I’ll admit I was so terrified my plants would die from a lack of water that one of my plants got a touch of root rot. So I read about drowning plants with over-watering and started to over-correct by watering them less– and less to the point they were bone dry and dead. My poor plants.
It’s time we simplified—watering is actually quite easy. Here are some tips to get you back on track with worry-free watering
Tip 1: Know your soil
Your soil is unique, so knowing some basic information can really help ease your gardening journey. Knowing things like pH and drainage properties is important. You can talk to the pros at your local garden center to find out what’s common in your area, or send a soil sample for analysis with your local extension.
Basically, there are three types of soils, high-draining sand, slow-draining clay, and the middle-of-the-road, silt. Most people land somewhere on the spectrum between these soil makeups, and this will determine how your soil drains water. This is important because it will determine which plants will easily thrive, and how frequent you’ll have to water to account for the drainage.
For example, succulents like it dry, sandy soils that drain fast and don’t hold in water are best for them. Others, like Hydrangea and Ninebark use more water, so if your soil is sandy, you may want to choose lower water use species, or settle for watering more often.
Tip 2: Check your Soil – 2 inch rule!
Dig into the soil to about two inches deep and feel if the soil is dry or moist. If the soil is dry it’s time to water. If the soil is moist, don’t water yet, and check again later. You can also buy a soil moisture sensor to get even more accurate and test further down near the roots.
Tip 3: Add Mulch
Mulch is possibly the easiest and best thing you can do to keep your plants hydrated. Adding a 2-3 inch layer of natural landscape mulch will make you happy in 4 ways:
Efficient watering – Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil. Conserving water makes sense and saves you money.
Prevents weeds – Spend less time pulling weeds and more time relaxing.
Creates a clean look – Mulch makes your garden beds beautiful, creating a clean, consistent look that’s weed free.
Mulch breaks down over time, releasing nutrients to your plants. Replenish every 1-3 years
Tip 4: Water early in the day
The best time to water is in the morning before the sun is bright in the sky. By watering earlier in the morning you are giving your plant the time it needs to absorb the water and handle the heat of the day.
Tip 5: Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation
If you set up drip irrigation or soaker hoses rather than spraying from above, you will save water, time, and work! You can even connect an automated timer that will control the watering based on your settings, so you can nearly set it and forget it. Talk about easy!
Watering slowly at the base of the plant also allows it to soak deep into the soil where the roots are establishing, helping them use the water efficiently.
Watering Plants in Containers
Plants in pots on your patio or balcony will dry out much faster than plants in the ground. The same watering principles apply, so check the soil moisture often and don’t be surprised if your containers need daily watering schedules in the heat of summer.
But wait! Aren’t all gardens naturally eco-friendly?
Nope — sorry to burst your bubble. But never fear! Here are 6 ways you can make your garden eco-friendly so it’s 100% Earth Day approved.
#1 – Use organic mulch
Did you know that some mulch is made from recycled tire? This may seem like a great option for its longevity and lower maintenance, but it is certainly not eco-friendly. There are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t have rubber pieces piled around your plants and yard so we’ll just leave it at that.
We recommend an all-natural, organic mulch because as it breaks down, it releases nutrients into the soil that will feed your plants over time. Natural bark mulch is also safer for kids and pets if chewed on or swallowed.
Mulch is often dyed different colors, so make sure the packaging mentions that they’re from natural sources as well.
#2 – Line garden beds with natural materials
Rocks and stones make beautiful, natural looking outlines to your garden beds. Not only do they look great, but they don’t contain plastics or other unnatural materials found in the most common products for this purpose.
#3 – Choose pollinator-friendly plants
By choosing Bloomin’ Easy plants, you’re automatically helping support pollinators. If we had to recommend one, however, it would probably be Peach Lemoande® Rose because it blooms continuously from spring until frost, giving many pollinators what they need to survive and thrive.
Bees especially need our help to grow their populations that have been in decline since the 90’s. Without bees, we wouldn’t have most of the food we enjoy today so it’s critical that we plant pollinator friendly shrubs, trees, perennials, and annuals. Bee houses are more commonly sold today, too, which is a great way to provide them with shelter. If you’re interested in learning more, here are 7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators this season.
