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In your Garden in April

Category: In Your Garden  |  Permalink

Published: Friday, April 7, 2017

April in Southern California is perfect for playing in your garden. The days are longer and warmer and there's always something to do. Plant every chance you get. Local garden centers are loaded with all that new and interesting this month. Drop by discover something exciting.

Work with what you've got. If you would like to grow herbs and vegetables but don't have a large space consider establishing a container garden. A variety of inexpensive pots in various shapes and sizes can be used to cultivate a ‘patio garden'. In pots or in the ground, group tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro together and you have a ‘salsa garden'. Be creative in the space you're allowed.

Color: Asters, Coleus and Zinnias are showing up in the garden centers now. April is one of the months with the largest selection of flowering plants available. Be creative and make your own hanging baskets and potted patio plants using some of your favorites. Continue to dead head all flowering plants for optimum flower production.

Fruits & Vegetables: Plant Citrus, Bananas, Avocados, Guava and other frost sensitive fruit trees this month. Fertilize existing fruit trees to help promote good fruit production. Additionally, thin excess fruit from young trees before the fruit reaches the size of an almond. This will prevent undue stress being put on the tree. Peaches should be thinned to every 5" on alternate sides of the branch with plums, nectarines and apricots spaced at every 3". Time to put in vegetables such as beans, corn, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes if you haven't done so. Also plant melons, squash and gourds.

Lawn:If you have a problem with crabgrass, apply a pre-emergent herbicide before it gets out of control. Mow your lawn frequently - every week. To keep a healthy lawn, never cut more than 1/3 of the length of the blade of grass. Fertilize regularly. Your lawn needs between 3-5 inches of water in April. Make sure it gets about 1/2" twice a week. (In most sprinkler systems, it takes about 20 minutes to get 1/2" of water.)

Perennials: It's not too late to divide perennials such as Agapanthus, Moraea and Hemerocallis. Make sure they're planted immediately after division. Divide and transplant grasses too. For bushier flowering shrubs, pinch new growth to encourage fullness at the base of the plant.

Pests: Treat aphids, spider mites and white fly with insecticidal soap or a brisk spray of water.

Roses & Flowers: Roses should be at their peak right now. Continue to dead head and feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer.

Irrigation: Keeping an eye on the weather, set your irrigation for the longer, warmer days. Check your system to make sure that everything is working efficiently. A deep, thorough watering is better than a short, shallow watering. Deep watering encourages roots to go deep which will benefit the plant later this summer.

Also: Once the weather has warmed and the plants in your garden are beginning to show signs of life, prune off any cold damage that may have been inflicted during the winter. Cut just below where the dead branches begin. If you're not sure about what is damaged or not, wait until next month and reassess the damage.

Stake taller growing plants now while they're smaller and easier to manage.

Sheer formal hedges and prune evergreens in preparation of their spring growth spurts.

Prune and fertilize groundcovers to remove dead patches and encourage new growth.

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In your Garden in March

Category: In Your Garden  |  Permalink

Published: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March is a very busy month in your garden but it also holds a lot of promise. The plantings you did in the fall are budding and blooming and there is a sense of satisfaction for a job well done. It also brings to your attention the things you need to get busy on so that the whole yard thrives through the coming months.

Now is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. You may want to wait another month or so before planting subtropicals like Bougainvillea, Cannas and Hibiscus. Prune spring flowering shrubs and vines after they’ve bloomed to maintain their shape. Most evergreens should be pruned now before new growth starts.

Color: Begin to replace winter annuals as they fade. Marigolds, Petunias, Nicotiana and Snapdragons are available to plant for summer color. Cut back and clean foliage on perennial color such as Impatiens and Begonias. Replace any color that was damaged during the winter months. Look for new introductions to add a little something new to your garden.

Fruits & Vegetables: Early tomatoes, squash, peas, onions and beans can be planted now. There’s still time to get in another round of cool weather crops. Consider planting a grouping of different varieties of lettuce. The variation in colors and textures creates interest and function. Fertilize fruit trees and make sure they get adequate water to help with fruit production. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer so growth is directed toward the fruit and roots. Plant strawberries. Plant or freshen up your herb garden with new varieties or replace plants that didn’t fare well over the winter.

Lawn: Continue to mow your lawn on a regular basis. The blade should be set at about 2”, raising it to 3” when the temperatures pick up this summer. Do maintenance on your lawnmower making sure the blade is sharp and ready for the increased workout that’s coming up. Feed your lawn with a high nitrogen fertilizer and do so regularly through the growing season.

Perennials: Divide overgrown perennials such as Daylilies, Agapanthus, Iris and Lilies including grasses. Be sure to use a sharp shovel or knife and replant the divisions right away. Fuchsia produce blooms on new wood. Prune back by about two-thirds to reshape and encourage growth. Repot plants in hanging baskets or in pots with fresh potting mix.

Roses & Flowers: Roses should be full of fresh growth since they should have been pruned back in January. Fertilize and dead-head regularly to encourage bloom production. Camellias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons should be pruned once the last flower has faded. Using the notes you took over the winter, create a new flower bed. Visit your local independent garden center and try something new.

