Winterberry Trees

The winterberry tree (Ilex verticillata), sometimes also known as the common winterberry, black alder, coralberry, Christmas berry and winterberry holly, is prized as an ornamental across U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8 for its graceful form along with the attractive red berries that continue this plant into the winter.

Form and Habit

Winterberry is a large shrub or small tree that may grow up to 20 feet tall. It is multi-stemmed and tends to sucker readily, forming large clumps. The winterberry features a rounded, vase or upright oval form and, generally, an appealing, symmetrical canopy, although young plants have a more irregular contour. Various winterberry cultivars offer a dwarfing tendency and a more formal look than the standard. Winterberry is deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves each year.

Foliage, Flowers and Fruit

Winterberry branches look twiggy and dark grey; they are very visible in winter when they are leafless and supporting the grasses. Winterberry flowers, which appear in summer, are inconspicuous and white. These flowers develop into berries that begin green, then mature to become glowing red. The berries are attractive to birds and remain on the leafless plant well into winter. The leaves of the plant measure around 3 inches long and 1-1/4 inches wide and are green to dark-green throughout the growing season before they turn yellow-green and fall in autumn. Winterberries are either male or female; only the females produce fruit. A winterberry with male flowers must be implanted near female plants; they must have overlapping bloom periods so as to fruit.

Site Preferences

Winterberry will grow in full sun or partial shade. It prefers an acidic loamy or sandy soil that provides regular moisture but is also well-drained. Winterberry is tolerant of compacted soil and seasonal flood, as well as periods of drought when it’s established. It may be cultivated as a bonsai or container plant or used in the landscape as a specimen or hedge.

Care Requirements

If the winterberry is increased in a turf area, mulching the region under the canopy prevents unsightly, thin turf and lessens accidental mechanical harm to the drooping stems. Only pruning to correct any damaged or out-of-place branches or stems is required if the winterberry has ample room to spread. If the soil has too high a pH or is alkaline, the specimen may develop iron chlorosis. Regular moisture is also significant, as periods of drought may lead to fruit drop.

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What Could You Use to Kill Vines That Boost Your Fence?

Invasive vines present a problem for many different factors. They out-compete nearby ornamental plants and when they climb your fence, vines can cause substantial damage. Along with the damage, they look messy and make your yard look unkempt. Many woody vines may need repeated efforts to kill them away entirely, but it’s possible to free your fence in the tenacious invaders.

Vinyl or Tarps

Vines on your fence may be killed by simply blocking the sun they need to survive. Utilize an opaque material, like deep black plastic or a tarp, and cover the whole length of the fence where vines are growing. Hang the material over both sides and anchor the ends using stones, bricks, or even fasten it with ropes and wager the ropes to the bottom at the bottom of the fence to prevent the cover from blowing away. The fence may make it difficult to block the light in the whole vine back to the root, so you could have to apply herbicides at the bottom of the fence, or even automatically pull the remaining vine parts after the leaf onto the fence has died.

Mechanical Removal

If applying chemicals is not an option as you have valuable ornamentals or water resources nearby , you can remove the vines out of your fence by cutting and cutting them away. Cut the vines in manageable bits it is easy to carry, and operate from one end of the fence to another. Have a helper cutting the vines on the other hand at precisely the exact same time to produce your work go faster. Try to cut as close to the foundation of the vine as you can, and dig out the root. If you can’t remove the whole root system, employ a chemical herbicide to eliminate the remaining pieces. Or, continue to cut back new growth as it appears to exhaust the main system, which will eventually destroy the vine.


Triclopyr is a non-selective herbicide recommended for control of woody plants, vines and broadleaf weeds. Apply it to the leaf when vines are actively growing. Cut up to the vine as you can in the fence first, and then apply the spray over the newly cut ends having a shielded sprayer or a paintbrush. Glyphosate may be a safer chemical option than other herbicides since it leaves very little residue in the soil that can hurt other plants or water resources. Glyphosate is usually applied directly to vines as a spray using a paintbrush. Apply herbicides when no rain is on its way when wind will not cause it to drift to ornamentals nearby.


