Bayside Garden Center’s Knowledge Center
At Bayside Garden Center our goal is to provide helpful advice to our customers. We hope our knowledge center will provide you with useful information that will make your yard more enjoyable throughout the year.
While gardening may not be the first thing on your mind, but there are some things you can do in January to keep your green thumb sharp. Use snow to your advantage and shovel extra snow over perennials to help protect them from changing temperatures (make sure it doesn’t contain de-icing salts.) If there isn’t any snow you can spread a little extra much over plants. January is also a great time to give your indoor plants a little extra attention. Your houseplants need clean leaves so they can absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide. Your best tools for cleaning houseplants are soft natural sponges or soft rags (like an old t-shirt.) Simply moisten the sponge or t-shirt with plain, tepid water then support the leaf with your hand and gently wipe the leaf. For hairy plants like African Violets use a soft cosmetic brush or a feather duster instead of the damp technique.
February is a great planning month. Take time to draw a plan for your vegetable and flower gardens. You’ll want to check hardiness zone maps to ensure the plants you choose will survive and thrive in your climate. Keep in mind vegetable gardens like to be rotated in order to reduce disease and pest problems. If you’ve brought begonia, coleus, geranium or other tender plants in for the winter, now is the perfect time to take cuttings to root for Sprint transplanting.
March is a month for preparing. If you have any trellises or other garden structures that need repair, now is an ideal time to get them in shape for your garden. You can also remove any nests out of birdhouses and clean them with a mixture of 90% water and 10% chlorine bleach so they’ll be ready for nesting season. Be sure you don’t have unexpected guests before you open up the house and it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves to protect against disease.
Spring Clean Up
Now is the time to cut the tops of ornamental grasses back to the ground, rake the lawn if there are any dead spots, and top off mulch with a fresh layer to stop fungus from spreading. When the ground thaws you can begin preparing the soil for your gardens.
If you have a little spring fever and can’t wait to see summer blooms, start a container garden of pansies. These pretty little flowers are able to tolerate the possible frost and freezing of Wisconsin’s spring weather. If you purchase the plants from an indoor greenhouse (rather than an outdoor selection) you will want to harden the plants to the cold by giving them a little exposure at a time.
You can dig and divide chrysanthemums this month, weather permitting.
If you are planting seeds, mid-April is a good time to start your vegetable garden with asparagus, beet, carrot, endive, leaf lettuce, parsnip, peas, potato and spinach. If you’ve already started your seeds indoors you can start hardening-off* the seedlings that you will transplant.
If planting seeds is a little more ambitious or time-consuming than your lifestyle allows, you may want to wait a few weeks and buy vegetable plants from the wide selection at Bayside Garden Center. You can use the extra time now to plan your vegetable garden and prepare the soil.
If you have an existing fruit garden you can fertilize blueberry, raspberry and grape plants.
The latter part of April is also a good time to plant new blueberry, raspberry and grape crops. If the ground can be worked, you can start planting these perennial crops. Check out our Knowledge Center for information on proper soil preparation.
Bushes and Trees
This is the time to nourish trees, shrubs and rose bushes with slow-release or organic fertilizer or Miracle-Gro® Fertilizer Spikes.
Remember to remove winter wrap from tree trunks, loosen any ties on tree stakes and remove stakes as quickly as possible.
If you have birch trees check the leaves for pale circulars spots – they’re a sign of the Birch leafminer. These pests feed on the tissue between the upper and lower surfaces of birch leaves and in time cause leaf loss and can be fatal to the tree. The key is early detection and control. Systemic chemical control is the easiest and most effective, but if you are maintaining an organic environment they can be plucked off the leaves by hand.
It’s time to get that lawn in shape! Start by grabbing a rake and sweeping up old leaves, clippings and twigs.
Apply pre-emergent crabgrass preventer and weed control in April – before new seeds germinate.
If you have some patches spread new seeds on top on the existing lawn, unless you have determined that your bigger problem is crabgrass. New grass seeds and any type of herbicide application will not mix, so keep them about a month apart.
*Hardening off means gradually exposing seedlings to the elements of the outdoors rather than just leaving them out all the time. This process toughens the cuticle on the leaves and helps prevent transplant shock. Start the process 7 – 10 days prior to transplanting and just put the plants in a sheltered location outside for a few hours a day. Each day increase the time by an hour or two. Don’t leave your plants out overnight until at least the 7th day.
If you didn’t get to the lawn in April, May is your month. Clean up, dethatch, aerate and tend to those bare patches.
Time to Plant!
Late May is the time to start your vegetable garden with plants like beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions and pumpkin. You can still plant raspberries, strawberries and grapes also.
You can start planting perennials in mid-to-late-May, but be aware Wisconsin can still get frost in May.
You might think of planting bulbs in autumn, but there are many bulbs or tuberous flowers that bloom in summer and May is a great time to plant. Some of the most popular summer bulb flowers are daylilies, dahlias, gladioli, irises and cannas. Here is a summary guide to some popular summer bulbs*:
Calla Lilies – plant container-grown calla lilies after the danger of frost is over.
- Partial to full shade
- Blooms late spring to early summer
- White flowers
Cannas – purchase potted cannas and plant in well-drained soil after the threat of frost has past.
- Full sun
- Blooms mid-summer through first frost
- Red, orange, yellow, white or pink flowers
Dahlias – plant tuberous roots or dahlia plants after the last frost in well-drained soil.
- Full sun
- Blooms mid-summer to frost
- Red, orange, yellow, white or pink flowers
Lilies – While lily bulbs are planted in the fall, you can purchase lily plants for your garden now, so you don’t have to wait for these lovely blossoms.
- Full Sun
- Blooms early to mid-summer
- Red, orange, yellow, white or pink flowers
* Generally speaking, bulbs are defined as plants with food storing roots, and in this section, include tubers, corms and rhizomes.
Bushes and Trees
Bushes and shrubs provide beauty and privacy, as well as a great place for birds to nest and seek refuge. Trees do all this and provide shade, which can result in tremendous energy savings, not to mention added comfort.
