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How to Add Curb Appeal in the Fall

Landscape curbing ideas Ted Lare

Adding curb appeal to your yard in fall can be a challenge. It is a beautiful season for a little while. Unfortunately, once lots of leaves are down and the weather gets cold, things can start to look a bit worn out. 

Don’t leave your landscape looking bare and boring this season! Choose a couple of these ideas to add fall curb appeal, and keep your property looking fresh and well-cared for all through autumn.

Landscape curbing ideas Ted Lare

Tidy Up the Lawn

At this point in the year, lawns can start to look a bit overgrown, and maybe a little worse for the wear. Edging lawn to show those clean lines along pathways, driveways, and flowerbeds make the whole yard look neater. This is also an excellent time to give your lawn some fall TLC, so aerate, overseed, and fertilize to give your lawn a boost and prepare it for next spring. 

Keep the Leaves Cleaned Up

If you’ve got a deciduous tree in your front yard, or even if the neighbors do, you’ve probably got lots of leaves all over the lawn. Raking them up every few days doesn’t take long, and it makes the yard look much better. Leaves are an excellent soil conditioner, so add them to your compost or work them straight into garden and flower beds. If you have a lawnmower with a bagger, you can mow the leaves up. This will help them break down and improve your soil or compost even faster.

Landscape curbing ideas Ted Lare

Freshen Up Flower Beds & Pots

Any annual flowers that you planted earlier in the year are ready to come out. Dig them all out and add some fresh cool-season annuals or colorful fall perennials in their place. There are many great options for fall flowers, including chrysanthemums, ornamental kale, marigolds, pansies, asters, and sedum. 

Add Seasonal Porch Decor

With the leaves gone and fewer flowers, you have an opportunity to showcase some seasonal decor near your front door. Plant up some decorative fall planters with chrysanthemums or ornamental kale. Add pumpkins, sheaves of grain, a fall welcome sign, and embrace some burlap accents. 

If you’re a Halloween fan, you can start building your Halloween decor slowly. Start low-key with pumpkins, and add slightly more spooky items every week or so, capping it off the week of Halloween. 

If you have a porch swing or bench, accessorize it with some pillows or throw blankets in cozy fall colors. Add some warm and welcoming porch lighting to make it comfortable and enticing. 

Landscape curbing ideas Ted Lare

Add Outdoor Lighting

Integrating lighting into your landscaping can bump it up a notch, and it also has several benefits. Outdoor lighting increases curb appeal, makes it easier to navigate in the dark, creates a welcoming atmosphere, and highlights interesting landscape or architectural features. It can also improve neighborhood safety, as crime is less common in well-lit locations. All these bonuses can also have a positive impact on your property value.

Spotlights on feature trees or architectural features extend the beauty and interest of your landscape and home. Pathway lighting draws the eye through a landscape towards your home, and sconces on your house make it look warm and inviting.

Keep in mind color temperature when you are choosing a lighting scheme, though. Mixing cool or blue light and warm or yellow light doesn’t go well. Our landscaping designers can help you develop a lighting scheme that highlights your yard’s best features and provides the look and feel you desire. 

Freshen Up House Features

If you’ve got a mailbox, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint. Stain or paint the deck and railings. Consider updating or replacing your house number with new paint or more modern numbers. Siding may get dusty and start to look dingy by the end of the harvest season, so consider pressure washing the siding and getting the windows cleaned. 

Clean Your Rain Gutters

The last thing you need to worry about is clogged gutters as the weather starts to get colder and rainier. Gutters full of leaves, or that have seedlings growing in them, give an unkempt appearance. Ensure your gutters are cleaned out and flowing freely to prevent dealing with any mishaps when our Iowa weather turns nasty.


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Fall doesn’t mean your yard has to look drab and dingy. A little bit of cleanup and a few minor upgrades can keep your curb appeal fresh and attractive until the snow falls! 

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10 Perennials for Fall Color in Iowa

Ted Lare fall perennials color

With summer fading into the coziest season of the year, some of those colorful summer flowers are fading as well. But, your yard doesn’t have to be boring in the fall. Embrace the sweater weather with warm apple cider and colorful fall perennials. 

These pretty and hardy cool weather bloomers are ramping up just as summer winds down. Grab your favorite scarf, a warm drink, and have a look at some of these colorful fall flowers. Here are 10 of the best perennials for fall color in Iowa.


