Category Archives: Vegetable Gardens

What to Plant in Your Garden This Spring


What to Plant in Your Garden This Spring

Gardening can be fickle this time of year, when the weather is still unpredictable. While most summer foods can be planted in months to come, there are still a few early spring favorites that will bloom with the season and provide green thumbs a chance to tend to their gardens early. The best part: these picks grow quickly, allowing for optimal use and care. Check out some of the best plants and produce to add to your garden for late spring!

Spinach, Lettuce, and Kale

These three leafy favorites have a quick turn-around in their respective growing seasons. Spinach is tough, and planting it close together can yield a bountiful supply of leaves for salads. Lettuce needs a bit more room to reach its proper size, especially when you are curating whole heads, but it can be picked and utilized at several stages of growing. Kale is the unsung hero of quantity in the garden; the smaller leaves can macerate in as little as three to four weeks, with big leaves taking less than two months.

Other Vegetables

Beets are a choice veggie to plant this time of the year due to their versatility. Turnips, onions, and asparagus are also savory options for planting, and the mild quality of soil at this time leaves several other food choices open to consider adding to your space. Frosts usually taper out around this time of year, and knowing what will flourish after the initial cold is helpful when planting vegetables.

Flowers

Often, flowers planted in close proximity to edible plants can assist the growing process and give your garden a pleasing appearance. Daffodils and tulips are classic choices and are easy to come by. Annuals have minimal upkeep and will bloom every year, and cornflowers, poppies, and sweet peas are beautiful plants that will give your yard dependable beauty time after time.

Herbs

Not all herbs are suited for spring planting, but several will outlast the weather and thrive in summer-time. Chives, mint, thyme, and tarragon are all perennials that will yield results well into the year. Rosemary and sage are also popular options that do well when the soil is heating up in warmer months. Conducting research on the best soil types for herbs is an important step to successfully growing them, so do your reading before planting!

Contact Blue Tree

Increase your garden’s potential with Blue Tree! Our services can help upgrade the landscaping in and around your garden, install proper soil, and equip your yard with stylish fencing and accessories that are sure to please. Let us help you build the garden of your dreams, and contact us with questions and inquiries today!

How to Protect Your Plants from Frost Damage

 Image result for plants with frost

How to Protect Your Plants from Frost Damage

As the weather gets colder, you may wonder how you can protect your plants from frost. Some plants are able to survive better in colder weather than others. Still, there are many ways that you can protect your plants against the harsher weather so that they regrow in the warmer months.

Which Plants Are Affected?

Plants that are more equipped to survive freezing conditions include perennials, which are plants that live for more than two years. The plants that are most likely to be affected by frost include tropical plants, warm-season plants and vegetables, plants that bloom in the spring, houseplants, and citrus trees. Tropical plants, of course, cannot typically survive the freezing winter months. If you still have any houseplants outside or on your porch, be sure to bring them inside. In addition to that, dig up any delicate plants that are unlikely to survive the frost, pot them, and bring them indoors.

Cover Your Plants

A cover can help protect your plants from damage at below-freezing temperatures. Before nighttime, cover any vulnerable plants (and the surrounding soil) with a blanket, sheet, or tarp. Make sure to use a “breathable” fabric so that the cover does not trap moisture, and make sure to secure the cover with rocks or bricks. Remove the cover in the morning so that the plants can get sunlight and warmth. You may need to add stakes underneath to hold the cover up during bouts of rain or snow so that the plant doesn’t become damaged.

You can also buy or create individual plant covers. To do this, you’ll put stakes around the plant and then cover the plant in burlap. To further insulate the plant, you can add hay to the inside of the cover. As with a larger cover, be sure to remove individual covers in the morning so that your plant continues to get sunlight.

Protect the Roots

While the plant might appear visibly dead, the root is likely still alive. Protect the roots of your plants by adding mulch or hay. You can also add warm water to your plants at night to help protect them against colder temperatures.0

Contact Blue Tree

Ensuring that your plants survive the winter can involve a lot of work. In order to prevent time-consuming care, it might be best to landscape your yard in a way that incorporates fewer vulnerable plants. If you need advice on which plants to choose for your yard, or on how to maintain your yard during the winter months, contact Blue Tree Landscaping. Blue Tree can help with all of your landscaping, hardscaping, and lawn care needs.

