Deer‐Resistant Perennials and Useful Tips for Planting in the Northeast

You take pride in your landscaping and we take pride in ensuring you, our valued  customers, have a positive experience in creating beautiful areas on your property.

We also know that in this area, we experience issues with deer feeding on our plants and flowers. We have compiled a list of deer‐resistant perennials, as well as some useful tips and options for keeping deer away. A deer‐resistant perennial is defined as a perennial plant or flower that deer may overlook and not eat in favor of a more preferred plant. Some deer‐resistant perennials are:

Broom (Genista tinctoria ) ‐ 3′ tall and wide, zones 3‐8, full sun. Conical‐shaped panicles up to 3″ long of golden yellow flowers adorn this deciduous shrub from spring to early summer. Adapts to poor soil.

Siberian Iris (Iris siberica) ‐ 28″ tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Beautiful, grassy foliage makes a good contrast in any garden. Drought resistant but also does well in moist soil. Once established, there’s no weeding these expanding clumps.

Juniper (Juniperus sp.) ‐ Grows to a height of 3 to 10 feet with an equal spread. Form can be variable from low and spreading to an erect shrub. Cones are berry‐like. Leaves are evergreen needles but can turn light brown during the winter. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils. Grows best with full sun. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Peony (Paeonia sp.) ‐ 30‐36″ tall, zones 3‐8, full sun to part shade. Variety of colors, bloom times range from spring to early summer. Stunning cut flower. Avoid planting your peony too deeply and be patient with it as it can take a few years to settle in before it begins to flower ‐ the blooms are well worth the wait!

Oriental Poppy (Papaver Orientale) ‐ 30″ tall, zones 3‐7, full sun. Make your neighbors jealous with this superbly beautiful flower. Deeply cupped satiny petals, each with a pure black center, are borne above toothed, hairy foliage. Oriental poppies love to be planted in the fall for bloom the following spring. They love rich soil, feeding, and regular watering.

Potentilla (Potentilla cinquefoil) ‐ 2‐3′ tall, 5′ wide, zones 3‐7, full sun. White, pink, or yellow flowers throughout the summer. Blue‐green foliage, spreading habit. The name comes from the Greek word “potens,” meaning powerful, from reputed medicinal qualities. Enjoy the summer‐long flowering qualities of these selections and your deer will leave the taste testing to the drug companies. These tough, deciduous shrubs thrive in almost any soil.

Spiraea (Spirea sp.) ‐ Grows 2 feet high with 3 to 4 feet spread. Early bloomer with luxurious shows of white flowers. Yellow‐red new growth makes this spirea attractive all season. Best in full sun, tolerates shade, but will flower less. Moist soil. Zones 4 –8.

Ornamental Chives (Allium sp.) ‐ 6‐12” tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Globe‐shaped flowers fascinate folks with their gravity‐defying structure. Even though many Alliums are all under a foot tall, they will catch your eye, accenting shrubs or borders. Foliage has enough onion smell to keep those deer at bay.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) ‐ Typically grows from 5 to 6 feet high but can reach 10 feet. Spreads easily and forms colonies. Foliage is semi evergreen, aromatic. Will grow well in dry, infertile, sandy, acidic soils. Grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Other options include deer fencing, noisemakers, and deer repellents. Fencing seems to be the surest option, but selecting deer‐resistant perennials is highly recommended. Visit the Garden Center and our staff will help you pick the right perennial for the right place.

Fall Garden ChoresFall Gardening Chores Made Easy

We made it through the dog days of summer, and now the leaves are changing, and the temperature is dropping. Crisp days and cool nights are upon us, which means it is time to put your gardens to bed and finish up your fall gardening chores before the snow flies!

How to begin fall cleanup

The first thing to do is to take a quick look around your beds and start with a good clean-out. Leave ornamental and wildlife-friendly plants standing. Next, take out any unhealthy plants and destroy the debris to minimize next year’s issues with squash bugs, cabbage worms, and other pests and diseases. Now is also a good time to trim any dead or broken limbs. Doing it now, will save time later.  A hard freeze or heavy snow can break more branches and cause more damage during winter. Gather up and dispose of any dead leaves. Once crumbly after aging in a heap, they make great mulch, or can be turned into beds to add organic matter.

