Gardening Tips

The Perfect Patio Planter!  This is a planter that I came up with this past summer. It was the perfect combination and it lasted well into the fall so I have to share! I used a 16- inch diameter planter and filled it with a good potting soil. The central focal point is a wispy Asparagus Fern. Around the fern is an alternating pattern of five potato vines, three purple and two green. In between the fern and potato vines are pockets of various types of coleus. This combination added color to a shady spot under an overhang, lasted all summer long and received lots of attention!
Planting Depth of Trees:  One of the leading causes of death for trees is incorrect planting. Large tree spades are often used to dig trees that cause the soil level to rise up covering the crown of the root ball. Plant your tree slightly above the soil surface so that you see a visible flare above the ground. When mulching make sure that the mulch does not come up above the root crown. Following these simple practices will help to ensure the health and life of your tree.

Snow & Ice Removal from Tree Branches Without Damage:  As winter progresses there is an increased threat of snow and ice build up on the branches of trees and shrubs in the landscape. If snow piles up on your evergreens try to carefully brush it away removing the excess weight from the branches. If the snow does not remove easily do not shake the branches. This can cause breakage and damage. If the tree or shrub is covered with ice permit nature to take its course and allow the ice to melt naturally. If your landscape does suffer any damage from winter storms it is recommended to remove any broken limbs to avoid stress and disease to the plant. This can be done when the weather allows.

Frost Heaving: In freezing temperatures soil around your plants may be subject to frost heaving. This is when ice forms underneath the soil and expands upwards from the ground causing plants such as perennials to push upwards exposing the crown. Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Liriope are especially prone to this type of damage. As a preventive measure apply mulch finishing to your garden beds. To remedy, slightly tap the soil back down, and brush the mulch back around the exposed crown of the plant to protect it. 

Garden Tool Care:  Looking for some garden preparation to do while the weather is freezing outside? It’s time to store the tools away for the winter season here in the Northeast or anywhere the temperatures are dropping! Before you store your garden tools clean them thoroughly with water and use a wire brush to gently remove any built up soil to prevent corrosion. It is recommended to oil any moving parts on your pruners and loppers and spray any wooden handles on tools such as shovels with linseed oil in order to keep them from drying and cracking. It is also a good time to re-sharpen your loppers, shears and shovels with either a whetstone or blade. Your tools will be all ready to go when spring arrives.

Anti-Desiccant Spray When the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees it is time to apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broadleaf evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood. These plants can be subject to severe winter burn due to water loss from the leaves by transpiration. Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broadleaf evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way. For more detailed information go to:  Winterizing-Evergreens-Anti-Desiccant-Spray

Watering During Fall & Winter:  A common question often asked is, "Is it better to keep watering my plants until the ground freezes or should I stop watering now?" It is important that prior to winter that there is significant moisture around your plants. Once the ground freezes it is difficult for water to percolate down to the roots. A well watered tree will over winter far better than a thirsty one and will not be as susceptible to winter frost damage and drying.

Pruning Ornamental Grasses: Here's a helpful tip for pruning your ornamental grasses such as 'Miscanthus sinensis' Maiden Grass or Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln'. Winter cold can harm the center of grasses causing them to "hollow out". It is best to cut your grasses back in late March to early April in order to protect the roots. If your grasses become a bit unruly by the end of the fall then just cut back the plumes and leave the rest for early spring. Another trick is to wrap a bungee cord about half way up around the center and let the grasses drape over keeping them upright and in place. Ornamental grasses can add much interest to the winter landscape and be enjoyed all winter long. For more information visit:
Pruning Daylilies:  When your daylilies are at the end of their bloom in August and the foliage is starting to yellow cut them back half way to the ground. They will rejuvenate giving you lush green foliage and even more blooms throughout September and into October. (Works best with Stella D Oro Daylilly)

