Landscaping Tips

  1. 9 Plants for Early Spring Color

    87-12739443078Swj   After a long, dreary winter, everyone is ready to start seeing flowers begin blooming in the spring. Enjoy these nine plants that will bring you fantastic spring color early in the season.

    Eastern RedbudEastern Redbud  

    Redbud - Cercis canadensis
    One of the most famous spring bloomers, redbuds are one of the earliest spring blooming tree species. Renowned for their delicate flowers that bloom before the leaves emerge, redbuds are one of the first plants to indicate the start of spring. Often found as multi-stemmed understory trees, redbuds can be managed into a single-stem or a large shrub.

    Notable characteristics:
    * 20-30' tall, 15-20' spread
    * Flowers in March and April
    * USDA zones 4-9
    * Best in full or partial sun  

    Varieties to consider:
    Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud - 10' in all directions, weeping form, purplish-pink flowers
    Pink Heartbreaker Redbud - 10' in all directions, dense canopy, pink flowers
    Royal White Redbud - 20-30' in all directions, white flowers

    Snowbelle Mock OrangeSnowbelle Mock Orange

    Mock Orange - Philadelphus spp.  
    Considered to be one of the most winter hardy plants, mock orange blooms with beautiful, fragrant white flowers in early spring. Enjoy the sweet scent and watch as pollinators flock to your yard. An incredibly low-maintenance plant, enjoy mock orange as it blooms year after year every spring.  

    Notable characteristics:
    * Large, fragrant white flowers in April
    * Green foliage
    * Yellow fall color
    * USDA zones 4-9
    * Best in full sun  

    Varieties to consider:
    Miniature Snowflake - more petite (1-3' spread, 2-5' tall)
    Snowbelle - Double flowers, 3-4' in all directions
    Bouquet Blanc - high quantity of double flowers, 5-7' tall, 3-4' spread

    May Day Tree May Day Tree

    May Day Tree - Prunus padus 'European Bird Cherry'
    Large white flower panicles emerge in late April-early May, near May Day. The fruits are small black fruits, adored by many birds. Enjoy the multi-stem quality of this tree, and the beautiful white spring flowers.  

    Notable characteristics:
    * 15 - 20' in all directions
    * White flowers become small black fruits
    * Yellow to red fall color
    * USDA zone 3-7

    Jane Magnolia Jane Magnolia

    Magnolia - Magnolia spp.
    Renowned for its large floral display, magnolia trees are the stars of the spring blooming period. Following the floral display, shiny green leaves emerge and become yellow in the fall. The large buds of the flowers persist all winter, providing some interesting texture during the winter.  

    Notable characteristics:
    * Large flowers in early spring
    * USDA Zone depends on the variety
    * Shiny green foliage in the summer
    * Size varies based on variety  

    Varieties to consider:
    Butterflies - Yellow flowers, zone 4-9
    Little Gem - White flowers, zone 7-9
    * Jane - Pink flowers, zone 3-9 

    Kousa Dogwood Kousa Dogwood

    Flowering Dogwood Tree - Cornus florida
    This plant's spring beauty is found in the delicate four-petaled flowers that unfurl in early April. It provides some interest every other season too, from brilliant green foliage in the summer, to red fall color, to unique gray twigs in the winter. But the show-stopping flowers are the real stars of this spring bloomer!  

    Notable characteristics:
    * Large flowers in the early spring
    * USDA zones 4-9
    * Size varies based on variety  

    Varieties to consider:
    Satomi Dogwood - pink flowers, bird-friendly berries, dark red fall color
    Milky Way Dogwood - white flowers, bird-friendly berries, bright red fall color
    Kousa Dogwood - white flowers, edible berries, unique branching structure

    Hot Shot Girard Azalea Hot Shot Girard Azalea

    Azalea - Azalea spp.
    One of the most brilliant spring bloomers, azaleas are covered in flowers in the early spring, followed by green leaves in the summer into the fall. Beloved by many pollinators, having an azalea in the yard will help dispel those winter blues early in the season.  

    Notable Characteristics:
    * Variety of colors to choose from
    * USDA zones vary based on variety
    * Adaptable
    *Can be evergreen in some zones  

    Varieties to consider:
    Autumn Coral Encore® Azalea Tree - Tree form, pink flowers, rebloomer
    Ashley Marie Girard Azalea - rose pink flowers, abundant blooms
    Hot Shot Girard Azalea - scarlet-orange flowers, more compact form 

    Fothergilla Mount Airy Fothergilla Mount Airy

    Mount Airy Fothergilla - Fothergilla major 'Mount Airy'
    If fragrant white flowers are what you're looking for, Mount Airy Fothergilla is the plant you need. In the early spring, this shrub is covered in flowers smelling like honey and vanilla. After the profuse blooms fade, gray-green foliage is revealed, turning red, yellow and purple in the fall.  

