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Deer me! What's eating your landscape?

Human hair, Irish Spring soap shavings, aluminum pie pans suspended on string, motion-activated lights or water sprinklers? Across Northeast Georgia, Bambi, his friends and family don’t seem to mind the smells, sounds and surprises when it comes to grazing on your prized roses, vegetables and hydrangeas. They’re much more interested in finding food with little consideration of your hard work.
You’d think that there would be many ways to keep the deer at bay, but not so. 
 
“There’s no fool-proof way to keep deer from eating your landscape if they’re hungry enough, but there are some ways to minimize the damage,” says Joe Lamp’l, creator and host of the award-winning PBS television series, “Growing a Greener World,” and a nationally recognized garden expert. “It takes persistence and a few tricks, but you can keep deer at bay.” 
 
Lamp’l suggests a couple of ways to at least minimize deer damage – exclusion/physical barriers or repellents. 
 
Do fence them out 
“Truly the most reliable way to address your deer issue is to create a physical barrier or a way to exclude them from your landscape,” he says. “Building a fence around your vegetable garden will do a great deal to reduce deer damage, but not just any fence will do.” 
 
Lamp’l suggests building a double, three-strand fence, like those used for livestock protection. Mount plastic insulators on 36-inch wooden, fiberglass or metal stakes and make two concentric circles around the area three feet apart. String the stakes in each circle together with wire strands, placing the wire in the outside circle 18 inches from the ground. Then put two strands on the inner stakes at 10 and 24 inches. 
 
Electricity, either through solar power or a battery-operated source, can be added, but Lamp’l says that’s not necessary in most cases. If a double fence is not practical from a space standpoint, build a standard fence from posts and chicken wire, woven field wire or welded mesh wire at least eight feet tall. Make sure that the fencing is tight against the ground. The deer won’t burrow, but they will look for an easy way to go under it.
 
Repellents 
The stories are legendary about people who scatter human hair clippings or bits of strong-smelling soap around their gardens in hopes of keeping deer from foraging. Crushing garlic, concocting a mixture of fragrant herbs, or spraying capsasian oil onto plants may keep the deer away, but these home remedies are truly not effective.
 
Some commercially available repellents have a good success rate, but the key is to alternate the brands that you use and to apply the repellents frequently, about every 10 days or so, and especially after it rains. Some of the most recognized brands are Liquid Fence, Deer Away, Deer Out, Deer Stopper and Hinder. You can usually find these at places like Tractor Supply, box retailers and nurseries. Follow the package instructions.
 
For an organic deer-repellent that’s marketed as fertilizer, try Milorganite, a waste-water treatment by-product that’s been produced by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District for more than 90 years. Without getting too scientific, Milorganite is the result of recycling nutrients in the city’s wastewater by using microbes that are then kiln-dried, bagged and sold across the country. The organic nitrogen-based slow-release fertilizer produces an odor that is offensive to deer. “I’ve seen it used as a fertilizer and deer repellent and the deer don’t seem to browse in areas treated with Milorganite,” Lamp’l says. “I find it to be very effective.”
 
For more information, visit Lamp’l’s website, GrowingaGreenerWorld.com, which offers podcasts, videos, articles and blogs related to all types of gardening. His show is also available on Georgia Public Television; go to www.gpb.org and search for “Growing a Greener World.”
 
 

Pamela A. Keene is our senior staff writer and a Hall County Master Gardener.








January 2019 column

Too much rain? What to do about rain water management

Can you recall the last time you had your gutters cleaned? If you can’t – or if it’s been more than a year – you’re probably way overdue.
 
Clean gutters are a major step in rain water management. Your gutters are designed to help direct the rain pouring off your roof away from your home’s foundation. They also help control harmful erosion around your home and landscape. Even gutters with guards and shields need to be inspected and cleaned regularly.  When your gutters are filled with leaves and debris, the water flowing off your roof can’t make its way to the downspouts. The water simply overflows all along the gutters, creating gullies where water gathers along your foundation. They’re unsightly, but they can also contribute to excess water around your house.
 