Everything You Should Know About Planting in the Fall

Everything You Should Know About Planting in the Fall

Early fall is a great time to add new plants to your yard or garden. You’ll want to plan out what you’re going to plant long before your area will experience an intense frost so that your plants have time to root. The fall offers a great climate for your plants to grow, in addition to a more pleasant environment for you to work in. The following are all of the items you should plant this season.

Plant Vegetables in Your Garden

There are many vegetables that should be planted during cooler weather, such as different types of lettuce, salad greens like kale or spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes, and cauliflower. Most of these vegetables should be planted as early in the fall as possible, or even in the late summer. So, make sure to check the seed packet before starting. Types of garlic and onion, for example, can be planted in the fall to be harvested in the spring or summer. This is also a great time to plant many types of herbs, like basil.

Plant Flowers for Spring

Now is the best time to plant flowers that will bloom in the spring. Unlike planting in the spring, when the ground is still cold from the winter, planting in the fall allows the flowers to root while the ground is still warm. Perennial flowers, like tulips, black-eyed Susans, pansies, peonies, and daffodils, are all great choices to plant now. This is also a good time to plant roses. Come springtime, you will have a beautiful array of flowers in your yard.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

It is also beneficial for trees and shrubs to take root while the ground is still warm. Trees and shrubs with fall colors — such as deep reds, oranges, and yellows — would be a great addition to your yard. Try planting a Japanese maple tree in your front yard to spruce up your landscaping. This is also a good time to plant larger trees, such as various types of maple or pine trees.

Make Your Yard Stand Out

Landscaping is a key component to making your yard stand out. Combined with hardscaping, landscaping your yard helps you to make the most of your outdoor space. Contact Blue Tree Landscaping to transform your yard into the manicured lawn you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you have an idea in mind or need help brainstorming, Blue Tree will help you every step of the way.

Tips for Keeping Your Home Landscape Budget-Friendly

prosemediaBig, beautiful home landscapes are on everyone’s favorite Houzz boards, but what can you do when you don’t have the budget for something so grand? Follow these tips to achieve backyard bliss, regardless of your cash on hand:

Home Landscaping on a Budget

Flowers Galore

Plants and flowers add interest to any space. Stick to perennial additions that will pop up year after year, rather than purchasing new plants each season. Looking for somewhere to place them? Rather than splurging on expensive containers, raid your kitchen cabinets for chipped dishware–even an empty fishbowl will work for your potted plants. Get creative, scour neighborhood yard sales for unique (and cheap) finds, and save.

Compost Pile

Don’t throw away those kitchen scraps. Your garden will love the nutrients they provide. Create a compost pile. Not only can it save you a few bucks on fertilizer, and rich dirt, but it will also help keep these items out of the landfill.

Love Thy Neighbor

Has your neighbor been gifted with a green thumb? If so, it’s about time you two buddied up! Instead of springing on expensive lawn equipment that you’ll only use once or twice each season, why not see if your neighbor has equipment you can borrow (or rent) for the day? Judging by their yard, your neighbor may also be a great person to ask for gardening, and home landscaping advice.

Shop Smart

If you’ve had your eye on certain landscaping tools, don’t buy them in the spring or early summer. Wait until late summer, fall, or winter to check those clearance racks. Stores mark up must-have items depending on the season. A little patience can have a big payoff!

Mulch It

Pulling weeds isn’t fun, but mulch can help keep your flower beds strong, and tidy. Use the right amount of mulch for your yard to not only create a finished, polished look, but to also keep down weeds, and avoid lost nutrients. Just make sure you don’t buy more than you need!

Economical and Beautiful Landscaping

Use common sense when you work on your yard this summer. Don’t buy something just because it is on sale. See if it fits your landscaping goals, and matches the needs of your specific region.

Give your landscape the best possible start by turning to a trusted landscaping company. Blue Tree Landscaping is the one-stop-shop for everything lawn, garden, and pool. Contact Blue Tree Landscaping today to see what their professionals can do for you.

Landscaping Ideas for Small Yards

small yardsHaving a small yard doesn’t mean you have to limit your landscape design. With a little creativity, you can utilize both hardscaping and softscaping elements to create a welcoming space.

 

Make Outdoor Rooms

When you’re feeling cramped inside your Philly home, look to your yard as an opportunity for growth. View the outdoors as a series of rooms. Along with places for dining and relaxation, you can add a garden or even a shed office that will more than double the space you have inside by adding functional rooms outside.

Follow the Rules of Perspective

Design your landscape using the rules of perspective– the premise that parallel lines meet toward the center at a single vanishing point– so that certain objects and plants will appear smaller than others. By following these guidelines, your yard will feel more spacious than ever before. Introduce dwarf plants and conifers for pizazz that won’t overwhelm your yard.