With their tiny-but-soft needle-like petals, asters add a touch of delicacy and softness to a season that otherwise features rough textures, hard edges, and loud crunching. Asters, available in shades of pink, purple, and blue, from dark to nearly white, which can help temper the dominance of reds, yellows, and oranges that are everywhere in fall. 

Perennials fall color at Ted Lare aster goldenrod


The upright stature and striking yellow flowers of Goldenrod are an excellent addition to any fall perennial garden. Goldenrod provides beneficial nectar to pollinators during the later summer and early fall. Goldenrod is often falsely accused of being a culprit for seasonal allergies but ragweed is the actual culprit that blooms at the same time.


Gentian is another great choice to add lightness and softness with its color and texture to fall perennial gardens. The flowers are deep trumpet shapes with curled edges, in pale blues and whites. The foliage is a lighter green and features finely-textured fern-like leaves. Gentian works well in rock gardens and for edging beds.

Joe Pye Weed 

Joe Pye Weed brings bright jewel-toned pink flowers and fantastic height to a fall perennial garden. Joe Pye Weed can reach up 8 feet tall, and it’s super easy to grow. This resilient perennial is a striking combination with other fall perennials like asters, black-eyed Susans, and ornamental grasses.

Ted Lare perennials fall color

Blanket Flowers

Blanket flowers, aptly named because they create a full dense blanket of flowers in the fall, give a lot of bang for the buck. Their mounds of flowers are not just beautiful in the garden, but they make great cut flowers as well. Blanket flowers are usually in the yellow-orange-red spectrum, from dark to pale shades, and some varieties feature bi-color petals.

Garden or Hardy Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are a classic fall flower, but those globes of jewel-tone mums sold everywhere in the fall are not hardy enough to survive an Iowa winter. Garden mums or hardy mums are just as beautiful, come in a wide variety of colors, and have a more relaxed growing habit. With dedicated pruning and fertilization in spring and summer, you can get them to form a fairly dense dome of flowers. Or, you can let them go, and they’ll still provide profuse blooms, but with a looser growing style with more visible foliage.


Anemones are a beautiful addition to any fall garden. The 2-3” blooms sway in the wind on their wiry stems, earning them the name windflowers. They range in color from white to pink and will flourish a part sun to shady location in the garden.

Stonecrop Sedum

Stonecrop sedums add a fleshy succulent texture to the fall perennial garden. Stonecrop sedums are available in so many different colors, and their leaves can be as beautiful as their colorful flowers. Flower colors run the gamut from pink to red to purple to yellow to green to orange. The colors of the foliage also vary widely, including some variegated versions. Sedums are great for ground covers and the edges of garden beds, varying in height from 6 inches to about 2 feet tall.

Ted Lare fall perennials stonecrop sedum black-eyed susan

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans are a classic fall flower native to North America. With various shades available from deep burgundy red to bright yellow, and every shade in between, they’re a great mid-level fall flowering perennial. Black-Eyed Susans are available in a wide range of heights that can fill in that mid-level height in your perennial garden (between the sedums and the Joe Pye Weed), anywhere from 1-5 feet tall. Black-Eyed Susans are also super resilient and low maintenance since they’re adapted to our climate.


In spite of its name, sneezeweed doesn’t usually cause any sneezing, allergies, or hay fever. Sneezeweed, also called Helenium, produces large flowers up to 2 inches in diameter, with a large center cone that’s popular with the butterflies and other pollinators. There are many varieties of sneezeweed available, all of which display daisy-like petals. Sneezeweed ranges in colors from pale yellow to deep red-orange.


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With these late-blooming beauties, you can extend your garden’s season of color by several months! Add these colorful perennials to your garden now, and enjoy a fall full of colorful flowers next year.

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Moving Your Tropicals Inside for the Winter the Shock-Free Way

Ted Lare Iowa how to care for indoor plants

Earlier in the year, we wrote about how to give your houseplants a dreamy summer vacation by moving them outside for the summer. If you sent your houseplants out for the season, there’s a good chance they’ve put on lots of lush new growth by now, and they loved their summer break. But as the warmer months wind down, you need to start thinking about bringing them back indoors for the winter. 

Like acclimating them to the outside in the spring, you must carefully acclimate your tropical houseplants back to living indoors for the winter. This will take some time, so get started sooner than later.

Ted Lare Iowa how to care for indoor plants

Why Your Plants Need a Transition Period from Outside In

When you think about it, it makes sense to take time moving your plants out in the spring. Protecting them from sunburn and letting them slowly adapt to the different light levels and exposure to the elements is key.