Your gutters can be a good tool for water conservation. By adding rain barrels beneath your downspouts, you can collect rainwater to use for irrigation, to wash your vehicles and to use for outdoor chores. Rain barrels often have an opening at the bottom, threaded to connect a faucet or hose to make it easy to use the contents. The top of the barrel is open, so cover it with a circle of fine screen to prevent the accumulation of debris and leaves. A closed top is even more effective and can prevent mosquitos from hatching in the standing water in the summer.
 
Box retailers and nurseries, such as Pike Nursery, seasonally carry rain barrels and diversion systems. And groups like the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper offer rain barrels for $35 each throughout the year. The unpainted rain barrel includes a kit for attaching it to your downspouts. Order them online and pick them up at the Riverkeepers’ offices in Atlanta, LaGrange and Gainesville. They will make a good indoor family project for January.
 
Some people install rain chains at the downspout locations along their gutters to help diffuse the water as it falls. The chains can be hung above rain barrels. You can also buy rain barrel diverters to direct the water into a barrel placed a bit farther from your foundation to protect against overflow next to your house.
 
When Rick and I built our home more than a dozen years ago, we buried a 1,500-gallon cement cistern on the back of our property. With 4-inch PVC pipes, we tied all our home’s gutters into the cistern, running them underground.  A converted 1,500-gallon septic tank with a large hole cut into the concrete wall between the two compartments, our cistern was connected to our underground irrigation system when we built the house. It’s a good way to have extra water during dry times in the spring and summer. 
 
We also installed four remote faucet boxes around our yard so that running water is never far from reach. They’re next to our vegetable garden, adjacent to my hybrid tea rose beds and near areas our plantings of native plants, trees and shrubs. These faucets are part of our underground irrigation system, put in at the same time.
 
For more information about water management in your landscape, visit chattahoochee.org or www.pikenursery.com. Both organizations periodically conduct classes for rain-water management. The Pike Nursery site also offers instructional videos about landscaping, including how to install a rain garden in areas that retain water in your yard.
 


December 2018 column

She Sheds: Today's answer to man caves

OK. We may be entering some dangerous territory here as I write about a new gardening trend, but bear with me. For years the guys have had their man caves, complete with big-screen TVs, surround sound and a license to have their “sacred private space.
 
Now it’s our turn. When I tell my friends that my husband Rick is building a garden house for me, people immediately ask me if I’ve seen the insurance commercial about the She Shed that burns down. That’s not really the way to start a conversation. Gardening, and all that goes with it, is a very serious topic. 
 
A brand-new book just came about from Quarto Publishing Group, which specializes in all kinds of gardening books. It is called “She Shed Style,” written by Erika Kotite, who also authored “She Sheds.”
 
The hard-cover, full-color book is gorgeous, but even more importantly, it’s filled with all kinds of decorating and DYI ideas to create a personalized She Shed that reflects your personality and style. From building an open-sided potting shed with loads of windows and plenty of shelf space for working, to designing a home-away-from-home with room for napping, reading or pursuing a hobby, Kotite has captured the essence of all things stylish. 
 
She delves into the architectural choices of She Sheds, ones that can range from a simple three-sided cubby in the garden to elaborate stand-alone rooms furnished with antiques, hand-made floor coverings and chandeliers. A She Shed can be as simple as a big-box retailer out-building to a custom-built all-glass cottage. Add an overhanging roof of four to six feet for storing garden tools, or create a patio covered by a pergola and draped with outdoor café lights.
 
Her book illustrates how to incorporate work space for journaling or letter writing, without taking up too much space. Create seating areas that encourage conversation, and add storage by building shelves above windows that can also be used to display your treasures. Hang colorful glass balls or floats from the ceiling at varying heights to provide dimension. 
 
