Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lovely Hydrangeas for your garden

Hydrangea Tree
© Dawn Gagnon Photography 2014

One drive through any South Carolina neighborhood and you are sure to see one flowering shrub during the summer months that stands out, the Hydrangea.  With massive, vibrant blossoms that range in color from white, to blue to violet and pink, there are few show stoppers that can rival this plant in full bloom. Many are under the impression that the Hydrangea is a native flowering plant from the south, however its true origins are native to southern and eastern Asia and North and South America. 
© Dawn Gagnon Photography 2013

White Hydrangea Blossoms
© Dawn Gagnon Photography
One may assume because they see so many Hydrangeas thriving that the Hydrangea plant is an easy one to grow. To some extent the plant is easy to grow, however like many flowering shrubs, the Hydrangea has its preferences and must be “happy” where it is planted to do well.  Hydrangeas are full sun to partial shade plants that seem to prefer moist, well-drained soil.  Tip: For those living in the south, the Hydrangea seems to enjoy similar soils that the Azalea enjoys, although the Hydrangea can use a bit more sunshine than shade loving Azaleas.

© Dawn Gagnon Photography

Organic matter incorporated into the soil helps the Hydrangea thrive. The Hydrangea is a welcome sight in the summer months and enjoys growing in zones 5-9, however some types can tolerate zone 2 as well. The plant itself can grow fairly large so always factor in the placement of this beautiful addition to your garden, it needs plenty of spread room. The level of acidity in the soil affects the coloration of the blooms of the Hydrangea, typically, an acidic soil produces blue blooms, while a more alkaline soil yields a pink blossom. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

How to keep your lawn green naturally

Homeowners are encouraged to test their soils ...Image via WikipediaSouth Carolina has hot, humid weather during the summer, and also can have weeks between good soaking rains to help with our lawns. Some times the homeowner has to kick in where mother nature stops and help their grass along. If you are having trouble with the grass in your yard, you will want to see this site, Carolina Lawns. This site has a wealth of information on how to care for your lawn and even
information on specific types of grass you may have in your yard.

1. Grass needs an inch of rain weekly to maintain optimal appearance and health. Set sprinkler systems on a timer for the morning hours or use sprinklers to give a deep soak. Watering manually with the use of a hose and sprayer will not allow adequate water to soak into the soil where the
grasses roots are.

2. Keep lawn mower blades sharpened to prevent disease and injury to the grass blades. A sharp cut reduces the grasses vulnerability to disease and pests.

3. Use organic fertilizer a few times a year. A few inches of compost applied in the Spring and Fall will give your grass the extra boost and health it will need.

4. If your grass looks in bad shape it could be a ph level problem. Check your grasses ph level, anything below 6.0 needs to be amended using Lime. If it is higher than
7.0, you may need to sulfur to bring it down to the proper ph.

5. Grass needs the clippings left over from mowing to help keep the soil moist and cool. Grass clippings are a natural mulch for your grass.

6. Never cut your grass too short especially during hot months. Grass that is cut too short can be scorched by the sun, and also exposes the root system that is close to the
surface of the ground.

7. Yellow or bleached spots could be from pets. When you notice these areas, make sure to water them even between regular watering to dilute the effects of animal urine. The salt
content is usually the reason for the yellowed areas.

8. Soil Aeration is a good way to loosen compacted soil. If your soil has a high clay content there is a good chance that it has compacted soil. Compacted soil will choke grass roots a
and stop water, fertilizer and root growth from benefitting the grass. Lawn aerators can be purchased from garden centers and some can attach to your lawn mower. If you don't want to invest in
one, you can sometimes rent them for a small fee.
For additional lawn care, see: How to change stubborn lawnmower blades, or visit The Southern Garden for more tips.
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