Site Meter

Monday, December 10, 2012

There is still time to go
Down to Virden where there is no

Check out the remaining great selection of trees! Get tree stands or get trees to plant. There are wreaths of varying shapes and sizes - all for your holiday delights. Wouldn't it be nice to surprise someone else with a lovely wreath? SURE!

While you're there, pick up some small gift items for friends, family, pets, neighbors and others. Make Christmas memorable in some small way for those you know and appreciate.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The calls and notes and emails have continued to arrive. Seems when people are inside, in the coolness of the AC, they come up with some pretty creative questions. Once again we have chosen those which we think are of interest and application for a large reading audience. If you have something you want to ask, speak up/write up. We’ll tackle your questions as long as they are relevant to what we do. We’re just not inclined to get in the middle of discussions with leading questions such as “How do I convince my better half that I need a _______?” or “Will you tell our neighbors to fix ________?”. Uh, no.

Let’s see what we have in the mail bag and on voice mail this time.

Rose Petal called and asked if her raised garden (one we installed) can be re-planted for fall and early winter crops? She keeps going by asking if she needs to do anything to the soil before planting in it again and if she decides not to plant does she need to treat the soil before it rests for the winter?

To Rose we say, “You go, girl!” She’s one ambitious gardener! By all means, Rose and the rest of you should go ahead and plant fall crops. Till in a little slow release fertilizer ahead of time. If you decide it’s best to let the soil and yourself rest then keep the soil tilled so it is loose for springtime planting.

An email came in from Pete Moss, wondering about this drought and whether it is going to impact fall tree planting. Specifically he writes “Will it be all right to have Designer Landscapes Inc plant trees this fall or is it going to be too dry? Will they require more watering than usual, even if we get rain between now and the planting? Will you be planting later in the fall this year? Will it be better to plant bigger trees or smaller ones?”

Clearly Pete has put some thought into this and we suspect he’s pretty particular about caring for newly planted trees any year. We are glad to provide the answers to his questions. It will be fine to plant trees this fall. In fact, we’re certain that our Creator will let loose of some more of His rain anytime now, maybe as you all are reading this. Indeed, it WILL take more watering initially. We believe smaller trees are better to plant. Let’s use 1 ½” caliper as an ideal size. They grow faster as their root systems are not stunted as much when root balling is done. If you’re unsure what we mean by caliper, it’s pretty much the same as diameter. As for root balling, well, it’s what we do to pack up the roots then re-establish the tree in the ground for safe keeping, until it moves to a permanent home. It assures that the tap root and others are secured to the tree when the time comes to move it.

We love hearing from you! Keep those cards and letters coming. Send us photos of projects we completed for you that have "matured" so we can see how everything has grown! Please use our email address, posted on . If you haven't checked out the new web site this is the time to do it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Web Site to Launch SOON!

Are you ready for the launch? The new web site, found at the same address ( ) is designated to launch before June 1, 2012. The design is stunning, both in terms of looks and functionality.
Our catalog is on line and we have added the capability that allows you to create a wish list and share it with us. Our portfolio will be running soon; photos are being selected, edited, uploaded. We included a new, easy to use, custom contact form so you can tell us what you want and need. The phone still works too so you have a choice!
We hope you like what you see and use it often. There will be tips posted to encourage your gardening and landscaping spirit and imagination along with whatever "hits" us as interesting or important! There is a link to the blog (thank you) and you can sign up to get future newsletters by going to the aforementioned contact form.
Coming soon to your neighborhood.........our trucks, our staff, our website.......stop by!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Common Sense or Nonsense - Try These and Decide

If all else fails go with the garden lore, the wives’ tales, and the chatter around the farmers’ table at the town diner (aka coffee shop). Generations of well-meaning, oft eyebrow-raising advise has been passed down to favored gardening friends by those who claim the inside track to successful vegetable gardens and flower beds. Disputing them, especially during the busy season, seems nothing more than a waste of good time. Unable and unwilling to “beat them” we think it’s fun, interesting and perhaps useful to “join ‘em”.

Maybe you have some wise words you’ve learned from a favorite gardener. If so, post a comment at the end. Until then, enjoy what we dug up.

Hang your dirty shoes from fruit trees that don't bear. We could not come up with a substantial history for doing this but our hunt did yield lots of offers to sell us new, and we assume clean, shoes. We’ve also driven through many small towns where the trend seems to be to toss dirty gym shoes up on power lines and/or into street-side trees. This could be a victory celebration or it could be there are no fruit trees in town and the kids were told they couldn’t wear those shoes inside.

Having mentioned inside, how about planting a banana peel with your staghorn fern? Ours here has shared space in a hanging container with a spider plant for at least 4 years. This year the last fern leaf which dared to show its colors lasted only a short time. The argument for putting a banana peel in with it appears sensible and reasonable as the potassium in the peel displaces the sodium which is in most water. Research results suggest we re-pot the staghorn and sprinkle the dried pieces on top of the moss so the potassium leaches out whenever the plant is watered. Most probably we’ll be separating the two plants and giving this a try.

If you have some extra banana peels left, bury them just under the surface of your rose beds. We hear you. “Who knew?” you say. Well, we’re always looking for economic and green ways to use what we buy!

