Special to The Press
If you are tired of a plain winter landscape, now is the time to check out plants that have a great deal of interesting characteristics that stand out at this time of the year.
Paperbark maple is an ideal specimen tree and is well-suited for use in small yards. It can be grown at the edge of the woods, or possibly planted in small groves.
The paperbark maple, Acer griseum, is native to central China. This lovely small tree has become a favorite ornamental of temperate climate gardeners around the world.
Put out a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) alert for the spotted lanternfly.
No, this is not a TV police drama, but continued vigilance is needed for the invasive spotted lanternfly. It has not been found outside of the six Berks County townships under quarantine (District, Pike, Earl, Hereford, Washington and Rockland) yet. But if it exists outside of that area, everyone wants to know.
The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), an invasive plant-hopper, was discovered in Berks County in 2014. This pest is native to China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and was introduced to Korea.
Perhaps the single most important (and easiest) management tool to control weeds in turf is performing proper mowing practices.
One maintenance practice that most turf has in common is mowing. A common overlooked fact is that mowing plays a large role in the type and amount of weeds present.
You may have heard of the one-third rule, which states to never mow off more than one third of the plant. This is a good rule of thumb to follow, but there is more to keep in mind.
Tree health can be difficult to determine, but checking your tree yearly may help you notice problems as they appear.
Is this year's growth much less than past years' growth? Fast growth does not mean good health, but a dramatic reduction in growth rate may be an indication of poor health.
Here's a tip: Look at the branch tips or tree top. A year's branches will typically be smaller in diameter and a different color.
All recipes are not for the kitchen.
If you're interested in plump, juicy tomatoes this summer, here's a recipe for the garden.
Don't plant tomatoes in the same location year after year.
Plant tomatoes that are disease-resistant. They may be labeled "VFN." If you have space in the garden, plant two or more varieties. This increases your chances of good production.
The calendar does actually indicate winter is officially over.
But, as experience has shown, the weather is very unpredictable. Mother Nature pays no attention to what month it is.
The home landscape this time of year is in need of cheering up. There are better and brighter days ahead even though things look dirty and old. It would be nice to see some color around the yard.
Right now at your local garden center you can have your choice of a host of colors. The greenhouses are full of pansies.
Green roofs, otherwise known as living roofs or eco-roofs, are the wave of the future in sustainable design. The long-term aesthetic and ecological benefits of green roofs far outnumber those of traditional roofs.
Environmentally-sensitive roofing systems allow plants to grow on the surface of what would otherwise be just a protective covering for houses and commercial buildings.
Those houseplants you kept outside all summer may be harboring unwanted guests.
Even though your plants have been inside for the winter for a couple of months, it's still important to check them for insects and other pests. Even one or two insects can be the start of an infestation.
Pests to look for are aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies and scale.
Planting evergreens around a house's foundation is a landscaping no-brainer because they stay green and require little maintenance. However, foundation evergreens should be pruned to keep them looking good and scaled to the size of the house.
Many homeowners plant yews, junipers or arborvitae. After a few years, the plants block window views. The best time to prune evergreens is during the winter dormant season from December to March.
Although any aromatic herb can enhance holiday decorations, several have special biblical links with Christmas.
Many craft shops and florists carry dried herb plants along with the baskets, bowls and other trimmings needed for decorating. You might even have grown one or more these herbs in your own herb garden.
For a special touch this year, try one or more of the following in your holiday wreaths and mantle decorations: