I Would Like To Plant Wildflowers In My Meadow

July 17th, 2015

Prairie Grass Growing In A MeadowHi, I have a meadow behind my house with really long prairie grass. I am in the process of killing the grass to make way for a wildflower meadow. My wife wants me to buy live plants so we get blooms right away.  I will supplement with seeds. I live in Wisconsin. I am hoping for a variety of colors and sizesideally taller flowers. What would you suggest? What is the most aggressive growing plant that you sell (not seed) that will have a high yield?  I have a large area to cover so I will need to buy a lot. Thanks in advance for your help.

Answer: First thing to consider is your Hardiness Zone, to make sure your choices will survive. Since you didn't mention where in Wisconsin you live, it could be anywhere from Zone 5a to 3b. You will also need to understand the soil situation in the area you want to convert. Does it stay consistently moist or dry, is it rocky or a clay mixture? This is known as the ecoregion and the success of your plantings will depend on knowing more about it.

Wildflower meadows will consist of both annual and perennial varieties but will also include native grasses that help to anchor the plantings. In addition, you will want to choose as many natives as possible to ensure they can survive the winters and have sufficient summers for flowering and seeding. The function of a wildflower meadow is to help feed your native bird and insect populations; the survival of many species of these populations is dependent on these types of plants. There are many cultivars of native species that are still beneficial to wildlife. Your local native plant society or your local extension office should be able to help.

Many annual flowering plants will grow and flower the same year from seed. It is their specific goal in life, so don't discount starting from seed. Planting of plugs will help to get perennials growing faster, for sure, but most perennials want at least a year or two in the ground before they really start to put on a show.

So, for seeds, you might want to consider one of our wildflower mixes. There are several varieties, and most of these are a combination of annuals and perennials. In some Zones there will be more that act as annuals, with some of the annuals reseeding themselves. Look through the listing of the mixes and compare the plants to our available annuals and perennials to purchase potted versions of the plants. Some definite perennials to consider are achillea (yarrow), amsonia, aquilegia, asclepias, baptisia, echinacea (coneflower), coreopsis, eupatorium, gallardia, lobilia, salvia, monarda, lupine, penstemon, phlox, nepeta, rudbeckia, and veronica.

For your annual options, look at the salvias and verbena. Most prairie or meadow-type annuals are best started from seed, so you will find most of those in the seed section. Check out ammi, calendula, centaurea, cosmos, gypsophila, larkspur, nicotiana, physostegia, poppy, salvia, sunflower, and veronica.

Don't be afraid to add in some native grasses, specifically the different cultivars of switch grasses: Pannicum virgatum. We carry several and they offer fabulous fall color and winter interest.

As with any wildflower planting, please check with your local county extension agents on what might be considered an invasive in your area. You don’t want any plants behaving like thugs and completely taking over your wildflower meadow.

This sounds like it will be a wonderful view once completed and established.

Happy planting,


Help Needed With Planning A Perennial Flower Garden

April 2nd, 2015

My spot for a flower gardenI live in Indiana and would like to add a lot of color using mainly perennials for the back corner and sides in this area, but I am happy to add some annual flowers.  I was also looking for some climbers or taller plants and grasses to go in the back, as well. I’m looking for this area to get bigger and brighter every year!

The picture was taken around 1:00 in the afternoon yesterday.  I was facing south when I took it. The semi-circle planter area on the left holds two large lilac bushes that did wonderfully last year! The fence in the back does reflect a small area of shade/shadow on the area.

I’m looking forward to your recommendations. Please let me know if you have any questions for me!

Myra M.



It's very hard to suggest plants since there are a few things you should consider before choosing. The basic question of any landscaper would be, what is your use for the space? Do you have children who need space or is this an adult area? Are there elements in the view from the house that you want to hide or distract your view from, such as the play equipment in the neighbor’s yard or perhaps some utility boxes? How much time do you have to devote to maintaining your landscape beds? Perennials, while not needing to be replanted each year, still require maintenance like pruning, watering and fertilizing. Do you have any water problems, such as soggy areas from water run-off from the house, or the oppositea place that is very well drained and stays dry? With the power lines, can you install trees, perhaps some low growing varieties?

