Blooming Garden Designs

Specializing in Natural and Sustainable Landscapes

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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.

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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Grow Your Own Gourmet Vegetables This Year

logoDo you want to learn more about edible gardening?  Are you a foodie?  Do you want organic seeds?   This garden  catalog,  The Cook’s Garden, offers something for everyone.

 The Cook’s Garden  offers  European-inspired selection of seeds and custom grown  vegetables you can grow in your home garden.

The Cook’s Garden now offers custom grown plants that are certified organic to go along with our certified seeds. All  vegetable and herb plants are grown under strict organic guidelines and certified by Pennsylvania Organics. The Cook’s Garden certified organic plants are grown using only all-natural methods.

Make sure you check out the recipe section, also.


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Sun or Shade? Where do I place my new plant?


One of the best places to learn about the requirements for a plant is on the Plant Label.  Plant labels include recommendations for how much light a plant needs

Here are few descriptions.

Full Sun means a least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Roses; lilacs; ninebark; Most vegetables need full sun

Partial Shade means at least 3-6 full hours of dappled/ direct sun per day.  Plants which prefer this may struggle with direct sun.

Summer sweet, viburnum, holly, arborvitae, hostas

Light Shade is less than three hours of dappled sunlight each day.

Celandine poppy, Columbine, Virginia bluebells, Ferns

Heavy Shadehas no sunlight because of tree canopy or buildings block sun.        

Pachysandra; ginger, jack-in-pulpit, Goatsbeard, Woodland Phlox

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May Gardening Tips

Happy May- With the spring showers comes the beauty of the Midwest garden. Whats not to love: various shades of green as the backdrop to the spectacular natives and old-fashioned garden plants.  Want to make your garden shine all year… check out my Gardening Tips. If you are too busy to spend much time in the garden this month…check out the top three maintenance tips.  Guaranteed to help your garden look its best!!


When buying bedding plants, choose compact, bushy plants that have not begun to flower.

If you want to plant perennials (come back every year), plant tag must read:  hardy to  ZONE 5—if it is Zone 6 or higher treat as an annual ( it may not overwinter in Central Illinois).

CAUTION: Watch temperatures– our average last frost date is around Mother’s Day

        Dahlias, Gladiolas, tuberous Begonias, Lilies and Cannas and other summer flowering bulbs can be planted this month. Gladiolas bulbs may be planted at 2-week increments until the first of July to provide you with cut flowers until the first frost.

        Delphiniums, Phlox, Daylilies, Carnations, Aubrietia, Candytuft, Basket of Gold, Primroses, Coral Bells and Saxifraga and other summer flowering perennials may all be set into the garden any time in May.

        Petunias, Geraniums, Fuchsias and Impatiens should be ready to plant by mid-month. Toward the end of the month, it should be warm enough to plant out the more tender annuals like Salvia, Zinnias, Marigolds, Lobelia.

        Mums can be planted for fall color, will need to be pinched back until late July.


        Carrots, lettuce, potatoes, corn, beans, peas and most popular vegetables (with the exception of the warmer weather crops) can be seeded or planted into the vegetable garden at any time now.

        Wait until mid to late May before planting the warmer weather crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumber, pumpkins and peppers.

        With a little luck, you may begin to see the first fruit on your strawberries by late this month. The birds will enjoy them very much if you don’t provide some protective netting over them. Newly planted strawberries should have the blossoms picked off until they become well established.

        Gourds may be planted late in the month



Top 3 Tips

  1. The first flowers you’ll see will be your weeds. Work to eliminate the weeds (roots and all), before they have a chance to go to seed.
  2. It’s still not too late to fertilize your trees and shrubs. Use a ‘Rhododendron’ or an ‘Evergreen’ type of plant food to feed evergreens and acid loving plants like Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas, and Junipers, etc. Use an all-purpose garden fertilizer (10-10-10) to feed roses, deciduous shrubs and trees. Be sure to water the fertilizer in thoroughly after it is applied.
  3. Lightly side dress perennials with an all-purpose 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Avoid spilling the fertilizer on the plant, and use care not to damage the shallow roots when you cultivate it into the soil.

