Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cutting Ornamental Grass

Yesterday I mentioned how now is a good time to check out Ornamental Grasses, due to the fact that they are displaying their fronds. The time to cut them down is also at hand, if you have no intention of leaving them up for the winter.
I must pause here a second, and say that ornamental grass fronds with a little snow chapeau upon their heads is a very beautiful winter site; and the stalks and stems are tough enough to stand up under its weight.
But if you’d rather get all your landscape maintenance done in the fall the best way to chop them down is with a chainsaw or hedge trimmers.
Choosing to hack at them with an arm powered hedge sheers will give you something to
 think about later, as you’re trying to soak away the pain of a fresh case of tennis elbow.
            How about a hand pruner? Your hands (you’ll be switching back and forth) will be so cramped up at the end of this project you won’t be able to open the door to get to the phone to make that carpal tunnel surgery appointment.
            So, back to the real tools for this job.
If a chainsaw is employed it must have a new, or newly sharpened blade. When cutting go slow, keeping 6 to 7 inches of the stubble to insulate the roots; too fast and you’ll clog up and bind the chain gear.

If you have a good electric hedge trimmers, and I mean good, not something you bought at the local bargain store, or a gas powered trimmer, the method is the same; go slow.

Helpful Hint:

Take twine or a rope and tie them tight half way up from the base before you cut them; this cuts clean up time significantly.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at or post a comment on this Blog. Or like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ornamental Grass

            Now is the time to look at and pick out Ornamental Grass; even plant them if you wish.

            We call them Ornamental Grass when we buy it in a store; giving them a more posh title makes it easier to throw down the ten to twenty bucks at the checkout lane. But ya know? Somewhere in the world it grows wild, and people are spraying Roundup on your ten to twenty buck purchase.

            From spring through early August Ornamental grass looks like… well, grass. But now at this time of year it’s displaying why you wanted it in the first place; the seed fronds. Some look like Fox tails, some have wispy fronds, others are thicker.

            Grasses come in different sizes, shapes, and even colors; and are one of the easiest plants to grow. It’s easy because it’s grass, there need not be any other reason.

            It was created to be the very first consumable in the food chain and it grows everywhere herbivores roam the Earth. But the last thing you want is some herbivore rummaging around in your landscaping. Thankfully we don’t live in India where the bovines are allowed to roam the city streets as sacred. Our greatest threat becomes the wayward woodchuck, or the occasional sick dog.

            I could go on and on explaining planting techniques, soil likes and dislikes, even the many different kinds to choose from. But I did an article on this very subject back near the end of August; and it will explain all this in great detail, and with pictures and You Tube videos ta boot.

            Check out the Enhanced Article on my WEB site at

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One more day! Maybe a week? A month?

There are still some warm days left until the mercury convinces all garden life to die. So let’s see if we can squeeze a few more days out of what we have out in our gardens and flower beds.
This can be done a few ways.

My Mom used to make news paper hats for her potted plants.

For the bigger areas an old bed sheet would satisfy thermal negatives imposed on those early mornings when the mercury slid into the death zone.

For larger gardens we would purchase 30x50 sheets of plastic and cover all but the Cole crops. Maybe it’s a financial bite now, but it can be reused year after year. The yearly alternative usually goes as follows. You hunt around for any scrap of plastic or cloth you can find; piece mealing them over what you wish to cover. And like always there’s just not enough, something is left uncovered, and you are the one who decides who lives, and who dies. The next morning you hope, as you walk out to the garden, that your “Daniel’s” have not been ravaged by the “frost lions”. But alas, you find them wearing the “frost pajamas” and sleeping a sleep they’ll never awake from.

Yes, it’s a battle you can’t win. But every day they survive is a day with one more garden fresh tomato on your table, one more red or green pepper you didn’t need to buy at the store, one more day of looking at flowers in your flower beds, one more day of being able to look back; for when they’re gone it’s going to be a long winter before we see them again.  

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Killing Ground Ivy and Violets

            Droughts can show us the toughness of some of the weeds out there. While everything else was dying, weeds like Creeping Charley (commonly called Ground Ivy) and Violets seemed to be thriving. This will give you a hint as to how difficult it is to rid your lawn of these invasive weeds.

