Grass Got the Summertime Blues?

You’ve been watering your grass all summer long and it may look bleached out.

Make it look like spring again with Ironite!  This granular iron product is simple to apply to your lawn and will make your lawn or plants turn green – not overnight but almost.ironite-fertilizer-mineral-supplement-canada-reviews-broadcast-spreader-settings

You might ask, why not just use some fertilizer?  DON’T!!!  Applying fertilizer to your lawn at this time of the year can burn your grass and can easily stripe your yard.

The Importance of Iron

Plants need iron and cannot properly create chlorophyll without it. This results in poor growth because chlorophyll plays an important role in photosynthesis.  Chlorophyll also gives plants their green color, and the primary symptom of iron deficiency are leaves that are yellow between their veins.

ironite-lawn-fertilizer-hi-yield-iron-plus-grassHow to Apply

A 10 pound bag covers 5000 sq feet and is easily applied with a spreader.

HINT:

Combine a granular ant killer with the Ironite into your spreader and get a 2 for 1 punch.

The Best Small Trees for Your Yard

chastetreeChaste Tree

One of our favorite trees!  Who wouldn’t want a tree that has blue flowers throughout the summer?  This fast growing tree is known as a “Texas Superstar” for how well it performs and the Texas Department of Transportation uses them in landscape designs on highways throughout the state.  It is deer resistant, prefers full sun, is drought tolerant and likes well draining soil.  If you trim off the spent seed pods you will be rewarded with another bloom cycle in late summer to early Fall.

 

Crape Myrtlestuscarora1-400_grande

These summer blooming trees come in 4 main colors – white, pink, red and purple.  There are many different varieties available from trees that mature at a height of 10’ to those that reach 25’.  They bloom best when planted in full sun and can be planted as a stand alone specimen plant or in groupings.  For something different try planting 2 or 3 small plants of different colors in the same hole – it will look like 1 tree that has different color blooms.  You see them lining driveways and is another staple tree used by DOT.

 

japmapJapanese Maple

If you have a shady spot, consider planting a Japanese Maple.  Whether you choose an upright variety or a graceful weeper they add an array of fall color to your garden.  These are slower growing trees who require well-draining soil and will tolerate morning sun but like afternoon shade in our Texas summers.

 

Teddy Bear or Little Gem Magnoliateddybear

Enjoy the fragrant white flowers of the stately Southern Magnolia but on a much smaller tree.  Both are shorter varieties with the Teddy Bear being more compact of the 2.  Grows best in full sun, but is a slower growing tree.  Part of its appeal is that it is evergreen and does not drop its leaves in the Fall.

 

PinkRoseofSharonTree_400_1-01_grandeRose of Sharon

Many new hybrid varieties have been introduced within the past few years bringing about renewed interest in this old favorite.  They bloom in a variety of colors; white, pink, red, purple, throughout the summer months.  They will reach 10’ – 12’ tall and prefer full sun to partial sun for best performance.

 

 

Tulip Treetulipmagnolia

These pink to burgundy colored flowering trees bloom early in the spring.  They are a multi-trunk tree that is a slower growing tree but will eventually reach 15’ – 20’ tall and 15’ wide.  They are also called Saucer Magnolias and are actually a Magnolia but most people call them Tulip Tree due to the tulip shape of the bloom.

Mighty Mint: All About This Old-Fashioned Favorite

Mint, or mentha, is grown practically everywhere in the world; therefore, it makes appearances in almost every cuisine. This versatile culinary herb is delicious both dried and fresh.

So, why do people hate growing mint? Bring up the topic of mint with many a 2019-8-7 13.36.57.658gardener, and you’ll be greeted with a resounding, “Don’t plant mint! It will take over your yard!” With thoughtful preparation and placement, however, mint can be a wonderful and containable addition to your culinary garden.

Perennial or Annual?

Mint is a hardy perennial that is one of the first to arrive each spring. It also retains its potency of flavor over the years.

How to Plant Mint

  • Where: Mint performs its best in full sun if the soil is kept moist, but it also thrives in partial shade. Mint is considered an invasive plant, since it sends out “runners” and spreads vigorously. Don’t let that fact deter you from enjoying fresh mint in your garden. Opt to grow mint in containers or, if you want to plant mint in the ground, submerge it in a large container and leave about two inches of the rim exposed above the soil to prevent spreading.mint_PNG24
  • When: Plant mint at any time. Mint is sturdy and resilient. Don’t waste your time starting mint from seed.