Your six-foot fence is creating a micro-climate of shade, so the movement of the sun on those areas is particularly important. Full-sun plants will require a minimum of 6 hours of sun to perform well. Some plants are happy with morning sun and afternoon shade; others want it hot, hot, hot!  You’ll need to actually determine how much sun those specific areas get during the growing season, and then choose plants that have those light needs.

After you've determined all those aspects then you can start thinking about a focal point for the garden and various heights, textures and colors of plants. One way to get your plans flowing is to create a Pinterest board of ideas. Even if the plants are not hardy, it's pretty easy to match texture and color for your Zone 5 landscape garden. You can even go tropical if you want to deal with strictly annuals and wintering-over plants inside or replacing each year.

Look at the Google map view of your home and yard and think about the shapes of the areas you want to create. Nature never plants in straight lines, so get out your garden hose and figure out what you like and use some spray marking paint to draw it out. Make sure you don't create mowing obstacles when you line it out:  that's why the paint helps! When you create planting areas it's best to always enrich the soil with compost and organic matter first, before you’ve gotten all your plants in.

We have a huge selection of plants, so you can choose what fits best for your color palette and moisture and light conditions. Each plant description includes the conditions that suit it best, as well as the mature size and growth habit. If you want plants that will spread to fill in space, allow them generous room when you plant them. This is very important because many new gardeners tend to plant too close together and then wind up with an overcrowded area in a couple of years.  Choose from foliage you like and a floral color theme that fits your tastes.

Unless those lilacs are the dwarf variety, they will outgrow that small planter within a year or two. Lilacs will ultimately reach seven or eight feet in height and four or five feet across. Think of this when planting near a tall fence since planting too close will cause the plant to not be able to grow on the one side (no sun) and potentially become weak and decline! Bring your plants out far enough from the fence that they can reach their full width potential.

I hope this information has helped you feel confident in selecting plants you like and that will work in your growing conditions.

Happy spring and plant planning!


How To Keep My Petunias From Becoming Leggy

March 5th, 2015

Petunias growing in a patio containerHello. I love petunias and last summer I planted my patio planters strictly
with petunias. They looked gorgeous until the end of June, when the centers
of the plants (obviously the older part of the stems) became bare, resulting
in the tops of the planters looking bare and ugly. Is there a petunia variety that stays bushy, not leggy, and flowers continually? I’d like to know if there is.    Thank you, Susan M.

Answer: Most petunias need to be pinched back during the growing season and they need regular fertilization to keep them blooming all summer long. If you purchase them pre-planted in a basket, they have been pruned regularly to branch out and are constantly fed to be at the peak of blooming when you purchase them. If you have planted the basket yourself with individual plants, such as the ones we offer in our Annual Flowering Plants, trim off the top inch or so when planting. Be sure they are receiving a full 6 hours of sun to keep them blooming. Feed them once a month with a water-soluable fertilizer, and keep them evenly moist. As they start to become leggy, prune off about half of the stem, making sure you leave some of the leaves on the plant. This will rejuvenate them and encourage more growth and blooms. Some recommend doing this to a third of the plant on a weekly basis so it's constantly regrowing.  This should help to keep all the varieties flowering vigorously.

Happy Growing, Karen

How To Make Your Yard An American Goldfinch Haven

November 19th, 2014

American goldfinch on a purple coneflower


The brilliant color and sing-songy voice of the American goldfinch makes it one of the most desirable backyard birds. However, the elusiveness of these wild canaries makes them a bit of a challenge to attract. Providing the basic needs of food, shelter, and water is essential in making a goldfinch haven.

The ideal goldfinch habitat is, of course, a natural one. The more attractive the habitat, the more likely you are to have frequent visitors and nesting pairs. Because goldfinches feast almost exclusively on seeds, back yards filled with their favorite seed-producing plants will invite their colorful splashes of yellow all year long.


