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How to Grow Gorgeous Fall Mums at Home

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-chrysanthemum flowers with ornamental kale

No fall landscape is complete without everyone’s favorite autumn-blooming flowers—mums! Growing chrysanthemums is simple, but the key to long-lasting color is selecting a great specimen and treating it with the correct care. Here’s your guide to growing fall mums in Iowa!

Types of Fall Mums

There are two varieties of mums you’ll typically find at garden centers; florist mums and perennial mums.

Florist mums, sometimes called decorative mums, are the mums you’ll typically see for sale in every storefront starting in mid-August. They are best grown as annuals and look spectacular in pots thanks to their dome-like mound of brilliant blooms.

Perennial mums are grown in garden beds with the rest of your perennials and come in a wide variety of bloom shapes, sizes, and colors—from single-flowered, daisy-like cultivars to ones with cushion-like double blooms.

In addition to the two varieties, there are also many different types of chrysanthemum blooms, each more interesting than the last:

  • Single blooms resemble daisies with a single row of petals.
  • Quilled blooms have long, needle-shaped petals.
  • Spider blooms have very long, narrow petals like the legs of a spider.
  • Anemone blooms have a cushion-like mound of petals that emerge from a disc-shaped center.
  • Pom pom blooms look like, you guessed it, pom poms!
  • Incurve blooms have long petals with a slight inward curvature at the edges.
  • Reflex blooms, by contrast, have a slight outward curvature at the petal edges.
  • Decorative blooms are a double flowering type and the most common flowers.
  • Thistle blooms have petals that are long, very thin, and tube-shaped.
  • Spoon blooms also have tube-shaped blooms but flatter, wider edges.
Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Colorplanting a fall mum flower

Planting Fall Mums

Both florist and perennial mums prefer full sun, with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight exposure per day. Some cultivars are moderately tolerant of partial shade, but insufficient light can lead to leggy plants and fewer or smaller flowers. Perennial mums also prefer to be planted in a bed of slightly acidic, moist soil with excellent drainage. 

Caring for Your Fall Mums

If there’s one thing all mums have in common, it’s their appetite! Mums need to be watered every other day while in flower and require frequent fertilization with an appropriate formula for flowering plants. Perennial cultivars will also need a deep, thorough watering each week starting at the beginning of the growing season and more often as the temperatures rise. To encourage full, bushy growth, pinch back spent flowers whenever you notice them.

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-chrysanthemum flowers

A Buying Guide for Fall Mums

Wherever you find mums for sale, the best value for money will be from a healthy plant that has barely begun to bloom. A low-cost pot of chrysanthemums may seem like a great deal, but clearance prices generally mean the plant is nearing the end of its bloom or the plant itself is unhealthy. 

To get the longest-lasting fall color from your mums, choose a dense plant with perky, dark-green foliage and covered in tightly-closed flower buds. A few open buds are fine, but the more closed buds on the plant, the more blooms you’ll save for your garden beds or containers.

We also recommend checking the base of the plant, especially if you plan on interplanting your mums with other plants in your beds. It’s common to find mold, mildew, and other fungal infections on the mums the discount grocery stores put out for sale, and those infections can also spread and affect your other plants. We provide the best care for our chrysanthemums until the day you take them home to your garden, so you can count on quality mums with a healthy root system from Ted Lare Design & Build. 

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-mum flowers in garden bed

There is a great reason mums have earned their spot as the go-to fall flower—their glowing, warm colors and bounty of blooms bring pure joy to your autumn landscape. Discover our selection of fall mums for sale at our garden center in Des Moines!

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The Many Benefits and Uses of Peat Moss

Ted-Lare-Design-&-Build--The-Many-Benefits-and-Uses-of-Peat-Moss-in-Iowa-peat-moss-in-hands

You’ve heard your gardening friends talk about peat moss, you’ve read about it in gardening blogs, and you may have even used it in your garden once or twice. But what is it about this magic moss that offers so many benefits to your landscape plants? Let’s dive deep into all the basic uses of peat moss and its many useful applications in the garden!  

What is Peat Moss?

Peat moss is marketed as an alternative to compost, often sold in bags or bales. It is made of a large, absorbent organism that grows in dense masses in bogs, also known as “peatlands.” Used most often as a soil amendment, peat moss and garden soil usually serve as a two-man show, complimenting one another. 

Why Use Peat Moss?

Although different from potting soil, peat moss is an excellent soil additive for potting soils and seed starting mixes. It efficiently manages your soil pH, keeps plants hydrated, and releases moisture to your plants’ roots in a gradually controlled manner. It also aids in retaining nutrients within your soil so that they don’t get washed out when you water it! This magic moss is rather fascinating, isn’t it? 

Peat Moss in Raised Garden Beds 

When mixed into the soil of your raised garden beds, your peat moss will promote optimal drainage and help retain water so that your plant roots can stay well-hydrated longer between waterings. If your soil is extra packed within your raised beds, mixing in some peat moss with your hands will also help to loosen it, which your vegetables’ delicate roots will greatly appreciate. You can also add peat moss to the soil of your flower beds before the growing season begins. During the transition from winter to spring, till your flower beds and mix it in generously until it contains around 30 percent peat and 70 percent garden soil. With just a few shovel-fulls of peat moss, you can save yourself many waterings throughout the growing season!