Fall lawn care tips

Take another look around and think about the lawn. It’s best to do heavy raking now as opposed to in the spring. If you notice spots of grass that are bare, throw down some seed and cover it with a half, or three-quarter-inch layer of compost. This will help to prevent weeds later and protect the seed. Now about those weeds, clean them up now! Getting rid of weeds now, means less seeds which translates into fewer weeds when the weather warms up again. This will make your spring weeding faster, and way more manageable.

Fall watering

If you are experiencing a dry fall, be sure to water trees now through the hard frost, so that they enter dormancy well-hydrated. Evergreens (needled ones and broadleaf types like rhododendron, too) are particularly vulnerable to desiccation and winter burn.

Look for ways to improve your gardens

Thoughtfully take apart the vegetable garden as crops fade, with an eye to improved future performance. Think about tilling less, about cover crops, and about generally boosting soil health. Make sure to protect or store weather-vulnerable pots and the tender plants in them. At a minimum, move pots under cover, where they will dry off to minimize the thaw effects of weather. Finally, look back at the season and see what worked well, and what can you change for next year. Maybe you need to expand your garden and reduce the number of trees and shrubs? Which plants did well, and which one might you trade out for something else next year? Enjoy your last tomato plant while watching old man winter make his way in. Spring will be here before you know it, so relax and enjoy this season of change.  

Basic Rules of Pruning

Tree PruningEarly spring is by far the best time to prune your shrubs and trees. Dormant pruning (shortly before the spring growth starts) minimizes the amount of time fresh wounds are exposed. Also, pruning before there are leaves allows you to make better decisions because the structure of the plant is not obscured by leaves.

However, trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming. Some examples include azalea, chokeberry, forsythia, magnolia, or early blooming spirea.

Shrubs grown primarily for their foliage should be pruned prior to when their spring growth begins and some examples include barberry, burning bush, and honeysuckle.

Some trees such as maples, butternuts, walnuts, and birch trees have free flowing sap in the late winter or early spring. While this is generally not a major concern, unless you are into syrup making, pruning of these species can be done in late spring or early summer to avoid the loss of sap.

Rules for Pruning Trees

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, you should follow these steps when pruning your trees.
  1. Begin visual inspection at the top of the tree and work downward.
  2. Use The ⅓ and ¼ Rules of Pruning
    • Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season
    • Ideally, main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the trunk.
    • For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.
    • Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical that form “10 o’clock” or “2 o’clock” angles with the trunk.
  3. For most species, the tree should have a single trunk. Identify the best leader and lateral branches before you begin pruning and remove defective parts before pruning for form.
  4. Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts. For aesthetics, you may feel better painting large wounds but it doesn’t prevent or reduce decay.
  5. Keep tools sharp. One-hand pruning shears with curved blades work best on young trees.
  6. For high branches use a pole pruner. A major job on a big tree should be done by a professional arborist.
  7. For larger branches, cut outside the branch bark and ridge collar (swollen area). Do not leave a protruding stub. If the limb is too small to have formed a collar cut close.
  8. When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a lateral bud or another lateral branch. Favor a bud that will produce a branch that will grow in desired direction (usually outward). The cut should be sharp and clean and made at a slight angle about ¼ inch beyond the bud.

Many homeowners are leery of pruning around their yard and we understand! It can be scary to cut something back and hope you did it right and aren’t killing your tree or bush. However, pruning is vital for maintaining healthy growth. If you are unsure, feel free to give us a call and our Landscape Maintenance team would be more than happy to come out and take care of the pruning for you.

Landscape Lighting is the Secret to an Outstanding Space

Nightscaping is one of the hottest trends in home improvement today. It is an often overlooked design feature outside your home but is something you’re bound to enjoy as it will call you outside on those perfect evenings.   Most of us spend our days working inside rather than outside. Many nights, once we get home, fix dinner, take care of the kids or finish up chores the sunlight has faded. Without the right landscape lighting, there may not even be a reason to go outside at all. Soft outdoor lighting will not only enhance your deck, patio or yard, it has the ability to transform it into a place you’ll love to be – no matter if it is already dark out or not.   Imagine a warm summer night, a soft breeze in the air, an inviting patio with soft landscape lighting and your favorite relaxing playlist. Pure bliss, right? A well designed and lit outdoor space is exactly what you need to enjoy your home just a little bit more. Whether you are alone with the family or entertaining guests – it can set the mood and expand your living space into the great outdoors.  

