May flowers are here!

Late summer blooms.The heat of summer is finally setting in, but with all the rain we’ve had in April plants everywhere are just absolutely exploding. Now is the time to start setting in your annual color. For annuals, you’ll want to get “hardened” plants and not something just out of the greenhouse. They will need time to acclimate to the heat we’re just now experiencing.

For perennials if you’re a fan of coneflowers (Echinacia) now is the time to plant them. Lantanas are another great choice for heat loving perennials and they are definitely in stock at your local garden center. Lantanas are often mistaken for annuals, but don’t be discouraged if they seem to die completely away in the winter. They will die back to the ground and come back with the first heat of summer. Of course there are many other options for annual colors, such as pentas and violas as well.

For your lawn, if you’re considering adding sod, now is the ideal time. St. Augustine is a fantastic choice for full sun and heavy clay soils, but bermuda and zoysia will also work. For shady areas, Titan fescue is a fantastic option. Additionally, now is the perfect time to fertilize your lawn. We recommend an all nitrogen fertilizer along the lines of a 15-0-0. That being said, we highly advise against any “weed and feed” additives. They can severely hurt woody shrubs and trees.

Late summer blooms.While we’re discussing lawns, this is the time to inspect your St. Augustine for Take All Root Rot (TARR) which is a fungus that can decimate your lawn. You can identify this through a general “yellowing” of the grass, or if it is farther advanced you will notice bald spots and a general lack of structure of the root system which will appear dry and brittle. Acidification through a peat moss treatment, or chemicals such as aluminum sulfate will help your turf beat back the fungus. We recommend a minimum of 1” of peat moss well raked in so that the grass is poking through the layer.

Mulch seems to be a common topic that we discuss here, but it’s importance cannot be over emphasized. In addition to weed suppression, it plays a major role in helping the soil to retain moisture. That may not yet be a problem now, but once we get into June and July you’ll want all the help that you can get with soil moisture. If your existing mulch is more than a couple of years old you may consider raking out the old mulch and replacing it.

Along those same lines, if your irrigation system is not functioning properly this is the time to address repairs. The El Nino system that has blessed us with abundant rain this spring seems to be changing to a La Nina system, which means that natural rainfall will decrease through the end of the summer and into autumn and winter. It may just mean a little adjustment is needed for some spray heads, or perhaps a valve just needs to be rebuilt. Regardless, now is the time to address any irrigation problems before the Texas heat hits us in full force.

It certainly is an exciting time of year, and Desiree Gardens is always here to help. Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 817-202-4808, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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And remember, don’t forget to play in the dirt!

April is an exciting time for gardeners!

Late summer blooms.The warm weather is here at last, and it’s here to stay for a while. We’re completely free of any risk of frost, and if you haven’t gotten your spring planting done yet now is the time! Many of you have already seen the trees, shrubs, and other perennials begin to bud, bloom, and leaf out. Our late bloomers aren’t far behind. So, what do we need to focus on in April?

For your lawns, it’s too late now to apply a pre-emergent to prevent weeds, but you’ll have another opportunity in June. If you do have pesky weeds in your lawn you can still use a broadleaf weed killer with at least 1% 2,4-D but make sure to apply it only where needed early in the morning when there is little or no wind. Remember that it can damage or kill other plants and flowers in your garden beds. Now is also the time to apply an all-nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn to encourage growth and give it lush green leaves. When mowing, do not mow too low. If you lowered your mower to scalp your lawn last month remember to raise it up. Taller lawns create healthier grass and encourage better root growth.

This is the perfect time to plant all of your heat loving annual varieties from 4″ or 6″ pots, or from seedlings you started indoors earlier this year. Perennials should be started from quart or gallon pots. Annual varieties include purslane, lantana, pentas, purple fountain grass for your full sun gardens. In the shade you can add coleus, caladiums, and begonias. If you’re wanting to add a rose or two to your garden this is also a great time for that as well. We recommend varieties such as Earth-Kind, but other brands such as Knockout roses are also a good choice. For climbing roses it’s hard to go wrong with the stunning Joseph’s Coat or Peggy Martin, just remember that your climbers will need a trellis or some other support. Keep a close eye out for rose-rosette, also known as witches broom, which is an incurable virus that can quickly spread among rose plantings.

Late summer blooms.Once your spring flowering trees and shrubs are done for the season you can start pruning and shaping them. Wisteria, redbud, and dogwood trees should be pruned when the flowers drop. Wisteria should be pruned by hand to help it maintain a more natural look. For your trees you should remove any low hanging branches, water sprouts, hanging branches, or crossed branches. On your stone fruit trees such as peaches or plums you should keep the previous advice in mind but pay close attention to where fruit is setting. Judicious pruning will help the tree direct resources to the fruit that remains and produce larger fruits on those remaining.

