Monday, November 23, 2015

Disconnect your garden hose!

There’s water dripping through the basement ceiling, and a big puddle is making the carpet look like the shallow lake weed bed.

You squish through your indoor pond to try and figure out what’s going on, and that hissing sound is; it gets louder the closer you get to the outside wall. You stand there perplexed, what could be causing all this water, and this hissing, what in the world is that?

You are barely finishing the thought and part of the ceiling gives way in a rush of water drywall, and insulation.

Panicked and bewildered you retrieve your wits from among the floating debris. The hissing is much louder now, it causes your eye (the other one took a direct hit from a drywall bit) to find the source; and there it is, mystery solved, there’s a split in the outdoors faucet pipe just before in pokes outside to the faucet.

This is what happened:

Someone left the outside garden hose attached to the spigot and it got pretty cold last night, freezing the water in the hose.

But we had one of those frostless antifreeze faucets??? And all would have been fine, if you had disconnected the garden hose and let the water drain out of your frostless faucet.

A frostless spigot is designed to shut the water off twelve inches inside the house, long passed the joist plate insulation. Keeping the hose hooked up kept the water from draining out. The insulation kept the warmth of the house from warming the freezing water in the pipe as it entered the house; thus splitting the pipe.

So, make sure you disconnect your garden hoses on those frosty nights…it might be a good idea to just make sure they’re disconnected now.

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 and pictures on the subject check us out at

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Geraniums: Make them live again!

            Geraniums have got to be one of the toughest bedding/hanging basket/window box/planter flowers out there. They can handle the heat, the dry, the parched (guess that’s the same as dry, only drier), the cold….

            As a kid every Sunday we would stop and water my Grandpa and Grandma’s cemetery flowers while on our way to visit my other Grandpa and Grandma. In the urn were Geraniums and Spikes; every Sunday they’d get watered, and that would have to last them through the week. And it always did. They are certainly tough little splashes of color.

             They are good plants to put in those area you know don’t get large amounts of water, or much water at all. Once they “catch” and start growing they are rather indestructible; about all that bugs them is an errant basketball or Frisbee.

            Why am I telling you this now? Because not only were they hardy during the hottest summer on record, they can also withstand being neglected during winter storage in your attached garage or coolest part of the basement. And why would you want to store and neglect them? To bring them out again next spring and watch them get bigger and bushier throughout next year’s growing season.

            Now you don’t totally neglect them throughout the winter; you give them a little drink once a month. And just before you introduce them back into the landscape next spring you pick off all the dead and weak stuff, and give them good water soaking.

            Resist giving them a liquid fertilizer drink right off the bat. Think about someone waking you up from a sound sleep with a coal shovel pouring a big Thanksgiving Day meal down your throat. Let them wake up a bit first.

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Good Night Lawnmower

            The grass is asleep; the trees have tucked in the soil, and all that lives beneath them, with the last of their falling leaf comforters. All of nature seeming to be saying; “good night, see you in the spring”.
            Even the garden tools are getting comfortable on the nails where they’ve stayed motionless for the past three to four weeks.  But, there are a couple of lawn and garden conveniences that are still looking for that glass of warm milk and bedtime story.

             The lawn mower is one of them.

             The bedtime story would be the owner’s manual; look it over to see if there be any grease fitting that need a shot of the slippery stuff. It will also tell you the type of oil needed in the crank case (this would be the warm milk I spoke of), and any other maintenance activities that are needful to your mower

       My routine for a good starting engine in the spring goes as follows:

                  * Drain out all but a little bit of gas.

                  * Start up the mower, and let it run out of gas.

                  * Drain out the old warmed up oil.
                              - change out oil filter if there is one

                  * While waiting for oil to drain clean off the top of the mower

                  * Fill crank case with recommended oil.

                  * Tip mower (push type) on its side and remove blade (this gets new oil
                                distributed all through half the engine)

                  * Sharpen the blade and clean off underside of mower

                  * Tip the mower on its other side to reattach blade (distributing oil throughout the
                                 other half of the engine)

                  * If the Spark plug has not been changed in two years, now might be a good time                              to do this.

