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Archives for April 26, 2016

Brentwood garden designer to battle for coveted Grand Designs award

An entrepreneuring garden designer from Brentwood is set to battle it out for a coveted Grand Designs award for the second time.

Liam Sapsford, 24, won the Grand Designs Live Garden Designer of the Year competition in 2014 and has once again made the shortlist of three competitors who will take part in a design challenge over three days later this month.

The winner will be presented with the award by Kevin McCloud, presenter of the Channel 4 TV show Grand Designs, at the biggest design exhibition in the UK at the ExCel centre in East London.

But having already won it, Liam said he wasn’t feeling any pressure to win back his crown.

“I don’t think I have anything to prove. It’s more about working with Grand Designs on something new and all the other people and businesses that will be there,” he said.

“Last time I won it was a non-stop celebration and I went on to work on really interesting projects in and around London.

“Kevin McCloud also recommended me to work on a project that is going to be on Grand Designs soon and then did my masters in Sweden.

“I also worked in Beijing and did a lot of landscape projects and after that I realised I wanted to do more residential projects.

“Asia was a bit far so I thought I would come back and try to do something here, so I set this up my own company The Garden Designer and haven’t looked back.”

Liam is a former St Martins School pupil and after leaving he went on to do a degree in landscape and garden design at Writtle College.

And after gaining a masters in entrepreneurship at a university in Sweden he has come back home full of new ideas, which he will use on his garden design in the competition.

“You get given a brief, which is quite vague as they only give you one word – this time it was ‘contrast’,” said Liam.

“I thought I could relate to the contrast between urban and nature and thought how I could create the perfect setting.

“My idea doesn’t really have boundaries, you won’t be able to mark out what is the urban section and what is the nature section.

“It will be somewhere you want to sit, play, relax and live in.”

He added: “I am using a lot of reusable timber and there will be a moss wall.

“The moss is from Norway, when I did my masters I worked for a company doing product placement and they used it – it’s really picking up.

“It’s really soft and you pin it down using a special method, it’s like a soft carpet on the wall and can be indoors and outdoors and can be good in a home or office environment.

“It’s a mad rush when you get there. As far as I can remember it gets really fast-paced but it’s a great environment to be part of, last time I learned so much.”

Liam is now working with Brentwood company Boswell Builders to build the components that will go into his garden during the three manic days of building from April 26 to 29 April.

His garden will then be on show at the Grand Designs Live exhibition at the ExCel Centre from April 30 to May 8.

To get in touch with Liam to arrange a free consultation email info@thegardendesigner.co.uk or call 07946261984.

Article source: http://www.brentwoodgazette.co.uk/Brentwood-garden-designer-battle-coveted-Grand/story-29126929-detail/story.html

10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Today’s guide to the obscure, the possibly relevant and things in between

1 After a week of strife, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan were all smiles when they walked on the set of “Live! With Kelly and Michael” Tuesday morning, the Washington Post reports. Ripa, who had been absent since the middle of last week, took the stage solo and gave a big smile to the audience, who cheered with an extended standing ovation.

The camera zoomed in on Ripa. “Guys, guys, guys,” she joked. “Our long national nightmare is over!”

Ripa’s return marks the end of a tumultuous few days for the show, after ABC announced that Strahan is heading to “Good Morning America” this fall. Ripa was reportedly “blindsided” by the news and furious with Disney-ABC executives that she only found out about the decision last Tuesday, shortly before a news release went out to the rest of the world.

As a result, Ripa didn’t show up to work on Wednesday, which triggered a slew of stories about Ripa’s anger and the possible dire fate of “Live!” itself. Ripa — who has co-hosted the show since 2001 — was gone through Monday, although a publicist said her absence Friday and Monday were due to a previously scheduled vacation.

The incident spiraled over the past week, so Ripa dedicated few minutes aside at the start of the show to set the record straight. She thanked the fans for supporting her during “this bizarre time”: “I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts,” she admitted. “After 26 years with this company, I earned the right.”