How to Cultivate Mint

  • Soil: Mint thrives in moist, rich soil. To keep the soil moist, cover the soil with a little mulch.
  • Sun: Mint can grow in sun or part shade. If you are planting mint indoors, where it also performs well, make sure you place your container near a sunny window.
  • Water: Regular watering is really the only maintenance mint needs. Always keep the soil moist.

How to Harvest Mint

Mint is another herb that is easy to harvest, and can be harvested at any time. In fact, regular harvesting is encouraged, in order to prevent legginess. You may opt to harvest most of the plant at once, clipping away up to 2/3 of the length of the stems, or you may clip away only what you need.

Use these tips and you’ll be feeling MINTY-FRESH! 

Top 5 Shrubs to Use for Screening Purposes

  1. Elaeagnus – terrible name, great plant!  The silver-green leaf color gives you great contrast in your landscape.  Highly drought tolerant once established and can
    elaeagnus

    Elaeagnus

    handle almost any soil conditions.  They grow quickly to a 8’x8’ and taller and thrive in full sun or part sun.  They are DEER RESISTANT too!!

  2. Southern Wax Myrtle – Olive-green aromatic foliage makes this plant stand out along with the bluish berries
    wax myrtle (2)

    Wax Myrtle

    produced by the female plants. The standard size will reach 15 feet tall while the dwarf species reaches 6-8 feet tall.  It is drought tolerant once established and grows well in both moist and dry soil conditions.  n full sun or part shade.  They are DEER RESISTANT too!!

  3. Pineapple Guava – Beautiful, exotic red and white flowers bloom on this large shrub in the spring, followed by guava fruit in the fall. The leaves are light green,
    pineapple guava

    Pineapple Guava

    leathery with soft gray undersides.  It will grow to about 15’ – 20’ tall in full sun or partial sun.  Deer do not seem to bother these plants.

  4. Nellie R Stevens Holly – Very attractive holly with dark green, leathery foliage. Dense branching
    nellie r stevens

    ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly

    makes it an excellent hedge screen.  It produces large, bright orange-red berries in late Fall.  Fast growing tree/shrub reaching heights of 15’- 25’.  Grows well in sun or partial sun in both dry and moist soil conditions.

  5. Leyland Cypress – A fast-growing coniferous evergreen tree – up to 3’ of growth per year. Has a natural Christmas tree shape but
    leyland-cypress-5

    Leyland Cypress

    can be grown close together and trimmed as hedges.  Prefers full sun for best performance.  This tree can reach 50+ feet if left untrimmed.

How to Install a Disappearing Fountain (It’s Easier Than You Think!)

Disappearing Fountains – they offer relaxing sounds, a pleasant view for the eyes, and are a unique feature for any landscape. While they may look difficult to create, they are actually easier to put together than you think!

It is called a disappearing fountain because the water disappears into the rocks below, which disguises a basin below that holds the water and the pump. It’s a simple project to install, although it will take some time and some heavy lifting. It’s a great workout if your back can handle it. If you want the glory but not the grunt work, have someone dig out disappearing-water-fountain-2-disappearing-container-water-fountainthe hole for you—then you can set up the fountain! Get someone to help with the rocks if they are too heavy, or work on them in stages.

To install your disappearing fountain, you only need a few materials and a can-do attitude!

How to Install a Disappearing Fountain

Materials (all available at THGC)

  • Piece of Pottery of your choosing
  • Basin (which comes with a grate as well – size of your choosing)
  • Pump (you’ll need the appropriate GPH depending on pottery size)
  • Fountain Container Kit (if the items are purchased at THGC we will install this for you!)
  • Stones or Landscape Glass (to cover basin)

Preparing to Install a Disappearing Fountain

  • Measure the space for the basin. For example, if your basin is 45” x 45” x 14” deep, you’ll make the hole 48”x 48” x 15 inches deep.
  • Dig the hole for the basin. If the space is under mature trees, be mindful of the roots. Place the hole as far away from the tree as you can, and even then, be careful with the roots.
  • Tamp down the soil where the basin will go. You’ll want the hole to be level in all directions.

Install the Disappearing Fountain

Now you are ready to add the basin to the hole and backfill the areas around it with soil to hold it in place.

pondlesspottery001Now is the time to install the Fountain Container Kit. If you purchase your materials from THGC we will do this step for you!
Take your desired piece of pottery for the fountain and drill a hole into the bottom to install your container kit tubing – you’ll then install fountain kit as per the instructions. Again, if the materials are purchased at THGC we will do this step for you.