    Notable characteristics:
    * Fragrant white spring flowers
    * USDA zone 5-10
    * Brilliant fall colors

    Brunnera Jack Frost Brunnera Jack Frost

    Brunnera - Brunnera macrophylla
    Favored for its beautiful leaves, brunnera also has beautiful blooms in the spring. Delicate blue flowers erupt above the green and silver leaves and persist for a few weeks before receding. Enjoy the small flowers and the beautiful foliage of this plant from the spring into the summer.  

    Notable Characteristics:
    * Small blue flowers in the spring
    * USDA zones 3-9 (species dependent)
    * Green and white variegated foliage
    * Deer resistant  

    Varieties to consider:
    Jack Frost Brunnera - Green margins, white centers on leaves
    Emerald Mist Brunnera - Silver edging on the leaves
    Brunnera ‘Variegata’ - White band with green centers on the leaves 

    Dianthus Coconut Punch Dianthus Coconut Punch

    Dianthus - Dianthus spp.
    For a perennial of a smaller stature, consider using dianthus in your garden. Spicy, fragrant flowers erupt in the spring and persist all summer long. Dead-heading this plant results in a longer bloom period, and the foliage is considered to semi-evergreen, depending on what USDA zone you are in.  

    Notable characteristics:
    * Wide variety of flower colors
    * Spicy fragrant flowers
    * Semi-evergreen
    * USDA zones 3-9, depending on species  

    Varieties to consider:
    Coconut Punch Dianthus - Burgundy flowers with white markings
    Fire Star Dianthus - Brilliant red flowers
    Fire and Ice Dianthus - Bright pink with lighter petal margins  

    Each of these plants will help you chase away those winter blues with their bright flowers in the early spring. Consider using them in spaces to surprise your neighborhood and yourself when they come into bloom and watch them usher in the glorious springtime season! 

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  2. Ash Trees in the Urban Landscape

    Common Ash Tree Common Ash Tree

    Why is it that Ash trees became so popular to plant anyway? Green, Black and White Ash are native over a large portion of the US and Canada. Many nurseries have some incredible selections from the native species that are seedless, have great fall color, and beautiful upright and rounded forms. Municipalities, homeowners, and Landscape Architects began noticing the beautiful seedless selections that were coming on the market. They began being used on most all the projects not only because of their varied forms and fall color, but because of their adaptability of different soil types, and hardiness. If you have ever seen an Autumn Purple Ash in fall color, you know just how unbelievably and intensely gorgeous they can be. Too much of a good thing maybe? You would think we would have learned from our past mistakes by lining so many streets and urban plantings of American Elm only to see the demise of such a stately tree from Dutch Elm Disease that has wiped out so many trees. Thus, plant hybridizers and nurseries have developed so many different new Elm selections that are Dutch Elm Disease resistant and we are now able to grow many different cultivars once again. 

    Damage Caused By Emerald Ash BorersDamage Caused By Emerald Ash Borers

    The same thing has happened with the way we were using (or I should say overusing) Ash trees in the landscape. Who would have guessed that we would import a bug that bores into the trunks of all the different kinds of Ash trees and eventually kills them all? What no one really expected is that borers typically only affect trees that are stressed or not healthy, but the difference with this bug is that it wildly attacked every single healthy Ash in its path. Movement was slow and eventually we figured out the movement of dead Ash firewood was being transported to many campgrounds and people moving infected wood to their cabins and summer homes in heavily wooded areas that contained many native Ash trees. Many years later, we have yet to introduce a resistant Ash tree to the market. The bug continues to spread slowly and in all directions taking out all Ash in its path. What is the answer? Diversity is the key when it comes to all urban landscapes. A healthy urban forest includes many different kinds (many different Genus) smartly planted without a monoculture of any one kind of tree. Planting many kinds of trees alternating with different Genus is the key. Should I treat the Ash I have in my yard? Treatment is available and if you have a very important specimen in your yard, you may want to consider having it treated. What many are finding out in areas that are infected, they are spending their money on replacing those Ash trees instead of treatment.

