Thursday, March 29, 2012

DIY network's newest “Dirtiest Landscaping” sweepstakes is here

Back yard

If you love watching any of the great shows on the DIY network, be sure to enter their latest sweepstakes. The details of this latest sweepstakes are the winner receives $50,000.00 cash to create the backyard of your fantasies. With a grand prize of $50,000.00 and other giveaways, it is hard to resist entering this sweepstakes.

If you have a landscape that is in dire need of help, this sweepstakes can be the chance of a lifetime to finally get everything you ever dreamed of for a back yard oasis. Your own little slice of paradise. Just think of what you can do with the sum of $50,000.00 to create your perfect yard. Maybe all your yard is missing is a swimming pool, or perhaps you have one that would be beautiful flanked with palm trees and gorgeous tropical flowers and landscaping. The possibilities are endless.

Those who enter will also be eligible for six additional prizes of Sears gift cards in the amount of $1000.00. The Sears gift cards will be given away weekly so if you want to enter you may enter once a day through May 4th, at 5 pm eastern standard time.

To enter simply click on this link: DIY Network Dirtiest Landscape Sweepstakes Entry Form
For more on home improvements see: Dawns Decorating Solutions.
For more on gardening see: The Southern Garden

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to grow and care for Dogwood trees

White Dogwood

If you have been bitten by spring fever, you have probably made a trip to your local nursery and or hardware store that sells gardening supplies and flowers. One tree you may have wondered about is the ever present southern bloomer, the Dogwood trees. Lining many streets, and prominently blooming in yards all over the south, the Dogwood tree is a favorite for many homeowner.

Dogwoods can be found throughout the south eastern portion of the United States growing under a thick canopy of taller trees in forests. Dogwoods can be a fickle tree if it isn't happy with its growing conditions so there are a few things that need to do to insure that this tree will thrive in your landscape.

The soil should be acidic and when planting be sure to plant the root ball slightly above ground level. Replace the soil from the hole dug with a prepared garden soil specifically for acid loving plants,shrubs and trees.

Remember many flowering Dogwoods can be found growing in shady forest locations, so they like a shady environment in your yard too. Try to find a spot that has dappled sunlight, and if you plant them among other trees, try to make sure these trees produce natural mulch on the ground since this will keep the soil moist and provide lots of leaf mold for the Dogwood tree.

Newly planted Dogwoods should be watered on a weekly basis and during dry periods water regularly.
When first planted be sure to water, wait until absorbed, and water again. Repeat this.

Dogwoods need a good start in order to thrive in your landscape. Be sure to give new plants a slow release fertilizer to ensure the best possible start.

Dogwoods require very little pruning. You can prune them after they have flowered using good quality pruners if you want to manage their overall shape, but too much pruning can invite disease to your new plant and if its not necessary avoid doing any pruning until your Dogwood is well established, one or two years after planting. Be sure to prune damaged and dead branches on your Dogwood. Keep an eye out for disease and pests and be sure to remove any of these beforehand.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Growing Camellias in your southern garden

Pink Camellia (photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

One shrub you will find beloved by many a southerner is the lovely Camellia bush. Camellias are sturdy small shrubs that produce vivid blossoms appearing October-March. They have thick dark green glossy leaves and the flower heads are similar in size to a rose. Camellia blossoms can come in a myriad of colors from white, soft pinks, vivid reds and in Southern parts of China yellow.

Growing conditions:
Camellias can be grown in full sun, partial or even full shade. Dappled shade is perhaps ideal especially for white flowering forms. Camellia shrubs are known to thrive quite well underneath Pine and Oak trees due to the naturally acidic soil around these types of trees. Basically, a Camellia will grow well wherever a n Azalea will thrive. When planting a Camellia bush, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and once the bush is centered in the middle of the hole be sure to fill in the hole with compost, and a good prepared soil mix.

Zone hardiness:
Camellias can grow in zones 7-9. Many new cultivators have developed varieties that can tolerate zones further north.

Camellias can be pruned almost any time of the year but ideally can be pruned lightly after it is done blooming.

Newly planted Camellias do well with regular watering that keeps the soil moist. Do not over water or keep the plant soggy. Normal annual rainfall is well tolerated, however, when there is extremely hot and dry weather a Camellia should be watered during those times to keep it healthy.

Pests and diseases:
Camellias are prone to tea scale. Tea scale are small insects that have cotton like masses underneath the leaves and the presence of yellow blotches on the top side of leaves. If left untreated the bush will not thrive. Use of a systemic insecticide is preferred. Camellias can become subjected to root rot as well if it is grown in soil that is too damp or is over watered.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weeds in your garden

Yellow Dandelion

If you have been dismayed by the presence of weeds in your garden, there are some things you can do to eliminate their taking over.
1. Use pre emergent herbicide
2. Make sure your lawn is completely dry between waterings to slow weed growth
3. Don't cut your grass too short, weeds germinate in the top most layer of your garden soil. Grass that is allowed to grow to 2 to 3 inches will inhibit weeds from thriving.
4, When establishing your lawn, use weed free seed.
5.  A healthy lawn is one of the best defenses against weeds, Use Root Maximizer, Kelp Meal and EM-1 for best results with your lawn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to keep Boston Ferns alive all summer

