A GROWING CONCERN: Don’t let your garden be tardy for the party

AS WE APPROACH summer, (Wednesday at 11:49 PDT) our thoughts and plans are turn to events and special gatherings in our yard.

With that said, and myself having been called on numerous times by clients to prepare their yard for a special event, let us go through a list of easily accomplished chores that can whip any yard into a special place for that big event.

The lawn — Americans idolize a super green lawn, yet few of us possess such a thing.

I have often said that agricultural iron is a really green paint as far as your grass is concerned.

Iron, especially when applied in liquid form, has an almost instant effect, turning even yellow lawns green.

Adding iron to a yard is very noticeable (as well as sprayed on any yellowing trees, and shrubs) so give it a try and remember, too, that it can take 2 to 3 weeks to get a brown lawn rehydrated, so keep it moist weeks ahead of the big event.

Deadwood — Almost all woody plants are composed of a certain amount of dead or dying material, and this is found primarily in the center of the plant.

This deadwood gives the plant an overall brownish look and impedes light transmission through the plant. Even the dankest evergreen can be transformed into a light, airy, blowing in the breeze tree by dead-wooding it.

Clean out deadwood from all your plants for fresh, open, airy look.

Spray down — Hedges as well as tight, compact evergreens (think arborvitaes and diadars) get clogged with old leaves and needles.

A trick I employ often is to use a jet or stream spray setting on a nozzle at the end of the hose and blast away all that foliar debris, working slowly from the top to the bottom of the plant.

It is amazing how washing out these types of plants can improve their overall appearance.

Water away — The day before the special event, fully saturate the yard, watering extremely well the bushes, shrubs, trees, flowers, lawn, even the gravel pathways, driveways or mulched areas.

First, a good watering will knock any and all dust down.

Second, watering the day before adequately gets moisture to the plants but also means there will be no mud or puddles around to foul up your guests’ attire and footwear.

Watering your lawn the day before allows for a soft, spongy surface without moisture clinging to everyone’s shoes.

Spot pruning — Walk around the entire yard, under trees, along the sidewalk and around the house.

Your plants are growing very fast now, and errant branches are everywhere.

A snip there and a trim here keeps everything in perfect harmony to the traffic flow of your guests.

I, personally, hold my hand outstretched atop my head and any plant part that touches that hand gets pruned away; hence, no visitors get slapped in the face or have to duck — a real plus.

Edge work — If you want a detailed look, nothing looks better than sharp, crisp lines. So a few days before the gathering, re-establish all your edges. Scrape out curb and driveway lines, edge all berms and planting beds, and trim the tree rounds and walkways.

This gives a noticeable look to the entire property.

Fresh mulch — I usually bring in a few yards of mulch and sprinkle a new thin coating over all mulched areas a few days before the party.

Not only does this cover up any debris, but when combined with the fresh edging, it gives a manicured look to the property, and one always can use more mulch due to its beneficial properties.

Add more flowers — A hanging basket or two here and a potted plant or two there gives a fresh botanical look to the yard.

Any person, regardless of his or her persuasion, loves flowers, so the more the merrier.

Get bouquets for the tables or small potted plants, then give them away as party favors.

Besides, by planting new flowers, you’ll get to enjoy them long after the party is over.

Blow and spray — Finally, after all the above chores are complete, bring out the blower and power washer and get busy. This final act puts the sizzle on the steak, making the whole property squeaky clean.

But again, do this the day before so the water can dry out and not attach itself to your patrons.

Now, party hardy all summer and fall long … and stay well all.


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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