Spring Care For Koi Pond

If you pulled your pumps in the fall, you will want to clean out the skimmer and either clean or replace the filter pads and leaf basket before reinstalling the pumps. I personally leave my pumps running throughout the winter, and pull the pumps in the spring and clean them. It is best to start the pumps in the morning on a day that you are home all day to monitor the water level to be sure there are no leaks. The last thing you want is to burn a pump up because it ran dry.

Usually spring time brings a lot of rain and many ponds get a lot of runoff that clouds or muddies the water. This can result in a sludge build up that can cause problems with hair algae all summer. In this case you may want to consider installing a pressure filter. These filters do a great job of mechanically cleaning the water and have a back wash feature for self cleaning.

Don’t get discouraged by hair algae in the spring, this is a normal cycle. If you have a good bed of gravel in the bottom the algae will go away as the plants grow and the water temperature warms up. Don’t run out and get a UV clarifier to get rid of hair algae because it will have no affect. UV clarifiers only kill free floating algae that gives the water a pea soup look. I would not recommend algaecides either. Plants like water hyacinths, marsh betony, and watercress make very good water filters and grow quickly. Make sure you wait until the last frost to plant the water hyacinths.

Rough Terrain Landscaping

Preparation

The first thing that you need to do in your hillside landscaping adventure is prepare the area. Remove and clear any growth or debris to make sure that you have the room and space for your landscaping design and ideas.

The Problem of Erosion

To help reduce the erosion of your hillside, you want to cover your ground using heavy mulch and plant shrubs. Mulch can insulate your plants during the cold weather and it can help keep them from sprouting too quickly when the warm air comes in.

Keeping a good moisture level is also a priority in making your landscaping area flourish. This is especially a problem with a hillside garden, because the ground has a hard time retaining water on the steep slope.

Making a Beautiful Entrance

Color is the key to making your hillside into a masterpiece. Make sure that your hill is visually appealing and noticeable even from a distance. This will give the people passing by your area a beautiful area to look at and dream about.

A Touch of Creativity

An easy way to get your friends and family members attention is to bring a touch of your personality and interests to your landscaping design. Try to bring a touch of fun to your landscaping area by adding your personality and items that you love.

Retaining Walls

If your landscaping area is mostly hillside, then you may want to consider building a retaining wall. This will add a stylish area for you to use different kinds of materials. You need to make sure that you get the right materials and ask for help if you need it to install the retaining wall. With some effort and time, you can make a retaining wall to give your hillside added style and attractiveness.

Rose Rosette Disease

Here are common symptoms of Rose Rosette to look for:

  • Stressed growth in leaves, canes, and blooms. This appears as growth that doesn’t look normal. Stunted, dwarfed growth in canes, narrow leaves, and odd looking blooms.
  • Bunching of stems, clustering, broom like appearance of stems giving it the name of witches broom of roses.
  • Bright red leaves and stems (not always abnormal, as in many rose cultivars, fresh new growth can be red or crimson). Look for mottled coloration and redness that doesn’t go away. This growth will also appear unusual.
  • Overall decline and eventual death of the plant.

Rose Rosette Disease is caused by a virus that is spread by a mite that feeds on roses called eriophyid mite also known as the rose leaf curl mite. These are not spider mites, but much smaller mites that are almost impossible to see with the naked human eye. They move on wind currents from rose to rose. It’s thought that this virus first showed up in wild, native rose populations in the US. It then spread to multiflora roses which are considered invasive, imported from Asia to serve as a plant solution for windbreaks and screens. From these invasive roses, the virus spread to infect landscape roses including the once thought to be disease resistant Knock-Out Roses series, and the Drift series.

Because gardeners and landscapers have relied so heavily on both the Knock-Out and Drift series of roses for their ease of care and beauty, the Rose Rosette Disease has done a lot of damage in wide areas. It’s not known why some roses still seem resistant to Rose Rosette, but it’s been shown that Knock-Out and Drift roses are not immune.

What do you need to do if your roses have the Rose Rosette disease?