We’d have to agree.

2 Crude oil prices rose about 3 percent on Tuesday on the back of a rally in the gasoline market and as a tumbling dollar boosted commodities denominated in the greenback after bets the Federal Reserve will hold U.S. interest rates where they are, Reuters reports.

U.S. gasoline futures rallied more than 3 percent to their highest since August on Tuesday, boosting refinery margins, after a series of Gulf Coast refinery unit outages, buying from Venezuela and a reported drop in New York inventories.

“I think the market has become more optimistic on oil products,” said Scott Shelton, broker and commodities specialist with ICAP in Durham, North California. “If refining margins stay strong, crude runs will be quite high and that will make the odds of a crude stock draws increase significantly.”

Analysts polled by Reuters expect the U.S. government to announce on Wednesday that crude stocks rose 2.4 million barrels last week while distillate and gasoline stockpiles fell.  U.S. crude futures settled up $1.40, or 3.3 percent, at $44.04. Oil prices are headed for a fourth straight week of gains

3 At long last, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has identified the nine unhealthiest meals America’s chain restaurants have to offer.

We’re as excited as you are, having spent who-knows-how-many decades compiling our own version of the list Time.com published this week.

The center’s No. 1 item, weighing in at 3,600 calories and four days’ worth of sodium, is Red Lobster’s Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp and Shrimp Linguine, side orders of Caesar salad, french fries and a Cheddar Bay Biscuit — with a 24-ounce signature margarita.

Unhealthy? Sure. But before you go filling out complaint cards for the restaurant’s suggestions box, be aware IHOP, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Outback Steakhouse, The Cheesecake Factory and Sonic also made the list.

Here it is, by the way, in case your personal bucket list needs amending: tinyurl.com/bigcalories

4 It’s about time someone built a car with a detachable electric skateboard.

We’re referring to Audi’s newly unveiled concept car, the Q3, which feeds route information to the driver’s smartphone.

CNN Money says the car actually recommends parking and pulling out the rear bumber-stored longboard when it makes more sense to skate to a destination.

Does it also send out a notification when a less expensive but no less efficient model of car comes out?

5 At its best, Twitter is a place to exchange ideas, find news and connect to people we’d never meet in real life. At its worst, though, it can be an abusive and threatening cesspool, as many women have learned all too well, particularly those who dare to have opinions on things stereotypically considered to be “for men.”

Sportswriters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro regularly get online abuse and threats just for doing their job. To illustrate how unacceptable this is and to encourage people to take online harassment more seriously, the women made a video with the podcast Just Not Sports, where they had real men read to them the nasty tweets they receive. “I hope a hockey player beats you to death” and “Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby’s next victim” are a couple choice messages from real Twitter users.

Important to note: the men in the video, seemingly decent people all of them, are not the men who wrote the messages. Many can barely bring themselves to read the words, halting as they realize what they’re about to say, double-checking that they’re meant to read all of them. Some fight tears, others apologize for even repeating the words they obviously don’t mean. All have trouble getting through the Tweets while looking Spain and DiCaro in the eye.

The video was shared with the hashtag #MoreThanMean. DiCaro explained that the tweets she, Spain and women everywhere receive are more than mean, they’re harassment and illegal.

6 A new tool might come in handy for European home builders: a Geiger counter, which measures radioactivity levels.

New York Times reporter Andrew E. Kramer went back to Pripyat, Ukraine, recently — the largest city nearest the 1986 meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl — and preliminary findings are not encouraging. Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

Local forest moss is thought to be highly radioactive, and windblown dust could be laced with plutonium, for starters. Even more disturbingly, Kramer writes, loggers are clear-cutting sections of forest and selling them.

“Lumber from Chernobyl, while not exactly glowing in the dark, would pose risks to anybody living in a house made from it,” Kramer writes, citing Vadim V. Vnukov, an attorney for the Exclusion Zone Management Agency.