Add interior space dividers using louvered folding doors as screens or drape soft fabric to hide clutter. Consider putting in a wood floor and stenciling it to create the look of brick or tile. 
 
Window treatments, if you even choose to use them, can be made of dishtowels knotted on wooden sticks or branches. Take an old suitcase, cover it with brightly colored fabric and you’ve got an ottoman. 
 
Furnishings can serve several purposes. A table with a shelf below can hold baskets to store supplies. A trunk or chest, repurposed, distressed and painted with chalk paint, can be both a coffee table and additional storage.
 
Shop consignment stores, antique shops and yard sales to find fun and whimsical items. Kotite added an old mantel and a couple of mirrors in one design. In another, she used broken china to create colorful stepping stones outside. Old doors can be retrofitted to provide a welcoming entrance.
 
I found a great Tiffany-style hanging light fixture that’s perfect above a wicker rocker in my little house. Another shopping trip yielded glass containers that I can use for flower arrangements. Souvenirs from my travels, such as a glass ball etched with a shamrock from Ireland, will also have a home in my She Shed. 
 
My She Shed has a name. It’s Rose Cottage, to go along with our having named our home Rose Lane in memory of my mother, whose name was Rosa. We have dozens of rose bushes, many of them hybrid tea cutting roses that I share with friends from May through mid-November.
 
As spring approaches, now is the time to daydream about what you can do to create your own She Shed. Check out “She Shed Style” by Erika Kotite for ideas. It’s available on Amazon.

November 2018 column

Winter color? Try new Cool Wave Pansies and more

A package arrived a couple of weeks ago from a public relations firm with a surprise – a dozen of the newest Cool Wave Pansies. As a garden writer I occasionally receive samples and trial plants with the stipulation that I report back to the growers about results in my Northeast Georgia garden.
 
Wave plants had been on my radar, especially the beautiful Wave Petunias that are available at box retailers and area nurseries each spring, but the Cool Wave Pansies got past me as each fall I purchased four to five flats of pansies to line my front walkway for winter color. Over the past couple of winters, my regular pansies suffered from various set-backs, from deer munching on them to just not performing as well as I expected.
 
Cool Wave Pansies, perfect for containers, window boxes and hanging baskets, are my new go-to winter color. My 12 samples, mostly in shades of yellow, purple and white will replace my Kimberly ferns on my front porch as it gets cold. The ferns will be overwintered in the garage – watered regularly and brought outside for some sun on warmer days. 
 
In the meantime, the Cool Wave Pansies fill two big squat ceramic pots. They’ll provide plenty of color as they spread and trail over the edges. According to Cool Wave spokesperson Katie Rotella, they prefer four hours of sunlight, being kept moist but not soaked, and regular pinching back of spent blooms to discourage seed-pod development. An occasional “hair cut” to remove leggy stems will encourage increased growth from the centers of the plants. 
 
Hybridized to produce more than a dozen colors of blooms, they look more like large violas with blossoms slightly smaller than standard pansies. They won’t freeze or be damaged by frost; in fact, they’re cold-hardy to -20 degrees, much colder than our Georgia winters.
 
 Feed Cool Wave Pansies when you first plant them and again every two weeks with liquid fertilizer until the first hard frost. They will flourish until late spring when the day-time temperatures rise to 75 degrees. 
 
For more information about Cool Wave Pansies or other Wave plants, visit www.wave-rave.com. And look for them at our area nurseries and box retailers. They’re definitely a great addition for your winter color.
 
November Gardening Tips 
With our warmer fall this year, we’re really waiting for the right time to prune trees and shrubs. Once they are dormant, which means growth has slowed or stopped for winter, you can sharpen your clippers and pruners and go to work.
 
Remove any dead limbs and branches, cutting selectively rather than lopping off all branches to the same length. You’ll create a much more interesting plant profile by pruning rather than hedging.
 
