Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips

Click the categories below to reveal helpful gardening tips!

Garden Bed Preparation

  • Each Spring, cut back all perennials to ground level and remove this debris, plus any other debris including leaves that are not yet decaying (some decaying leaves and other matter may be blended into the soil).
  • Remove all root masses for old weeds. For annuals from the previous season, you may break them up and blend with the soil.
  • Scarify the soil and add organic matter such as peat moss, compost or manure to your planting bed. Successful planting means preparing the soil in such a manner so as to easily allow the roots for your new plantings to grow into the soil. Hard soil, such as is found in clay soils, makes it difficult for new plantings to thrive.
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  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide such as Preen to the garden area before weeds begin to emerge. This timing may be either before or after your new plantings, but it must be applied before the weed seeds emerge.
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  • Apply an organic mulch (like wood chips) to the planting bed. This helps prevent weeds and also keeps your soil cool and moist for healthier plants of all types (annuals, perennials, woody shrubs and trees).
  • Apply a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote at the base of all new and existing plantings. Without fertilizing, plants will not thrive and live up to their full potential. This is especially important is sandy soil types such as we have in Anoka County.
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  • Later in the season if you encounter too many weeds to pull within your planting bed, carefully apply a post emergent herbicide such as Roundup to the actual weed(s). BE CAREFUL not to get any Roundup on your plantings (do not apply on a breezy day).

Planting

  • Follow Garden Bed Preparation before planting. For single plants, the soil preparation guidelines apply to the soil surrounding new individual plants.
  • Keep your new potted plants cool and moist before planting.
  • Dig the hole deep and wide enough to allow for the addition of soil amendments and space for adjusting the plant in the hole so that the plant can be planted straight.
  • Blend from 25% - 50% amended soil into the soil you have dug at the site of the new planting. Then, add some of this amended soil into the bottom of your planting hole.
  • Remove the plant from the container and scarify some of the roots from the root mass allowing them to grow into the surrounding soil and not in a circle as they have been growing in the container.
  • Gently place the root ball into the hole. Make sure the root collar (where the roots end and the plant stem begins) is at the surface of the surrounding soil level. DO NOT PLANT TOO DEEP!
  • Backfill the hole with your amended soil, gently compacting the soil as you fill the hole. As you add the last 2 - 3 inches of soil, incorporate slow release fertilizer (Osmocote) as directed on package.
  • When the planting is complete, add 2" - 6" of organic wood mulch - less for annuals and perennials, more for trees. This mulch will keep your soil cool and moist during our hot summer season.
  • Finally, water the new planting. Do not overwater, but thoroughly soak the soil and mulch

General Flower Care

  • Choose the proper planting site that will provide your plant selection with the required light period; Full sun=6+ hours of light (direct sun), Partial sun=5-6 hours of light and shade=less than 5 hours of light. For instance, plant geraniums in full sun and impatiens in shady areas.
  • Plant cool season annuals and most perennials from late April to early May (most years).
  • Plant warm season annuals after the last frost date, typically May 15th - Memorial Day Weekend.
  • For best success, water immediately after planting (see planting instructions).
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  • Do not overwater. Most bacterial diseased favor the cool wet conditions. Bonide prides an excellent line of fungicides to proven to be effective against many plant diseases. Note: Fungicides are used as a preventative and are not designed to cure an infection that is already in place.
  • For most annuals, water about 1" of water per week over 2 - 3 waterings. An adequate level of organic mulch will allow for longer periods of time between waterings.

Lawn Care

  • If lawn thatch exceeds 1/4" - 1/2", rake thatch (old brown grass material found at the soil surface) out of the lawn in late spring - typically mid to late May depending upon the weather. If you rake too early, you risk damaging tender, emerging lawn roots.
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  • Especially in sandy soils such as those in Anoka County, fertilize at least twice per year - Spring and Fall with a high quality lawn fertilizer such as Greenview. We recommend a 'weed & feed' formula which contains a pre-emergent herbicide to control weeds. When using this type of fertilizer, you need to fertilize just before the weeds emerge when the soil temperature reaches 55 degree. If you apply the pre-emergent too late, the weeds will have already sprouted and the herbicide will have no affect.
  • When fertilizing with less expensive fertilizers, 3 applications per season is recommended, Spring, Summer and Fall.
  • Crabgrass Control: Crabgrass control needs to be applied as a pr-emergent (see above). We recommend Greenview crabgrass prevention. This is also the best time to apply preventative fungicide controls for your lawn such as Bonide 'Infuse' systemic control.
  • The very best thing you can do to assure a beautiful, healthy lawn is to insure that your lawn receives 1" of water each and every week! This is difficult in the sandy soils of Anoka County and we highly recommend the installation of an automatic lawn sprinkler system. A properly designed and installed system will keep your lawn green and healthy and will also conserve water.
  • When mowing, do not cut too short. We recommend you set your mower to the height of 2 1/2" in the early spring and fall, and at least 2 3/4" during the hot summer.