Or would it? Kramer talked to a logger who said by now, all radioactivity is surely deep in the area’s soil. Problem solved, etc.

“We stamp it down so it does not come out,” the logger told Kramer. “Want to buy some wood?”

Thinking we’ll build our house of bricks. Or straw. Anything but that wood.

7 Astronaut Tim Peake has just done something amazing: he’s run a marathon in space, Morningticker.com reports.

Peake completed the London Marathon, which took place Sunday, in 3 hours, 35 minutes and 21 seconds, and he did it many miles from London on the International Space Station, according to various news reports and a statement from the European Space Agency.

That time was good enough to set the record for a marathon in space, according to Guinness. The British astronaut had actually completed the London Marathon on solid ground back in 1999.

He was one of 39,000 runners to participate in this year’s London marathon, but obviously the only one to do it in space. 

8 If you ask the homeowners association of one upscale gated community in the Bay Area about the drought, they’d tell you its over. The days of cutting showers short, allowing toilets go unflushed and especially letting lawns go brown are gone.

If you don’t believe us, ask the folks who live in the Blackhawk community who received warnings that if their lawns weren’t green by June 1, they’d be soon get a fine tacked to their doors, The Los Angeles Times reports.

When the drought hit the hardest, the state declared war on the suburban lawn, that lush green patch of paradise officials said must die. Now Blackhawk homeowners say they want it back.

“We believe that allowing the drought to negatively impact the landscaping at any Blackhawk home does a disservice to property values throughout the community,” the homeowners association announced, according to the Times. “We believe there is no longer any reason that all landscaping in the community cannot flourish as it once did.”

The El Nino storms ushered through the area have flushed away the idea that the state is still in a prolonged drought, and homeowners in Blackhawk are among those calling for an end to emergency restrictions.

9 When it comes to reversing the obesity epidemic, there have been glimmers of hope that the U.S. might be making headway, especially with young children, reports NPR.

For instance, back in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented declines in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in many states. But a new study published in the journal Obesity concludes that — though the prevalence of obesity among U.S. children has plateaued in recent years — there is no indication of a national decline. Today, 33 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are overweight, and 17 percent are obese. 

So there’s work to be done, especially here in Kern County, which is among California’s most obese counties.

10 Pay phones, those relics of a not-so-distant past, remain hidden among us, and many of them still work just fine, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Statewide, the number of pay phones has decreased by more than 70 percent since 2007. But there are still thousands left. In California, there were nearly 100,000 pay phones in 2007. Now there are 27,000.

Michael Zumbo, president of the telecommunication firm PTS, says pay phones are a last defense when other forms of communication fail. A natural disaster or terrorist attack could take out cellphone towers, but pay phones would probably continue to work.

Good to know. So, where can we find one? 

Compiled by The Californian’s John Cox, Theo Douglas, Kelly Ardis, Harold Pierce and Robert Price.

Article source: http://www.bakersfield.com/news/2016/04/26/10-things-you-need-to-know-today-s-guide-to-the-obscure-the-possibly-relevant-and-things-in-between-252.html

The Dos and Don’ts of Pool Design Landscaping


Unsplash / Pixabay

Who does not want a sophisticated pool design? An elegant deck and the most beautiful titles around the pool can lighten up the exterior space for you. It is the type of investment that you would not want to say not to. The truth is, a well maintained landscape lets you complete your swimming pool area and make it compliment your home.

Landscaping lets you transform the outdoor area and it has the ability of turning your pool into a vibrant feature that goes well with your home. It is not going to be easy for you to pull off a landscaping project, especially if you are considering to make improvements around the pool. In order to help you in planning out everything well, here is a list of dos and don’ts that you must completely follow to make things look elegant:

The Dos:

  • Have a plan

You cannot actually attain any success without proper planning. Before you make any plans, it is recommended that you spend some time around the pool and yard area to see what ideas would look nice here. Then the next thing that you are supposed to plan is the budget. Whether it is installing the fencing or making the plants grow to the existing structure and design of the pool, make sure that you take everything in consideration that affects the aesthetics of the pool area.

