Container Gardening Succs—But You’ll Love It!

Colorful succulents and driftwood plantingSucculents have been a big trend in the design world for several years now, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. In addition to their stellar visual appeal, they also have a reputation for being hard to kill, and succulent container gardens can survive quite a bit of neglect. After all, most succulent plants (aka plants with thick, fleshy forms that retain water) are from arid climates with infrequent rainfall. Their ability to store water for long stretches of time gets them through periods of drought, which is great if you’re one of those people who can’t remember to water your plants. 

However, growing succulents in containers isn’t as foolproof as you might think, especially in a humid climate like Georgia’s. If you’re one of the folks who have managed to kill these “unkillable” plants, don’t worry—you’re not alone! Check out these pro tips to learn how to plant succulents in containers, and give us a call to order succulents for curbside pickup at Whispering Springs Nursery in Jasper, Georgia

How to Plant Succulents in Containers

Visit Instagram or Pinterest, pick up a home and garden magazine, or turn on the TV, and you’ve likely seen beautiful flower pots, planters, and containers of every variety overflowing with beautiful, healthy succulents. Succulent planters can range from a full-size clawfoot bathtub in a whimsical, country garden, to tiny succulent pot magnets on a city apartment refrigerator. But don’t be fooled; not all containers work well with succulents. 

Pick the right succulent container

What you plant succulents in matters almost as much as how you plant them. Choose a container with good drainage. Succulents do not like for their roots to stay damp, so it’s essential that you either select a container with drainage, drill drainage holes into the container, or if you really must use a container with no holes (say for a table centerpiece), you’ll have to water extremely lightly and carefully to make sure you’re not causing root rot. 

If your planters are outdoors, pay attention to the weather. If it’s supposed to rain and any of your succulent planters are out in the storm, you’ll want to move them under a shelter that will keep them from getting drenched. Too much rain can make the soil waterlogged and will rot your plant from the roots up. If you do notice that your succulent pot is full of water, be sure to tip it off so the planter has a better shot at drying out. 

The medium you plant succulents in matters too, so make sure you’re not using straight potting soil, which tends to get soggy. Instead, you’ll want to amend it with pumice or perlite, which both retain less water.

Give them their space.

While you can probably get away with growing some succulents indoors (aloe is a great starter plant), most of them will fare better outside. But don’t just stick a planter full of succulents into the blazing Georgia sun. They need some shade, so a porch or patio that gets full sun (at least 6 hours of sun every day) will keep them happily sun-drenched without burning them.
Being selective about which succulents you plant together and where can also make a big difference. For instance, succulents that are pale in color, variegated, or solid green have lower sun tolerance, while succulents that are blue, gray, red, or covered in thorns have a better chance of surviving intense sun exposure. 

Low maintenance does not equal no maintenance. 

Just because succulents are some of the more “self-sufficient” plants you can grow in container gardens doesn’t mean that you can completely ignore them. They do need water (just go easy on it) and occasional (as in once a year) fertilizer. Because they’re full of water, you’ll also need to keep succulent planters safe from freezing temperatures, usually by bringing them indoors for the winter. 

If you’re interested in growing succulents in a planter, we’d love to help you design a custom creation! You can even bring us a planter you want to use, and we’ll either plant it for you, or help you select the best plants to fit it. Contact us or give us a call at 770-893-254 to learn more!

Fall Landscaping Checklist: How to Maintain Your North Georgia Landscaping

Colorful fall leaves on green grassWhen it comes to landscaping and lawn maintenance, many homeowners think about planting flowers to add color in the spring, or about keeping the jungle at bay during the summer with more frequent mowing and edging. If fall landscape maintenance is considered at all, it’s probably just raking or blowing leaves. However, fall is actually one of the most important seasons of the whole year when it comes to landscape maintenance! The effort that goes into your lawn and garden during the fall will pay off in the spring, so be sure to check these fall landscaping to-dos off your list… Or give us a call at 770-893-1254 and let us do it for you

Fall Landscaping in North Georgia

De-leaf your lawn.