Back outdoors, if your soil has high alkaline content and we don’t receive generous rains, your acid-loving plants such as azaleas, camellias and roses may be frowning. Give ‘em some coffee grounds, just like Grannie said. The grounds act as a mulch and soil improver. In other words, the grounds can’t hurt. What’s good for those mentioned may well be good for other flowers also. We’ve gone through stages of saving the grounds and tossing them onto a flower bed. It helps justify making that second pot of coffee now and then. If you’re a fan of tea, the tea leaves can do the same job. Word has it that wisteria loves a good tea leaf.

There’ve been more than a few discussions about how to get hydrangeas to bloom a vivid blue. Often when you’re shopping you see the gorgeous range of blues and are swept away enough to take one home, maybe even two or three. Planted in a showy spot in your yard they stand out beautifully. Then one day you notice the new blooms aren’t quite so blue. Well, did you put nails in with them, or maybe an old razor, or even hair pins? That may be the problem. Must be the rusting iron that does encourages the blue to pop. If you can’t get it to happen then love what you have and consider adding an outrageously pinkish hydrangea to the mix. Or you can add aluminum sulfate to the soil. Spoiled sport…remember we’re talking gardening lore not swift and modern techniques.

You may find it necessary to discourage creepy crawlers or 4-legged trespassers from entering your yard although it does seem a bit unnatural to us. Try these unscientific methods: a plastic jug of water put out where you don’t want dogs to trod; beer, the non-alcoholic variety, for slugs and snails; moth balls for skunks (they’ll need refreshing after rain); soap bars for deer (again, you need more the more it rains); human hair, steel wool, chewing gum – one time each works on some gophers.

Once you’ve implemented a few of these tricks you should go out and talk to your plants. People around you may already have written you off once they see what’s going on so you have nothing further to lose. Strike up a cheerleading conversation to get the radishes rolling, the lettuce leading the race. Tell the marigolds and delphinium how splendid they look. If nothing else you’ll be taking notice of how glorious your garden and beds look and you’ll feel better for it!

(With some content thanks to an old LATimes article)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clean Manure is not an oximoron. It Pays to get the right stuff.

The Scoop on Poop

This time of the year always finds us a little stir crazy and we begin to wonder what you’re thinking about in terms of your yards and gardens. We have it figured out for certain, finally, and we want to add a shovelful of our own knowledge to your thoughts or discussions.

Cabin fever does strange things to all of us during a normal year. Anymore who knows what “normal” really is; this year has been particularly strange in that the cold weather comes and goes. Day lilies are inching through; hyacinth has poked up in a place or two. Trees are budding. And, yet, clearly it is February. Snow is on the way. As Robert Frost puts it, “…to watch his woods fill up with snow…” It’s coming. Sit tight.

You may be tired of flipping through the plant/shrub/tree catalogs and are itching to go out and dig a hole then plop something in it. We imagine you sitting, looking out the window and wondering what to tackle. You’ve cleaned and sharpened your gardening tools. The mower is in the shop getting tuned up. Why not plant something?

Well, wait. It’s tempting but hold off. The ground has to be ready. Ready means not only warm but prepared. Prepared can mean, treated to, yes, MANURE. Let us share with you some of the finer points about this delicate topic.

Don’t use fresh manure on your planted areas. It will prove to be too acidic which will alter the balance we have strived to maintain for maximum plant performance and health. If you go out and gather plops of poop, say from your friendly area horses, cows, or sheep, then pile it high and deep in the way-back of your yard. Let it age. We call it decomposing. Put it out back by your compost pile if you have one. Come spring of 2013, or this fall you are lucky enough to get partially decomposed manure from last year, you can spread it around as much as far as it will go.

Having spent substantial time in open forum discussion about manure we defer to greater experts in dealing with it than we can ever claim to be, which is not to say that we don’t find ourselves deep in it occasionally. It is to say we respect the voices of experience and those voices tell us that sheep are the best providers of manure for gardening. Yes, the aforementioned horses and cows are fine and deliver quantities beyond compare, but sheep do it best.

Owners of livestock don’t always consider the needs of neighboring gardens or city folks out looking to pick up a little manure. It’s easier to care for the penned areas if there’s some straw on the ground. Manure may be mixed with sawdust or straw. Again, we face an acid problem but only if it is mixed with sawdust. Look for the critter who’s litter is in straw and you’re good to go. If you find sawdust, add lime.

When the time comes, if you are starting to create a garden spot then spread a layer of manure on top and till it in really well. Once you think you’ve done a complete job go over it one more time. You need to build your muscles for all the spring, summer, fall fun of planting, caring for, and harvesting! If you have existing plant beds to work over then the wisest advice is to use a pitch fork to deliver the manure but then rake it in so as not to disturb the plants and bulbs below.

Finally, as one of us said, ever so tactfully, “What goes in must come out”. You’re bound to find seeds sprinkled in your supply of free manure from Flicka, Bessie, or Baa-Baa. Even if you don’t find the seeds (and are you really going to look for them) you are likely to find the results – weeds growing amidst the tulips and petunias. Perhaps the safest option now is to order up some composted manure from us, a good 40 lb. bag runs you $3.50 (plus tax). We’ll take your call now. Then you can go make certain your snow boots are nearby, your mittens are ready, the chapstick is in supply and the shovel is by the door. The snow is coming and like our discussions and some places where there’s manure, it will be deep.