  • Privacy

Do not forget about the privacy of the area. When you are spending time with family and friends while hanging around the pool area, you would never want any more to peak right? Therefore, whatever plants that you choose, make sure that they are placed in such a strategic way that they fence the spots if you think are going to disturb your privacy. The best types of plants to choose for this purpose are the ever green plants and shrubs.

  • Lighting

The next focus should be on making pool landscape beautiful is the lighting. You have to keep it visually appealing all the time because that is when you are going to enjoy the beauty of it. In the day time, you will have the trees and plants to maintain the privacy for you and during the night, you will have the intriguing and functional lights to provide you an amazing ambiance. You don’t really have to make it expensive. It will not be a bad idea to even choose the colorful LED lights for highlighting the focal points.

Don’ts

  • Don’t choose Grass

Yes, of course grass is a green but if you think it is going to make your pool side look amazing, then you are fooling yourself. Growing the grass means a lot of work and maintenance. This grass might find its way to the pool, making it look all grimy, unfeasible and unpleasant to use. If you want to make it look appealing, you can always use the stones and rocks and make everything look intact. This embellishment is going to be easy to maintain.

  • Do Not Avoid the Relaxation Areas

It would be a great idea to take the landscape design to a whole different level by adding some architectural data to your pool landscape. You can also create a patio and deck space or even a spot for lounging. Apart from this, an exercising spot can also be created where you can sit and relax at the pool side and you will enjoy the functional benefits of this thing.

There are going to be lots of options in front of you. The key is to talk to a landscape contractor and work on landscaping the pool area. He will come and examine the place and inquire about your ideas. Be sure that you explain everything. If some idea is not executable, you can cancel it. The best thing is that he can give you a better option that was never in your head in the first place. It is better not to take the DIY approach for this. You must find a professional contractor because this landscaping project is going to convert your place into something beautiful that you will never regret. You can approach the services of Glldubai for this purpose and get the pool side designed.

Article source: http://www.groundreport.com/dos-donts-pool-design-landscaping/

17 Landscaping Ideas For A Low-Maintenance Yard

Chris and Peyton Lambton from HGTV’s “Going Yard” reveal the secrets to a yard that’s nearly effortless to maintain.

Article source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/lawn-garden/how-to/g2581/landscaping-ideas-for-low-maintenance-yard/

Sonoma and Marin county eco-garden tour on April 30 – Sonoma Index

The Eco-Friendly Garden Tour is a public outreach and education program that promotes sustainable landscaping practices by showcasing inspiring gardens throughout Sonoma County and North Marin. The tour is organized by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. The free, self-guided 2016 tour of close to 30 gardens will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday April 30. Registration is now open.

The April 30 tour highlights Russian River-friendly and Bay-friendly landscaping best practices, and supports local certified water-efficient landscape professionals by featuring their personal or client’s gardens.

For 2016, the Partnership is collaborating with both Daily Acts and the California Native Plant Society. Daily Acts focuses on urban homesteading and permaculture and CNPS will showcase a selection of California Native focused gardens.

On the same day, April 30, Daily Acts is offering free guided “Rockin’ Homesteads Tour” running concurrently from 1 to 4 p.m. in Petaluma, Windsor and Cotati. Each tour will visit several ecological gardens with a homegrown twist. Register for both events at savingwaterpartnership.org/eco-friendly-garden-tour/.

Article source: http://www.sonomanews.com/lifestyle/5542246-181/sonoma-and-marin-county-eco-garden

Landscapers earn Phipps approval for sustainable practices – Pittsburgh Post

Bill Lucki affectionately calls the garden surrounding his home an “oasis in the suburbs.” Cultivated for 18 years since he bought the Monroeville property, he has returned it to what he calls a natural habitat.