Peony Care:  Peony is a Spring highlight in the garden. Peony prefer to be grown in full sun with their roots kept cool and protected which can be achieved by planting around them. After blooming the foliage of these plants is attractive in the garden throughout Fall. Once the foliage starts to die back peony should be cut to just above the ground to protect from disease. To protect the roots provide a covering of mulch or leaves during winter. Peony do not like to be moved once established and do best when planted in fall (or early spring) and are often sold as bare root. They prefer a rich and well drained soil. Peony thrive in USDA Zones 3-8. For more information Visit: Peony-Spring-Splendor-In-The-Garden
Hydrangea Color: Changing the pH of the soil can alter hydrangea color. For blue hydrangea add aluminum sulfate or iron sulfate to the surrounding soil to make the soil more acidic. For pink hydrangea add dolomite or lime to make the surrounding soil more basic. For purple hydrangea the soil needs to be more neutral. An old trick is to add nails (yes nails) around the base of the plant! This works with blue and pink hydrangea



  1. Thanks for the tip on the daylilies. They always look so "worn out" by the end of the summer. I am going to try pruning them back late summer to get more bloom. I'll be coming back for more tips!

  2. You're welcome! Thank you for visiting and for your comments!

  3. It is essential that you must clean your garden tools after every use. If your tool has metal parts that can possibly rust, you should apply a coat of oil to the surface before you store the tool to prevent rusting.

  4. Thanks for sharing a great tips about gardening. I usually follow instructions and tips from my Mom because he is a environmentalist and at the same time a landscape architect. Your tip is best for gardening and I think it can be also applied when it comes to landscaping management.

  5. Can you suggest any miniature or dwarf evergreens that would do well on Long Island (in Levittown) for a foundation planting in front of a house? I'm not crazy about the Alberta there anything a little softer-looking?


  6. There are many options. If you are looking for a softer look then Hinoki Cypress wins hands down! There are green and golden varieties depending on your taste and they do best in full to partial sun. The 'Aurea' and 'Verdoni' are beautiful!

  7. I really like the Aurea...but it says "full sun" and I have only partial sun, northern exposure.

    Can you recommend a local nursery that carries different plants than the standard ones you see at Home Depot, etc?

    I'm looking for dwarf types and they always seem to have pants that grow 30 feet tall.

    Thanks again!

  8. If you only have partial sun (northern exposure)Hinoki 'Aurea' will not do well. The green variety are more shade tolerant but still need some sun. For a shade evergreen you will probably need to go with a compact Holly such as 'Steeds' but it isn't really dwarf...grows to 8-10 feet or a Blue Holly (8-12feet). I mainly deal with wholesale but Holly should be easier to find. Just make sure it is one of these.

  9. I'm thinking of getting a Japonica Pieris as a foundation planting for a Northern exposure with part sun (morning only). I live in Levittown. Do they do well on Long Island, and are there any particular varieties that do well here?

    Thank you!

  10. Hi Pat-

    It is a nice plant. For a foundation planting use Pieris 'Cavatine'. It is a dwarf and will not get too large for the front of a house.

    ~ Lee

  11. I've taken over the care of my mother's garden since she isn't able to. She's got two huge montauk daisy plants that occupy half the garden. (I remember when she first got one and was nursing it along...they've really spread.) The branches are splayed all over the place, laying along the ground....what to do with these plants?

  12. Hi Pat,
    Montauk Daisys provide a nice display of blooms later in the summer but they have to be pinched back throughout the spring/summer season to keep them more compact and to prevent falling over. The best bet at this point is to just let them finish the season then cut them back for next year. For now you can tie them up or stake them then divide them in the spring to make smaller clumps.

  13. At my southern New Hampshire home, in a fully shaded space I am needing a recommendation for a 2-4 ft. Blooming bush?

    1. I am thinking you are in hardiness zone 5a or 5b. A 2-4 foot blooming shrub for a shaded area could be Spirea Little Princess. It has showy pink blooms and tolerates shade but does require some sun to produce nice flowers. Another suggestion could be Cherry Laurel Otto Luyken which is evergreen and develops insignificant white flowers in spring. It is more tolerant of shade but may be borderline for hardiness in your area. The spirea is hardy to zone 4.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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