American goldfinches eating sunflower seedsSome of the favorite flowering plants of the American goldfinch:

Planting a variety will ensure blossoms and the resulting seeds from spring through the winter, in some climates.

An American Goldfinch sitting on a tree branchIt is also beneficial to have trees and shrubs in your yard to attract goldfinches. These not only supplement the American goldfinch diet, but they will provide safe nesting areas. Here are a few favorites, though many native trees or shrubs also attract goldfinches:

  • Arborvitaeoffers exceptional shelter within the protective evergreen foliage and yields small seed-bearing cones
  • Barberryis not only appreciated by the Goldfinch, but has stunning fall coloration
  • Boxwoodhas a neat appearance with little maintenance and is evergreen for year-round shelter
  • Elderberrythey bloom from late spring to early fall, depending upon the cultivar

Hanging baskets filled with nesting materials, such as wool or cotton, will encourage nesting pairs to stay. Keep in mind American goldfinches nest later than most other songbirds: it's best to leave the nesting material up until late summer. American goldfinch sitting on a snow covered birdbathBackyard feeders are an acceptable alternative for goldfinches if a natural habitat is not an option (or as a supplement if food is in short supply). Thistle seed, a.k.a. Nyjer seed, and black oil sunflower seed, are their favorites. They won't eat old seed, so make sure it's not in the feeder for more than 3 weeks at a time. Patience is the key here, as it can sometimes take weeks or months for the birds to discover a new café. Goldfinches are somewhat picky about what they eat; they are not picky about where they eat. They will gladly pick up the fallen seed on the ground or will dine out of a fly-thru or dish-type feeder.

Most importantly, don't forget to keep fresh water available for both drinking and bathing. A clean goldfinch is a happier goldfinch and though they get a lot of moisture from the seeds they eat, a dependable source of water is a must. Birdbaths with fountains or drippers with their splashing sounds are the most attractive. For those in climates that reach freezing temperatures, heated bird baths should be considered. There is definitely nothing wrong with pampering these little ones a bitand they are so worth it.

Now sit back and enjoy your beauties!

How Do I Grow My Pampas Grass Seeds Indoors?

November 4th, 2014

Pink Pampas Grass PlantHi, can you please tell me the best way to plant and grow my Pampas grass seeds indoors this winter in order to get a head start and also be able to select the hardy ones for transplanting outdoors in the spring? Thank you, Scott


Pink pampass grass can easily be started from seed. Depending on your location, you might want to check if it's listed as an invasive plant.

Use a mixture of equal parts peat moss and sand or a sterile seed-starting mixture in a 4-inch container. The soil needs to remain evenly moist, loose and well-drained. In the 4-inch container, plant five evenly spaced seeds on the soil surface, and leave the seeds uncovered. Seeds will require 4-6 weeks before the last frost of the spring for complete germination.

Moisten the soil and then cover the container with a clear plastic bag, leaving enough room for sufficient air circulation. Straws can be inserted around the perimeter of the pot to help hold the plastic up off the soil.

Place the container in a sunny location receiving around 6 hours of sun, and with an average temperature of 65-70 degrees. A seed warming mat or a spot near a vent will work. Water or mist daily to keep it evenly moist. Seeds should germinate within a week or two.

Grasses can be transplanted outside after they reach 3 to 4 inches and the last chance of frost had passed.

Good luck on your seedlings.


Overwintering Annual Plants Indoors

November 3rd, 2014

Potted_Verbena_PlantThere are many reasons to want to overwinter annuals indoors. You may have grown some new plants that you want to preserve for next season, or you may want the challenge and the sense of pride that comes with being able to say, I did it! Some gardeners simply want to save money, while many more just can’t stand to be without plants for the entire fall and winter, therefore moving as much of the garden indoors as possible.

