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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Homes are where we let dreams happen. A new home comes with a new start, and a new chance for your surroundings to reflect your family’s style. Home is the place we go back to every day, where we build our futures, and where we feel safest – it makes sense that we’d want to shape them to fit us and our needs.
New homes can also be overwhelming. With so much hope and expectation, it can be tough to know where to start. It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no rush. There’s a lot to be enjoyed about moving into your new home, and you don’t want to rush through the milestones. You don’t need to go from bare dirt to a prize winning garden in one month. Setting goals is important, but so is the process.
Getting Started with New Landscaping:
As you make plans for the construction of your new home, it is important to also think about the outdoor spaces as well. As you select the size and layout of your home, think about how much space is left on the lot and how you want to shape the outdoors of your home. Think about the activities you want enjoy and how your new yard is going to accommodate them. If you like to play sports in the backyard or are entertaining the idea of a pool area, then you want to create or preserve a large level lawn area for these activities.
Here are some general questions you can think about as you plan the build of your new home:
What direction do I want the backyard and frontyard to face? Think about shade and sun, wind direction, and the existing views at different lots you may be looking at.
Do I want the backyard to be shady or sunny?
Will there be enough room on the sides of the home for lawn equipment to access the backyard?
Will we want a privacy fence in the backyard?
Are there views from the home you want to preserve?
Are there other views you want to hide or screen with plantings?
What size of patio or deck do you need? Consider everyday activities with family and other occasions where you might want more space?
What outdoor functional features do you want to include or plan for in the future? (firepit, outdoor kitchen, pool areas, shade structures, additional patio space)
Spend a little time with your family talking about all of your wants and dreams for your new outdoor spaces included with your new home. Then spend a little time prioritizing these different items on your list. Similar to the indoors of your home, you may need to trim some items off the list as budgets are developed for your new landscape construction.
As you get started building your new home, you will want to get a reputable Landscape Designer involved during the building process. Our design team is the perfect resource for any new homeowner looking to get started. We’ll help you navigate the planning, design, and execution stages to guide you towards your dream yard. If you are looking for a truly unique design, try to get a designer involved early in the building process as you are budgeting for all of your expenses. We can help with generating ideas for your outdoor spaces and shaping your own ideas into conceptual designs for construction.
Steps to Landscaping your New Home:
It can be overwhelming to landscape your entire home. Here are the steps we recommend to prioritize your new home landscaping.
Budget for Sod and Irrigation
Assess how much you want to spend on the new landscaping for your home.
Pick a Landscape Designer to work with and obtain Estimates for Hardscapes (pool, patios, retaining walls, paths, etc.), Tree Plantings, and Planting Beds.
Review estimates for proposed work to see what fits your budget.
Revise hardscape and planting designs to fit your initial install budget.
Continue to refine the design and material choices as construction approaches
We recommend trying to get as much of the heavy construction installed upfront, such as patios and retaining walls, during the initial home construction. These items are much easier and less costly to install before your lot is sodded.
Tree plantings are also nice to get started early as well, as they will take a while to grow into large shade trees. Other than that, the front planting will most likely be required by your development. Hardscapes, Front landscaping, and Tree plantings are the areas to focus on first. Other items are easy to take care of down the road.
Preparing for New Plantings & Sod:
A vibrant and beautiful garden is impossible without good soil, and setting a good foundation is a great investment in making your gardening and yard maintenance easier for years to come. With a new home you’ve got a great opportunity to set this foundation – without any landscaping in place you can address your soil before you get started with anything else.
Some developers try to cut corners by leaving you with very little black soil, scraping it off and leaving a frustrating and unworkable amount for you by the time you move in. As you sign contracts with your home builder, ask questions about black soil depths in the lot and what is expected after the final build. The deeper the black soil the better, as you will have to water your lawn less and any new plants will thrive in black soil, compared to compacted clay. Four inches of black soil is the absolute minimum you’ll need for a healthy lawn, but of course more is better and even required for things like gardens and flower beds.
Even if you’re confident you’ve received the promised top soil, it can be a good idea to supplement additional black soil while everything is exposed, especially for areas you plan to plant during construction or later down the road. A full dump truck of black dirt spread across your front foundation will make a big difference to your future plantings installed with your new landscaping. We recommend having 12” of black soil for planting bed areas if possible.
Landscaping Design for your New Home:
The toughest exercise in self-restraint can be planning your hardscaping and waiting until you have a confident idea of what you’d like your yard to look like before you start laying down permanent fixtures.
Our landscape experts are the best source of knowledge to help set your plans and designs in stone. We can help you through the entire process, from preliminary planning and conceptual design all the way through final construction. All of our designers have years of experience and the creative vision to help you build the new home of your dreams. Our detailed plans will let us help you do it right the first time. By taking the time to do it right, you can make the most of your opportunity to design a perfectly-customized outdoor space. When you are ready to start planning the backyard of your dreams, get in touch with your design team to get started.
“Not a breath of air stirred over the free and open prairie…” – Francis Parkman
Prairies once covered hundreds of miles in the state of Iowa. Today, less than 0.01% of the original prairies remain. Not only are they an integral part of our heritage, they play an incredibly important role in our natural environment. Without them, the Iowa that we know and love wouldn’t be the same, so restoration is key to protecting the land that we call home.
The Importance of Prairies:
Prairies are beneficial for many, many reasons, both visually and environmentally. They provide beauty in all seasons, with changing colors and textures throughout the year for aesthetic appeal, while also providing a natural habitat for nesting birds and wildlife. They also make for an excellent food source for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, while working hard to prevent erosion, as well. Not to mention, they work perfectly for ditch planting and providing a screen in urban environments.
How to Grow a Prairie:
With so many benefits for both you and the environment, growing your own prairie couldn’t be more appealing! Although large expansive sites are optimal for prairie restorations, you can also plant backyard prairies with just a few hundred square feet. Prairies thrive in many soil types, so your only concern should be choosing a site that gets full sun, especially in the afternoon. However, if you have a prairie remnant on or near your site, remember to contact your local county conservation office for advice on how to protect it.
Selecting Your Prairie Seed Mix:
Once you have your site, you will need to select your prairie seed mix. There are mixes available for both wet and dry sites, and you’ll want to select one that is as diverse as possible. Try to pick one with many different species of grasses and flowers for year-round interest and to provide the best pollinator habitat. Typically, they are modeled after historical prairies with about 60% grasses and 40% flowers. To fit with your aesthetic, you can adjust this percentage, but remember to keep at least 20% grasses for a true prairie.
When choosing your prairie seed mix, it’s important to select locally-sourced seeds harvested from Iowa plants that are adapted to our ever-changing climate. Here at Ted Lare Garden Center, our horticultural experts will be happy to help you select the best mix and the correct amount for you and your plot. You can also learn more about selecting and planting seed by visiting the Tallgrass Prairie Center online.
Before you begin planting, you will need to kill off any existing vegetation. You can do so with 1-2 applications of Round-Up from April through October, but remember that spring is easier for killing any weeds than fall. If there are any trees or shrubs, you’ll want to remove those and treat with a herbicide, but if you have steep slopes and erosion problems, you can skip treatment. Once the vegetation is killed, it is best to till the soil and remove old vegetation, if possible.
With the site properly prepared, prairies can be planted in both spring and fall, but late fall and early winter are optimal, as many prairie seeds need our cold winters to break dormancy. This late seeding also rules out the need to break up the soil before planting, as freezing and thawing will naturally work the seeds into the soil.
To ensure an even application, spread your seed right after a light snowfall so you can see where the seeds have fallen. While seed injectors and mechanical seed spreaders are great for larger acreages, spreading by hand is both simple and cost-effective. To spread by hand, grab a handful of seeds and walk quickly over the area, slowly moving your fingers to release seed as you go, and repeat until the area is covered. Without snow cover, it will be difficult to tell where seeds land, but continue to cover the area as best you can.
Maintaining Prairie Grass:
Maintaining your prairie during its first year is the most critical, as there will be a seed bank of weeds waiting to sprout that your prairie seeds will have to battle against for light and nutrients. To give them a fighting chance, mowing your prairie grass is key.
Mow your prairie seedlings down 3-4 times over the course of the first summer. Don’t fret, it won’t hurt your new seedlings, but it will actually force them to put more of their energy toward producing roots, giving you a stronger plant overall. Weeds, however, do not tolerate mowing well and will eventually stop sprouting, allowing your prairie seeds to overtake the spaces the weeds were occupying. After the first year, mowing will typically only need to be done first thing in the spring.
By about year 4, your prairie will be ready for a prescribed burn. If your area does not allow prescribed burning, you can instead use a rake to remove dead foliage after your typical spring mowing to keep thatch levels from smothering the plants. If your prairie is large, simply mowing in the spring will be enough to keep it looking good.
The only other maintenance that may be required is periodic weed control. It is important to keep an eye out for aggressive weeds, such as Canadian Thistle, which can spread quickly. Herbicides may be necessary, especially during prairie establishment.
While it may not look like much in its first year, keep it up, and your hard work will pay off. Typically it takes about 3 years to see your prairie start to thrive, so do not panic during those first two years. Watch as your native prairie plants burst into bloom, getting more beautiful with each passing year. With prairie establishment, you’re not only beautifying your backyard, but you’re also bringing our natural Iowa landscape back to life so we can continue to enjoy our rich heritage for years to come!
“You can’t get too much winter in the winter” – Robert Frost
Winter in Iowa can be a bittersweet time for most of us – while we won’t say no to a delicious cup of hot chocolate or the frozen, but stunning, winter aesthetic, it’s hard to say goodbye to our gardens and spending warm evenings outside. Once we start to feel that chill in the air, we know that our plants are getting ready for the season change. However, this doesn’t mean saying goodbye to all our plants quite yet. Bringing a few of your tropical plants inside for the winter is the perfect way to save them for next year, while allowing you to hold onto a slice of summer heaven all year.
How to Overwinter Your Tropicals:
The obvious answer to overwintering your delicate tropicals – who are much happier in a heated oasis than in our snowy Iowa prairies – is to simply bring them inside for the winter, and there are even a few different ways to do so. This makes it easy to find a method that is tailor-fit for your favorite plants, as well as your home and indoor lifestyle.
Overwinter as a Houseplant:
For tropicals of most shapes and sizes, bringing them indoors as a winter houseplant is a popular method to protect them. Plants like crotons, palms and philodendron will reap the benefits of your cozy indoor lifestyle, without the chilly winter weather, but you will also get to enjoy its beauty all year!
Simply repot your plant from your garden, shaking all the garden soil from the roots before moving to an indoor pot. For the best results while potted over the winter, always use fresh soil from a bag, not from your garden – this will also help to manage any pests from outside. Place your new temporary houseplant near a window to give them the sunshine they crave and water them as needed throughout the season – keeping in mind that they may need a drink more frequently in a pot than they would in your garden.
Start Fresh With Plant Cuttings:
Some of our bigger plants are simply too large to manage indoors, like hibiscus and mandevillas, but that doesn’t have to prevent us from saving them in some way. Rather than struggling with a large mother plant, trim off a few healthy growths to repot and start growing them over the winter.
Take your cutting, remove the lower leaves, dip the stem in rooting hormone and plant them in new potting soil. With the warmth of your home and a little humidity (consider misting them to really encourage successful growth), you should see your cuttings taking root and thriving over the winter season.
Let Your Plant Go Dormant:
Allowing your plants to go dormant and hibernate through the winter will let you save your favorite tropicals without all the fuss of nurturing them in your house all winter. Whether it be a canna, begonia, or banana, leave your plant outside in the cooler weather this fall for a little longer, to let it know that it is time to hibernate – though, never past freezing. Once your plant has been chilled – but not killed with frost or snow (keep and eye on the forecast) – repot it in fresh soil and place somewhere cool and dark for the season. Although your plant is hibernating, it will still need some water, so don’t forget to check the soil for dryness periodically. Once the winter passes and the weather warms, you’ll have a gorgeous tropical plant that is ready to shine in your garden again after its beauty sleep.Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.
Potential Pest Issues:
Before you bring your plants indoors make sure to look them over good for any pests that might be trying to hitch a ride indoors for the winter. Common pests often include mealybugs and spider mites and you’ll want to remove or treat them before bringing them inside where they can spread to other plants.
Mealybugs are fuzzy, white bugs that grow in the branches or crevices of plants. Check the undersides of leaves for a fine webbing or mottled tiny leaf spots – signs of a pest problem – and remove any you see with a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Spider mites can be treated by spraying your plant with organic insecticidal soap, which can also be used to treat a wide host of other potential pest problems on tropical plants, such as aphids and whiteflies.
