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Our Blog

Use our blog as a resource of information pertaining to lawn and landscape maintenance information and services for your properties.

Showing 21-30 of 33 articles.

Bumble Bees in the Garden

Bumble Bees in the Garden

If you are an avid gardener, you know how great it is to have bumble bees in your garden.  Not honey bees, but bumble bees.  Bumble bees are friendlier than honey bees and typically, will not sting unless they are being handled roughly or harmed.  Unlike honey bees, they do not “swarm”, nor do they attack like wasps.  They do not live in hives or make large amounts of honey, but they have equally important roles in the ecosystem.  This is why we need to attract and encourage bumble bees into our yards.

Humans have known the value of bees in agriculture for centuries.  They are the most effective pollinators in the world and an invaluable resource in agriculture technology.   About two-thirds of the world’s crops rely on bees and other pollinators; without them, there would be no fruits or vegetables.  As a society, we are just starting to realize their power in bolstering the health and productivity of the home garden.  Bees are just too important to be ignored.

By creating a more “bee friendly” yard and landscape, it will be easier for you to attract bees and keep them coming back!  Avoid pesticides!  Bumble bees, and other pollinators, respond to insecticides and herbicides commonly used for controlling Japanese beetles and Emerald ash borer.  Even minimal exposure can cause bees to have problems flying, and they can lose their sense of taste.  Planting flowers that...

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The Benefit of Bats in the Landscaping!

The Benefit of Bats in the Landscaping!

In a blog article I wrote a few months ago I sang the praises of bees, and why they are so important within the ecosystem, why you should want them in your yard, and what you can do to attract them to your garden for pollination.  Did you know that bats are important pollinators too? And THE BEST organic pesticide there is?  It’s true! Need some convincing?  Here it goes.

For starters, bats are helpful, and not as bad as some make them out to be.  They have got an undeserved reputation for being gross.  Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly- their wings are actually hands- that have adapted for flight.  They are very flexible, and able to move independently, and, as mammals, they actually spend a great deal of time cleaning their fur!  Bats have no more incidences of rabies than other mammals, in fact, less than 1% of bats are said to be infected with rabies, and transmission from bats accounts for 1 death per year in the US.  (A statistic much less than that of dog bites and lightning strikes.  Weary of Vampire bats? Don’t be! Of the 1200+ species of bats in the world, there are only 3 that feed on blood of livestock (by licking, not sucking), and all 3 types live in Latin America.  No worries!

The pre-dominant role of bats in the echo-system, is that of insect predators and plant pollinators.  In one night, a single bat can eat 3,000-7,000 insects, including mosquitoes.  Fruit bats have...

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Compost Tea

Compost Tea

Tea Party For Your Plants!

As gardeners begin to look for natural and organic ways to promote plant productivity and health, more are turning to compost tea.  By now, everyone knows about the benefits of having and using a backyard compost pile, but, you can take that idea one step further.  Transform nutrient rich compost from a solid, into a liquid form.  According to the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, there is an equivalent amount of aerobic bacteria and fungi in a 5 gal batch of aerated tea a there is in about 40 cubic yards of regular compost.  Powerful Stuff!

Understand that this is not simply a shovel full of compost placed in a bucket adding water and letting the mix step for a couple days.  Although, this is not a bad idea, it is merely a watery compost extract.   Compost tea is actually brewed under conditions referred to as “actively aerated compost tea” (AACT).  When this brewed compost tea is added to plants, it can boost overall plant heath, and can be more able to resist pests and disease.

How is compost tea made?  Here at Beautiful Blooms, we have a 25 gallon tea brewer made specifically for this purpose.  Here is the basic idea:  First, the compost is placed in a large, fine meshed “tea bag”.    Next, the tea gets aerated, as well as mixed and stirred at the same time.  (Remember, the tea can only be as...

