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The Forecast Says What?


20160416_082344-1Traditionally in the landscape and nursery industries Mothers Day is regarded as “safe”.  From that day on the risk of snow and freezing temperatures is significantly lower.  Not this year!  It looks like the majority of the urban corridor will get some type of spring snow and below freezing temperatures on Friday night.  This can wreak havoc on tender annuals, vegetables and flowering perennials.  If you are able the best thing to do with newly planted containers is move them to a garage, covered patio or other sheltered location.  If that is not possible cover them with an old towel or sheet.  Vegetables are probably less mobile, so old sheets or tarps will have to be placed carefully over the garden beds.  Just make sure the covering helps keep heat in and the cold out.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil face the highest risk.
By now the perennials are in full swing- poppies, peonies, columbines, iris and may others are in bloom now.  The best way to preserve the blooms is with empty buckets, trash cans or other covering that will keep the blooms safe.
The moisture is welcome but we are a little late for snow!!
Try to get out today before the cold front moves in to preserve as much heat as possible.
Lastly, do not water later than noon today so the roots won’t freeze.
Good luck Colorado gardeners!

Happy Earth Day!

Earth day 2017

April 22nd has been Earth Day since 1970.  This day seems to have more and more meaning to people as the years go on.  Earth day is a day to celebrate, help, enjoy and reflect on our home, planet Earth.  Each small gesture adds up!  Plant a tree or a garden, bike or carpool, buy reusable grocery bags, volunteer to clean up a trail or stream, pledge to recycle or compost- the list goes on and on.  Above all, go outside and marvel at the blue sky, spring flowers and take a deep breath of fresh air.  Everyday should be treated like Earth Day!

Enticing Weather

There is no denying the weather right now is fantastic!  The weekend looks to be in the 80’s in the metro Denver area, sunny dry and beautiful.  This is very unusual for March, as our average highs should be somewhere around 54 degrees, cloudy and wet!  March is known for the arrival of spring, and huge spring snow storms.
As we all get outside and quell our spring fever, planting gardens is an idea for many.  Don’t give in!!!  It is important to wait to plant for many reasons.  The weather is bound to take a turn for the worse, with night time temperatures dropping below freezing and snow likely in the next few months.
Even hardy shrubs and trees can benefit from a couple more weeks time before planting.
The best thing to do now is take inventory- what areas look bare, lost something last year, need more color etc.  Make a plan and a list and get spring cleaning started.  Before you know it planting season will be here!20160318_095753

That’s a Wrap!

With the arrival of cold weather the 2016 season has come to an end.  Phew, what a year!  I would like to thank everyone for their support.  Small businesses rely on word of mouth, likes on Facebook (Oakes Yard and Garden Design) and Instagram (oakesyardandgarden) and reviews on various forums.  To each of you who like the pictures, posts and pass on my information I am grateful.
I wanted to share some of the different projects we worked on this year:  A children’s garden, a garden for a beekeeper, a Silver Habitat Hero certified garden, a white garden (all of the plants had white in the foliage or flowers), numerous rock gardens, a Potager garden, custom built raised beds and many more!

Stay tuned for updates throughout the winter.  Enjoy the holidays!


The leaves are falling down….

You can feel it: the cooler nights, the rustle of the leaves, the changing sunlight and the amazing fall colors.  Autumn is here and all the wonderful things that come this time of the year.  While the gardening chore list is getting smaller, yard cleanup now needs the attention.  Here on the front range we are starting to see many trees change and start dropping their leaves.  With so many different species and cultivars of trees we have a huge array of fall colors around.  This info-graphic explains the science behind the colors.


Happy Autumn!


Happy first day of Autumn 2016!  The autumnal equinox has passed and we are officially into fall- the most beautiful season.  The air is crisp, the sun shines lower, the great flavors and ohhh the leaves!  Fall is actually an excellent time to plant, and to prepare for spring with bulbs and seeds.  As the days get shorter and the weather cools don’t forget to bring in your houseplants that had a summer vacation on the patio.  Enjoy the new season!

Got Bugs?


It is that time of the year- pest damage is at a season high, and not just from one type of pest.  Now is prime time for the dreaded Japanese Beetle.  They are widespread, hard to get rid of and like pretty much anything to eat!  They can defoliate plants to the point of death, and efforts to rid them from your garden can backfire and you may get more!  Not to mention aphids, slugs, white flies, saw flies and borers. So what should the average gardener do?

