Blooming Garden Designs

Specializing in Natural and Sustainable Landscapes

Early Spring Chores to Do Now

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spring garden choresThe last couple of days have been fantastic!! Finely we are seeing signs of spring.  Listed below are a few chores you can start now to have a better looking summer garden.


  • It’s time to get out your pruners and start trimming.  For tips on Sharpening your pruners check out this video from Fine Gardening
  • Examine shrubs for winter injury. Prune all dead and weakened wood.
  • Do not prune boxwoods before April 15.
  • Evergreen and deciduous hedges may be sheared. Prune the top narrower than the base so sunlight will reach the lower limbs.
  • Prune spring flowering ornamental after they finish blooming.

Roses and Perennials

  • Winter munches should be removed from roses and perennials.
  • Complete rose pruning promptly. Remove only dead wood from climbers at this time. Cultivate lightly, working in some compost or other organic matter. Fertilize established roses once new growth is 2 inches long. Use a balanced formulation. Begin spraying to control black spot disease.


  • Groundcovers can be mowed to remove winter burn and tidy plants up. Raise mowers to their highest settings. Fertilize and water to encourage rapid regrowth.
  • Start mowing cool season grasses at recommended heights. For complete details, refer to University of Missouri  Extension Guide #6705, Cool Season Grasses.
  • For more information about planting a new lawn check out University of Illinois Extension: Lawn Talk
  • Apply crabgrass preventers before April 15. Do not apply to areas that will be seeded.


Get ready now, warm weather is sure to follow.

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Pruning Tips


Learning how to prune properly is important to the appearance of your plants. Incorrect pruning techniques make shrubs and trees look unnatural and actually creates more maintenance.

  • Shrubs maintain a full, natural shape on their own. Practice selective pruning vs. the hedge clipper method.
  • Prune flowering shrubs after they bloom.
  • Trees may need minimal pruning as they age. Remove dead or dying branches, sucker growth and criss crossing branches. Other than this, leave them alone.

When in doubt, call Blooming Gardens. We will correctly prune your shrubs for you.

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Have Spring Fever? Start by Cutting Back Grasses

Now is a good time to start light spring garden clean-up.

Pennisetum villosumOne of the quickest and easiest chores is cutting back the winter grasses.   Unfortunately, the more full and beautiful an ornamental grass is, the messier it is when cut down. To lessen the mess of long grass blades spilling throughout your garden, use this quick and easy technique for cutting back ornamental grasses.

Wrap paper or vinyl tape  around the circumference of the grass. Any wide tape will do, as long as it’s sticky enough to keep a hold on the grass blades. A strong masking tape is preferable if you plan to compost the grass.

Depending on the width and height of the ornamental grass, you may need to wrap tape in 2-3 positions along the height of the grass and possibly divide the grass blades into 2-3 bundles.Image

Now that your ornamental grasses are neatly bundled, it’s much easier to take your pruning shears and prune the grass back at ground level. Because the tape is holding the grass blades in place, you can lean the ornamental grass bundle away from the base as you cut, to make cutting easier.

If your ornamental grass is well established, you may prefer to use a power hedge trimmer to do the job. Either way, pre-bundling the grass will make it an easier job than grabbing handfuls of grass blades and hand pruning.

spring grasses after clean-upIf the base of the grass is very compacted or you notice that grass is not growing in the middle of the clump, now is a good time to burn the grass.  With a rake pull back all dried materials, using a lighter, light the dry clump of grass.  Make sure the fire or sparks don’t jump.   Grass needs fire to live—so do this every 3-4 years for healthy grass. 

Now all you are left with is a neat and tidy ornamental grass bundle. There will undoubtedly be a few renegade blades to clean up, but nothing like the messy sprawl it could have been.