Advantages of Landscape Lighting

 
  • Provide a warm, inviting ambience for you and your guests
  • Create any type of mood you’d like it to – romantic, dramatic and intriguing designs are all options
  • Highlight your plants and flowers around the garden or landscape setting
  • Highlight the focal points of your outdoor area
  • Hide eyesores
  • Accent special plants or trees
  • Add security for your home – lights often deter burglars and crime
  • Add a layer of safety by highlighting paths for walking or avoiding dangerous things around the yard
  • Highlight the beautiful architectural features of your home
  • Create a festive place to entertain your guests
Our landscape design specialists can help you plan the perfect nightscape setting for your home. When you have a beautiful space to come home and relax in, you will enjoy life just a little bit more.   Whether you use your outdoor space to entertain friends and family, or you prefer to use it as your own quiet little oasis, outdoor lighting can create the perfect atmosphere for enjoying outdoor living. We encourage you to give our landscape designers a call and see how we can help you create a landscape lighting plan, utilizing the latest design techniques, that will work within your space and your budget.

How to Attract Birds in the Winter

Have you ever spent any time trying to attract birds to your garden? It’s an entertaining pastime, and can even be quite rewarding, to tally up the various species that visit the feeders and bird friendly landscaping in the garden. While many homeowners look for their birds during the spring and summer months, there is actually a great need to help our fine feathered friends during the long cold days of winter.

During the winter months, birds spend most of their time and energy seeking out food, water and shelter. It can be a desperate time for them, especially here in Upstate New York when the temperatures plummet and snow blankets most of their feeding grounds. With a little bit of planning, however, you can transform your garden into a prime location for birds to find both shelter and sustenance.

The selection of trees, plants and shrubs you choose for your landscaping can offer birds both the food and shelter they need to survive. Not only will you be providing a refuge for them, you will be able to enjoy seeing and hearing them all year long. You will also be providing some much-needed color and contrast into your winter landscape as well!

Plant in Layers

Some birds prefer higher trees for shelter and food, while others prefer to be closer to the grounds. So when you look around your yard, consider the differing layers – a canopy of tall trees, an under-canopy of smaller trees, a shrub layer, and various ground covers and/or vines. The more variety your offer, the greater the variety of birds you’re likely to attract.

Provide Adequate Food Sources

Food is the single most important thing you can provide for your feathered friends. Food can be rather scarce during the winter months and trying to find enough food consumes most of their time. By providing a source of seed and nut bearing trees to your yard, you make their hunt much easier.

Consider adding evergreens, junipers, firs, hemlock and spruces to your yard, which will provide both shelter and food. These trees provide a great food source for birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and grosbeaks.

Trees such as oaks, walnuts and hickories won’t necessarily provide much in the way of shelter, but the nuts they provide are an excellent source of food for many different birds.

Don’t forget about fruit-bearing trees and shrubs as well. There are varieties that hold onto their fruit throughout the winter months. Winterberry, holly, bayberry, viburnum and photinia will provide food all winter long. Flowering crabapple trees and dogwoods are also a winter favorite of birds. As an added bonus, they all provide some amazing color and interest in your garden as well.

Go WILD with your Landscape

What we mean by this is don’t immediately cut everything back in the fall. Sure, it will look nice and give you that well-manicured look, but you will be taking away a fantastic source of food and shelter. Native grasses that emerge later in the season will provide flower seeds for your birds to feast on as well as good coverage for them. Many of them also put on a beautiful show of color during the fall and winter months as well. Hair grass, switch glass and bluestem are all great choices.