    Look at how far the Emerald Ash Borer has moved across the US. Scary. Look at how far the Emerald Ash Borer has moved across the US. Scary.  So, what are some trees that are taking the place of Ash? What should I plant in my yard? There is not one single tree that is taking the place of Ash for the exact reason mentioned earlier; diversity within the landscape. Nature Hills sells trees across the entire U.S., so specific trees that do best in your area will automatically come up for your hardiness zone to best assist you with your selection. It is not a good idea to line your driveway or lot with all the same kind of tree. Strategically planted deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) on the southwest side of your home will produce shade from the hot afternoon sun. In the winter months, those trees lose their leaves and allow the sun to warm your home in the afternoon. Some trees that might be used to replace Ash in the landscape or street trees keeping in mind a tree similar in size include the following:

    Maples (Norway types, Red maple types, Sugar Maple types, Silver Maples, and many hybrid types), Buckeye, River Birch, Catalpa, Hackberry, Yellowwood, Ginkgo, Honeylocust, Kentucky Coffeetree, Tulip tree, Ironwood, London Plane tree, Poplar, Oak varieties, Black Locust, Sassafras, Linden (especially American Sentry), and Elm (many Dutch Elm Disease resistant varieties available).

    There might be some smaller trees that you should consider using in place of an Ash:

    Lilacs (tree form), Mountainash (not an Ash, but does need a cool moist soil), Callery Pear, Flowering cherry, Flowering plum, Crabapples (many excellent and clean growers), Magnolia, Hawthorn, or Beech selections.

    However you choose to handle your existing Ash trees in your yard (treat or remove) if your Ash trees do become infected, just be sure to select trees that are hardy for your area, will work in the soil type you are planting them into, and one that has some interest. Keep a mixed urban landscape by including plants that are not in your neighborhood or overplanted in your area. For specific help, please let us know if we can assist you with selection for your area.

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  3. Broadleaf Evergreens are All the Rage

    BoxwoodsBoxwood is such an interesting plant because their shiny green leaves stay on the plant year-round even in areas that have snow and cold. There are different forms both spreading and upright. Boxwood in the colder climates may need some protection from the drying winter winds (on the west and north exposures) in some areas. Some of these newer selections are outstanding for areas into hardiness zones 5 and some even into zone 4. They are wildly popular especially into the colder climates to introduce some winter interest into the landscape. They make incredible sheared and formal hedges and the upright forms make perfect pyramidal specimens. Boxwood can also be used less formally and look great without shearing, but allowed to grow more naturally.



    There are other plants too that fall into the same category as Boxwood that are all included under Broadleaf Evergreen plants that have leaves but hold them all year round and don't fall off in the fall. There are a couple of groundcovers included in this category as well. Pachysandra holds that beautiful glossy green foliage all winter long. Interesting as the snow sculpts a large sweeping bed under the shade of low branched trees like the Flowering Dogwoods and various Redbud selections. Vinca Bowles is another fine textured broadleaf evergreen again used in the shade of low branched ornamentals and shaded understory of the edge of the woods. Striking deep green leaves are beautiful all year round.

    Vinca Bowles Vinca Bowles

    Let's not forget about the Genus Ilex, or the broadleaf evergreen Holly plants. Here again, different forms both spreading and upright and some dwarf ones too. Dark shiny green leaves are pointed and the branches are used for winter and holiday decorations. The flowers are not big or showy, but the red fruits are amazingly ornamental and almost look artificial. Some of the deciduous species of Ilex will drop their leaves but can still produce that incredibly showy fruit. The broadleaf evergreen selections can be used as hedges, foundations plants, in the understory of larger trees and large scale shrubs, and most any place you might find boxwoods.


    One more group of plants we cannot get by without mentioning is Rhododendron. The Genus Rhododendron includes all the Azaleas as well. The Rhododendrons are all broadleaf evergreens holding their shiny foliage all winter long just like the Boxwood, Pachysandra, Vinca Bowles, and Ilex mentioned above. Rhododendron selections are almost endless and new ones are introduced all the time. The shiny green leaved plants sit there quietly all summer, fall, and winter long but come springtime look out as the Rhododendron flowers are so profuse and the color spectrum so diverse it almost makes you wonder if the flowers are artificial or not. Here again, you can use these plants just like you would Boxwood with the bonus of incredible flower displays, and interesting purplish winter color.


    Remember broadleaf evergreens offer year-round interest because they don't lose their leaves, contrast nicely in the winter landscape, and offer cover for songbirds and other animals when so many other plants are naked for the winter. Diversity in the landscape is important when you are selecting trees but shrubs too. Don't forget to check out this incredible category of plants from Nature Hills.