The grass and invasive plants are all gone, replaced by natives thriving in soil made rich with many of autumn’s fallen leaves. He does not spray anything with pesticides. Sitting on his back porch last week, he lamented that other homeowners and landscape businesses fail to see how easy and fulfilling sustainable gardening practices can be.

Mr. Lucki’s business, Natural Garden Design, is one of seven landscapers around Pittsburgh this spring to display a Sustainable Landscape accreditation from Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Schenley Park.

Though it might seem a land care company would already be in the business of making things as green as possible, the level of expertise in sustainability — such as use of pesticides, soil ecology, weed and disease control — can vary widely.

And though customers are increasingly demanding sustainable land care, they are often unsure how to determine if a landscape company meets the right criteria, said Gabe Tilove, adult education coordinator at Phipps.

“Sustainability is a slippery word,” Mr. Tilove said.

That’s why Phipps, Pittsburgh’s foremost cultivation institution housed in one of the greenest buildings in the world, decided to launch an accreditation program to educate landscapers on using sustainable operating practices.

The three-day program, which Mr. Tilove said cost participants $500, consisted of three days of eight-hour classes in December. Experts from the Northeast Organic Farming Association in Connecticut helped lead sessions in areas such as soil ecology; site analysis and design; organic pest, weed and disease control; stormwater management; and more. Phipps made slight adjustments for differences based on regional contexts.

The Phipps’ accreditation program was drawn partly from organic land care standards first developed by the farming association in 2001. According to the association’s website, 500 professionals in 18 states have been accredited under its program, which is separate from that of Phipps.

Mr. Tilove said the seven business owners — who by and large already incorporated organic practices into their work — passed a test and signed a pledge to adhere to the land care standards taught in the class.

Beyond being a brush-up on skills and a networking opportunity, the program also provides businesses with Phipps’ official seal of approval — in the form of truck magnets, window stickers and digital logos.

“We set kind of a high bar,” Mr. Tilove said. “We are attracting people who are dedicated to this. So we now want to turn around and make sure that they are busy and that their business is growing.”

Walking through his Monroeville garden last week, Mr. Lucki said there’s a misconception that the organic label automatically means more work or more money.

He described organic as the opposite: “basically doing no harm” to the environment by doing less. Less spraying with pesticides, less chopping and cutting of trees and plants, and less pulling weeds if the weeds don’t present an immediate danger.

“It’s not hard to think organically,” Mr. Lucki said. “It’s a philosophy more than it is a practice. It’s just learning to look at your garden differently.”

The other six businesses that earned a Phipps accreditation are: Blue Fox Landscape Design of Gibsonia; Nurture the Nature Lawns and Landscapes of New Kensington; Sunshine Organic Lawns of Oakmont; Sylvan Gardens Landscaping of Pittsburgh; Wild Rose Landscape Design of Bridgeville; and Dancing Bee Garden Designs of Gibsonia.

Daniel Moore: dmoore@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2743 and Twitter @PGdanielmoore.

Article source: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/garden/2016/04/26/Landscapers-earn-Phipps-approval-for-sustainable-practices/stories/201604260005

Consumer Wise: Best plants for the Florida sun

Planting bright, beautiful flowers is a springtime ritual for Tina Smith.

“Get a couple of those,” Smith said as she grabbed some Marigolds. “I like the orange and yellows.”

She didn’t stop there, choosing a variety of colorful plants to dazzle her garden.

“Those will be really pretty, bright pink,” Smith said looking at an exotic bloom.

Dirty Work

Smith is not alone. We all love colorful springtime gardens, but before you get started, the folks at Home Depot say you’ve got to do some dirty work.

First, test your soil.

“If your soil is looking brown or dry, you want to make sure you get fresh soil, something that’s gonna have nutrients in it,” Home Depot Operations manager Marcus Suarez said.

Make way for new plants by getting rid of old, dead ones, and don’t forget to prune.