#4 – Use organic fertilizers
Chemical fertilizer may cost less to provide food to your garden, but it’s not an eco-friendly solution. The more you use synthetic chemicals, the more you kill off the natural nitrogen fixing bacteria our ecosystems need. Not only that, but chemical fertilizers may affect your plants health. For example, continued use can lower vitamin C in citrus fruit trees and could potentially grow fungus and disease because of the lack of trace elements in the soil.
We recommend using natural fertilizers found at your local garden center, or even composted from your own compost bin at home. These require specific consideration, but if you’re willing to put in the work, it can drastically reduce food waste and provide an economical way to feed your garden.
#5 – Harvest rainwater
Harvesting rainwater makes the most eco-friendly sense because it allows us to save what mother nature gives us to use later when dry seasons hit. This can save money as well as precious resources from community reservoirs.
Make sure to investigate whether harvesting rainwater is allowed where you live. Some HOA and Strata bylaws or city ordinances don’t permit the harvesting and storing of rainwater. If this is the case, perhaps you’ll feel led to fight for your eco-friendly rights 😉
#6 – Use natural pest management
Chemical sprays and pesticides are (sadly) often more available and affordable than the natural alternatives. Many people don’t know exactly how many natural remedies are available or what to do for each problem. We recommend talking with your local garden center experts because they can help diagnose and treat each issue and they know your area best.
Did you know that Ladybugs are good for our gardens and even eat aphids? A chemical spray would kill them and pretty much all other bugs in your garden that are critical to the eco-system. If you find yourself having a common aphid problem, buying some ladybugs at the garden center can be one simple solution that you can feel good about and that’s totally eco-friendly.
There are so many things you can do to make your garden eco-friendly. We’d love to hear from you! Share how you make your garden more green in the comments below.
Experienced gardeners rely on a few important tools to make life in the garden much easier.
All of these can be used both in and outside the growing season. Even when all the crops have withered and it’s time to prep for the season ahead.
Here are six of the most important garden tools a regular gardener would be grateful for in their arsenal.
A Sturdy Wheelbarrow
If you have manure or compost to move around the garden, or even wood to make another raised bed, a wheelbarrow is a necessity as it can save countless trips back and forth.
They’re also ideal when weeding or moving plants which can be composted. Why make ten trips when you can do it all in one?
A Digging Spade
When you have a significant amount of soil to move, or if you’re filling your raised bed, there’s nothing better than a spade.
Due to the strength of the spade head, these can be great for cutting through small roots or soil which is still slightly frozen from a spring frost.
These digging spades shouldn’t be confused with a shovel. They have a larger, curved face, and are better served as a means of moving large amounts of earth.
These come in two varieties and are intended for different purposes. A fork hoe can break up already dug soil quicker than a regular garden fork.
A heavy duty hoe is ideal when you are trying to break new soil that the digging spade can’t handle. These give a more extended reach so you can cover most of your growing bed while standing on the pathway.
As with a garden fork, the fork hoe can be used as a small garden rake if you need to gather weeds or dead leaves. Just be sure not to mix the two and put the weeds on your compost heap.
When on your knees planting seedlings or transplanting plants, trowels are the best tool for digging the small holes required.
Even in hanging baskets, they can move the potting soil to the side so the plant’s roots can be placed into the soil without damaging them.
These can also come with a hand-fork style which can be ideal for breaking up soil around a plant without risk of damaging roots.
Good quality trowels constructed from cast are best as cheaper ones can bend when small rocks under the ground are hit.
It might seem too expensive to buy a pressure washer, but the amount of time and work they can save is well worth it.
Homes which have shaded patio areas might be susceptible to growing moss or lichen. This looks unsightly and can become slippery and dangerous. A good pressure washer can remove these traces with hardly any effort.
A patio can look as good as new after half an hour. There are other uses for a pressure washer, and all the mud stuck to your tools or boots can be blasted off in a matter of seconds.
These may seem like a luxury, but find the right one, and you’ll wonder how you lived without one!
When you’re in the midst of soil preparation, garden forks do what a spade or a hoe can’t.