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  4. 9 Tough Plants for Hellstrips That Look Beautiful

    Those small strips between sidewalks and streets are often the most challenging to plant - plants there seem to scorch, fry and die - especially in the heat of summer. These strips of land are often lovingly referred to as hellstrips. Read on for nine perennials that are well suited and prepared to take on these hot environments.Hellstrip Next To Street

    Yarrow - Achillea millefolium

    Strawberry Seduction Yarrow

    Strawberry Seduction Yarrow

    Yarrow is a highly adaptable, long-lasting perennial. It thrives in hellstrips and is beautiful both in bloom and after. The large umbel flowers come in a variety of colors, and the thin, silvery fern-like foliage. Resistant to deer and rabbits and beloved by many pollinators, it will thrive in your hellstrips. Notable characteristics:

    * Adaptable to most environments
    * Large flowers from June through August
    * 18 - 24 inches tall
    * USDA zones 3-9

    Varieties of Note:
    * Paprika -Bright red flower fade to pink as they age
    * Moonshine - Canary yellow flowers, least likely to spread
    * Sunny Seduction - Larger variety, bright yellow flowers

    Hellstrip Landscaping With Tree

    Sedums - Sedum spp.

    Lime Zinger Sedum

    Lime Zinger Sedum-Ground cover sedums are one of the most vibrant and robust plants to consider planting in a hellstrip. Related to many succulent species, they thrive in these hot, arid environments by storing water in their leaves. Ground sedums are ideal for hellstrips, as they can take the heat and the occasional traffic from people getting out of their cars. There are a multitude of varieties that will slowly spread and cover your entire area - consider planting patches of each for an exciting and vibrant patchwork feel.

    Notable characteristics:
    * Prefers dry, well-drained soil
    * Bloom from summer into fall
    * Full sun to partial sun
    * Evergreen characteristics
    * 6 inches tall
    * USDA zones 3 to 11, depending on species

    Varieties to consider:
    * Angelina Sedum - chartreuse green to orange in fall, yellow flowers
    * Red Carpet and Cherry Tart - red tinted foliage, pink flowers
    * Lime Zinger- flat green foliage with red tips, pink flowers

    Cranesbill geraniums - Geranium sanguineum

    New Hampshire Geranium

    New Hampshire Geranium

    These cranesbill geraniums are not the annual zonal geraniums you purchase for your containers - these geraniums are hearty and ready to take on whatever challenges your hellstrip throws at it, no matter the season, once established. Their bright flowers will be sure to bring a smile to your face, even in the hottest days of summer.

    Notable characteristics:
    * Bloom late spring to early fall
    * 12-18 inch spread
    * Red fall color
    * Full sun
    * Very adaptable
    * USDA zones 3 through 8

    Varieties of note:
    * Rozanne - Blue flowers, considered longest blooming
    * New Hampshire - magenta flowers, extremely vigorous Hellstrip Sidewalk Landscaping

    Daylilies - Hemerocallis spp.

    Strawberry Candy Daylily

    Strawberry Candy Daylily

    With a plethora of colors to choose from, daylilies are hearty plants that will thrive in almost any environment. Thin strappy foliage and flowers that bloom all summer long, and easily transplanted, divided, and cared for, daylilies are ideal for this hot, arid environment between sidewalks and streets.

    Notable characteristics:
    * Wide range of colors available
    * Up to two feet tall
    * Summer blooming
    * USDA zones 3 through 9

    Varieties to consider:
    * Strawberry Candy - two-toned pink flowers
    * Siloam Peony Display - Peach peony-type flower
    * Primal Scream - Bright fluorescent orange flower

    Black Eyed Susan - Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii

    Goldsturm Black-Eyed Susan

    Goldsturm Black-Eyed Susan

    Known for its survival in prairies and relatively dry soils, black-eyed Susan is a perennial that will thrive in your hellstrip year after year, with bright flowers blooming all summer long. Beloved by pollinators, but rejected by most pests, this plant requires little input to keep it in tip-top shape.

    Notable characteristics:
    * 18-24 inches tall
    * Bright yellow flowers with black centers
    * Blooms in the summer
    * Extremely adaptable to most soils
    * USDA zones 3-8

    Varieties of note:
    * Little Goldstar - 2-inch orange flowers, dense flower quantity
    * Goldsturm- 2-inch yellow flowers, less dense flower quantity

    Walker's Low Catmint - Nepeta x faassenii 'Walkers Low'

    ]Walker's Low Catmint

    Walker's Low Catmint

    An extremely drought tolerant plant, Walker's Low Catmint has silvery leaves that release a pleasant odor when crushed. Tolerant of most conditions, this perennial will thrive in your hellstrip. Shearing it back will encourage new growth, and is incredibly easy to manage.

