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Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!

If you’ve ever bought flowers and never gotten around to actually planting them, we have a feeling it’s because planting can be intimidating. We’re here to share our best tips for a successful transplant.

flowers

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Use the plants in their containers to arrange and plan your garden.

  2. Plan for how big the plant will be, not how big it is when you buy it.

  3. Dig holes twice as big as the container they come in.

  4. Plant with a gentle hand.

  5. Use good soil and good plant food.

  6. WATER, WATER, WATER!

Step 1: Place your store-bought plant containers, where you plan to plant them. This can help you map out your ideas and measure. It’s also a good time to double check the labels for light needs. Shift shade loving plants from bright areas, and sun-loving plants from shade areas.

Step 2: Ask a store associate or check the label for what size the plant will be when it is full grown. For example, if a plant will measure 3 feet wide when full grown, you want to plant them at LEAST 4 feet apart – or further if you want space in between. Just because the plants you buy are small at first doesn’t mean you should plant them close together. They are going to be BIG in no time at all!

gardening

Step 3: Make sure the holes you dig are deep enough for the plant. You can look up specifics of individual plants online, or ask a specialist at the nursery. We find a good rule of thumb is to dig a hole that is about twice the size of the container you purchase them in. Too shallow of a hole will make the plant struggle in the heat and cold because the roots will be more exposed to the elements. Too deep of a hole will make it harder for the roots to get water and nutrients. It’s the happy median you’re looking for.

Step 4: Plants are delicate and the transplanting process can be hard on them, so handle your new plants with a gentle hand to minimize the shock of the transplanting process. To transfer plants from container to the ground – gently grasp the plant around the base, turn the container to the side, and squeeze the container to help loosen it while you shimmy the plant free from the container. Be sure to gently separate the roots by using your fingers to loosen the roots underneath from the middle out. This encourages the roots to spread out which should help get it established quicker. Place the plant in the middle of the hole and cover with good soil.

plants

Step 5: Most nurseries have their own potting mix, and the ones with cedar in the mix have worked well for us here in Central Florida. We typically put the “good soil” on the top so that when we water the plants the nutrients trickle down into the roots. Pack down the dirt around the plant so that the plant is supported and the roots are protected. Finally, sprinkle a slow release food, like Osmocote, around the base of the plant.

Step 6: WATER is so important for establishing your new plants. After you have planted and sprinkled with food, immediately water generously at the base of the plant. (Ideally, using a garden hose with “shower” setting.) Be sure to water new plants every day for at least the first week. Here in Central Florida, SUN and HEAT are a factor – so only water in the early morning before the sun OR after the heat and sun of the day (dusk) as to not burn your plant/leaves. PRO TIP: Water new and established plants at the base. The roots are what distributes the water and nutrients. The leaves and stems do not. Wet leaves in the sun and heat can burn/kill your plants.

garden hose

Click here to read our previous article for ground care tips, including the easiest way to keep weeds out of your beautiful new flower bed!

Do you have other garden tips? Have a favorite place to buy flowers and plants in Central Florida? We want to hear! Let us know in the comment section of our social media. @DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook.

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Hedge Trimmers and Edgers: Which is Best?

Electric vs Gas vs Battery Hedgers/Edgers/Trimmers – Which is Best? 

When it comes to buying new landscaping and lawn equipment, we always find ourselves at a crossroads. From plug-in electric, to rechargeable batteries, to gas powered – so many options make it nearly impossible to choose which is best with any certainty. Fear not! We recently upgraded our tools and are here to share our experience.

After owning the plug-in corded and manual landscaping tools over the years, using gas-powered ones, and then recently purchasing the electric rechargeable battery kinds, we feel confident in recommending this particular brand.

E-GO, purchased at Lowes Home Improvement.

lawn equipment

We choose this brand and could not be happier with our purchase. Our lawn (edging) is small, but we have a lot of bushes and plants and find these rechargeable electric (battery/cordless) products perfect for our needs.

The Pros:

  • We can trim without re-charging the battery at least 2 to 3 times.
  • The batteries are compatible with multiple E-GO tools, so you can swap them between tools with ease.
  • More powerful and reliable than our plug-in corded models.
  • Performed just as well as the gas powered options we’ve tried.

