Blooming Garden Designs

Specializing in Natural and Sustainable Landscapes

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How to Plant a Tree

Earth Day and Arbor Day

How will you support the earth?  One of my favorite ways is to plant trees. give you lots of tips on planting trees.

treeHow to plant a Ball and Burlap tree.

A large, woody plant whose hug root-ball is wrapped in burlap (balled and bur-lapped  or B&B) might seem intimidating to plant, but it’s easier than you may think.  Dig a hoe too times wider than the root-ball only as deep as its height. Next, place the plant in the hole and remove all string, twine, wire, and as much of the burlap as possible.  Then back fill  using the excess soil to form a berm around the outside edge of the planting hole.  Make sure that the plant is not buried deeper than how it was originally growing.  Irrigate the area inside the beam, and allow the water to settle the soil around the root-ball. Provide a 3- to- 4-inch-deep layer of mulch around the root zone but away from the trunk of the tree.

Should I stake a new tree? 

Tree staking, a task that should be done only when absolutely necessary, is usually done wrong.  The goal is not to render the trunk immobile. Quite the opposite is true.  The trunk needs to move to grow properly.  It is the root-ball that needs to remain motionless. One somewhat-flexible stake- attached about two-thirds of the way trunk with some material that won’t wear away the bark- is all you need.  And get rid of it after a year.

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Landscaping Math: Plant Estimating Chart

Formulas for figuring square feet Length x width
Circle – 3.14 x radius squared – (Radius is distance from center of circle to perimeter / or half the distance of the diameter) (Radius squared is radius x 2)
Plant Estimating Chart
Example: if you select 18″ spacing and need to cover 300 square feet, the box where that column and row intersect tells you that you need 133 plants.If you don’t see your exact coverage area listed, either estimate by selecting the closest area listed or use the second chart below (“Plant Calculator”) to precisely calculate how many plants you need.Image

Plant Calculator

Use the plant calculator below to determine how many plants to use per square foot of space to be planted – particularly ground covers, annuals and perennials.

To accurately use chart you must first know how far to properly space the type of plant you are planting. Spacing is usually listed on the plant description.

Example: you want to cover an area of 120 square feet with a spacing of 10″. For 10″ spacing the plants per square foot is 1.45. Multiply 1.45 x 120 and you get 174 plants needed.

(Area in square feet) x (Plants per Square Foot) = Number of plants needed

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What’s in Blooming.



Forsythia hedge on Rt. 9 taken  this morning.  These bushes looks so nice planted in mass and left to grow natural.  The forsythia likes full sun or light shade.  Pruning is the key in keeping it looking nice.  Pruning should be down after blooming.  Check out this site to learn how to prune the forsythia.



Daffodils are one of my favorite old fashioned bulb.  Every home I have lived in I plant lots of these bulbs because they are long-lived and cheer me up in early spring.


I took the photo on the left on Feb 17, 2013 and today this is what it looks like. Unfortunately , the Magnolia tree usually fall victim to late spring frost.  So enjoy the blooms now before the cold spell this weekend.

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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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Gift Wrap from the garden


Simple outdoor greens add a festive mood….and best of all it’s sustainable.

You don’t need to go to the store to buy gift wrap . Go outside and find beautiful decorating ideas in nature.  This link gives many great sustainable ideas for a festive  holiday season

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GIFTS that keep on LIVING- Mushrooms


This year, I am trying to buy or make more gifts from nature.  I love this idea… give  a mushroom garden from BACK TO THE ROOTS. This grow-your-own kit comes with “soil” made of recycled coffee ground (The company is on track to save 1 million pounds of caffeinated refuse from the landfills in 2011), and the packaging box doubles as the vase.  Within 10 days of opening it, you can harvest up to 1.5 pounds of recipe-ready pearl oyster mushrooms.  ($20.