When using chemical herbicides to eliminate vines, read product labels and follow all instructions to ensure your safety and to protect precious plants. Try to identify the vine first so you can come across a product specifically labeled for management of the species and scrutinize the area on both sides of your fence to ensure that the vine is not addressing sensitive plants that might be damaged by treatment. In addition to killing the vine itself, remove all the fruit dropped from dead vines before they have time to develop. It’s unlikely that you’ll find each part of the vine on your first effort. Check the area around your fence annually for new growth and repeat treatments if the vine begins to grow back.

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The finest Hardy Perennials

A perennial is a plant that lives three or more years, and a hardy plant survives and thrives inside a specific area, but the best rugged perennials do more than merely live long and flourish. They prosper in many locations, adapt quickly to the neighborhood surroundings and create dramatic blooms over handsome foliage — all with a minimum of maintenance and attention.


The quintessential plant of this Provencal or Mediterranean garden, lavender’s long-lasting spikes of tiny flowers lend grace to perennial gardens. Drought-tolerant, sun- loving lavender fills places where other plants may whither. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the option of perfume chefs and producers. It grows to about 2 feet tall with gray-green leaves, and blossoms in whites, pinks and purple; “Munstead” and “Hidcote” varieties are widely available. Spanish lavender (L.stoechas) grows to 3 feet using silver gray leaves topped with purple to purple flowers from spring to mid-summer. A third type of lavender, lavendin (L. x intermedia), branches freely, growing into 2- to 3-foot plants that can be utilized as a low-growing hedge.


Once considered weeds fit only for roadside ditches, tawny daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) gained respectability due to the efforts of geneticists like Arlow Burdett Stout, along with an army of enthusiastic breeders and hobbyists. A rainbow of colors and colorations grow across wide ranges, such as U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. Grassy foliage grows throughout the growing season, renewing the plant’s appearance throughout the season. An range of hybrids creates a long succession of bloom. In a Mediterranean climate, some plants rebloom on semi-evergreen plants. Daylilies blossom best with four to six hours of morning sun, but many grow happily in dappled shade or full sun, making them equally at home in a cottage garden as ground retainers on a hillside. Favorite magnets of American Hemerocallis Society West Coast members comprise “Bill Norris,” “Point of View” and “Star of India.”


True lilies (Lilium spp.) Start blooming after the daffodils fade in spring and blossom direct through autumn. Early Asiatic hybrids return to Oriental hybrids and regal trumpet hybrids. Several species lilies, such as Columbian lily (L. columbianum), Humboldt lily (L. humboldtii) along with California’s native leopard lily (L. pardalinum), which flowers from May to June, are at home in woodland and native gardens. Hybrid lilies thrive in full sun, although some native species favor woodland-edge exposures. Lilies also reproduce prolifically. A colony of three to five bulbs will grow into a thicket of stalks topped by heaps of blossoms within five decades, supplying more lilies for the garden.

Shrub Roses

Newer shrub roses (Rosa spp.) Have been bred to be much more disease-resistant and self-cleaning than the long-stemmed hybrid tea roses of decades ago that need constant pruning and spraying. “Sally Holmes,” a tree rose that can grow into a sizable hedge on a land line, produces big clusters of white flowers with salmon highlights, along with Graham Thomas along with other David Austin English roses grow big, full flowers (Graham Thomas is yellow) on big floribunda shrubs. Shrub roses bloom continuously; plant them in December or January for a complete year of blossom.

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How to Get Rid of Algae in a Small Pond Organically

Pond algae is unsightly and may be detrimental to the health of the pond. Too much algae can clog filters and choke out plants. Microscopic floating algae is beneficial in small amounts, but large amounts of this planktonic algae, in addition to blanket and string algae, have to be controlled for the benefit of the pond ecosystem. If the pond comprises chemical, fish algae control might not be an alternative. There are non-chemical approaches to keep algae from the pond that won’t harm plants or fish. When the algae is under control, a couple of maintenance changes will help keep away the algae.