The plants that adapt best to indoor container life are tender perennials, which are the perennial plants that won’t survive the winter in your climate Zone; therefore you typically grow them as an annual. These plants include, but are not limited to: Coleus, Cuphea, Delosperma, French Lavender, Gaura, Geraniums, Geum, Hardy Hibiscus, Heliotrope, Herbs, Impatiens, Monarda, Salvia, Sedum, Sempervivum, Swedish Ivy, True Geranium and Verbena. The fun is in the trying, so even if you’re unsure, you have nothing to lose by experimenting.

What will your outdoor plants require to survive inside?

They’ll need sunlight and moisture, just like they do outside. The problem most gardeners face is not enough sunny windows. Southern facing windows are ideal, though many gardeners rely upon grow lights to provide the necessary hours of artificial sunlight. Moisture is also critical. Winter air is very dry to begin with and heated winter air is the worst. Most plants will not tolerate such low moisture levels, even if you have a whole-house humidifier, though a room-sized humidifier and a regularly closed door may do the trick. Most experts will recommend using clean gravel with water in shallow containers under the plants. The gravel allows the plant to sit above the water, keeping the roots from being constantly too wet, while its evaporation provides the necessary humidity. Some gardeners simply mist the leaves a couple of times a week, while others house their overwintering plants in small, interior greenhouses.

The first step:
Start with clean pots. Take inventory of how many plants and the pot sizes you may need. If you are purchasing new pots, plastic ones will need no more than a quick rinse. If using terra cotta pots, soaking them in a container of water for about 10 minutes before planting will keep the pot from wicking the moisture immediately from transplants, ensuring the soil does not get overly dry during that first critical day.

Used pots, whether you’re using your own, ones you’ve purchased at yard sales or pots you’ve been given, will usually have salt deposits and old, possibly contaminated soil. Use a stiff brush, old toothbrush or butter knife to remove as much as you can and then soak the pots in a large container filled with 1 part unscented household bleach to 9 parts water. Be sure the pots are entirely submerged and let soak for 10 minutes. This will kill any diseases that may be lurking. Plastic pots can then be rinsed with clear water and air dried. Terra cotta pots should be re-submerged in a container of clear, clean water for another 10 minutes to remove the bleach from the pores of the clay, and then air dried. Performing this task each spring as you move the plants back outside will prevent cross contamination and make the fall transplant easier.

Plants or cuttings?
Indoor_Coleus_PlantYou have your choice of digging plants out of the garden to overwinter indoors, or taking cuttings of existing plants. Rooting the cuttings from late-season or frost-damaged plants is most likely an exercise in futility. Planning ahead, taking your cuttings from healthy and vigorously growing plants in midsummer, will provide the best opportunity for success. Avoid attempting to transplant or root cuttings from any plant that has symptoms of disease or pests. If you just have to have that plant for next season, quarantine it well away from any others until you are sure the problem is resolved.

Also, avoid taking cuttings that are actively blooming. If you must, pinch the blossom or bud as you take the cutting. Use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or knife, cleaning it between each cutting with soapy water or rubbing alcohol. This prevents spreading any possible disease from one plant to another. Take cuttings of three to five inches and remove any leaves from the lower half of the cutting, inserting the bottom third of the stem into a pot of fresh, very moist potting soil. Make a mini-greenhouse by placing a plastic bag over each pot, supporting it with stakes, twigs or skewers to keep the plastic from coming in contact with the plant. Place the pots in a bright place, but not in direct sunlight, as this can cook your cuttings. Some gardeners use rooting hormone when taking cuttings, but it is not a necessity. In three to four weeks the cuttings will have rooted; you can remove the plastic bag and move your pots to a sunny window.

If transplanting whole plants, you must accomplish this before frost has damaged any of the foliage. Choose only the healthiest and inspect them carefully for signs of mold, mildew, a virus or damage from pests. Use a sharp trowel or shovel to dig around and under the roots, loosening the soil and removing a good portion of the roots along with the soil. Gently shake off most of the excess soil and place in a pot with fresh potting soil, watering them well. A small amount of water should come out of the drain hole, after which the drain tray should be emptied.