Ted-Lare-Design-&-Build--The-Many-Benefits-and-Uses-of-Peat-Moss-in-Iowa-hydrangea-and-blueberries

Which Plants Will Benefit the Most?

Many plants are well-adapted to growing in peat moss, from classic leafy houseplants like pothos to decadent flowering shrubs like hydrangeas. Epiphytic plants, like moth orchids, are happiest when grown in light, soilless mediums like peat moss. Moreover, since peat moss is acidic, it works wonders when applied to acid-loving edible plants, like blueberries, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. 

Is Peat Moss Bad For The Environment?

It wouldn’t be very green-thumb of us not to acknowledge the environmental effects that peat moss can have on the planet, which is why we’ve also outlined some alternative options that are more eco-friendly and work just as well. Peatlands are delicate habitats that consume a lot of the world’s excessive carbon emissions, and peat moss harvesting disrupts these natural systems. This is why some gardeners opt for other compost options, like pine needles, composted manure, and other organic materials. If you prefer not to use peat, try adding coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, evergreen needles, and citrus peels to the soil in the areas you want to acidify.

Ted-Lare-Design-&-Build--The-Many-Benefits-and-Uses-of-Peat-Moss-in-iowa- black gold peat moss product

Peat Moss Application 

When using peat moss, mix it into the soil rather than applying it on top. It is not recommended to top dress with peat since it will blow around and stiffen after rainfall. If peat moss is well-integrated with your soil or potting mixture, it will improve nutrient access in your Des Moines garden like no other!

From retaining nutrients within your soil to balancing out pH levels, peat moss truly is the magic ingredient inside your soil. For more information on how to mix peat moss into your garden routine, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build in Des Moines, Iowa, today

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The Many Colors of Coneflowers

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa- multi colors of echinacea

After years of cultivation, there are so many new unique colors and forms of these gorgeous flowers, ranging from shades of pink, orange, red, white, and yellow! These showy perennials are heat tolerant and drought resistant, easy to grow, have long bloom times, make beautiful cut flowers, and attract birds and other pollinators to your garden. Coneflowers are the ultimate statement of simple beauty and elegance with a wild-flower aesthetic that will make your garden feel like a cottage. 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-white echinacea copy

How to Care for Coneflowers 

Although they tolerate almost anything you throw at them, coneflowers prefer full sun and well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. You can add compost or aged manure to the soil after loosening it to a depth of 12–15 inches. 

You will want to plant your coneflower in an area where they receive enough sunlight for the soil not to be wet. To keep your coneflowers blooming to their fullest, you should deadhead them after the flowers fade. Cut back stems to a leaf near a bud in the late season to prevent self-seeding and bird-feeding.

Winter Care

There are several USDA hardiness zones (3-9) where purple coneflowers thrive, but if you live in a cold winter like Iowa, you may want to give them a little winter protection in their first years. That said, once they are established, coneflowers are rugged and hardy! 

Varieties of Coneflowers 

There is always a perfect coneflower shade for your garden, whether you’re looking for a bold, vibrant perennial or a simple-toned flower to tie your garden together! 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-bravado chinacea

Pow Wow Wildberry

This variety features beautiful blooms similar to daisies, except more fun because they have a funky pinkish-purple color! The plant is shrub-like and bushy, making them perfect for filling up extra space and adding volume to your garden. It’s a classic purple coneflower with beauty that never fails to impress.

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-hot papaya echinacea

Double Scoop Mandarin

This variety offers a bright and vibrant red color to your landscape with orange undertones and coppery-bronze eyes. As ‘Double Scoop Mandarin’ blossoms age, the cones develop a ruffle of petals along the edges, slowly emerging across the entire cone. Eventually, you will have a beautiful pom-pom-looking perennial to turn up the party in your garden! It’s a great variety to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-double decker echinacea

Double Scoop Bubblegum

This variety is the two-for-one deal of coneflowers. ‘Double Scoop Bubblegum’ coneflowers produce large magenta-pink daisies with a smaller flower on top of each dark brown central cone; literally, one flower sitting on top of another. You plant one flower and get two blooms! Does it get better than that?

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-green envy echinacea

Green Twister

In addition to their thick green petals that curl upwards, ‘Green Twister’ coneflower petals develop a pink flush along their length as time passes. A gorgeous bi-colored effect appears as though mother nature decorated the petals herself with her paintbrush! This cultivar is perfect for pairing with other purple-pink flowers, as it will echo the color in a subtle way.

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-sunrise echinacea

Kismet Yellow

‘Kismet Yellow’ coneflowers shine bright as the morning sun in your flower bed and will bloom from early summer until the frost! Pastel yellow petals and green-to-copper central cones—these coneflowers make you happy just looking at them. They are great for naturalizing and supporting pollinators in your garden too. We promise, everyone who visits your garden, people and pollinators alike, will love these.

With colors and shapes for every occasion, coneflowers really are the gift that never stops giving to your garden. They’re easy to take care of, beautiful to look at, and will attract pollinators to your garden. We promise it’s a win-win situation! Visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Des Moines, Iowa, for help selecting the best coneflowers for your landscape

 

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The Best Landscape Border Materials for the Long Haul

stone mulched garden ted lare design & build

When you plan your landscaping, you are planning for the long term. You want everything, especially border edging, to last as long as possible—no matter what Mother Nature throws at it. Since landscaping is often one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your property, it can feel like you’ve wasted money if products break down, decay, or start to look dingy after just a few years. 

There’s a wide variety of products you can use for border edging. Here are the pros and cons of a few of the most common edging options available, and what we recommend for the longest-lasting hardscapes in Iowa

Plastic Edging

Plastic edging is a very affordable option, and it comes in a variety of colors and styles. However, plastic edging is a true case of “you get what you pay for.” Plastic edging degrades very quickly when exposed to the elements. Sun fades its color and weakens the material while snow and freezing temperatures make it even more brittle. Then it starts to crack, break, and look bad in just a few seasons. The plastic edging looks cheap, and it only gets worse with time. While plastic edging may seem like a great deal, you’ll be replacing it pretty frequently, and cleaning up all the bits and pieces from your yard can be difficult. We don’t recommend plastic edging to anyone. 

Spade Edging

A clean-cut line of spade edging looks fantastic. It’s minimalist, it’s definitely the most affordable option, and it allows strong landscaping to stand on its own without distraction. However, it is a high-maintenance approach. To keep it looking nice, it needs to be cleaned up at least once per year, and perhaps a second time depending on how crisp you want to keep the edge.  

Metal Edging

Metal edging products are very utilitarian and leave very clean lines. With that said, they’re not particularly attractive or creative, and they don’t bend well. These products are most useful in straight lines for commercial applications and utility areas of your home.

Natural Stone Border

One of the best and longest-lasting options is a natural stone border. Natural stone has a classic, timeless look, and fits into any landscape beautifully. As edging, natural stone is extremely durable, and weather and sunshine won’t drastically affect the look or texture. If you’re going with stone, avoid soft stone, like Iowa Buff, as it will discolor and degrade very quickly. Choose a dense stone that will stand up well to wear and tear over time. 

Stones that are at least 6″ wide and 2-3″ thick are the best for durability. If you have areas that see regular traffic from lawn equipment, like around pathways and patios, choose larger stones. Natural stone can be cut to custom sizes and installed end-to-end for a tighter or looser fit, depending on the look you’re going for.

Paver Stones

Paver stones are also a top option for landscape borders. These days, there are so many varieties, styles, sizes, and colors available to choose from! They’re also very durable and will last for a very long time. Similar to stone, we recommend larger and thicker pavers—at least 6 inches wide—for high-traffic areas.


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If you need help choosing and installing a landscape border, one of our landscaping pros would be happy to give you their opinion and some pricing for your home.  

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Working with a Landscape Pro- Your Questions Answered

stone walkway Ted lare design and build

When it’s time to consider a new landscaping project, you need to know the basics of how to work with a landscape professional. What is the consultation process? How long will it take? And how much is all of this going to cost? 

Our resident landscape expert Keegan Lare, shares his advice on what to expect when you work with our professional team here at Ted Lare.    

The First Step: The Phone Consultation  

After you call in to start a project, we organize a phone conversation with one of our designers. This typically happens within 24-48 hours of the initial call, depending on what part of the season we’re in. 

During this call, we answer any questions you may have, and we try to get a feel for the projects you’re looking for. If it seems like a solid fit for both sides, then we schedule an on-site consultation at your home or your business if it’s a commercial job. 

 

Next Steps: The On-Site Consultation

We usually meet for up to an hour to check out your residence and discuss our initial thoughts on your project. 

We charge $300 for consultations in the Des Moines Metro area, but this $300 gets credited back to you if we do the work. Depending on the complexity of the job, we may charge additional design fees to account for some of our design time. This will all be discussed on-site and agreed upon before we move forward. You will also receive that amount back in credit if you decide to carry out the project within the first year.

Most importantly, the on-site consultation is a time for you to ask questions, so don’t be shy!  

 

Common Questions during the Consultation 

Here are some of the questions you can expect us to discuss with you when we visit your property for the first time. 

 

What are your goals? 

In general, we like to ask homeowners what their top 3 goals are for their outdoor spaces. These goals help us focus on what is most important to you and allows us to develop a plan that meets your aspirations.

 
How do you live? 

We’ll also ask for general information about your lifestyle. For example, how big are the gatherings you expect to have on your new patio? What does a typical weekend look like for you? Do you love the sun, or prefer to hang out in the shade?

 

What are your tastes? 

Any images that show your taste in materials (patios, walls, etc.) always help us get an idea of what you like. Providing any previous plans for the property also helps us save time creating a base plan from scratch. 

 

What is your budget? 

Discussing a budget range is very helpful so that we know any limitations on the project. We’ll generally give options with different price points, as clients find it beneficial to have a few choices.  

 

Information Gathered for Design 

When at your site, we capture all the data we need to create an initial design. This includes several photos of the yard and home, critical measurements of the space, and information on accessibility, powerlines, and obstacles. 

This process can be quick or rather extensive, depending on the existing conditions of the location. New homes without a lot of previous installations are easy to measure and capture. Older homes with many existing hardscapes and plantings can take longer to document. 

