Perennials are simply put, plants that come back year after year. They are hardy in our zone to withstand the cold winter, many go completely dormant and regrow in spring, others may remain evergreen or above ground in some form or another all winter depending on the type of plant.

 

Once plants are installed in your beds or planters, they need a few things to succeed. It isn’t enough to just have them there; they are living things and have needs like any other living thing. Our goal is to help you understand what needs to happen to ensure they look their best for you all season long.

 

First and foremost is the part that we take care of (for our design and maintenance clients) and that is selecting the healthiest plants we can find that are appropriate for the location they will be grown in. We won’t put sun lovers in the shade or water lovers in a dry spot, for example. That’s all figured out for you by us.

 

From there plants need light, nutrients, water, and maintenance which is where you need to pay attention! The LIGHT we already covered by putting them in the correct place, but sometimes other things can grow and start shading a sun loving plant, or a tree could get cut and now sunlight is pouring in on your shade lover. This is sometimes something we can fix, or you can, depending on the situation. This is worth a conversation with us if you notice something has changed in the sunlight department.

 

NUTRIENTS are very important for all plants. There are two main categories called “macro-nutrients” and “micro-nutrients”. These come from fertilizer and from the soil/compost the plants grow in. The big three are Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. Each plays a different role in plant nutrition and is the primary ingredients in most fertilizers. We recommend using a slow release granular organic fertilizer applied monthly around the plants. Backyard Urban Gardens almost exclusively uses Espoma brand fertilizers. For flowers we use either RoseTone or FlowerTone available at most garden centers or online. Some perennials prefer a more high acid fertilizer such as HollyTone and even need additional sulphur to ensure nutrient uptake in Michigan’s alkaline soil (opposite of acid). If you are doing your own fertilizer, please ask how to best care for specific plants. If you prefer using non-organic there are lots of choices such as Miracle Grow, or Bloom Booster. These are not the best for plants, but they will work. If you elect to have us do your maintenance programs, then we do all the fertilizing for you. If we do not do your maintenance, fertilizing is up to you to handle. It isn’t difficult or time consuming, but it does need to get done on a regular basis.

 

Next we have WATER. This is the single biggest issue we see with all plants in clients’ gardens. Most people simply do not water correctly which causes flowers failure to perform. To some degree the more you water the better the flowers will look and the faster they will grow. BUT you can water too much. We have seen maybe a handful of clients over the years who are serial over-waterers, but those are rare. Most of you simply do not water enough.

 

So how do you water and how often? This is a common question we get all the time.

  • When watering by hand with a hose or can, you need to water each individual plant one at a time until water pools up around the base of the plant. When you have finished all of the plants one at a time, go back and do it AGAIN. If it’s really hot out (over 85) do it a THIRD TIME.

  • If you use automatic irrigation the answer is a little more difficult to get because each home has a different watering system, different number of heads, different water pressure, etc. We recommend you set out a flat bottom square baking pan in the middle of your bed where it isn’t blocked by anything and turn on the water. When you have 1 inch of water in the pan check to see how long the water was running and that is how long your irrigation needs to run each time.

  • The goal is to get enough water on the soil so it can penetrate deeply into the soil so the plants roots have access to it. If you don’t water often enough the soil gets very dry and water just runs off without soaking in and plants get none of it no matter how long you are running the irrigation. So don’t let things go too long between watering or you are wasting your water and your money.

  • Water every other day either early in the morning or in the evening after dinner. If it’s above 85 degrees plants need water EVERY DAY. Never water in the middle of the day when it’s hot because the water on the plants leaves in the hot sun can actually burn the plants.

  • Watering plants is 100% your responsibility.

 

The last piece to this puzzle is MAINTENANCE. If plants are not groomed regularly (at least 1 time per month) they will look a bit ragged and untidy. Spent flowers need to be pinched off regularly and this also helps encourage full bushy growth for a lush flowerbed full of happy healthy plants. Weeds must be completely removed so they don’t out-compete the plants and hog all the water, sunlight, and nutrients for themselves. If we do your maintenance for you, this is part of what we do for you.

Annual Flower Care

Perennial Care

Annual flowers are simply put, flowers that are not winter hardy in our zone but bloom non-stop all summer in our area. These are called “annuals” because we have to replant new ones annually, or every year.

 

Once plants are installed in your beds or planters, they need a few things to succeed. It isn’t enough to just have them there; they are living things and have needs like any other living thing. Our goal is to help you understand what needs to happen to ensure they look their best for you all season long.

 

First and foremost is the part that we take care of and that is selecting the healthiest plants we can find that are appropriate for the location they will be grown in. We won’t put sun lovers in the shade or water lovers in a dry spot, for example. That’s all figured out for you by us.

 

From there plants need light, nutrients, water, and maintenance which is where you need to pay attention!

The LIGHT we already covered by putting them in the correct place, but sometimes other things can grow and start shading a sun loving plant, or a tree could get cut and now sunlight is pouring in on your shade lover. This is sometimes something we can fix, or you can, depending on the situation. This is worth a conversation with us if you notice something has changed in the sunlight department.

 

NUTRIENTS are very important for all plants. There are two main categories called “macro-nutrients” and “micro-nutrients”. These come from fertilizer and from the soil/compost the plants grow in. The big three are Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. Each plays a different role in plant nutrition and is the primary ingredients in most fertilizers. We recommend using a slow release granular organic fertilizer applied monthly around the plants. Backyard Urban Gardens almost exclusively uses Espoma brand fertilizers. For flowers we use either RoseTone or FlowerTone available at most garden centers or online. If you prefer using non-organic there are lots of choices such as Miracle Grow, or Bloom Booster. These are not the best for plants, but they will work. If you elect to have us do your maintenance programs, then we do all the fertilizing for you. If we do not do your maintenance, fertilizing is up to you to handle. It isn’t difficult or time consuming, but it does need to get done on a regular monthly basis.

 

Next we have WATER. This is the single biggest issue we see with all plants in clients’ gardens. Most people simply do not water correctly and flowers fail to perform. To some degree the more you water the better the flowers will look and the faster they will grow. BUT you can water too much. We have seen maybe a handful of clients over the years who are serial over-waterers, but those are rare. Most of you simply do not water enough.

 

So how do you water and how often? This is a common question we get all the time.

  • When watering by hand with a hose or can, you need to water each individual plant one at a time until water pools up around the base of the plant. When you have finished all of the plants one at a time, go back and do it AGAIN. If it’s really hot out (over 85) do it a THIRD TIME.

  • If you use automatic irrigation the answer is a little more difficult to get because each home has a different watering system, different number of heads, different water pressure, etc. We recommend you set out a flat bottom square baking pan in the middle of your bed where it isn’t blocked by anything and turn on the water. When you have 1 inch of water in the pan check to see how long the water was running and that is how long your irrigation needs to run each time.

  • The goal is to get enough water on the soil so it can penetrate deeply into the soil so the plants roots have access to it. If you don’t water often enough the soil gets very dry and water just runs off without soaking in and plants get none of it no matter how long you are running the irrigation. So don’t let things go too long between watering or you are wasting your water and your money.

  • Water every other day either early in the morning or in the evening after dinner. If it’s above 85 degrees plants need water EVERY DAY. Never water in the middle of the day when it’s hot because the water on the plants leaves in the hot sun can actually burn the plants.

  • Watering plants is 100% your responsibility.

 

The last piece to this puzzle is MAINTENANCE. If plants are not groomed regularly (at least 1 time per month) they will look a bit ragged and untidy. Spent flowers need to be pinched off regularly and this also helps encourage full bushy growth for a lush and colorful flowerbed full of vibrant color. Weeds must be completely removed so they don’t out-compete the plants and hog all the water, sunlight, and nutrients for themselves. If we do your maintenance for you, this is part of what we do for you.

Edible Garden Care

Edible gardening is a fun cost effective way to provide some of the most delicious and nutritious foods your family eats by growing them in your own garden. Our edible gardening program is designed to help you determine what food crops will both grow best in your garden and meet your family’s food preference needs in a low risk kind of way.

 

Once your vegetables are installed in your garden, they need a few things to succeed. It isn’t enough to just have them there; they are living things and have needs like any other living thing. Our goal is to help you understand what needs to happen to ensure they perform their best for you all season long.

 

First and foremost is the part that we take care of and that is selecting the healthiest plants we can find that are appropriate for your garden and your family. Many of the plants we provide are grown from seed in our own greenhouses starting in very early spring.  The wide variety of options available to you when choosing your crops in January is nearly limitless, but do dwindle as we approach actually garden planting time, so planning early is imperative for the widest possible selection.

From there plants need light, nutrients, water, protection, and maintenance which is where you need to pay attention!

The LIGHT we already covered by putting them in the correct place, but sometimes other things can grow and start shading a plant, which isn’t a big problem normally in a vegetable garden; vegetable gardens are typically in the most open and sunny spot in your yard. If you do notice a problem or change in sunlight, this is worth a conversation with us as we can often remedy the problem. 

NUTRIENTS are very important for all plants. There are two main categories called “macro-nutrients” and “micro-nutrients”. These come from fertilizer and from the soil/compost the plants grow in. The big three are Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. Each plays a different role in plant nutrition and is the primary ingredients in most fertilizers. We recommend using a slow release granular organic fertilizer applied monthly around each plant. We use almost exclusively Espoma brand GardenTone and/or TomatoTone, which is available at most garden centers or online. Depending on your soil type, and if there is a specific nutritional deficiency issue, we recommend a liquid organic fish fertilizer applied via foliar spray.  If you are doing your own fertilizer, please ask how to best care for your edible garden. We never recommend using non-organic fertilizers for things you are going to eat because eating chemicals is never the goal of growing your own food. If you elect to have us do your maintenance programs, then we do all the fertilizing for you. If we do not do your maintenance, fertilizing is up to you to handle. It isn’t difficult or time consuming, but it does need to get done on a monthly basis.

 

Next we have WATER. This is the single biggest issue we see with all plants in clients’ gardens. Most people simply do not water correctly and their edible garden fails to thrive. To some degree the more you water the better the plants will look and the faster they will grow. BUT you can water too much. We have seen maybe a handful of clients over the years who are serial over-waterers, but those are rare. Most of you simply do not water enough.

 

So how do you water and how often? This is a common question we get all the time.

  • When watering by hand with a hose, you need to water each individual plant one at a time until water pools up around the base of the plant. The larger the plant, the larger the pool of water it will need. When you have finished all of the plants one at a time, go back and do it AGAIN. If it’s really hot out (over 85) do it a THIRD TIME.

  • We do not recommend watering your garden with an in ground irrigation system or a hose end sprinkler. It is best for edible gardens to get their water entirely through the roots and not wet the leaves if at all possible. Spraying water on plant leaves is a primary vector for soil borne diseases which can and will kill the plants. Just use a hose and water by hand, it doesn’t take that long anyway.

  • The goal is to get enough water on the soil so it can penetrate deeply into the soil so the plants roots have access to it. If you don’t water often enough the soil gets very dry and water just runs off without soaking in and plants get very little of it no matter how long you are watering for. So don’t let things go too long between watering or you are wasting your water and your money.

  • Water every other day early in the morning or in the evening after dinner. If it’s above 85 degrees plants need water EVERY DAY. Never water in the middle of the day when it’s hot because the water on the plants leaves in the hot sun can actually burn the plants.

  • Watering plants is 100% your responsibility.

 

Insects and other pests

This is a category that frustrates gardeners like no other. You work hard, spend a bunch of cash and time, and some hungry marauder comes in the night and eats all your plants. Sometimes it is insects that maim, kill and spread diseases to the plants. There is a lot that can be done and not always a super simple answer, so keeping a close eye inspecting your plants by looking at the leaves (top and bottoms) every time you water to spot damage and insects quickly is the main defense. A lot of insects can be allowed to just do their damage and then they move on, or beneficial insects and birds take care of them. Nature has a way of balancing these things when working in an organic way. Pesticides should be your last choice because we don’t want to harm bees and birds, etc., and people don’t want to eat pesticides, but sometimes we do need to consider it. Often simple things like growing flowers mixed in with the edibles are all it takes to attract the correct beneficial insects to the garden to keep the bad bugs at bay. In any case, insects and animals need to be monitored closely and discussed in a timely manner with us so that we can make recommendations to help you. Sometimes just a quick blast with the hose or hand picking insects off will do the trick. If we do your bi-weekly maintenance, we will handle this for you, but if it is between visits then it is up to you to take care of. Nature is an unpredictable thing and it is never the fault of you or us, it just simply happens and we figure out together. Larger animals such as rabbits, woodchucks, and deer need to be fenced out to keep a garden safe and even then they still sometimes get in.

 

The last piece to this puzzle is MAINTENANCE. If plants are not groomed regularly (at least 1 time per month) they will look a bit ragged and untidy, broken branches, unharvested fruits, unwanted flower heads, etc need removing. Weeds must be completely removed so they don’t out-compete the plants and hog all the water, sunlight, and nutrients for themselves. If we do your maintenance for you, this is part of what we do for you. Some edibles are only good for a short period of time; they produce, then they are done. Spinach and peas for example, only produce in cool weather at the beginning of the season. Tomatoes and peppers take a long time before they begin to produce, but will most likely continue until the first frost in fall. Different crops have different life cycles and some are removed and replaces while others will last all season long. As changes need to be made we will discuss those with you if we are doing the maintenance for you.

Tree and Shrub Care

Shrubs and trees add a lot of drama and texture to your garden by being the largest structural components in the beds. They are large plants, with large root systems and take a fair bit of time to become established when newly planted. These are your highest value garden assets as they are typically the most expensive and last the longest, so caring for them properly is important so they will last. A well sited and cared for tree can last more than 100 years depending on variety. Shrubs in contrast on average will last 10-20 yrs and will then need to be replaced because they tend to get overgrown and unattractive (not always, but usually).

 

Once your new shrubs or trees are installed in your garden, they need a few things to succeed. It isn’t enough to just have them there; they are living things and have needs like any other living thing. Our goal is to help you understand what needs to happen to ensure they look their best for you all season long.