Rake and clean up any leaves and put them in your compost. Turn them into the pile, then cover the pile with a tarp to encourage more heat that will help break down the components and protect it from too much rain that may wash away nutrients. Use the mature compost to amend vegetable gardens, flower beds and to top-dress around trees and shrubs next spring.
 
What not to prune: To have lush spring blossoms, do not prune azaleas, forsythia/yellow bells, hydrangeas or other spring-flowering shrubs. Wait until after they’ve bloomed and then prune to reshape and stimulate growth and bud production for the next year.
 
October 2018 colmun

Cooler weather gardening chores and tips

As the temperatures cool, it’s a great time for gardening. From “the best time to plant trees and shrubs” to just being able to work outdoors without the sweltering heat and humidity, get out your gardening tools, trimmers and gloves and lay the groundwork for a beautiful landscape next spring.
 
Planting trees and shrubs
Trees and shrubs go dormant in the fall and winter. That means you can install new landscape materials now. As the weather cools, the trees and shrubs will have a better chance of acclimating to their new locations. And while they will require regular watering, it’s much less stressful on them to plant them in the cooler seasons.
 
The secrets to success include selecting the right location in terms of sunlight and space. “Research the mature size and light requirements of trees and shrubs as you’re choosing the site and make sure that you select the appropriate site,” says Suzanne Brosche, owner of Art of Stone Landscaping, based in Dahlonega. “Trees need to have room to grow without being crowded. Plus, if they’re planted too close together, they will slowly compete for the nutrients in the soil and it will affect their overall health.” 
 
Suzanne suggests planting a variety of trees and shrubs – some that flower, some that are prized for their foliage and others that are evergreen to provide a good backdrop. “Magnolias, such as ‘Little Gem’ have beautiful glossy dark-green leaves and stunning large white flowers in the summer,” she says. “Most people immediately think of conifers or shrubs like Green Giant Thuja or Leyland Cypress, but there are so many non-conifer choices, such as camellias and azaleas that flower, and a wide variety of hollies. Flip through magazines or online to get some ideas.” 
 
Here are a couple of nearby nurseries that specialize in trees and shrubs: Kinsey Tree Farm and Landscape Nursery off Jot-’em Down Road in north Gainesville, Lanier Nursery and Gardens in Flowery Branch on Schubert Road, and Full Bloom Nursery in Clermont on Holly Spring Road. All three have good selections and very knowledgeable staff who can advise you about the right trees and shrubs for your landscape.
 
Miscellany 
If you have tender potted plants you want to overwinter, move them into a shady post for about two weeks before bringing them indoors. When they come inside, put them in a bright spot away from drafts. 
 
Wait until later in October to purchase your pansies or other winter annuals. With the warmer weather we’ve had, pansies prefer that the ground be a bit cooler when transplanted. When you plant them, water well and apply a water-soluble fertilizer.
 
Apply weed-preventer, such as Preen, to newly planted annual beds. This will prevent the germination of winter weeds without harming your pansies, Dusty Miller or ornamental cabbages, kale or Swiss chard.
 
Divide your daylily clumps and replant them this month. If they have more than six or so fans, they’re ready to be divided and transplanted to extend their summer color for next year.
 
Now that your summer perennials, such as daisies, cone flowers and black-eyed Susans, have stopped blooming, clean out your garden beds. Cut perennials back to the ground and discard the cuttings. If you have fruit trees, rake up the leaves and fallen fruit to help prevent disease and fungus next season. 
 
You can plant spring-flowering bulbs in October and November. Daffodils naturalized under trees and shrubs provide a pleasant surprise each spring. Don’t be alarmed if the foliage appears while the weather is still cold in January or February; the leaves can withstand cold, snow and ice and still bloom.
 
Sign up for gardening newsletters, such as The Georgia Gardener, www.walterreeves.com, and garden apps, including the always-updated “Great Garden Plants” app by Allan Armitage, UGA horticulturalist, author and gardening expert. It’s only $4.99 and is available either for iPhone or Android.