Picking up the ornamental grass bundles to take to the compost pile is an easy enough task, but removing the tape can be a major hassle. That’s why I would recommend using a good quality paper masking tape, rather than a vinyl tape. The masking tape may tear more easily, so you will need more of it to hold the ornamental grass bundle together, but you can then toss the whole bundle into the compost and not worry about the tape remaining there forever. Of course, you can always sieve out the vinyl tape, so don’t waste your patience trying to remove it before composting.

More information can be found at:




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What type of gardener are you?


Rose plants are considered high maintenance plants because they need regular dead-heading to stay looking good throughout the season.

Don’t plant another plant until you read this…

Every landscape garden needs maintenance to keep plants looking healthy and the landscaping looking its best.

When designing or planning landscapes consider your time and ability to maintain the garden, make sure your plans and your plant selection match your maintenance type.

Which type are you?  Do you like:

  • High maintenance gardening – You are a highly dedicated gardener and/ or  plantaholic.  You love to work in the yard as much as possible; or,
  • Low maintenance gardening – You enjoy being outdoors and doing a bit of puttering, but don’t want to make a day of it; or,
  • No maintenance gardening – You hire professionals, want it to look great, but prefer not to do it yourself; .

Hiring a landscape consultant  can help you match your garden preferences with  plant selection.  Contact Blooming Garden Designs by Cindy for a free consultation.

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4 Common DIY Landscape Mistakes

STOP–Don’t plant another plant until you read this. OK so it is January in CENTRAL ILLINOIS and no one is planting now, but seriously when the weather warms up and garden shops stock beautiful plants– consider the maintenance needed before buying plants.

Boring plant selection and high maintenance to boot.

Boring plant selection and high maintenance to boot.

Are you a Do-It-Yourself landscaper?  Why do you, DIY?

Because I can…Because I should….Because I like the satisfaction….Because I can save money…. 

If you have the time and skills and plan on researching your project, you can indeed save money and have great satisfaction out of completing a DIY project.

But for some homeowners, they lack the time, vision or design skills to produce a cohesive landscape.  Do you fit into one of these categories?

  • Do you plant the same plants as your neighbors?  When plants need to be replaced do you plant the same type?  Many homeowners pick boring plants because they want to play it safe or they don’t have the interest to learn about other options.
  • Do you have overgrown trees and shrubs?  Do you spend a lot of time trimming to keep the plants looking good ? Many DIY homeowners don’t understand the plant conditions needed to optimize the plants potential.  By planting shrubs without consideration of full size or growing conditions, you will spend a lot of time and money keeping the landscape looking good.
  • Have you planted a plant that needs constant care to look good? Do you have to water at the first sign of hot weather?  Some plants need a lot of care to perform; other plants don’t need much care and give big dividends. Do you know the difference?
  • Does your garden lacks unifying design elements?  You plant plants or place lawn decorations with no consideration of the total landscape scheme.

If you are DIY homeowner, Blooming Garden Designs can help you transform your garden into a beautiful showplace.  Cindy can work with you to create a unified total landscape plan or she can work with you  as a consultant charging an  hourly fee for services.

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Celebrate Indian Summer this Week!!!

Late last week, we had a reminder of winter quickly approaching. With temperatures returning to the 70s this week, it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors.

A few things I am doing this week in my garden  include:

1. Continuing to  planting spring flowering- bulbs.  Check out these ideas.

2. Erecting barriers of poultry wire or hardware cloth among young trees and shrubs to protect against rabbit damage.  How to Protect

3. Chopping fallen leaves  with lawnmower.  I put some on top of the  flower beds, vegetable beds or compost pile.  I also spread compost or mulched leaves over a garden bed and dig it in.  The garden will be ready for planting in the spring.

Mild fall temperatures have produced new growth on trees and bushes– DO NOT PRUNE NOW.  Wait until Feb or March. Pruning now will stimulate new growth that may not hardened off before cold temperatures arrives.

Have a great Indian Summer!

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6 Ways to Prepare Your Garden for Fall

Consider planting native plants to your garden. False indigo is native to Illinois and can with stand drought.

