April Showers Bring May Flowers

Even though spring may be rainy, now is the time to start thinking about how your garden will get watered in the hot dry summer months.  Do you already have an irrigation system? You may want to call up and have it activated now.  The best time to activate is after threat of a hard freeze is past.  If you are planning to add additional plantings this season or were not happy with coverage last season, adjustments and additions may be done now.

If you do not currently have an irrigation system there are many reasons you should think about getting one.  A professionally installed irrigation system protects your landscape investment by offering consistent and convenient watering of plants.  Plants that receive regular irrigation are healthier and have less drought stress than those that do not.   Hand held hoses or sprinklers are not a reliable source of irrigation and take time to set up.  Wouldn’t you rather be spending your time doing other things?

There is a new generation of irrigation controllers on the market now that will automatically adjust watering depending on the weather.  It will take data like temperature, wind, exposure, and soil type and determine the proper watering for your site.   These controllers will guard against over watering, thus saving you money in the long run. 

How do I Love thee?  Let me count the ways….

There is so much to love about mulch.  Mulch is a work horse in the garden.  Maintaining a layer of 1-3” of mulch around trees and in planting beds conserves water, protects root zones, suppresses weeds, adds organic matter to the soil, prevents soil erosion,  andkeeps beds looking neat and tidy.

There are many different types of materials used for mulch, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Dyed mulch, either red or black, is sometimes popular for its contrasting color in the landscape. The problem with dyed mulches is that many of them may contain dyes or questionable wood products that could be harmful to your plants.  In addition, the dye fades over time.

Licorice root mulch, sold at many garden centers, is a nice choice. It is a natural product and has a nice dark brown or black color.  Licorice root mulch is mostly sold as a bagged product. There are some suppliers that sell it in bulk, but it can be more expensive than other mulches. Consequently, if you are mulching a large area, it may be cost prohibitive.

Cocoa mulch is also sold in garden centers. This product is NOT recommended, as it contains theobromine, the chemical found in chocolate that is extremely toxic to pets.

Cedar mulch is a natural insect repellant and does not break down as quickly as other natural mulch.   Cedar mulch is usually more expensive, and can be lighter in color.

Pine straw is great around evergreens and other acid loving plants.

It is not as attractive as wood based mulches and may not be appropriate for all plantings.

Triple shredded hardwood mulch is highly recommended; we use it almost exclusively.   It is a natural product, has a nice dark brown color, adds organic matter to the soil and is budget friendly.   

Early spring is a great time to apply mulch.  After a good spring clean up of the beds, mulch right away to inhibit weed growth.