Just because removing the leaves from your lawn isn’t the only important fall yard maintenance job, doesn’t mean it’s not an important one! Raking or blowing the leaves off your grass is essential. Failure to do so can put your whole lawn at risk because over time, moisture and decay cause the leaves to meld together, essentially suffocating the grass due to lack of airflow. This impermeable layer of leaves can also trap moisture underneath it, creating an ideal environment for a fungal infection to develop. 

Want to put those leaves to good use, rather than bagging them up for yard waste collection? Dried leaves are great for composting, or for shredding and using as mulch. You can also make your own leaf mold. There are leaf shredders you can use to break your leaves down, but you can also mulch leaves with a lawnmower. Whatever you do, don’t try to mulch with unshredded leaves—they will blow away, making a mess of your yard and defeating the purpose of mulching in the first place by leaving plants exposed to the elements.  

Give it some breathing room.

We all need to stop and take a deep breath sometimes, and the same goes for your lawn. Fall is a great time to aerate your lawn, increasing the flow of air, water, and nutrients to your lawn’s roots. If your family uses the lawn frequently—whether from kids running around or from hosting plenty of cook outs—the soil may be compacted, which makes aeration even more important.   

Get ahead of the weeds by applying a pre-emergent. 

It might surprise you to learn that weeds can germinate even in the winter, but it’s true! As they say, the best defense is a good offense, so set your lawn up for success in the spring by applying a pre-emergent now. Keep in mind that pre-emergent stops germination, so you should not use it if you plan to overseed your (typically Fescue) lawn. However, if your lawn is primarily Bermuda or Zoysia, you’re in the clear to apply pre-emergent. 

Maintain your maintenance routine…With a few slight variations.

Just because the calendar says the seasons have changed, doesn’t mean the weather agrees. It’s important to keep doing your regular landscape maintenance, like mowing, edging, and watering, until the grass has stopped growing. You should, however, raise your lawnmower blade. The grass should be slightly longer than you’d necessarily keep it in summer, but not completely overgrown. That sweet spot between too short and too tall will prevent your lawn from freeze damage on cold days, and from diseases that can occur when grass gets too long and tangled. Your mowings will get further apart as the season goes on, and when you notice that the grass is no longer growing, you’ll know it’s time to stop for the season. 

Once you’ve determined that you’re done mowing for the year, don’t forget to winterize your lawnmower! Clean out any grass clippings lodged beneath it, empty the gas tank, and sharpen the blade. That way you’ll be all set to go when spring rolls around.

Good luck with your fall lawn maintenance if you choose to dive in yourself… Or give us a call to find out how we can take lawn maintenance off your plate and keep your landscaping looking its best!

The Best Low Maintenance Shrubs for Your North Georgia Yard

Close up of red berries on yaupon holly shrubWhen deciding on the best plantings for a yard, it’s important to strike a balance between form and function—which plants will give you the look you want, and which plants best fit the environment as far as water and light needs, growth patterns, etc. There’s no such thing as the “perfect” landscaping… Just the perfect landscaping for you! Choosing low maintenance shrubs can go a long way towards giving you the beautiful landscaping you want, without making extra work for yourself. 

These are some of our favorite low maintenance shrubs for North Georgia. Give us a call at 770-893-1254 to schedule a curbside pickup from our Jasper nursery, or learn more about our landscape design and installation services here

Low Maintenance Shrubs for North Georgia

While every site has its own specific factors to take into account, these are generally some of the best low maintenance shrub varieties for North Georgia. These shrubs can work in naturalistic woodland landscapes or more formal settings.

Tea Olive

Osmanthus fragrans, aka Fragrant Tea Olive, is an evergreen shrub with attractive, glossy, dark green leaves. The tiny white flowers it produces are strongly perfumed with a sweet, almost citrusy scent. Place them in the garden for added atmosphere, plant them as a privacy hedge, or use them as foundation plantings near windows, doors, or outdoor living spaces.

