Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and spring is well on its way. While your bouquet of roses has likely wilted and has gone to pasture — literally or figuratively. You may wonder how to prolong the beautiful look of brand new, fresh flowers for a long time. Here are some simple tips to get started:
This is a re-post of a blog we wrote in 2014. We updated some information and wanted to share it with our loyal readers.
With the weather in the Midwest taking a roller coaster ride this week, you may have done some planting on the warm days. Well now that the forecast calls for snow and freezing temperatures, we need to protect those plants!
Winter is well underway, and so is your cabin fever. If your green thumb is itching to dig in the dirt and bring something to life, then this is not your season. You may be wondering what you can do to satisfy your gardening craving when it’s bitter in your yard. The answer? An indoor garden. You can grow a wide variety of herbs and other plants with a few simple steps. Here they are:
If you like to cook, you’re in luck: herbs are the easiest plants to grow indoors. Do you want fresh basil for that margherita pizza recipe you’ve been eyeing? Perfect. Just plant a packet of seeds in a pot next to a south-facing window. Herbs such as oregano and rosemary grow well and add flavorful excitement to your culinary efforts.
Growing leafy greens inside is more involved than growing herbs, but it can be equally as rewarding. Leafy greens require more sunlight than winter days provide, but flourescent grow lights will give your greens the light they crave. Plant your seeds in damp potting soil, water them regularly, and leave the grow lights on for 10-12 hours every day.
Round root vegetables like carrots and radishes do not root as deeply as other varieties, and they do well indoors if the seeds are sewn at any point in time from mid-autumn to late winter. All you need is a box, pan or trough to get things rolling.
You can grow small tomato varieties indoors with some time and effort. You still need to stake the plants so they can handle the fruit’s weight, and most plants will need to be moved to a large container of potting soil as they grow, but the end result tastes like summer.
For more information on indoor and outdoor gardening, contact the team at Olympic Lawn & Landscape at (816) 875-9645 today.
While it feels like spring outside, winter is inevitably on its way. In the Midwest, that means cold, snow and ice. It also means that your garden will lie dormant until warm weather returns. Your flowers need to be considered. Here’s how to prepare your flower garden for the cold season, and how to get it primed for spring.
Clearing It Out
The first tsp in preparing your flowers for winter is removing any blackened stems and foliage of your annuals so diseases and insect eggs don’t remain in the soil all winter.
Consider the Weather
Snow is actually a good thing for your flowers because a good snow cover will protect and insulate the soil like mulch. And even though it may look like nothing is going on above the ground, the truth is that your perennials are dividing and earthworms and microbes are still processing the organic matter that will give your flowers nutrients in the spring.
How to Prepare Perennials for Winter
Getting your perennials ready for winter involves a multi-step process. Here’s how:
- Cut back dry stems after frost to remove pest eggs, disease spores, and to neaten your garden.
- Compost dead plant debris to create an organic soil conditioner. Throw any questionable plant matter away.
- Cut off diseased foliage from evergreen plants and shrubs and discard. Rake up old mulch, too.
- Wait until the ground freezes to add a 6-inch layer of organic material to prevent rodents from nesting in it.
Roses require special attention. Once late summer arrives, stop fertilizing and pruning. In the fall, remove old mulch from around the roses. Spread new mulch just before the first hard frost of the year. (Wait until the ground actually freezes if rodents are an issue.)
Olympic Lawn and Landscape specializes in winterizing your garden. For more tips on how to get your flowers ready for winter or to schedule service, call us at (816) 875-9645 today.
Autumn is a wonderful time of year. All of the colors and traditions make for a great time. A traditional carved pumpkin on the doorstep has stood the test of time as the ultimate and quintessential October decoration. However, once Halloween has come and gone, you may wonder just what to do with your jack o’lantern once trick or treating is over. We’ve got some ideas that are way more fun and productive than just throwing your jack o’lantern away. Here they are:
1. Make a planter out of your pumpkin.
A carved pumpkin can naturally add some beauty and color to your yard. Add some annuals to some soil in the backyard is a great addition of color for a few days. You can just bury the whole thing. The pumpkin will naturally compost and provide fertilizer for your plants.