Set Up Diagonal Paths

You may already know that winding paths can add visual interest to your outdoor space, but for a small yard, these paths are even more important. For tighter spaces, it is best to use diagonal lines. Your yard will look and feel larger as a result.

Mix It Up

Add some interest to a small, rectangular lot by adding different textures and patterns. Use walls, fences, raised flower beds, and other vertical plantings, in combination with raised decks and potted flowers, to break up the space.

Keep it Simple

Some yards, and lifestyles, benefit from a minimal approach. Rather than cluttering your lawn with more chairs than you’ll likely ever need, consider a space-saving bench that doubles as storage. Just be sure to set space aside so you can add chairs whenever necessary.

Let the Garden Grow

A small yard doesn’t have to forego a garden. Forget about the orderly garden rows, and go for vertical or raised planting beds. Take a cue from the Victorian-era, and mix fruits and vegetables into these planting beds as well. Add in hardscaping elements for a finished look.

Small Yard Savers

When a small yard still feels like it’s missing something special, turn to Blue Tree Landscaping, the one-stop-shop for everything lawn and garden. From design to planning and maintenance, stick with the professionals to get the job done right.

Contact Blue Tree Landscaping today to make even the smallest yard spectacular.

6 Tips for Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Your Garden

6 tips for growing vebetablesWhether you’re a well-seasoned gardener, or you’re digging into the dirt for the first time, these tips can help anyone make this their best (and greenest) year yet.

 

Tips for Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Your Garden

Test Your Soil

An important, though often overlooked step, is testing your soil. This step is crucial for developing a successful and productive garden. Knowing the pH of your garden will help you determine what you should plant. Make sure you consider whether the soil is dry and sandy, or wet and full of clay. You will need to consider the location as well, and take the light level and drainage into account.

Easy to Grow

If this is your first garden, try to keep it as simple as possible. Choose easy to grow vegetables and herbs that don’t require too much maintenance, and that can withstand Philly’s seasonal ups and downs. Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, and herbs, like basil and oregano, are fabulous choices for any garden.

Think Outside the Plot

Containers can be a great solution for most any garden. If you’d like to plant strawberries, you can easily plant them in a container. Hanging baskets can also perk up your patio or deck. Did you know some plant varieties prefer the shade? Find vegetables that can handle chilly Philly temperatures. Take a look at what your neighbors are doing. Chances are, if it works for them, it can work for you, too.

Sun or Shade?

Vegetables and herbs have different light requirements. Tomatoes love sun. Green beans, on the other hand, can thrive with just four hours of full sun a day. Herbs, for the most part, need constant summer sun—but there are always exceptions. Read the labels, and do your research.

Jot it Down

Grab your notebook. Keep track of what’s working. You may think you can remember everything—but you likely won’t. Make it easy on yourself, and write down which vegetables and herbs are growing especially well. Include how many you planted and where. Draw it out. This is a great way to track your progress, and assess what’s really working for your garden, so you can plant the winners again next year.

Ask Questions

Folks with a green thumb are all around you. This may be the perfect time to get to know your neighbors. You could even get your gardening questions answered at a local nursery.

 

Productive Gardens Start Here

Feeling lost and overwhelmed? Get started on the right path. Call Blue Tree Landscaping for a one-stop-shop on everything lawn, garden, and pool.

Animal-Friendly Ways to Keep Critters Out of Your Petunias

crittersCritter deterrent needn’t be a toxic affair. Whether you want to keep your garden design chemical-free for your children or for your pet, there are ample all-natural approaches.

Many of the non-toxic animal repellents are critter-specific, so begin by making a list of the specific animals that you want to keep out of your garden.

Deer—Garlic

Deer love munching on plants and veggies in gardens, which, while it looks majestic, can really throw off your landscape design. But as it turns out, deer have something in common with vampires: they hate garlic. So to deter these majestic overeaters, create some garlic ‘tea’ and spray it over the plants you want to protect. The process is simple…boil a couple mashed garlic cloves in 4 cups of water to release the oil in the garlic. Let the garlic ‘tea’ cool, and then pour it in a spray bottle. This method also works for rabbits!

Chipmunks—Soap

Chipmunks (as well as deer and rabbits) don’t like the smell of soap, for some reason. Pick a strongly-scented soap, like Irish Spring, grate it or cut it into thin slices, and then place that at the base of the plants you want to protect. You can also use dish soap. Put a few small squirts into a spray bottle filled with warm or hot water and spray it on the desired areas of your garden.