It might seem silly to do this when moving them back in because you’re taking them from a harsher environment to a more protected environment. But it can still be a stressful transition for plants. There’s a difference in light levels from outdoors, a difference in humidity levels, and a difference in air movement. There’s also possibly a significant change in temperatures from what your plants are used to outside.

Some additional risks may come into play as well, like pests, that you need to consider when bringing plants back inside after a nice summer out on the deck.


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How to Transition Your Tropical Plants Back Inside for Winter

Bringing your houseplants back inside doesn’t take quite as long as the move outside in the spring, but you still need to take your time with it. With a bit of extra care, you can safely bring your tropical plants back inside for the winter, and keep all of your houseplants happy and healthy.

1. Acclimate your plants gradually. Once outside temperatures at night are getting close to 50°F in Des Moines, you’ll want to start the acclimation process. Start bringing your plants inside at night, and then putting them back out in the morning. Gradually reducing the length of time they stay outside. It should take 6-10 days to transition back to living full time indoors. If you have a garage and a garden cart, this process can be a lot easier.

2. Check for pests and quarantine your plants. Plants can pick up any number of pests, like slugs, aphids, mites, scale, or even mealybugs when they’re outside for the summer. This is where a garage comes in handy again. Bringing them into the garage at night gives you a chance to inspect the foliage of every plant and its pot (slugs like to hide underneath), for any bugs and tackle any infestations. If you find pests, make sure you quarantine all the plants you’re bringing inside. Pick a room in your house and move all your indoor plants out of it. Then keep all of the plants you’re bringing inside in that room for an additional two weeks after the transition period is finished. This should be enough time to deal with any pest infestations.

Ted Lare Iowa how to care for indoor plants

3. Inspect, prune, and repot if needed. If your tropicals grew like crazy outside during the summer, they might need some pruning or a new pot if they’ve become root-bound. Trim off any dead, damaged, or diseased bits with a clean pair of shears or snips. If your plant has gotten way too big for the house, you can safely prune back up to ⅓ of the total volume of the foliage. If you want to keep it from getting too big, you can also prune back up to ⅓ of the roots. Only go up one pot size if you’re giving your plants a new pot.

4. Adjust your watering schedule. With less exposure to sunshine and wind, your plants probably won’t dry out as fast indoors, so make sure you change how often you are watering. Most plants are heading into a bit of a dormancy period at this time of year as well, so they’ll be using less water and nutrients. If you’ve been fertilizing your houseplants, indoors and out, it’s best you stop around this time of the year. Use a moisture meter or check if the soil feels moist with your finger before watering. 

Last but not least, be prepared for some leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Even with a smooth transition, moving back inside is still a significant change for your plants, so they may drop a few leaves or look unhappy for a while. Don’t worry, in a few weeks; they’ll be fully adjusted and happy to be cozy inside a warm house for the winter!

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Fall Lawn Care for Central Iowa

Fall lawn care landscape tips for Central Iowa at Ted Lare

While we sometimes like to push the thought of heavy snow and cold temperatures out of our mind for as long as possible, it is true: they are on their way to Des Moines. But, before we think ahead too far, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy in our yards. To keep your landscape looking its very best, follow these fall lawn care tips.

Ted Lare Central Iowa fall lawn care landscape tips mowing grass

Give It One Last Cut

In the summer, it’s best practice to leave your grass a little longer, since this can retain moisture, encourage deeper rooting, and shade out weeds. But in the fall, on your last mow of the year, cut the grass so it’s about only two inches high. This will prevent matting and fungal growth during the winter.

Sharpen Your Mower’s Blades

This is the time of year to check the condition of all your tools, including lawnmowers. If you notice that on your last few cuts that the grass tips turn brown shortly after mowing, the grass looks torn instead of cleanly sliced, or your lawn is unevenly cut, then it’s time to resharpen the blades on your mower.

Ted Lare Central Iowa fall lawn care landscape tips remove leaves

Remove the Leaves

After the leaves have fallen from the shade trees in your landscape, rake them up or use a leaf blower to direct them to a certain area, then add the leaves to your garden as mulch. Besides fertilizing the soil, leaves in your garden also protect it and create shelter for overwintering insects.

If the leaves just keep falling and falling and you and your rake can’t keep up, you can go over them with your lawnmower to create a thin layer of organic mulch to leave on the lawn. The layer should be no more than an inch thick, though, because otherwise you could deprive the soil of oxygen.