2. Make a treat post-Halloween.
Trick or treating may be over, but the candy doesn’t have to be. Making pumpkin candy is a Mexican tradition that you can enjoy. Start with a whole pumpkin and cut it in half. Remove the seeds and guts, and cut the pumpkin into smaller chunks and remove the skin with a sharp vegetable peeler. Then cut those chunks into bite-size pieces and place those pieces in a sauce pan with just enough water to cover them. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. After the pumpkin begins to soften, stir in one cup of brown sugar and any spices you want. (Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves work exceptionally well.) Cover again with the lid and boil until the sugar turns to syrup. Let the candies soak in the syrup over night and then place on a wire rack to dry. If you want, sprinkle with some extra sugar for a sweet treat.
3. Mix a pumpkin cocktail.
Flavored vodka has made for cocktails of any flavor. If you can dream it you can drink it. To make a pumpkin cocktail, fill a shaker with ice and a tablespoon of pumpkin puree. Add two ounces of the flavored vodka of your choice. (We like vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.) Add a splash of lime juice and a squeeze of honey. Shake well and strain into a glass over fresh ice.
Olympic Lawn and Landscape loves autumn, and we also enjoy making the best use of jack o’lanterns post-Halloween. For more pumpkin use and fall planting ideas, call (816) 875-9645 today.
We’ve had a dry autumn so far. Your trees and shrubs will be dry headed into winter. Watering them will be necessary, and here’s how. (Hint: it’s not with a sprinkler.)
An Abnormally Dry Fall
Kansas City has been abnormally dry this fall — the National Weather Service posted that this September was the eighth driest on record. It’s been a drastic change from our super-wet summer. This winter may be dry, just like our autumn.
Soil Moisture Is Key
Plants need water, and good soil moisture is paramount to surviving any winter conditions that may come our way. June of 2015 was extremely rainy, but by August, many evergreen trees started to die off. (By the way, plants do need moisture even when they lie dormant for the winter.) The best way to soak a tree is to turn a water hose on a slow trickle and let it run in three or four different spots for about 15-20 minutes each. Younger trees will need 10 to 15 gallons of water soaking slowly in the soil for each year it’s been in the ground.
Soak Your Evergreens First, Then Move on to Deciduous Trees.
After you soak your evergreens, then turn your attention to younger shrubs and deciduous trees. If you thoroughly soak the soil, you shouldn’t need to water again for about 4-6 weeks.
Don’t Fall Into an “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” Mentality.
A winter drought can make it easy to forget about your precious trees. We don’t think about how well our plants are doing until later — usually when spring is nearing. Spring or summer could mean it’s much too late for your trees. Don’t be someone throwing his or her hands up in bewilderment at a dead spruce tree. Take some precautions and give your plants the precious water it needs.
If you have more questions about watering your trees, call Olympic Lawn and Landscape at (816) 875-9645 today.
The October Frost Doesn’t Have to Mean Your Plants Get Lost
Cold fall evenings don’t have to mean that your plants and flowers die right away. Frost damage can be avoided. Granted, you won’t have a lush, full, fruitful garden in the middle of December, but with the following tips, your garden will last until the weather is too cold to produce anything.
Methods to Protect from Frost
You can do several things to safeguard your plants from frost:
- Water the garden thoroughly before it gets dark.
- Consider using an electric fan to artificially create a breeze to prevent frost from settling. (Be sure to use caution and be sure to protect electrical connections from the elements.)
- Cover it up before dusk. Your garden’s stored heat is lost before it gets dark. If you can, build a frame around the plants, and drape newspaper, cardboard or plastic tarps over your plants to prevent heat loss.
- You can use jars to cover smaller plants, but be sure to remove them in the morning so they don’t overheat in the sun.
- Collect heat during the day by painting plastic milk jugs black, filling them with water, and placing them in the daytime sun around your plants. The collected heat will radiate throughout the night.
- Move container-grown plants inside. Or, if that’s impossible, wrap the pot in burlap or bubble wrap, or even bury the pot to protect the foliage.
If none of those efforts work and your plants do receive some frost damage, don’t cut the damaged parts off of your plants. The dead leaves and stems will insulate your plants from further damage. (You’ll have to prune your plants in the spring anyway.)
Pay the Cost to Fight the Frost
For more information about safeguarding your garden from frost until winter hits, call Olympic Lawn and Landscape at (816) 875-9645.
Autumn is a gorgeous time of year with vibrant colors abound. Everywhere you look it seems like Mother Nature is urging you to take in the fall splendor. Many people think of Vermont when they think of fall foliage, but Missouri has its share of beautiful deciduous trees that shed their leaves every year. Where are they? Read on to find out.