As we noted earlier, weeds are returning along with the warm weather. Make sure to keep on top of weeds in any of your garden beds. Adding a layer of mulch after removing weeds helps immensely in weed suppression. Mulch also aids in moisture retention and soil temperature. This will become critically important as we move into the summer months when the hot Texas sun can dry everything while raising surface soil temperatures well above 130° in some cases. Along those same lines it is critically important to make sure your lawn and plants are receiving adequate water. New growth in the spring is heavily dependent on spring rains supplemented by your irrigation system. Modern sprinkler systems using ET (Evapotranspiration) controllers are one of the best ways to keep your plants properly hydrated. They tap into the internet and pull rainfall totals, humidity information, and more to precisely apply the amount of water needed. This not only helps your garden but can save you from a hefty water bill later this year. These modern systems can also be monitored and controlled from handy phone-based apps so that you can keep an eye on things no matter where you are.

It certainly is an exciting time of year, and Desiree Gardens is always here to help. Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 817-202-4808, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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March is here! Is it too early to start planting?

Late summer blooms.The first Texas bluebonnets are beginning to appear, and that can mean only one thing: The early spring has finally arrived. This is the time of year that we can begin planting frost hardy plants.

There is always a chance of a late spring frost, especially prior to Easter weekend. With each passing week however, the chance of a killing frost drops. For most areas of North Texas the chance of a killing frost drops to 50% by March 15th. By the first week of April the chance of a killing frost drops to 10%. February and March this year have been unseasonably warm however, meaning that in all likelihood we will be safe to plant within the first two weeks of March, but there is always that slim chance.

That being said, there are a number of plants that you can plant secure in the knowledge that they will continue to thrive even through another freeze. Perennials like gladiolas, mallows such as turks cap, cannas, and salvias are always a safe bet this time of year. Annual color examples include foxgloves, larkspur, and sweet alyssum. These should be planted as soon as possible to ensure that they have a long growing season before the Texas heat of summer takes hold. Any seeds that were started inside over the winter can begin to be moved outside so that they can adjust to the sun and temperature, but make sure to bring them back in if temperatures threaten to fall below 32°. The same applies to any container plants that have been overwintered indoors: the soil in containers gets much cooler much faster than your average ground soil, so keep a close eye on the weather. Better yet, head to DesireeGardens.com and sign up for our newsletter: we send out warnings any time the weather looks like it will take a turn for the worst.

If you have been putting off tree and shrub pruning, this is pretty much your last chance to perform this chore before leaves and buds start to appear. The exception to this is any spring flowering trees and shrubs. If you have dogwoods, wisterias, or fruit trees in your garden you should wait until after the blossoms have dropped. Early spring flowering plants set their buds in the autumn and should be pruned in late spring or early summer. This helps to ensure a glorious bloom next year. Any other trees and shrubs should be pruned over winter, with March being your last chance until next winter. Remove any low hanging branches to raise the canopy, and trim inside growth where the leaves of the plant are less productive, but do not trim oaks yet. Texas oaks should be trimmed in late summer when the chance of oak wilt fungal infection is at a minimum. Finally, if you have transplanted any woody shrubs or trees, cut back the canopy by around 40% in order to compensate for roots that were lost during the digging process.

For those with an irrigation system, now is the time to switch over to a spring watering schedule. The increased sunlight and the new growth of plants that have been recently added, or those coming out of dormancy, means that their watering needs are drastically increasing. Now is also the time for an irrigation audit. Run each zone one by one and check for leaks, poor water flow from spray heads, clogs, and breaks in drip line. Repair or replace these as necessary.

Late summer blooms.Lawns are also beginning to perk back up as the soil temperatures increase and they receive more sunlight. Take time early this month to scalp your lawn. We don’t need to get down to the thatch for a proper scalp. Scalping your lawn can dramatically improve the appearance of your spring lawn as it grows in. Simply drop your mower by no more than two notches when performing this task. Apply a pre-emergent weed killer early this month. Once it warms up and you begin to see weeds in your lawn, it is already too late. We do not recommend using any weed and feed product whatsoever. Many if not all weed and feed products can damage your trees and shrubs. Later this month you can add an all-nitrogen fertilizer. This will promote vigorous growth and a lush green color.

Finally, this is a fine time to make any changes to your hardscape and irrigation system. If you are putting in a retaining wall, pavers or pathways, patios or pergolas, do it now. Desiree Gardens offers a full suite of planning, consultation, irrigation design and installation services to help you create a wonderful garden this year, but don’t wait too long to book your appointment. Our spring schedule is filling up fast.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Maybe you just need a helping hand to protect sensitive plants from freeze and frost. Give us a call at 817-202-4808, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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Is my Garden Done? Learn about these necessary garden activities for December.

