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When selecting plants, consider growth rate, mature size, and the plant's growing needs. If you are not prepared to do much pruning, choose plants that retain a desirable size without a lot of attention. While crape myrtle varieties are available from miniature size to tree size, homeowners are often faced with the dilemma of pruning back crape myrtles in the spring. Such heavy pruning results in an unattractive appearance in the spring, in addition to posing health problems for the trees. Photo Credit: William M. Johnson
Gardening: 2004 Ornamental & Perennial Seminar & Sale
The 2004 Ornamental & Perennial Seminar & Sale, sponsored by the Galveston County Master Gardeners on Sunday, October 10, is an "absolute must" for all area gardeners. Enthusiastic "plantaholics" of all ages attended last yearís event and browsed through more than 200 types of available perennials, vines, ornamental grasses and flowering shrubs including many hard-to-find varieties.
Gardening: Don't Let Landscape Become An High-Maintenance Nightmare
by Dr. William M. Johnson, Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture
Of course, low maintenance means different things to different people. You may view lawn care as relaxing and enjoyable while your neighbor thinks it's a step short of self-inflicted torture.
The same can be said of vegetable gardening. You may have little interest in maintaining a vegetable garden while your neighbor's greatest joy may come from keeping his veggie crop in "picture perfect"condition and producing year-round.
The one thing that applies to all is that every landscape and garden will require some degree of regular maintenance to keep it attractive and healthy. But unless you enjoy yard work, there's no reason to plant a "maintenance nightmare."
The key to low maintenance is good planning. It's important to do things at the proper time and to not be afraid to change situations that become awkward or result in excessive maintenance. In that regard, I have concluded from non-scientific observations over time that gardeners can be categorized into two philosophical camps. Some gardeners have no reluctance to yanking out a plant if it does not perform well and if they find it's not suitable for a location. Other gardeners cannot bring themselves to yank out a plant once it's planted even if it's not doing well. Incidently, I am also intrigued that a gardener which is loyal to one philosophical camp oftentimes ends up marrying a gardener who practices the opposing philosophy! Enough of my over-the-counter, Freudian analysis of horticultural issues. Now back to the real world.
Before doing any landscaping, assess your gardening experience and the time you have. Then tailor your plant selection to that level. Choose standard, easy-to-care-for plants that are known to be good performers in our climate and soil conditions for the major portion of the landscape. Avoid "exotics" or other plants that demand special culture, such as soil acidifiers or frequent applications of iron, unless you know that you are willing to provide for the special conditions needed.
When selecting plants, consider growth rate, mature size, and the plant's growing needs. If you are not prepared to do much pruning, choose plants that retain a desirable size without a lot of attention. Avoid planting large, vigorous-growing shrubs such as photinia or pyracantha in confining locations. Never plant more of anything-trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials or even turfgrass--than you feel you can maintain properly and easily. Again, know your time and energy limitations. If you want a low-maintenance landscape, you may decide to limit or avoid some demanding plants such as hybrid tea roses or fruit trees such as peaches.
Whether you are developing a landscape or have an established one, many labor and time saving shortcuts can be incorporated.
Here are a few to consider:
- Prepare the soil before any planting. Mix in generous quantities of organic matter. Proper soil preparation now will reduce later problems such as compaction or poor drainage.
- Keep plants healthy and thriving with periodic fertilization. Healthy plant growth reduces susceptibility to insect and disease problems.
- Automate watering whenever possible. Proper watering can be one of your most time-consuming landscape responsibilities. Free yourself to do other chores by installing a sprinkler or drip irrigation system for large areas, or, if that is not in your budget, use soaker hoses to minimize the time you spend at the end of the hose.
- Mulch your landscape with a loose material such as shredded pine bark, cypress mulch or compost to reduce weed problems, conserve moisture and reduce soil temperatures in summer.
- Install permanent edging around flower beds, gardens and other landscape areas to make soil control easier and prevent the encroachment of grass. Edging can range from steel to molded plastic, brick or pored concrete. Many of these can be installed by the do-it-yourselfer.
- Avoid small patches of flower beds or other plantings as it is more efficient time-wise to edge and mow around larger-sized plantings.
- Consider using "hardscape" materials in the areas where maintenance can be difficult, or where it seems impossible to grow plants. Brick, wood, stone, gravel or decking look natural and blend into almost any landscape scheme.
- Select and maintain good gardening equipment. Investing in high-quality, dependable tools can save much time, energy and frustration.
Gardening: Scale insects and pampas grass - July 17, 2004 article
Gardening: Bananas - August 1, 2004 article
Gardening: August Gardening Calendar - August 16, 2004 article
Gardening: Trio Of Extension Programs Includes Pear Tasting, Master Naturalist Class & Rose Seminar - August 20, 2004 article
Gardening: Prepare Now For Fall Gardens - August 26, 2004 article
Gardening: Septemberís Garden Calendar Includes Fall Pecan Field Day - September 2, 2004 article
Gardening: Ornamental Grasses - September 8, 2004 article
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