Since you will be moving your plants into a lower light environment, it is best to acclimate them first. Move them to a shadier outdoor spot for a couple of weeks and watch for signs of stress. If frost is expected, cover the plants to protect them, or move them into the garage or another protected area overnight during this time of acclimation. Once acclimated, it is best to prune your plants before bringing them indoors. Most plants can be cut back by half without threatening the health of the plant. Again, you will want to use clean shears or a sharp knife, cleaning the utensils after cutting each plant. Inspect them one last time for debris and dead or dying foliage, removing these before bringing them inside. Visible bugs should be removed and the plant thoroughly soaked with a mixture of one tablespoon of all-natural soap to one quart of water.

Food and water

Indoor_Annual_PlantsMost plants being overwintered will not require regular feeding. If so inclined, feed them right after you’ve acclimated them and before bringing them in. Vigorously growing plants can be fed lightly once a month or so, if necessary. Your plants also may not need as much water as they did outdoors. Only water when the top inch of the soil is dry and then water until a small amount exits the drainage hole, letting the top dry again before watering. Never let your pots sit in excess water; most plants do not thrive well with wet feet. In fact, indoor plants are killed from overwatering more than any other type of neglect or tender loving care.

As spring arrives

As the days grow longer again, your overwintered annuals will most likely start putting out fresh growth. This is the time to feed lightly with a water-soluble plant food and to prune back any long and leggy stems that have been reaching for the sun. Monitor water requirements more carefully now as new growth means thirstier plants. Lightly pinching the first signs of new growth will encourage more branching and a more beautiful plant.

You will want to re-acclimate your plants over the next couple of weeks, after the last frost date for the season. Put them out during the day, gradually moving them from a shady spot to where they will reside for the season over a period of two to three weeks. Bring them in at night in the beginning, slowly leaving them out for longer periods as the sun goes down until they are acclimated to the nighttime temperatures. Once the soil temperature reaches 50°F and the nighttime temps are regularly 50 or above, it should be safe to put them back in the ground. Simply loosen the soil and transplant, soil and all, into a hole that is about twice the size of the pot and at the same depth. Backfill the planting hole with garden soil, water well, and mulch to discourage weed growth and to retain moisture.

Above all else, enjoy! Every plant may not survive, but the fun is in the trying. Learn from both your failures and your successes, and share what you learn with us, on our Facebook page, or with your family and friends. Gardening and plant care are an enjoyable way to connect with people from all walks of life.


How to Winterize Your Garden and Prep It for Spring

October 21st, 2014

Fall_Tree_PlantingTo Plant or Not to Plant

While winterizing your garden (well in advance of winter), you may want to consider planting perennials, shrubs and trees. If you have at least four weeks to the first frost date in your area, the moderate temperatures and adequate moisture of fall make it the ideal time to prepare a more beautiful landscape for the spring. Note: Trees with burlap root balls need to be in the ground six to eight weeks before the first frost date. Even potted perennials and shrubs can be planted now, but remember the additional requirements for closer moisture monitoring.

Throw Out the Old

We think one of the most depressing jobs is cleaning out the ‘dead’ garden; and yet we grumble even more loudly when we have to clean up the mess in the spring. Once the vegetable plants have quit producing, you can pull them up. You can do this while they are still green or wait until they turn brown, both of which are ideal for starting or adding to your compost bin or pile. Do NOT compost anything that you suspect is diseased. For example, if you had tomato blight, pull those plants out by the roots and burn or dispose of them elsewhere. In fact, it is best to pull out all of the plants by the roots, including the weeds. Leaving the roots in the soil provides ideal overwintering shelter for bugs that will plague your garden in the spring. Leaving possibly diseased plants almost ensures the same result for next season. The same is true of your annual beds. It is so nice to start with a clean slate for next year!

