Fall Inventory

Have you scheduled your fall furnace check?  Is the outside water source shut off, and the hose drained and stored?  Are you waiting for that last leaf to fall so you can officially put away all of your garden tools?  Here’s something you may not have thought about – have you taken notes about your yard/landscape?

hand-mulchaNow is the perfect time to make plans for next year.  Take a moment to write down how many yards of mulch you used this year. Did you order enough or too much?   Make a list of some of the plantings you’d like to include in your landscape in the spring; consider making a diagram, too.  After you get through a long, hard Cleveland winter, your recollections of summer and your yard may have escaped your memory!

If you haven’t visited any of your local garden centers, make a point to check them out.  Most of them are having clearance sales on nursery stock. There are some great deals on perennials right now.  You can always purchase larger sizes and split them when you plant.

Additionally, it’s important to apply a fall fertilizer/winter guard if you haven’t already.  Using this helps to build strong, deep grass roots for a healthier lawn come spring.  The extra nutrients help to repair damage from the summer heat, drought, and/or activity.  Most of the fertilizers are kid- and pet-friendly when applied as directed, so be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions.

Three Z is your source for delivering the quality materials you need, while providing the service you expect.   Visit our website, http://three-z.com/ to check out our wide assortment of soils and amendments, mulches, sands, aggregates, limestone, and washed gravels.

Artificial or Real: Which one are you?

Do you traipse out into the cold December air, all bundled up with your family to pick out the perfect Christmas tree or do you drag the tree down from the attic and do your best to reshape the branches each year?

If you’re the “real tree type,” you’re faced with a variety of evergreens to choose from.  Some species are grown right here in Northeast Ohio, while others are shipped from out of state to tree farms throughout the area.  According to about.com, these are the top five best-selling Christmas trees in North America:

#1 – Fraser Fir
#2 – Douglas Fir
#3 – Balsam Fir
#4 – Colorado Blue Spruce
#5 – Scotch pine

To better assist you in your selection process, here are two excellent resources:

Picking out a Christmas tree can be an experience; and for some, it’s a special family tradition.  Before you venture out, don’t be caught without the supplies you may need to get your tree home.  Spend some time online researching your options.  It’s also important that you take measurements before you go, particularly the ceiling height in the room where the tree will be displayed. The trees in the field look smaller when the sky is the ceiling. Be careful not to overbuy.

And here’s to A Charlie Brown Christmas – celebrating 50 years – and his most perfect tree!


Winter Prep Mulching

Winter mulching differs from spring mulching in that you’re attempting to protect your plants from harsh winter winter-mulchaconditions – freezing, thaws and winds – by actually shielding it from the warmth of the sun.  Steady temperatures help to keep your plants in dormancy and prevent them from triggering new growth during brief warm-ups.

So what can you use to winterize your beds?  Try sticking with loose, insulating materials, like straw, pine needles or shredded leaves, so you can easily rake it aside and remove it come spring.  If your beds don’t freeze until after the holidays, consider using cut pine boughs from your Christmas tree. Snow cover is also a great protector; and even better, requires no effort on your part!

Mulching should take place after the soil has started to harden, which is typically after the first hard frost when temperatures drop below 25°F.  At this point, spread 2-4 inches of mulch around the base of your plants.  Most people don’t make time for this step in the fall.  However, if you’ve recently planted new shrubs, roses, etc. in your beds, consider taking this step until those plantings are more established.

The mulch needs to be removed once all threats of a hard frost are past.  This can be difficult to judge, as we’ve all witnessed an occasional winter storm in April!  Once thawing takes place and you can smell spring in the air (or mud), start raking and removing the mulch so the ground can begin to warm and new growth won’t be inhibited.

Caring for Your Christmas Plants

If you don’t have a green thumb, the Christmas Cactus is the holiday plant for you.  They prefer diffused light, and it’s best to let the soil dry red_pointacompletely between watering.  Avoid overwatering.  While you don’t have to worry too much about the temperature, 70 degrees is suitable.  Try to avoid drafts by keeping them away from frequently opened doors.  Pruning lightly after flowering re-energizes the plant.  Once summer arrives, the cactus can be put outside in indirect light. This encourages it to set buds and bloom more heavily the following holiday.

The Poinsettia requires more care.  These tropical plants love sunlight, so place it near a sunny window — the more direct sunlight, the better.   If you want to keep the poinsettia in bloom as long as possible, try and maintain a temperature of 65-75 degrees during the day.  It can go down to about 60 degrees at night.  Avoid drafts and temperature shifts; this will injure the leaves and cause premature leaf drop.  The plant should be watered when it feels dry to the touch.  Allow the water to drain out the bottom, but avoid letting the plant sit in water.

Cut Holly is best suited in a cooler location or outside. You’ll find that it dries out quickly; once that happens, the berries drop and the leaves become brittle and sharp. Keep the holly branches in water and soak wreathes or swags overnight before displaying to make them last a bit longer.  You can treat most potted hollies as annuals, but it’s best to keep them indoors until they can be planted in the spring.

There’s Still Time to Winterize!

Most of the leaves have fallen and been raked into piles;winterizea
but that’s not quite the end of your outdoor “to do” list.

Once all of the leaves in your area have dropped, do yourself a favor and clean out the gutters.  Gutters and downspouts direct rainwater away from your house; but if they’re clogged with leaves and/or other debris, they won’t work properly, resulting in damaging ice dams once the temperature drops below freezing.

In a previous blog, we touched on fall fertilizing (http://three-z.com/2014/10/03/fall-fertilizing/).  Again, if you haven’t spread a lawn fertilizer yet, there’s still time.  This is a critical application which prepares grass roots for the long, cold winter ahead and ensures nutrients will be available to them in spring, when growth resumes.

As far as the mower goes, some will advise that gasoline should not be left in your lawn equipment for more than two months.  Before you stow away the mower and other gas-powered equipment for the winter, run the engine until it’s out of gas.  However, there’s another school of thought – others advocate adding stabilizer to a mower’s fuel tank, briefly running the mower, and then putting it away for the season.   It’s really a personal preference.  Now’s also a good time to sharpen the blade so it’s all ready for the first spring-time mow!

Don’t forget to drain and store garden hoses and protect outdoor faucets from freezing weather.  If you know you won’t be using the outdoor spigot until spring; shut off its water supply if that is an option.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your Christmas tree!  If you plan to plant the tree after the holidays, save yourself some work by digging the hole now while the soil is workable.  Make the hole twice as wide as the root ball will be.  Then, fill the hole with mulch and protect the soil with a tarp. And another fun holiday tip…be on the lookout for berry-covered branches for use in indoor decorating.

The Great Big Home & Garden Show 2014

Right now is probably the worst time of the year for gardeners. It’s been too cold to garden for months, and it’s going to be another month or two before we can start really getting ready for spring. The good news is that we always have the Great Big Home & Garden Show at the I-X Center to look forward to.

This year, the show runs from February 8th through the 16th, and we can almost guarantee that it will chase away your winter blahs and get you excited to try out some new things in your garden this spring. WIth over 600 exhibitors in once place, you can look for inspiration, talk to experts, and see the wide variety of new and not-so-new products that can make this year’s garden your best garden ever.

We always are excited to check out the featured gardens, and 2014 promises to be no exception with 19 featured gardens with an international theme. You can take a world tour without ever leaving the I-X Center by visiting gardens representing countries as varied Japan, Belgium, the US, and Italy. Many of the featured gardens are paired with local restaurants, making sure all of your senses are well cared for.

As always, there will be an extensive selection of informative and entertaining stage shows (get the schedule here: http://www.greatbighomeandgarden.com/GBHG/AtTheShow/45.aspx). We’re excited to get inspired by HGTV’s Ahmed Hassan at Noon on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th. Some of the other highlights are “How to Design an Outdoor Living Space” at 4:00 on Wednesday the 12th and Thursday the 13th.

Gardening won’t be the only topic discussed on stage. Several chefs will discuss topics from salad to coffee cakes. Also interesting are several sessions on kitchen design trends and building the perfect kitchen (see the schedule above). We’re looking forward to the Food Network’s Emily Ellyn leading sessions on retro food favorites and leftover makeovers at 1:00 and 4:00 on Saturday the 8th, and 1:00 on Sunday the 9th. Finally, don’t miss the “4 Legged Fashion Show” at 5:00 on Saturday the 15th.

Of course, as far as we’re concerned, the highlight of the entire show is the Three-Z booth (number 512). Make sure you stop by to see how we can help you with the garden of your dreams, have one of our landscaping experts answer your questions, or just stop by to say hi. We love when our friends and clients take the time to talk with us.

See you at the Great Big Home & Garden Show!