Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lawn Soil Made Better

Perry from Rexford asks:
I have a question about how to improve the soil in my lawn. I moved into a new house that has sandy soil. I have been putting mulch, peat moss and compost into my garden soil, but, short of stripping off the grass, how do I improve the soil in my lawn?

A: You can improve the soil of your lawn in a number of ways. First, get a soil test done to check for a pH level that is between 6.0 and 7.0. In most cases, lawn soil here in the Northeast needs applications of lime. Next, always leave the grass clippings on the lawn because clippings are a good source of nitrogen, moisture and organic matter. Let the grass grow three inches tall. Tall grass promotes the growth of deeper roots which helps keep the soil better aerated. You can also top dress the lawn with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick layer of sifted compost, peat moss or dehydrated manure. Use organic fertilizer instead of chemical because organic fertilizer helps promote the growth of beneficial organisms in the soil. All of this may take a year or two before you get the improvements you want, but the work and the wait is worth it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Endless Summer Hydrangea

Many listeners are complaining that their Endless Summer hydrangea shrubs are not blooming. These are the shrubs that bloom more reliably in the north. I just spoke with Peggy Anne Montgomery, horticulturist for Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, the company that introduced Endless Summer. Here are some of her tips:

Keep the shrubs watered for the first couple years while they get established;

Do not add any fertilizer to the new shrubs. Fertilizer will promote leaf formation at the expense of blooms;

Dump a bushel basket of leaves over the shrubs in October for winter protection for the first couple years;

Be patient, hydrangea take a couple years to get established.

Also, people want to know if they can change the color of the bloom from blue to pink by adding chemicals.

Peggy's advice is don't fight with Mother Nature. It doesn't work. But if you really must, read the instructions on the packaging carefully. Best advice. Leave the shrub alone!

For more on these wonderful shrubs, check out the Web site http://endlesssummerblooms.com/en/home