May is a great time to purchase and plant trees and bushes. The staff at Bayside Garden Center can help you choose the right trees and shrubs for your yard. Delivery and installation are available also.
It’s finally time to plant in earnest – perennials, annuals, vegetables and herbs are all hardy enough for June weather.
Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and cucumbers are ready to plant in June.
This is still a great time to start that herb garden. Tender basil can now be added to your heartier plants. Bayside Garden Center has a wide selection of herb plants including tarragon, cilantro, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, not to mention many types of basil and mint.
Tender annuals can be safely planted in June as the danger of frost should be behind us. Be sure to match the plants you buy with appropriate conditions. (If you plant a sunflower in a wooded area you’re sure to be disappointed) Simply check the plant container information or ask your Bayside Garden Center specialist to tell you about the plant’s preference for soil, sun and moisture.
Iris rhizomes can be planted from June through early fall (not much past early September). They prefer full sun and will bloom the following year from late spring to early summer.
Mid-June is mulch time. A layer of mulch on flower beds and around trees and bushes will not only help prevent weeds, but holds moisture in the soil and moderates soil temperature. Shredded bark and woodchips are popular mulch choices.
Lawn – the first week of June is the traditional time to apply your first round of lawn fertilization.
Garden – Fertilize perennials and bulbs in early June.
Houseplants – pleasant weather turns our minds outdoors, but remember to fertilize your houseplants on a regular basis too.
Pruning and Deadheading
While you can continue to prune deadwood, most other pruning should be completed by now. Preferably pruning is done in early spring or late fall when the bush is dormant. However, spring blooming bushes like lilac and dogwood can be pruned immediately after they bloom in spring. (Waiting for fall may cause latent buds to be trimmed unintentionally.)
Deadheading (removing spent flowers) annuals will promote additional blooms. Some perennials will benefit from this care as well. Those include: lilies and daylilies, bellflowers, daisies, salvia and garden phlox.
De-Bugging the Garden
As summer starts to settle in so can those damaging pests. You may notice small, or not so small, holes in the foliage of your hostas, herbs, hydrangeas and other leafy varieties. Other common plant diseases include fungus, leaf spots, patches of dead tissue and white powdery growth.
Holes in plant foliage are often the work of slugs or aphids.
- Slug damage is more common in wet weather, and they can be controlled with methods ranging from night picking, salt showers, beer traps, and by a variety of chemical and organic commercial pest control products available at Bayside Garden Center. If you want to try a beer trap, in honor of Milwaukee’s history, fill a shallow container, such as a jar lid, with beer, place it near the troubled plant and wait for the slugs to climb in and meet their demise.
- Aphids can be seen in clusters of sticky green bugs on leaves and buds. You can control them with nontoxic pesticides, by removing them by hand (be sure to wear gloves), or removing and disposing of infested areas.
Spotted leaves create havoc on tomatoes, roses, and many other plants. The cause is often a bacterial disease, but can also be caused by insects such as aphids.
- Black spots are usually caused by a fungus and can be controlled with fungicides containing copper oxychloride.
- Orange spots are a sign of rust fungi, which starts with blotches and then progresses to brown curled leaves that eventually fall off. You can diagnose rust by looking at the underside of the leaves to see if there are rust colored bumps. Remove the infected leaves and dispose of them (not in the compost). Treat with fungicide and continue to monitor the plant and remove any diseased leaves.
- Tan spots found on trees and bushes are often a sign of a fungal disease called Anthracnose. Trim affected areas and spray with commercial fungicide.
Powdery mildew is another common disease for many plants including roses, lilacs, phlox and certain fruits and vegetables. The white powdery mildew can be caused by damp weather, crowding and over watering. Organic fungicides and home remedies such as soap or baking soda sprays are effective in controlling this fungal infestation.
There are many pests and diseases that can affect your garden and the experts at Bayside are ready to help you diagnose and treat the problems. The more information you can provide to us the more we can help.
For a more in-depth look at yard and garden pest problems, the following sites are helpful:
Keep on Deadheading!
Pinching back, or deadheading, your plants encourages growth.
For herb gardens pinching back the tips will force growth from the lower parts of the stems and prevent long weedy vines while providing fresh herbs for your cooking. Deadheading encourages flowering plants to blossom more frequently. Since a flowering plant wants to propagate, or set seed, removing the spent flowers tricks the plant into producing flowers at an accelerated speed – giving you a more luscious garden. Single stem flowers should be cut at the base of the stem, but for multi-flowering stems simply pinch off the spent flower. Even plants like coleus, which are grown for their foliage, can benefit from pinching back so they become fuller rather than straggly.
The fruits of your labor are now rewarded with flowers for your home and fresh vegetables for your table.
Harvesting Flowers and Veggies
To extend the vase life of your cut flowers, harvest in early mornings or dusk – avoid cutting during the heat of the day. If you want to use hydrangea blooms at this time of the year it’s safest to remove them with very short stems so you don’t disturb any developing bloom buds for next year – cut above the first set of large leaves.
Regular harvesting of your veggies and fruits not only provides you with an ongoing selection of delicious fresh produce, but also helps discourage insects that feed on an overripe yield.
Fertilizing and Maintenance
Now is a great time to seed, sod and repair damaged lawns. Bayside Garden Center has everything you need to make your lawn beautiful and they can guide you in what you need to do it yourself or they can take care of it for you. Late August or early September is the time to apply a fertilizer application, or you can do a “weed ‘n’ feed” treatment in mid-September.
- Deadheading your flowers will give you a longer blooming season. While you’re at it, look for any leaves that show signs of disease and remove and destroy them.
- Rose Bushes – It’s time to toughen up your roses for winter so you should start weaning them off of fertilizer. Fertilizing late in the season can stimulate growth and make it difficult for your plants to harden for winter.
- Iris should be divided and replanted no later than the end of August in order to give them time to root before winter. Be sure to inspect rhizomes and if you detect tunnels (caused by the iris borer) or rot destroy them. Replant the healthy rhizomes in a shallow hole with the roots spread out. Cover lightly with soil and water well. You can cut leaves back by about two-thirds.