“Trim ‘em, cut ‘em back and let the nutrients hit the fresh growth,” Suarez says.

If you work with plants, no doubt, you’re going to get your hands dirty.  Worst of all: dirt under your fingernails. 

Here’s a quick tip to keep your nails clean:  Before you hit the garden, scratch your fingernails on a bar of soap to create a protective barrier under your nails. When you’re done, wash your hands, scrub under your nails, and your nails will be dirt free. Works like a charm!

Hardy Colorful flowers for Florida

Perennials come back every year and can cut back on the amount of work you have to do to get your garden looking good, but the annuals are most vibrant. They add the color we all love.

“For springtime, you can’t ask for anything better (than the annuals)”, Suarez says.  “You want something your neighbors are gonna say ‘Wow!’”

The key is picking varieties hardy enough to stand up to the Florida sun.  Suarez suggests cosmos, vinkas, sun impatiens, dahlias, and the old favorite, marigolds, which have the added benefit of keeping some pesky bugs away.

Angelonias are also among the most popular of the season, especially because they’re known to attract butterflies.

Maintaining Your Garden

Once you’ve finished the hard part of planting, remember to do regular maintenance:  trim and prune your plants regularly, and spray your garden with nutrients to keep your investment blooming and looking beautiful. 

More gardening tips:

  • Use the cooled water from steamed vegetables to water your plants. They’ll love the extra nutrients.
  • Try using coffee grounds as fertilizer. They’re filled with nitrogen—a great mineral to help in plant growth.
  • Water your plants with chamomile tea.  It’s a great way to help ward off bacterial and fungal infections that come with springtime.

As for cost, Home Depot says you can expect to spend about $200 for flowers, plants and supplies for an average 3′-by-5′ plot. 

Article source: http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2016/4/25/consumer_wise_spring.html

These spring gardening tips will make your lawn gorgeous for summer



Posted Apr. 25, 2016 at 1:30 PM


Article source: http://www.providencejournal.com/zz/shareable/20160425/these-spring-gardening-tips-will-make-your-lawn-gorgeous-for-summer

Daily gardening tips for May

Jessica Damiano
Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print


We’ve endured April showers (or was it snow?) so now it’s time for May flowers! Lilacs soon will perfume the air, and by month’s end vegetable seedlings will take their proper place outdoors. Weeds will be moving in, as well, and you know what that means: It’s time to get busy!

Here’s a chore or tip for every day of the month to keep your garden on track.

1. It’s World Naked Gardening Day. (Do what you will with that information.)

2. It’s time to apply mulch to beds and borders to help retain soil moisture and warmth, and suppress weeds.

3. Plant dahlia tubers outdoors when your lilacs bloom.

4. Set soaker hoses in a spiral around newly planted trees, extending out over roots as far as the canopy above.

5. If you didn’t last month, aerate the lawn now.

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6. Begin planting gladiolus corms, pointy end up in full sun, 4 to 6 inches apart. Repeat weekly until mid-June for a succession of blooms.

7. Fertilize lettuce, cabbage and spinach, and apply mulch if you haven’t already.

8. Happy Mother’s Day! Plant annuals (as long as nighttime temperatures are above 55 degrees).

9. Incorporate compost into prepared vegetable beds to enrich the soil.

10. Sow seeds of summer-blooming perennials and biennials directly in the garden.

11. Plant sweet corn.

12. Pull weeds early and often. They’ll come up easier if the ground is wet so wait until after rainfall or dampen soil with a hose.

13. Check the undersides of hollyhock leaves for orange pustules, telltale signs of rust fungus. Remove affected leaves.

14. Prune gray tips from juniper branches.

15. When potato plants reach 8 inches tall, mound soil over the lowest leaves; plants will produce more from buried stems.

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16. Deadhead sweet peas to keep the flowers coming.

