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Posts Tagged: garden

Seed Buying Tips: When and How Much to Order

Are you getting ready for your upcoming gardening season and wondering when to buy seeds and how much to order? In this guide, we’ll provide you with valuable insights to help you plan your seed purchases effectively. From the ideal timing to the quantity of seeds you should consider, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in!

When to Order Seeds:
Timing is crucial when it comes to ordering seeds for your garden. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, securing your seeds early can make a significant difference in your gardening success. Here’s why it’s essential not to procrastinate:

  1. Best Selection: If you want access to the widest variety of seeds, it’s wise to place your order as soon as possible. Popular seed varieties tend to sell out quickly, so being an early bird ensures that you get your hands on the best options available. Don’t miss out on the chance to grow your dream garden by waiting too long to order.
  2. Avoiding Sold-Out Varieties: Imagine eagerly planning to grow a specific vegetable or flower variety only to find out it’s already sold out when you decide to order. To prevent this disappointment, act promptly and secure your desired seeds before they become scarce.

How Much to Order:
Now that you know when to order seeds let’s discuss how to determine the right quantity for your garden. Many home gardeners find that one or two seed packets per variety are sufficient, but it’s essential to tailor your seed order to your specific needs. Consider these factors when determining the quantity of seeds to purchase:

  1. Garden Size: The size of your garden plays a significant role in determining how many seeds you should order. Larger gardens will naturally require more seeds to fill the space adequately. Calculate the planting area and plan accordingly to ensure you have enough seeds to cover it.
  2. Crop Varieties: Different crops have varying spacing and growth requirements. Some plants need more space between them, while others can be planted closer together. Be sure to research the recommended spacing for each crop you intend to grow to estimate the number of seeds required.
  3. Succession Planting: If you plan on practicing succession planting, where you sow seeds at different times to extend your harvest throughout the season, you’ll need extra seeds. Factor in the additional quantities needed for successive plantings when placing your order.

Using Left-Over Seeds:
Many gardeners often find themselves with leftover seeds from previous seasons. While it’s tempting to use them, there are some essential considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Seed Longevity: Not all seeds have the same shelf life. While some plant varieties produce seeds that can remain viable for centuries, most do not. For instance, beans, grains, and corn generally have longer shelf lives, but hybridized versions may not. Always check the expiration date on old seed packets, and if they’re past their prime, it’s best to discard them.
  2. Pre-Season Germination Test: If you’re unsure about the viability of old seeds, you can perform a pre-season germination test. Plant a few seeds of each variety indoors in a sand/peat mix. If they fail to germinate, it’s a clear sign that the seeds have lost their viability. It’s better to discover this before planting them in your garden, as using non-viable seeds can lead to wasted time and effort during the short growing season in regions like Colorado.

Harvested Seeds from Last Year’s Garden:
While using seeds harvested from last year’s garden may seem like a sustainable and cost-effective option, there are some potential downsides to consider:

  1. Hybridization: Plants in your garden may cross-pollinate with each other, leading to mixed seeds. For example, if you plant seeds from last year’s pumpkin that grew next to your zucchini, this year’s fruit may turn out to be a surprise, looking nothing like the previous season’s prize pumpkin. While this can be exciting, it’s essential to be aware of the potential variations.

Heirloom Varieties:
Heirloom varieties are a special category of seeds that have been cherished for generations due to their historical significance and unique characteristics. Here’s what you need to know about them:

  1. Preservation of Tradition: Heirloom seeds are the old, beloved plants that have been passed down through generations, sometimes tracing their roots back to colonial times. These seeds have not undergone hybridization and remain true to their original characteristics.
  2. Saving Heirloom Seeds: One of the remarkable aspects of heirloom seeds is their ability to produce offspring that stay true to the parent plant. As long as heirlooms have not cross-pollinated with other varieties in your garden, you can collect and save their seeds for future seasons.
  3. Isolation for Purity: To maintain the purity of heirloom varieties season after season, it’s essential to isolate them from non-heirloom plants in your garden. This ensures that cross-pollination doesn’t occur, preserving the unique traits of these cherished plants.

When it comes to ordering seeds for your garden, timing is crucial, and planning ahead can help you secure the best selection. Consider factors such as the size of your garden, crop varieties, and succession planting when determining how many seeds to order. While using leftover seeds is possible, it’s essential to assess their viability through germination tests and pay attention to potential cross-pollination issues. Lastly, heirloom varieties provide an opportunity to preserve tradition and unique characteristics, but they require isolation to maintain their purity. Happy gardening, and may your upcoming season be filled with bountiful harvests and beautiful blooms!

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Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

A Comprehensive Guide to Ice Melt Usage and Plant Safety


Introduction: As winter brings its frosty embrace, many homeowners find themselves in the familiar routine of scooping and sprinkling sidewalks with ice melt to ward off slippery pathways. While this practice is essential for safety, it’s crucial to be aware that most ice melt materials contain significant amounts of salt, posing a potential threat to the health of plants in your yard. In this guide, we’ll explore the impact of salt on soil and plants and provide effective strategies to protect your yard without compromising safety.