Pictured below from left to right: Mealybugs, and spider mite damage.
Moving your plants from one climate to another normally causes a little bit of stress. To have healthier and more attractive plants through these transition periods, you can help them through their adjustment period from outdoors to indoors and back. Successful transitions start with happy plants. Try to get your tropicals as much sunshine as you can before you move them, and aim to keep their conditions similar to what they will experience in your home. Once you’ve moved your plant inside, keep them in as much sunshine as you can, and even consider using a sun lamp to help out, if you need additional light. Stressed plants show their dissatisfaction by wilting, browning, or dropping their leaves – making the adjustment easier is an investment in a healthy plant that looks great all year.
Once winter is over and the weather has warmed up again, it’s time to reintroduce your tropicals to your garden. For the best results, take your time to do this over a few weeks. Your plants will be spoiled with the consistency of your home climate and will need time to get used to the variability of our Iowa weather. If possible, shift them into a seasonal area, like a sunroom, or begin by taking them outside for only a few hours each day, leaving them for longer each time. Once they’ve had the chance to get used to outside temperatures and conditions, they’ll be happy left outside in the garden for the rest of the season, allowing you to enjoy them and the rest of your yard when the weather is mild.
We associate winter with freezing temperatures and the end of our garden, but it doesn’t have to be the end for all your plants. With the right overwintering, you can keep your tropicals to enjoy year after year beside all your favorite hardy garden perennials. All you need is a little know-how and extra care for your garden to continue to flourish every year, enhancing your outdoor experience with each new season, and saving a touch of greenery to get you through the frozen winter.
“Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it.” – Diane von Furstenberg
The Fiddle-Leaf Fig has become the hallmark of classic style and grace in the contemporary home. It’s become the newest, designer “it” plant, and it isn’t hard to see why everyone is so in love. This fig brings an elegant atmosphere to whatever room it’s in, all while maintaining a cool and tropical undertone with its luscious, deep green leaves. They take center-stage in any well-lit room, but can also transform your patio into a luxury oasis in spring and summer.
Getting the Fiddle-Leaf Look:
Like any fashion icon worth their salt, these plants might need a little nurturing to look their best, but your efforts will be well-rewarded. With any sunny room, though, you’re already on your way to bringing home the designer beauty of a fiddle leaf fig.
Enough of the right kind of light is the key to keeping a fiddle-leaf looking fabulous. These elegant beauties aren’t meant for sprucing up the basement – they thrive best in a bright room with some South or West exposure. The trick is that, while your fig loves light, its luxurious leaves are quite sensitive to burning and will scorch under direct sunbeams.
If your fig isn’t getting enough light, it will certainly let you know, though without much warning, by dropping leaves. While many fig owners panic at the idea of their beloved plants suddenly balding, it’s just their way of telling you that they need more light to keep looking their best.
Once your fig is comfortable in their spot, try not to move it. While redecorating is always tempting, these plants prefer to keep things consistent once they find a location they like. The one exception to this rule is rotating your plant if it’s getting all its light from one side. Gently turn your fig every few months if it starts reaching across the room towards the light.
The amount that you water your fig very much depends on how much light it is getting, but no matter what, it never wants to be soggy. Wait to water until the soil is dry to the touch. When you do water, do it thoroughly until the water flows out of the bottom of the container, washing away any salts before they accumulate on the fig’s sensitive roots. Remember to empty the water dish when you’re done so your beautiful plant isn’t sitting in water that could rot its roots.
While figs aren’t big feeders, a little touch of nutrition will help keep them vibrant, lush, and ready to impress. When your fig is growing (spring through fall), it’ll love a pick-me-up with a monthly dose of all-purpose fertilizer. Keep the fertilizer at half strength to give your plant a gentle boost, rather than a kick, of nutrients. In winter, your fig will hibernate and it won’t grow nearly as much, so it won’t need the added fuel for growth.