Tidy It Up

After the first frost, cut your perennials back according to what is recommended for the type of plant you have. In almost all cases, cutting them back to about two inches above the soil level and removing the debris will assure you have a healthier plant next spring. If you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of snow but is liable to have exceptionally frigid winds with little moisture, mulch your perennials, shrubs and newly planted trees well. This will insulate the roots and maintain moisture throughout the winter. (This goes for strawberries, too; mulching prevents ‘heaving,’ which occurs as the soil warms and freezes over and over.) Avoid pruning new shrubs or trees the first year; this can overly stress them, making them more susceptible to winter kill.

fall_garden_cleanupPlan Ahead

Waiting until the weather forecast calls for extreme weather will likely mean you’ll be rushing around trying to find stuff with which to protect your plants (along with everyone else in your area). Stocking up ahead of time means you’ll always be prepared for the worst. These items don’t take up a whole lot of room but are priceless in case of the next blizzard of the century. Here are just a few things you should always have on hand:

  • Plant covers
  • Old sheets
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Mulch
  • Old newspapers
  • Plant ties
  • Plastic milk jugs (They’ll stack in the off season, with the bottoms cut off. Use like a cloche.)
  • Straw or hay bales

What you stock up on will depend upon what plants you landscape with. Take inventory and think ahead about what you may want to use to protect your plants. It is much less expensive to protect them than it is to replace them, especially if they are well-established and of substantial size.

Other Chores to Save Time & Money

Clean and store your garden tools: wash them, dry them well, and oil them. Rusted tools are dull, less efficient and even dangerous to use. Take the time to wash the entire tool, including the handles. Air dry if possible, even after hand drying. Then, use your favorite oil to preserve their finish through the winter. Some gardeners use a mixture of mineral oil and sand in a large bucket to store their tools, while simply spraying with WD-40 or any kind of light machine oil will also work. Store your tools where it is dry. If you notice your tools are too far gone to last another season, consider shopping for new garden tools now.

Disconnect, empty and store hoses: do this before the first hard frost, making sure to drain the hose entirely and then roll it loosely and hang or store it in a protected area. Note: if the hose is still connected and has frozen water in it, do not make the mistake of turning it on to ‘push’ the ice out. The likely result will be the water not having anywhere to go but back into your house by way of the stressed, and now broken, pipe. A good, inexpensive investment is to purchase faucet covers for your outdoor spigots.

Turn your compost one last time: Compost will continue to decompose over the winter, though much more slowly. Turn your compost pile one last time and add moisture if it is dry. If it is not covered, it will benefit you to cover it with dark plastic during this time. This will help it retain heat through the cold months, so it will decompose faster, and it will also help to jump-start the process in the spring. Your compost pile is the perfect place to put organic lawn and garden debris.

Fall garden clean-up and planting is an excellent family activity. At the end of the day, serve hot apple cider or chocolate with marshmallows. Got a fire pit? Break out the S’mores supplies! And then, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.





Why Buy A Lawn Sweeper?

October 9th, 2014

Lawn Sweepers for SaleOwning a lawn sweeper may seem like a guilty pleasure, at least to the young whipper-snappers out there, but it is money well spent and simply priceless in terms of the wear and tear on your body and the time you save on those clean up chores around the yard. With few moveable parts and no motor, a lawn sweeper will last you, literally, for years.

Lawn Sweepers Save Time & Money

You don't walk the area to be mowed first? How many times have you run over a toy or got a wire stuck in the mower blades or flung a rock and counted your blessings because that rock didn’t break a window, or worse? Pushing a lawn sweeper around your property prior to mowing will quickly and effortlessly pick up all those branches, rocks, pieces of metal or ropes, and a myriad of other items that end up on your lawn and can become a deadly, fast-moving projectile or, at the least, wear, chip, dull or become tangled in your mower blades. And you know mower blades are not cheap or easy to replace.

Lawn Sweepers Make It Easy

Do you compost? If so, a lawn sweeper is simply worth its weight in gold. Making quick and easy work of fallen leaves and grass clippings, the time it takes to clean your lawn and add to your compost pile is so greatly reduced you can spend more time lying in your hammock, fishing, playing with the grandkids or otherwise pursuing more enjoyable hobbies or interests. Not only does it save time, composting saves money and is much more earth-friendly, recycling waste that would otherwise be thrown away, making rich, organic fertilizer with which to feed your flower or vegetable gardens. Owning a lawn sweeper will make composting almost as easy as driving to the garden center, but oh-so-much less expensive!

