil, and monarch butterfly, I lover from way back so in Mission, Texas, you will find them thought I might plug this excites me about as I photographed to be virtually its use for the other much as monarchs. the red-bordered maintenance free. guys. Your first thought There were gray hairpixie feeding on Once you have might be I’m talking streaks and numerous milkweed. Many yours planted, Norman Winter then the fun beabout the queen or juniper hairstreaks. If enthusiasts have soldier butterflies that you have this butterfly This great purple hairgins. Unbeknown streak was seen feastNorman Winter never are related to the monat the top of to you, unless you arch and also must have This red-bordered pixie butterfly is seen feed- seen this their so-called ing on milkweed at the are watching, eggs milkweeds as larval host ing on a scarlet milkweed at the National But- green Coastal Georgia Botani- will be laid, we call must-see plants. and bucket list. this ovipositing. cal Gardens. terfly Center in Mission, Texas. That’s important too, rusty When you These eggs will but I am speaking for orange consider that soon hatch into without them. the ability of the milkweed juniper hummingbirds and bees caterpillars that are as exotic If you stop and pay attenthis time to be a nectar source hairstreak also frequent milkweeds looking as the butterflies. Untion, however, you’ll notice for butterflies and hummingwith white then there is surely the less you live in the South, you milkweeds are like the “polbirds. In other words, we love bands you are impetus for the nursery only see the monarch caterpillinator luncheon junction” for milkweeds because they are missing a real industry to maximize lar on your milkweed. an assortment of butterflies. Norman Winter extraordinarily beautiful treat. Speakproduction of milkweeds This is a cause for family Currently in the hill country This hummingbird at and intricate in their design ing of hair and the gardening public celebration. These caterpillars of Texas not too far from San making them great plants for streaks, I have the National Butter- to open the pocketbook and will eat, and they do so with a Marcos, Wimberly and Dripfly Center in Mission, purchase. the landscape or the backyard been treated voracious appetite lasting for ping Springs you’ll find the wildlife habitat. Of course, once in Texas Texas found the Grow several of these, around two weeks. antelope horn milkweeds scarlet milkweed to monarchs, queens, and soldiers (Asclepias asperula) blooming and once in and your family will expeSee MILKWEED, page 8 be the perfect treat. rience the whole lifecycle butterflies could not survive Georgia to everywhere.

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The basics of mulching Metro Creative Services Mulch is available in various forms. Like other land and garden products, mulch can go a long way toward helping plants thrive. Mulch comprises just about any material that is spread over the surface of soil. Its purpose is primarily to help soil retain moisture. In addition, mulch can staunch weed growth, keep soil cool, improve the aesthetics of garden beds, and even improve soil nutrient composition. When the right mulch is chosen, it can reduce the amount of time homeowners spend watering and weeding their gardens and insulate plants from dramatic changes in weather. Gardeners may not realize that mulch also can prevent garden soil from becoming overly compacted, according to HGTV. This can mean beneficial earthworms can move easily through the soil, creating channels for water and depositing their nutrient-rich waste products. Gardeners can choose organic or inorganic mulch. Organic mulches are derived from natural materials that will decompose over time, lending organic matter as well as various nutrients to the soil. Organic mulches also may contain beneficial microorganisms that can fight against plant diseases. Inorganic mulches may be made of stones, landscape fabrics and plastic. Both types will need to be amended or replaced as they degrade. Those who want the most environmentallyfriendly mulching materials can choose all-natural mulches instead of synthetic alternatives.

To work effectively, mulch should be applied in a two- to three-inch layer of material, state the experts at Old World Garden Farms. This is the ideal amount to retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth without choking plants. Also, mulch that is too thick may make it impossible for water to penetrate, or it may prevent the soil from airing out, causing continuously wet conditions that lead to root and stem rot. The University of Connecticut Home & Garden Education Center says mulch should not be placed directly against plant crowns or tree bases, as this can promote the development of disease. It may also serve as a habitat for bark- and stemeating rodents. The center also suggests watering newly installed bark or wood mulches to prevent fungi from colonizing in dry mulch and causing problems like a water-repellent surface on the mulch. Home landscapers considering mulch types may find that compost, manure and grass clippings (from nonpesticidetreated lawns) can be inexpensive and versatile in garden beds. The home advice site The Spruce notes that newspaper may also be effective. Many newspapers have switched over to organic dyes, especially for their black and white sections. Newspapers are an inexpensive way to suppress weeds and act like organic mulch in beds. They can be covered with other organic mulch, like shredded bark, for more visual appeal. Mulch can be a versatile asset when doing gardening projects around home landscapes. And the benefits are more than just aesthetic.

Moles, voles and gophers: How burrowing wildlife can damage your lawn and garden

Milkweed From page 7

Metro Creative Services Soft, spongy lawns may be indicative of various problems underfoot that occur relatively sight unseen. Barring a septic system backup or considerable flooding, insects or animals may be to blame. In many areas, burrowing wildlife can wreak havoc on landscapes. Identifying which critter is causing the damage helps homeowners develop the most effective solutions to issues involving wildlife.