- Spring-bulb planting starts in mid-September, so start planning your spring bulb garden now. Popular bulbs for Wisconsin include Alliums, Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinth, Grape Hyacinth, Lilies and Tulips.
If you haven’t already fertilized, this is the time. If you prefer to use “weed ‘n’ feed” treatments instead they should also be applied in mid-September.
Fall is also the time for dethatching and aerating your lawn. While a little thatch is good for the lawn, an abundance is not. You can check thatch thickness by cutting a small wedge out (make sure you get down to the soil) and examining it. You’re looking for the brown matted grass just above the soil surface. If the thatch is more than a half-inch thick you can either remove it or topdress the lawn with topsoil to hasten natural thatch decomposition. Aeration can also help reduce thatch.
Spring-bulb planting starts in mid-September. You can plant until the soil freezes, but planting earlier gives your plants a chance to establish a healthy root system for a more robust spring showing. Plant your bulbs at a depth about two to three times their diameter with roots down and the pointy end up. You may want to use a little bulb fertilizer also. Bulbs need water to get the roots started so be sure to give them a good soaking after you’ve planted.
Mums are a sure sign of autumn and you can accent your garden with a fresh burst of color by planting them in early September. While there are hardy varieties, it’s not easy to turn these beauties into perennials in this climate. For the best chances plant early (even in spring), water and feed frequently, and cover with a thick mulch after the season.
Frost worries start to crop up in late September and into October. If a light frost is in the forecast you can cover plants with plastic, cloth or even newspaper. Cover by dusk and remove in the morning. Or you can cover with mulches including straw, leaves, pine needles and bark. The mulch helps retain moisture and heat in the soil. You can also water the garden before nightfall (before covering). The soil will release the moisture and warm the air.
- Start raking leaves now to prevent fungal and other leaf diseases from spreading.
- Divide and transplant plants that bloom in spring.
- Cut back perennial plant tops to 4 to 6 inches.
When the beautiful autumn leaves start to fall, you know it’s time to plant bulbs for spring flowers. Tulips are always a favorite, but if deer devour your tulip bulbs, try daffodils, alliums and hyacinth. Some varieties of crocus are critter resistant as well. If you follow a few simple steps you can enjoy a burst of color next spring!
- Match your bulbs to the appropriate location in your garden. Some prefer more sun, some love cool shade.
- Dig your holes to the suggested depth with a small spade or a bulb planter – a great tool that makes it easy to dig holes quickly and cleanly.
- Mix a little bone meal into the soil at the bottom of the hole to encourage strong root growth.
- Cover with soil and water well.
- You may want to spray deer and rabbit repellent (Bayside Garden Center has safe organic options to choose from) or try sprinkling red pepper.
Remember not all bulbs are winter-hardy. Gladiolus, dahlias and cannas won’t survive bitter winter weather and you should dig them up to store indoors. They will keep best in a container that lets them breath – a cardboard box or paper bag filled with sawdust or shredded paper is ideal.
Dig and Divide Perennials
Early to mid-October is a great time to dig and divide your spring and summer perennials to keep them healthy and ensure they aren’t overcrowded.
- Carefully lift your perennials out of the ground with a sharp garden spade. Dig several inches away from the outermost stems and then lift the entire clump out of the ground.
- Divide the clump into sections by breaking the plant apart or using a sharp knife. Make sure you keep fairly large sections of the plant with lots of good roots in order to give it a good chance to re-establish.
- Add bone meal and fertilizer to the soil in the planting holes and place the divided sections – fill with topsoil and water thoroughly.
Continuing to rake leaves will keep your lawn happy, and autumn leaves make great mulch. You can use a mulching mower or leaf shredder – whole leaves don’t break down enough. If you want to make mulch for spring, try adding them to a compost bin. Here’s how:
- In a 3’ x 3’ bin add a foot or so of shredded leaves.
- On top of this you’ll need to add a layer of urea, bone meal, grass clippings, ammonium nitrate or other nitrogen additive to break down the leaves over winter.
- Mix, but don’t saturate with water.
- Repeat this layering process until you bin is full.
- Keep over winter and in the spring you’ll have mulch ready to add to your garden.
November is probably your last chance to plant daffodils and tulips and the effort now will be enjoyed greatly next spring. If the soil is still soft enough to dig a hole it’s not too late to plant your bulbs, but if you plant by mid-November you’ll give your bulbs time to grow roots and get established. A bonus for planting now – you’ll find clearance prices at this time of the year. Bayside Garden Center has a wide selection to choose from and all the bone meal additive to encourage root growth.
It’s time for fall cleaning. Empty pots with annual flowers and store for winter. If you have potted perennials you can wrap the pots with a layer of burlap and two or three layers of bubble wrap and store them in a dark corner of your garage or another sheltered area. Wash (1-part chlorine bleach 9-parts water) and store your garden stakes and cages for the winter and organize your garden gear.
Give your trees and tender bushes the best chance to survive a severe winter.
Young trees can benefit from a burlap or commercial wrap to protect from wildlife feeding on the bark and from frost damage, “sunscald” (bark splits from the combination of the heat of the sun and the cold temperatures*), and other winter injuries.
For more information on Sunscald see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_scald_(flora)
If you have particular issues with animal damage try wrapping a cylinder of chicken wire around your tree about two feet above the snow line.
Water and Fertilizer
Adequate watering, fertilization and mulching can improve the health of your trees and shrubs and give them added protection for winter survival. Talk to the experts at Bayside Garden Center to determine the appropriate fertilizer for your landscape.
Give your Tweeters a Break
Make sure your bird feeders are clean and filled. If you have problems with squirrels, try Safflower seed. Birds love it – squirrels do not.
Birds need water as much as they do food. Bayside Garden Center has heated birdbaths that keep your favorite birds sipping freely through the cold winter months.
While this isn’t a big gardening month, you can watch for signs that deer are feeding on your shrubs. If you detect any destruction apply deer repellent to keep your shrubs healthy.
If you just can’t stand giving your green thumb a break, bring gardening indoors. Bayside Garden Center has an amazing selection of houseplants in their green house that will keep your home bright and cheery throughout the winter months.