    Notable Characteristics:
    * Silvery-green foliage
    * 18 to 24-inch spread
    * Small purple flowers in the spring
    * USDA zones 3-9

     Bugleweed - Ajuga spp.

    Chocolate Chip Ajuga

    Chocolate Chip Ajuga

    With dark foliage and bright purple flowers, Bugleweed provides a drought tolerant groundcover that will thrive in a hellstrip location. With some weed-suppression skills and resistance to most pests, this plant is a pollinator favorite when blooming. Enjoy the ground-covering quality of this perennial, and the contrast it provides to your landscape.

    Notable characteristics:
    * Dark purple-brown foliage
    * 4-6 inches height
    * 12-18 inches spread
    * Bright purple flowers in spring
    * USDA zones 4-9

    Varieties of note:
    * Chocolate Chip - small, oval leaves, light purple flowers
    * Black Scallop - larger, textured leaves, dark purple flowers

    Creeping Thyme - Thymus praecox 'Coccineus'

    Creeping Thyme

    Creeping Thyme

    A subtle groundcover, this perennial is well suited for hellstrips. Fragrant leaves and bright pink flowers make this plant an essential plant for any landscape - especially with some light traffic. Creeping thyme will withstand moderate traffic, making it ideal for planting in a hellstrip where there might be occasional foot traffic.

    Notable characteristics:
    * 3-4 inches tall, 10-12 inch spread
    * Fragrant green foliage
    * Pink flowers in spring
    * USDA zone 3-9

    Blue Glitter Sea Holly - Eryngium planum 'Blue Glitter'

    Blue Glitter Sea Holly

    Blue Glitter Sea Holly

    Blue plants are rare to find within the landscape, but blue glitter sea holly fits that bill. Best suited for hot, well-drained soils, this perennial brings a pop of blue to any landscape. Unique, blue star-shaped flowers appear and last quite a while as a cut flower or on the plant itself.

    Notable characteristics:
    * 6-8 inches tall, 8-12 inches spread
    * Blue flowers in summer
    * Blue foliage
    * Adaptable to most soils
    * USDA zones 4-8

    With wild colors and low profiles, these plants will thrive in your hellstrips, and won't be bothered by the hot environment. These are only a few selections - there are a lot of other plants available that can be used for these incredibly challenging environments.

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  5. 9 Great Plants for Feeding Wildlife in the Winter

    In the dead of winter, when the landscapes are barren, it can be difficult for wildlife to find food to survive, especially in urban areas. Instead of having critters getting into your trash can looking for a meal, why not consider providing them a buffet in your backyard? Read on for nine plants that can provide for wildlife during the winter.

    1.  American Persimmon - Diospyros virginiana (pictured below)

    Persimmon In The Winter

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  6. Russian Sage, Salvia, and Veronica: How to Tell Them Apart


    Little Spire Russian Sage Little Spire Russian Sage

    Russian sage, veronica, and salvia can appear to be very similar at first glance, but there are so many nuanced differences that will make one better for your space compared to the others. Flowers can be a key indicator in this situation. Salvia and Veronica have similar coloring, which can range from dark purple to rose pink to white. Russian Sage, on the other hand, always has purple flowers. Russian sage also has more airy blooms, instead of the more dense flowers of the other two plants.  The flower spikes of the salvia bloom profusely through the summer with larger flowers than Veronica. Salvia has lipped and lobed petals create a "landing zone" for pollinators - making it one of the top stops for pollinating insects. Veronica blooms mature from the bottom up, sometimes resulting in the tips of the blooms appearing green while the lower flowers are blooming.  

    East Friesland Salvia

    East Friesland Salvia

    Bloom times and regions are another factor in identifying these plants. Salvia blooms June through September, and has the potential to re-bloom. Russian sage follows about a month behind from July through October. Veronica usually blooms in early summer and lasts until autumn. Salvia and veronica thrive in zones 3-8, while Russian sage is suited to zones 4-8. The foliage and branching habits of these three plants can also help tell them apart. Both Russian sage and salvia are in the mint family. With square stems and opposite blue-green leaves, it's easy to see that they are related in some fashion. Russian sage differentiates itself with foliage that is more fern-like than the salvia leaves, which are more round with slight serrations. Veronica, in contrast, belongs to the plantain family and has round stems with bright green, glossy leaves. The leaves of veronica do not produce a noticeable minty aroma when crushed as they do with salvia and Russian sage as well. 

