LINKS
2006-04-26 / Family

Six steps to better and easier gardening in Chesterfield

By Susan Nienow
STAFF WRITER & MASTER GARDENER

1. Location, Location, Location Plants are just like houses-their value is determined by location.

Charles Batchelor/Chesterfield Observer Last week Mary Blissert (standing, above), a first-grade teacher at W.W. Gordon Elementary, led a school project where students, teachers and parents planted trees, shrubs and flowers in raised beds around the schoolyard. Charles Batchelor/Chesterfield Observer Last week Mary Blissert (standing, above), a first-grade teacher at W.W. Gordon Elementary, led a school project where students, teachers and parents planted trees, shrubs and flowers in raised beds around the schoolyard.

Put them in the right 'neighborhood' and they will thrive. Full sun means at least 6 hours of sun a day. 2. Choose the right plant Put the right plant in the right location. A log cabin in a toney neighborhood devalues both the cabin and the property. For easy care, native and proven varieties are often the best choice. Leigh Duke of Sanctuaries Unique Garden Center recommends the following sun-loving perennials: echinacea, rudbeckia, ornamental grasses, sedum, salvia, day lilies and lavender. "Know where the sun is," recommended Duke, who advises sprinkling a few herbs in with the sun-loving perennials.

 

Don't forget to plant daffodil bulbs. They bloom year after year, need little care and are available in a range of colors.

For shade, Duke suggested epimedium for a ground cover because it is drought tolerant; lamium, helleborus which are not only drought tolerant, but they bloom in winter and peonies which like afternoon shade. 3. Amend the soil Good garden soil should drain well and have a good amount of humus. Have the soil tested so you can adjust the pH if necessary for the plants to be able to access the nutrients. 4. Add color and fun Annuals are the real workhorses of gardens, blooming for months. Most blooming annuals require sun, but both impatiens and New Guinea impatiens provide continuous color to a shady or partly shady bed. Coleus loves shade, gives a punch of color, and new varieties tolerate the sun.

 

 

Select good-sized plants that are well-developed and strong. Put plants that come in the 6or 8-packs close together so they will become a mass of color.

Tropical perennials become annuals in our area. Take note of the soil temperature for tender annuals, warned Cooperative Extension Agent Mike Likins. Tropicals like caladiums need night temperatures to be above 60 degrees and days to be above 70 degrees before they can be put outside. 5. Be careful with pests and diseases Learn to tolerate a few pests. If you have a problem, ask the experts. Healthy plants resist pests and diseases, so keep your plants watered during dry periods.

 

A soil-drench pesticide for Japanese beetles is available. Look for a pesticide with imidacloprid. One treatment lasts for the entire season, said Susan Edwards, Cooperative Extension ANR Technician and Master Gardener Coordinator.

"Killing the grubs in your lawn isn't usually very effective in getting rid of moles since they also eat other things like crickets and earthworms," said Edwards.

Moles can be trapped, but plant-eating voles are more difficult to eradicate. If these animals are causing a lot of damage, call the local Cooperative Extension office for advice at 751-4401.

Deter deer with fencing or repellents that require regular application. Duke recommends Liquid Fence and says her customers have good luck with it. Edwards said some Master Gardeners have reported success with DeerVik, available on the Internet via mail order. 6. Maintenance is a must There aren't any 'no maintenance' gardens, sorry. Mulch will cut down on weeding and watering. During dry periods, you do have to water.

 

In midsummer cut back leggy annuals like petunias and dig a slow release fertilizer around the base of each plant. They will rejuvenate in just a few weeks and bloom through fall.

Return to top