Boxwood

Boxwoods are a shrubbery staple for a reason! These hardy plants are relatively low maintenance and can be used in endless ways, from hedgerows to topiary. There are several varieties to choose from, some with shiny green leaves and others with interesting variegated patterns. 

Mountain Laurel

This shade-loving native evergreen shrub is a beautiful addition to North Georgia woodland gardens. Shiny, attractive green foliage and elegant clusters of pink or white bell shaped flowers make for one of the prettiest shrubs on our list. 

Yaupon Holly

Small, smooth, and shiny green leaves, long-lasting red berries, and waxy, white blooms make yaupon holly another “oldie but goodie” landscaping plant. There are several varieties to choose from, whether you’d like to grow yaupon holly as a shrub, tree, or espalier. You can even get weeping varieties for a particularly stunning additio.  

Anisetree or Yellow Anise

If you’re looking to introduce some color contrast into your landscaping, yellow anise is a showstopper! This shade-tolerant evergreen shrub requires moderate water. It can grow up to 12 feet tall, and with a variety of cultivars, you can choose from various shades of bright chartreuse to light green. Just be aware that while the plant may smell like the well-known seasoning aniseed, it is not the same—and it is not edible!  

Highland Doghobble

The whimsically-named highland doghobble, or leucothoe fontanesiana, tolerates full shade and acidic soil, making it a perfect choice for mountain and woodland gardens. It grows up to 6 feet tall and has an arching branch formation, as well as delicate, urn-shaped white flowers.

Natural Beauty: The Key Elements of Landscape Design

flowers and stonework

The joy—and the challenge— of landscape design lies in the individuality of the site. No piece of land is exactly identical to any other, even in the same neighborhood. Every landscape has its own relationship to the local ecosystem, with specific soil, drainage, sunlight, wind, wildlife, and other factors affecting the finished product. At Whispering Springs, we’re passionate about this type of landscape design, which is why we specialize in native woodland landscaping and deer-resistant landscaping in North Georgia.    

Of course, while every setting is unique, there are some elements of good landscape design that are universal. Be sure to consider these elements when planning any renovations to your lawn or garden… Or just give us a call at 770-893-1254 to learn how we can help!

The Challenges of Landscape Design

First and foremost, remember that landscape design has to work on multiple levels.

  • From a distance—approaching your home from the driveway, for instance, or looking at the view outside your window.
  • Moving through it—how you move from patio to garden, from garden to lawn, etc? Are the pathways made of gravel? Stone? Cement? Are they straight or winding? What does the landscaping look like from different vantage points throughout your property?
  • Up close—once you enter the landscape, what catches your eye? What details hold your attention? 

The best landscape design is interesting and attractive all year long thanks to careful plant selections and design choices. From luscious blossoms in the spring to sculptural stems and seed pods in the winter, landscape design requires an in-depth knowledge of horticulture as well as design. 

Key Elements of Excellent Landscape Design

Line

The lines of your landscaping have an enormous impact on the overall effect. This can include the shapes of planting beds, walkways, water features—anything that draws your eye through the space of your yard. 

Straight lines, geometric forms, and symmetry all contribute to a more formal landscape. Alternatively, curving edges, winding paths, and organically-shaped planting beds create a casual effect. 

Color

There is much more to using color in landscape design than just choosing a few bright flowers. Color affects the mood of your landscaping, helping to set the ambiance and direct the eye where you want it to go. A monochromatic palette of various shades of purple can create a calming atmosphere, while a highly contrasting color pairing like orange and yellow is more forceful and attention-grabbing. 

Remember that flowers are not the only colors you should be concerned with. After all, flowers bloom, die and fall off eventually. What does the foliage of your plantings look like in the lush, muggy summertime? Will the leaves stay green, or turn to gold, red, or orange? If you need some inspiration, check out these landscape color scheme ideas.

Texture

Again, think about texture in your landscape design from a distance—the contrasts between a short lawn, ruffled treetops, flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses—and up close—the bark of a tree, the leaves of a hedge, the slate of a stepping stone path. 

