SEASONAL TIPS

With Harmony Gardens, you know you are in experienced, capable hands. Though our business is new, we have assembled a team of seasoned experts, who have combined experience of over 100 years. Not only do we have expertise on our side, but we also possess an ingrained passion for what we do – which is serving you and exceeding your expectations when it comes to your lawn, garden and landscaping needs.We are licensed and bonded with the State Plant Board, and our business is ver active within our region’s associations. We are Certified Green Builders.

Prune while dormant, avoid overwatering indoor plants…

  • Good time of the year to prune deciduous plant material and trees when they are dormant. Dress warm and make sure to use a good quality clean by pass pruning shears.
  • Foliage plants help improve indoor air quality. Clean dust off the foliage with a damp sponge.
  • Don’t over-water your houseplants, they don’t need as much water in winter. Plants suffer when over watered and you may bring on a problem with fungus gnats. Give the plants near windows a quarter turn now and then to expose all sides to the light. Keep foliage away from direct contact with the glass when temperatures are frigid.
  • It helps to keep indoor foliage plants away from cold drafty doors or the dry heat of heat registers.
  • Turn down the thermostat at night. You’ll save money on your heating bills and the plants will appreciate the temperature change. Most tropical or sub-tropical plants are used to a variance between day and night time temperatures.
  • Citrus plants provide great color and fragrance in the home this time of year.
  • Make sure to recycle the fresh cut Christmas tree.

Look for rodent damage, prevent evergreen dessication…

  • If all goes well, this month has the potential of giving us our first peek at spring! As we experience some thaw days the foliage of pansies and bulbs we planted last fall start to become visible. In some years by the end of this month the Witchhazel blooms begin to swell and the Helleborus, Winter Aconite and Galanthus could even start to put on a show!
  • Look for vole damage to ornamental plants and turf and set out traps if necessary.
  • Keep tree wrap on the trunks of young trees and burlap protect evergreens facing south. Trunks can split and evergreens desiccate when the sun is low in the south and the ground is still frozen. Consider an additional application of anti-desiccant spray on a warm day.
  • Start assembling seed starting materials. February is a good time to buy seeds and supplies.
  • Fresh flowers are always a good idea to brighten a room. Don’t forget Valentine’s day is February 14! The best way to keep fresh flowers is to use clean water and a clean vase. Change the water frequently. Put a fresh cut on an angle at the base of the stem and submerge immediately in water so they draw water well.
  • Put up birdhouses or clean existing houses during this month.

Get started with seeds, apply horticultural oil and lime sulphur…

  • A great month for seed starting! Use a good quality lightweight seed starting soil. Grow lights are a great supplement to natural light so your seedlings don’t get leggy stretching for the light. Use dome covers on your flats for humidity. When the seedlings emerge, prop up or tent the covers to provide good airflow. A sprinkling of milled spaghnum moss over the top will help discourage damping off.
  • Move “sleeping” tropicals and geraniums overwintered in the basement to a sunny window. Begin gradually watering with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer.
    Use a combination horticultural oil and lime sulfur spray on dormant deciduous plants on a day where temperatures are 40 degrees or better. The oil spray is for overwintering insects and the lime sulfur is for overwintering disease problems.
    Look for mole damage in the lawn. Remember moles do not hibernate and consume 80% to 100% of their body weight each day in insects! Set traps, use baits and consider pelletized castor oil in combination to deal with lawn infestations. Moles are very active and most social in late winter and early spring. Breeding of new litters takes place and as their food source insects work their way up in the soil, damage becomes more evident.
  • Service your lawn mower before the season starts. A good clean sharp blade is important in maintaining a nice looking healthy lawn.
  • Don’t take off protection for Macrophylla hydrangeas too soon. These zone 6 plants can swell with early warm weather only to have buds produced on the previous season’s growth freeze in a cold snap. If that happens, you’ll be left with a lot of green growth in season but no or few flowers.
  • A good month to pick out summer flowering “bulbs” while the selection is great and start them indoors. Summer flowering “bulbs” like Cannas and Dahlias are great for container gardens but don’t plant them outside until mid-May when the danger of frost is past.

Vole and mole turf damage, snow mold, crabgrass pre-emergents, start landscaping…

  • This is a big month for turf issues! Aside from obvious vole and mole damage, April is a month to identify and begin repair for snow mold. Both gray and pink snow mold will be evident as the snow clears, especially in areas where snow was piled or on the north side of the house. Rake up debris and leaves from the lawn. Consider applying a fungus control to the lawn in areas affected. Many times the turf will recover after a light raking allowing air, light and warmer temperatures into the crown of the grass plants stimulating new growth. In serious cases of snow mold re-seeding may be necessary when the soil temperatures are warm enough for seeding.
  • Purchase your 4-step lawn program from Flowerland. 4 step programs make it easy to apply fertilizer to your lawn over the course of the year. These steps are generally applied based on the “holiday plan” meaning give or take a few weeks you would apply around Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Remember this is a very general rule. Weather conditions will dictate the best times to apply. Ask us, we can help.
  • April is generally the month crabgrass pre-emergence controls are applied to the lawn. Crabgrass pre-emergence controls are usually in the first step of a four-step plan. You can also purchase crabgrass pre-emergence controls separately without fertilizer. Many people time applications to tax day or when the forsythias are in bloom. The best and most effective way is to base applications on soil temperature. When the soil warms to between 50 and 60 degrees is when crabgrass seed will germinate. This of course varies from year to year, ask us, we can help. Make sure to water in step 1 or pre-emergence applications. If the application is not watered into the lawn, UV rays can break down the effectiveness of the crabgrass barrier in 24 to 48 hours. Finally, make sure to do a thorough job of applying the crabgrass control along driveway and sidewalk edges and the hottest parts of the lawn.
  • After the first mowing of the year, raise the deck of the lawn mower for the rest of the year. Your lawn will be less stressed and much healthier. 3 inches is a good healthy mowing height for your lawn.
  • Some cool season plants like pansies and Cole crops like broccoli can be successfully planted in April in Michigan. Raised beds work well because the soil warms faster in spring.
  • Take tender plants outside in a shaded area protected from the wind to begin to “harden them off” on nice days. Bring them in at night.
  • April is the month landscaping projects start with planting of woody plants and evergreens. Arbor Day falls in this month, a great time to plant a tree! Some plants are available dormant in economical packages for a brief time in April.
  • Fresh mulch can be applied to beds in April. Do not pile on mulch too thick, it can do serious damage to plants. Do not mound up mulch around the base of trees. Tissue accustomed to being dry will rot and you can create an environment for root problems including collar rot and girdling roots.
  • Prune back or clear off dead foliage from last year on your herbaceous perennials. Cut back ornamental grasses to just above the ground. Don’t leave too much old stem remaining on these grasses as it will create a “halo effect” of growth with a dead center on your ornamental grasses.
  • April is a great time to “split your plants” when it comes to herbaceous perennials. Perennials like hostas, daylilies and sedums to name a few divide well when just beginning to emerge from their winter sleep.
  • Feed your ornamental plants in the landscape. Spring is a good time to feed broadleaf evergreens like Rhododendrons or Azaleas. You won’t want to be feeding them late in the year because we want them to harden off well for next winter. Feed them now while they prepare to bloom and then develop new buds for next year’s bloom.
  • For grub control in the lawn use 24-hour Dylox at this time of the year. Your best bet is an application of season long grub control in early July (see July calendar).
  • If you have moss in the lawn, use a moss control product, raise the deck on the mower and aerate the turf to improve soil conditions. Grass has roots, moss does not. The presence of moss is often an indication that conditions are good for the growth of moss not grass. Change the conditions by core aerating the turf and soil. Also consider taking a soil pH test.