You can also leave your perennials as is throughout the winter months. Just like the native grasses, perennial flowers produce seeds that provide much needed nutrients. If you can refrain from snipping their seed heads back until springtime, the birds will thank you! Birds love Coneflowers, sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans and Coreopsis for their abundant seeds.

Offer Plenty of Water

It might seem like birds would have plenty of access to water during the winter, but they really don’t. Having access to a clean source of water is critical for survival during the winter. Make sure your birdbath is still accessible during the winter months and that the water doesn’t stay frozen.

There are portable warming devices you can utilize that will de-ice your birdbath during the cold months. You might also want to consider investing in a heated birdbath. As long as they have access to fresh water daily they have a much greater chance of survival.

Even the smallest changes in your landscaping can make a huge impact for the birds in your area. By just adding a few bird friendly shrubs or trees, your garden will soon become a valuable resource for your feathered friends.

Garden Planning in Upstate New York

Gardening can be a means to produce food for your family, produce to sell, or a personal hobby that you just enjoy. No matter what your purpose, gardening takes planning in order to experience success.  There are not many homeowners out there who have the perfect garden location or all of the necessary knowledge to perfect the art of gardening, but we have put together some of the most critical information to help you make the most out of your plants and enjoy the many benefits that growing vegetables and feeding your family with healthy foods can bring.

The perfect location is not always possible, but there are a few important things to remember when planning the area you will use.

  • Sunlight is important and your garden will do best if it gets full sun
  • 6 hours a day of direct sun is the minimum needed by most vegetable plants for optimum growth
  • Leafy crops like lettuce and spinach produce reasonably well in a partly shaded location
  • Root crops such as carrots and beets need more light than leafy vegetables, but may do well in a garden that receives only morning sun
  • Fruiting plants such as peppers, tomatoes, and beans are sun worshipers and will yield poorly, if at all, with less than 6 hours of direct sun
  • If your garden is shaded, experiment with the more shade‐tolerant vegetables to see which do best and put the full‐sun plants in containers that can be placed in a sunny area of your yard.

Just like some farm animals, there are also some vegetables that when planted next to one another, do not grow well. Companion planning is something that many amateur gardeners overlook but it could mean the difference between producing crops or not. Certain plants love each other and certain plants hate each other. This system of planning can be complex and even overwhelming, but planning and preparation can often alleviate that. As you gain more knowledge and experience as a gardener, companion planting will become clearer. Some planting techniques are related to health, nutrition, physical compliments, weeds, insect and animal relationships.

Companion Planting Chart for Vegetables

Plant (Vegetable)
Good Companions
Bad Companions
Asparagus
Tomatoes, parsley, basil
Beans
Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower,
cabbage, eggplant, summer savory, most
other vegetables and herbs
Onions, garlic, gladiolus, chives
Beans, bushPotatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, celery, summer savoryOnions
Beans, poleCorn, summer savory, sunflowerOnions, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage
BeetsOnions, KohlrabiPole beans
Cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli)Aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, hyssop, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets, onionsStrawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
Carrots
Peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks,
rosemary, sage, tomatoes
Dill
CeleryLeeks, tomatoes, bush beans, cauliflower,cabbage
ChivesCarrots, tomatoesPeas, beans
CornPotatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squashTomato
CucumbersBeans, corn, peas, radishes, sunflowers, lettucePotatoes, aromatic herbs
EggplantBeans, potatoes, spinach
LeeksOnions, celery, carrots
LettuceCarrots and radishes (lettuce, carrots, and radishes make a strong team grown together), strawberries, cucumbers, onions
MelonsCorn, Nasturtium, Radish
Onions(garlic)Beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory, leeks, chamomile (sparsely), pepperPeas, beans
ParsleyTomatoes, asparagus
PeasCarrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, most vegetables and herbsonions, garlic, gladiolus, potatoes, chives
PotatoesBeans, corn, cabbage, horseradish (should be planted at the corners of the patch), marigolds, eggplant (as a lure for the Colorado potato beetle)Pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, tomatoes, raspberries
PepperOnion
PumpkinsCornPotatoes
RadishesPeas, nasturtiums, lettuce, melons, cucumbersHyssop
SoybeansGrows with anything, helps everything
SpinachStrawberries, eggplant
SquashNasturtiums, cornPotatoes
StrawberriesBush beans, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border), onionsCabbage
SunflowersCucumbersPotatoes
TomatoesChives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigolds, nasturtiums, carrotsCorn, Kohlrabi
TurnipsPeas

Table courtesy of http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/companion‐plants

Knowing your hardy zones can also help give you an idea of when to plant vegetables. While many factors such as temperatures, weather patterns and your specific area can determine more details about your planting, it is still helpful for all gardeners to know what to expect and when. Our particular area in South Glens Falls is categorized as a 5A zone.