Irrigation: Rain returns week of March 7- don't forget to inspect your drainage systems and erosion controls. This is a great time to get down your pre-emergent and fertilizer applications. Watch the weather closely and turn your sprinklers off and on accordingly. After a deep rain, wait until the soil dries out a bit before turning the system back on. Irrigating saturated soil is just a waste of precious water. Take advantage of a warm, sunny day by spending it outside testing your entire irrigation system. Make sure the timer is working property. Run through the cycles and ensure that all heads and emitters are working efficiently. Give deciduous trees a deep watering to encourage bloom and leaf development. Remember - know your water agency’s mandated watering restrictions: http://www.sdcwa.org/find-your-water-district/ .

Also: Applying a pre-emergent weed killer will save you time later in the season. Do not apply in areas where you plan to sow seeds for vegetables or flowers. Pull weeds while they’re small before they have a chance to spread seeds around your garden.

The last few months, pests in the garden have slowed down to a crawl. Warm weather is going to bring them out in force. Watch for aphids on new growth. Use the garden hose to remove these and other pests until the beneficial bugs appear which are usually quick to follow. Snails and slugs are busy munching right now. Trap or bait them to keep them from damaging the plants in your garden.

Mulch new areas and remulch existing planting areas to keep weeds under control, conserve water and eliminate erosion. Mulch layer should be about 2-3” deep. For those of you growing stone fruit and vineyards make sure to apply protectant fungicides to ensure your crop is protected from diseases.

Fertilize everything! As we start the growing season, it’s important that nutrients that have been depleted in the soil are replaced. The act of fertilizing is to treat the soil which in turn benefits the plant. When applying fertilizer, imagine the root system of the plant you’re working with. If it’s a tree, the roots may have spread out quite a distance from the trunk. The soil in that area needs to be treated also. A bedding plant will have a relatively small root system so the application doesn’t need to be disbursed that far from the base of the plant. Remember to NEVER fertilize a dry plant as this can cause the root system to burn. It is best to irrigate, fertilize, irrigate.

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In your Garden in February

Category: In Your Garden  |  Permalink

Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February in your Southern California landscape is the beginning of new growth. It's also a month of transition. Spring is looming but winter is still with us. Although frosts are possible they're improbable after February 1st. Be aware of the weather and plan your garden activities accordingly. Don't prune back flowering perennials too soon and put them at risk to cold damage.

Take this time instead to plan this year's changes. Review your notes of what did and didn't do well last year. A successful garden depends on planning and attention. If you have a busy schedule, use low maintenance plantings to create a 'well tended' garden with little effort after it's established. Consider introducing a new plant into your program; perennials and vegetables both. There are a lot of new varieties available at Briggs. Try one just for the fun of it and see how it does.

Color: Filling in blank spots with cool weather annuals such as dianthus, Iceland poppies, pansies, stock, primula, snapdragons and calendulas is a great way to make an impact fast. Clear leaf trash from winter storms out of the beds and punch in a little spring color for instant gratification.

Fruits & Vegetables: There's still time to plant bare root fruit trees, grapes and berries before they begin to leaf out. Make sure it's done early in the month. If you haven't already done it, prune your fruit bearing trees. Midmonth is the time to apply the final spray application for pests on your deciduous fruit trees. Fertilize deciduous fruit trees 2 to 3 weeks before they flower. Along the coast, Citrus and Avocado's can be fertilized this month. Inland, wait until next month.

Cool weather vegetables like lettuce, carrots, broccoli, celery, white potatoes, peas and radishes can be planted now. At the beginning of the month, the soil's not warm enough to plant warmer crops like tomatoes and peppers. Wait until the soil temperature reaches about 60 degrees.

Lawn: Slow growth of your lawn doesn't mean you don't have to mow. Mowing regularly helps keep the lawn healthy. Cool weather lawns can be fertilized lightly.

Roses & Flowers: Azaleas and Camellias are in full bloom. Plant those now using an acidic soil mix which will help them thrive. However, you want to feed once they've stopped blooming. Prune hydrangea and feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer. If you want blue blossoms, apply Hydra blue (aluminum sulfate) or a similar product now for blue flowers next year. Dormant roses should have been pruned by now and you may be seeing some new growth. Fertilize lightly toward the end of the month.

Irrigation: With winter rains, the need for supplemental watering may be limited. Watch the weather closely and turn your sprinklers off and on accordingly. After a deep rain, wait until the soil dries out a bit before turning the system back on. Irrigating saturated soil is just a waste of precious water. If this month brings light rains, be sure to water natives lightly. Additionally, give deciduous trees a deep watering to encourage bloom and leaf development.

Also: Applying a pre-emergent weed killer will save you time later in the season. Do not apply in areas where you plan to sow seeds for vegetables or flowers. Pull weeds while they're small before they have a chance to spread seeds around your garden.

Finish heavy pruning of dormant trees before they bud out.

It's not too late to plant summer blooming bulbs like Canna, Gladiola, Lilies, Tuberoses and tuberous Begonias. If you plant a couple of gladiolus each week through the end of next month, you should have continual blooms through the summer.