Design Timeline 

We try to respond with design ideas and a preliminary budget within two weeks of the first meeting, but this time frame depends on the complexity of the project. If there are many construction elements to design and price out, it may take longer.  

 

Moving Forward 

After we provide you with an initial design, the decision is in your hands on how to move forward and set a schedule. Often there are different phases of work to choose from, such as tree removal, garden preparation, installation of hardscapes, etc. We are happy to do it all at one time or phase it in over a few years. Usually, it makes sense to do as much construction as possible in one trip to limit the cleanup expenses involved in multiple trips over several years. 

Once the project scope of work is agreed upon, we work to schedule the project in the near future.  If it is a simple planting, it may only be a few weeks before we can complete the work. If the project involves a lot of construction, it might be a few months before we can start a project. Once we start a job, we see it through to completion.  Our install crews are some of the best around and you will love working with them.


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The landscape consultation process is often that simple. For a small fee and in short order, you can have professional designers guide you towards your ideal renovation. If you have any further questions on the landscaping process, or would like to start a project, please don’t hesitate to contact Ted Lare Design & Build. We would love to hear from you!

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Container Garden Inspiration

container garden inspiration

Container Garden Inspiration

The Ted Lare Look

Gardening is constantly evolving, which is a gift to us gardeners that want to change things up and keep up with the latest new idea. Every year the whole gardening process starts again, with planning, planting, nurturing, and finally the beauty of your efforts in full bloom. Every spring we get the choice of which classics we want to hang onto for another year, and what new styles we’re ready to embrace! Although flower beds are nice, containers are where true creativity has the chance to flow.

Containers for Any Home:
Containers can work for anyone from a tiny apartment space with mere square feet on the balcony to rural homesteads with acres of land. They’re the perfect place to experiment without the larger commitment of planting in beds. Best of all, they act like throw pillows for your landscape, accenting here and there to frame the rest of your garden design. As such pivotal pieces in your backyard repertoire, it’s worth taking some time to design what goes into them.

Creating a Container Design:
Setting a great foundation is vital to the success of your container garden, so taking a little time to consider the details before you start is important. While these gardens aren’t as high-maintenance as your traditional garden beds, a bit of thought is what takes your container from “nice” to “stunning.” If you want your designs to be the envy of your neighborhood, start by considering the “3 P’s:”

Prepping – Choose the details wisely, starting with your planter. You’ll want something made with durable material, holes for drainage in the bottom, and the right size to give your plant’s roots the space they need to develop. Once you’ve selected the perfect container for your logistical needs (and aesthetic), use some high-quality sterile potting soil to get started.

Planning – Due to the size of your containers, your plants are going to be growing close together. It might seem odd, but this is part of the appeal! It gives them the unbeatable intensity that makes them look so fantastic as accents in your yard! Growing so close means that you’ll want to match plants with similar needs together so they can share the same sun exposure, fertilizer, and watering. Also, consider the shape of the plants and how they fit together. You might choose a tall, statement-making “thriller” as the centerpiece, something with a mounding habit to be the “filler,” and something trailing that adds even more height to your container as the “spiller.” Arrange them all from tallest to shortest from the middle outwards, so you can see and appreciate all the plants and they all receive the sun they deserve.

Planting – Once your container is prepped and planned, it’s time to re-pot your transplants or plant your seeds and give them enough water to get started. Establish a schedule of watering, fertilizing, and maintaining your gorgeous plants and enjoy your growing season of fabulous growth and your design simply glowing.

If you aren’t sure what to plant, there are tons of different looks you can recreate! A quick Google or Pinterest search is bound to turn up some dazzling looks that you can copy or use as inspiration to start. Or you can take a look at some of the expertly curated recipes we’ve put together on our site. We love building our containers as we shop, choosing one plant that we fall in love with and simply can’t go without, and structuring the rest of our container look around that.

The possibilities with container gardens are endless. Here are some ideas for what you can do with your container that ranges from functional to extravagant:

Vegetable Container Gardens:
Can you imagine picking your entire salad from one tiny container? Vegetables like tomato, celery, onion, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, and peppers can all be grown together! Choose your salad staples and grow them within grazing distance of the kitchen for the freshest produce all summer, like your own private produce aisle in your backyard! Tuck some marigolds into the container for a pretty boost that does some heavy lifting, repelling pests.

Herb Container Gardens:
Herbs are the original container crop, as they’re hardy enough to thrive just about anywhere. Think of your normal spice rotation when you pick your herbs so that you can plant what you use the most of. Your herbs will thrive the more you pull from them for seasoning! Some of our container favorites are cilantro, thyme, mint, basil, rosemary, and oregano. The texture of these leafy plants is delightful to look at and you’ll be treated to a heavy herb perfume every time you walk by.

Flower Container Gardens:
This is the classic aesthetic-driven look for containers and we can see why. With thousands of varieties to choose from in millions of combinations, it’s yours to play with the color, texture, style, and look of a flower container. To keep the options simple, we find that the best containers work with about three species, in three different sizes, in three different but related colors. That way you have quite the array of visual effect without getting overly complicated. Try matching flowers to something you fall in love with at the store, or pick up something in one of the year’s trendiest colors or styles for something that is cutting-edge and trendy.

