Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips: Starting a new lawn, maintaining existing garden or reviving an existing yard? I like to use natural or organic solutions when possible. Many times items you have around the house can ward off pests and boost plant growth and vitality.

Grass: Approach grass the way you would any other plant. A lawn is made up of as many as 850 grass plants per square foot. Grasses might look more or less the same but different types have different levels of insect and disease resistance: tolerance for drought, shade, foot traffic, and temperature hardiness.
Picking the right mixture for the conditions in your yard is essential. Just as a plant that thrives in dry soil will probably die in the boggy spot, an out of place grass will grow poorly or not at all. Cool-season grasses prefer a temperature range of 60-75 degrees and generally require less water, but summer heat can stress them. Warm-season grasses thrive in high temperatures 80-95 degrees but lose their color when the mercury drops. However, warm-season grasses typically have deep roots and can tolerate close mowing and heavy foot traffic.

ROSES: Roses are heavy feeders and require deep root space, therefore, do better in the ground and not as well in containers. Roses are acid-loving plants. In the winter prune and heap a generous amount of steer manure on the soil around plant base. Moisten soil and manure.

-Before planting roses apply a generous amount of farmyard manure to the soil prior to planting.

-Pruning roses should be done in later winter.

-How to overcome rose sickness. When you replace old roses with new ones an established rose plant produces a toxin to prevent other roses competing with them. For successful new roses, you must change the soil.

-Ward off both ants and aphids from roses. Scatter coffee grounds around your rose bushes. I have experimented with used coffee grounds and nature tea mixed into the moist soil for fertilization.
BULBS: When planting bulbs it is recommended that the depth should be three times the diameter of the bulb. Make sure the bulb is placed right side up in the hole. The roots should be facing down.

Azaleas: This is a beautiful flowering plant that blooms all year around. Grows well in yard or pots. Great for yard edging, hedge edging, in pots or hanging plants. Pest-resistant acid loving plant. When planting mix soil with steer manure. For established plant fertilize with moist soil with steer manure. This flowering plant grows like crazy keep trimmed:

Natural Fertilizers:

  • Smash egg shells and place at flowering plant base. Gently work into the soil. Use on blooming perennials.
  • Cut banana peels and work into the soil of the plant.
  • Used coffee grounds and herbal tea leaves.
  • Acid-loving plants thrive from steer manure in the soil.


  • Full strength vinegar kills weeds and grass growing in sidewalk cracks.


  • Ward off both ants and aphids, scatter coffee grounds around your rosebushes and other flowers.
  • Keep pesky insects away from plants with, combine one bulb of garlic, 1 small onion and 2 Tbs. cayenne pepper in a blender. Mix 1-quart water and then add 2 Tbs. liquid soap and mist your plants.
  • Easy preventive 1 Tbs. liquid detergent and 1 qt water combined. Spray plant with the combination. Spray plants regularly before or shortly after you see pests.


Having a lovely yard is rewarding but takes time. Going green with fertilizers and pest resistant items that may be in your kitchen. Simple items like vinegar, liquid soap, water, coffee grounds and herbal teas leave. Items good for the environment and healthy plants.

GAIL MERCEDES COLE (310) 853-9933