September 2018 column

Tips for extending your summer garden's last horrah

With the strong and steady hot summer and early fall, most of our annuals, perennials and vegetables may look a bit peaked this month. But you can stretch the growing season out a little more with some simple tips. 
 
There’s still time to fertilize your annuals and perennials for a bit more bloom. For quick results, choose a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow. It can be applied using a hose-end sprayer or by mixing it according to the package instructions into a watering can and applying to each plant.
 
You can also use a granular fertilizer, but be sure to water it in well. Good choices include Milorganite, a slow-release organic fertilizer, or any of the Espoma “tone” types, which are also organic. The company makes different formulas for particular situations. For instance, “Holly-tone” is great for acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, camellias, evergreens, hollies and blueberries. “Plant-tone” for flowering plants and “Garden-tone” for vegetables both work well as all-purpose fertilizers. They’re safe to apply, they’re slow-release and provide plants with more nutrients and microbes than man-made chemical fertilizers.
 
Espoma makes a number of specialty formulas – Rose-tone, Bulb-tone, Tree-tone and Tomato-tone are just a few. If you can’t find them at your box retailer or area nursery, google them and find a source that offers free shipping.
 
You can also extend your flowering plants’ bloom season by deadheading, pinching or cutting off spent blooms so that the plant will use its energy to create more blossoms. Annuals such as salvia, Angelonia, marigolds, petunias and begonias, respond well to being pinched back. Also keep them well watered going into the fall and you’ll get another flush of blooms.
 
Save the brown flower heads from marigolds for next year’s seeds. Allow them to turn brown, then open them, spread them out and keep them in a cool, dry place until they dry out. Package them in plastic bags to store until next spring, when you can broadcast plant them in a well-prepared garden bed. 
 
Perennials, including coneflowers, tall phlox, blanket flowers, daisies, speedwells, black-eyed Susans and lavender, need some neatening up this month. Again, remove the dead flowerheads and remove brown foliage. Apply a light fertilizer and water regularly. Note that as the weather turns colder, you may need to cut back the brown stems and mulch lightly to protect them from frost. 
 
Dividing plants
September is a good time to divide clumps of plants, such as daylilies. If they are too crowded, you’ll see less blooms next year. This month the soil is still warm enough to encourage good root development. 
 
Here’s how: Dig up a clump of daylilies, allowing at least 10 inches between your shovel and the plants. Gently remove the dirt and spread out the roots, using the fans of leaves as a guide. Pull the roots apart, then replant each section at least 5 to 7 inches apart. Water well. This is a great way to expand your garden without spending any extra money. And, if you have friends who also garden, it’s fun to swap varieties with them.


August 2018 column

Gardening hacks for late summer, early fall

Sure, it’s hot outside. But that’s no excuse for neglecting your garden. If you’ve been watering regularly through the summer, you’ll still be rewarded with late tomatoes, green beans, peppers, squash and cucumbers. 
 
If the heat has gotten to your crop, there’s still time for a late summer/fall replacement garden. Plant squash and cucumbers seeds directly into the ground in raised mounds by the end of the month. Since they mature around 55 to 60- days after planting you’re safe from the threat of first frost, which is typically around early to mid-November. Just be sure to keep them well watered as they grow and keep an eye out for insects, such as squash borers that affect the stems of the plant. If you find insects, treat with Sevin dust, following the directions on the package. Yes, you can use Sevin on edible plants. The packaging will give you quantities, methods of application and cautions. 
 
You can also start seeds for your cool-weather crops, such as broccoli, collards and kale in August. Choose a shady place outdoors and use seeding flats, peat pots, or egg cartons and fill with good soil. Make sure the containers have adequate drainage. The late summer heat, with the plants in the shade, will provide the warmth and humidity that the seeds need to sprout, and by starting the seeds early, they will be ready to set out into the garden in September and October.
 