  • Destroy the plant – dig up plant and roots, then bag and destroy
  • Limit use of the surrounding soil
  • Remove multiflora roses within 100 yards of roses – if cannot then try not to plant roses downwind from the multiforas
  • Watch for regrowth from any remaining roots and remove
  • Avoid planting any new rose varieties back in the same soil

My ag inspector who lives down the road, stopped by recently and we talked about this rose issue. Her information said the soil where diseased plants were located could be tainted for up to 5 years.

Preventing Rose Rosette Disease

The mite is extremely difficult to kill, as typical mite killing chemicals don’t often work well on this species of mite. However, some pesticides may offer some protection such as Sevin, bifenthrin, horticultural oils and insecticidal soap when applied weekly during June and July.

The best course of action is prevention. When receiving your roses, inspect them carefully and look for the above signs of Rose Rosette. Only plant disease-free rose plants. When planting, give your roses plenty of room to breathe and allow air to circulate, as this can help keep the mites from spreading from one plant to another, although this isn’t very foolproof. And finally, don’t rely on one type of rose in your landscape. We’re not referring to color. Instead choose different species. If there are multiflora roses growing wild nearby, consider destroying them if possible as the mite can catch a summer breeze to your roses.

We hope this helps you avoid and end your infestation of Rose Rosette. It’s a heartbreaking disease, but with proper prevention and planning, you can avoid or diminish its effects on your garden and landscape.

We are committed to monitoring the new growth of our roses coming in from different growers. The Knockout and Drift Roses are anticipated to be in short supply over the next couple of years as many growers will be discontinuing their growing rights for these plants due to this terrible disease.

Growing Flowers and Fruit in Greenhouse

Growing both flowers and fruit may be as simple as designating a set of benches for flowers and another set for fruit trees, or as complex as creating independent zones in your greenhouse. The designation of greenhouse zones should take place during the greenhouse planning phase to prevent complications in the future. Zones are areas within a greenhouse that have their own specific temperature and climate; they are created by using interior walls to form sections in the greenhouse. Various temperature and humidity levels can be maintained by an automatic control system.

The use of grow lights can assist in the propagation of both flower and fruiting plants. For example, strawberries thrive when grown under a grow light; just be sure to utilize the “everbearing” strand, as “June bearing” strawberries will not grow indoors. High pressure sodium (HPS) grow lights are ideal for both fruits and flowering plants, and provide a high efficiency yellow glow with a life expectancy of approximately five years or 24,000 hours.

Every plant has its own growing requirements; some key factors to take into consideration when growing both flowers and fruit in your greenhouse include: lighting, humidity, and temperature. Lighting requirements for plants can range from full sunlight to heavily shaded environments. Some fruit, such as strawberries, need direct sunlight to grow while flowers, such as begonias, do well in shaded areas.

The level of humidity required by plants can differ greatly throughout the year. At first glance, growing calla lilies and tomatoes in the same area may seem like a good idea because they both require a similar humidity range of 80 to 90 percent, but a second look shows that tomatoes require a lower humidity level (65 to 75 percent) at night in order to thrive. Temperature range should also be taken into consideration. Most fruits will grow best in the warmer temperature ranges, while flowers can flourish in cooler temperatures.

Choosing Location for Planting Ginseng

There are certain plants to look for (companion plants) that can give you a clue that you’ve found a good spot

It’s not necessary to have all of the below mentioned shrubs. These plants are known as ginseng companion plants, or indicator plants, because they grow in the same environment that ginseng grows. In northwestern Arkansas, a very strong indicator is maidenhair fern.

  • goldenseal
  • bloodroot
  • black cohosh
  • maidenhair fern (my best indicator)
  • Christmas fern
  • doll’s eyes
  • rattlesnake or grape fern (also called sang pointers)
  • jack-in-the-pulpit

It likes a certain mix of trees

The identity of your trees is important. It’s okay to have a lot of hickory and oak, but that can’t be the only kind there because if it is, the ground-covering leaves will be too heavy for the ginseng plants to push up through in spring. Pine and cedar indicate the area might be too dry, but I’ve had some luck growing under cedars so it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The trees you really want to see include:

  • oak (but not too many)
  • hickory (but not too many)
  • beech
  • maple
  • dogwood
  • pawpaw

It’s already present

The very best indicator that ginseng will grow well in a certain area is that it’s already there! If you’ve found many of the companion plants listed above, take a closer look to see if ginseng is growing as well. If you find something you think might be ginseng, get positive i.d. on it by asking someone who knows. Take a photo of it and send it to me if you don’t have anyone nearby who can come see it. I’ll be happy to take a look at up to three photos to anyone who’s read this article. My email address is listed below.