Growth and Transplanting:
A happy fig will grow quickly if it is given the chance, sometimes reaching eight or nine feet tall, and, eventually, it is bound to outgrow its pot. Your fiddle-leaf will make it pretty obvious when it has outgrown its current home and needs a larger container. When the roots start to wrap around the inner edge of the pot, it’s time to transplant to something larger. The best time to move your fig is in the spring when the growing season has it primed and ready to fill out its new container. Sometimes you can’t wait, though. If the roots start to grow out of the bottom drainage, you’ll need to transplant right away.
Only jump one pot size at a time (aim for growing 2” larger in diameter). If you move more than that, the outer soil could end up water logged and damage your fig’s delicate, fibrous roots.
For a consistent indoor look, consider keeping your fig in a pot with good drainage inside a more decorative container that is a few sizes larger. You’ll get to keep the same aesthetic for multiple container changes, and your fig will get all the healthy drainage it needs, without impeding on your style.
Other Tips for Fiddle-Leaf Figs:
We absolutely adore the fiddle leaf’s luscious, tropical leaves – especially in the midst of our chilly Iowa winters – but they are just as good at catching dust as they are at catching sun rays. A build-up of too much dust is not only unattractive but can prevent your fig from photosynthesizing as it needs. Clean up their leaves every few months with a clean, damp cloth to keep it looking and performing its best.
A pale and spotty fig might not be getting enough light, or could have come down with a pest. Have a careful look at your plant for any obvious problems, or move it to a brighter spot to clear up the blemishes.
We can’t blame everyone for suddenly wanting to take these gorgeous plants home – they are simply irresistible and add that accent of natural color and style to your indoor decor. We certainly understand why they’re so popular right now, and are happy to help you bring your own fiddle-leaf fig home without the hassle! Visit us in-store today to pick one up or to learn more.
“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-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tired from the intense heat of our Iowa summer, our gardens have seen better days, and we eagerly search for that fresh life we were surrounded by in summer. Luckily, you can still have beautiful fall flora even as the weather cools, and these are our top choices for your pots.
These annuals are year-round spectacles of color and spring vibrance. The soft, clover-like flowers burst into bloom against a background of dark, pointed leaves in the spring and last late into the fall. As annuals, they won’t be hardy into the winter, but you can make them weather the frost with a thick layer of mulch and plenty of sun. Our favorites are the bright and simple Mimosa Yellow, and the complex and stunning Endurio Blue Yellow with Purple Wing.
Pictured below: Chrysanthemums
This cool-weather-loving plant has lots to offer to your backyard aesthetic, with gorgeous, crinkle-leafed green and lacy tendrils of beautiful color that look fantastic in a pot. As delicious as other varieties may be, the fall kale we love, Red or White Peacock, is purely ornamental and is best observed with the eyes, rather than our mouths.
The ultimate fall annuals, mums – or chrysanthemums – are delightful, daisy-like flowers that are packed with colorful petals with beautiful ferny leaves that look amazing even after the blooms are spent. Though they are labeled as hardy, their breeding over the years has primed them for performance over weather tolerance. They are wonderfully easy-to-care-for, only needing sun and water to keep their blooms bright all season. Try our top choices, the Karelli Bronze and the Petit Orange for a beautiful fall spectacular.
Pictured below: Kale and Ornamental Peppers
While they are technically peppers that can be eaten, ornamental is the best way to describe these powerfully spicy and brightly colored vegetables. These peppers pack a punch of color – anywhere from yellow to black – to punctuate your fall garden, and only need rich soil, occasional watering, and full sun to dazzle in your pots.
Also known as a Firecracker Plant, Crossandras are the perfect plant to pot outside all year and bring inside when the mercury drops below freezing. They provide a luxurious, tropical aesthetic of orange-red flower spikes that will transform your space into an oasis that will have you forgetting about the weather outside. Better suited for the humidity of the jungle, these plants will need plenty of sun and water to keep them performing their best.
Celosias, or Cockscombs, are pretty plumes of brightly-colored flowers that bring summer colors to your fall landscape. Not only will you appreciate their unbelievable beauty, but you’ll also love the increased presence of butterflies in your yard when they are around. They are drought-tolerant and prefer full sun to keep them looking their best. For a full spectrum of stunning color, try Fresh Look Red, Kelos Orange, and purple Intenz.
A beautiful, compact tree with a delicious citrus fragrance that follows it wherever it goes, the Lemon Cypress is a cool-weather-loving lovely that looks stunning in larger pots. It may prefer the cool weather, but our colder Iowa winters are a little colder than it prefers, so bringing it inside will keep their yellow-green needles happier and healthier. Make sure it still receives plenty of sun, though.