Fill the containers with good moist soil, then place one to two seeds in each pot or section of the egg carton, just barely covering them with soil. Water gently and thoroughly; using a mister is best. Be sure to label the containers when you plant the seeds, so you’ll know what you have planted.
 
Go ahead and prepare your garden space so that when it comes time to transplant the seedlings, you’ll be ready. Break up any large clumps, add organic matter and a light application of 10-10-10 fertilizer. When the seedlings have grown at least two pairs of leaves, not including the initial two that are the result of the seed sprouting, you can set them out in the garden. Plant them in rows and space the plants according to the instructions on the seed packets. Apply a little starter solution as you transplant.
 
Kale will mature in 55-70 days; collards will be ready to pick at between 60 and 85 days. Broccoli will be ready to harvest from seeds at between 100 and 150 days. Other plants to consider include cauliflower, chard, cabbage and turnips. Don’t worry about these vegetables being affected by frost or freezing temperatures. The foliage may become a bit burned, but the plants will survive.
 
If you’re not sold on starting your vegetable plants from seeds, fall will be here before you know it. Then you can buy starter plants for your cool-season vegetables at area box retailers. No matter what you choose, there’s nothing better than vegetables picked fresh from the garden.
 

July 2018 column

Growing green? Thank a Master Gardner

From teaching youngsters about where their food comes from to helping community groups create gardens, hundreds of Master Gardeners in Lumpkin/Dawson, Hall and Forsyth counties constantly give back to the community. With a goal of education, training and helping expand the reach and service of the University of Georgia extension, committed volunteers in these three groups literally give thousands of volunteer hours each year.
 
The Georgia Mountains Master Gardeners, based in Lumpkin/Dawson counties, has an active Junior Master Gardener program at Lumpkin Elementary School for students in 3rd through 5th grade. “Our program dovetails with the school’s curriculum for science,” said Kathy Sawicki, publicity chair for the group. “This program has so many benefits, from getting kids outdoors to learning how to grow plants, the role of pollinators and how to recycle.”
 
The outdoor classroom has raised beds; last year the students grew collard greens that the school cafeteria prepared and served. “Everyone got to taste what they had grown,” she said. “It’s so rewarding to see youngster get interesting in playing in the dirt and gardening. When they start at a young age, they gain a good appreciation of nature, where their food comes from and that they can do so many things outdoors.”
 
The Georgia Mountains Master Gardeners offers intern classes for adults every couple of years, based on demand. For more information about this group, contact Kathy at 478 213-9467 or visit the group’s website at www.gammg.org
 
Forsyth County Extension sponsors both Master Gardener and Master Naturalists training classes at various times. Bill Roper is president of the Forsyth organization which has nearly 100 active members. “Our biggest program is our ‘Garden Digs,’ where we help other organizations create gardens,” he said. “We work at senior centers, local churches and with other groups to help them organize their gardens, plus we provide advisers and grants. Our goal is to teach them how to set up and maintain a garden.” 
 
Two notable programs at the Forsyth County Libraries and at The Place (an assistance organization) have provided a platform for the volunteers to give back and for the community to participate in gardening. The Forsyth Master Gardeners has also begun offering scholarships to high school students who want to pursue a career in horticulture or a related field.
 
For more information, call 770 888-7490 or visit the group’s website at http://ugamg.org
For many years, Hall County Master Gardeners have been among the most active Master Gardner groups in Georgia. With more than 150 active members, the organization has been doing Junior Master Gardeners programs in Hall County schools. It also hosts two plant sales each year at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center in the spring and fall and a biennial garden tour of private gardens in the area. 
 
“Our group supports more than two dozen community projects, from the Wilshire Park and Gardens on Green to our newest – Cherokee Bluffs and Roberts Cabin in South Hall,” said Patti Lewis, this year’s president. “We’ll be planting native and aesthetic plants, medicinal plants and the kinds that would have been used when the cabin was in its most active time.” 
 