    Royal Candles Veronica Royal Candles Veronica

    The size of these plants can be a determining factor as well. Veronica tends to be a little smaller in stature than the rest, ranging from 8 to 15 inches tall depending on variety. Salvia will range from 12 to 24 inches tall. Russian sage is a shrub that can get much taller, reaching heights of 3-5 feet in many cases. While these three plants have similar flowers that can often be misidentified, it should be clear now that there are some easy to spot key differences between them. If you would like to see and learn more about the salvia, veronica, and Russian sage plants, follow the links to see the many different varieties available.

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  7. Deterring Home Invasions - With Plants!

    Deterring home invasions are one of the many features that landscapes can provide when being designed. Using plants that have thorns or cause irritation can help deter would-be-intruders.

    Washington Hawthorne

    Washington Hawthorne

    Washington Hawthorne Having a shade tree is ideal for homeowners, but having a thorny shade tree that prevents entrance into second stories is even better.  Washington Hawthorne is a tree that meets that requirement. Don't let the thorny nature of this tree deter you though, its brilliant white flowers in the spring and delicate orange fruits speak for themselves. Best of all, this tree is resistant to fire blight, a disease that is known to affect many hawthorne trees. Best planted in zones 4-8, it will thrive in any soil, reaching 25-30 feet tall and 20-25 feet wide with a very round, dense shape.

    Black Locust

    Black Locust

    A large, deciduous tree that makes it difficult to climb due to the thorns. There are thornless varieties available, but when trying to deter home invasions, thorns are the perfect defense! Reaching over 70 feet into the air at maturity, this tree has beautiful white flowers that attract pollinators. Come fall, dark purple-brown pods develop and are favored by many bird species. The green foliage turns to a clear yellow, before dropping for the season. One of the hardiest trees available, black locust thrives in zones 4-9, and will adapt to most soil types. Between the birds that may become territorial in the canopy and the thorns that develop along the branches, black locust is a great home-invasion deterrent tree, especially if you have multiple stories. 

    Carissa Holly

    Carissa Holly 

    Carissa Holly For plantings near windows on the first story, "Carissa" Holly " Ilex cornuta 'Carissa' " is a wonderful choice. At first glance, it seems innocuous. But upon further inspection, it's obvious that this plant has protection in mind, spines at the tip of the leaves have a bite. Evergreen through all the seasons, it makes an ideal backdrop for other brightly colored flowers to be planted in front. It stays round and fairly low, reaching a mature size of 3 feet tall and 3 ' 4 feet wide. Best planted in zones 6-9, this plant should be placed in front of a window for an optimal deterrent.  

    Rosy Glow Barberry

    Rosy Glow Barberry

    Rosy Glow Barberry Another under-the-window plant to deter home invaders is Rosy Glow Barberry is a small compact shrub (3 feet at maturity) that looks fantastic as a hedge. Like the name suggests, the ruby-tinted leaves make a statement when planted with other plants. The color only intensifies in the fall, before falling and leaving a thorny mass of branches. Best planted in zones 4-8, and tolerant of many soils, this slow-growing shrub will protect and deter from potential invaders.  

    Twist of Pink Oleander

    Twist of Pink Oleander

    Twist of Pink Oleander When stems are broken off, Twist of Pink Oleander releases a milky substance known to irritate skin and, in severe cases, cause blistering. Reaching 6-8 feet tall, its uses are limited with its size, but it works amazingly well as a hedge, especially in dry, arid environments. The variegated evergreen leaves persist all year-round, and bright pink flowers bloom in the summer, contrasting with other landscape beauties. A relatively low-maintenance plant, Twist of Pink Oleander is another tool at your disposal for home-invasion peace of mind, especially since it thrives in zones 8-10 in most soil types.    

    Rugosa Rose

    Rugosa Rose

    Rugosa Rose Finally, we come to one of the prettiest home-deterrent plants available: roses. Known for their thorns and their prolific flowering, there is a rose for almost every need. Height and flower color are species dependent, but choosing something like Rugosa rose will be key to helping deter would-be home invaders with their prolific thorns. As a bonus, you get to enjoy the simple blooms throughout the growing season. Ranging in hardiness from zone 2 to zone 8, many of the rugosa roses are extremely reliable and tolerant of many soil types.   These six plants can help deter would-be home-invaders from entering your house with thorns and irritants. Even though plants are no substitute for other good practices (locking your doors and other techniques), they can be one tool in the toolbox for house safety.Washington Hawthorne

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  8. The Complete Guide For Taking Care of Boston Ivy

    Boston Ivy On Brick Wall

    Boston Ivy Care

    Many people use boston ivy plants to cover walls, fences, pergolas and more. Being a very low maintenance plant, it is easy to care for but some upkeep is still needed for a beautiful looking vine.