Moles Moles will spend much of their lives underground, rarely coming up to the surface. They spend their days digging long tunnels from their dens in search of grubs, earthworms and tuber plants all year long. Moles can be gray, black, brown, or gold and will be between 6 and 8 inches in length. Their wide front feet are designed for excavating, and moles have very small eyes and angular snouts. Many times moles are to blame for zig-zagging lines across a yard. Channels are typically dug between five to eight inches below the surface of the soil, according to the home and garden resource site Hunker. The tunnels are only about 1.5 inches in diameter and one may see small molehills of excavated soil in areas around the yard. Mole tunnels can be followed through the yard thanks to the appearance of elevated ridges

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Several types of burrowing animals can disturb landscapes. on the surface of the soil.

Voles Even though their name is similar, voles look nothing like moles. They are also known by the name meadow mice and look more like mice than they do moles or gophers.

See GOPHERS, page 9

You might think this stripping of the foliage would prove to be the demise of the plant but in no-time, you will have more leaves and flowers. The caterpillars will seem to disappear. They will be attaching themselves head downward and shedding their skin. Now it is time to go on the hunt for what is known as a chrysalis. Chrysalis is another name for pupa. You will find these hanging almost unnoticed on the underside of the leaf, or a branch. I have also found them hanging from the wire of a nearby fence and even the eave of the house. The chrysalis looks green but in reality, it is clear, and colors become apparent as the monarch gets closer to emergence. This is the kind of fun that the kids or grandkids will enjoy, and the experience will make lasting memories. Adding to the memories will not just be watching the lifecycle of monarch butterflies but the graceful flight and nectaring of an assortment of butterflies and hummingbirds, too!

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How to read a nursery plant tag Metro Creative Services Pixabay

Moles can wreak havoc on lawns.

Gophers From page 8

Voles are small as well and primarily feed on foliage and plant roots. It can take a trained eye to differentiate between holes created by moles and voles, but foliage eaten around an entry or exit hole suggests the presence of voles. Unlike moles, voles don’t create soil masses on the surfaces of landscapes, which can make recognizing infestations more difficult.

Groundhogs, gophers, prairie dogs Groundhogs, gophers and prairie dogs also are burrowing rodents. These rodents are larger than moles and voles. Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are the largest of the group, followed by prairie dogs and gophers. Prairie dogs tend to be more social than groundhogs and gophers and may be seen congregating together. Gophers tend to stay below ground and will pull food into their burrows, says the Florida-based A Wildlife Whisperer. Groundhogs often stretch their subterranean tunnels to dens, which they may like to set up under backyard sheds or other protected areas. Groundhogs’ size and desire to forage and eat their fill above-ground often make them easy to spot. Once the animal doing the burrowing has been identified, homeowners can begin removing food sources and altering conditions to make their yards less critter-friendly. In the instance of moles, using a grubkiller can diminish their numbers. Wire mesh fences buried underground can deter digging into garden beds. Homeowners who are vigilant about disrupting burrows and tunnels may encourage rodents to relocate. If burrowing wildlife prove problematic, homeowners can work with professional exterminators to assess the situation.

Shopping for new plants for a home can be an exciting undertaking. Nurseries and garden centers are often home to dozens of types of plant species that come in various colors, leaf variations and sizes. Such variety can make choosing plants more fun while also making the process of buying plants a bit complicated, especially for novices. Thankfully, plant tags can help consumers make informed decisions. Understanding how to read plant tags is key to making good choices. Such labels contain a lot of information, but once a perMetro Creative Graphics son knows how to decode Plant tags provide important that data, he or she is well information for selecting and grow- on the way to choosing the ing plants. When noted, tags help right plants.

gardeners make the right selections and keep plants as healthy as possible.

the plant tends to be the most noticeable word or words on the tag. This is the name the plant is referred to outside of scientific circles. Most plants have one or more common names in addition to their botanical name.

describe the type of plant by including the cultivar. A cultivar is the variation on the species. It may describe a size or color variation. The cultivar is listed in single quotations by the scientific name.

Scientific (botanical) name

Sun requirements

Scientific names are also known as the Latin names of the plant. Such names will be written in italics on the tag and are usually one or two words. The scientific name includes the genus (group) and the species of the plant.

Cultivar A plant tag may further

The tag should list how much sun exposure the plant requires to thrive. It may be anywhere from full sun to full shade.

Height and spread The label frequently includes the maximum growing height and width the plant should reach when mature.

See PLANT TAG, page 10

Common name The common name of

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Spring Lawn & Garden

10 Thursday, April 26, 2018

DID YOU KNOW? Metro Creative Services Leaf spot is a term used to describe various diseases that affect the foliage of ornamentals and shade trees. The majority of instances of leaf spot are caused by fungi, though some are the result of bacteria. While leaf spot can contribute to some defoliation in a plant, established plants can tolerate near-complete defoliation if it occurs late in the season or less frequently than every year. However, small trees or those that are newly planted are more vulnerable to damage resulting from defoliation than established trees. Damage from leaf spot tends to occur in the spring, when wet weather and wind splashes and blows spores from fungi onto newly emerging leaves. The spores then germinate in the wet leaves, ultimately infecting them.