The Salt Dilemma: The common misconception among homeowners is the unawareness of the salt content in most ice melt materials. The repeated use of these products during winter can lead to the accumulation of salt in the soil, causing detrimental effects on plants. The salt, once absorbed by the soil, has the potential to dry out plants from their roots, ultimately affecting their overall health.

Protecting Your Yard:

  1. Moderation is Key: One effective strategy is to use ice melt products sparingly. Apply them only where needed on sidewalks, understanding that less can indeed be more. By targeting specific areas, you minimize the risk of excessive salt exposure to your yard.
  2. Contain the Salt: Keep ice melt on walkways and prevent it from spreading into your yard. Allow the ice melt to naturally evaporate rather than sweeping puddles of salty water into planting areas. After the ice has melted, ensure thorough cleanup by sweeping up and disposing of any remaining ice melt.
  3. Prevent Ice Accumulation: Consider addressing factors that contribute to ice accumulation, such as poor drainage. By improving drainage in your yard, you can reduce the need for heavy ice melt application in the first place. This proactive approach not only safeguards your plants but also minimizes the environmental impact of excessive salt use.
  4. Post-Winter Flush: If you suspect an area of your landscape has been over-salted, consider flushing it with water once the weather warms up. This helps in diluting the salt concentration in the soil. Additionally, obtaining a soil test can provide valuable insights into whether salt is the cause of any plant damage, helping you make informed decisions.
  5. Strategic Plant Placement: Evaluate areas that are prone to salt exposure or have been damaged by ice melt in the past. Consider adjusting the planting area or moving plants to safer locations. Mulching these vulnerable areas and using plant containers can act as a protective barrier, preventing direct contact with salt-laden soil.

Conclusion: As you navigate through the winter months, striking a balance between safety and plant health becomes crucial. By adopting these proactive measures and understanding the potential impact of salt on your yard, you can ensure a safer environment for your neighbors and visitors while preserving the well-being of your cherished plants. Remember, holding the salt is not just a plea from your plants; it’s a mindful choice that safeguards the beauty and vitality of your yard.

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Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado


Fireproof your landscape

Credit: Colorado State University Extension – Fire-Resistant Landscaping – 6.303


Homeowners need to know how landscaping can help protect their homes.

Planting and maintaining a “defensible space” of a landscape is more difficult to ignite and can offer significant fire protection.

Steps to become more fire-wise with your landscapes:

  • Avoid placing plants too close together.

Spacing plants apart from one another keeps the fire from traveling between them or “climbing” up smaller bushes into the more flammable branches of nearby trees.

  • Remove flammable debris. 

Dead trees, shrubs, and small plants growing close to or underneath larger trees will fuel a fire and should be removed.

Keep gutters clean, and make sure plants are well-watered.

Mow natural grasses and weeds to six inches or less within 30 feet of structures to prevent flames from traveling across a yard.

  • Replace flammable landscaping with fire-resistant plants and mulch. 

Incorporating perennials instead of low-moisture shrubs and using gravel instead of bark mulch can provide better fire barriers to a home.

Fire-resistant plants are high in moisture, have fewer leaves or needles, stay close to the ground, and do not require significant pruning and re-seeding following a fire. Pavers, concrete, and brick are best for patios.

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Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

Container Gardens for All Ages and Abilities

Many people live where they don’t have space for a garden. A container garden is the perfect solution for all ages and all abilities. Almost anything can be grown in a container, except a large tree.

One of the most manageable containers is a hanging basket. There are so many available, you can purchase one already done, or you can customize it and put it together yourself. You can even grow vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, or strawberries in a hanging basket.

Someone with limited space can have beauty and function with a mixed container of veggies and flowers. Containers can have vertical elements like tomatoes, pole beans, and vines like Clematis or morning glory. The center can also be something bushy like a pepper plant.

You can have carrots or lettuce around the vertical element and a cucumber, tiny pumpkin,
or trailing flowers like verbena, or calibrachoa, or make it all edible with edible flowers like nasturtium.

How to create a quick combo planter perfect for right outside the door.

  1.     Choose the container and make sure it has proper drainage.
  2.     Fill the container with good potting soil
  3.     Choose plants that have compatible growing needs – Sun vs. shade, more water or less, etc.
  4.     Put plants in – thriller, spiller, chiller – can be centered or tall in back, short in front.
  5.     Water well
  6.     Mulch
  7.     Fertilize a couple of weeks later.

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Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

Plant some sunshine

plant some sunflowers
  • There’s still time to plant some sunflowers in your landscape. The National Garden Bureau named 2021 the Year of the Sunflower, and with good reason. This cheerful plant is always a popular cut flower, and it’s rather easy to grow.

Some facts about sunflowers:

  • They are native to North America, so they are well-suited to grow here.
  • They provide both nectar and seeds, making them a great plant for pollinators.
  • The flowers move to face the sun, a process called heliotropism.

According to CSU’s PlantTalk, sunflower care is simple. They do best in full sun for 6+ hours each day and should be planted approximately 6-12” apart. Since many sunflower varieties are natives, they are often drought tolerant. Water deeply but infrequently for best results.