Be sure to care for your houseplants – periodically clean the leaves (of non-hairy leafed plants) with a soft cloth (i.e. old tee shirt) and lukewarm water. Keep an eye on indoor plant for signs of pests. At the first sign of insects spray your plant with an organic pest control.
You can also try to force bloom daffodil and tulip bulbs – just to keep the hope of spring alive. For more information on forcing bulbs check out these handy tips from University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota.
Herbs grow indoors with some good light and a little attention. Great herbs for indoor containers include: Basil, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme. Choose containers that drain well and test light, water and temperature to determine the best location for your herbs. Why? Environments vary – a plant in a clay pot and in direct sun needs less water than a plant in a plastic pot in moderate light, etc.
Keep holiday plants fresh and blooming longer in a cool, bright room. Check to see if your plant prefers direct or indirect sunlight and how moist you should keep the soil. Cool drafts can have a detrimental effect on tropical holiday plants.
Indoor and outdoor gardening can be fun and relaxing, but sorting through the information is often overwhelming. If you’re digging for concise gardening tips, you’ve come to the right place.
There are many benefits that houseplants provide from beautiful color to the clean air they generate by taking in the carbon dioxide we exhale and releasing pure oxygen. We have plants for everyone – from bonsai enthusiasts to the casual cultivator.
There are a few simple tips for growing healthy houseplants.
- Read the information tag that comes with your plant so you know how much light and water your new houseplant needs.
- The #1 killer of houseplants is over watering. Also make sure your plants aren’t sitting in water as it will cause root rot.
- If your plant looks pale rather than a vibrant green it probably isn’t getting enough light.
- Indoor pests also destroy plants so check often for these predators. A simple, safe insecticide can control pest problems and restore your plant’s health.
Perennial plants bloom year after year providing a relatively carefree way to cultivate a beautiful garden. Some perennials are planted in fall as bulbs while others can be planted in spring and summer as container grown plants.
For best results choose perennials that are suited to your garden’s sun exposure, soil type and moisture. Perennials cover a wide variety of popular plants including ferns and ornamental grasses, Irises and Lilies, Daisies and Black-eyed Susans as well as spring bloomers like Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths and Crocuses.
The basics of growing perennials are sufficient watering, pruning dead tops in late winter or early spring, and removing dead flowers regularly for repeat blooming. Consult our gardening experts for complete details about your plants.
Annuals are exactly what the name implies – their blooming cycle lasts for one season and then they go to seed. For that one season they add intensely vibrant color to your garden with little fuss. They are excellent for filling in garden gaps and accenting perennials. They make great cut flowers, add a dash of color to borders and always work well in containers.
Annuals include Geraniums and Wax Begonias, Petunias and Impatiens, Pansies and Snapdragons, Marigolds and Zinnias, Poppies and Cosmos and the gregarious Sunflower.
Annuals can be planted from seed or as container grown. Be sure to match your plants with the right location in your garden in order to give them the light, moisture and soil type they need. Monthly fertilization, adequate water and regular deadheading will keep your plants flowering all season!
Growing beautiful roses isn’t the easiest of gardening activities, especially in northern states, but the reward is satisfying. Roses are beautiful in the garden and as cut flowers in your home.
There are many varieties of rose bushes from miniature tea roses to climbing roses and shrub roses. They come in many colors, flower styles and fragrances.
Roses appreciate a sunny location and well-fertilized soil. They’ll need plenty of water at the base of the plant, but also require soil that drains well. Roses need to be pruned which not only maintains their shape and promotes bigger rose blooms, but helps avoid diseases. Roses are susceptible to insects and disease so you’ll want to keep a close watch and respond quickly if you see aphids, beetles or unhealthy leaves.
Shrubs & Bushes
Choosing the right bushes and shrubs for your location is vital to healthy growth. There are many types to choose from including evergreens, flowering shrubs, landscaping shrubs, burning bushes, lilac bushes, hydrangeas and rose bushes.
Bushes and shrubs are typically low in height and are used as accents or focal points in burms, lawns and gardens or to create a natural sort of fence. Many flowering shrubs attract birds with their berries and can provide visual interest in fall and winter. Evergreens are more commonly used as hedges or a privacy screen.
Spring is the ideal time to plant. Make sure you water your new plants adequately. Annual pruning of your bushes and shrubs is important for their health. The best time to prune is spring or summer depending on the variety. Please ask about care requirements when you purchase your bushes.
Trees are an investment and an asset as they can increase the value of your property. Trees add to our quality of life by reducing sound, producing oxygen, providing shade, reducing wind and erosion and simply offering beauty.
There are over 700 tree species growing in North America so you have a lot of choices. As with any plant you will want to match your tree with the area it is to be planted. Trees need room to grow so make sure you give them plenty of space. Make sure the light, moisture and soil needs of the tree variety can be met in the intended location. You may love a particular type of tree, but if its chances of surviving in the area you have available are slim you should reconsider. We are happy to work with you to find a tree that matches your desires with your location.
Bird watching is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. We have information on everything from feeders and seed, to houses and baths.
Choosing Your Bird Feeders
You will want to select a bird feeder based on the type of birds you hope to attract. We have feeders to hang from a tree branch and models to mount to a post and place in the ground.
Tube feeders, tray feeders and classic feeders can be used to attract a wide variety of birds depending on the seed you use. If you want to attract Cardinals make sure you have a roomy tray so they can perch comfortably. We also have feeders designed to specifically attract Hummingbirds, Baltimore Orioles, and Woodpeckers.
If squirrels and raccoons are a problem, we carry baffles to outsmart the little critters. We also have specially designed feeders that dispense seed only to birds – you have to see it to believe it!
Selecting Seed & Suet
Birds need high-energy food throughout the year, especially in seasons when their natural food sources are depleted. You can attract a certain species of bird simply by the food you offer.
Black-oil sunflower is a popular seed attracting a wide variety of birds with its high meat-to shell ratio and high fat content. The small size is also perfect for Black-capped Chickadees.
Safflower is a favorite of Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Sparrows.