Remove the plants and fish from the pond and set them in temporary home if the pond is small enough for this to be achievable. Drain the water from the pond until the bottom and sides are exposed.

Coat the algae-covered regions with a non-iodized salt. Wait three days to get the salt to dry up the algae. Scrub the dried algae from the sides of the pond, the filtration system, water features, and some other rocks or decorations at the pond. Rinse out the pond before the algae is gone. Refill the pond.

Skim the debris from the pond surface and use a pond vacuum or net to remove the debris from the base of the pond if draining is not an alternative. Eliminate as much of the debris as possible to remove the algae’s nutrient resource.

Add barley straw to the pond to control algae. Use .025 pounds of straw per square yard of surface area. Put the straw in a mesh bag with a rock for weight. Put the bag in the pond and let it sink to the bottom. As the straw decomposes, it releases a chemical that controls algae. It works best if added in the spring before the algae gets overwhelming.

Install air diffusers to circulate the pond water. Algae forms in stagnant water that has stratified so there is less oxygen at the base of the pond. Keeping the water moving leaves the environment less habitable for algae.

Reduce fish feeding. Only give fish sufficient food they can eat in five minutes. If fish are overfed, the nutrients that feed the algae development are found in much higher proportions at the pond.

Maintain a skimmer handy. Remove debris that falls on the pond surface before it sinks to the bottom of the pond to decompose. Depriving the algae of this extra nutrients keeps it from growing.

Add plants both in and around the pond. Aquatic plants will compete with the algae for nutrients. They also add more shade to the pond. Small plants, trees or shrubs planted near the pond will add some extra attention to this pond area, and will provide more shade to the water. Algae needs sunlight to grow. The less sunlight available, the less algae there’ll be.

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How to Keep Paver Walkway Grass

Paver stone walkways generally require a gravel and sand base layer with small gaps between each paver. If you prefer a more casual walkway, however, you can lay large garnish with broader spacing to create a stepping stone walkway that allows you to keep the grass between each paver. If you set the pavers into the dirt, you can mow directly over the paver path, with no need for time-consuming weed trimming equipment. This project works best with big, 12- to- 16-inch pavers. Choose from natural stone pavers, such as granite, concrete or thin flagstone.

Mow the grass prior to installing the walkway to make it simpler to access the sides of the pavers.

Put two garden hoses on the ground to define the exterior borders of the walkway. There is not any requirement to transfer the outline to the grass using spray paint.

Measure the paver thickness so that you know how deep to set the pavers in the soil.

Put the scoop in the desired design between the two garden hoses. Use a measuring tape to ensure equal spacing between each paver. Leave enough space between each paver so you can keep grass between the pavers, but brief enough that you can easily measure from one paver to another without taking a very long stride, normally between 4 and 6 inches. Leave a narrower gap, if needed, if two or more pavers are placed side.

Cut into the soil around each paver using a backyard knife or half-moon edger.

Remove the pavers, then cut into the soil as deep as the paver thickness, and about 2 inches for the foundation. Remove the turf and dirt from inside the room with a garden trowel or flat shovel. Cut carefully to just eliminate the grass in which the pavers will go, which means you’re able to continue to keep the grass between pavers.

Pack the dirt with a hand tamper to prevent the pavers from shifting as the soil settles.

Mix stone dust to the same consistency as pancake batter, then add 2 inches of the stone dust mixture to the underside of every paver hole.

Set the paver in place over the stone mud bed. Tap the top of the paver using a rubber mallet to eliminate air bubbles from the stone dust mixture and also to set them so that they are even with the top of the ground. Tilt one side of each paver slightly to allow water to run off instead of pooling together with the pavers.

Pack the dirt tight around the borders of every paver to prevent the pavers from shifting sideways.