The Cons:

  • If the battery dies during use, you have to wait while the batteries charge.
  • The battery charging fan has a funny smell when charging, so we don’t feel comfortable charging them inside the house.

electric landscaping tools

These are literally the only cons we can come up with. We think our E-GO is awesome! The performance is honestly better than all of our previous plug-in electric models. The cuts are clean and it’s rare (if ever?) that this E-GO hedger/trimmer has gotten stuck in the branches of hedges while trimming.

rechargeable battery for lawn equipment

The battery system is pretty straight forward. Slide it on the charger to charge it, it has a light indicator to show when it’s fully charged. Then you slide it on to whatever E-GO tool you want to use and go! I usually find myself needing to charge it after every third use.

Most of the tools have an option to buy with the battery at a BIG savings versus buying the battery and charger alone. We have one battery for two E-GO tools. I swap the battery between the hedger and the edger with no problems. If you have more than one person working on tool – related yard tasks you may want to opt for more batteries.

Do you have any landscaping tools that make your life easier? We want to hear about it! Share your finds with us in the comments of our social media posts about this article. @DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook.

Note: This is not a paid endorsement or ad. We actually researched and purchased these items all on our own.

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Sod vs. Seeds, Which is Best?

lawnSod is the quickest way to an instant lawn. So what’s the downside to sod? It’s more expensive, which results in people trying seeds over and over again. In our opinion, it would be better to replace your lawn in phases than to continually waste money on seeds that never take.

Can seeds ever work?

Absolutely! Sometimes seeds do work, but if they don’t work the first time, they’re probably not the solution for your particular situation. It’s time to save up and consider sod. Here are some instances where we’ve seen seeds do well:

  • A resting yard. If the area is mostly undisturbed with minimum foot traffic (no pets or children tearing up the ground) the seeds are more likely to be successful. 
  • Dappled light or areas with shorter lengths of direct sunlight. When the grass germinates, this will keep it from drying out and dying in the harsh sun. Monitor your yard’s sun exposure and make sure to purchase the right type of seeds for your particular situation.
  • When using a sprinkler system, or a strict watering schedule. This will give the seeds the moisture they need. Follow the directions on your particular brand of seeds.

PRO TIP: Follow the specific instructions on your brand of seeds and follow their recommended watering schedule.

Is sod ever affordable?

It’s rarely “cheap” but there are ways to save. Consider purchasing from a local sod farm. A straight-from-farm product is usually cheaper and healthier than that dried out stuff you pick up from the local home improvement store. Most farms deliver the sod straight to your yard. Keep in mind, farms usually sell by the palate, so if you need less than their minimum order, ask a neighbor if they would be interested in splitting the cost.

There are also big savings by installing the sod yourself. It’s not a fun job, and can be a lot of work, so work in stages and/or ask some family or friends to help.

PRO TIP: You must water new sod everyday until it is established. This is best done in the very early morning just before the sun comes up.

What if I don’t want either?

If you’d like to shrink your lawn, design areas to plant bushes. Azaleas bloom pretty flowers every spring and are a very hearty, low maintenance option. Knock Out Roses are a great continuous flowering option. You could also create rock beds or plain mulched zones with or without planters.

Lawn Care Tips:

“Cut it high to thrive!”

First, Florida lawns do much better when cut on the highest mower setting. We’ve found the taller the grass, the deeper the roots, and the thicker the lawn. This is a simple way to keep the grass healthy and block the weeds out.

PRO TIP: If you’re cutting your lawn with the lowest (shortest) blade setting on your mower, that’s probably why it’s not thriving. It’s often the reason for dead or bare spots too.

Next, a sprinkler system with a regular watering schedule is a must for keeping a lawn in Florida. Florida grasses are hearty and drought tolerant but they still need regular watering to really thrive.

DID YOU KNOW?: Your city/county likely has designated watering days. Watering outside of those days can result in fines. (New sod is usually an exception.) Be sure to follow your area’s watering schedule and rules.

Finally, watch out for invaders! Dig or pull up weeds, crab grass, and torpedo grass as soon as you see them. Skip the weed killers.

Cheers to creating a plush, picnic-worthy lawn!

lawn picnic

 

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Prepare Garden Beds for Spring Planting

It’s “winter” in Florida, and the cool temps mean it’s the perfect time to get to all those projects that are too-hot-to-handle the rest of the year. Garage organizing, house washing or painting, cleaning the gutters, AND putting some muscle power into the garden is all so much easier when the weather is cooler.

Let’s get started!

We’re not going to trim much. Azaleas and Hydrangea, along with many other flowering bushes, flower on OLD wood – so trimming before the spring would be a big mistake if you want to see them bursting with flowers in a few weeks. This month we are going to focus on the ground and plants that are past their prime.