Prune woody flowering plants, till and amend soil, watch out for weeds…

  • Many woody plants are in bloom this month or bloomed during April. The best time to prune woody flowering plants like Forsythia or Lilacs if they need it is right after they are done blooming. Later in the year they will be developing buds for blooming next year. Remember that broadleaf evergreens like Azaleas or Rhododendrons look beautiful this month and is the perfect Mothers Day gift. Mom might also enjoy a rose bush, hydrangea or flowering tree for the gift that keeps giving!
  • In general, our last frost date in West Michigan is usually between May 10 and May 20. Some plants like Snapdragons, Alyssum, Cabbage, Lobelia and Petunias can tolerate a light frost. Other plants like Coleus, Impatiens and Begonias can tolerate no frost whatsoever. Consistent cold temperatures and cold soil can stunt the growth of annuals planted too early. Every year is different, watch the weather forecasts and hope for warm weather! Add a splash of season long color to your landscape with annuals. Pinch off the initial bloom and the plant will put its energy into establishment rewarding you a few weeks later with multiple blooms. Use cool colors like blue and silver in tight areas and bright bold colors viewed from a distance like red or orange. Enjoy a whimsical approach mixing colors for a polychromatic look or combine opposite colors for a stunning display like purple and yellow together.
    For annual and vegetable beds, till and amend the soil before planting. Apply a good quality granular fertilizer and supplement with water-soluble feedings during the growing season. A fertilizer with a little extra phosphorus (the middle number) is especially good for blooming annuals.
  • Container gardening is a great way to start the growing season. Soil in containers warms quicker than ground soil. If we have a frosty night, containers can be moved to a protected area or easily covered. Use annuals as well as vegetables, perennials, tropicals and herbs in containers, combinations are limited only by your imagination!
  • May is the month when weeds begin to become a problem, especially dandelions in the lawn. The best way to avoid the problem is to be killing weeds in fall, the most effective time to kill lawn weeds. That said, if you have lots of weeds in May use a lawn weed spray in a pressure tank sprayer and spray the foliage of the offending weeds. If you are using a weed and feed in May, make sure the lawn is damp or moist when applying so the herbicide sticks to the weeds. Once again as mentioned earlier in the calendar, raise the deck on the lawnmower. By raising the deck you give the lawn a competitive edge against weeds by shading them out. A scalped lawn or lawn with bare spots is most likely to have a weed problem. Remember weeds don’t cause bad turf, bad turf causes weeds!
  • When bulb plants like tulips are done blooming, cut off the spent flower head and stem but leave the foliage on to absorb sunlight. This will help the bulb “recharge” for the next blooming season. Scratch some bulb fertilizer in the soil. Plant some annuals in between the remaining foliage and when the foliage yellows and dies cut it off at ground level. The annuals will quickly fill in the area.
  • Put up hummingbird feeders. Make sure they are clean and stocked for the warm months ahead. Plant favorite companion plants like red Impatiens, Crocosmias and Abutilon to name a few along with the feeders to attract “hummers” to your yard!

Feed those vegetables, start hardscaping, container planting…

  • June is one of the busiest and best of the gardening months in Michigan. No more fear of frost, the vegetable garden is growing and perennials steal the show in the landscape. Many perennials are in their prime during the month of June.
  • Roses, annuals, tomatoes and other plants are very busy growing in June. The days are long and temperatures are warm. Don’t forget these plants need to be fed for best performance. Tomatoes for example need a good quality feeding at the time of planting and during the growing season. Tomato tone fertilizer has both the major and micronutrients needed as well as Calcium, critical for good cell wall development of the fruit.
  • June is a good month for landscape projects. Pathways and “hardscape” materials like stones and statuary add interest to the landscape. View your landscape as an outdoor living room. Take advantage of the longer daylight hours and warm evenings for outdoor living.
  • Most plants at Flowerland are “container” grown and not bare root or field dug so the planting season continues well into summer. Plant with confidence as you select plants from display that are already demonstrating their potential! Make sure to amend the soil at the time of planting with organics, compost or peat moss. As opposed to digging a hole and filling it with “good” soil amendments, mix the amendments in with the parent or existing soil 50/50. Do this in a sizeable area around the root zone of the plant. This work will help create a soil that has moisture and nutrient retention capability while still providing the necessary oxygen level and pores the root system needs. When in doubt about the water retention capability of the existing soil, try this simple test. Dig a hole about 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Get your garden hose and fill the hole with water. Watch what happens. Does the water just sit there for an hour and not drain away? You need to improve the drainage. Does the water drain away rapidly? You need to amend to improve the retention value for the plant. Finally, apply a layer of mulch on the soil surface of 1 to 2 inches in depth.
  • As we head towards the hot days of summer, consider adding polymers to the soil of plantings in containers like container grown tomato plants. These polymers help keep the soil moist in hot dry weather.
  • Pinch back mums to 6 to 10 inches above the ground until early July. This will provide nice sized blooming plants in fall that don’t become too tall and flop over in the landscape.
  • June is a great month for planting herbs. Herbs love the longer days and the sunlight it provides. Enjoy the aroma of basil in the warm sun. Use parsley as an ornamental plant border. Sage makes a great filler plant in mixed containers. Golden oregano is an outstanding and hardy perennial groundcover! Herbs grow best in a good humus soil with lots of sunlight. Generally herbs like hot sunny areas. Don’t feed the plants or at least do so sparingly, they provide the best aroma without fertilizer and are easy to grow!