Focal Point

Of course, no landscape design is complete without at least one focal point. A focal point is an area that draws your eye and holds your attention. This could be an ornamental tree, a piece of art, a water feature, or a garden structure like a pergola. The focal point can also change depending on the season or time of day. Landscape lighting is a powerful way to direct the eye and highlight specific features of your garden. 

If you’re feeling inspired to give your landscaping a new look, we’re here to help! Contact us to learn more about our landscape design, installation, and hardscape services, or place an order from our nursery for curbside pickup.

Mulch: The Unsung Hero of Your Garden

Mulched planting beds flanking stone walkwayMulch is a commonly used landscaping material that can enhance the beauty of your yard. But did you know that the benefits of mulch extend beyond just surface appearances? Keep reading to learn what mulch is, how it can help your landscaping, and the best types of mulch for North Georgia.  

Benefits of Mulch

Mulch reduces the growth of weeds.

Weeding is usually at the top of people’s lists for “Most Annoying Outdoor Chore,” but you can substantially slow down the growth of weeds by mulching your garden. Applying a layer of mulch (usually 3-4” deep) on top of exposed soil effectively smothers weed seeds, preventing them from getting enough light and air to germinate. Even if seeds do blow into your garden, the layer of mulch provides a barrier between the weed and the soil. Any weeds that manage to spring up should be easy to remove because their roots will extend very shallowly into the soil. 

Mulch conserves water.

Water is one of our most precious resources here in North Georgia, so we love helping our customers create smart landscapes that use water efficiently. Mulch is part of a water-smart landscape because it traps moisture in the soil, slowing evaporation. That means more water for your plants to drink, less waste, and a lower water bill. It also blocks the wind from drying out the soil faster. 

Mulch is cool.

We mean that literally! Mulch provides insulation for the soil, which is especially important during our hot Georgia summers. Reducing heat stress on your plants goes a long way towards keeping your summer landscaping looking great. 

What Type of Mulch Should You Use?

There are many materials that can be used as mulch, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. The best mulch to use depends on the climate and environment where you live, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. 

Here in North Georgia, pine straw and pine bark are the most commonly used types of mulch. They are great options because they’re typically affordable, and they make your landscaping look very natural in the midst of Georgia’s pine forests. 

Composted wood chips are also popular and can be found in various colors to coordinate with your home. (Don’t use fresh woodchips, which will leach nitrogen from the soil and can harm your plants.)

There are also a few types of mulch that are not recommended for most applications in our area:

  • Gravel/pebbles/rocks get too hot. Your plants are probably already working hard to survive the summer, so adding rocks that absorb the sun and retain heat is not a good idea.
  • Peat moss is not appropriate mulch either. While it is very absorbent, once it dries it repels water, which can kill your plants. It’s also antimicrobial, which is not desirable if you’re trying to garden organically. 
  • As we mentioned, fresh woodchips aren’t good for your garden. Instead, allow them to weather for 6 months to a year before using them.

If you’re buying mulch for your home or need help planning and installing your landscaping, give us a call at 770-893-1254

 

Is Pruning Really Necessary? Why It’s Important to Prune Trees and Shrubs

Pink blooming ornamental tree in sunny, landscaped yardWe obviously love plants here at Whispering Springs Nursery; after all, we not only grow and sell all sorts of annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs, but also provide North Georgia homeowners with landscape design and maintenance services. Creating lush, healthy forest landscapes is our passion, which is why we offer expert shrub and ornamental tree pruning among our other landscaping services

You may be wondering why trees and shrubs need to be pruned, especially in a more naturalistic setting like the North Georgia native woodland landscapes that we specialize in. It’s a good question! In natural forest settings, plants aren’t pruned and they manage just fine, right?

Well, they do—in their own way. If a tree is left to its own devices, it can end up growing in all sorts of interesting and unique ways depending on the surrounding environment, but that growth won’t always be attractive, healthy, or even safe. Certain growth patterns can leave the tree open to pests or disease. “Suckers” (the small shoots you may see growing from the base or roots of a tree) can steal water and nutrients from the main tree, leading to unhealthy or stunted growth. When that tree eventually falls and decays, it’s part of the circle of life in the forest… But that doesn’t mean that you want it happening in your front yard or right outside your window. 