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How to Winterize a Pineapple Plant

Pineapples (Ananas comosus) are tropical plants that do best in warmer temperatures between 65 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In Mediterranean-type climates where the winters often dip close to freezing, pineapple plants do best if brought inside during the winter season. They grow well in containers which are at least 3 gallons, making moving them inside a feasible choice. If you would rather plant your pineapples in the soil outside, take steps in the winter to maintain your plants warm and healthy.

Water the pineapple every two to three times, even if the weather is chilly. Deficiency of moisture can cause the soil to release heat more quickly and cause the plant to be dried. Dehydrated plants get rid of moisture from their leaves more quickly, often resulting in internal tissue damage. Pineapples are a member of the bromeliad family, and although many bromeliads absorb water through the stiff-leaf “cup” in the middle of the plant, pineapples use their roots. Water the area at least 12 inches around the plant thoroughly each time.

Spread mulch around the ground around the plant at least 12 to 24 inches in all directions from the plant base, maintaining it 2 to 4 inches deep. Organic mulches, such as wood chips, can help the soil retain moisture and heat. Rock and gravel mulches can also help reflect heat up toward the base of the plant, particularly white or light-colored rock. The rocks have a tendency to retain heat more than organic mulches, making them a great selection for winter. In summer, the stone can reflect too much heat and burn the bottom leaves of the plant, so pull it off from the foundation in the latest months.

Drive four wooden stakes in the ground around the pineapple plant and then put a sheet or blanket over the bets. The stakes should be tall enough so that the blanket does not touch the leaves. Tie string between the stakes in a crisscross pattern if required to prevent the blanket from sagging in the center. On nights when you anticipate cold weather, use a blanket big enough to touch the ground on all sides of the plant, and chew over the edges down with rocks or landscaping staples. Just when the plant is completely covered does the blanket help hold in heat. Eliminate the blanket in the daytime when the sun pops up.

String exterior holiday lights across the base of the plant, but don’t let the lights touch the plant. This produces some heat in the blanketed area. Or, use a 100-watt light bulb attached to an outdoor light fixture or about a mild extension cord. These should also be situated near the base of the plant and turned off each morning.

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Greenhouse Temperatures for Moisture Control

Greenhouse plants usually favor the comfortable temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the ideal growth, based on the species. Directly related to the temperature is that the indoor humidity. Plants exposed to excess humidity levels have a tendency to suffer with leaf disorders and stunting; they cannot transpire moisture easily through their stomata. Moisture control based on greenhouse temperatures requires monitoring of both heat and ventilation.

Temperature and Humidity

In general, higher greenhouse temperatures hold more water in the surrounding air mass. For example, if you maintain an indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit, your relative humidity is put as high as 91 percent. By upping your temperature, your humidity rises as well. Consequently, you control moisture with a greater temperature; water cannot condense out of the atmosphere to damage foliage without a drop in temperature.


Keeping your greenhouse in an even temperature is a struggle for any gardener; daytime and nighttime temperature fluctuations vary widely among areas. Avoid hot or cold spots in the waterfront environment by employing wall air ports and horizontal fans to keep the air properly mixed. For example, venting air from the exterior brings in new carbon dioxide. Horizontal fans prevent unexpected falls in greenhouse temperatures so the dew point cannot be met; condensation looks on foliage once the dew point is accomplished.

Greenhouse Heating

An excellent greenhouse heating system typically comes with a timer and set temperature range. For a successful plant collection, you must put the heater into the optimum range for your individual species alternative; the heater cycles on and off based on the surrounding atmosphere temperatures. By selecting a greater temperature range for the plant species, then you control the moisture in the atmosphere. In general, the greenhouse inside should be hotter than the exterior atmosphere for the best moisture control.