Tools and Supplies: Plastic Leaf Rake, Metal Garden Rake, Garden Hand Tools (the claw and the scoop), Gloves, Newspaper, Paper Yard Bags, Mulch. 

The right tools make ALL the difference when it comes to spending as little time as possible preparing and maintaining a garden. You’ll thank yourself later for investing in a few items for yard maintenance, even if you have to budget for them over time. 

Paper Yard Bags: Most cities cannot take yard waste in plastic bags. It’s better to have it loose in a dedicated trash can, or in paper yard bags like <<< these found at The Home Depot, and many other home improvement stores.

 

Rake: Clear beds first by raking leaves with plastic rake. Use a metal garden rake to loosen the topsoil/mix any remaining old mulch into the dirt. Evenly distribute.

Weed: If you can muster the strength, hand weeding things like clover and fern will allow you to dig down to the root and seed pockets – which makes it way harder for those garden invaders to come back so quickly. Dig up and discard dead plants, or ones you plan to replace this year.

Newspaper: This is the Earth-friendly secret to fewer weeds in your garden beds! Newspaper allows water to get through and blocks weeds at the same time. Once you have raked, loosened, and evened out the topsoil, cover the beds with old newspapers. You want it to be about three pages thick. The thicker the newspaper layer, the less weeds can grow. In areas you plan to have potted plants or nothing at all, make your layers a couple of pages thicker. Use only matte newsprint pages, discard any of the glossy coated ones. Once you have blanketed your bed in newsprint, lightly shower the papers with water to get them to stay in place, then cover the whole area with a layer of mulch or pine bark nuggets.

In just a few hours time, you’ll have beautiful garden beds ready for all of your spring planting, OR if you never get around to flowers, you have perfectly manicured and mulched landscaping!

A quick guide for common Central Florida yard waste and debris:

“Yard waste” is natural, organic matter only. Meaning; grass clippings, leaves, branches, weeds, dirt, etc. Plastic mulch bags, old plant containers, nails, screws, and other random things you happen to find outside should go into the regular garbage.

  • Palm fronds, can be stacked together or tied with jute or natural twine.
  • Ties should be an organic material like jute or natural cotton. (Not the white or yellow plastic cord stuff.) 
  • Fill PAPER yard bags about 3/4 of the way to avoid ripping.
  • Avoid those black plastic yard bags, even though the box says they are for yard waste. They don’t break down, so workers have to remove them.
  • It’s fine to fill a can with loose clippings and leaves, you only need to bag or bundle items that are not in a can.
  • Disperse heavier items among several cans (small tree trunks, branches, limbs, etc.) to offset the weight.
  • Large twigs, trunks, branches, bamboo, etc. should be cut into 3’ segements and bundled.
  • Our waste management company says you can typically put out as many cans and bundles as would fit in a large pick up truck bed.

Keep in mind, most yard waste is still tended to by hand by a small team of workers. Make sure your bins, bags, and bundles can be physically picked up to be dumped or hauled away. Over-filling bags and heavy trunk-filled garbage cans makes it really hard on workers, especially in the summer months.

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Mini Home Makeover – Exterior Light Fixtures

We recently updated a few exterior fixtures around the house, and couldn’t believe how much more polished it made our home feel. Here are a few finds from Amazon to help you give your garage or porch a mini makeover.

Farm House Feels

Farmhouse Fixtures

Modern Moments

Modern Fixtures

Traditional Tastes

Traditional Style Fixtures

 

Consider using dusk to dawn type bulbs for a no hassle safety measure. You don’t even need new or special fixtures for these. It’s all in the bulbs!

If you don’t have the money to invest in new fixtures, revive your current ones with a good deep cleaning and fresh paint. We find brush paint worked best for getting into intricate designs, but people also spray paint them. Just be sure to buy the right kind of paint for the material you’re covering, and that it’s rated for outdoors. A paint associate at the home improvement store is usually pretty knowledgeable about what paint is best for various applications. That information should also be on the can too.

PRO TIP: When it comes to colors, black fixtures are traditional and timeless, which makes it a best bet for matching various home styles and trends. If you decide to go with a different or trendy color, just make sure it’s one that appears somewhere in your home palette. For example, copper-like sconces might go well with copper colored roofs, or accent paint/features.

copper light fixtures

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Spreading Holiday Cheer

santaThe last two years have been hard for a lot of people. If you have family, a friend, or neighbor in need of some holiday cheer, consider some quick set up/low impact yard decorations to quickly brighten their holiday! We found all the options below on Amazon.