Thistle seed (sometimes called Nyjer or Niger) attracts smaller birds like Goldfinches.
Peanuts attract Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Jays, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Sparrows.
Suet is a high-energy food and is ideal in winter. Suet attracts Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches – even Cardinals.
Birdhouses or nest boxes are a great way to attract birds that prefer to nest in holes. There are about 85 species of North American birds that prefer a cavity style nest. Just like bird feeders and birdseed, selecting your birdhouse can influence the types of birds you attract.
Birdhouses should have slanted roofs to allow rainwater to run off. They need proper ventilation to allow sufficient airflow, but make sure the entrance holes are the proper diameter so unwanted species and animals are denied access.
Birdhouses add a beautiful element to your backyard and provide a comfortable home for your feathered friends. Whatever type of birdhouse you choose, be sure your house is well constructed, properly placed and try to make it predator proof.
Detailed information on birdhouses to attract specific bird species
Chickadees and Nuthatches will gravitate to nest boxes with a 1 1/8 inch hole – preferably placed at eye-level or slightly higher.
Sparrows prefer an entrance between 1 1/4 and 2 inches in diameter. Ideally the house will face east to avoid direct heat from the sun. They love nesting boxes mounted below the eaves.
Bluebirds prefer houses approximately 4 x 4 to 5 x 5 inches with a 1 9/16 inch entry hole and placed on a post between 3 and 5 feet high. Perches should not be used on Bluebird houses and a 5 inch roof overhang will discourage predators.
Finches will either nest in birdhouses or platforms in addition to their natural habitat. Finch houses should have a 1 1/2 inch entrance hole. Ideal materials are cedar, redwood or a good grade of plywood.
Hummingbirds, Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds and Orioles prefer to use platforms placed in trees and shrubs.
Birds need a dependable supply of fresh water for drinking and bathing. We carry a variety of birdbaths that will provide this essential element while adding an attractive accent to your yard. Choose from a wide variety of birdbaths in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes.
It is important to keep the water fresh so you may want to add a dripper or mister. These simple devices mean less maintenance and happier birds.
In winter birdbaths are crucial to birds in the northern states as the natural waters freeze. A heated birdbath is the perfect answer. Whether you choose a bath with a built-in heater or choose to purchase an immersion heater, your birds will thank you!
Maintaining Bird Feeders & Baths
Keeping your feeders and baths clean keeps fungi and bacteria from developing and potentially harming your songbirds.
When adding seed to your feeders make it a habit of removing any leftover seed first. Periodic cleaning will keep your birds happy and healthy. Use 9 parts water to 1 part vinegar for a thorough cleaning every few weeks. A selection of feeder cleaning brushes is available to make this a quick and easy process.
While drippers and water circulators and misters can help keep your birdbath clean, a thorough cleaning should be done periodically to prevent the spread of disease. Simply drain the water, scrub the bath with a stiff brush and either fresh water or birdbath cleaner, rinse and refill. Changing your birdbath water frequently helps keep the water fresh and inviting.
Trends in Gardening
If you don’t have a lot of space, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a lush garden. If you want to create a visual diversion without planting a hedge, this may be your answer. Or if you like vines, but don’t want them wrapping up your other plants, give vertical gardening a try.
Vertical gardening can take on many styles, from a wall of succulents to trellises covered with green ivy, colorful clematis, or even a Kiwi vine. You can even grow a vegetable garden vertically. So don’t let a lack of space cramp your inner gardener.
Vertical Gardening Basics
- Determine the site for your garden
- Decide what you want to grow
- Assess the light exposure
- Make a list of plants and tools you’ll need and start creating your own vertical garden
Good Plant Candidates for Vertical Gardens
Vines – great for trellises, walls, fences and most garden structures
- Nasturtium – bold multi-colored flowers. Bonus – edible leaves and flowers.
- Morning Glory – blooms in the early morning hours.
- Moon Flower – blooms at night.
- Sweet Peas – blossoms are very fragrant
- English Ivy – semi-evergreen for year-round color, prefers shade.
- Boston Ivy – grows in sun or shade.
- Clematis – colorful tropical look, prefers sun to partial shade.
- Honeysuckle – attract hummingbirds and offers sweet aroma.
- Wisteria – clusters of flowers similar to lilacs, prefers full sun.
- Climbing Hydrangea – fragrant lacy clusters of flowers, partial sun to shade.
Unlike climbing vines, climbing roses need a bit more space for the width of the plant, so take your area into consideration when choosing your plant. Climbing roses grow well with trellises, arbors, fences, pillars, tripods and many other structures. Heights vary so consult your Bayside Garden Center specialist to determine which variety is right for you.
Climbing roses are available in a variety of colors and either bloom once during the spring, “spring bloomers,” or throughout the growing season, “everbloomers.”
Fruits and Vegetables
You can have your own sustainable produce garden even if you don’t have the space generally associated with a vegetable garden. Many fruits and vegetables can grow vertically without any trouble. Here are some suggestions for your vertical produce garden.
- Tomatoes – try a trellis, tomato cage or a “topsy turvy planter”. Tomatoes are a great choice because they are less susceptible to soil-borne diseases and take up less space.
- Cucumbers – some varieties have a tendency to climb and grow as vines, which makes them ideal for trellises or other gardening structures. Ask your Bayside Garden Center expert for advice on selection.
- Beans – some varieties, like Pole beans can climb and be used in a vertical garden.
- Cucumbers –
- Squash – acorn and buttercup squash work well won trellises and other vertical structures
- Grapes are a natural choice as their attractive vines work well on trellises, fences and arbors.
- Berries – blackberries and raspberries are excellent candidates for vertical gardens as they grow easily on trellises and there’s nothing like berries fresh off the vine.
- Small melons – generally any melon smaller than a volley ball can be grown vertically.
- Pumpkin – miniature pumpkins can be grown vertically, just be sure to check the size information before planting.
Container Gardens have a number of advantages for gardeners and the options are practically unlimited – so let your imagination run wild! Whether your garden is restricted by space or climate or if you simply want to accent the patio, deck or sunroom with additional plantings, a container garden can be a functional, beautiful and fun solution.