The Truth About Lawn Envy

Lawn sweeper to push in your yardAnd finally, do you drive by that place around the block and wonder how their lawn always looks so clean and gorgeous? Are you envious? Most of us are! The truth is, most people who have such a beautiful, spotless yard either have a lawn service, a gardener or a lawn sweeper! We all know a gardener can be quite expensive, and a lawn service is only a little bit less so. A lawn sweeper, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive, often
paying for itself in just one use if you employ a lawn service or a gardener. Even if you normally do the yard work yourself; if you paid yourself $10.00 an hour, your lawn sweeper would pay for itself in as little as 10 hours! How many hours a month do you spend on your lawn? How much would it be worth to cut that time in half, or more?

So, we invite you to browse our lawn sweepers. They are all proudly made in the U.S. and come with a one year manufacturer's warranty.

Happy Fall! And here's to your beautiful yard with less work!

Fall Flower Bulb Planting Schedule

September 23rd, 2014

Planting fall flower bulbs is an ideal gardening project for the novice and a never-ending source of joy for the more experienced. Planting is easy and pretty much goof-proof, with the outcome so predictable as to allow you to design flowerbeds that your neighbors will be in awe of. (You might be a little impressed, yourself). So, get out your colored pencils or crayons and start designing. You don't even need to know how to draw! Just sketch the shapes you'd like to see in your yard and experiment with filling them in with small colorful circles (the flowers). There are also numerous websites with planting and design ideas. Click here for some really good information, including the recommended number of bulbs per square foot of landscape. You are welcome to contact our Master Gardener with questions, or visit this page for detailed flower bulb planting information.

The following map is a representation of generally the best time to plant fall bulbs for spring blooms in your area. Order bulbs when you're ready and we will ship them to your doorstep according to the Fall Bulb Planting Schedule.


Keep these things in mind:

  • Bulbs can be stored for a short time in a cool, dry place. However, plant as soon as conditions are right. Bulbs do not store well for the following season.
  • You can begin to plant fall bulbs when the soil temperature drops to 55°F.
  • Bulbs do not like wet feet, even in winter. Plant bulbs in well-draining soil.
  • Bulbs like sunny gardens. Remember though, when fall-planted bulbs bloom, many trees are not putting on leaves yet. Your flower bulbs may grow really well under that birch or aspen.
  • Planting clusters of color, rather than single bulbs and/or single rows, is recommended by professionals.
  • Bulbs prefer to be planted with the pointed side up, but will, if planted wrong, figure it out anyway.
  • You are only limited by your own imagination. Have fun!

Fall's the Ideal Time to Fertilize Your Lawn

September 15th, 2014

Fall's the Ideal Time to Fertilize Your Lawn

and we'll make it easy for you

Backyard_Fertilizer_BlogFall is the ideal time to inspect your lawn, to strengthen it before winter sets in, to correct any problems you prefer not to put off until spring, and to ascertain its need for feed.

Summertime may have seen you raise your mower deck to lessen the amount of heat stress on your lawn. A longer lawn has a healthier root system, maintains moisture longer and is able to withstand times of drought and heavier foot traffic. It may also enable you to spend a little more time doing the things you'd rather be doing, instead of the things you have to do, like taking care of your lawn.

Fall is approaching and it's time to get in an ‘autumn state of mind,' when it comes to your yard. If the weather patterns this year have been any indication, fall may totally take you by surprise. It's also possible that winter will be completely unpredictable; the better prepared you are for the unexpected, the prettier and healthier your lawn will be next spring. (Which means it will need even less care!)