Watering do’s and don’ts, hot weather fertilizing, controlling grubs and bugs…

  • Water becomes a big issue in July. Hot dry weather can do a number on your prized plantings, especially when you’re away vacationing at the beach!
  • With hanging baskets, learn to tell by the weight of the basket if it needs water. Gently press against the bottom of the basket lifting it up. You’ll learn quickly to water when the basket feels light. Water so that it is running out the bottom of the basket. Soil contracts when it becomes dry, pulling away from the sides of the pot or basket. If the water applied runs across the top of the soil surface and down the sides you may not be properly watering the root ball in the center. Dunking the basket in a bucket of water or upsizing the pot for a root bound plant may become necessary this month.
  • A Michigan lawn is best watered deeply and infrequently in spring and fall, but in summer light and frequent is the key! Don’t cut the grass short to avoid stress, keep the length at 3 to 3 _ inches. Try to get an inch and a half of water a week out on the lawn by setting out coffee cans and measuring. Run the irrigation daily in the morning, sometime between 5 and 8 AM. Watering lawns during the afternoon is not efficient due to evaporation by the sun and the wind. Watering in the evening hours keeps grass blades wet all night, combined with humid weather, creating an environment ripe for disease.
  • Deep trickle the water to plants in the landscape with a garden hose or soaker hose. Plants in the landscape have different water needs than turf. Sometimes ‘stirring’ the mulch in the landscape improves water penetration and efficiencies. As the season progresses, sometimes mulch can web together forming a matting effect. The mulch is good for cooling the roots in the soil but needs to allow penetration of irrigation. The appearance of slime molds on the surface of your mulch may indicate a circulation problem.
  • Green up your lawn with a fertilizer formulated for hot weather applications. Some fertilizers like Milorganite green with iron as opposed to high nitrogen applications. These would be best to use in summer as long as you are practicing good cultural methods like morning watering and raised deck height on the mower.
  • Bugs become a big issue in July, especially Japanese beetles. Apply season long Imidicloprid or Merit to the lawn at this time of year to control grubs. Japanese beetles are the adults of the grub larvae and can do a lot of foliage and flower damage to vulnerable plants like roses and hydrangeas in July. Protect plants vulnerable to adult Japanese beetles with applications of Sevin or Neem to protect the foliage while the adults are active.

Cut back tired annuals, establish next year’s lawn, late Summer color…

  • Cut back tired annuals and feed them with a water-soluble fertilizer to rejuvenate them! Petunias and other annuals can get “leggy” and worn by August. Chopping them back part way and using a good liquid feeding can give you a resurgence of growth and flowers that will last to the frosts of October.
  • Mid-August begins the time in Michigan where the window of opportunity for establishing a new lawn is best. The period from mid-August to October 1st is prime time for seeding or sodding a lawn. In early August, kill weed vegetation in the area to be seeded with Round-up. The next step is good soil preparation and tilling to provide a good seed bed for germination and rooting. Make sure to use a starter fertilizer and do your seeding in late August and into September.
  • August is the month for planting or moving Peonies and Iris.
  • Mums and Asters become available in this month providing a splash of color to add to the landscape and containers.
  • Keep a can of wasp and hornet spray handy for this month and next. In outdoor living areas like decks, patios and porches you may need some protection. Look under resin chairs, decks and rails where they like to hide and nest.
  • Young hatched grubs can do lots of damage to drought stressed lawns this month and next. Don’t forget to irrigate lawns in hot dry weather. Turf around tree areas is especially vulnerable due to tree root and turf competition. Avoid leaf scorch and stress to the trees too, during hot dry periods run an oscillating sprinkler under and around the tree canopy.
  • Keep a steady supply of water to vegetables in the garden, especially tomatoes to avoid the cracking of the cell walls of the fruit.
  • August is a colorful time in the garden. Ornamental grasses are beginning to reach their prime. Rudbeckias, Butterfly bush; Roses along with Sedums and Hydrangeas provide great color and a playground for butterflies.