Mice, Rats, and Squirrels—Urine

Urine is an extremely effective animal repellent…although not most people’s favorite choice for obvious reasons. Don’t worry about popping a squat in your yard though—you can purchase coyote or fox urine at a sporting store (or online). It doesn’t have the smell that human urine does. Most yard critters, including deer, mice, rats, and squirrels will all stay away as it alerts them that there’s a dangerous predator nearby.

Frequency of Use

The biggest downside to using natural, non-toxic methods to deter animals from your garden design is that they don’t tend to last as long as their toxic counterparts. However, if you feel strongly about non-toxic alternatives, you hopefully won’t mind reapplying them regularly.

Natural critter deterrents generally need to be sprayed again after each rainstorm, as they wash away more easily than chemicals.

Any Critter—(Humane) Trapping

One way around replacing the natural deterrent time and time again is to get rid of the critter permanently. By purchasing a humane trap or using a humane trapping service and relocating the animal to another location, you can create a more permanent solution to small pest problems.

No Time for That?

If you want a natural, non-toxic critter repellent but don’t have the time to make one yourself, you can also order it online here.

How to Plan for Late Summer & Early Fall Planting

Late Summer PlantsWith the late summer malaise that encourages us all to relax and relish in the landscape design beauty that we’ve built, don’t forget about late summer/early fall planting. Keeping your garden and landscape design in mind even during these late season months will help your plants spring up beautifully after the winter thaw.

 What to Plant in August & Fall

Late summer and fall planting is significantly different from spring and summer planting. Instead of selecting flowers and vegetables that will spring up over the coming months, you’re planting quickly-sprouting vegetables and plants that will hibernate over the winter and sprout in the spring. You also need to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in your landscape design planning.

To help point you in the right direction, consider the following factors when planting in the late summer and early fall:

 Bulbs

Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs for next year. By allowing them to lay dormant over the winter, you’ll get beautiful blooms in the spring after the winter thaw. If you don’t plant bulbs now, then they won’t bloom in the spring, as dormancy is part of their blooming cycle.

 Be a Pansy

Late summer is also a great time for planting pansies. By planting them now, you’ll get a late fall bloom, and then another beautiful bloom in the spring. This means you’ll get double your money from these long-time gardening favorites.

To help the pansies bloom as successfully as possible, you’ll want to remove any dying non-perennials around them, giving them room to roost. If you have a mulcher, consider adding a layer of mulch to help prevent thaws and refreezes from damaging the early growth cycle of these (and other) plants.

 Cool-Weather Veggies

If you spent all summer saying ‘next year I’ll plant a veggie garden,’ it isn’t too late! August is a great time to plant cool-weather veggies like broccoli, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, chards, and more. If you haven’t germinated seeds yet, you’ll want to count back from the upcoming frost date to ensure that you have time to grow them to an edible status before the first frost. If you don’t have time for any of the longer growth options then consider fast-growing plants such as lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens.

Garden & Landscape Design

If during your end-of-summer planting and prep time you notice that your yard is somewhat lacking in luster…or if you consistently run out of space during outdoor entertainment events—then consider giving us a call here at Blue Tree. Fall can be a great time to plan for patio expansions, pool additions, irrigation sprinklers, and other landscaping elements. Don’t wait until spring to spruce up your yard—because spring turns into summer quickly, and you may lose another patio season!

8 Summer Garden Watering Tips to Help Your Plants Thrive

Summer Garden WateringAny seasoned gardener knows that gardening is hard: there’s a serious science behind all of it, from planting the right plants in the right places to giving them the correct amount of water. The science behind proper watering is why professional irrigation sprinkler systems have become so popular.

When it comes to watering, more isn’t necessarily better. A professional irrigation sprinkler system that targets the right areas might be a great solution to look into. But in the meantime, to help you water in the most efficient way (for your plants, your budget, and the environment) we’ve put together our 8 top watering tips:

1. Don’t Water Too Often

Healthy plants require healthy roots—and watering too often is inefficient for the root system. Allowing the roots to dry out a little before watering encourages their growth, which makes for healthier plants. So, don’t water everyday (unless it’s one of our scorching hot Philly summer days, and the earth is bone dry). Generally, watering 2-3 times a week is plenty.

2. Water Well

The above point recommends not watering everyday (especially for flower beds), but when you’re watering a few days a week, be sure to water thoroughly—although don’t create an impromptu swimming pool.