17. Divide early spring-blooming perennials such as primroses after flowers completely fade.

18. Transplant herb seedlings outdoors. No need to fertilize.

19. Install supports for floppy, climbing and veining plants.

20. Check asparagus daily and harvest when spears are 6 inches tall, but not if plants are less than 2 years old.

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21. Avoid synthetic chemicals: Deal with pests with pyrethrins, Bt, insecticidal soap or neem oil.

22. Start hardening off vegetable seedlings: Set them in shade for longer periods each day for a week before transplanting. Keep watering.

23. Fertilize potted houseplants and acclimate them for their summer outdoors just as you would vegetable plants. (See May 22.)

24. Keep African violets indoors; they have no appreciation for the garden.

25. Shear an inch off Dianthus and creeping phlox when 6 inches tall for stockier plants.

26. Transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons into the garden. Watch my planting tips here: bit.ly/1TGzhFF

27. Fertilize tulip bulbs; remove foliage only after it withers.

28. Plant cucumber and squash seedlings around a support. You also can sow seeds directly into the ground now.

29. Replace fading pansies with petunias or New Guinea impatiens.

30. It’s Memorial Day, and that means it’s time to fertilize the lawn. Use 1 pound of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

31. Prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after they’ve finished blooming.

Article source: http://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/columnists/jessica-damiano/daily-gardening-tips-for-may-1.11728610

Consumer Wise: Springtime gardening tips

Planting bright, beautiful flowers is a springtime ritual for Tina Smith.

“Get a couple of those,” Smith said as she grabbed some Marigolds. “I like the orange and yellows.”

She didn’t stop there, choosing a variety of colorful plants to dazzle her garden.

“Those will be really pretty, bright pink,” Smith said looking at an exotic bloom.

Smith is not alone. We all love colorful springtime gardens, but before you get started, the folks at Home Depot say you’ve got to do some dirty work, first.  Test your soil.

Dirty Work

“If your soil is looking brown or dry, you want to make sure you get fresh soil, something that’s gonna have nutrients in it,” Home Depot Operations manager Marcus Suarez said.

Make way for new plants by getting rid of old, dead ones, and don’t forget to prune.

“Trim ‘em, cut ‘em back and let the nutrients hit the fresh growth,” Suarez says.

If you work with plants, no doubt, you’re going to get your hands dirty.  Worst of all:  dirt under your fingernails. 

Here’s a quick tip to keep your nails clean:  Before you hit the garden, scratch your fingernails on a bar of soap to create a protective barrier under your nails. When you’re done, wash your hands, scrub under your nails, and you’re nails will be dirt free. Works like a charm!

Hardy Colorful flowers for Florida

Perennials come back every year and can cut back on the amount of work you have to do to get your garden looking good, but the annuals are most vibrant.  They add the color we all love.

“For springtime, you can’t ask for anything better (than the annuals)”, Suarez says.  “You want something your neighbors are gonna say ‘Wow!’”

The key is picking varieties hardy enough to stand up to the Florida sun.  Suarez suggests Cosmos, Vinkas, Sun Impatiens, Dahlias, and the old favorite– Marigolds, which have the added benefit of keeping some pesky bugs away.

Angelonias are also among the most popular of the season, especially because they’re known to attract butterflies.

Maintaining Your Garden

Once you’ve finished the hard part of planting, remember to do regular maintenance:  trim and prune your plants regularly, and spray your garden with nutrients to keep your investment blooming and looking beautiful. 

More gardening tips:

·         Use the cooled water from steamed vegetables to water your plants. They’ll love the extra nutrients.

·         Try using coffee grounds as fertilizer. They’re filled with nitrogen—a great mineral to help in plant growth.

·         Water your plants with chamomile tea.  It’s a great way to help ward off bacterial and fungal infections that come with springtime.

As for cost, Home Depot says you can expect to spend about $200 for flowers, plants and supplies for an average 3 by 5 foot plot. 

Article source: http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2016/4/25/consumer_wise_spring.html