Soil which appears to be impossible to break up will quickly be lightened and turned over. Compost or manure can easily be mixed into your freshly dug earth and spread level.
If you have your own compost heap, these are invaluable and the only tool which is suited to turn your compost.
The tines of the fork break up the clumps and allow air inside. Your plants will thank you for the investment in a good quality garden fork.
Choosing Your Tools
These 6 tools are just the basics for serious gardeners and a great place for beginners to start!
If you have limited space and only have raised beds or a container garden you can leave out the digging spade and garden fork.
No matter what tools you opt for, better quality ones are essential as they take a lot of abuse while digging, moving and clearing.
Choose wisely, and on many occasions, it might be worth spending a few extra dollars to make sure your tools will last many seasons.
May is such an exciting month for anybody who digs plants. Garden stores launch into the full spring swing, and it becomes very easy to find plants that both speak to you and work well in the space you have.
With so many options to choose from, the best piece of advice is just to find anything that inspires you and go for it. Give it a try! If you’re worried about killing it, know that the garden center staff and plant tag should equip you with all the info you need to succeed. There are also plenty of easy online resources. If you purchase Bloomin’ Easy plants, you can text the code on the tag to sign up for seasonal care tips and reminders.
The important thing about this time of year is that the weather is beautiful, and the plants you decide to grow will likely bring you lots of happiness 🙂
Of the current thirteen plants in our collection, nine of them will offer beautiful blooms in May. Those are:
1. Tilt-A-Swirl™ Hydrangea
2. Bella Bellissima™ Potentilla
3. Bella Sol™ Potentilla
4. Peach Lemonade Rose
5. Poprocks™ Rainbow Fizz™ Spirea
6. Date Night™ Tuxedo™ Weigela
7. Date Night™ Maroon Swoon™ Weigela
8. Date Night™ Crimson Kisses® Weigela
9. Date Night™ Strobe™ Weigela
Another plus to gardening in May is the plants feel less stressed when planted in comfortable temperatures versus scorching mid-summer heat. So, even if the plants aren’t blooming yet, it’s a great time of year to get them in the ground for future beauty.
Coming home after a long day to sit on the patio, relax and enjoy the outdoors is the best part of spring and summer. Make that time even more special by planting some great new friends for your outdoor space. Cheers!
Plant, Water, Relax. Kevin, from your Bloomin’ Easy Team
Warming weather means it’s time to spend more of our relaxing time outdoors. It also marks the time to head to your local garden centre to spruce up our yards and patios. If guests of your outdoor space include four-legged friends, it’s important to understand pet friendly practices so that everyone can enjoy the landscape.
Know toxic varieties before you buy
Many common plants found at any garden center are toxic to cats, dogs and horses. Here’s a great resource for learning which varieties are toxic to your pets. You will see Hydrangea on this list, but the toxic species is one specific type of Hydrangea called Hydrangea arborescens (commonly known as Lacecap Hydrangea). All of the plants in the Bloomin’ Easy collection are safe for pet friendly gardens.
Design with pets in mind
Dogs love space to run and play. Consider leaving open lawn area within your space to allow for running or playing fetch. If they can burn stored energy in a natural way, they may avoid expending it on your plants and gardens. They also enjoy shaded areas to rest after play or during the heat of summer. Shrubs and trees can provide the shelter they seek.
If you have outdoor cats, think about their desire to explore and scout other creatures when designing your landscaping. Places to hide and climb, or perhaps sunbathe will make them feel right at home. Varying your mixed beds with non-toxic shrubs, perennials, grasses and annuals will give them places to adventure, hunt and nap. Cats also love edible herbs like the obvious Catnip, Cat Thyme, Valerian and more.
It may help to install a door where both dogs and cats can come and go as they please. Every pet owner is different, but considering everyone’s needs will make for a more enjoyable space.
Less stress with durable varieties
Dogs will naturally mark their territory. It’s a good idea to hose the area after business is done to alleviate the toxicity on the grass and plants. Some varieties are actually resistant to urine such as Weigela, Spirea, Snowball Viburnum and Karl Foerster grass. In general though, choosing ornamental shrubs and hardy perennials, herbs, and grasses is smart for dog owners.