                             - #1 reason mowers don’t start in the spring is old gas left in the mower,                                                     varnishing up the carburetor
                             - #2 Old spark plugs.

             Tomorrow we’ll talk about the rest of the kids and their bedtime rituals.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Winter Rose Care

         Winter care brings many suggestions, some cone them, some pile dirt around the crowns, some don't do anything (this is risky business). I like to suggest piling finely chopped bark called finds or possessed bark around the crown.

            The rose is a tough plant, though stories you may have heard would tell a different tale. The reason being:  the crown (the place where the top is grafted to the root) must be protected from not only sudden freezes and sudden thaws, but also from drying winds; this is its Achilles’ heel. The bark also lets the plant breath better.

           But if you are convinced that cones are the way to go because your Mom used them and her Dad before her, and his Dad before him, all the way back to a time when Styrofoam was not invented, be sure you take them off during warm spring days, but keep the handy in case of frosty spring nights. If left on to long the heat generated under them will convince the plant that spring has arrived before it actually has, or, in a winter thaw situation, it’s flushing out leaves like it was celebrating Memorial Day.

            This is why I like the mounding bark method, or what's pictured above; the roots and crown are protected, and the top isn’t falling victim to the “Siren Song” of a premature Spring.

            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
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Friday, November 6, 2015

No Brush Cuts for the Ornamental Grasses Please:

            This time of year the pruners are wielded raucously with last minute touch ups. Wild hairs on the shrubbery are removed, annuals are jerked up by the roots, and perennials are cut to the ground. The Ornamental Grasses may also find themselves in the herbivoreical barber’s chair as well.

            I say “may” because some folks leave them up for the winter interest. But if you are one who likes them ready for Spring before Winter arrives, then do them this one favor; leave about 6 inches of tuft, don’t cut them to the dirt. This will give them a little added insulation; kind of like you wearing a hat out in the snow. Can you live without the hat? Probably. Will you be better off and more comfortable with a hat on your head? Yes.

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 and pictures on the subject check us out at

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why So Many Bees?

            An interesting observation at a customer’s house yesterday.

            We were discussing one of the plants in her landscaping, an Autumn Joy Sedum; one of the taller sedums. I was mentioning that I like to hold off on the fall clean up until all plants are done flowering, and these can push finishing this bit of horticultural house cleaning back into November most times.

            She then mentioned how this plant attracted so many bees; and being very near her favorite garden sitting spot asked if the plant could be moved.   

            This got me thinking, “Why was this plant such a bee magnet”? What irresistible pollen factors were present in this plant’s flower that was drawing bees in from all over? Why was this late flowering spectacle such a sought after culinary destination? My mind was buzzing.

            Then it hit me, it’s the last one…

            Tall sedums are the last entomological roadside diner if you are a bee traveling from fall to winter, the last culinary crème de la crème so to speak until the snow flies.

            Just several weeks ago they had a neighborhood full of botanical choices, each one just as succulent and nourishing as the next; but now, it’s every bee for himself (actually they are all female), and the sedum is that last jug of milk on the shelf , that last cab, that last bus, that final buzzer at the end of the game…

            The gist of this is: If your favorite garden sitting spot, that place where you are trying to ring out the most enjoyment of every possible sunny fall day, is parked next to one of these taller sedum varieties; it might not be your best observational plant choice, if bees make you nervous.

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Winter's Sweating? Oil'em up!

As the weather gets colder, and the plants in your landscaping go deeper into dormancy; evergreens like Rhododendron, Boxwood and Holly can suffer in the dry winter winds to come.
Watering them well, like I mentioned a few Blogs back helps tremendously, giving them greater water reserves to weather the desiccation that is sure to happen during these winter months. But there is a product sold around this time of year that further insures those water reserves to be there when necessary.

It is called Wilt-pruf and you spray it on the leaves during temperatures of 40 degrees or higher; This dormant oil spray, as it is called, helps seal the leaves, thus inhibiting the water to perspire through them. The more careful you are in applying it to both the tops and underside of the leaves the greater chance of success you will have in seeing your shrub through the harshest of winters.

I’m sure we’ll have a day or two yet when the temps claw their why into the forties.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me or post a comment on this Blog. Or like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping