Monday, October 23, 2017

Mums, Putting Them to Bed

             When prepping them for winter, cut, or break off, the stems when the leaves start too brittle up.

            Pile leaves over them to insulate them from the bitter winter cold, holding them down over the plant with chicken wire. This will slow the quick freezing and thawing; they can handle temperature down to -20; they just can’t handle getting there quickly and then coming back up fast.
            But I’m going to try something different this fall. Instead of removing the brittle stems, I’m going to just mash the stems down and let them insulate the crown. I will need to use something to hold them in place so they doesn’t blow away in the winter winds; I’m thinking a brick or stone if it’s handy (of course I will have to be Johnny-on-the-spot-in removing it in March). Or I could stake it down with two stakes and a string between them

            My thought on this is that maybe the plant is supposed to insulate itself. It’s already doing that in a way, since the plant is growing thick above the crown already. Come a blanket of snow and you’ve got it tucked in for the winter. My helping it, as described above, is only in case the winter gets stingy with the blankets.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at or post a comment on this Blog. Like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pond Depth for Winter

            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.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at or post a comment on this Blog. Like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fall Color

           The trees out there are telling us to put our bathing suits away for the year; “things they be a changing”.

            What I have noticed in my short life here on Earth, when it comes to fall color, is that the “reds” appear first typically, then the orange, followed by the yellows. Of course not all species of trees and shrubs follow this, but in general this is what I’ve noticed.


            Fall is a time when God’s painting palette is the most colorful and wide sweeping; make plans now to see, because it comes, and goes, so quickly.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

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.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017


            Boy did some people get hit hard yesterday. Rain gauges in the Grandville and Wyoming areas show levels pushing up over the 2 inch mark.

            For those of you with puddles in your yard, now might be a good time to “flag” those low areas that retain water. No need to wait until you’re fishing your mower out of the marsh; look now to see where the puddling low spots are, and later, where they disappeared last. Once determined where the very lowest spots are and flagged, you can install drain tile to carry the excess away when the ground is firmer and digable.

           You will need to pipe this water to a lower spot on your property; this will only work if you can activate this law of physics.

            There are a number of lawn drains out there if you wish the water to exit quickly. Or you can run perforated tile under the soggy spots and let the water perk away into this tile. Keep in mind that all tile must gradually run down hill from these low spots; a transit work great for this, but a 4 foot level will accomplish this as well.   

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