When your containers are established, the options that they hold for your garden are endless. Feel free to move and relocate to refresh your look, and enjoy a patch of intense blooming and life wherever it’s most convenient for you! Containers are the perfect blending of style, convenience, and personal touch. They’re a staple for any backyard, and their flexibility means that there’s something perfect out there for everyone!

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Top New Annuals 2019

Ted Lare Top New Annuals 2019

Top New Annuals 2019

The Ted Lare Look

Our annual gardens are where the hottest of trends get to shine every year. Many years we have our favorites from seasons past holding over to grace our gardens once again, but the temporary nature of annuals has us excited to try new things each year to capitalize on new trends without any risk!

Our favorite annuals for this year bring the best of color, flair, and enthusiasm to our gardens, and with thrilling plants and flowers like these, how could you not be excited about summer and spending some time in your own yard? Every year it seems like our annuals are bigger, better and more spectacular – and 2019 is no exception. These are our top picks for the most popular and successful annuals this year, ready to be brought home to dazzle your backyard and containers:

begonia top annuals 2019 Ted Lare

Canary Wings Begonia:
Begonias are an essential staple in the American garden, but the Canary Wings Begonia brings a uniquely colorful twist to set it apart from the rest. These shade-lovers are a phenomenal way to bring stylish blooms to those darker parts of your yard that might otherwise go uncelebrated, especially with the Canary Wings variation. With this brilliant new variety, you can enjoy golden-chartreuse foliage decorated with pops of crimson flowers, that will truly brighten your shady spots from spring through summer. Plant alone or with other shade lovers in a garden or container for a design that is not only on-trend this summer, but confidently commands attention in your garden design.

Simply chose a location with shade or morning sun and provide well-draining soil to get your begonia off to a great start. For such a complex flower, the Canary Wing Begonia is actually simple to take care of as long as you put in the initial effort to give it the light and drainage it needs.

sunfinity sunflower top annuals 2019 Ted Lare

Sunfinity Sunflowers:
There’s something traditional and charming about sunflowers that’s hard to improve upon in the garden – except maybe extending their growing and blooming season so that you have the chance to enjoy their cheerful bright yellow flowers for longer. Sunfinity Sunflowers take the winning formula of our favorite sunflowers and give them to us with a newly improved and extended blooming time in our garden! A charming presence in the backyard and an excellent choice to cut and enjoy indoors, these blooms are a simple joy that doesn’t quit.

Instead of a single flower that’s gone too soon on other sunflowers, enjoy over 100 blooms per plant all summer. These flowers have it all and are extremely low maintenance, so you can just plant them and forget about them – although that will be hard to do with their blooms exploding with enthusiasm all season long. Fit for both containers and gardens, there’s always a way to bring these sunny flowers home to cheer up any garden style and design.

vinca top annuals 2019 Ted Lare

“Tattoo” Series Vinca:
This new vinca variation brings the artistry of your garden design to life, with vibrant and intense flowers with stunning petals that look as if they’ve each been hand painted. With new colors, like Black Cherry, Black Coral, and Tangerine, offering top-notch color saturation and style in every bloom, you can take your backyard design from charming to professional with the addition of just one popular Tattoo Vinca variety.

Everything that modern gardens look for, the Tattoo Vinca bring intensity, color, and ease of care to your backyard. Simply pick a location with good sun exposure for the brightest and most vibrant results with a healthy plant that is ready to keep working to impress all season.

superbells top annuals 2019 Ted Lare

Superbells Doublette:
The Love Swept Doublette series brings a hint of romance to your yard with cascading calibrachoa blooms in blushing shades of pink with lacy white trim. We’ve come to trust Superbells varieties to bring the best blooms for the longest in our gardens for years now, and we’re very excited about this popular new color that we can add to our annual repertoire.

Wonderful for containers, these stunning flowers will spill out for a cascading effect of delicate but bountiful blooms that require little to no encouragement and minimal maintenance to absolutely thrive in your backyard. Plant by themselves in a container as they often grow so successfully that they overtake any other container mates. Thankfully, their beautiful pink and white tones on dainty flowers contrasted against emerald foliage is all the statement that you need for a single container – giving you all the lush garden style you want for this year.

salvia top annuals 2019 Ted Lare

Salvia Skyscrapers:
This beautiful bloom offers a uniquely vertical bloom that adds intrigue, contrast, and something strikingly artistic to your garden design this year. Three colors have been introduced in 2019 to offer beautiful blooms in shades of Dark Purple, Pink, and Orange – each prettier than the last and ready to pair with your current backyard style. With flowers towering like a skyscraper far above their foliage you’ll love the unique look and shape of these flowers that draw the eye to them.

Not only stylish, these flowers are also proven to be quite drought and pest resistant, with easy maintenance to make keeping their blooms around a dream. Blooming from late spring all the way through fall, they are practically tailor-made for our Iowa summer season. Try them as a vertical thriller in your containers or as a background element in your landscaping and add intrigue to your garden design this year.

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New annuals are exciting ways to keep your garden up to date on all the newest trends. In addition to following hot styles like color trends (we love the focus on chartreuse and coral that we’re seeing this year), picking up some of the newest and hottest annuals on the market is not only a treat for you with the latest developments in ease of gardening, but a style refresher that makes your garden fashionable and up-to-date.