    Planting Boston Ivy

    When choosing a location it is best to find an area that is sunny and has good soil. These conditions will help get better results with the plant growing faster and healthier. Boston ivy should be planted 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant them closer together if you want faster coverage on a wall or trellis. Boston Ivy should be planted 12 inches away from the wall to allow the roots more room to grow. The best time to plant Boston ivy is spring or fall. This is a hardy plant that will be able to grow even if planted in the summer; however, will need plenty of water and well drained soil.

    General Boston Ivy Care

    Boston Ivy Growing on Building

    Sunlight - Boston ivy can take a wide range of sun exposure, from full sun to partial sun, but it does best in full sun.

    Watering - These plants should be well-watered when first planted in order to get established. Once the plants get going, there is no need to worry about watering unless there is a severe drought.

    Mulching - Use mulch to help conserve moisture for the plants. This helps prevent weeds from growing around the vines and protects the roots in the winter.

    Fertilizing - Fertilizing is not necessary but feel free to use all-purpose granular fertilizer in the spring. Don't overdo it since too much could hurt the plants.

    Winter Care- The main thing for caring for Boston Ivy in the winter is pruning. There is more information about this below. It is best to prune in late winter once the leaves have fallen off and the plant has gone dormant.  

    Pruning Boston Ivy

    Boston Ivy Growing on the Fence

    The vines will grow aggressively if given the right soil, water, and sun conditions. Sometimes it is necessary to trim these plants back to a more desirable size, especially around doors and windows. The best time to prune Boston Ivy is in the winter. Even though this is a very tough plant, you can prune anytime during the year if you are careful not to trim too much. If you want to remove Boston Ivy, be careful not to rip the vines off of walls. This could damage the wall, take off the paint, or remove chunks of wood as well. To do this without damaging anything, first cut the vines off at the base of the plant and let the vines die, then the vines should come off the walls easily and without damaging anything. You will also want to kill the roots. To do this naturally, we recommend using white vinegar, but be careful to put the vinegar only on what you want to kill.

    Why is Boston Ivy Famous?

    You may have heard about Boston Ivy, but do not know why or in what context. The Ivy League was named after this plant and refers to the vines found on buildings at Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth colleges in the Boston area. The Chicago Cubs baseball field, Wrigley Field, has also helped make this plant widely known. The outfield brick walls are covered with Boston Ivy for a truly unique stadium. [Boston Ivy Growing on Wrigley Field Brick Wall Photo Credit to jimcchou on Flickr

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  9. 5 Plants With Silver Leaves

    Sometimes, you just need something different in your yard. Many of your plants may be colorful, with green foliage and bright flowers. But sometimes, you need something that adds a subtle color to your garden - especially in shadier areas where it can get dark with only green plants. Enter silver foliage plants. These five plants will add that bit of light to the rest of your garden with their silver leaves.  

    Silver Edge Lavender - Lavandula x intermedia 'Walvera' Silver Edge Lavender Overview- silver leaves Lavender is well known for its intoxicating scent - so why not include one in your landscape? Silver Edge Lavender provides that silver color to a sunny location. Growing to a mature size of three feet tall and two feet wide, Silver Edge Lavender sports beautiful purple flowers in the summer. To encourage flowering, cut the flowers back after blooming to encourage new growth. Best in zones 5 - 9, Silver Edge Lavender brings that cooling silver color to the sunniest of locations.    

    Ghost Fern - Athyrium 'Ghost'Ghost Fern Overview- silver leaves Having a fern with silvery foliage makes for an intriguing conversation piece. The ghost fern lives up to that expectation with its silvery gray leaves. With an upright habit and the tendency to slowly spread, this fern provides that silver color with a delicate texture to a shady planting. Reaching up to 3 feet wide and tall at maturity in zones 4-9, ghost fern thrives in moist soils. Add it to contrast against a bright green foliage plant for maximum contrast.  

    Silver King Wormwood - Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King'Artemisia_schmidtiana_Parc_de_Bercy- silver leaves The soft fuzzy silver foliage of Silver King Wormwood disguises one of the best features of this plant - it's drought tolerance. Its size is nothing to complain about either - this plant can grow up to three feet tall and four feet wide - making it an ideal sized plant to go wherever you need a touch of silver foliage. Best in zones 5-9, this plant provides a cooling feel with its silver foliage.  

