Spring Landscaping Checklist

March has arrived, and that means spring is right around the corner. With winter leaving us ever so slowly, there might be some things you want to plan for around the house. Or, more specifically, around the outside of the house.

But where to get started? Here are some handy tips to add to you Spring Landscaping checklist:

Tool and Supply Inventory

  • Before you even think about heading to the garden, first it’s time to do an inventory of your shed. Make sure all your tools are clean, sharpened, and ready to go. Don’t forget to oil those hinges—you’ll be happy you took so much care up front once you start digging and planting!
  • When the weather is still too cool and temperamental to spend much time outside, it’s the perfect opportunity to gather together and replenish any fertilizer, soil amendments, plant supports, tomato cages, etc. Who wants to waste all that time in the shed once the warm weather hits?  

Bed Clean-up

  • Remove old plant matter and sticks from your flower beds. But wait! Cutting down dead plant stems too early will disturb some of the beneficial insects who are still hibernating in your plants. Preferably, daytime temperatures should be consistently above 50℉ before you decide to trim.
  • Prune back some of those overgrown bushes and branches. But be careful of cocoons and chrysalises that could be hanging underneath new leaves!
  • Once everything is cleaned up and tidy, it’s time to start tilling and add fresh soil or mulch to your flower bed or garden. Your local garden shop should be able to give you some tips on the right soil for the climate and the types of plants you want to grow.

Early Planting

  • Many plants don’t need to wait until the warmer weather sets in. Get them growing early indoors—by the time the temperature has warmed enough outside to plant them in the ground, they’ll have a nice head start! And hardier plants such as potatoes, onions, and lettuces can usually be planted outside as early as late winter.


  • Hold off on mulching until the soil starts to dry out a little. Mulching too early can disturb plant life that is just starting to emerge. But don’t wait too long, or the weeds will overtake your carefully cultivated garden!
  • The type of mulch you use is just as important as when you use it. Different mulches contain different nutrients and materials that can help or hurt your fledgling plants. We use hardwood colored enhanced mulch with iron oxide. It is pet and child friendly and good for plants and soil!

Your garden spring cleaning should be a carefully executed process. If you take your time and do it right, you will soon see all of your hard work pay off in spades! And if you need help, give us a call—we are always happy to use our expertise to craft the perfect garden or landscaping for your home.


Our Friends, the Honey Bees

Did you know August 19th is National Honey Bee Day? Since 2009, one Saturday each August has been designated as such….and with good reason! By now, most people have heard of the decline in the honey bee population. But they may not know why it’s happening or what it really means. With that in mind, we’ve decided to dedicate this month’s blog post to our fair, fuzzy friends: the honey bees!

Which bees are honey bees?

We’re not gonna lie…we have trouble with this sometimes, too. While honey bees are probably most often confused with yellowjackets, they’re frequently mixed up with bumblebees, wasps, and hornets, as well. We get it—when anything with a stinger is flying around your face, you don’t typically stop to identify the culprit…. You run! But killing a honey bee or its hive could have drastic effects on our way of life, so it wouldn’t hurt to know which insect is which.

Honey bees are the guys most people think of when they think of a bee. They’re medium-sized and slender, with a pointed abdomen and lots of pretty yellow stripes. Bumble bees, on the other hand are typically much larger, rounder, and fuzzier, often with blocks of color, rather than stripes.

Wasps are typically much more aggressive than bees, and where honey bees have a bit of fluff around their head and thorax, wasps are shiny and smooth, with narrower waists and abdomens. Yellowjackets and hornets are actually types of wasps, and yellowjackets are often the villains that go after and sting humans. They look much like honey bees, with similar coloring and striping, so are often confused with their gentler cousins. When a honey bee stings, however, its barbed stinger is ripped out of its body, effectively killing it. Therefore, they tend to sting only as a last resort.

Why are honey bees important?

It’s estimated that 1 in every 3 bites of food you take has benefited directly or indirectly from honey bee pollination. We rely on honey bees to pollinate not only the fruits and vegetables we eat, but also the seeds and grains used to feed livestock. We depend on pollination by honey bees to feed us, so if they disappear…well, we’d be in a very bad state. Without the industrious honey bee, farming practices would have to change radically, and food prices would soar.