Click “DO IT FOR ME” to request a FREE quote.

Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

Prep for hail

Late spring is hail season in Colorado. It’s good to know what precautions you can take ahead of time and what you can do for plants after hail has dealt its blows.

Minimize damage if you can

  • Be prepared by placing buckets or old planting pots close to the garden so you can grab them quickly to cover plants when a storm rolls in, or set them in place before you go to bed if you expect a storm overnight.
  • Put heavy container plants that are beyond the patio or porch roof on wheeled bases so they can easily be moved under cover.
  • Have copper soap or a similar copper fungicide on hand to spray on plants right after the damage. It keeps fungus from getting into the open wounds. Just like you put antiseptic on a cut finger, you need to apply it ASAP—within minutes or a few hours after the storm for the best effect.

Hail-damaged veggies and annuals

When plants are shredded by hail, do remedial work. You should prune off shredded leaves and broken stems on most plants. Here are some specifics:

  • Flowering annuals with no remaining foliage will probably not recover and should be replanted. If there is some foliage left on petunias, they may survive. When they are damaged early in the season, there is time for them to recover so it’s worth trying to nurse them back to health.
  • Early vegetable root crops such as carrots left without foliage won’t recover. They need green leaves to produce energy to grow.
  • Leafy vegetables may recover, but if you see no signs of new growth after a week or so, replant.

How to trim back damaged plants

  • Keep as many of the remaining leaves as possible. If half or more of the leaf is intact, keep it at least a little while so it can create energy for the plant.
  • Remove branches, leaves and stems that are broken or badly shredded.
  • If the top of a plant is shredded—for example, a tomato plant—clip the plant down to where there are healthy leaves.
  • Spray the cuts or broken places as soon as possible with a copper product. Copper, commonly found in fungicides, will help keep diseases from entering the plants. Caution: read the label before applying any product on veggies.
  • Wait to fertilize for a week or so when the plant shows signs of new growth. Use a liquid or granular fertilizer.
  • Minimize stress on the plants by watering consistently and evenly without over- or under-watering.

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Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

Ergonomic gardening

Ergonomic gardening tips

Gardening and landscape care can be a healthy hobby that helps us get outdoors and moving around. But proper form is important to avoid discomfort or injury.

Vary activities and tasks frequently and include rest periods in between to help reduce the strain from repetitive motions. If hands start to tingle or the wrist and fingers hurt or feel numb, this is a signal to take a break and switch to a different task.

Monitor positions and posture while gardening. Orienting the body incorrectly or uncomfortably even for just a moment can lead to pain and injury. For example, lift with the legs instead of the back.

Chose ergonomic tools. Small hand tools such as cultivators, weeding devices and pruners and even larger implements come in an assortment of ergonomic models. There are also tools for left-handed people and special tools developed for people with arthritis.

Simple tips to keep your hands more comfortable and pain-free during the season ahead:

  • During cooler periods such as early spring, garden during the warmest time of the day as cooler temps can impact movement and aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Use wrist supports to keep the wrist in a neutral or immobilized position.
  • Avoid pushing with the thumb whenever possible.
  • Avoid pounding or pushing with your hands.
  • Use a full grip when you pick up and move tools, containers and other materials instead of pinching and lifting them with your fingers.

Rely on a drip irrigation system to water the garden and a sprinkler system throughout your landscape to water the lawn and other plants. This relieves you of the chore of grabbing onto and dragging hoses around the yard and attaching/un-attaching the sprinklers. The time saved on watering alone will give you more time to relax. Your muscles and joints will appreciate the break in the action to recover from those gardening tasks you absolutely need to do.

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Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

Children Benefit from Gardening

Children benefit from gardening


  • Children who grow their own vegetables are five times more likely to eat them, according to a 2015 study. Whether it’s at school or at home, gardening can benefit their health and wellbeing in many ways.
  • Consider involving your children in planning your garden, and garden alongside them when it’s time to plant. A 2005 study found that elementary school children who participated in gardening activities scored much better on science achievement exams compared to those who did not do any gardening activities. Those who worked in the garden with their parents were more likely to eat more vegetables as they grow older.
  • Let them select veggies, herbs, and flowers they would like to grow. Get them involved early in the process to increase their investment and help them learn. Planning a garden can help them practice math skills and expose them to the science of plants.
  • Teach them the value of veggies. At harvest time, weigh some of your harvests and write down how many pounds of zucchini, tomatoes, or other vegetables your young gardener has grown. Then go to the grocery store or grocery store app, find the current price of these items and help them do the math. Turn a math exercise into a source of pride knowing they’ve grown $5 in green beans.
  • Gardening connects us with Mother Nature, influences environmental stewardship, and is an ongoing lesson in a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition. Plus, children who spend time in green settings have improved creativity, imagination, cognitive function, and intellect.
  • In the remaining winter days, plan your garden and if you have children at home invite them to join you. You will all reap the benefits this summer and onward.

Click “DO IT FOR ME” to request a FREE quote.

Source: in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado


6 Secrets to a Lush, Green Lawn!

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