Hall County typically offers an intern class annually. Applications are accepted in the fall and the new training class takes place from January through March. “Becoming a Master Gardener is beneficial on so many levels,” Patti said. “It brings together people of like minds who enjoy gardening, it provides a chance to give back to the community. It offers ways for people to spread their love of gardening through education. And it is a place where many of us make life-long friends.”
 
To learn more about Hall County Master Gardeners, call 770 535-8293 or visit www.hallmastergardeners.com. All these Master Gardeners groups have plant sales and provide volunteers to answer telephones at their local extension office to answer gardening questions from the public. They also host monthly meetings for members, plus periodic social events.
 
To learn more about Master Gardeners in your area, call 1-800-ASK-UGA1. This number will connect you to your local office.


June 2018 column

Attract birds, bees and pollinators during National Pollinator Week June 18-24

Without the birds, the bees and other pollinators, we earthlings wouldn’t have the diverse foods that we enjoy. Pollination accounts for the successful production of fruit and vegetable crops around the world. 
 
Each June, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, www.pollinator.org, spearheads National Pollinator Week each June. This year the event takes place from June 18-24 through more than 170 events across 42 states, Puerto Rico and Canada to draw attention to the importance of pollinators. 
 
“More than 75 percent of all crops require natural pollination,” said Dolores Savignano, climate change coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation. She encourages people to make their landscapes pollinator-friendly. 
 
Honeybees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in North America, according to a White House fact sheet. Globally, 87 of the leading 115 food crops are dependent on animal pollinators, the fact sheet noted. It said pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy, with honeybees responsible for more than $15 billion of that through their vital role in keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets. Native wild pollinators – such as bumblebees and alfalfa leafcutter bees – account for the balance. 
 
“Finding plants that attract natural pollinators to your landscape can encourage the continued populations of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and even some birds,” said Chris Heim, district manager of residential and commercial services with The Davey Tree Company. “Native trees are always a good choice, such as native oaks, red buds and Southern magnolias. By adding these trees to your landscape, you’re encouraging pollinators and providing shelter for wildlife.” 
 
Heim said that the best time to plant trees and shrubs is in the fall, when the temperatures are cooler, and the plants are approaching dormancy. “You will have more success when you plant in the late fall,” he said. “Plus, it’s important to prepare the planting site by incorporating organic materials and digging the hole about two times wider than the root ball. Be sure to untangle any roots that have become twisted and confined, so that they will more naturally grow into the soil. Be sure to keep new plantings adequately watered.”
 
For instant color and long-lasting rewards, blooming summer perennials are excellent selections to create a pollinator habit. Area nurseries and box retailers sell cone flowers, cardinal flowers, blanket flowers and lantana that will come back year after year with little or no maintenance, other than clean-up in the winter. 
 
Create a pollinator garden
You can participate in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to help create a million such gardens across the U.S. Visit www.millionpollinatorgardens.org
 
In the meantime, if you’re serious about attracting pollinators, here are some tips from the US Department of Agriculture/Forest Service:
  • Consider plants with a range of bloom seasons from spring through fall. Include both daytime and night-blooming species.
  • Pollinators more easily find plants in clumps rather than single plants. This also makes caring for your garden easier.
  • Choose native varieties of plants rather than their “prettier” hybridized relatives.
  • Mix in annuals, perennials, flowering shrubs and trees.

Check with your area’s extension office or a Master Gardener for a list of the best natives to plant to attract your region’s pollinators. Keep in mind that some may be considered weeds in your area. Provide a water source for pollinators. You can put a bird bath directly on the ground or install a drip irrigation line. Add a bit of salt or wood ashes to the damp area.
 
Do not remove dead trees or branches. They may become attractive nesting options for bees. Avoid using pesticides. If you must use them, read the label for the least-toxic to wildlife. Spray at night when bees are not active.
 
Learn more about pollinators by reading guidebooks about bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.


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