Boston FernsBoston Ferns (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

Boston Ferns are some of the most beautiful easy to grow hanging plants around. During the hottest months, they can dry out and die without proper care. The most important thing they need is in the form of lighting and watering. Once you figure out what they need they are a welcome addition to any yard, porch or landscape.
Step 1
First things first, once you get your fern home from the store you want to stick your finger in the soil and go around the perimeter of the pot. If you feel a lot of roots, and very little soil your plant is probably root bound and needs a larger pot. Go atleast two sizes up, and use a good potting soil mix with a slow release feed.
Step 2
After repotting your fern, hang it in a an area out of direct sunlight. It thrives on a area that has some shade and good circulation. Keep your Boston ferns looking their best with a trim and keep them free of debris and dead fronds.
Step 3
Give your fern a good drink of water after re-potting. Boston ferns need really good drainage, and at the same time are thirsty plants. To keep them beautiful big and lush all through the hot months is to water every two days. Drenching them with a sprayer is the best way to ensure they have gotten a good dose of water. An occasional shot of liquid fertilizer or feeding will keep them going too.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oak trees in danger in South Carolina

Tree with sunlight streamingTree with sunlight streaming (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

Trees in the south have to be  strong. They face environmental stresses that can take them down quickly or have them struggling for centuries. Many diseases prey on trees that have been damaged from lightening strikes, wind, heat, and low rainfall averages.

Oak trees are no exception, and botanists and homeowners alike have seen an acceleration of death taking place with the giant oak trees and it is due to the fungus hypoxylon canker. Unfortunately, once there is signs of this fungus present on your tree, it is too late to do anything to save the tree.

If the tree is large and next to a structure, it is a good idea to have it removed as the fungus will eventually make the branches weak and damage to any surrounding structures will occur.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Caring for Azaleas in your garden

Gorgeous pink AzaleasGorgeous pink Azaleas (Photo credit: dawnella66)

Azaleas can be a truly spectacular show of color in your landscape. While they aren't the most difficult plant to care for, they do have a few requirements that will ensure better results. There are very few yards in the south that don't have at least one Azalea. If you are a novice gardener, this shrub may be the one to try out. Inexpensive and usually easy to grow, it's an easy way to add beauty and color to your landscape.

  1. Research Azaleas before you buy. A little research can go a long way when it comes to investing in your landscape. Ask questions from your local nurseries and find out which variety you are most likely to have success with. 

  2. Plant Azaleas in a partially shaded location. Ideally it is best to plant Azaleas in early Spring or Fall. Azaleas do well in zones 6 through 8, however many have success in slightly cooler and warmer zones, when they apply more specific care to the shrub.

  3. Make sure dig a hole that is twice as large as the root ball of your Azalea.

  4. To ensure a good start, replace garden soil from your newly dug hole with Miracle grow garden soil mix specifically for all types of deciduous, evergreen, and flowering trees and shrubs. 

  5. Azaleas prefer an acidic soil with a ph level at about 5.5. Have your soil tested if you aren't sure.

  6. Once your Azalea is planted, be sure to give it a long deep drink of water. This eliminates air bubbles and settles the fresh soil. Water like this every day for about two weeks to help your Azalea settle into its new environment. 

  7. Add your mulch. Use fine shredded pine bark mulch, and/or pine straw around the base of your Azalea. Leave a little space between the base of the plant and the mulch. 
Bright red AzaleasBright red Azaleas (Photo credit: dawnella66)

Tip: Drive around your immediate neighborhood area and observe what results others are having with their Azaleas. If you see great results, take note of where the Azaleas are located. If you feel extra friendly stop and ask your neighbor what variety they are growing. Make sure to compliment their yard Most gardeners love the positive feedback for their efforts and don't mind sharing their advice with you.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

The Eastern Redbud tree for your garden

Eastern Red bud tree
Eastern Red bud tree

One tree that will bring a beautiful boost of color to your spring garden is the Eastern Red Bud tree also known as the Judas Tree. This is the state tree of Oklahoma and with good reason. It is a beautiful and welcome site that Spring is on the way with its lovely bright purple flowers that arrive early in the Spring. One lovely trait of these trees in addition to the purple blossoms are the beautiful, large heart shaped leaves.

Eastern Red bud tree

A small tree with a sturdy upright trunk which divides into stout branches that usually spread to form a broad flat head. Found on rich bottom lands throughout the Mississippi River valley; will grow in the shade and often becomes a dense undergrowth in the forest. You will see these trees growing in abundance in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas.

The Eastern Red bud is hardy as far north as zone 4, grows rapidly and an ideal ornamental tree. It has low water requirements and displays a high tolerance to salt and alkali soils. One variety that you may want to check out when selecting a Red bud tree is the beautiful weeping Red bud tree which is available at the *link at the end of this article.

Red bud care and specifications:

Hardiness Zones:  4 to 9
Height:  30 ft
Spread:  25 ft -30 ft
Form:  rounded
Type:  deciduous tree
Annual Growth Rate:  12 to 20 inches
Light:  Full sun to partial shade
Moisture:  Grows best in moist soil
Flowers:  Purplish-pink small and grow along the branch

Caring for Red buds:

Soil type:  Red buds can grow in almost any garden soil, preferring soil that is a little on the moist side.

Lighting:  They do well planted near other trees that can filter some of the sunlight so that they have a partial shaded environment.

Pruning:  Pruning lower branches helps the the Eastern Red bud develop a lovely crowned top and always remove dead, damaged limbs. Pruning should be done in late Winter or early Spring before the blooms appear.

Fertilizing:  Slow release light fertilizer

Diseases and pests:  Red buds are sometimes prone to caterpillar infestations and do well to have a preventative spraying of borer spray. Fungicides can also be used where there may be leaf spots and can be applied mid to late Spring ideally.

*Spring Hill Nursery Lavender Twist Weeping Red bud

For more information on Southern gardening, see: The Southern Garden

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