Why Shrubs and Trees Need Regular Pruning

In a landscaping setting (even natural/native landscaping), the goal is to create a landscape that is not only beautiful, but also practical and safe. Pruning plants plays a big part in this for several reasons. 

Promoting Healthy Plant Growth

Pruning isn’t about forcing a tree or shrub into an unnatural shape, but rather guiding it as it grows into a strong, healthy, mature plant. By removing dead or dying branches, suckers, or any other “problem” growths, the tree is able to grow into its ideal shape. Pruning also prevents pest insect and animal infestations. 

Bringing Out the Beauty in Your Landscaping

Regular expert pruning of trees and shrubs can also make your landscaping more beautiful by promoting the growth of fruit and flowers. If you have ornamental trees or shrubs in your yard, like cherry, dogwood, redbud, crape myrtle, azalea, forsythia, or rose, both the method and timing of pruning are essential. Improper pruning can cause a range of unfortunate outcomes, from sparse flowering in the spring, to severe disfiguring that the plant may never recover from. 

Protecting People and Property

One of the most important functions of pruning is to protect your family, home, and vehicles from the dangers of fallen branches or trees. A storm can knock branches loose, sending them into your roof, through your car windshield, or onto kids’ play spaces. Sometimes a branch may not fall right away, only to get knocked loose by a brisk wind later when you’re least expecting it. Regular pruning greatly reduces this safety hazard. 

Ready to whip your landscaping plants into shape? Give us a call at 770-893-1254 to learn more about our pruning and landscaping services!

16 Naturally Bug-Repellent Plants For Your North Georgia Garden

Lavender plants in a fieldNothing can ruin a beautiful evening on your porch or patio more than being swarmed by mosquitoes, gnats, or flies. These pesky insects can make it hard to enjoy your outdoor living spaces, but the solution may be easier than you think. No, you don’t need to drench your yard in pesticides or abandon outdoor relaxation altogether; you just need to add some naturally bug repellent plants to your North Georgia landscaping!

Bug Repellent Plants for North Georgia Gardens

Why bug repellent plants are so important for North Georgia landscaping

Mosquitoes are arguably the worst pest insect to invade your yard due to their itchy, irritating bites. While mosquito bites are usually more annoying than dangerous, they can transmit serious diseases like West Nile virus, Zika virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Flies can also transmit a host of diseases from run-of-the-mill salmonella and conjunctivitis to serious illnesses straight out of a Victorian novel like cholera and tuberculosis. Most gnats don’t carry diseases that put humans at risk, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when your relaxing outdoor dinner is overrun by a cloud of the little pests. 

Plants to keep mosquitoes, gnats, and flies away

Fortunately, mosquitoes, flies, and gnats have one thing in common: They’re very sensitive to smells and hate the scents of many commonly grown herbs, flowers, and landscaping plants! Some of the best bug-repelling plants to add to your landscaping include: 

  • Herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, catnip, lavender, and lemon verbena. In addition to keeping bugs away, you can also enjoy adding fresh herbs to your cooking, baking, and cocktails for a fraction of the price of store-bought herbs. Even your cat will thank you if you plant some catnip, but don’t be surprised if you spot other neighborhood cats rolling around in it!
  • Flowers like geraniums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, bergamot, feverfew, floss flower, and pitcher plant. Make sure to choose fragrant varieties for maximum impact. Adding these plants will not only keep bugs away, but will also add lovely smells and vibrant colors to your landscaping. 
  • Grasses like lemongrass and citronella grass. Growing up to 6 feet tall and equally wide, citronella grass makes a striking addition to your landscaping, adding texture and height. If you’ve ever purchased citronella candles or torch oil to help keep bugs away from your porch, you’ll recognize the distinctive smell of the essential oil. Lemongrass doesn’t grow quite as large, but still makes a wonderful addition to your bug-repelling landscaping with a light, citrus-y smell. 