These fabulous Variegated Crotons are full of interesting and bright foliage with plenty of personality to add to your pots. The large, glossy leaves burst with colorful variegations throughout the year. Plant them with rich, well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade and enjoy the spectacular show this low-maintenance plant provides. Bring them inside before the temperatures dip below freezing and enjoy them as a houseplant this winter.
Ornamental Grasses are the ultimate low-maintenance landscape addition to add texture to your life. As natives to Iowa, they are also phenomenally low-maintenance. We love the Purple Fountain Grass for its stunning color and texture.
Pictured below: Celosias
Zinnias are another daisy-like flower with a terrific trailing quality that looks perfect in patio pots. They come in many vibrant colors, including the cheerful orange Magellan Orange, and are drought-tolerant enough to handle a little neglect.
When the leaves change and the air changes to that crisp, cool air the world comes alive with color and excitement. As lively as it may seem, though, the world is slowly falling into hibernation, and our gardens are a perfect example of this. With these stunning fall selections, though, you can still enjoy that burst of fresh life from summer right until winter comes.
To learn more about plants for potting in fall or to browse our selection, visit the garden center today!
Some gardeners are intimidated by the idea of planting a tree in their yard. While it can seem like a big project, planting trees is actually quite simple, and a great investment in a living legacy that will continue to grow in your yard and with your family for years to come. Trees are the ultimate statement-maker in outdoor decor, providing a number of benefits to your yard and home, while providing a dramatic, stately look that will endure the seasons and years.
The best time to consider adding a new tree are the temperate seasons of spring and fall. With autumn fast approaching, we’re getting close to tree-planting season, making this the ideal time to start planning for your new addition. Back-to-school season is full of new beginnings, why not start your property with a gorgeous upgrade, too?
Trees can manage in our mid-summer heat waves, but they truly thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. Planting when it’s cool gives your tree all the low-stress weather it needs to get established before the mercury drops further.
Planting isn’t complicated, but approaching it with the right steps is a sure way to succeed. If you’re nervous about taking the project on yourself, though, our landscaping teams are always happy to help make your property dreams come true. For the do-it-yourself crowd, follow these simple steps to get your yard looking perfect with the ultimate classy upgrade.
1. Getting your yard ready:
You’ll want to plant your tree as soon as you get it home, so preparing your planting area beforehand saves time and will have your tree looking its best sooner. If you can’t plant right away, you’ll want to make sure the tree is shaded and that the root ball stays moist until you do plant.
2. Pick the perfect location:
Choosing a spot for your tree is a compromise between your tree’s needs and your aesthetic vision. Match your location to the needs of your tree so it will get the moisture and light it craves – and make sure you plan for your tree to grow over the years, too.
Your house relies on an amazing foundation to stand the test of time and your tree does, too. Start your tree right with a good hole and you’ll be sure to have a healthy and vibrant addition to your home. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball, making sure that you’re planting in good soil. If by chance the hole is dug out deeper than the root ball, make sure to add more dirt to the correct level and tamp or pack down the dirt. This will ensure the tree does not sink past the existing soil level. If your dirt isn’t up to the standard, add some black earth, compost, and peat moss to help it get established. If your yard doesn’t have ample soil on top of a largely useless layer of clay or rock, just dig the hole for your tree wider to give it the space it craves to perform its best.
Once you’ve planted, water generously to help the roots get established as quick as possible. Water near the edge of the root ball and be sure to pack the dirt down as you water. This will help to remove any air pockets that are near the root ball. A sufficient amount of water should saturate the dirt and begin to puddle near the surface
A layer of mulch – a simple wood mulch, like cedar – is an absolutely crucial step. Not only does it look polished and professional, but the mulch will help to regulate temperature at the roots for your tree, providing shelter in the cold months of winter, and shading from the hottest days of the summer. Take care not to let the mulch directly touch the tree’s trunk, though. Leave a space between the two to prevent any rotting.
Planting a tree is simple and doesn’t have to be a chore. Choosing a tree to be your home and family’s companion for years to come is an investment in your future that will grow with you. It’s the ultimate classy addition to your home’s aesthetic and will weather everything to come with your family – promotions, new schools, graduations, new pets, new family members – all with a lush and green flair of style.