Aerate and Overseed

Each year, our lawns get compacted by precipitation, foot traffic, and thatch, which is a layer of dead grass that sits just above the soil on your lawn. As the soil becomes compacted, less oxygen circulates through the ground, meaning nutrients and water have a harder time getting to the grass’s roots. You can improve your lawn’s aeration by using tools like plug and spike aerators, which essentially poke holes in the ground to work the soil and reduce compaction.

This is also a great time to target any patchy or damaged areas in your lawn by scattering seed there. Water the areas regularly as the seedlings root. Not only will overseeding fill in the space with lush growth, but it will also prevent weeds from taking over the vacant spots.

Ted Lare Central Iowa fall lawn care landscape tips apply fertilizer

Apply Fertilizer

It might seem obvious to fertilize your lawn in spring since you’re anticipating the greener days to come. But fertilizing in fall is important too. While we won’t see the grass as it’s under a blanket of snow, it still needs to stay alive, and it needs the energy to do so.

When applying fertilizer in fall, don’t apply it too early, like when the grass is still growing. If you do, then the nutrients will be put toward growth rather than storage.

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There’s a lot of beauty in fall, from trees with changing foliage to stunning flowers. Completing fall lawn maintenance will ensure that all eyes stay on the cozy autumn colors in your landscape, plus you’ll be better prepared when spring comes around.

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Can’t-Miss Classes for Fall 2020

Fall classes at Ted Lare

Remember when we could all hang out at the garden center and get creative, create fun crafts, and enjoy each other’s company? We miss that too! We put our classes and workshops on hold for the spring and summer while everyone figured out how to navigate the “new normal,” but we’ve been eager to see you again for more fun workshops. Now we’ve figured out a plan to deliver our classes safely!

Our new system for class and workshop delivery is through a combination of in-person classes and online virtual classes with class kits. We are resuming in-person classes here at the garden center starting September 12th. Classes will be taught in our open air greenhouse and will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.  Masks will be required and each participant will be provided with a freshly sanitized workspace and tools. To maximize social distancing, there will be one participant per table.

We’ll also be offering the same classes virtually with complete class kits that you can purchase and pick up ahead of the class. The kits will contain everything you need to complete the project, from frames and containers to plants and soil, and even paint and paintbrushes. You can pick up your kit at our garden center at least one day before the class, and then join us live at the specified time for instructions and coaching. Best of all, since our classes are being conducted online, more people than ever can participate in each event!

Here are a few of our upcoming workshops. You can register for each class online. Please note that some classes offer choices for the types of plants included; please include your list of choices in the “Special Instructions, Notes, or Comments” box on the checkout page.

herb planter fall classes at Ted Lare

“Grow” Herb Planter Class

In this class, you’ll create a beautiful brushed metal herb planter for your kitchen windowsill or front porch. The planter has the word “Grow” cut out of the front in an elegant script font. We’ll line the planter with sheet moss, so the word “grow” really looks like its growing moss! You can choose four herbs for this project; your options are basil, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, and thyme.

This class is perfect for that mid-century modern design maven, combining the beauty of plants with sleek minimalism of a steel planter.

succulent living wreath kit fall class at Ted Lare

Succulents Living Wreath Kit

If you’ve been wondering how people make those beautiful succulent wreaths that you see on Pinterest, here’s your chance to learn! This class will teach you how to make a unique 11-inch succulent wreath. The kit includes a living wreath form, preserved moss, six 2.5″ succulents, a chopstick, and floral pins.

There is an option to purchase a Deluxe Succulent Wreath kit for this class, which includes ten succulents instead of six. 

This class is perfect for someone who loves living wreaths but doesn’t have the time to make sure they get watered. Succulents are sturdy and will thrive if you forget about watering them for several weeks.

succulent kokedama fall class at Ted Lare

Succulent Kokedama Class

Kokedama is a Japanese art that uses living plants and creative techniques to create a beautiful hanging plant with a different, more natural look than a traditional hanging planter. This style of hanging your plant emphasizes the plant itself, instead of the container. To water a Kokedama, you simply take it down and set it in a bowl of water for a short soak. Once it’s soaked up enough water, you hang it somewhere to drip dry for a while and then return it to its usual home once it has stopped dripping.

You’ll use soil, preserved sheet moss, twine, and two succulents to create two Kokedama balls for your home.

This class is perfect for those who prefer to not plant in plastic, and who like to show off the natural, earthy beauty of their houseplants.