If you’re hoping to add some bug repellent plants to your North Georgia landscaping this summer, give us a call at 770-893-1254. At Whispering Springs, we are not only a plant nursery carrying a wide selection trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals, but also offer landscape design services specializing in native plants, woodland landscaping, and deer-resistant plants. 

How to Save Water While Gardening: Tips for North Georgia Gardeners

Watering can sprinkling plantsWe’ve already had some sweltering days this summer, and it’s not even the hottest month of the year! (That would be July, if you’re wondering.) It’s one of the most challenging times to keep your landscaping lush and healthy, but we’ve got some water saving tips that can help. Keep reading to learn how to save water while irrigating your North Georgia garden or lawn. We can even help you choose the best drought-resistant native plants to accentuate your woodland landscaping

Water Saving Tips for Summer in Georgia

The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District has some great, detailed resources to help you water your landscaping more efficiently, but these are some of the most important tips to remember:

Know when to water.

  • Water early in the morning (before sunrise) or late at night (after sunset) to avoid wasting water through evaporation. Every drop counts, and watering during the cooler hours will not only save water, but also helps prevent lawns from falling victim to fungus or blight. 
  • When rain is expected, turn your irrigation or sprinkler system off! Automated sprinkler systems are the biggest culprits for wasting water. 
  • Only water when you need to—at the first signs of “moisture stress.” According to the NGWPD, the signs include wilting, dullness or discoloration. Another good way to tell if your lawn is thirsty is with the foot-print test. If you walk across your grass and the footprints are still visible after several minutes, your lawn needs water. If the grass springs back into position after a few minutes, you can wait a bit longer. 

Know how and how much to water.

  • The turfgrass varieties most commonly grown in North Georgia (Bahia, Bermuda, Bluegrass, Fescue, Zoysia) are fine with just one inch of water per week
  • One of the particularities of keeping a healthy lawn here in Georgia is that we have a lot of clay in our soil. That famous Georgia clay makes the soil less absorbent, which means that it doesn’t soak water up as quickly as other soils. In order to let the water from your irrigation system absorb and not just run off into the gutter or storm drain, you’ll need to make sure that you’re not delivering more than ½ inch of water per hour.
  • Not sure how quickly your sprinklers deliver a ½ inch of water? Place an empty tuna can or other similarly sized container in each section of your yard, and let your sprinklers run for 30 minutes. Measure the depth of the water with a ruler and use that to determine your watering rate, or how long you’d have to let your sprinklers run to water 1 inch. 
  • Adjust your automated system accordingly, or set timers on your phone to help you stay on track. You’ll not only be conserving water, you’ll also be saving on your water bill. 
  • For flowers and other plantings, water at soil level. This wastes less water through evaporation, gets more water to the roots quicker, and can even protect your plants from developing fungus on the leaves.

Happy watering, and remember to call our North Georgia plant nursery to learn which plants are right for your yard.

Gardening with Kids: Projects and Ideas to Share Gardening With the Next Generation

Toddler in overalls smelling daffodilsIf you love to garden, sharing that passion with the kids in your life can make an already great hobby that much more rewarding. In some studies, gardening has been shown to relieve stress,  and there are many benefits to kids specifically, from teaching them about nature and biology to encouraging healthier eating habits. 

Whether you want to start a family gardening practice with your kids or just do some fun gardening projects with your grandkids, nieces, or nephews, we’ve got everything you need (and some things you didn’t know you needed!) here at Whispering Springs Nursery.

Gardening Ideas for Kids

Create a magical fairy garden.

Fairy gardens have been around for years, but recently they’ve made quite a comeback thanks to social media like Pinterest and Instagram. Ideas for fairy gardens abound on the internet, but the real beauty of them is that you can let your imagination run wild! 