Each USDA planting zone has its own schedule for sowing seeds. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll want to know that there is a right time to sow each variety of vegetable seed. By following the rules for both cool and warm season vegetables, you’ll be sure to sow your seeds in the correct window of time, enabling optimum sprouting and yield.

Where and when you plant is vital, but it is also important for gardeners to understand other environmental factors that could hinder crops. Most insects found in gardens are not pests. Many are beneficial, preying on pests or performing other useful tasks.  Many experts agree that gardeners should know the strategies for dealing with insects. This begins with learning about insect life cycles, behaviors, habitats, and diets, and to recognize which are pests and which are actually lending you a helping hand. Experts also suggest the following gardening tips to damage caused by insect pests without harming beneficial insects or drowning your food in harsh chemicals.

  • Grow vigorous, healthy plants.
  • Rotate crops.
  • Choose varieties carefully.
  • Use proper sanitation practices.
  • Check over transplants.
  • Time your plantings carefully according to season and growing patterns.
  • Pick out pests and remove by hand when possible.
  • Use barriers.
  • Consider the use of row covers.
  • Mulch with aluminum foil for small area.
  • Take advantage of natural enemies.
  • Consider natural pesticides when all else fails.
Remember, however, that when managing pests, beneficial insects will move elsewhere if there aren’t enough pests to feed on. Also keep in mind that most pesticides don’t discriminate between beneficial insects and pests. Follow all label directions carefully!

Sometimes, vegetables also get sick and gardeners need to know how to fend off disease‐causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. But if conditions favor the disease and your plants are weak, the disease sometimes gains the upper hand, often leading to early death of the plants. To minimize the effects of plant diseases on your garden by keeping plants as strong and healthy as you can and to minimize the conditions that favor disease and make it easy to spread.

Vegetables need room to eat and grow and flourish amongst your garden. Square foot gardening is one technique and one way to plant your vegetables. One way to ensure a constant harvest of vegetables is to plant using the square foot method. Select a 4‐foot‐by‐4‐foot section of your garden and divide it into 16 squares (each section is 1 square foot). Each square will have a different number of plants, depending on what you’re growing. Gardening author Charlie Nardozzi suggests:

  • 1 plant per square: Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, melon, squash
  • 4 plants per square: Lettuce, garlic, Swiss chard
  • 8 plants per square: Pole beans, peas, spinach
  • 16 plants per square: Beets, carrots, radishes, onions

Unless you have a large area for gardening, you are probably confined to a smaller space like most people. The best way to keep a successful garden with organically grown produce on your dining room table is to grow as much as you can, and preserve plenty to eat for when your garden isn’t producing. Consider growing vegetables in 3‐ to 4‐foot‐wide beds with paths in between instead of just creating one large area for your garden. This will maximize space and still give you an opportunity to grow your favorite variety of vegetables.

Grow what you can and grow what you love, but have fun doing it and know that you are doing something healthy and positive for your family when you can put homegrown, fresh vegetables on the table straight from your own garden. When you find vegetables that excel in your garden, growing as much of them as your family can eat will take you a huge step closer to food self‐sufficiency. At the same time, think about what you and your family really like to eat before planning your garden. Vegetables will go to waste if what you grow doesn’t match what you eat. Organic, homegrown produce is more nutritious, delicious and sustainable than the typical store‐bought fare. As you attempt to grow more organic food, be realistic about the time you have to maintain your garden and manage its harvest, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Enjoy your garden and reap the benefits by preparing ahead of time, learning as you grow, and finding the little successes when helping your garden reach its potential.