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In your Garden in January

Category: In Your Garden  |  Permalink

Published: Sunday, January 1, 2017

In January, your landscape is at its most dormant stage and there's very little to do. Aside from pruning and transplanting there's not a lot going on. With high moisture levels in the ground, be careful not to disturb the soil too much. Overworking can result in compaction that may harm the soil structure. Do go to your local nursery or garden center. Azaleas, Camellias are blooming along with New Zealand Tea Trees (Leptospermum scoparium) and other plants. Putting these in your garden will ensure that you have flowers in your garden when most flowering plants are in their dormant stage.

Color: Fill in bare spots with cool weather annuals. Pansies, Snapdragons, Iceland poppies and Kale are great additions to the garden along with Cyclamen, Primula and Begonias. Keep leaf trash cleaned from the base of the plants. Plant summer blooming bulbs; canna, dahlia, lilies, tuberose and tuberous begonias.

Fruits & Vegetables: Plant bare-root fruit trees, grapes, berries and strawberries now. Soak roots in water overnight before planting. Continue to spray dormant fruit trees for pests, include trunk and soil around the base of the tree. Prune established fruit trees to maintain a uniform shape. Many cool weather vegetables are available. Sow beet, carrot and radish seeds.

Lawn: Mow cool weather lawns weekly. Appling a pre-emergent weed killer now will save you time and money later in the year. Give your lawnmower a tune up. Change the oil and have the blade to your lawnmower sharpened or do it yourself.

Roses & Flowers: Clean leaf litter from around the base of plants to discourage snails & slugs. Bait as necessary. Prune roses before new growth begins. Water roses thoroughly before pruning. Other flowering shrubs should be pruned after the first bloom cycle.

Irrigation: Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Watch your system carefully. If it rains, turn the system off and save the water.

Also: Natives can also be pruned lightly now in order to maintain a uniform shape. If rainfall isn't heavy, water deeply. The moisture they store now will help them through the hot summer months.
Bulbs with higher cold requirements need to be planted in cold soil. If the weather is cool, between Christmas and New Years, plant then. Otherwise wait until the soil temperature drops being sure to plant before January 10th.

Protect tender plants from frost by covering them with a non-plastic material when frost threatens. Keeping plantings well hydrated will help frost survival also. A turgid plant will recover from frost better than a dry plant. Should a frost damage your garden, don't be tempted to prune off the damaged parts. They'll help protect the plant from further damage should another frost occur. Trim these parts off later in the year when all risk of frost has past.

Plant and transplant Azaleas and Camellias. Be sure to use a high acid planting mix to promote growth.

Cool temperature weather is the perfect time to prune evergreens

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In your Garden in December

Category: In Your Garden  |  Permalink

Published: Thursday, December 1, 2016

There's not a lot going on in the garden this month which is good because chances are your time is full of other commitments. Now is a great time to work on your plans for next year's garden. Pull out the notes you've made throughout the year and make your revisions on paper before you tackle the projects in the spring. Do maintenance on your gardening tools. Oil shovels, picks and spades to prevent rusting. Clean, sharpen and oil other tools to keep them in good shape for when you need them in the spring.

Color: There are still a lot of varieties available as both annuals and perennials. Plant a combination of red and white flowers for holiday cheer. Alyssum, Bacopa, Begonia, Cyclamen, Dianthus, Geranium, Gerbera, Impatiens, Osteospermum, Pansy, Salvia, and Verbena are among a few. Poinsettias, which are native to Mexico, can also be used as color in the garden. They'll be happiest on a drip system which will keep the leaves dry.

Fruits & Vegetables: Plant bare root fruit trees this month. Prune established fruit trees once they've dropped their leaves. Spray as needed following manufacturer's instructions carefully. Cut back grape vines. Artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels' sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, lettuce, peas, potatoes and radishes can all be planted now. Don't be afraid to try something new.

Lawn: Fill in thin spots with a little more seed if you over seeded the lawn last month. If we get a hot spell, you may want to supplemental water. Mow as necessary.

Roses & Flowers: Stop watering and fertilizing established roses this month and let them harden unless we get a heat wave. Bare root roses can be planted this month. Now is a good time to transplant roses. Remember to take as much of the roots as possible and keep well watered.

Irrigation: Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Watch your system carefully. If it rains, turn the system off and save the water.

Also: Natives can also be pruned lightly now in order to maintain a uniform shape.

Cut back Wisteria. Remove the long, thin branches that have become intertwined with the old wood.

If you haven't done so yet, plant your bulbs. Bulbs that don't need to be refrigerated can be planted until December 25th. If you wait longer than that, you run the chance of having fewer, smaller flowers. Other bulbs with higher cold requirements need to be planted in cold soil. If the weather is cool, between Christmas and New Years, plant then. Otherwise wait until the soil temperature drops being sure to plant before January 10th.

Protect tender plants from frost by covering them with a non-plastic material when frost threatens. Keeping plantings well hydrated will help frost survival also. A turgid plant will recover from frost better than a dry plant. Should a frost damage your garden, don't be tempted to prune off the damaged parts. They'll help protect the plant from further damage should another frost occur. Trim these parts off later in the year when all risk of frost has past.

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