Summer Trillium Landscaping Past Questions

1. I have a hard time growing grass on my front lawn. I'm getting full to part sun and I do have a nut tree on the lawn. I have overseeded the lawn for the past 2 years but still have plenty of bare spots. Half of the grass is weeds. Should I start from scratch and rip everything out and install sod, or can I do something else?...please help! Thanks.

If weeds are surviving you are getting enough sun for grass to grow. Nut trees are deep rooted so smaller plants growing under the canopy usually don't have to fight for nutrients and moisture. Overseeing is one of many steps to creating a beautiful lawn. The Niagara Region has put out a Smart Gardening information site. It's listed as a 12 Steps to Organic Lawn Care Program. If you faithfully follow these steps I guarantee you will notice a big difference in the quality of your lawn.  To make it easier for you, Check out the smart gardening page from the Niagara Region.

2. I have a sump pump that drains onto my front lawn and now there is a drainage problem. Everything I plant now in the area dies because of the drainage problem. The soil is made up of clay. Thanks in advance for your help.

Clay is an excellent soil for growing plants. It holds nutrients and water very well. Sometimes too well which is why proper drainage is important. Adding organic matter such as peat moss or compost will go between the clay particles and loosen up the soil. With problem soils, organic matter should be added during Spring and Fall to improve the drainage. It is important! Growing on top of clay is sometimes the only option if the clay is too heavy. Raised beds or retaining walls might be the way to grow. Once the soil is taken care of, then the plant options are endless! It'll be alot of work but worthwhile in the end.

3. I would like to find out more about your recognition program.

Everything you need to know about the Niagara Falls Summer Trillium Recognition Program can be found on this website. The site answers to how one can get involved, deadlines, property assessment process, criteria that the assessment committee uses to assess properties, levels of recognition and the ending recognition of excellence ceremony. Here you can find pictures of properties that have been assessed in previous years, which have reached a trillium rating.

4. Most of my perennials are spring blooming. I want to replace some so that I can have some colour in my garden for spring, summer and fall. Can you recommend some plants to accomplish this? Thank you.

This is a great question that people should keep in mind when developing a plan for their landscaping. There is nothing worse than sending large amounts of money on a flower bed that will only bloom for 2 weeks! Below are some suggestions that I think will help you. Keep in mind, that when planning your landscaping, you should consider the height and width of these plants. You don't want plants to blocked out by others in the future. Summer Sun Perennials: Platycodon (balloon flower) Tall summer phlox Coreopsis daisies Perovskia (Russian sage) Crocosmia Lavender Delphinium Hibiscus Fall Sun Perennials; Asters Grasses Leadwort Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan's) Sedum Chrysanthemums Shade Summer Perennials: Aconitum (monkshood) Astilbe Ligularia Kirengeshoma (late summer) Shade Fall Perennials: Toad lily Kirengeshoma.

5. My backyard has clay soil under the grass and flower beds. Every time it rains, my yard becomes soggy and mucky. What can I do to help soak up the water?

Every neighbourhood has an area where the water drains. Hopefully it's not in your backyard! For major issues, find out where the water drains and adjust your property grade and possibly bury tiles to help with water flow. Do not drain your property onto your neighbours. The clay will always be part of your garden. Adding organic matter will help in that it gets between clay particles and loosen the soil up. Peat moss is a commonly used material for improving the soil quality. You might want to gently raise your beds, this way the plants are not 'stuck' in the muck. Adding mulch is a great idea. One benefit is that mulch breaks down over time and that adds organic matter to the garden. Anything to combat those clay particles! You can learn more about proper lawn care by reading the 12 Step Organic Lawn Care pamphlet published by the Niagara Region. Aerating and topdressing would be two beneficial practices for his lawn.

6.  My Garden is is exposed to the sun all day long, what are the best perennials to plant, that will give me some colour to my garden? Thank you for your time.

For the late Summer/Fall, particular perennial plants that perform in hot and dry areas that show well are Rudbeckia Goldsturm, Sedum Spectabile, Asters, Chrysanthemums and some of the Miscanthus Grasses that turn slightly purple or red in the Fall. Plants that show fairly well in summer are Tall Garden Phlox, Perovskia (Russian Sage), Crocosmia, Daylilies and Coreopsis Daisies. For the Spring show, consider Peonies, Iris, Dianthus (Garden Pinks) and Tall Garden Phlox. Most of these plants will thrive with little care. If you have a hot, sunny spot, you'll want to incorporate organic matter and place mulch down to conserve moisture. Here is a list of hardy drought tolerent sun lovers: Low growing - moss phlox or creeping phlox (spring bloomer with sporadic blooms the rest of the summer) - snow in summer (cerastium-late spring early summer bloomer) - dianthus (pinks, pincushion forms) - Hens and Chicks (sempervium) - Lewisia (needs good drainiage, good for rock gardens, paths, mass planting) Mid Height growers - Lavander (Munstead is always faithful - Day Lillies (Stella d'oro is good one, but there are many other colours) - Liatris (blazing star - plant in groups for best impact) - Onethera (sun drops - nice yellow blooms in summer) - Campanula (balloon flower- many heights) - Ornamental grasses (look for clumping habit grasses, many varieties) Taller growers - Blanket flower (blooms early summer to frost) - Yucca (aka- Adams Needle, many varieties even varigated) - Tall Phlox (plant were it will get good air circulation) - Ligularia (good display of bright yellow flowers) - Echinacia (purple cone flower colours and varieties) - Rudbeckia (black-eyed-susans) - Echinops (nice blue colour for late summer early fall).

7. I always have a problem with my grass.  No matter what I try, I cannot get rid of crab grass, dandelion, creeping Charlie and broadleaf weeds.  What is your recommendation for on-going maintenance, types of fertilizer, grass cutting techniques, etc…  I get part to full sun in my front lawn and part sun in my backyard.

Lawn maintenance practices are best done at certain times of the season. As soon as the grass is actively growing, you can start off by removing grass growth that has died from the winter(your last cut  in the fall should be short as possible). Remove the dead growth by a good raking or by using a power-dethatching machine. It's a great time to stimulate new growth with a feeding and to fill in bare spots with grass seed. Remember, having exposed soil is a perfect opportunity for weed seeds to germinate, so get that seed down!

A well-balanced organic fertilizer will feed your lawn with nutrients it needs. Turf grass is not as deeply rooted as weeds can be, therefore make sure your lawn receives an inch of water per week when conditions are drier in the summer. Mow regularly with a sharp blade to maintain a minimum 3"(7.5 cm) height. Late summer is an excellent time to overseed  your entire lawn. Early fall is nature's time to grow grass. Combine seeding with top-dressing using a quality  soil. Aerating(coring) is a good practice to promote rooting as it allows fertilizer to get to the roots. Aerating can actually be done anytime during the season on established lawns. It is beneficial to do this before fertilizer applications. Leave the soil cores on the lawn. Fertilizing is as equally important in the fall as in the spring. Growing and maintaining a healthy lawn is your best defence against weeds.

8.  I am interested in planting some edible plants in my front yard.  Which plants do you recommend that will bring some bright, bold colours out.

. Introducing edible plants is an excellent way of incorporating beauty with sustainability. As with any planting, make sure you chose the right plant for the location. Annual edibles might include Amaranth, Sunflower, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Bee Balm(Monarda) and Eggplants. Perennial(permanent) plants can give seasonal colour as well as provide a food source. Serviceberry, Blueberry, Red Currant, Rhubarb, and Asparagus are but some of the  ornamental/edible plants to choose from.

9.  I want to cover my walkway with some living plants, mixed in with river stones. What type of ground cover do you think would grow the fastest and be sustainable.

Low growing plants that will tolerate some traffic are varieties of thyme and sedum. They can take full sun, drier soils and the flowers are great for bees and other pollinators.