Fall really IS for gardening, planting bulbs, dividing and moving perennials…

  • September is the start of a new gardening season, the fall season. The people with the nicest yards and gardens are out working in them during the fall gardening season (September, October and November). Fall is a perfect time for planting because the soil is nice and warm, the air temperature starts to cool and we generally get sufficient natural rainfall. This makes the fall season a perfect time for establishing a lawn, trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants put more energy into establishment and roots than top growth making it the perfect time to establish new plants in the landscape. Labor Day weekend is a traditional kick off to the fall gardening season, a perfect time for yard projects. Not only do plants like the great weather in September and October, people do too!
  • Spring flowering bulbs arrive in early September. When planting tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowering bulbs, don’t make the mistake of planting them too shallow. You’ll get better results when they are planted at least 3 to 4 times the bulbs height in the soil. Make sure to work in some bulb starter fertilizer when planting. Also consider using some screening materials like chicken wire in the soil to protect the bulbs deterring rodents from digging them up for a tasty snack.
  • Plant some annuals for “cool season” color. Annuals like snapdragons and ornamental kale will look great well into November. Annuals like pansies will give you color now and then hibernate under the snow to re-appear next spring for a second season of color!
  • Perennials can be moved and divided in September, allowing them time to establish roots in their new soil home before the ground freezes for winter. Make sure the roots do not “heave” above the soil line, which will damage or kill them in winter. A light layer of mulch helps stabilize soil temperatures.
  • Fall is the perfect time for weed control, especially in the lawn (see weed control comments in the month of October).
  • Get tropicals and houseplants ready for the move indoors before the first frost. Our first frost in West Michigan is usually around October 10. Make sure to clean the plants and get them bug free. Move them to a lower light area outdoors to begin “hardening” them off for the move indoors. Re-pot into sterilized soil and consider incorporating systemic insect control soil granules. Some tropicals may need to be pruned back for the move indoors. Do some window cleaning while the weather is nice so there is good light penetration for the plants when they do make the move indoors.
  • Just like lawns, fall is a good time for establishment of groundcovers.
    Mums, Asters and Ornamental grasses can add some instant color to the yard.
    One of the most important times to feed the lawn all year is the fall season. Apply step 4 during the month of September and consider the purchase of a 5th step to apply in early November.
  • Consider core-aerating lawns that are compacted. September is a good month to aerate turf to rejuvenate them in addition to fall feeding.
  • A good month to get on top of your moss problem. Use a moss control product and aerate the soil. Grass has roots and moss does not. The presence of moss often indicates the soil is compacted.

Weed control, grass seeding, rust, powdery mildew and red thread…

  • Fall is the perfect time for weed control. Use spray weed controls on lawns especially for tough perennial weeds like ground ivy, dandelions and violets. A pressure tank sprayer for spot weed control should be used in September, October and November. Weeds are like other plants; they are shutting down for winter. By spraying weeds in the fall months you get better translocation of herbicide into the roots making control applications more effective. Weeds will generally produce a glossy coating in hot summer months to protect against moisture loss. This makes herbicide sprays less effective for foliage penetration. In the cooler months of fall, herbicides penetrate better without the natural protective coating to prevent transpiration.
  • Continue fall planting in this month. Try to have grass seed down by the latest the first week of October. Grass seed mixes often contain Kentucky bluegrass that take 21 to 28 days to germinate.
  • Problems like rust, powdery mildew and red thread become a problem in the lawn in fall because the top growth of turf slows down. Feed the lawn and cut the grass more often taking only the top 1/3 of the leaf blade per mowing. If you didn’t fertilize the lawn in September, make sure to do so in October.
  • Cut back and clean up perennial beds. Plants can still be successfully divided and moved this month.
  • Watch weather forecasts for freezing weather. Get tender plants inside and the last of tender vegetables like tomatoes in before a killing frost. Clear nights with calm air are perfect conditions for frost when we get into the month of October.
  • October is a great time to plant trees and other “larger” transplants in the landscape. The soil remains warm well into November even though the air temperature becomes cold. Roots do not go dormant and remain active especially if soil temperatures remain warm enough. Feed deciduous trees in October. A liquid feeding of plant starter for transplanted trees will help with root establishment.
  • Continue planting spring flowering bulbs during the month of October. Plantings of tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, Dutch iris, alliums, lilies and minor bulbs will reward your efforts with great color next spring!
  • Take note of fall color during this season to plan for your garden next year. There are many tremendous plants for fall color to add to your landscape. Itea, Fothergilla, Witchhazel, Blueberries, and Oakleaf Hydrangea to name a few in regards to flowering shrubs. Perennials like Asters, Solidago, Bergenia and Heuchera look great in October. Trees like Maples, Gingko, and Dogwood provide great fall color!
  • Don’t pack away the garden hose yet. In dry weather during October or under soffits or overhangs some plants may still need supplemental watering. Do not allow evergreens to enter winter dry. Winter wind and sun could finish them off or at least cause significant damage.
  • Apply anti-desiccant sprays like Wilt-proof to broadleaf evergreens like Rhododendrons. Burlap screen susceptible evergreens like Dwarf Alberta spruce from winter burn. Plants most susceptible to damage are those that go into the winter dry, do not have a mulch cover and face the south or southwest.

Put the landscape and yard to bed for winter, fall cleanup, tipping pots (not cows!), preventing “southwest disease”…

  • Time to put the landscape and yard to bed for winter. The last cut on the lawn is usually made around the first or second week of November. The last cut should be shorter than the mowing height used during the growing season so the grass doesn’t lie flat under the cover of snow. When the snow piles up, if the grass isn’t long you run less of a risk for both snow mold and vole problems.
  • Rake leaves off the lawn. Don’t allow leaves to mat down on the turf under the snow. Use a mulching mower to at least grind up the leaves finely. Leaves finely mulched by the mower are great for compost piles and for tilling into planting beds and gardens.
    Tip pots upside down or put them into storage so they don’t collect water and break in freezing weather. Take apart fountains, store the pump and position the fountain so it doesn’t collect water causing freeze damage.
  • Keep some thawed soil in the garage or basement to use in planter boxes or barrels for arrangement of evergreen boughs and ruscus by mid-month. Many plants in the landscape can also be pruned for Christmas season arrangements like red twig Dogwood and willows.
  • Put tree wrap on the trunks of young trees to prevent “southwest disease” or splitting of the bark in winter. Chicken wire is also a good idea around the trunks of young trees to avoid rodent and rabbit damage. Set out vole traps and make sure the grass is not long in surrounding areas.
  • Allow roses to naturally shut down before winterizing. In most years, roses do not drop their foliage until mid-November. Soil mounding around the graft using rose collars or protection with rose cones should be done in November and not before. If using rose cones, make sure to provide some ventilation by poking pencil size holes in the styrofoam.
  • Get out some extension cords and lights for some Christmas decorating on days when the weather still affords somewhat comfortable working conditions. Take advantage of those opportunities in November when the “nice” days are generally few and far between!

Decorate with fresh greens, winter is for the birds, gifts for the gardener…

  • It’s the Christmas season! Decorate with fresh greens, wreaths and garland. Brighten the indoors with Poinsettias, Christmas cactus and Norfolk Island pine. Plant some paperwhite narcissus or Amaryllis. Plant some spring flowering bulbs for forcing putting them in cold dark storage (40 to 45 degrees) for 12 to 16 weeks.
  • Put a fresh cut on the handle or stump of your fresh cut Christmas tree. Put the tree immediately in water and keep the water fresh and plentiful in the tree stand. Try to locate fresh cut trees away from heat sources in the home.
  • Don’t forget the birds at this time of the year! They need the feeders to be clean and filled with food. In return they’ll provide color and entertainment for you in the winter landscape.
  • Remember a gift card from Flowerland makes the perfect Christmas gift for the gardener on your gift list. Merry Christmas!