If you would like more detailed instructions or have any questions, make sure to contact our experts at Ted Lare Garden Center and we’d be happy to help with any concerns!
For such large statement-makers, evergreens certainly get forgotten a lot. These reliable and foolproof additions to your yard bring more than just aesthetic to the table. While it is easy to just plant them and forget them, let’s take some time to get to know these beautiful plants:
Evergreens suffer from the curse of being so good at their job that they scarcely get noticed. For many of us, they are simply just “there” in our gardens, and don’t get many kudos beyond their ornamental purpose. Not only does an evergreen add year-round style and color in an easy and foolproof way, but they could be one of the most beneficial additions you could make to your yard and home.
We love to enjoy our outdoor space at home, but most of us prefer to do so with a little bit of privacy. Using plants as a natural barrier and screen can make your home and yard more comfortable to enjoy while adding to your backyard aesthetic, instead of distracting from it. Deciduous trees are delightful in the summer to provide a lush screen for your home but with our long Iowa winters leaving them bare for months on end, they just don’t do the job. Cold weather shouldn’t make you feel like you need to live life with the blinds closed. Evergreens provide beautifully lush coverage every day of the year. With so many species available, you can choose a natural screen that is as large or small as you need – either as a bold statement plant, or a modest and small-footprint privacy screen.
It’s common knowledge that bigger canopy trees, like Elms and Willows, help to shade and cool our homes in the summer when the sun is harshest. But in our sometimes frigid winters, we find ourselves begging for some extra warmth. The truth is that the winter wind pulls heat from our house and makes our furnaces work on overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature. Our gas bills are higher and houses are left less cozy.
Evergreens provide all the same summer-shade benefits that we crave on the hottest days of the year, but they also do an amazing job of protecting our homes in the winter when the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves to hibernate. This makes them a great choice to block the prevailing winds we know so well in Iowa. Plant close enough to your home to be effective, but still far enough (15-20 feet away) that the roots have room to grow.
In Midwestern states that take a temperature dive in the winter, it’s smartest to plant evergreens on the North side of your home. A towering, lush tree on the South could block the sun from naturally warming your house, while a northern placement will them block the majority of the coldest winds. A deciduous on the South will let the sun in when the temperatures are coldest but will provide shade in the summer.
We’re realizing that dousing our yards in chemicals can not only make our yard problems worse in the long run, but they also pose a hazard that prevents us from enjoying all our outdoor space. Natural yards that have healthy predator populations will keep the pests in check for you and, like anything that we want to keep around, our helpful predators need some protection, too.
Evergreens help to sustain populations of birds and other creatures that help to maintain a balanced yard ecosystem. Animals use their consistently green branches to find shelter in the winter and protect themselves from bigger predators, all while making a home close to your garden to keep pests in check. By keeping your tree growing close to the ground, you’ll be maximizing its benefit as a shelter to the best predators for a healthy yard – while also hiding the patch of grass under the tree that notoriously struggles to grow.
Trees are the earth’s lungs, and they work hard to strip the air of pollutants, replacing carbon dioxide with oxygen. In the summer, our deciduous trees help to guard our yards from the pollutants and smog that might creep into our homes, but their abilities are limited in the winter when air pollution is at its worst.
While barren deciduous branches don’t do much for air quality, the needles on your evergreen do. They aren’t perfect at removing all pollutants, but they are able to help you and your home all year while your deciduous trees are sleeping. And while they won’t remove all the pollution, their fresh pine scent will certainly help your home feel a little fresher. There’s a reason so many household cleaners smell like pine!
Evergreens are so reliable that we often forget about them and neglect to give them credit where it is due. While we often consider them as the background plants, they are often the unsung heros. They offer tons of benefits to you, your family, your home, and even your bank account. With so many benefits, we’re lucky that they are also such a stunning addition to any home. Not just a pretty face, beautiful evergreens are ready to work to make your home and yard easier to enjoy.
Ted Lare Design Build specializes in Des Moines Landscaping Design and Installation.
We cover a wide range of Central Iowa. We have installed landscapes for many years in all areas of the Des Moines metro, including West Des Moines, Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, Indianola, and Norwalk.