Canary Wings Begonia Images Via Ballseed

Sunfinity Sunflower Images Via Harris Seeds

“Tattoo” Series Vinca Images Via Harris Seeds

Superbells Doublette Images Via Proven Winners

Salvia Skyscraper Images Via Proven Winners

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Planting in Shade

Planting in Shade

Some of most difficult spots to fill in your garden are those that are shaded – but they don’t have to be. Many of the most popular classics that we love to fill up our yard with are sun-loving blooms, but there are just as many beautiful plants that thrive with a little more protection from the sun’s rays. Whether you’re looking for some fabulous foliage to fill up a sheltered spot beside the house or you’re trying to find a splash of color to plant in a darker area in your yard, there are lots of options to make every part of your yard and garden lush and beautiful.

Although there are just as many options, shade loving plants enjoy different conditions and as a result, play by some different rules than their relatives that love to soak up the rays. Here’s some advice from our plant and landscaping experts on filling your garden’s shaded areas with color.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Ted Lare Tips for Growing in Shade:
Shade-loving plants will have a few different things to keep in mind when growing than plants that prefer to bask in the sun. No matter what type of shade growing plant you choose, keep these things in mind to make your shady spot the best fit for your plants as possible:

Identify Your Shade Type – Each shady location is just as unique as the rest of your yard and home. To pick the best plants, you’ll want to know the conditions of your chosen spot. Types of shade range from deep, to partial, to dappled shade. While the deep shade areas get no direct sunlight at all, less shaded locations could have sun for part of the day or filtered through leaves. There are plenty of options of plants that will thrive in each type, but pairing them up well with the right conditions is the best way to have low-maintenance and beautiful plants.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Soil Type and Quality – Taking note of your soil type before you plant gives you the opportunity to amend the soil quality. Soil ideally has nutrients and structure to support your plants as they develop and grow, giving them the foundation that they need to thrive and grow beautifully. Here are some amendments to consider to modify your soil:

Add organic fertilizer – Adding compost is the perfect way to add nutrients to support the long-term growth of your plant. While you can always use chemical fertilizers after the plant is established to give them a boost, starting with some organic nutrients will give your plant the long-term fuel it needs to continue to thrive. Typically, just adding a inch or two of compost goes a long way, then till the new compost into the soil before planting.

Making Room for Roots – Aerate the soil with a pitchfork before planting to help make the air pockets that your plant will need to grow root systems. A good foundation is important for shade-loving plants especially to find nutrients and water.

Mulch Well – After you plant, use mulch to help lock moisture into the soil. Shade from the sun often means shade from other elements like rain, meaning that keeping water near the roots is vital for shaded plants. Mulching to a thickness of about 3 inches is usually sufficient to protect the roots of your plants.

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Popular Perennial Flowers for the Shade:
There are hundreds of popular perennials to choose for that shady spot in your yard. These are some of our favorite popular choices for the shade that will keep returning to thrive each year:

Hostas – An elegant classic that has graced protected corners of backyards for decades, and for good reason. These plants come in many varieties that boast different shades and shapes, but they all provide gorgeous ground cover in shaded and partially shaded locations. Hosta are still the tried and true plant for dense shady areas.

Christmas Fern – Ferns have a delicate style that catches the eye and captures the imagination. Not only good ground cover, these plants offer some drama and a little bit of texture and height to a shady spot in your garden. Christmas Fern is a quick grower that will easily take up whatever shaded spot you have in mind for it, but isn’t invasive and is easy to control with just a little trimming.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Bleeding Hearts – A beautiful and traditional shade decoration, bleeding hearts have delicate pink flowers that are their namesake, adding a pop of color to shady areas. This classic flower is long-lived, mild-mannered, and will fit in well with other shade loving perennials.

Ligularia Dentata – These attractive annuals have fun lily pad-shaped leaves that can vary in color and provide contrast to other plant foliage.  During the summer, they burst to life with a yellow flower display. Ligularia Dentata are usually vibrant growers, but they can lay down during hot summer days.

Astilbe – Astilbes give great height to flower beds and come in a wide range of shades. For shady spots, we recommend the ‘Maggie Daley’ variety. Maggie Daley shows off stunning feathery magenta blooms during the summer. This variety also has a reputation for good performance.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Shade Loving Shrubs:
Shrubs are great options for filling large empty spaces and adding structure to your overall garden design. These shrubs thrive in shady patches.

Hydrangeas – Hydrangeas often become the crown jewel of any garden, making it clear that plants in the shady parts of your yard can also be in the spotlight. We love how vibrant and how much life a hydrangea shrub can pack into a spot in the shade, and find them the ideal choice for lining the shaded spots along fences or walls. Our favorite varieties for shade include Little Lime, Mystical Flame, Quickfire, and Endless Summer.

Japanese Yew – These evergreen shrubs have great texture and look a little more interesting than other shade-loving foliage plants. The Everlow variety keeps a low-profile and looks fantastic

Rhododendron – Rhododendrons add an elegant shape and gorgeous pink flowers to your shade garden. Our favorite varieties are the Korean rhododendron and PJM rhododendron.