 

First and foremost is the part that we take care of and that is selecting the healthiest plants we can find that are appropriate for the location they will be grown in. We won’t put sun lovers in the shade or water lovers in a dry spot, for example. We also go to great lengths to ensure that larger plants are sited in a place that will accommodate them at their full mature size. Sometimes they look a bit lost or small when first planted, but that’s because we also need to make sure there will be room for them in 5 yrs, 10 yrs, 50 yrs… That’s all figured out for you by us.

 

From there plants need light, nutrients, water, and maintenance which is where you need to pay attention!

The LIGHT we already covered by putting them in the correct place, but sometimes other things can grow and start shading a sun loving plant, or a tree could get cut and now sunlight is pouring in on your shade lover. This is sometimes something we can fix, or you can, depending on the situation. This is worth a conversation with us if you notice something has changed in the sunlight department.

NUTRIENTS are very important for all plants. There are two main categories called “macro-nutrients” and “micro-nutrients”. These come from fertilizer and from the soil/compost the plants grow in. The big three are Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. Each plays a different role in plant nutrition and is the primary ingredients in most fertilizers. We recommend using a slow release granular organic fertilizer applied spring and fall around the plants drip line. Fall is a half strength fertilizer and spring is full strength. Backyard Urban Gardens almost exclusively uses Espoma brand fertilizers. We normally use either PlantTone or HollyTone, depending on the type of plant. These are available at most garden centers or online. Some plants such as hydrangea, and evergreens prefer a more high acid fertilizer such as HollyTone and even need additional Sulphur to ensure nutrient uptake in Michigan’s alkaline soil (opposite of acid). If you are doing your own fertilizer, please ask how to best care for specific trees and shrubs. If you prefer using non-organic there are lots of choices available, however these are not the best for plants, but they will work. If you elect to have us do your maintenance programs, then we do all the fertilizing for you. If we do not do your maintenance, fertilizing is up to you to handle. It isn’t difficult or time consuming, but it does need to get done on a seasonal basis.

 

Next we have WATER. This is the single biggest issue we see with all plants in clients’ gardens. Most people simply do not water correctly and their new trees and shrubs fail to perform. To some degree the more you water the better the plants will look and the faster they will grow. BUT you can water too much. We have seen maybe a handful of clients over the years who are serial over-waterers, but those are rare. Most of you simply do not water enough.

 

So how do you water and how often? This is a common question we get all the time.

  • When watering by hand with a, you need to water each individual plant one at a time until water pools up around the base of the plant. The larger the plant, the larger the pool of water it will need. When you have finished all of the plants one at a time, go back and do it AGAIN. If it’s really hot out (over 85) do it a THIRD TIME.

  • If you use automatic irrigation the answer is a little more difficult to get because each home has a different watering system, different number of heads, different water pressure, etc. We recommend you set out a flat bottom square baking pan in the middle of your bed where it isn’t blocked by anything and turn on the water. When you have 3 inches of water in the pan check to see how long the water was running and that is how long your irrigation needs to run each time. Larger plants need to get more water at one time, but time between waterings can be longer. They need to be watered at least 1 time per week for the FIRST THREE YEARS once planted in your garden.

  • The goal is to get enough water on the soil so it can penetrate deeply into the soil so the plants roots have access to it. If you don’t water often enough the soil gets very dry and water just runs off without soaking in and plants get none of it no matter how long you are running the irrigation. So don’t let things go too long between watering or you are wasting your water and your money.

  • Water once or twice a week early in the morning or in the evening after dinner. If it’s above 85 degrees plants need water TWICE a week. Never water in the middle of the day when it’s hot because the water on the plants leaves in the hot sun can actually burn the plants.

  • This is probably the most important watering of the year, and that is the last month of the growing season (OCTOBER) you should double up on watering to ensure the larger roots are well watered. Once the soil freezes, this is the last water your trees or shrubs will get until the ground thaws in spring and they break dormancy. Imagine how hard it would be to live through freezing cold and harsh wind all winter with no coat and no food or water. It’s like that for trees and shrubs, so be kind and give them plenty to sustain themselves for the winter.

  • Watering plants is 100% your responsibility.

 

The last piece to this puzzle is MAINTENANCE. If plants are not groomed regularly (at least 1 time per month) they will look a bit ragged and untidy. Spent flowers need to be pinched off regularly, pruning CORRECTLY should be done at the appropriate time for the type of tree or shrub to ensure it develops into the correct, healthy, and attractive shape it is intended to have. Proper pruning also helps prevent weather related damage by keeping limbs neat. Insect damage can also be curtailed through proper pruning and maintenance. Weeds must be completely removed so they don’t outcompete the plants and hog all the water, sunlight, and nutrients for themselves. If we do your maintenance for you, this is part of what we do for you.

© 2014 by Backyard Urban Gardens.