More Upcoming Workshops

For the full schedule of upcoming workshops, see our classes list. Here’s a glimpse at what you can expect:

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We’ve got lots of fun and exciting workshops planned for this fall. Check out our classes list to explore the rest of our schedule, and sign up for your favorite. We can’t wait to have some creative fun with all our Des Moines area buddies this fall!

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6 Fall-Friendly Foliage Plants for Your House

Fall foliage houseplants at Ted Lare

Fall colors are so beautiful, but they don’t have to be limited to just the outdoors. You can add fall color to your home decor with houseplants that have colorful foliage. Houseplants that fall into the autumn color palette allow you to enjoy the ambiance and cozy feelings in the fall for as long as you want, even once fall is over in Iowa.

Here are 6 plants that feature fall colors, from red to gold to orange to black. 

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen is the perfect fall plant, with its variegated leaves. While some varieties have different shades of green, our favorite one features yellow veins on green leaves, with a bright orange-red central stem, and burnt orange on the undersides of leaves. 

This plant is super easy and tough. They’ll do best if their soil is allowed to dry between watering. They’re also surprisingly tolerant of low-light, making the Chinese Evergreen perfect for rooms with only north-facing or very small windows.

Chinese Evergreen Ficus Quercifolia fall foliage at Ted Lare

Ficus Quercifolia

Ficus Quercifolia is a unique variety of fig. This tiny fig has leaves that look like little oak leaves in a deep green. It’s commonly referred to as a creeping fig or string of frogs, but it tends to form more of a mound than long vines. 

The petite size and slow-growing habit of Quercifolia are popular for terrariums and containers. It likes plenty of bright but indirect light and consistent moisture. It needs to be kept fairly damp to stay happy, and it will thrive in a humid environment.

Variegated Camouflage Japanese Aralia

Variegated Camouflage Japanese Aralia gives you another option for those gorgeous oak-shaped leaves, but on a larger scale. The leaves of this aralia are an exquisite blend of pale yellow, lime green, and deep green. 

The deeply lobed leaves can grow to approximately 12” across, and the plant itself can get to 8-10’ tall. This is a shade loving plant, so keep it back from windows that get any direct sun. It likes consistently moist soil, so don’t let it dry out.

Aralia Philodendron fall foliage houseplants Ted Lare

Philodendron Bloody Mary

Philodendron Bloody Mary has very dark maroon leaves that are quite long and narrow. The leaves on young plants may be fairly small, but as the plant gets older, the leaves will get much bigger.  

A classic philodendron, Bloody Mary is easy to care for, likes to dry out between waterings, and prefers indirect light. This is a great choice for a hanging planter.

Raven ZZ

Raven ZZ plant adds a drama, dimension, and contrast to your plant collection. Raven ZZ’s leaves start out a bright chartreuse green and fade to dark black as they mature. This ZZ will anchor your plant collection, and highlight the color contrasts within your urban jungle.

A typical ZZ, Ravens essentially thrive on neglect and are tolerant of pretty much any light conditions. Don’t miss this popular houseplant, they’re a hot commodity and sell out nearly as soon as we get them in.

Raven ZZ Croton fall foliage houseplants Ted Lare


Crotons hit the full spectrum of fall colors, with their variegations of rich green, bright red, deep orange, and golden yellow. The large shiny leaves are one of the most colorful non-blooming houseplants you can get.

Crotons are another easy keeper that thrives in higher light conditions and prefers its soil to dry out a bit between waterings. 

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Bring those rich autumn colors into your home decor with any of these beautifully colored houseplants. Stop by the garden center today to choose your favorites. 


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Top-Notch Shade Trees

Shade trees at Ted Lare

Shade trees are essential not only for the shade they provide but also for the value they bring to both our property and the nature that surrounds it. Have you ever been to a new neighborhood that lacks trees, and something just seems a bit off? Trees make a community feel more organic, creating harmony between natural and human-made spaces. 

Trees also bring the value of your home up and the price of your energy bills down—strategically placing shade trees can change the temperature around your house, lowering energy demands. Plus, trees provide plenty of shelter and food for birds and other wildlife.

How to Choose Shade Trees For Your Yard

Now that you know the benefits of trees in your landscape, it’s time to choose which ones are the best fit for your yard! Here at our Garden Center, our team can help you make the correct choice.

Some people don’t have much space to work within their yards, especially in new housing developments. While this does limit your choices to a degree, there are still plenty of trees to choose from. But just because you have a smaller space doesn’t mean you should look for only shorter trees. Many people don’t consider that trees that are too short can look strange in proportion to the home and yard.