3. Time your Watering

Whether you’re standing there with a hose or have an automatic irrigation sprinkler system, time your watering correctly. Ideally, you want to water early in the morning or late in the evening. Avoiding watering midday will keep the majority of the water from evaporating, and you’ll keep your leaves from burning.

4. Avoid Watering the Leaves

Watering the leaves instead of the base/roots of the plant can keep them from burning, but it will also encourage mold and plant diseases. Plant diseases thrive in hot, moist environments—especially on the leaves themselves.

5. Don’t Water All at Once

If you have plants that require a large quantity of water, it’s better to water them in parts. So water the flowerbed, then move on to another section. Once the water has seeped into the soil you can return to water the flowerbed again.

6. Water Distribution

Be mindful of where you’re watering plants, as continually watering one side over the other will encourage lop-sided root growth. Lop-sided roots disrupt healthy nutrient absorption.

7. Use Moisture Sensors

If you want to be a high-tech, environmentally-conscious gardener, you can install water sensors that will alert you to the right density of water. Installing these on existing irrigation systems can make a big difference on your water bill (although it will take some time for them to ‘pay for themselves’).

8. Never Ever Over Water

More truly isn’t better with garden watering. Overwatering, aka ‘waterlogging,’ can deprive the roots of much-needed oxygen. Roots can drown in water.

Proper watering can enhance an already beautiful garden. If your garden and overall landscaping is lackluster, then call the pros here at Blue Tree Landscaping. Our professional landscapers in the Philadelphia area can help you plan your garden with the right plants for specific locations based on sun patterns, drainage, and a number of other critical factors.

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Yard This Summer

pestsPests are, well…pesky. The small little life forms that invade your beautiful plants and garden during the hot summer months can range from a simple annoyance to a danger to your beautiful flowers and landscaping. Of course, there are strong pesticides and other chemicals you can use, like organophosphates—but many of us prefer a natural approach.

Here is a breakdown of your options to help your garden stay pest free this summer:

Chemical Pesticides:

Chemical-based pesticides like organophosphates, carbamate, organochlorine (banned in many places due to health and environmental concerns), and pyrethroid work to adversely affect and disrupt insects’ nervous systems. These methods are generally quite effective, especially since sprayers tend to use a ‘blanket approach,’ but many homeowners have doubts about their safety for animals and small children.

Biopesticides:
Biopesticides are naturally occurring pesticides, derived directly from nature. These include microbial pesticides (like a bacteria, fungus, or virus), Plant-Incorporated Protectants (proteins and other elements that cause plants to produce their own natural pesticides), and biochemical pesticides (similar to chemical pesticides, but naturally occurring).

The Healthy Plant Approach

Many gardeners try to employ the ‘healthy plant’ approach to pests. That is, if a plant is healthy it is significantly less likely to attract pests and insects. Maintaining vigilance in your garden design with deadheading, the process of pinching off and removing diseased plants, can be an excellent first line of defense in the war against pests.

Predators

If you include plants in your garden design that attract insect predators, like ladybugs, bees, praying mantises, and spiders, you can create a natural pest-control plan.

The Targeted Natural Approach

There are natural deterrents to pests that are completely safe and highly effective. However, you need to know which insects to target:

  • Aphids hate strong-smelling plants and are vulnerable to nearly every predator. So, plant chives, basil, mint, and etc.
  • Slugs and snails can be controlled with broken eggshells (as they cause non-lethal pain, which causes the creatures to move elsewhere) and with beer (they drown in it).
  • Mosquitoes can be controlled naturally by spraying eucalyptol oil and/or by planting lemongrass.

 DIY Organic Natural Insecticide

If you’re bothered by an array of pesky insects but don’t want to blanket the whole garden with chemicals, consider creating your own natural insecticide. It’s easy, cheap, and you probably already have the ingredients in your home. For soft-bodied insects, spray a mixture of two tablespoons of biodegradable liquid soap and a quart of water. Aphids hate coffee and caffeine, so spread wet coffee grounds in aphid-affected areas.

For a more ‘all purpose’ spray, boil strong spices like garlic, onions, mint, ginger root, and cayenne pepper. Let the mixture sit overnight, strain out any solids, and pour into a spray bottle to spray plants and areas afflicted by insects.

 Planning

Controlling insects and pests naturally takes planning. If you’re in need of a holistic garden design, Blue Tree Landscaping in Philadelphia can help. Call us today for a plan for your landscape design.