There are a few things to determine before heading to your garden center:
How much space do you have available?
Knowing the rough dimensions for your garden will help you determine the size and number of containers you can use
Is there a particular style of garden you want to achieve?
Deciding this will help you select the plants and containers that will bring your vision to life.
What are the growing conditions for your container garden location?
Will your container garden be located in the sun, shade or a little of both. You may have a patio or deck that provide areas for plants that prefer sun and those that crave shade – you’ll want to notice these things before choosing your plants. You’ll want to determine environment even if your container garden will live indoors – an herb garden for the kitchen for instance.
Once you’ve determined the space, style and location of your container garden it’s time for the fun – picking the containers and plants!
There is no limit to the container garden styles you can create, so here are just a few ideas to get your imagination started.
You can create a taste of Italy with a bright blend of flowers interspersed with leafy green plants all nestled in terracotta and ceramic glazed planters. Try using miniature sunflowers, black eyed-susans, red geranium, poppies, snapdragons, nasturtiums and allium. Try mixing in some lavender, sage, basil, rosemary and oregano plants. Adding plants with a hint of silver in the leaves is also a great contrast with the bright flowers.
Whether you plant in window boxes or you might try various combinations of miniature roses, cornflowers, petunias, pansies, periwinkle, dahlias, dwarf sweet peas, heather, and alyssum. Coleus plants offer a wide variety to choose from and can add color and shape to a container garden. It’s always nice to bring a little green into the picture and English Ivy is lovely planted at the edge with the vines trailing down the container. Dusty Miller also sets the flowers off nicely.
A wide pot is ideal for your Zen container garden as it will allow you space for plants as well as a few well-chosen accents. While there are many elements in a full Zen garden that may not work in a smaller container garden, you can add a beautiful stone or rock accent, river-rounded or cobble-like pebbles, a Buddha sculptures and of course, Asian inspired plants. The silver mound is native to Japan and adds a unique shape to your Zen garden. Some miniature varieties of bamboo are appropriate for container gardens. Bonsai plants are perfect for container gardens. Azaleas are traditional Zen garden plants as are Camellias. The key is to remember in a Zen container garden is less is more.
For and interesting article on Zen and Its Influence on the Japanese Garden check out this link at the Helpful Gardener.
When you think of California plant life you think of lush, colorful offerings. In the Wisconsin climate some of the tropical vegetation growing in California are not good choices, but many varieties that originated in a warmer clime work beautifully including Marigolds, Verbena, and Snapdragon. While Chrysanthemums are native to China, this plant is their brilliant colors are a welcome addition to your California Dreaming container garden. The Dusty Miller is native to southern Europe, it’s often found in California gardens and makes a lovely contrast to the bright blossoms. You might also try a spike plant or ornamental grass accent.
Alpine gardens reflect the plants that grow above the tree-line in higher elevations, many times in rocky elements. Terracotta and ceramic pots or stone troughs or sinks with plenty of drainage holes are ideal. Small, interesting rocks will help you create that Alpine allure. Your plant selection can range from silver cushion and silver mound to dianthus, phlox and violas. Depending on the size of your container, you may also want to include dwarf or miniature conifers like a miniature cypress or dwarf cedar.
Try a clay or terra cotta pot for your desert delight container garden – it will absorb moisture and keep the soil at a more even temperature. Of course when we think of the desert pictures of prickly cactus come to mind, but there are many non-prickly succulents that are patio and people friendly. Look for hen-and-chicks, jade plants, sedum, yarrow, Russian sage, desert rose and primrose.
You will want to put a thin layer of gravel in the bottom of the container and use a sand-based potting soil as a base. After setting the plants into the container fill in between them with more of the soil and a little course sand.
Herbs on Demand
Herbs are always a chef’s friend and you can have the freshest herbs when you grow them yourself. So if you love to cook, do yourself a favor and start an herb container garden. You can grow your Herb garden indoors or outside depending on your available space and the boldness of the critters in your yard. This is an ideal theme for a window box – either outside your kitchen window or on your windowsill inside.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, oregano, basil and chives are popular choices that can add flavor to a wide variety of dishes. But have fun and choose the herbs that appeal to you. Regardless of your selection, be sure to keep your soil moist and harvest your herbs frequently to keep plants full and leaves tender.
If you choose to keep your herb container garden in the kitchen you can sprinkle a layer of gravel or small stones on top of the soil for a tidy, attractive appearance. It also helps in slowing down moisture loss.
You can create a beautiful edible garden in a container. Your container choice should be based on what you want to grow as different fruits, herbs and vegetables require varying depths of soil. The folks at Bayside Garden Center are happy to help you choose select plants and containers that are complementary. For a general guide the following container depths and suggested plants are a good match:
- Shallow containers (4 to 8 inches deep) are suited for herbs, garlic, sweet peppers, chilies, carrots, peas, tomatoes, radishes, spinach, chard, cucumber, cabbage, kale, arugula, and lettuce.
- Medium containers (9 – 15 inches deep) work well for French beans, broccoli, cauliflower, dwarf beetroot, eggplant, leeks, zucchini and summer squashes, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries (autumn varieties), and blueberries.
- Deep containers (15 – 20 inches deep) are best for asparagus, sweet corn, figs, dwarf citrus, cherries, grapes and plums.
- There are some plants that are good companions and others that aren’t ideal together. Here is a brief overview of some friends and foes.
Good Container Mates
- Asparagus, basil and tomato
- Beetroot, spinach, chard, onions and garlic
- Carrot, lettuce and tomato
- Beans, carrots and sweet corn
- Lettuces, dill and annual herbs
- Peas, beans, carrot and squash
- Tomato, asparagus, basil, carrot, onion, and garlic
Avoid mixing in containers
- Beans with onions and garlic
- Carrots with dill and fennel
- Squash and potatoes
- Onions with beans and peas
- Tomatoes with potatoes
You may be using containers you already have, buying new ones or a little of both – whichever way you go, knowing what the container is made of will help you determine your best plant options and how you should care for your plants.
Classic terracotta pots are available in many shapes and styles. Know that they are porous and will dry out quickly, so if you choose plants that need a great deal of moisture be sure to water frequently.