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Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels

This past Saturday, (Oct. 12th), I listened to what was probably the last thunderstorm of the season.  Along with some pretty gusty winds was a very heavy rainfall, which I watched roll down the streets towards drains that were already covered with leaf debris.  All that water running into our sewers and eventually out to Lake Michigan, not just waste water but wasted water.  How many times a year do we hear about MMSD (Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District) having to dump the contents of the storm sewers into lake Michigan UNPROCESSED because of a heavy downpour that the sewer system couldn’t handle?  There is a solution, and an easy one.  Install a rain barrel in our yard capturing the roof fun off from your house and/or garage.  This will not only help preserve Lake Michigan, but reduce water pollution (oil, grease, fertilizers) and can also lower your water costs.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, outdoor irrigation can count for up to 40% of water use by households during the summer when rain becomes scarce.  Municipalities often institute mandatory water restrictions, leaving your yard and plants brown and crispy, sometimes with the negative effects lasting into the next summer.  Just one rain barrel can save the average home owner up to 1300 gallons of water during the summer.  With the usual rain barrel being a 55 gallon drum, just ¼ inch of rain can fill it to the top and can be used...

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Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens

In a previous blog article, I wrote about using a rain barrel in your yard to save money for the homeowner and to help save local lakes and streams from storm run-off.  As a new homeowner, one of my first purchases next spring will be a rain barrel.  But there is another way to capture that storm run-off and beautify your yard at the same time- A rain garden.  Like rain barrels, rain gardens have gotten a lot of press recently, but many homeowners still seem confused or reluctant to install one.  What exactly is a rain garden? How does it work? What kind of plants do I install?  Hopefully, this blog can answer questions and clear up some of the confusion.

First, what exactly is a rain garden?  In the simplest terms, a rain garden is a shallow depression in your yard, planted with native plants.  These depressions are often, through not always mulched.  The plants are planted in soil that has been amended to increase its filtration rate.  A fancy way of saying, how fast the water absorbs into the ground.  When choosing a site for you rain garden, consider an area in which storm water run-off is most prevalent in your property.  Remember that downspouts can be directed into rain gardens to absorb run-off from buildings.  Avoid placing rain gardens on a slope (it may actually encourage erosion),  directly above septic systems, and remember to keep your rain garden a minimum of 10 feet away from the...

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Understanding Knockout Roses

Understanding Knockout Roses

The knockout rose is a popular plant in many people’s landscapes and with good reason.    Introduced in the year 2000 and winner of numerous awards, including rose of the year from the American Rose Society, it is the most widely sold rose in North America.  Over the past couple of landscape seasons, our customers have had questions about, or simply did not understand all the benefits of these great roses.   Here is a little “rose primer”, if you will, about the knockout rose.

The rose was created by Wisconsin rose breeder, William Radler, who was looking to reduce the “to do list” in rose gardens.  It is a cold hardy, disease resistant, and self cleaning; meaning, there is no need to deadhead.

That’s right, I said, NO NEED TO DEADHEAD!  True pruning (trimming or cutting off parts of the plant that are superfluous, or to improve the shape or growth), should really only be done about once a year.   The knockout website as well as other experts agree, the time to prune is late winter to early spring (after the last hard frost, but before new growth appears). Do not prune in the fall.  When pruning, remove and dead or damaged wood, and do little shaping if necessary.  Knockouts are designed to grow vigorously, so prune them down to about 2-2 ½’ below the height you would like them to be.  According to the knockout website,   these roses are...

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Goldenrod Gets a Bad Rap!

Goldenrod Gets a Bad Rap!

Goldenrod VS Ragweed

It is mid-September.  Are your eyes itchy?  Is your nose runny? Do you sneeze worse when you step outside?  Chances are, you are suffering from hay fever and the culprit is ragweed- NOT Goldenrod.  Goldenrod – that tall late summer/early fall blooming perennial with yellow flowers- often is unfairly blamed for causing hay fever.  That’s too bad, because goldenrod is a wonderful addition to the back of any perennial border.  So, why does goldenrod get such a bad rep?  Well, both ragweed and goldenrod bloom at the same time, and when people see the masses of bright golden flowers, they automatically assume that its  pollen is the source of their irritations.   Actually, goldenrod pollen is too heavy and sticky to be blown far from the flowers, which is why it is so brightly colored.  Goldenrod must need a way to attract insects who are its main pollinators.

Ragweed has small, fairly unremarkable flowers that unleash abundant amounts of pollen freely into the wind.  The only way you and I know that ragweed is blooming at all is through our allergic reactions to the pollen.  Thousands of tiny flowers on each plant result in the release of approximately one billion grains of pollen.  This happens usually during the mid-morning hours as dew dries and humidity decrease.  It is estimated that up to 1 million tons of ragweed pollen is produced each year in North America...

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Watering your new plants

Watering your new plants

Congratulations! You have just made a significant investment to your yard, and to your life, by installing new plant material. To ensure that investment is productive and successful, you need to nurture it, just like any other investment, making sure you do all you can to help it pay-off.  So, now what?

Watering – not enough or too much – is the most important step in establishing new plants. Beautiful Blooms will always “water-in” all the plant material they install for you. However, once we leave the property, you become responsible for seeing that adequate moisture is supplied. Knowing when and how much to water – and conversely, when not to water – can be tricky, so we offer these guidelines.

Perennials: It is recommended that you water 3 times-a-week, for the first 3 weeks whether is rains or not. After 3 weeks, water once-a-week, unless there is at least ½ inch of rainfall during that week. If natural rainfall is not sufficient, then supplemental, regular watering is needed. Remember that plants dry out faster in windy, unprotected areas, as well as on slopes.  Also, pay close attention to plants placed under a roof overhang; they will need slightly more water since the soil in that area tends to be drier as it does not receive any rain.

Small shrubs: You should use a hose at a slow trickle for 10-20 minutes per shrub to thoroughly saturate the root zone. You will want to keep the water at the ...

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Rehab for Your Lawn

Rehab for Your Lawn

Is your lawn chemical dependent?  For over half a century, the normal and accepted way to maintain a home lawn was to apply fertilizer, pesticides, water, and regularly mow it….and collect the clippings of course.  In the past decade this mantra has been evolving.

Two items on this list seem to be easily understood and adapted by the majority of the public.  
First to go was collecting your clippings.

This seemed to be perhaps the most painless step in converting the general public to a more earth friendly way of caring for their lawn—in part because the municipalities stopped collecting most green waste.

Depending on the part of the country you live in, watering restrictions can be severe.  Here in Wisconsin we typically only see restrictions during extended periods with little to no rain.  Even these restrictions are quite mild—usually every other day watering is allowed.  Compare that with west Texas where outdoor watering is limited to 2 hours per MONTH.

Maintaining a tightly manicured lawn requires a lot of inputs.  Can we have our cake and eat it too?  That is really the question.  Most people are not willing to give up all of their lawn space, and it is justifiably useful to a degree.  If you have pets, children, or simply enjoy being outside in your yard lawn is a necessary part of your landscape.  To decrease the amount of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides applied to your...

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Rain, Rain, & More RAIN!

Rain, Rain, & More RAIN!

What about all this rain!?

Too little, too much….either can be devastating!  There is NOTHING we can do to control the weather but we can react to the effects that it has on our landscapes.  To do this most effectively and efficiently requires a partnership between you and Beautiful Blooms.  Please be observant when enjoying your landscapes and pass any notes/concerns on to us—we will respond as best that we are able to.

Things to observe, specifically—

  • yellowing of lower leaves (a sign of too much water)
  • spots on leaves (possible disease)
  • white fuzzy stuff on plants or the lawn (probably active fungus)
  • long lasting puddles (drainage issue)
  • issues with downspouts
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