 

STAKES

stake decorations

Yard Stakes: Create a cheery little pathway quickly with yard signs. They work just like a yard sale sign, but have holiday phrases and designs like these we found on Amazon. Use a yard stick or the sidewalk seam lines to evenly space the signs and it will look like Santa himself might have been supervising the install!

Solar Options: These can be a little tricky, so be sure to look at reviews. We bought several candy cane striped solar stake lights from Walmart for under $2 a piece. They are tiny little twinkle level of lights at night, but during the day look so festive! Alternate solar stake lights with yard stake signs for more of a visual impact.

MAGNETS

garage decorations

Garage Magnets: THESE ARE SO CUTE! We found phrases, ornaments, even reflective oversized Christmas light bulbs that turn a garage into a picture perfect holiday cards!

LIGHTS

Christmas Lights

Projector and Kalidescope Globe Lights: These lights flock an entire wall or bushes area in illuminated winter wonder in 5 minutes! Simply stake, plug it in, and go! PRO TIP: Dusk is the best time for set up, as you will not see where it is projecting during the daytime.

Shrubs and Bushes: Net lights set up in a snap when you have two people to help stretch it and place them over bushes.

INFLATABLES

Inflatable Christmas Decorations

You can’t go wrong with a fun holiday inflatable! We found the best deals on small ones were at the At Home store. They had many to choose from in the 4’ size starting at just $14.00!

Make sure whatever decorations you choose are rated for outdoor use and for the climate you live in. Here in Florida, when you’re buying online, sometimes “outdoor” just means it’s suitable for the cold, but we have to worry about the sun and heat too.

Don’t forget to tell your friend you will coordinate taking the display down for them after the holidays. It’s just another way to show you care!

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Leave the Leaves

There’s good news if you hate raking and bagging leaves in the fall. Your yard may actually benefit from those fallen leaves!

Turns out, MULCHED leaves can be beneficial. Some leaves provide nutrients to soil but most just help to protect the lawn and block weeds. We read this is especially true if you have oak or maple tree leaves. Even if they have no impact to your soil’s nutrients, mulched leaves are found to be the environmentally-friendly solution to facing fall, because it keeps the bagged ones out of landfills, and cuts down on the need to use a leaf blower.

How do I use the leaves to benefit the lawn?

You simply use a lawn mower with a mulch feature and mow over the leaves, just like mowing the grass. It can take a few passes depending on how many leaves you have. If you have especially deep leaves you may need to distribute them after mulching with a rake, or by using the bag feature on the mower for the ability to empty and distribute them evenly into other areas of the yard.

How much is too much mulch?

Distribute mulched leaves evenly, as to not suffocate your lawn. You should still see grass blades sticking through, not just a thick carpet of dried leaf pieces.

Can I use the leaves anywhere else?

Yes! The garden and flower beds are great places to distribute extra leaf mulch. It helps insulate and block weeds there too.

Do I have to mulch them? Can I just leave them be?

Mulching or bagging are the recommended options. Piles of leaves can suffocate the lawn. They also tend to get soggy and moldy too. When Spring rolls around you’re likely to uncover a very sad lawn situation.

So there you have it. Mulch the leaves and spend the time you save drinking pumpkin spice lattes in your autumn wonderland!

Have you mulched your leaves before? Share your tips with us in the comment section of our post for this topic on our Facebook and Instagram.

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Halloween Home

This year, it seems everyone is ready to celebrate Halloween earlier than ever. We found plenty of options to decorate your yard in a flash on trusty ol’ Amazon.

Create a spooky scene with orange, green, or purple lights and a cool image projection show:

Decorate the porch with some witchy hats or ghostly windsocks:

 

While you’re there, add festive banners to the doorway:

Fashion a giant spider web that will be sure to gather some ganders:

Line your paths with a few jack-o-lantern stakes, or backlight some witchy silhouettes and faux grave stones:

Got leaves? Turn them into decorations:

Make your yard stand out instantly with giant inflatables:

SIMPLE DIY: If you’re not a fan of carving up your pretty pumpkins, try using black removable adhesive vinyl to cut out jack-o-lantern faces. Then gently remove after Halloween for perfect porch pumpkins.

How will you celebrate the spookiest season of the year? Share your decorated yards with us on Facebook or Instagram!