  • Place the pump inside the basin and Attach the pump kit to the fountain pump as per the manufacturer’s directions.

Testing and Adjusting the Fountain

  • Test the fountain by filling the basin with water so that the pump is totally submerged.
  • Plug the pump into an electrical outlet. Ensure the outlet is reachable without an extension cord, if not install an outlet closer to the fountain or have an electrician do it for you.
  • Adjust the flow valves for each hose so that the water is flowing up the piece of pottery in a pleasing manner.

The Final Design Work (all optional, but GREAT ideas!)

  • Place lights around the fountain so that the water can shimmer at night as well as the spotlight the surrounding plants. I would also recommend LED lights inside the top holes of the fountain to remove some of the shadows.
  • Place 2”-6” river rocks, landscaping glass, etc. around the base of the fountain to cover the basin.
  • You can add large landscaping rocks into place creating a natural structure and add more river stones if desired.
  • Add plants to the garden beds around the fountain, to make it look like it has been there forever!

We have everything you need and MORE to create the Disappearing Fountain of your dreams at The Home & Garden Center! Come see us today to get started!

smooth-vase-fountain

 

 

Going “Bananas” for the Banana Tree Plant

Banana trees are one of the common trees that come to mind when dreaming of the tropics, but did you know that it is not really a tree? It is the world’s largest herb.transparent-banana-9

The trunk is composed of the main fruiting stem enrobed by leaves. Still, due to its size, it is commonly thought of as a tree.

How to Grow a Banana Tree

You may plant a single banana plant but you will end up with several – so choose a spot that will accommodate several plants.  There are different varieties available, the main difference being their height and leaf color.

The question we get the MOST is “Can my tree produce bananas?” Sadly, our growing season is not long enough to produce ripened bananas.  They will set fruit and it is most interesting to watch them change from the flower stage to bunches of small bananas.

  • Light

Banana plants prefer full sun.

  • Soil

The soil should be well-drained, deep, and organically amended. Slightly acidic soil (5.5 to 6.5 pH) is preferred.

  • Water

Since banana trees are tropical and hail from rain forests, they need a lot of water and plenty of moisture in the air. They do best when planted in groups rather than as single specimens. Being close together helps them retain moisture in the leaves. Provide 1 or 2 inches of water weekly or MORE (especially during the heat of July and August) and check frequently to make certain the soil stays evenly moist. Make sure they are not over-watered, so you do not develop root rot. The soil should always be moist but not soggy, if possible.

  • Temperature and Humidity

Bananas thrive in warm, humid conditions. When temperatures drop, growth slows down, and very cold temperatures cause plants to die back.  It is best to cut the plant down to ground level and cover with mulch for the winter.  Only in the extremist winters have we lost hardy banana plants due to prolonged below freezing temperatures.

  • Fertilizer

Banana plants should also be fertilized very well. Use a balanced fertilizer once a month. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the plant in a circle extending 4 to 8 feet from the trunk. Do not allow the fertilizer to come in contact with the trunk. Feed container plants on the same monthly schedule using about half the rate for outside plants.

What’s Mulch Got To Do With It?

Want to save $$ and water your flower beds less – maybe even 50% less?

Proper use of “nature’s moisturizer” – that’s what some call it, can make that big of a difference.  I’m talking about mulch – and that’s only one of the advantages of its use.mulch before and after

What is mulch?  It is any type of material that is spread over the surface of the soil.  Shredded wood, pine straw, shredded leaves, pecan hulls, gravel to name a few.

  • It is used to retain the moisture in the soil and to cut down on evaporation when spread at 3” deep.
  • Shielding plants’ roots from temperature extremes is also another benefit. Mulch provides protection from heat in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • By blocking out light to the soil it also discourages the growth of weeds.
  • It can add color and texture to the space between plants, giving a flower bed a finished look.

mulch 2The most asked question is, “How much mulch do I need for my bed?”

  1. Find the total square footage of the area: length X width = square footage.
  2. One cubic foot will cover 4 sq. ft. 3” deep.
  3. Ex: your bed measures 10 x 5 = 50 sq. ft.  50 divided by 4 = 12.5 cubic feet to cover the bed 3” deep.
  4. (Or you can call us and we can calculate it for you)

A word of caution, don’t mound mulch up on the trunk of trees or plants.  This will keep the trunks too moist and the plant will develop problems.

Shredded bark mulch can be purchased in bags or more economically by bulk loads.

Your mulch will decompose over time, so check to make sure you have good even coverage at the proper depth.  You can add an additional inch to thin existing mulch and gain another year of protection.