    Silver Anniversary Abelia - Abelia x 'Panache'Silver Anniversary Abelia Full- silver leaves Variegated white and green foliage develop from red stems, making this shrub a fantastic addition to any landscape. White wedding-bell flowers begin blooming in the late spring and last through to the first frost. Their sweet aroma will add another touch of elegance to your landscape. Growing to a maximum height of 24 inches tall, Silver Anniversary Abelia will spread to approximately 3 feet wide. Best in zones 6-9 this plant will thrive in sun conditions ranging from full sun to partial shade. Enjoy the touches of silver on this plant within your landscape.  

    Silver Bouquet Lungwort - Pulmonaria Silver BouquetSilver Bouquet Lungwort Blooms and Foliage- silver leaves Don't be put off by the name of this plant - Silver Bouquet Lungwort is a beautiful plant that should be in your landscape. Its silvery leaves have a hint of lime green scattered along the edges, and the flowers shift from pink to blue as they age. It won't grow much larger than 10 inches tall, but will spread to almost 20 inches wide in ideal conditions. Best planted in shade in zones 4-9, Silver Bouquet Lungwort is the perfect addition to your shady landscape.   Whether you're looking for a shrub with silver foliage to use as a backdrop, or something unique to put in a secluded shady area, silver foliage gives you that color contrast you may not have considered. Next time you're looking for a unique plant, try using one of these to add some cooling color contrast to your landscape!

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  10. 5 Plants for Poolside Planting

    Hydrangea by the Pool Pictured here is a hydrangea blooming by the pool.

    Everyone loves diving into a pool in the middle of summer, but having plants around makes it that much more enjoyable. Whether you choose to put these poolside plants in pots or set them directly into the landscape, you should consider these plants. The chemicals of your pool are less of an issue than you would expect - the occasional splashing of water won't affect them. The larger concern is the high level of light. Because the surface of the pool and the decking reflect lots of light, you need plants that are ready to take on that challenge.

    Cranberry Crush Hibiscus - Hibiscus moscheutos 'Cranberry Crush' PPAF
    Hibiscus is the quintessential tropical plant. 'Cranberry Crush' Hibiscus lives up to that hype with large cranberry colored blooms that can expand up to eight inches in diameter. About three feet high and four feet wide, Cranberry Crush hibiscus is ready to go next to your pool and dazzle everyone with its beautifully colored blooms in zones four through nine.

    Nandina FirepowerFirepower Heavenly Bamboo - Nandina domestica 'Firepower' 
    As a poolside potted plant, Firepower Heavenly Bamboo will provide you with evergreen beauty during the summer, and a brilliant display of red foliage in the fall. Only two to three feet tall and wide, it is perfect for the poolside. With a tolerance for zones six through nine, the tropical feel of Firepower Heavenly Bamboo will last all year round.

    Porcupine GrassPorcupine Grass - Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'  
    Gold and green striped blades and creamy white seed heads are the crowning glories of porcupine grass. At the height of six to eight feet and spreading up to four feet wide porcupine grass makes an ideal screen for a pool. Leave the foliage up over the winter for some interest, and enjoy it in the summer when it adds some unique color patterns to your poolside planting. It thrives in USDA zones 4-10, and will give you something unique to enjoy while swimming around.

    Tempelhof Hinoki False CypressTempelhof Compact Hinoki Cypress - 'Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Tempelhof'
    Another evergreen shrub, Tempelhof Compact Hinoki Cypress is the perfect plant to put in a container poolside. With its wavy, scale-like leaves, this plant looks like an anemone. Slightly tinged gold on the outside, but dark green on the inside, this shrub will reach 8-10 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. This plant will flourish in zones 4-8, and is both deer resistant and easy to manage. 

    DaylilyDaylily - Hemerocallis spp.  
    Bright, cheerful blooms are the highlight of this plant. Blooming from June through August, daylilies will thrive in just about any situation.  Daylilies will thrive poolside, ranging from 20 to 24 inches tall. Try the species 'Entrapment' for a unique splash of purple, or 'Little Grapette' for a smaller, more compact plant. No matter what your needs are, though, there's a daylily just waiting to be planted by your pool.   Even though poolside can be a harsh environment with all of the light reflecting onto your plants, try one of these to make a splash next to your pool. They are all relatively low-maintenance and won't drop a lot of small debris into your water. Happy swimming!


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