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Spring is finally here but so are the weeds, with regular attention, you can keep them at bay.

What you need to know is that the seeds of weeds already exist all over the ground even if you don’t see them. The seeds can lay dormant for up to a year if undisturbed, so unless you’ve kept a healthy layer of mulch all year round you will likely see them start to pop-up.

The trick to winning this fight is to start now, that means start while they're young, because If you allow perennial weeds enough time to grow then removing the entire root by hand may be impossible. Perennial weeds can be killed by pulling them up while they are young, but mature weeds require repeated pulling to exhaust the roots, and eventually kill the plant.

Now that's all great, but not everyone likes to pull weeds, or has the time to do the work, so what else can be done to fight weeds?

Well no matter what our political beliefs may be, we all know that chemical weed killers are also people killers, and they certainly seem to be adding to the decline in our sea life, but take heart there are other options to keep weeds from taking over our gardens.

The boiling salted water method.

First, bring 2 cups water and 1 cup salt to a boil. Pour this solution directly on young weeds to kill them. This method works great for weeds growing in hard to pull places like between paved surfaces. Another equally effective method is to spread salt directly onto the weeds or unwanted grass, then wet it down with water. Be careful with this method though because salt can erode concrete surfaces and can leave the ground barren for a long time.

The vinegar spot treatment solution.

You can use household white vinegar or better yet use horticultural grade vinegar which can be found in most garden stores. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle fitted with a jet spray nozzle, spray directly onto weeds that have sprouted. Be careful not to spray your whole garden or lawn because vinegar is very acidic, and can lower the pH of your soil, and always use protective gear as vinegar can be an irritant.

The salad method.

I personally love Arugula or Roquette, but did you know that Arugula was once considered a weed? Yes, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that well-respected food critic Craig Claiborne introduced Arugula to the Western culinary mainstream. As long as you are not using any chemicals in your yard, you can go ahead and eat those Dandelions, Docks, and Sorrels, I'm sure you've seen those names all popping up on menus today. Please always use caution and care before you eat anything growing in the wild, I've listed below some great resources to help you get started, and a quick dressing recipe I like to use on my wild greens salad.

https://www.northernbushcraft.com/plants

http://www.eattheweeds.com/foraging

Simple balsamic vinaigrette.

If you have an immersion blender it's the easiest to use, but you can do this recipe in a bowl using a wire whisk.

This recipe makes about 1 cup dressing.

You will need:

½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic finely minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup good quality olive oil (don't use cheap stuff, or your dressing won't taste as good)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, mustard, and garlic to the cup portion of an immersion blender. Pulsate on Medium-high until all ingredients are mixed well. While the mixer is still going, start to slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture at a careful stream. Continue to mix until all ingredients are well incorporated, and the mixture looks like as it has thickened. You can do all these same steps while using a wire whisk, but you might need someone to help you with pouring the oil. At the end of both preparation methods whisk in the salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly drizzle over your favorite salad greens to enjoy!

You can keep the remaining dressing refrigerated in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to two weeks.


If you just really don’t have the time, give us a call we’re seasoned weed fighters.

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I was thinking of winters past and what I could share with our readers this season when I thought about delving into the past. Mulching over winter is always relevant and below you’ll get a little more information as to why. This one's an oldie but goodie from our old friend Joseph. Enjoy!

Many of the trucks belonging to Sawdust Supply, one of Kaleidoscope’s preferred providers of landscape products, have a trendy slogan printed on them: “Bark now, or forever hoe your weeds.”

The slogan mentions bark specifically, but this is just one of many different types of mulch on the market. Some are made from recycled yard trimmings, or composted animal manure. Others come from the bark of trees, or from pieces of branch and trunk wood. Many proprietary mulch products contain a specific blend of these materials.

It’s old news that mulch is good for the garden. At least, it’s old news for those in the horticultural industry and those industrious folks who spend their weekend hours puttering around their gardens. Nearly every type of mulch, if properly applied, keeps weeds down and gives garden beds a uniform, tidy appearance that many associate with a well-kept garden.

What’s not as well-understood are the myriad soil-building benefits of mulch. In addition to keeping the invasive plants away, quality mulch products improve the health of desirable flora.

A wide variety of serious issues plague gardens in the greater Seattle area. Chief among them: compacted soil. Put simply, this means the soil has compressed over time, leaving less room for air and water.