Well folks, we’ve had our first frost of the season. Hopefully any tender plants that you’ve not already brought inside were in a well protected micro-climate or were covered with frost cloth. With night-time temperatures regularly reaching into the 40s right now all of your true tropicals such as plumeria, bananas, and bougainvillea should be brought inside for the winter. But is your gardening season really done?

Winter is the perfect time to plant a tree or shrub like this Japanese maple.Planting Trees and Woody Shrubs
When your woody perennial shrubs and trees are dormant is the best time to plant them. That time of year is starting right now! During the summer, trees spend their time gathering energy from the sun and combine it with water and carbon dioxide to create sugars and starches that they store and use to live on later when they are dormant. It is during this time when they have the best store of energy and are primed and ready for further root growth in their new location. Whether you’re looking at moving some boxwoods, or planting a huge oak, this is the time to give them every chance of success.

Irrigation and Sprinkler Systems
After a long hot summer, it should be pretty obvious if certain areas of your garden are getting the correct amount of water. Some areas may have been too dry, while others turned into a swampy mess. Or maybe you just noticed all of the water being wasted on your driveway and sidewalk. Now is the perfect time for an irrigation audit to see how it is performing. It’s also a good time to get any digging done and out of the way while the majority of your garden is dormant. Whether you need to add a zone, have some sprinkler heads relocated, maybe add some drip, or just flush and clean your system, now is the time to do it. Even if you don’t need any of the above, most systems should be adjusted to change the watering duration and frequency to the fall and winter season when water demand is at its lowest.

Hardscapes and Water Features
In addition to irrigation, if you’re looking toward adding a water feature or hardscaping such as a retaining wall, outdoor kitchen, concrete work, etc. it is best to do so now when plants are dormant in order to avoid any possible damage. Pavers, garden paths, pondless waterfalls, or full blown koi ponds are all on the menu. If you have teak, cedar, or other outdoor wood decor you might consider sanding, restaining, or resealing those boards after having been exposed to the drying heat and harsh UV rays from the past few months. Now is the perfect time to get started on these projects so that you’ll be ready for the coming spring.

Winter garden statuaryBirds and Other Critters
A beautiful garden is not just about the plants. Many gardeners love having bird feeders, bird baths, squirrel feeders, or other items to attract local wildlife and help them overwinter. Objects like bird baths can attract multiple species, including our precious pollinators like the humble honey bee, which need access to water year round. Leaving leaf litter or deep mulch to compost on your garden beds over the winter can also attract and provide a habitat for many beneficial insects and critters such as toads, spiders, lizards, snakes, and even newts and salamanders in some areas. Some of these critters may seem icky but they provide a huge benefit to your garden through their predation on harmful insects. It’s also the perfect time to place bird houses, nesting boxes, or bee hotels so that all of our garden buddies have warm places to cuddle up during the cold winter months.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Maybe you just need a helping hand to protect sensitive plants from freeze and frost. Give us a call at 817-202-4808, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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Prepping for Your Fall Garden

Finally, there is a hint of cooler weather, and the return of the fall rains is nearly upon us. This means your garden is ready to explode back to life, and we can’t wait to see all that beautiful fall garden color!

Late summer blooms.Irrigation
This summer’s heat and lack of rain have seriously tested most irrigation systems. Some of you may have gardens and lawns that look like they have been blasted by the summer heat. If there are areas of your sprinkler system that are broken, or where perhaps it simply didn’t get enough water in the right places, it should be patently obvious now. Take the time to address any problems with your irrigation now so that your plants will have a fighting chance to recover in time for winter.

Fall Plantings
Towards the end of the month, start planning and purchasing fall bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths for planting later in the fall. Add compost or organic matter to your garden beds to enrich the soil and improve its structure. This can be done before planting your fall garden. Don’t forget to deadhead summer blooms that are coming to an end so that plants kept for their flowers do not pour extra energy into creating seeds. Many varieties will continue to produce bloom after beautiful bloom in this manner, including your fall-flowering plants just about to come into season. If vegetables and other crops are your thing, it’s not too late to start your cool-season crops. Decorative crops such as kale, cabbage, mustard greens, and Swiss chard can also find spots among your fall-flowering plants.

Container Plants
Refresh the soil in your containers with new potting soil. Any potted plants that do not need new soil should at a minimum be treated with an appropriate fertilizer, such as a water-soluble (liquid) fertilizer bedding formula (10-10-10) for flowering plants and a blend with a bit more potassium (the middle number) like a 10-15-10 blend. Consider replanting them with cool-season flowers or ornamental cabbage and kale for fall color. Any pure tropical plants should start to get a little extra attention: these varieties, such as bougainvillea, cannot tolerate nighttime temperatures below around 45°F. If we get a welcome cold snap, these tropicals will need to be moved inside.

