The Q&A Archives: perennials

Question: I have been trying to grow flowers for 8yrs now without much success. My plants won't grow back-my daylillies wont bloom, my grass woant grow-I've spent hundreds of dollars per year trying everything. I dont know what to do next except to put in fake plants. help

Answer: Fake plants will be easy to care for, but a real disappointment, I think. If you're having trouble growing anything, I suspect your soil needs to be improved and the plants need to be put on a regular schedule of feeding and watering. Start in a small area so gardening won't be overwhelming. Decide on a site for a planter bed and then dig the soil to remove all the existing weeds and other vegetation. If there is a plant you wish to save, dig it out roots and all and set it in a shady spot with the roots covered with a tarp. Then spread 4-5" of compost or other organic matter over the bed and dig it in to a depth of 8-10". Organic matter will loosen the soil, help it drain quickly yet hold just the right amount of moisture for the roots of your plants. After incorporating organic matter, smooth the soil with a rake and then plant your annuals and perennials and shrubs. After planting, water them in well. Be sure to water deeply once (or twice) each week, depending upon the weather. Once you have a finished garden bed you can start on a new one. If you keep at it, you can have a brand new landscape by the end of the summer.

Lawns sometimes need to be completely renovated because the weeds overtake the area and the soil becomes compacted. If you want a really lush lawn you'll need to address the weeds and soil compaction by completely rotilling the area and starting over. Once the area is rototilled, rake out the debris, incorporated some starter fertilizer and rake the area level. Then broadcast your seed and cover it with a thin layer of peat moss to help retain moisture. Water several times a day so the grass seeds do not dry out. In 7-10 days you should see your new lawn beginning to green up. Keep watering! Once the lawn is established and ready to mow, you'll only need to keep it watered (once or twice a week), regularly mowed and fed. Feed in April, June, September and December with a lawn fertilizer and you should have a lush, thick lawn.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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