To understand why, picture a crab apple tree in front of a one-story home. When the tree is fully grown, you will mainly see a large low-branched tree blocking the entire view of the house—probably not the look you’re going for. Instead, consider choosing a tree that grows at least twice as tall as the house. This way, the branches can be pruned to create a beautiful canopy of branches over your home.

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Best Shade Trees to Plant Near Your House

It’s also important to consider tree diversity when choosing which ones to plant. If everyone planted the same tree species, there’s a risk that a single disease could spread and devastate every tree in the area, similar to what has happened with American elm trees that have been overtaken by Dutch Elm Disease. Plus, including plant diversity in your yard will provide food and shelter for various birds, animals, and insects.

So, look around to see what your neighbors have and try going with something different! Below you will find five top-notch shade trees to consider planting in your Central Iowa landscape.

Sweet Gum Tulip Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple shade trees at Ted Lare

Worplesdon Sweet Gum is a large tree that reaches about 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It has star-shaped green foliage that turns yellow and orange then red in fall. While it resembles a maple tree, this is an entirely different species. 

Tulip Tree has an upright shape, growing up to 100 feet tall and 80 feet wide. The leaves have an unusual shape, resembling the webbed foot of a duck. The tree’s foliage turns a lovely shade of golden yellow in fall. The Tulip Tree is named after its May and June-blooming flowers, which resemble tulips.

Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple reaches 45 feet tall and 30 feet wide. When young, it has an upright habit and later becomes quite rounded. This tree has large leaves that provide excellent cooling shade. As its name suggests, this tree has striking fiery orange foliage in fall.

White Pine is an excellent choice for someone wanting an evergreen tree. This fast-growing pine, which can reach over 100 feet tall and about 50 feet wide, has a pyramidal form and attractive blue-green needles. This tree looks beautiful in all seasons, especially winter when its branches catch the snow. 

White spruce and heritage oak shade trees at Ted Lare

Heritage Oak has smaller leaves than traditional oaks. A vigorous grower, this tree can reach 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. It is resistant to mildew and has a broad pyramidal form. In fall, this tree’s foliage turns yellow.

With the milder temperatures, fall is a great time to plant new trees in your yard. Stop by the garden center to get started on creating shade in your landscape!

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5 Tips for Planting Your New Trees & Shrubs

Newly planted shrubs and trees at Ted Lare

The severe storm that struck central Iowa August 10th has greatly affected our area’s urban tree canopy with many significant tree losses in some areas. We are here to help you select a new tree for your yard, and you don’t need to wait until spring. Fall is an excellent time to plant new trees and shrubs. It gives them a bit of extra time to develop some good roots during fairly mild weather conditions, and then they have all of next spring to establish themselves before facing the hot and dry weather of next summer. 

Here are 5 tips for planting new trees and shrubs in your Des Moines yard.

Tips for new trees and shrubs at Ted Lare

1. Prepare the hole for your new tree or shrub.

The hole for your new tree only needs to be as wide as needed to fit the roots in easily, any wider is not necessary. Important! The depth needed for the new tree is the most crucial thing to consider. To determine how deep it needs to be planted you must locate the largest sized root growing from the tree trunk. Normally it is at least a pencil size in diameter on a typical container tree, ignore roots that are smaller than this. This is called the root flare. Once the root flare is located, level off the top of the root ball so the soil line is the same level and the tree should be planted at that depth. Often times, as much as 3” to 6” of soil needs to be removed from the top of the rootball before planting.

You can check that the height is ok by setting your tree in the hole and laying a shovel across the hole. If the root ball is lower than the shovel handle, add a little more soil under the tree to raise it up a bit. It’s better for the top of the root ball to be a little bit higher that the surrounding soil, than for it to be lower. Soil that’s been dug up for planting will settle in a few weeks, so the tree will end up level with the rest of the ground.

2. Inspect and loosen the roots. 

Another very important area to consider is that when buying trees grown in a container there’s a good chance it’s a bit rootbound and these should be loosened before planting. When you remove it from the pot, you’ll want to have a good look at the roots all the way around. Check for any soft or mushy rotting spots, and cut those out. After you’ve removed any rotting root material, it’s a good idea to loosen the roots around the sides of the root ball and tease some of them out. This will encourage new root growth to go out and down from the root ball, so the tree will develop a stronger root system as quickly as possible.