Late summer blooms.Lawn Care and Feeding
While we don’t focus on lawns here at Desiree Gardens, we certainly can help you grow lush, thick grass in your yard. For our area of North Texas, all-nitrogen (21-0-0) in slow-release form should be applied in early to mid-September. To control cool-season weeds, you can apply a pre-emergent this month and a second round of pre-emergent 90 days later. You’ll want to repeat this process for spring weeds. For other weeds, a broadleaf weed killer is your choice. Any local nursery can help you find one; just make sure to follow the directions. We recommend any brands that have at least 1% of 2,4-D in the formulation. What we never recommend is a combination weed-and-feed. Just be careful with the application and use broadleaf weed killers on a day with no wind so that it won’t drift from your lawn to your garden beds where it can damage them.

No matter what time of year, there is always something to do in a North Texas garden. Don’t forget to refresh mulch on a regular basis, and add some compost or fertilizer from time to time. Fall doesn’t mean that your garden is done. Gardens in our area remain very active even up through December, and then we can start moving onto our winter color and activities. That means it’s a great time to start the planning process for any hardscapes or other projects you want to put in while many plants are dormant.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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Surviving North Texas Summers: Tips for a Thriving Garden

Pink flowers in summer heat.This is the time of year when people find out if they chose the right plant in the right place with the right amount of water. The opposite of the deep-freeze of winter, this scorching summer heat and lack of rain is pushing plants to their limit. We are inundated with customers complaining about dead gardens and lawns. With water restrictions in place, it is really difficult to get your plants and grass enough water to withstand the onslaught of summer.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Properly designed, with sufficient moisture from an irrigation system or obsessive hand watering, your garden can in fact survive the summers of North Texas. As part of this, it is critical to water your plants deeply and infrequently. Deep watering is critical to helping your plants establish deep roots. Plants that are frequently watered may have the roots find their way closer towards the surface where they can be damaged by hot dry soil. If you are in an area with water restrictions, and even if you are not, you can accomplish this by extending the run time of each zone on the days it is designated to run.

Native Texas plant the Passion Flower.The heavy clay soils of North Texas can be difficult to water deeply, and you may see excess runoff from your garden and lawn soil onto the pavement. To prevent this, use a cycle and soak method. Modern irrigation systems have this “cycle and soak” programming built in for you to customize to your plants and soil. If you are noticing runoff from your clay soil, reduce the run time of the zone and add a soak time in your cycle and soak settings. This will allow the silt and clay to absorb the water that has been put down before the second irrigation cycle begins. All watering should be done in the morning or evening in order to minimize evapotranspiration and maximize soil absorption.

What is evapotranspiration? Evapotranspiration is the combination of water removed from soil and plants through the process of transpiration and evaporation. Both of these are accelerated by direct sunlight and high temperatures. This summer sun in North Texas is literally sucking all of the moisture from your plants, and if we have any wind it only gets worse! Even your most sun loving and heat tolerant plants can’t survive if more water is removed than can be supplied to them. So, if water restrictions are making it difficult to add enough water to your garden, it is time to look at stopping the amount of moisture you are losing.

Install shade cloth over delicate or heat-sensitive plants to provide some respite from direct sunlight. This is especially true for any plants that are exposed to the scorching afternoon sun. Shade cloth can reduce the intensity of sunlight, lower air and soil temperatures, and protect plants from sunburn. Additionally you can use windbreaks, such as hedges or fences, to shield plants from strong winds. Wind can exacerbate heat stress by increasing evaporation and drying out plants faster.

Lantanas love hot Texas summers.If you haven’t already, put down a layer of mulch. Mulch helps the soil to retain moisture, lowers the temperature of the soil, and provides excellent weed control. In addition, as it breaks down, mulch releases much needed nutrients into the soil. Old mulch should also be raked out and replaced occasionally if has dried out too much. Check your old mulch by dribbling a few drops of water on top: if it is immediately absorbed you should be fine. On the other hand if the small droplets of water bead on top of the mulch without being absorbed you should replace the dried out mulch with new mulch. We encourage the use of un-dyed shredded hardwood mulch that has been mixed with a little compost. Other choices of mulch include straw, leaves, or grass clippings.

Remember, it’s essential to understand the specific needs of your plants and adapt the protective measures accordingly. Factors such as plant species, maturity, and local weather patterns can influence the level of care required. Choose heat-tolerant plants that are well-suited for Zone 8. Better yet, always plant native plants wherever possible. These plants are better equipped to withstand the hot temperatures and frequent droughts that define the summer time in North Texas. Regularly monitor your plants for signs of heat stress, such as wilting, yellowing, or browning leaves. Adjust your watering and shading practices accordingly to provide the necessary relief.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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