The ideal location will have all the right conditions, but it’s not a lost cause if you can’t meet them all. I’ve planted in various places to test the suitability and found some surprises. The ones I planted under a cedar tree are doing pretty good and I’d always heard they don’t like cedars.

Choosing A Bonsai Pot

Deciding On A Bonsai Pot Colour

This isn’t as easy as you may think. You need to take into account what colour your Bonsai trees ordinary foliage is, and also the colour of the foliage if the tree changes during a particular season. Take a typical maple tree as an example. Its normal foliage is a greenish colour. However, during the autumn months the foliage changes to a brilliant vivid yellow. The golden rule therefore is to understand the colour changes your Bonsai goes through throughout the year and choose a Bonsai pot that best complements these colours.

What Type Of Bonsai Pot

Once you have decided on a colour you then need to think about matching a pot that best suites your tree. Whether you choose a rounded, square or rectangular pot is really a personal choice, but try to imagine what pot will best harmonize with your tree. You shouldn’t choose something that is jazzy over-elaborate in design. After all, the art of Bonsai is to reflect in miniature a naturally growing tree. With this in mind when choosing a Bonsai pot, less is so often so much more.

Bonsai Pot Size

This is another important aspect that is often overlooked. As a general rule your Bonsai pot should roughly be as wide as the longest branch, and as deep as the trunk is wide. This should ensure a pretty good living environment for your Bonsai and help determine the correct water levels that the tree needs to remain healthy.

Bonsai Pot Alternatives

Not everybody has easy access to a specialist selling Bonsai pots; therefore there are a couple of household items you can use as an alternative. These included, believe it or not, pie and casserole dishes. Just remember to allow for drainage and you will have a crude but acceptable home for your Bonsai tree. However, in my opinion there is no substitute for an authentic Bonsai pot.

Ways to Use Concrete in Yard

  • The most common use is concrete block designs for walkways and paths through a garden. This is usually seen in larger yards but even if your yard is small it can accommodate concrete landscaping. It could be a small patio built from concrete blocks for you and your family to sit in the sun on. It could be a simple concrete planter or two for a small container garden. Or simply a concrete sundial in a flower bed.
  • Stone walls are another form of concrete landscaping that has really caught on. Walls frame the whole home like a frame to a prized painting. There are many reasons to have concrete walls. These walls work well for keeping small pets in the yard, and good for keeping intruders out. The harder your home is to get into the less likely burglars will be to bother trying.
  • You can also use concrete landscaping to keep your soil in place. If there is a part of your yard that on an incline then you can build a retaining wall expressly for this purpose. Concrete blocks come in many shapes and textures and you are sure to find a style you like.

Another thing about concrete that makes it so suited to landscaping is that while it can be quite functional and rugged it also can give the appearance of being purely decorative. There is so much that you can do with concrete in landscaping because it is so easy to work with.

You can use concrete landscaping bricks, blocks or whole solid slabs. Now you can even get custom made concrete landscaping stones that are unique in color, shape and pattern. Take some time to visit your local nursery or landscaping supply stores and have a look at the concrete landscaping materials, you will definitely get some ideas for your next backyard project.

Naturally Dispose of Weeds

Get rid of all the weeds in your gardens. Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s no fun, but if you get all of them out now you can maintain a weed free garden all season long. Well, almost weed free. Weed control is an all summer task, but it shouldn’t be difficult or overwhelming.

Most people fail at weed control because they never get it completely under control. So here’s what you do. Start loosening the soil and removing all the existing weeds. Then put down newspaper at least 8 pages thick and cover that with about 2″ of mulch. You can also use brown paper grocery bags, they work great!

I don’t like those weed barrier fabrics that you can buy in the garden stores because… when I was in the landscaping business I pulled out miles of that stuff. Why did we pull it out? Because it was a horrendous mess with weeds growing up through it! You couldn’t pull the weeds because they were all tangled up in the so called weed barrier material.

That’s why I like newspaper or paper bags. They go away! And that’s really important in your gardens. Don’t put things in there that won’t go away. Newspaper and mulch are biodegradable.

What about all the magic weed control potions that you can buy? Do they work? Yes they do. But most people don’t use them properly so they get really poor results. Products like Preen and other pre-emergent weed control products are just that, pre-emergent. That means they only control weed seeds. Controlling weed seeds is important, but if you don’t have all of the existing weeds and weed roots under control first your pre-emergent weed control is doomed from the start.

So you have to completely clear out all of the existing weeds from your gardens then apply the pre-emergent weed control formulas. I still recommend the newspaper because the pre-emergent weed controls will not control weeds that come from roots left in the ground. The only way to control the weed roots from growing is to starve them of sunlight and you do that with newspaper and mulch. If they can’t get sunlight they cannot grow.

Creative Landscaping With Plants

However, for many gardeners and landscapers in their quest for the perfect color combinations, there is another side to plants that is often overlooked. And that would be the contrast of the many wonderful and varied textures of plants. Specifically and for the sake of this article, green plants. And yes, green is a color.

Green plants not only serve as a color element just as any other color, but can also be used as a neutral transitional color that ties other elements and colors together. Or in other words, as a filler or where one area of the garden transitions to the next. Natural transition is very important in garden design.

I was reminded the other day as I spoke with a client of how so many people actually overlook green as actually being a color design element in garden and landscape design.

As we talked about her project I pointed out that we now had four colors in her plan and that we needed to repeat them throughout the design to create some balance. Remember, balance and repetition are principles of landscaping. She questionably stated that we only had three colors in her design.

At first I was puzzled but soon understood what she meant. Green isn’t really a color. It’s just the medium that holds the real colored parts in place.

Now if we looked at green as just being a neutral medium, I might be able to go along with this. However, as a designer, I see it in a much different way. There are many shades of green that hold many different textures that can create such wonderful contrasts that can de designed with.

Some of the most vibrant and lush gardens I’ve ever seen have simply displayed this one color in many variations. Light greens, dark greens, yellow greens, etc. And I haven’t even touched on texture here. Even the same shade of green in different textures creates a wonderful contrast for designing purposes.

Try and picture the lushness and beauty of a dark jungle. Their beauty and contrast are generally created by the variations of shade and texture and not bright colors. Shady gardens that resemble a deep forest or jungle are absolutely beautiful in their own right.

Keep this in mind when planning your next garden. Just as one example, a mixture of Hostas, Ferns, and Ornamental Grasses can create a very memorable and eye catching display using the color green.

Keep Gardening Expenses at a Minimum

The first tip is to only invest in tools that will make a definite improvement to your gardening experience. Before you purchase a new tool, ask yourself the following questions. How much of a difference would it make if I purchased this particular tool? How often would I be using this tool? If you have a positive response to each of these questions then go ahead and invest. Remember, there is no need to purchase expensive gardening tools unless you are doing it at an industrial scale. Sometimes, it is simply better to do gardening the old-fashioned way. Instead of using automated gardening accessories, you can simply use a shovel to get most of the work done.

The second tip for those who want to reduce their gardening expenses is to participate in seed or plant exchanges. If you live in a community that does a lot of gardening then this is a great way to reduce costs. Perhaps your neighbors are growing a plant that you also want to have in your garden. If you can come to an agreement that it is better to exchange seeds then to pay for them. These plant exchanges can also be found on online gardening communities so be sure to check them out.

The third tip is to use recycled materials whenever you get the chance. For example, rather than purchasing compost, you can easily make your own using organic materials such as leftover food wastes and dead leaves. This will reduce gardening expenses by a significant margin because you are employing sustainable methods to the gardening process. Recycled materials can also be used for other things. For example, if you plan on doing container gardening then you can use recycled materials as makeshift containers.

The final tip is to use rain barrels. Utility bills can get pretty expensive in some states. Therefore, you can save some money by collecting rainwater. This is especially good for places that receive a decent amount of rain. Again, this is another method you can employ to become a sustainable gardener. If you make use of these four tips then you will definitely be spending less on gardening expenses over the long term.