3. Fill the hole and water well.

Once your tree or shrub is in the hole, start backfilling around the roots while someone holds it straight. Continue to backfill until soil is completely filled making sure the root flare is still showing once complete. Once planted water your new tree in very well so air pocks can be filled, we like to water after mulch is placed so the soil doesn’t wash away as easily.

Mulch around shrubs and trees at Ted Lare

4. Add mulch and stakes.

Now that your tree or shrub is securely in its new home, you’ll want to add a good layer of mulch. A 2-3 inch deep layer of mulch is really beneficial for your new tree or shrub, it helps to retain soil moisture, it regulates soil temperature, and it insulates the root ball. Extreme temperature fluctuations are stressful for newly planted trees. Especially in the spring, when there are periods of freeze and thaw, it can cause quite a bit of damage to the roots of a tree. Mulch is a blanket of insulation to help protect the tree from damage. 

Do not make a volcano of mulch around the base of your tree trunk or shrub because again, the root flare should be showing when planting and mulching is complete. Instead make a donut pattern where the mulch tapers down in thickness until it reaches none around the trunk. Mulch piled up around the trunk will cause the trunk to start rotting as it traps moisture against the bark.

For some trees, especially very tall ones, you’ll need to make sure you stake them to keep them stable and straight. The size of your tree will determine how many stakes you need and how far away they should be. Our landscaping experts can tell you how best to stake your trees when you buy them. Stakes should be left on long enough to allow the tree to root in then taken off since the natural movement of the trunk is helps it become strong, leaving stakes on for too long such as many years interferes with this process.

Water new shrubs and trees at Ted Lare

5. Water and inspect your new tree regularly.

Soaker hoses and timers are your best bet for watering your trees. A soaker hose laid out in a coil around the rootball area of your tree will make sure it gets a deep and even watering. 

It’s important to know what your soil type is. If it’s heavy clay, you’ll have to be careful to make sure your trees don’t get too much water. If it’s sandy and free draining, you may need to water more frequently than you expect. 

A general rule of thumb for watering new trees is:

  • Days 1-14: water daily or every other day if the weather is very hot or windy.
  • Days 15-30: water twice per week
  • Day 30+ start to ease back to watering once per week, and then back to bi-weekly. Water bi-weekly until the ground freezes. 
  • Maintain this bi-weekly watering schedule for the first full yearl your tree or shrub is well established. 

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When you are ready to plant a tree stop by our huge outdoor shopping and see all the different options available for trees and shrubs that are great for our climate. Our tree experts can help you select choices that will suit your landscaping style and the needs of your yard, offer tips and advice, or planting services if you’d rather have it done for you. 

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The Most Beautiful Foliage Plants for the Home

Foliage plants for the home Ted Lare

There aren’t very many houseplants that produce flowers on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean your collection of houseplants is limited to a forest of monotone green tear-drop shaped leaves. There is a wide variety of houseplants out there with beautiful foliage, featuring unique coloring, exciting shapes, peculiar textures, and a vast range of sizes. 

Don’t let your house jungle be boring—add depth and dimension with some of these stunning houseplants.

Dracaena, Nerve Plant, and Calathea for the home from Ted Lare

Florida Beauty Dracaena leaves are dark green with white dots, like a paint splatter across them. The leaves of this dracaena are less spikey than other dracaenas. Prefers bright indirect light.

Nerve Plant is a smaller evergreen ground cover type plant that features high contrast veins on each dark green leaf, either in bright red, bright white, or pink. It loves humidity and needs indirect light. Nerve plants do well in terrariums. 

White Fusion Calathea has large leaves that are elegantly variegated with dark green, white, and light green. This Calathea makes a dramatic and sophisticated statement. Prefers bright indirect light.

Sansevieria Zeylanica is a sword-leaf snake plant with gorgeous white striations on dark green leaves. Snake plants are amazingly low light tolerant, and add an element of structure to a room.

Australian Tree Fern features classic lush fern-like fronds, but it’s not a groundcover fern. This fern can grow up to 15 feet tall, and the fronds can be up to 10 feet long. In classic fern style, they like lots of moisture, so don’t let them dry out. 

Peperomia, ZZ Plant, Philodendron for the home from Ted Lare

Peperomia Ginny has large waxy leaves. Each leaf of this pretty pep has a different pattern of creamy white and bright green, accented with pink edges. Peperomia prefers bright filtered light.

ZZ Raven adds a touch of shadow and dramatic contrast to your houseplant jungle. The leaves emerge a bright chartreuse green, and then mature to darkest purple, almost black. ZZ plants are happy in low-light or bright light and prefer dry soil.