After the stresses of summer, your lawn is starved for nutrients. But, before you fertilize, we suggest you take these steps:

  • Take a walk. That's right. Just take a stroll around your yard, and look down. You want to take stock of your lawn. Is it thick and full, or is there a lot of space between the blades where you can see the thatch? Do you have bare spots that need overseeding? Does it look like it's struggling to survive or does it fit your idea of the ideal, healthy lawn?
  • Adjust the mowing height. If you adjusted your lawn mower height as the summer temperatures climbed, you will want to readjust the height down for fall mowing. Did you know that mowing your lawn too short will actually help weeds grow? It's true. The shorter you cut the grass, the fewer roots; therefore, the easier it is for weeds to take hold. Even though you may be tempted to lower that mower waaaay down as the daytime temperatures dropdon't do it! The ideal fall height for most turf grasses is 2 inches. This makes it harder for weeds to take hold and will prevent the turf from matting down under the leaves and snow.
  • Continue to water as needed. August, September and October can be particularly dry months. The temperatures may not be stressing your lawn, but the lack of water is. Monitor the soil moisture and soak your lawn once or twice a week, allowing the water to penetrate several inches. Watering in the early morning will give your lawn plenty of time to dry out during the day, preventing the fungal diseases that can occur when lawns remain wet overnight.
  • Dethatch if needed. Thatch is the layer of dead organic material mixed with living grass, but lying on top of the soil. Too much thatch can lead to disease and insect infestations, and it also makes it much harder for your lawn to breathe and absorb the nutrients it needs. If you have more than 1/2 inch of thatch, you may want to consider dethatching. It can be accomplished with a stiff rake, if you have a small lawn, or with a tow-behind dethatcher for larger yards. Always remove the thatch prior to overseeding and fertilizing. Thatch is an ideal ‘brown' component for your homemade compost.

NOW you can fertilize!

Now you can feed your lawn. Just as your body requires nourishment, so does your lawn. However, you have some choices to make about the type of fertilizer you use. If you've watched the news lately, toxic algae blooms have been making life difficult for some areas. In Toledo, 500,000 people had to avoid tap water for three days. Vacationers are being warned about swimming in lakes with blue-green algae. Every state with a body of water is testing for toxic blue-green algae blooms. You wouldn't necessarily think of algae as toxic, but some do produce toxins poisonous to humans, pets and livestock. Blue-green algae can produce both neurotoxins and hepatotoxins. Neurotoxins attack the nervous system, while hepatotoxins attack the liver. Simply coming in contact with the toxic algae can result in a nasty skin rash. We mention this because these toxic algae blooms have been scientifically linked to fertilizer runoff, especially to high levels of phosphorous, in conjunction with warmer temperatures and summer sunlight. Our article on Organic Lawn Care, Part 2, explains the difference between organic and inorganic fertilizers. We urge you to read it and to choose organic. If you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. We strongly believe that just one person can make a difference.

Chemical_Free_LawnWe offer a selection of organic lawn foods we know to be exceptional. They are all perfectly safe for your family and pets. Their organic nature means they are absorbed over a period of time, providing nutrients as your lawn requires it. They will not contribute to fertilizer runoff, which means you are not only doing your part for the environment, but you're saving money. And with the comparable price point for these organic fertilizers, you are not washing your hard-earned money into the gutter, the lakes, and, ultimately, into the oceans. In fact, our sale makes it even more economically smart to stock up now.

All of our organic lawn foods are by Espoma Organic®, a trusted name in natural gardening solutions. All 30-lb bags will cover 5,000 square feet and all are safe for your family, your pets and the environment.

Espoma Organic All Season Lawn Food – This all-purpose lawn food has an NPK of 9-0-0.

Espoma Organic Fall Winterizer – Features Slow Release Nitrogen and an NPK of 8-0-5.

Espoma Organic Spring Lawn Booster – 100% corn gluten meal with an NPK of 9-0-0.

Espoma Organic Summer Revitalizer – Amended with Bio-tone® microbes and an NPK of 8-0-0.

*N stands for Nitrogen, P for Phosphorous and K for Potassium

Reseeding and overseeding can be done at the same time as applying organic fertilizer. We carry seeds for every type of lawn, to provide a carpet of lush green grass or turf anywhere.

Got Questions? Ask Karen, our Master Gardener! Or call us at 1-888-907-4769