Many factors (foot traffic, construction equipment, etc.) can cause this but the results are similar: compaction limits the ground's ability to hold water, which isn’t good news for the plants trying to use that water to grow. photosynthesis, the process whereby plants absorb sunlight and convert it into energy to fuel their growth, cannot occur without an ample water supply.

But water isn’t the only thing plants need to survive. Just like people, plants need a variety of nutrients and minerals to grow and prosper. Roots uptake these nutrients, along with water, from the soil.

Many of these nutrients are made available to plants through the decomposition of organic matter in the soil. Bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms feed on the organic material, and plant nutrients like Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and many others are produced because of those digestive processes.

As these digestive processes occur year after year, the organic content of the soil diminishes. If it isn’t replenished occasionally, soil organism activity falls off, and plants have fewer nutrients. Fertilizing can help alleviate this to some degree, but It’s no substitute for natural soil processes.

Here’s the good news: laying down a 2"- 6" layer of mulch reduces soil compaction, replenishes reserves of organic material, suppresses weeds, and makes any yard look amazing. That’s a lot of ecological and aesthetic bang for your buck.

Coarse woody mulches, like arborist chips (chopped up pieces of tree branches and logs) are extra effective. Plus, they last longer!

Don’t just take our word for it. A recent study conducted by Bryant C. Scharenbroch and Gary W. Watson for the International Society of Arboriculture found that both compost and arborist chips improved the health of birch and maple trees planted in compacted soil, with arborist chips prompting a slightly better growth response. To view a PDF of the study, follow the link in this blog post. If you’d like to purchase a physical copy of the study to impress your gardener compatriots, follow this link to the ISA website.

After you’ve done the due diligence, contacting Kaleidoscope to mulch your property! One of our expert horticulturalists would be happy to visit your site free of charge, assess the quality of your soil, and discuss which mulch product is most suitable for your unique landscape. 

by Joseph Sutton-Holcomb, Certified Professional Horticulturist

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With the summer solstice upon us, it’s time we discussed lawns. 
You’ve done all the work over the fall and spring to have a healthy green lawn only now you have to decide whether you want to keep it that way or let it go dormant for the season.  With growing concerns over water conservation not to mention the cost involved, many homeowners are opting to let their lawns go during the hot summer months, while others decide to keep them green for outdoor entertaining and the coolness it provides. 

About Summer Lawns. 
Grass starts to grow at a rapid rate in spring then summer comes bringing quite a bit of stress.  Heat, drought, and heavy usage are just some of the issues facing lawns over the summer.   

Once temperatures get into the 80s and above lawns will begin to struggle, with cool-season grasses such as fescue, bluegrass, and rye having the hardest time.  Growth will slow, color may fade, and lawns will show signs of wear and tear as they are less able to recover from heat stress and traffic. Some cool-season lawns will even go dormant in the summer, looking brown and brittle until early fall.

Watering lawns wisely.
Water early in the day or after the sun has set to reduce evaporation and fungal growth. Do not water in the middle of the night.   When you water, water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-tolerant roots.

In order to stay green and lush, lawns need at least 1" of water per week and more when the summer is at its peak.   Use a rain gauge or a straight-sided can to keep track of the amount of water your lawn receives from rainfall or irrigation.

Don't water at all?
Either water the lawn regularly as stated above or don’t water at all.   
Don’t let your lawn go brown and dormant, then try to water it back to life. 
If your lawn goes dormant in summer, it should stay that way until fall where it will bounce back naturally. 

Mowing.
Raise your mower blades in the summertime.   Taller grass is more drought tolerant, grows deeper roots, and helps shade the earth to prevent weed seeds from germinating.   Cool season grasses should be mowed at 3”- 4” during the summer, or as high as your blade will go, while warm-season grasses can be mowed at 2”- 3”.   Keep your mower blades sharp. Make sure your mower is cutting your grass not tearing it. 

Mulching. 
Mulch with the grass clippings, these cut blades of grass will add a supply of nutrients to the soil as well as additional shade to further along the growth of a healthy lawn and will help keep moisture levels steady.  Mow grass regularly to prevent cuttings from getting too tall which can smother the grass.

Stop fertilization for the season.
It’s best to stop fertilizing lawns about 30 days before your area’s summer temperatures arrive.  Applying fertilizer in the heat of summer can burn your lawn and create a flush of tender growth that will struggle in the hot summer heat. You can begin the fertilization cycle again in fall but wait until the rainy season begins. 

Weed control. 
Summer is the season to get growing weeds removed before they bloom and disperse their seeds for the next year.   The safest thing for your lawn and the groundwater is weeding by hand,  if you keep on top of this task you won't have much to deal with later on. You can also try spot lawn treating with a post-emergent herbicide designed to kill broadleaf weeds without harming turfgrass.  These must be applied when temperatures are below 85° F for a few days and should not be applied when it is raining.  Use any product sparingly keeping in mind that during the heat of summer any product can be damaging to already stressed grass. 

Insects and Diseases.
Dormant or drought-stressed lawns can be more susceptible to insect infestations.  Minor infestations often take care of themselves over the course of the season,  but severe problems may require attention, look for an organic non-chemical method to treat the lawn.   Summer heat can also produce fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and brown patch, try applying an organic fungicide as needed and avoid watering in the evenings to keep nighttime moisture at a minimum.

Overseeding lawns.
Seeding is best done before the hot summer months in April, May, or early June.   If you want to give it a try in the summer, cover the seeds with a small amount of soil, water regularly, and skip mowing the area until the grass is at least 4 1/2”- 5” tall. 

 

Basically keeping up a lawn over summer can be time-consuming or not, but either way, I hope we have helped. Have a wonderful summer! 

Kaleidoscope would love to help get your lawn in shape this fall, feel free to contact us to see about joining our lawn program. 

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A. Moomaw

                                                 

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For thousands of years, humankind has taken the loving role as guardian to the furry creature large and small.
Today for some families pets have taken the place of having biological children, and their loss can be as devastating as losing someone close. 

Today we are going to talk about some common backyard plants which are toxic to cats & dog, or our furry children.  
Toxicity levels and symptoms can vary in each plant; many toxic plants are irritants: they can cause inflammation of the skin, mouth, and stomach some causing vomiting, or diarrhea, and even seizures. Other poisonous plants may only affect a particular organ like the kidney, liver, or heart which can lead to lifelong health problems or even death.  

If a plant is poisonous, assume all parts of the plant are poisonous!

Prevention is always the best way to deal with curious critters and doing a fact check before any planting may save you both a world of suffering. 

After all these guys are our best friends and we couldn't imagine a day without them.

"No-nos" for Cats:
Aloe vera
Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.)
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna/Nightshade) 
Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)
Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)
Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
Daffodils (Narcissus)
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Golden chain (Laburnum  Watereri)
Hydrangea
Iris
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
Lilies (Lilium sp.)
Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
Milkweed
Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
Spanish thyme (Coleus Ampoinicus)
Star of Bethlehem
Tulip and Narcissus bulbs (Tulipa and Narcissus sp.)
Yew (Taxus sp.)

"No-nos" for Dogs:
Allium
Aloe vera
American holly (Ilex Opaca)
Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
Angel's trumpet (Brugmansia)
Apple seeds of any kind
Azalea genus (Azaleas and rhododendrons)
Baneberry (Actaea)
Begonia
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna/Nightshade) 
Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
Boxwood (Buxus)
Burning bush (Euonymus alata)
Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
Clematis
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
Daphne
Elephant ears (Colocasia)
English ivy (Hedera helix)
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Golden chain (Laburnum  Watereri)
Hosta
Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis)
Hydrangea
Iris
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Lantana
Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis)
Lilies (Lilium)
Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Monkshood (Aconitum)
Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
Mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Oak trees (Quercus; leaves and acorns poisonous to dogs)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Privet (Ligustrum)
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Snake lily (Amorphophallus konjac)
Tulips (Tulipa)
Wild Mushrooms
Wisteria
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yellow bird of paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)
Yellow dock (Rumex Crispus)
Yew bushes (Taxus)

Consider growing some of these plants up high in a hanging basket. 

If you see your cat or dog eating a plant and you are uncertain if it is poisonous, or if you suspect your buddy ate such a plant within the past 1 to 2 hours, you can do the following before you take them to your veterinarian:

Remove any plant material from the hair and skin.
If it is necessary, you can wash the cat/dog with warm water and a small amount of non-irritating dish soap.
The identity of the plant is crucial for determining treatment. If you don’t know what kind of plant it is and you can bring it with you, do so. Veterinarians don’t receive much training in plant identification, but every effort needs to be made to identify the plant. If your cat has vomited at all, try to collect some it for the doctor.
IMMEDIATE CARE:
Call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680.

 

If you need help in choosing new plantings, please contact us at Kaleidoscope

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Anna M.

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