Birkin Philodendron is refined and elegant, featuring perfect white pinstripes on its large and lush green leaves. This slow grower will hang out in your favorite pot for a long time. It prefers indirect light and dry soil.

Pitcher Plants feature lush green leaves, and then they also have more sinister leaves that have adapted into long narrow pitchers. Pitcher plants are carnivorous, so they’ll eat any bugs that fall into their pitchers. The tube pitchers do need to have water in them to avoid drying out.

Begonias, African Mask, and Chinese Evergreen plants for the home from Ted Lare

Strawberry Begonias are a unique Begonia that has a trailing habit, similar to spider plants. Their leaves are dark green featuring pale green veins and bright red stems and have a rounded shape with scalloped edges. Begonia’s like to be evenly moist and prefer indirect light.

African Mask has arrowhead-shaped leaves that can get quite large. The leaves are shiny and very dark green, with contrasting white veins. African mask is more of a medium-high maintenance houseplant. We wrote a whole blog about caring for African Masks, in case you fall in love with their exotic style.

Chinese Evergreen has large leaves that feature attractive striations. We have two different types of Chinese evergreen: green and white, and green and orangey-yellow. They are an excellent low-light and easy-care option. 

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False Aralia has quite a bit of personality, with its dark green-almost black leaves. The narrow leaves have sawtooth edges and are quite long, giving it a bit of a gothic style. False Aralia is easy to care for, and tolerant of low or bright light.

Triostar Stromanthe adds color and elegance to your houseplant collection. Its beautiful leaves are patterned with green and white on top and gorgeous, deep pink on the undersides and stems. Sometimes the pink shows up in the white sections on top as well. They like medium-bright light and evenly moist soil.

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5 Tips for Getting Your Planters Ready for Fall

fall annual containers

It’s time to give your flower planters a bit of sprucing up for the glorious fall season. With a few touches, you can embrace the rich jewel tones and cozy feelings of fall and harvest season, and get several more weeks of beauty from your porch pots or planters.

Here are 5 tips to get your planter pots looking beautiful just in time for fall in Des Moines.

Coleus for fall landscape at Ted Lare

1. Out with the Old, In with the New

Many flowers in planters are starting to look rough and have reached their limits now. Dig them all out, toss them on the compost pile, and replace them with something bold. Think rich colors, like the bright purple or red leaves on coral bells, purple oxalis, purple sweet potato vine, coleus, or ornamental kale. Don’t forget a little greenery, though, with plants like creeping jenny or sedums.

Change up the texture, spiky plants with wide leaves like dracaena are tough and beautiful, while short blue fescue adds a hint of cool blue and a softer texture.

2. Add Some Height

Add some tall ornamental grasses to your planters for height and structure. Consider colorful options like New Zealand flax and purple flame maiden grass, purple millet, or ones with interesting seedheads like Ravenna grass or pampas grass.

Pansies in fall container at Ted Lare

3. Replace Old Annuals with Cool-Season Ones

You don’t have to ditch flowers yet completely. There are a few options that prefer the cooler temperatures of fall and will last beautiful for many weeks yet. Pansies are easy to care for and are available in a rainbow of gorgeous colors, and they like cooler temperatures. Chrysanthemums are another fall container classic, usually available in all the best shades of color. Miniature sunflowers are also a wonderful seasonal addition to planters. Million bells, or calibrachoa, will also last well through the fall if planted now.

4. Incorporate Dried Flowers and Colorful Twigs

Dried elements, like strawflowers, bunches of lavender, dried hydrangea seedheads, allium seedheads, and groups of colorful twigs, like red dogwood, add texture, and a visual reminder of the harvest season. Dried Chinese lantern flowers are perfect for a fall theme; they look like a bunch of tiny little pumpkins in a planter.

Pumpkin and fall container at Ted Lare

5. Pop a Pumpkin In and Add a Flourish

What’s a more perfect symbol of fall than pretty pumpkins and gourds everywhere? Add some gourds to your planters for a pop of color and a different texture from the plants. You can’t beat a classic orange pumpkin, but some of the more interesting gourds with unique textures look just as amazing.

Finish off your fall planters with some seasonal flourishes like burlap bows, and maybe a string of warm white twinkle lights to keep your planters look cozy and welcoming even after the sun goes down. 


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Swing by the garden center for some gorgeous fall container inspiration, and pick a few new plants, planters, or decor items for your fall planters.