If you’re wondering what a fairy garden is, it’s simply a miniature garden (often planted in a container) that allows for “landscaping” on a small scale—think of a garden scaled for a fairy to live in! Tiny doors, dollhouse-sized furniture, decorations, moss, and small-scale plants bring the environment to life, sparking the imagination and teaching kids about planting a garden all at once. With proper care, it can even be like a living dollhouse, setting the stage for hours of imaginative play with dolls or toys. Come and check out our fairy garden supplies or commission a custom fairy garden created by us. 

Grow your own food with a kitchen garden.

Speaking of container gardens, we have everything you need for your container garden projects, from unique planters and pots to a huge selection of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, deer-resistant plants, and even aquatic plants for your pond or fountain. One of the best container gardening projects for kids is planting a mini kitchen garden. Dwarf tomato plant varieties can easily be grown on a patio or porch, while herbs like basil, mint, and thyme are low-maintenance winners and can even be grown in a windowsill!

Support pollinators with a bee and butterfly garden.

Gardening has the potential to teach kids so much about the natural world, and they can even lend a helping hand to struggling pollinators like bees and butterflies. Visit our Jasper nursery to find colorful pollinator-friendly plants and create a garden that helps the environment in addition to looking beautiful. 

We’re always happy to help you select the best plants for your projects, from native plants that bees love to deer-resistant species that look great without serving as a deer buffet. Get the kids in your life started on a lifelong journey of gardening! We are open for curb-side pickup, so explore our site and give us a call at 770-893-1254.

We’ve Got the Dirt: Your Go-To Guide to Soil

Garden spade with soilSince we’re all spending so much time at home these days, many folks are taking the opportunity to work on their landscaping. The great thing about gardening is that it’s not only a relaxing way to pass the time, but also yields results that make your life even more enjoyable! Whether you’re eating homegrown tomatoes from a backyard vegetable garden, relaxing on your porch and enjoying the fragrance of a tea olive or gardenia plant, or even mixing up a mojito with mint grown in a kitchen container garden, there’s one thing they all have in common: They need the right soil to grow and thrive. 

Soil is one of the most important components of gardening, but many amateur gardeners don’t know much about it. If you’re thinking “Dirt is dirt, right?” get ready to have your mind blown. These are some of the most important things to know about soil

Soil Guide for Gardeners

In-Ground vs. Container Gardening

Being planted in a container is a very different environment for plants than being planted in the ground. If you’re growing plants on your porch, patio, window boxes, or indoors, opt for potting soil. Potting soil mixes are formulated to address the unique challenges of growing plants in containers, especially drainage and root binding. Using the correct soil will help keep your plants healthy and happy, with correct moisture levels and plenty of room to grow strong roots.

If you’re planting in the ground, you may be tempted to just dig a hole, toss your plant in, and fill it back up; however, that usually won’t give you the results you’re hoping for. Instead, you’ll need to amend the soil to create a welcoming environment for your plant, with proper pH, nutrients, and drainage

Types of Soil and When to Use Them

As we just discussed, potting soil is a must for any container garden… But there are so many types of soil at your local garden center, so what are all of the other ones for? 

  • Top soil is used to fill holes or level ground, and isn’t suitable for planting. 
  • Garden soil is used to amend (or mix in with) your existing soil, and you should use it when planting anything in the ground. Depending on the pH, clay content, and other factors of your soil, you may need a garden soil with a high or low pH to make the ground hospitable to whatever you’re planting. Garden soil contains a blend of nutrients, organic matter, and soil to give plants a head start. 
  • Raised bed soil is specifically designed for—you guessed it—raised planter beds, typically used for kitchen gardens to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Here in north Georgia, much of the native soil is composed of red clay, which is not the friendliest environment for plants. Clay retains water and is super dense, which leads to plants drowning or suffocating if the soil is not amended. Raised beds are an easy solution to allow north Georgia gardeners to grow strong, healthy plants without the extensive labor and cost of amending the entire area of ground. Simply fill your raised beds with raised bed soil and your garden will be set for success with properly draining and aerating soil. 

We’re open for curbside pickup, so give us a call to place your order today!