Best Place Guidelines
You can see Missouri’s colorful foliage just about anywhere:
- If you can’t get out of town, seek out nearby places with mature trees, such as older neighborhoods, parks, and even cemeteries.
- Even areas without trees, such as prairies and roadsides, display beautiful shades of purple, gold, olive, and auburn with autumn shrubs, wildflowers and curing, rustling grasses.
- On a smaller scale, drive on back roads, hike, or take a float trip under a colorful forest canopy on a clear, blue-sky day. Visit MDC Conservation Areas and Missouri State Parks.
- For spectacular views, choose routes along rivers with views of forested bluffs, and along ridges with sweeping scenes of forested landscapes.
Kansas City Color
Our very own region is home to a vast palette of colors. Check out Burr Oak Woods and Buffalo Creek Conservation Areas if you enjoy hiking, or venture out to Knob Knoster State Park.
A Weekend Getaway for Your Eyes
Central Missouri — areas like Columbia, Jefferson City and Lake of the Ozarks — is also a great place to see some autumn foliage. For a great day or weekend trip full of fall color, go to Painted Rock Conservation area and Rock Bridge State Park.
Color by Northwest
The hills are alive with color from — especially yellow — from Kansas City to the Iowa border. Any forested area should be great for fall color this season.
For more information about where to see breathtaking views of fall color, or how to get some great color in your own backyard, call Olympic Lawn and Landscape at (816) 875-9645 today.
With so many hardy perennials in the botanical mix, we couldn’t cover them in one or two blog posts. (Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.) In part three of Perennials: Nature’s Survivors, we’re going to cover even more perennials that can stand the test of time and weather. Here’s our list:
This perennial is perfect for shady spots. Commonly called barrenwort, epimedium grows only 10-12 inches tall, and covers the ground with both beautiful flowers and foliage. The perennial is also highly drought resistant, which is great for dry growing seasons, which occasionally happen here in the Midwest. And, depending on which variety you grow, the plants may remain evergreen through the winter.
Russian sage adds a nice pop of color to your fall garden. It’s native to central Asia, and tough as nails. It can do well in hot, dry conditions. They typically bloom mid to late summer and keep their beautiful color for weeks. The plant’s silvery foliage is fragrant. It typically grows 3 to 5 feet tall, though dwarf varieties grow shorter than three feet.
Artemisia’s foliage color is absolutely stunning. This perennial is great for perennial borders. The colorful foliage keeps your garden looking great while the flowering plants go in and out of bloom. The foliage is a silver-gray color that doesn’t fade in sunlight. It resists insects and droughts, and its branches make a fantastic addition to indoor flower arrangements. The height varies depending on which variety you plant, from 5 inches tall to 3 feet.
These perennials make a great addition to any garden. Not only are they low-maintenance and resistant to things like weather extremes and insects, but they’re also beautiful, which is likely the reason you decided to plant a flower garden in the first place.
These survivors would make a great addition to any flower garden. For more information on how to make your garden great, call Olympic Lawn and Landscape at (816) 875-9645 and stay tuned for Part 4!
Autumn is here, and that means winter is well on its way. Once the cold weather hits and stays, your plants will lie dormant until the next growing season. Is your yard ready? Maybe you’re unsure of how to prepare, or maybe you just need some new pointers or a refresher. In any case, these tips will help you achieve optimal botanical success for next spring. Here they are:
Keep It Clean-Cut
Keep your grass blades about 2 1/2 inches high. Mice and moles love long grass under the snow, so letting your lawn grow isn’t the best idea to keep critters out of your yard.
Don’t let leaves pile up on your lawn. Leaves block the sunlight your grass needs to be healthy. (For those of you who hate to rake, a mower with a mulch setting and bag attachment makes things much easier.)
To Make It Look Great, Aerate
Aerating your lawn lets water and nutrients get to the grass’ roots. You can rent an aerator from most home stores, and you really only need it for about half a day depending on the size of your yard.
Apply New Seed
Fall is a great time to seed your lawn so it grows in thick and resists weeds. Use a rotary spreader and apply the seed as recommended. After you seed your lawn, give it some water to make sure the seeds start off well.
Fertilize Your Yard
Autumn is the perfect time to fertilize your lawn. (Late fall, around Halloween is the optimal time for applying fertilizer.) Your lawn will get the pre-winter boost it needs to get ready for the cold, and help it for when warm weather returns.
The above tips will help your yard get ready for the cold weather ahead. For more information on winterizing your yard, call Olympic Lawn and Landscape at (816) 875-9645 today.