Ceramic Glaze pots are a nice option as they retain moisture better and Bayside Garden Center has a multitude of styles, colors and sizes for you to choose from.
Window boxes are making a comeback and can be found in many shapes and materials to accent any style.
Window Boxes make a natural container garden. Whether you choose a theme or simple plant colorful geraniums, petunias and ivy, a window box will bring you great cheer, whether the sun is shining or the rains are falling.
Found objects – whether you have an oak barrel, a rustic bucket or pail, or an old ceramic bowl that you just don’t know what to do with, almost any container can become a piece of your new garden.
Bayside Garden Center has a selection of quality potting soil that will support the plants you’ve chosen for your container garden. Check the requirements of the plants you choose to determine what type of soil is best. You should avoid using soil straight from your yard or garden, as it won’t drain enough, resulting in too little air to your plants’ roots.
General Tips for Container Gardening
Provide good drainage
You’re containers need adequate drainage holes. You can always drill a few holes in the container if it doesn’t have them.
Unlike plants grown in-ground, container plant roots can’t reach down deeply to find subsurface water, so they are dependent on your attentive care. Check your containers daily to determine water needs.
Fertilize your gardens
Your potting soil may be mixed with fertilizer, but you will want to replenish soil nutrients regularly to keep plants thriving. Consider re-fertilizing every 8 to 10 weeks.
Replant if necessary
If some of your plants are seasonal bloomers, feel free to replace them with a new one that is better suited for that time of year. Keep your container garden looking beautiful with fresh healthy plants. You may want to replace a summer annual that has extinguished its bloom life with a fall mum or aster.
And if you’ve decided that you love the idea of a container garden, but simply don’t have enough time, Bayside Garden Center has a spectacular selection of miniature gardens in a variety of containers and hanging baskets all planted and ready for you to take home.
Raised Bed Gardens
Raised beds are gaining in popularity. Whether you have limited space in your yard or simply would like to create a new dimension to a larger garden area, raised beds can be a wonderful solution. Raised beds can also be a perfect answer for anyone with back problems who can’t give up their favorite hobby, but also can’t bend over a standard garden plot.
A raised bed garden is simply a garden that is grown above the level of the ground. Whether you use ready-made planters and structures or choose to build your own, you are really only limited by the space available.
Advantages of a raised bed include:
- Adjustable height – you can determine whether you want a 12” raised bed or a taller, more accessible height
- Saves space – generally you can position plants closer together in a raised bed.
- Soil Mixture – You can easily control the proper soil mix for your plantings
- Maintenance – the raised bed height makes it easier to weed and less accessible to rodents and other garden pests
- Creativity – your raised bed garden takes on any style you desire as you build the bed from materials ranging from bricks and stones to beautiful hardwoods or recycled materials like railroad ties.
A few things to consider:
- Accessibility – Make sure you can reach all your plants. You don’t want to build a deep bed against a house or fence where you can’t maintain the plants properly. The raised bed is supposed to make gardening easier, so do yourself a flavor and plan the bed shape and location accordingly.
- Be creative – not only are the bed structure materials a key in planning your raised garden, location, orientation and design factors are important. You may want to consider adding a raised garden feature to your existing garden or arrange several beds together in an interesting design.
- Plant choice – you will need to consider the depth of your raised garden bed when selecting plants. Read the requirements on the plant information tag and choose accordingly.
Bayside Garden Center’s knowledgeable staff offers great tips on attracting the wildlife you want and unwanted visitors. Visit our store for more detailed information on ways to reach your desired results.
Attracting wildlife to your yard can be fun and relaxing. You can plant specific flowers, bushes and trees that appeal to birds and butterflies in addition to providing food and shelter. Using sustainable gardening techniques also encourages wildlife appearances.
Wildlife seek areas for shelter from predators, inclement weather, and to raise offspring. Shrubs and plants offer cover for many birds and small animals. Birdhouses and nesting platforms also are a welcome addition for many varieties of birds. A water element (birdbath, pond, fountain) will also be a welcome addition for your feathered and furry friends.
If you want to encourage squirrels, rabbits and deer in the winter you can provide supplemental feeding options. But be aware that this can cause animals to change their natural movement patterns and increase the potential of road incidents.
As delightful as it is to watch wildlife, it can be equally aggravating when they eat your carefully planted flowers and bushes or leave calling cards in your lawn.
There are certain plants and flowers that are natural repellents to deer, rabbits and squirrels because of their aroma, taste or prickly growth. Here are just a few of the most popular varieties: Pines, Cedars, Hemlocks, Junipers, Willows, Lilacs, Hydrangeas, Ferns, Daffodils, Dusty Miller, Poppies, Zinnias and Sage.
If natural plantings don’t do the trick there are deer repellents like Liquid Fence that effectively discourage deer and rabbits, but are environmentally appropriate and pet friendly. You can also try motion sensor lights, wind chimes or a fence.
Attracting a beautiful assortment of butterflies to your backyard and garden can be easy and fun. Here are some tips on butterfly preferences.
Attracting beautifully colored butterflies to your backyard can be a fun and rewarding experience. There are more than 700 species of butterflies in North America and they live from 10 days to 6 months.
A few basic essentials will encourage a successful butterfly garden.
Butterfly Friendly Flowers
Butterflies need plants that provide nectar for the adults to eat and also those that provide food for their caterpillar offspring.
They are attracted to bright colored flowers – reds, oranges, Yellows, Purples and Vibrant Pinks.
Flowers and plants that attract butterflies include Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Cosmos, Cornflowers, Daisies, Day Lilies, Dianthus, Impatiens, Milkweed, Petunias, Purple Coneflowers, Salvia, Scarlet Sage, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum, Verbenas, and Zinnias. Caterpillars also like Queen Anne’s Lace, Snapdragons, Sunflowers and Violets. Ideally your garden will have staggered bloom times for a full season.
Butterflies prefer sunny spots away from traffic. Ideally your butterfly garden will have 5 to 6 hours of sun a day.