Moles

  • These creatures can do a tremendous amount of damage in a short period of time - and they multiply like bunnies! Immediate action needs to be taken!
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  • We highly recommend Tomcat Mole Killer to control these pests. It is the only method we have found that works immediately and 100% of the time (when done properly).

To use Tomcat:

  1. In the early evening, walk along the mole mound tracks to flatten them out.
  2. The next morning, look for where the fresh tracks are located; this is where the mole is.
  3. Using your finger to make a hole in the busiest two locations of the track, poke your finger through the soft tracked soil and swish it around to make the hole large enough to allow for easy insertion of the Tomcat 'worm'.
  4. Put a Tomcat worm into the hole and gently push closed, the hole you've made (so that the mole doesn't suspect anything).
  5. Later that evening, walk along these same 'new' tracks and flatten them out. 9 times out of 10, the creature has gone off to his 'heavenly reward'. If not, repeat the steps above.

  • If your neighbor has moles, convince him/her to get with the program and buy some Tomcat Mole Killer. If they do not do so, their moles (and their offspring) will soon be in your yard again.

Deer/Rabbit

  • Most deer and rabbit damage occurs in the in the early spring before full foliage has occurred. However, they can be damaging all season long where there is a high concentration of these creatures.
  • Since the damage caused by either animal is similar in appearance, look for tracks left behind by the animal to further identify which animal is causing the damage.
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  • Hot pepper spray is very effective in controlling feeding damage by rabbits. However, this spray will wash off in a heavy rain or continual watering from garden sprinklers.
  • Bonide 'Sho-Gun Repels All' animal repellent has proven to provide effective control for browsing deer and rabbits.

Tree Care

  • Early Spring and early Fall are the best times to fertilize your trees.
    • For young trees, we recommend Osmocote time release fertilizer.
    • For larger trees, we recommend fertilizer spikes. These spikes are 'nailed' into the soil at the dripline of the larger trees (greater that 2" in diameter). Apply one spike for every 2" of diameter of tree. Example: a larger 8" diameter tree requires four - equally spaced spikes at the dripline. There are different Spikes for deciduous, evergreen and fruit trees).
  • We cannot stress how important fertilization is to the good growth of trees. Trees will grow up to twice as fast when they are properly fertilized and watered.
  • Proper pruning of newly planted and young trees will make a huge difference in the look and health of the trees when they mature. Crossed branches, close forks, dead branches and branches that grow toward the tree trunk need to be properly removed. Our Landscape Care Arborists provide this service if you are not comfortable with this important technical task.
  • In many cases, medium sized and mature trees need periodic pruning. In addition to looking stately and beautiful, a mature tree with an 'open' crown will allow strong winds to pass through it minimizing the risk of a huge branch breaking off or even toppling the entire tree! Our Arborists are trained and fully insured to perform the dangerous task of pruning large specimen trees.
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  • Bonide Copper Fungicide is highly effective against many bacterial diseases common to trees and must be applied before signs of infection occur.
  • Tree disease and pest diagnosis can be difficult. When in question, you may bring an infected branch to the Garden Center for diagnosis or have one of our Certified Arborist's visit your site for evaluation and control recommendations.
    • Oak Wilt, Emerald Ash Bore (EAB) and Dutch Elm diseases are preventable. We apply preventatives for each of these problems. Contact our Landscape Care professionals.
  • Trees need LOTS OF WATER. You may notice that the grass is not very healthy underneath a large shade tree. The reason for this is lack of light AND lack of water. The solution: Properly thin the trees' crown and water. A large tree may transpire more than 300 gallons of day on a hot dry day in July. Water a lot under these trees!
  • In the Fall:
    • Remove fallen leaf litter to avoid diseases.
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    • Newly planted trees such as all fruit trees and maples need to be wrapped with Tree Wrap in the fall to avoid Sun Scald - which is a large split in the trunk on the South or Southwest side of the tree. Remove the tree wrap in the Spring after there is no threat of snow (by mid May).