Plant tag From page 9 This gives gardeners an understanding of just how much room the plant will take up in the garden and how to space plants in a landscape.

Water needs How much water the plant requires may be featured on the tag as well. This helps gardeners know if they need soil to be damp or relatively dry.

Hardiness or zone Tags that list zones will describe the coldest zone in which the plant can exist. Otherwise, it will give a range. Many annuals will not list a hardiness zone because they are not expected to last beyond one season.

Perennial or annual The tag should designate the plant as an annual or perennial. Annuals are not expected to last through the winter and will need to be replanted the following year. Perennials can over-winter and will regenerate year after year. Tags also may list information such as special care needs, drought tolerance, uses for the plant, and when the plant blooms. Some plant labels will inform gardeners if the plants were produced organically or without GMO practices.

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Potential threats to pets in your yard Metro Creative Services Pets love to roam free, and homeowners with outdoor space often let their pets get some exercise and play time in their backyards. While it’s important for pets like dogs and even some cats to get some time outdoors, pet owners should recognize the potential threats to pet health looming in their lawns and gardens. u MULCH: According to the Pet Poison Helpline, mulch made from cocoa beans can pose a threat to pets. This type of mulch is made of discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean. These byproducts of chocolate production contain varying concentrations of the toxins theobromine and caffeine. When ingested in high concentrations, these toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and, in some instances, death. The amount of these toxins present in a given batch of this type of mulch may not be readily known, so homeowners should avoid applying it. u SLUG AND SNAIL BAITS: The PPH notes that the active

sick in as little as 30 minutes. Pets who have ingested moldy compost may appear agitated, pant, drool, or vomit, and some may even suffer from tremors or seizures. u FLOWERS/PLANTS: Of course, some flowers and plants can pose a threat to pets as well. Before planting new plants and/or flowers in their gardens, homeowners should inquire at their local gardening center or speak with their veterinarians to confirm if the plants or flowers are safe to ingest. If not, do not plant them or plant them in raised garden beds that cannot be accessed by Metro Creative Graphics curious pets. u FERTILIZERS: Certain Before you let your pup play in the yard this spring, make sure it’s types of fertilizer also may be a safe place to romp. harmful to pets. According to the PPH, fertilizers that coningredient in slug and snail owners who allow their pets to tain blood meal, bone meal, baits is metaldehyde, which is play in their yards. feather meal, and iron can highly poisonous to cats and u COMPOST: Compost is a be dangerous to dogs. When dogs. Symptoms of distress, in- great and natural way to enrich ingested in large doses, such cluding restlessness, vomiting, soil. But compost piles should products can form a concreseizures, and high body tembe cordoned off so curious pets tion in the stomach, which perature, can appear as soon as cannot access them. As the can obstruct the gastrointesone hour after these baits are organic matter within compost tinal tract and cause severe ingested. The baits are typicalpiles decomposes, mold can pancreatitis. Fertilizers that ly available in pellet, granular, begin to grow. If ingested by are high in iron also can powder, and liquid form, but pets, moldy materials inside contribute to iron poisoning each should be avoided by pet compost piles can make pets if ingested by pets.

Ergonomic gardening techniques can make gardening less taxing Metro Creative Services Gardening is a popular activity that can be relaxing yet physically demanding work. Gardeners who find themselves battling aches and pains after spending time in the garden may need to make a greater effort to reduce injuries. Ergonomic gardening techniques and tools can help gardeners reduce their risk of injury.

Warm up Gardening requires bending, stooping, lifting, twisting, and other movements that work the entire body. Spending 10 or more minutes stretching, walking and doing a few back and arm rotations can limber the body up for the physical activity to come.

Use proper form The occupational therapists at Bend Spinal Care say that strain on the lower back can be reduced by positioning objects close to the body and its center of gravity when lifting them. Furthermore, people can contract their abdominal (core) muscles when lifting and bending to support the back. When lifting heavy objects, power should be derived from the legs and buttocks rather than the back.

Keep items close Keeping work closer to the body will reduce the need for stooping, leaning or reaching, which should cut down on pulled muscles. Long-handled tools can help minimize reaching. Use step ladders to reach high areas.

Raised garden beds can bring plants to a person’s level. The therapists at ProCare Physical Therapy say that working below shoulder level can prevent shoulder strains; otherwise, perform tasks for no more than five minutes at a time.

Invest in new tools Cushioned grips and grip

G

handles can prevent wrist fatigue, as can hand tools that keep wrists straight to reduce repetitive motion injuries. Long-handled tools and push mowers should be as tall as the person using them. Seek out tools that keep the body in natural positions to maximize efficiency.

ANZ

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Spring Lawn & Garden

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Thursday, April 26, 2018 11

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12 Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spring Lawn & Garden

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Ottawa SpringLawnGarden 2018  
Ottawa SpringLawnGarden 2018