            At a loss as to what to do most folks go down to the big box store where the young pimplely faced kid suggest Weed-b-Gon; which is a good choice I might add. But what he fails to mention is that one application of this herbicide will not be enough to kill these tough herbivoreical hombres to the root. The leaves will die, but they will come back in a week or two.

            To truly kill these weeds you will have to spray it once a day for two days in a row; this will put enough weed killer into the plant to kill them to their roots. Just make sure there is no rain in the forecast during those two days.

            But the reason I’m bringing this up now is because in the next few days a killing frost will make them weaker, and even more susceptible to the ravages of your Weed-b-Gon.

            If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at or post a comment on this Blog. And like us on Facebook.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Say "No" to the Cone: Winter Rose Care

During this time of getting our landscaping ready for the winter, rose care comes to mind. We become acutely aware of it when we stroll through the hardware store and home improvement places and see rose cones stacked to the ceilings.

The Rose Cone; somebody’s great idea that should have stayed in their mind and not have seen the light of day.
What!! You may be thinking. My mom used Rose Cones, and my Grandma before her.

In theory the rose cone makes sense. But in practicality it creates problems.

First let me say, you do not have to cut a rose down in preparation for winter. We think we do; but that was only to get it to fit under the cone.

Second, and more importantly, the part of the hybrid rose that needs protection is where it is grafted to the root; this spot is its Achilles heel. It’s not that it can’t take the cold temperatures; it just can’t take the quickness of the freezing and thawing throughout the day. Slow this down and everything is fine.

The Cone was invented thinking that the whole rose needed protection; but time revealed that just the graph was vulnerable. But the Cone lives on.

The problem with the cone is that during January thaws and early spring warm ups, the temperatures under the cone climb to dormancy breaker levels; causing the rose to start leafing out long before the real spring temperatures arrive.
Many times someone will peek under a cone in February to fine a fully leafed out Rose stiff as a board.

My advice is to mound composted topsoil up around the graph so it covers it to a depth of 4 to 5 inches. This will slow the freezing and thawing to very acceptable levels, and keep the top exposed so as to not prematurely break dormancy. When spring does come just remove the soil, or spread it around under the plant.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at or post a comment on this Blog. Or like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Short Grass Leaf Raking

            We love looking at the colorful leaves on the trees; the reds appear first, followed by the oranges, with yellows typically taking up the rear.

            But then they start to drop. But this too looks beautiful… for a while, until you find yourself fighting to appreciate the colorful ground that unfolds as the leaf depth grows with every day.

            And then reality sets in; you have to face facts, somebody’s got to rake them up before they smother the grass; and the Jasper looking back at you in the window reflection is informing you that “it’s you”. Now the beautiful colors of fall just don’t seem so endearing any more. But, before you start grumbling about this impending blister making labor of necessity let me give you a little tip.

            If you keep the grass cut short the leave will have less of a chance getting caught in the lawn. Leaves that don’t get caught have a better chance of blowing into the neighbor’s yard. And if you tell him of this little tip he might cut his lawn short and therefore move them on into his neighbor’s yard.

            This will continue until they reach the guy with the stockade fence. That’s when the beneficiaries of “clear sailing” may have to go over and help the poor unfortunate. At least they are all in one place.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at or post a comment on this Blog. And like us on Facebook At Niemeyer Landscaping. For more Landscape and garden info check us out at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Winter Pond Life

            To those of you who may have put in a pond, or some kind of a “fish friendly” water feature, your fish are wondering if you have read all the info in regards to their winter wellbeing.

            If you have small fish, do them a favor and set up a bowl for them in the house. It’s not going to be as big an area they were used to; but it beats being a “fishsicle”.

            A pond has to be at least two feet deep to support winter life. Shallower ponds will freeze solid. Having at least two feet of depth will insure a swimmable environment under the ice.

            You may be pondering “How can I feed my fish in the winter? The answer is you don’t. As the temperature drops so does their metabolism. In fact you should be curtailing the feeding program to two or three times a week when the temps drop to 60; and stop it altogether at 50 degrees.

            But I write this now because you have a little window of time to do something you should have been doing all summer, feeding them a high protein food in anticipation of this upcoming winter.

            If you have the right depth you can over-winter your fish in your pond…maybe. It’s still a crap-shoot. Or you can play it safe by plucking them out before they become entombed in the ice.


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