Warming the Plants

The plant surfaces themselves usually have a lower temperature than the surrounding air mass. This temperature gap presents a moisture control problem; the thin atmosphere layer surrounding the plant, such as a huge fruit, which may condense moisture onto the foliage since the fruit has a lower surface temperature. As a solution, gardeners utilize glowing heat beneath the camel holding the plants. Gentle and constant heat in the radiant heat allows the plant surfaces to heat to the same temperature as the surrounding air mass. Moisture control is much more secure with air and plant temperatures equaling one another.

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The way to Trim Spruce Trees

Spruce trees (Picea spp.) are coniferous evergreens that grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 8. They function best in well-draining soil and full sun or light shade. Their sharp, four-sided needles develop outward around the circumference of division stems. Spruce trees require minimal cutting and therefore are intolerant of heavy duty. Trimming them is best limited to eliminating their dead and damaged branches and also to encouraging new take growth for fuller trees.

Cut each spruce tree’s lifeless branches back to the tree’s trunk. If a branch does not have any needles, it is probably dead and may be removed. Make each cut at a 45-degree angle just beyond the branch collar. The branch collar is the slightly enlarged place where the branch joins the trunk; a branch collar also rises where a branch originates from the other branch. Use loppers to cut tiny branches along with a pruning saw to cut branches bigger than one inch in diameter.

Cut each damaged or diseased division back to 1 inch outside a bud in the event the harm or infection is confined to the branch tip. In case you have to cut back needle growth, then get rid of the whole division because it won’t regrow.

Trim the tips of new growth 1 inch outside a bud with pruning shears to support new side shoots and create fuller spruce trees. Do not trim growth older than the current season, and do not remove over one-third of the new-season growth at one time.

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How to Attain a Filter in a Swimming Pool

The pool filter is the heart of your swimming hole. If it’s working correctly, the water stays clean and crystal clear. To maintain the filter operating at its optimum, you need to replace the filter media. Your system will likely fall into one of three classes: sand, diatomaceous earth (DE) or capsule.

Replacing a Filter Cartridge

If your filter program uses cartridges, then you will have to replace it approximately every two weeks, normally. Put a stopper at the consumption and return ports on the pool before opening the filter. The plugs stop the gravity flow of water to the filter at the same time you switch the filter cartridge. Unscrew the cover of the cartridge chamber. Remove the used cartridge. Put in a new cartridge. Replace the cover and tighten the screw. Remove the stoppers from the consumption and return vents. If available in your own filter model, open the air release valve until water flows through.

Replacing Filter Sand

Replace filter mud every three to five years to maintain your body operating at optimum. Plug the intakes in an above-ground pool to keep the water from flowing into the filter program. Broadly speaking, filter systems are placed over the water level of in-ground pools, so plugs aren’t necessary. Open the filter drain valve to remove all of the water from the filter cylinder. Scoop the mud from the filter cylinder. If the opening is narrow, then use a wet/dry vacuum to lift out the sand. Inspect the inner areas of the filter program, such as the standpipe and laterals, if so equipped. Replace broken or worn parts before filling with mud. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct quantity of mud for your system.

Replacing Diatomaceous Earth

Replace diatomaceous earth (DE) with every filter backwash. When you observe the pressure gauge reading 10 psi higher than normal, it’s time to flush the system of dirt and debris built up inside the filter unit, which will get rid of the DE too. Close off the electric pump. Move the pump handle down slowly, then up briskly eight times. Close the consumption and return valves. Open the filter drain to permit built up dirt, debris and used DE to flow out of the machine. Shut the filter drain and start the intake and return valves. Turn on the pump. Add the quantity of DE according to the manufacturer’s directions, through the consumption skimmer.

Safety First

Unplug or disconnect the power going to the pump before replacing the filter media. Turning off the power removes the probability of an electric shock. Also, in the event the pump turns on with no water from the machine, the engine can burn, resulting in a costly repair. Use caution when opening a mud or DE filter. A buildup of pressure inside the filter cylinder can lead to an explosion of water and filter media. Maintain your face protected and wear goggles.

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