There are pests in every garden, but if you are active and keep an eye out, you will likely be able to solve the problem before it gets out of control.  Knowing the signs of common pests is important for identification and treatments. There are many “home remedies” that people swear by.  These may or may not be backed by science, but they have been around for generations, so they are worth a try.  There are also numerous biological controls such as lady bugs, lacewings and beneficial nematodes.  Many plants also repel specific types of pests, Geraniums and herbs are the most proven.

Adult Japanese Beetles eat the leaves of many plants including roses, fruit and vegetable plants, Linden trees and many shrubs.  They do not eat the veins of the leaf, so the result looks like a leaf skeleton.  They also feed in groups, producing pheromones to attract others. This is the main reason not to crush them!  Hand picking them is the most effective means of control.  Japanese Beetle traps may work, but they also lure more beetles to your yard.  A fermented can of fruit cocktail strategically placed in a bucket of soapy water is a great trap.


Aphids are another pest that don’t discriminate.  There are many species of Aphids, and some are very specific to a certain type of plant, for example potato aphids and melon aphids.  They tend to be in large groups so they are easier to spot.  If you suspect Aphids are the cause of curling, yellow or misshapen leaves look on the underside.  Aphids like to gather there and start sucking the sap out of the leaves and stems.  Another tell-tale sign is honeydew, or sap that the aphids leave behind.  Ladybugs are Aphids number one predator.  You can also use flour, insecticidal soap, dish soap mixtures or rubbing alcohol.


Slugs are my personal least favorite.  They thrive in cool, moist dark places so if you have mulch in the shade it is a haven for these slimy pests.  Slugs eat the leaves, stems and roots.  They favor new tender leaves, keep an eye out in springtime as new leaves emerge.  Slugs produce an iridescent trail wherever they go.  It is unmistakable when combined with leaf damage.  Diatomaceous earth, commercial slug bait and stale old beer are a few slug stoppers.  Birds love slugs!  Attracting birds to your yard is a great way to cut down on slugs as well.

Borers have the potential to do huge amounts of damage.  Generally borers target woody plants- trees and shrubs.  Usually these are more sizeable in a landscape and require action right away.  The first sign of a borer is holes and sawdust.  Adult borers lay eggs within the plant and the larvae eat the insides of the tree or shrub.  They can weaken branches and the entire plant by disrupting the nutrient flow.  If you have a large tree that is having problems and you suspect a borer call a certified arborist to assess the situation.  There are commercially available insecticides as well.

Bugs will always be around to bug you!  If you know where to begin you have a much greater chance of getting a handle on the situation.  Do your research before you treat anything and always remember ladybugs!


Fertilizer Facts

Fertilizing the right vegetation at the right times can be confusing.  Not all fertilizer contains the same nutrients and different types of plants need fertilizing at different times of the year.  Here is a link to an article that lays everything out in an easy to understand way.  Keep this handy for all your fertilizing questions! Fertilizer Facts

Why Deadhead?

The term “deadhead” simply means to take off the old, spent flower.  When the bloom is finished the plant then sends its energy to making seeds.  If you deadhead, you force the plant to flower again and prolong the length of time the plant gives flowering blooms.  Some plants only flower once a year, but there are many annuals and perennials that benefit from deadheading.

Annuals like Petunia, Geranium, Alyssum, Cosmos, Lantana and Marigolds all respond very well to deadheading.
Daisy, Coneflower, Lupine, Phlox, Delphinium, Salvia, Veronica, Gaillardia, Yarrow, Coreopsis, Dianthus and Penstemon are examples of perennials that have a tendency to  re-bloom.  Often, the second blooms last longer.deadheading

You can deadhead from spring through autumn.  However, if you like to leave seed heads on through the winter it is a good idea to stop deadheading in late summer.  There are many plants that provide interest for us through the winter in addition to seeds for birds.
It may seem like a task that will never end; the new blooms and tidy garden appearance should keep you going!
A side note, if you love a particular plant, save some of the deadheads and keep the seeds until fall when you can sow them again!

The process of deadheading is very simple.  Pinch, pull or cut below the spent flower and above the closest set of leaves.  Sometimes, if the flowers are similar in age the easiest way is to shear the flowers off all together.

Deadheading 2

Springtime Blues (and Purples)

I have been noticing a lot of amazing flowers in the blue family this spring.  There are so many shades and hues of blue and purple. Blue is such a diverse color and here are a few examples of the flowers out in the Littleton area right now.