Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time Saving Tips for Busy Gardeners

Turf bordered landscape beds require regular edging to keep them free of grass and looking attractive. Designing beds to abut hardscape features such as walkways and patios reduces the area of the bed bordered by turf, reducing the amount of time required to edge beds.

An average gardener’s to do list may include a multitude of maintenance tasks required to keep a landscape looking its best. For example, some of the average gardener’s chores include pruning, planting, watering, weeding, mowing, edging, and fertilizing - certainly enough to occupy a sizable chunk of most people’s free time. Some folks don’t mind spending hours caring for the landscape, but most of us would prefer to spend less time doing the work, and more time enjoying the fruits of our labor. For those of us with the latter preference, the following tips can reduce the amount of time needed to maintain the landscape without reducing its quality and appearance.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Add Perennials for Flower Power!

Flowers bring a landscape to life. Their bright colors, variety of forms and the birds and butterflies they attract add zest to the otherwise green and brown color scheme of the typical yard. Traditionally, annuals have been relied on to add seasonal color, but annuals must be changed every season – a task that can add up to a lot of work and expense. One way to reduce the work it takes to have a colorful landscape is to use perennials, such as this Red Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). Perennials not only come back year after year, they also multiply giving you more plants to spread around the landscape or share with friends. The variety of perennials available from local garden centers has greatly increased in the past several years, making it easy to incorporate a diverse array of these repeat performers in every yard.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

River Birch Pests No Big Problem

River birch is a medium sized native tree commonly grown in landscapes for its attractive bark and fast growth. In the wild, river birch almost always occurs along river banks, while in the landscape these tough trees will tolerate both drought and flooding. Each spring river birch trees are visited by two common pests, aphids and a caterpillar look-alike known as the sawfly larva (image left). While both of these pests cause river birch trees to loose some leaves, they do not pose any serious threat to the trees’ long term health and will not spread to other plants in the landscape. Both of these pests only feed on river birch leaves in the spring and trees quickly recover once the insects have moved on. There is rarely any need to treat for either of these pests since the damage they cause is mostly cosmetic.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Extension Gardener Newsletter Available Online!

In order to bring you more up to date information on a wider range of topics, I have joined with Extension Agents from across the state to develop a regional newsletter known as Extension Gardener. Extension Gardener will replace the Pender Gardener newsletter, previously sent out from the Pender County Extension Office.

Extension Gardener will be published 4 times a year. The first, full color issue is now available online! Click here to access the spring Coastal Plains edition!

You can find previous editions of the Pender Gardener Newsletter online here (scroll down to the newsletter section).

Carpenter Bees Causing a Buzz!

Carpenter bees are busily excavating nesting holes in wooden structures. These large black and yellow bees buzz around at a leisurely pace and will often run into people, but rarely sting. In fact, only the females can sting -- you can distinguish males from females because the male has a large white spot of the front of their face. Carpenter bees drill 1/2" diameter holes in wooden structures to build their nesting galleries, in which they lay their eggs.

Controlling carpenter bees is difficult and not usually necessary. Control relies on treating the holes and then plugging them up rather than spraying exposed wooden surfaces.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Look Out for Colorado Potato Beetles!

If you have potatoes growing in your garden be on the lookout for Colorado potato beetles. These voracious feeders can quickly devour potato leaves, resulting in greatly reduced yields and even plant death in severe cases. Controlling these beetles early in the season, before populations explode, is essential to protect your potato crop. Adult beetles are currently laying masses of bright orange eggs on potato leaves, which will hatch into humpbacked, dull red larvae (pictured left) so now if the time to search your plants for these insects and take control measures if any are found.

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