Shelter From Wind
A windbreak or wind block will encourage butterflies into your garden. They don’t like to have to fight the wind to stay on plants.
Rest & Water
Butterflies like large flat rocks to sun themselves. They also need water and prefer sand filled puddles. You can either fill a shallow bowl with sand or dig a shallow hole (1-inch deep) and fill it with sand, and then just keep the sand moist. If there is room add a few small flat rocks in your butterfly beach.
On a final note, many insecticides are lethal to butterflies (particularly while caterpillars) so don’t use them anywhere near your butterfly garden. Use organic mulches and fertilizers for planting.
These days there’s more to gardening than a green thumb. As we strive to give our environment a little more respect gardeners are adopting green strategies.
Growing your vegetables, herbs and flowers right in your own backyard can lower your carbon footprint and your grocery bill. Even landscaping can take on a greener, less costly approach now. Here are a few tips on how you can make you yard and home garden just a little more green.
Grow Your Groceries
Get up close and personal with your herbs, fruits and vegetables. When you grow your own food you know it’s fresh and the flavor is extraordinary! And the savings on your grocery bill is a welcome bonus.
Some of the most commonly grown vegetables are Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Beans, Radishes, Onions, Lettuce and Cabbage. You may also want to try Eggplant, Cauliflower, Rutabaga, Broccoli, Corn, Parsnips, Turnips, Potatoes, Garlic, Carrots, Spinach, Beets, Squash, Pumpkins and Melons.
There are many fruits that grow easily in Wisconsin. Fruit trees are a beautiful addition to your yard and have the added benefit of edible rewards. The Southeast corner of Wisconsin allows a wider choice of fruit bearing trees due to the more temperate climate. There are certain varieties of the following fruit trees that are able to withstand Wisconsin winters: Apple, Apricot, Cherry, Pear and Plum.
Growing small fruits can be fun and rewarding also. Blueberries are native to Wisconsin and are packed with antioxidants. Raspberries and Strawberries are a very popular choice for Wisconsin gardeners and are relatively easy to grow in our climate. You may also want to try your hand at planting Grapes. A well cared for rape arbor can last for 50 or 60 years!
Herbs are great to grow at home since you can easily grow them outside or right in your kitchen. There is nothing like fresh herbs and if you’ve checked the prices at your grocery store you know it’s a wonderful way to save money!
If you have questions about a particular herb, fruit or vegetable you want to grow, call or stop by Bayside Garden Center – we’ll be happy to help.
Grow Native Plants
Instead of asking can this plant or tree grow here, try asking yourself, “should it?” By choosing native species of plants you can cultivate a beautiful, low maintenance yard. Because these plants are born to grow in their native environment you will save time and money by reducing the water and maintenance required for non-indigenous varieties.
Here are just a few of Wisconsin’s native plants: Wild Ginger (Asarum species), Aster, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa), Columbine (Aquilegia hybrids), Fern (Athyrium, Matteuccia, Osmunda et al), and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea). Native grasses include Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed, Sedge and Switchgrass. Native shrubs include Chokeberry, Dogwood (Cornus species), Ninebark, Potentilla, Viburnum and Witchhazel. Trees that are native to Wisconsin include Ash (Fraxinus species), Beech (Fagus species), Birch (Betula species – also known as paper birch or canoe birch) Elm (Ulmus species and hybrids), Hawthorn (Crataegus species), Hemlock, Honey Locust, Ironwood, Kentucky Coffee Tree (oddly named for a Wisconsin native), Larch, Linden (Tilia species), Maple (Acer species), Musclewood, Oak (Quercus species), Pine (Pinus species), and Serviceberry (Amelanchier species).
Grow a Butterfly Friendly Garden
What’s green about a butterfly garden you wonder? The answer is butterflies and honeybees are pollinators, and they’re dying at an alarming rate. Pollinators are crucial to our food supply as they have a major affect the world’s crop production. Butterflies, bees and birds help spread pollen to fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices. Your garden can be a haven to our pollinating friends if you choose to grow a selection of butterfly friendly plants and provide a pesticide-free environment.
Butterflies are attracted to Lavender, Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Cosmos, Purple Coneflowers, Cornflowers, Day Lilies, Dianthus, Impatiens, Milkweed, Petunias, Purple Coneflowers, Salvia, Scarlet Sage, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum, Verbenas, and Zinnias. As a general rule of thumb, butterflies are drawn to red, yellow, orange, pink or purple blossoms. Ideally your garden will have staggered bloom times for a full season.
Sunny gardens are the most attractive to butterflies so for optimal butterfly populations make sure your garden gets full sun mid-morning through mid-afternoon. A few well-placed flat rocks will give your butterflies a place to sun themselves too.
What do those fertilizer numbers mean?
There are three numbers associated with fertilizers, for example 5-10-5. They represent the percentage by weight of the 3 nutritional ingredients required by plants, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (or N-P-K)
- The first, Nitrogen helps promotes growth and greening
- The second, Phosphorous contributes to rooting and setting flower buds
- The third, Potassium contributes to overall health
Please consult your Bayside Garden Center expert to help you determine what combination of nutrients is best for your needs.
Why do I need a fertilizer spreader?
No matter what kind of lawn products you use, their performance depends in large measure on the quality of the spreader that you use to apply them.
A poor-quality spreader often leaves missed streaks or patches in the lawn where the material is either not applied, or is applied at the wrong rate. This causes unsatisfactory control of weeds, insects, and fungus disease as well as poor fertilizer performance.
Should I use a Drop Spreader or Rotary Spreader?
If both spreaders are of equal quality, a drop spreader usually will provide better accuracy. However, a high-quality rotary will be more accurate than a lower-quality drop spreader.
Drop spreaders meter out the fertilizer and drop it directly on the lawn. A drop spreader is best if:
- You have a small lawn
- Doing the job as precisely as possible is most important to you
- You don’t mind taking a bit longer to apply products to your lawn
Rotary spreaders meter out the fertilizer and throw the granules in a swath up to several feet wide. A rotary spreader is best if:
- You have a very large lawn
- You like to get the job done as quickly as possible
- You do not have flower beds or gardens in the middle of your lawn