Azaleas – Like rhododendrons, the shape of azalea shrubs look magnificent in shade gardens, with bold blooms in some lovely jewel tones. Try the deep fuschia Orchid Lights variety, the hot pink Northern Lights variety, or vibrant orange Mandarin Lights variety.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Shade Loving Annuals:
Annuals lack the lifespan of perennials, but they pack a lot of enthusiasm, color, and life into the one season that they do have. While some of our favorite annuals love to bask in the sun, there is no shortage of popular options that will thrive with a little less exposure.

Begonias – With shiny foliage and beautiful cheerful flowers available in every shade of the rainbow, there’s a Begonia out there for any landscape style and taste. Most begonias thrive in full or part shade, offering pretty colors to most sheltered corners of your yard.

Lobelia – These plants are dainty and delicate that have delightfully cheerful pastel colors that thrive in partial shade. Offering great ground cover, this is a great way to have some beautiful color over every inch of your yard.

Impatiens – These multi-colored annuals are the gorgeous poster children for shady locations. While they have a “wildflower” look that adds some whimsy to your garden, filling up shady or partially shady spots with beautiful color.

Sweet Alyssum – These dainty white flowers bloom for the whole summer season, offering a unique and intoxicating fragrance, even into the cooler temperatures of fall.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Bulbs in the Shade:
The classic option for those that want stunning flowers but like the “plant it and forget about it” method, there are many bulbs that will thrive in the shade. Many of these flowers create a natural focal point in your garden, despite being in the shade.

Crocus – Crocus are an always-elegant option that offer a classic late spring look. Try them in delightful shades of white, purple, and yellow.

Galanthus – Also known as Snowdrops, these white flowers stand out against their shady home and offer color surprisingly early in the season.

Daffodils – If you’re looking to brighten up the shaded spots in your garden, these flower’s signature yellow flowers add a little splash of sunshine where there is none.

Tulips – For a classic springtime look, there’s nothing that impresses quite like the tulip. Adaptable and able to bloom nearly anywhere from full shade to partial sun, they offer a truly stunning array of colorful options and styles.

The sun-filled spots in your yard and garden don’t have to be the constant spotlight of your landscape and garden design. With so many different varieties of shade-loving plants to choose from, the lighting conditions don’t have to limit your options and design for your outdoor space. With shade loving plants this stunning, there are options for everyone to enjoy that are the right fit for their home, lifestyle, and landscape design.

If you’re looking for more guidance on planting a shade-friendly garden, visit our garden center, just 10 minutes South of West Des Moines.

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Deer-Proofing Your Garden in Iowa

“Eating greens is a special treat, it makes long ears and great big feet.”
– Bambi

Few things in nature are as elegant and interesting as deer, and spotting one can often be quite exciting – except, however, when you spot them grazing on your gorgeous garden. As beautiful as they are, deer can be an incredible nuisance in our yards, as they trample through and chew our precious plants to pieces.

Why Deer Love Our Gardens:

Deer are natural grazers and love eating plants for their thirst-quenching moisture content and nutritional benefits. They particularly love to munch away in the spring with new growth looking tastiest after the long winter.
Particular plants that deer love to snack on include tulips, pansies, dogwood, and roses. They also enjoy english ivy, yew, pine, and hostas, as well as most fruits and vegetables. When many of these tasty treats are packaged nicely together in one area, like in our gardens, it only makes sense that they would keep coming back day after day.

deer watching

Deer-Proofing Your Yard:

To continue enjoying your garden beauties without worrying about deer damage, you’ll need to protect your yard against these plant predators.

Fences and Hedges:

When it comes to keeping animals out of our yards, it can be easy to convince ourselves that a fence will solve all our issues but deer are known for their expert jumping skills. While it’s true that they have been known to jump as high as 7 feet in a single bound, we’ve found from experience that deer are more likely to choose the path of least resistance, so a 6-foot fence will usually be enough.
A less obstructive solution could be to, instead, add a hedge around your yard, as a natural barrier. Boxwood is an excellent choice for a deer-repelling hedge, as it’s not only beautifully bright, but also deer-resistant, as well.

Repellants:

Much like the sprays you can buy to ward off insects, there are repellents that can be purchased to ward off deer, as well.
Scent-targeting repellents use powerful smells to confuse the deer’s sense of smell from detecting the treats they love. Typically they tend to contain quite potent smells, like fermented eggs, garlic, and soap. They may also contain natural scents from their predators.

a tall green headge with garden table and chair

Taste-targeting repellents work to change the flavor of the plants, so they aren’t as appetizing to the deer. They are usually based with spicy peppers or other unsavory flavors, so they are best used on plants you won’t be enjoying on your plate.

These sprays will usually need to be applied 1-2 times per month, depending on rainfall and are best applied early in the season before the deer have had a chance to sample your garden. We also typically recommend rotating repellents occasionally for most effective results.

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Deer-Proof Plants:

While no plants are truly deer-proof, there are plenty of plants that deer tend to avoid due to smell, taste, or even toxicity. With even a couple of these deer resistant plants in your landscape, your yard quickly becomes less appealing to these curious critters.