Bees and bee products are also important to the health industry. Antibiotic treatments that include honey are used to treat burn victims, and bee sting apitherapy can be used to treat arthritis. There are even studies in the works investigating the use of bee venom in cancer treatments.

What’s happening to the honey bees?

For several years, now, we’ve been hearing about the baffling decline of the honey bee. Much of this is due to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, or CCD. CCD occurs when the majority of the worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving behind the queen and a few nurse and immature bees—without these worker bees, the survival of the hive is doomed. This isn’t a new phenomenon, by any means, but the drastic rise in the number of cases of CCD since 2006 is what has led to such concern.

We still don’t know exactly what causes CCD, but there are several suspects. Disease and infections, climate change, loss of habitat, malnutrition, parasites, and pesticides have all been cited as potential threats to honey bee colonies. A recent study conducted in Europe suggests certain insecticides could be responsible for harming already weakened hives.

What can we do to help?

  • Buy local, organic honey to help support your local beekeeping community. It’s delicious and it’s just about the most “green” sweetener you can buy.
  • Keep a bee-friendly garden, or add bee-friendly plants to your landscaping plan. Single top flowers such as daisies and marigolds produce lots of nectar and make it easy for bees to access the pollen. Plus, they add a splash of color to your yard! Choose a few different types, so you’ll have blooms throughout as many seasons as possible. (For the more bee-wary homeowner, consider planting your bee habitat in a side yard, or someplace where your family doesn’t congregate very often. This will help protect the bees from getting swatted, too!)
  • When purchasing plants for your landscaping, make sure they haven’t been pretreated with pesticides. While you’re at it, avoid using toxic, chemical pesticides and weed killers—especially neonicotinoids—when treating your lawn. As noted above, this could be a major factor in CCD!
  • Do you have more land than you know what to do with? Consider letting a local beekeeper take over a small corner to build a hive.
  • Donate to your local beekeepers association…or become a beekeeper, yourself!

Long live the bees!


10 Clever Gardening Tricks from the Pros

Do the plans for your backyard landscape include a garden? We love it when a design involves edible greenery, as there’s no better way to get fresh, tasty produce than to grow it yourself. Have you ever done the garden vs. store taste test? Try it with tomatoes…there’s no contest! And let’s face it—farm-to-table fare tastes the best when it comes from the fruits of your own labor.

As we head into the gardening season, here are a few tips and tricks from the pros to tend to your own little “farm”:

  1. There are so many beautiful annuals, but it can be such a hassle to replant them every year. Instead, “plant” empty plastic pots (poke drainage holes in the bottom first) and just drop your new seasonals right on in!
  2. Grind up eggshells into a powder and sprinkle in the garden. The calcium in the shells will give your plants a boost.
  3. Magnesium and sulfate-rich epsom salts are wonderful for maintaining a lush, healthy garden. Add some in the soil when first planting your garden, or for potted plants, dissolve into the water in your watering can.
  4. Strategically plant plastic forks—tines up—around your plants to keep pets and critters from trampling your garden.
  5. Speaking of critters, leftover coffee grounds will repel those unwanted guests while at the same time enriching your soil.
  6. Stop invasive plants from taking over your yard by planting them inside a large plastic pot or bucket. Just be sure to cut the bottom off first to let the roots do their thing.
  7. When you cook vegetables, save the leftover water and sprinkle it over your plants as fertilizer. The water contains tons of nutrients your garden will thrive on.
  8. Looking for a simple, non-toxic weed killer? Combine 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup table salt, and 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, and voila!
  9. Store your gardening tools in an unused flower pot filled with sand. It’ll help keep them from rusting!
  10. Give yourself a leg up by selecting easy-to-grow plants for the Indiana climate, as well as for your particular soil structure and lighting conditions.

Need some help or advice? We’re always happy to chat with you to help determine which plants will work best for your home!