6 Gardening To-Dos for September

With the cooler temperatures and a wide selection of fall plants at nursery centers,  this month is a great time to get your garden ready for next spring.    But don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of Autumn in Central Illinois.  Happy Gardening….

  1. Plant new trees, shrubs and perennials.  Consider planting drought tolerant plants….Links include list of drought tolerant plants.  Morton Arboretum native Plant listBirds and Blooms list; Highland Gardens
  2. Plant annuals (ie. Mums, cabbages and kale) for fall color.
  3. Rejuvenate Containers. Tidy up your summer containers, deadhead plants, prune back or remove spent foliage. For inspiration check out Garden Design for idea.
  4. Core aerate and over seed lawn.
  5. Continue to water the garden during dry spells.  Consistent watering in fall helps plants prepare for winter.
  6. Pull weeds before they set seed to prevent even more weeds next spring.

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Garden with Us: What we are doing this week in the gardens…..

Now is the time to rejuvenate your garden for fall enjoyment. 

If it’s brown, we’re removing it!

Once leaves get sun scorched or brown from lack of water, they will not turn green again.  We’ve been dead leafing for several weeks; if you haven’t started, this week would be a great time to start. We use several methods including

  • Individual remove brown leaves using pruning shears
  • Use hedge sheers and cut the entire plant back to new growth. If the plant shows no new growth, we leave 1-2 inches of stems for rejuvenation.

Make sure you water the plants well so they can recover!!

We’re designing!

This past week, we had a  client contact us for help in his garden.  He had removed two large shade trees at the front of his home so a once shady garden has now become a full sun garden.  He  asked us to design a native plant garden to fit into his landscape.  The design will be incorporating the smaller prairie grasses and forbs planted in large drifts.  Stay posted for photos.  

We’re planting

Fall is a great time to establish and plan new gardens. Planting season officially begins in September, but with the cool days, we can start now.We are planting grasses and shrubs in  new landscapes.  Any planting during August should be done with caution.  Keep plants moist and shaded. 

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August Garden To-Do List

August To-Do

Personal gardens often take a bit of rest during the month of August.  It is a busy moth for cutting back “tired” plants that have finished blooming and dead-leafing any scorched subjects.

General Maintenance

  1. Weed
  2. Don’t forget to water. We are still in drought.
  3. Do not apply fertilizers, so as to allow plants to harden better  before winter


  1. Continue to deadhead
  2. Prune plants to keep in desired space.
  3. Cut back finished, “tired” plants to make room for late bloomers
  4. Aster and mums can be cut back by 4-6 in. to delay bloom, though at the expense of floral abundance.
  5. Cut back any insect or disease-plagued foliage. ( Do not put in compost pile and clean pruning equipment with water and vinegar or bleach solution)


  1. Plant with caution.
  2. Design beds and order plants for autumn planting.
  3. Bearded iris. Oriental poppies and peonies can be divided now.


  1. Continue to feed your pile with food scrapes
  2. Be wary of adding leaf scorched plant material, unless you are positive the plants had no disease or fungus problems.
  3. Add water to pile to keep moist.
  4. Turn the pile often.

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Japenesse Beetles–They are back……and they are here to stay!!

Blooming Garden Designs

So what is the best way to control the beetles?  It largely depends on your viewpoint.   One philosophy is to kill the insect to protect the trees, plants and lawns.  There are many commercial products that can help you do this.

Unfortunately, a commercial product can’t distinguish a pest from a beneficial insect.  I will be writing more about this topic in upcoming blogs.  My point is that we have to learn how to live with or manage this insect pest while attempting to minimize its impact on beneficial organisms found in the ecosystem.   So for all of you who want to help save your trees, plants and roses– listed below are a few organic tips to control infestation.

First,  you don’t need to eliminate all beetles to protect your trees, plants or lawn. Ever though the leaves of your plants will look like skeletons many health plants can…

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