Deer-Proof Perennials:

  • Black-Eyed Susans – classic daisy flowers with dark eyes.
  • Bleeding Hearts – traditional, heart-shaped flowers.
  • Coreopsis – colorful, daisy-like flowers.
  • Daffodils – terrific trumpet flowers, toxic to deer.
  • Coneflowers – cone-shaped native flowers with prominent eyes.
  • Ferns – a varied family of foliage plants.
  • Irises – beautiful bearded flowers.
  • Lavender – very fragrant flower spikes with namesake color.
  • Mint – excellent edible with strong fragrance to ward off deer.
  • Monarda – pincushion flowers adored by pollinators.
  • Ornamental Grasses – beautiful, but not as appetizing as a lawn.
  • Sage – spikes of fragrant flowers.

Pictured below: Left- Monarda, Top Right- Coreopsis, Bottom Right- Bleeding Hearts

Bright orange crown imperial flowers

Deer-Proof Annuals:

  • Cleomes – spidery flower spikes.
  • Marigolds – pincushion flowers on tall stems.
  • Petunias – pretty trumpet flowers in many colors.
  • Rosemary – delicious, fragrant herb.

While we may enjoy spotting them grazing in a field out in nature, our gardens are the last place we want to find deer. With these tips and tricks for deer-proofing your yard, though, you won’t have to worry about losing another plant to these majestic mammals.

To view our selection of deer-repelling plants and products, or for more information, visit us in store today or check out our informational sheet on deer-proofing here.

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Top 10 Spring Bulbs to Plant in Iowa

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
– Monet

As we enter the final active season in the garden, now is the time to be thinking about the very first plants that pop up in our gardens: spring-blooming bulbs. These first spring flowers always hold a special place in our thoughts, as the first sign of bright and cheerful life peeking through the snow. However, to ensure these plants will be ready for next year’s show, they need to be planted as early as September and October, so the time is now. To get you started, here are our top 10 spring bulbs for fall planting:

Daffodils:

Daffodils have come a long way since the traditional yellow and, though they are a classic, they are still one of our favorites. Double-blooming daffodils, like Rosy Cloud and Wave, provide a new look for an old-fashioned flower, while still maintaining the same deer-resistance as the old varieties that we love in the garden.

Pictured below: Daffodils

yellow daffodils

Snowdrops:

The icy white Snowdrop is the perfect spring bulb for fall planting, adding lively garden brightness to your chilly spring bed. ‘Elwesii’ is a must-have for your fall planting if you like to have early-rising flowers in your garden – and, in this case, early can sometimes mean February, as they pop up just as the snow starts to recede.

Spring Snowflakes:

Also called giant snowdrops, Spring Snowflakes are not new by any means, but they add a delicate touch to your garden in a stunning, critter-resistant package. You’ll love their dainty, dangling petals peeking out of the snow at the first sign of spring.

Pictured below: Alliums

A bunch of purple aliums in a garden

Tulips:

Tulips really speak for themselves, but the Burgundy Tulip provides a new, sleek look with unique and eye-catching color. Also, the petals are arranged in what is called a “lily shape”, making them extra-resistant to wind. Other varieties, like Princess Irene and Affaire, have beautiful multi-coloring on their petals and if deer or rabbits are a problem, there are plenty of deer-resistant tulips to choose from this year, as well!

Alliums:

Also known as ornamental onions, Alliums offer large, round balls of tiny flowers that tower over the garden on long stems. Traditionally purple, they come in many shades, like light Globemaster, dark Gladiator, and blue-hued Caeruleum. Butterflies flock to them, while deer avoid them, and you’ll love how low-maintenance they are.Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

Surprise Lilies:

These little lilies are quite the surprise for a spring garden, appearing as tall stalks of what seems like simple foliage at first, then revealing their beautiful rosy clusters of trumpet flowers later in the season. A favorite of hummingbirds, the Surprise Lily will also quickly become one of your favorite flowers, as well.

Crown Imperial:

The interesting and uniquely-shaped Crown Imperials are a great way to add bright, sunny colors, like yellow and orange, to your garden in an eye-catching way. These beautiful bell flowers gently fall underneath a tuft of leafy foliage on top of tall stalks, certainly making them a stand-out in any spring bed.

Pictured below: Crown Imperial

Bright orange crown imperial flowers

Hyacinths:

For the prettiest plumes of star-shaped flowers, Hyacinths are the choice to make for spring bulbs. You’ll love the violet Blue Jacket and the purple-pink Miss Saigon for vibrant groundcover that livens up the world after a full winter of white. Hyacinths will also fill your yard with a sweet fragrance.   

Grape Hyacinths:

Slightly different than their aforementioned cousins, the spikes of Grape Hyacinths are, instead, decorated with purple bell-shaped flowers, making it appear like a perfect bunch of grapes. They are low-maintenance and lovely, making them an excellent choice for spring.

Pictured below: Grape Hyacinths

A bunch of purple Grape Hyacinths

Crocuses:

Long-loved spring favorites, Crocuses have dazzled in the chill of early spring for many years. Their little cup-shaped flowers perfectly decorate the ground with the floral life we crave all winter, and the new Blue Moon makes them even more dazzling, with deep purple flowers adorned with streaks of white for full-spectrum beauty.

We love our spring gardens and fall is the perfect time to prepare them for the first arrival of spring. These bulbs and more are all ready to join your spring spectacular, so get them in place for your best show yet!

To see our full selection of spring bulbs or to learn more about fall planting, visit us in-store today or sign up for our Blooming Spring Bulbs class on September 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am.