        Remove the wilting seed heads from Rhododendrons and Azaleas, so that the plants energy can go to foliage growth and next year’s flowers, rather than seeds.

        Work lime in the soil around your Hydrangeas to produce pink flowers or Aluminum Sulphate for blue.

        Remove any sucker growths from fruit trees as soon as they appear.

        Keep a vigilante eye on the roses. Keep them sprayed for aphids and other pests and diseases such as black spot.

        Pines and other conifers can be kept to a compact size by pinching off the new growth ‘candles’.

        Setting the stakes next to your taller flowers early in the season, will help to support the plant against winds as well as making it easier to ‘train’.

        Promptly remove spent flowers from any plant unless your intent is to harvest the seeds. It consumes the plants energy to produce the seeds, and in many species of plants (especially annuals), removing the dead flowers will promote further blooms


        With the spring showers comes the beauty of the Midwest garden. Early flowering deciduous shrubs such as Forsythias, Weigela, and Spiraea should be pruned back when they have finished blooming. Cut back a third of the oldest canes to ground level, then cut back one third of the remaining branches by one third of their height.

        Lilacs should be pruned lightly after they finish blooming, removing sucker growths and dead blooms. Feed lilacs in May with a good all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizers after they have finished blooming. If your soil has an acidic pH, work a little lime into the soil as well.

        Break off wilting Tulip or Daffodil heads but continue to feed and care for the plants until the foliage has died back naturally. Old plantings of Daffodils may be divided and moved when they have finished blooming, but treat them as growing plants and use care to protect the foliage and roots. Water them thoroughly after transplanting. It is best not to dig or move other spring flowering bulbs until their foliage has ripened and died back.


        May is a good month to repair your lawn. Fill in the bare spots by slightly loosening surface of the soil and sow a good quality lawn seed over the area evenly. Tamp the seed in gently and water. Keep the patch moist by covering with light mulch of lawn clippings.

        This is the time to eliminate lawn weeds by hand pulling, or the application of a ‘weed and feed’ fertilizer…. before they go to seed!.

        Setting your mower for a higher cut during the spring months will help the grass to grow in fuller and help choke out the weeds.


        Utilize your compost now in amending your soil. Constantly add fresh garden refuse to it. The compost pile should be kept damp. Frequent turning will turn your garden waste into flower food much faster. Recycle Reuse!

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April FUN Do List: Planting, Pruning and Maintaining your Garden

As I write this blog posting today, the wind is blowing and it feels colder than 50 degrees. It reminds me of the old adage, “If you don’t like the weather in Illinois… just wait 5 minutes!”  That’s what I love about central Illinois- the daily or hourly variations in temperature.

Most of you have been outside enjoying the mild late winter– early spring season. These garden tips are meant to be a guideline as we move into late spring/summer.

To extend your bloom times of your perennial garden: study your landscape for gaps that could be nicely filled with bulbs. Mark these spots carefully and make a note to order bulbs next August.


 When buying bedding plants, choose compact, bushy plants that have not begun to flower.
CAUTION: Watch temperatures– our average last frost date is around Mother’s Day
 Shrubs and trees best planted or transplanted in spring, rather than fall, include butterfly bush, dogwood, rose of Sharon, black gum (Nyssa), vitex, red bud, magnolia, tulip poplar, birch, ginkgo, hawthorn and most oaks
 Easter lilies past blooming can be planted outdoors. Set the bulbs 2 to 3 inches deeper than they grew in the pot. Mulch well if frost occurs.
 Begin planting out summer bulbs such as caladiums and gladioli at 2 week intervals.
 Transplant Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) after bloom, but before the foliage disappears.


 Examine shrubs for winter injury. Prune all dead and weakened wood.
 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.
 Continue mowing cool season grasses at recommended heights. For complete details, refer to University Extension Guide for Lawn Care.

 You can start pruning boxwoods after  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 ornamentals after they finish blooming

Enjoy Spring!!!