Spring Garden Cleanup in 6 Simple Steps

Did this year’s winter weather can leave you in need of a major spring garden cleanup session?

Once the ground has thawed and temperatures are consistently warm, it’s time to tidy up your yard and prepare for planting. If you’re not sure where to start, the following spring garden cleanup checklist should help.
Spring garden cleanup checklist

Step 1: Pruning

Weatherworn landscaping trees, shrubs and hedges often need pruning. Use a hand pruner, lopping shears or a pole pruner to cut back dead and damaged branches to live stems. For evergreens, prune back to branches growing in the direction you prefer. If you have spring-blooming shrubs, put off pruning until after they flower.

Step 2: Perennials

Cut back flowering perennials to a height of about 4 or 5 inches to allow for new growth. For winter-damaged rose canes, prune back to an inch below the dark area. If you have climbing roses, remove their older woody canes and tip the buds of young green canes downward. You can also dig up and divide perennials to create new plantings for sparse yard areas.

Step 3: Garden Beds

Next up is to clean around the plants in your garden beds. Pull up the spent annuals and rake out any dead leaves and foliage. Tamp down heaved outdoor plants, if necessary, and remove the existing layer of mulch to be prepared for spring planting.

Step 4: Compost

All the debris you removed from your garden beds? Dump it into your compost pile. Shred large leaves and chip down large branches for faster decomposition, or pick up a bagged compost starter from your local garden center. Remember to keep the compost moist and aerate the pile every two weeks.

Step 5: Garden Soil

Before you add new spring garden plantings, you should test your soil to ensure it’s primed for robust growth. Depending upon the results, you may want to work in some compost or a slow release organic fertilizer before you put any new outdoor plants in the ground.

Step 6: Garden Paths

Your hardscape surfaces may need a bit of neatening up now, too. Rake any escaped stones back into your gravel paths and add more if you notice any large depressions. If you have pavers that have heaved out of place, put them back to rights. Finally, use a pressure washer or hose to remove stains and algae growth.

Ready to get started with this year’s garden cleanup? For expert advice and all of the gardening supplies you need to spruce up your northern Utah landscape, head to Millcreek Gardens.

The leading Salt Lake City area garden center since 1955, Millcreek Gardens is happy to help you create a landscape you’ll love. To chat with our friendly and knowledgeable staff about spring garden cleanup, stop by today.

Gardening Supplies You Need for Easy Outdoor Plant Care

Having the right gardening supplies on hand makes it much easier to care for your outdoor plants.

You may love spending time out in the garden, putting new plants in the ground and giving them the TLC they need to thrive. But you have to admit – keeping your outdoor plants at their best can be hard work.

If you don’t already own the following gardening supplies, or if yours aren’t in such great shape, go to your local garden center and make a purchase. You’ll be glad you did, as these tools and gear make for easier plant care.
the right gardening supplies can make tasks easier

Protective Gear

When you’re gardening, you’re using sharp tools and sitting or kneeling on rough surfaces. Plus, you’re often out in the sun. Protecting yourself from harm is essential, and the right gear also helps make gardening more comfortable and enjoyable. To that end, plant care professionals recommend investing in:

  • Flexible leather or cotton stretch gardening gloves with padded palms and elastic cuffs
  • A padded kneeler seat, preferably a fold-flat model with wheels for easy transportation
  • Spray-on, full-spectrum sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection

Planting Tools

Putting new outdoor plants in the soil and giving them proper care can be hard work, no matter how you slice it. However, the following gardening supplies can make these tasks at least a little less taxing:

  • A classic garden rake to clear away spent annuals and plant bed debris
  • A pitchfork to easily remove rocks and large obstructions from the soil
  • A spade or garden shovel to make digging tasks much easier
  • A user-friendly trowel and cultivator for planting seeds and aerating compacted soil
  • Ergonomic hand pruners, lopping shears and a pole pruner to cut back outdoor plants

Watering Supplies

Outdoor plants need a drink of water now and then to survive – every gardener knows that. For an easier time handling all of the watering, pick up these gardening supplies at your local garden center:

  • A soaker hose, or alternatively, a solid rubber hose that’s long enough to reach your garden beds, with an ergonomic spray nozzle
  • An automatic rewind garden hose reel for easy control and convenient storage
  • A water wand with a telescoping handle for hard-to-reach plants
  • A weather-resistant watering can for delicate outdoor plants

Transporting Tools

Often, when you’re out working in the garden, you need to transport heavy gardening supplies – like mulch, soil, fertilizer and flats of plants — from one area to another. As this can be back-breaking labor, plant care professionals advise investing in:

  • A rolling garden seat that features ample storage for carrying supplies
  • A lightweight, easy-to-maneuver garden wheelbarrow with heavy-duty wheels
  • A potting bench to store supplies in a convenient space, putting everything you need to care for outdoor plants in easier reach

You can find all of these gardening supplies – and many more – at Millcreek Gardens. And, since our friendly staff loves to share their expertise, you can also find answers to all of your questions about caring for outdoor plants.

Want to make beautifying your northern Utah property as easy as possible? Stop by and see us in Salt Lake City today, and our plant care professionals will guide you toward the best outdoor plants and gardening supplies to make that happen.

Annual Flowers & Perennial Flowers – What’s the Difference?

You can find an array of gorgeous annual flowers and perennial flowers at your local garden center. But how do these two types of plants differ?

If you’re not quite sure, you’re not alone. Here at Millcreek Gardens, we get this question often – and we’re always happy to provide an answer. To satisfy your curiosity about the difference between annuals and perennials, read on.

What Are Annual Flowers?

Annual flowers have a life cycle that lasts for a single growing season. The blooms don’t return year after year – the plants die in the winter or at the first hard frost.

So, if you plant annual flowers this spring, you’ll need to plant more next year. But, your gardens will produce a glorious color show, as most annuals bloom profusely. And, you can count on season-long beauty, as annuals usually bloom for longer than perennial flowers.

What Are Perennial Flowers?

Perennial flowers live through multiple growing seasons, popping back up every spring until the plants reach maturity. Most continue to grow and produce blooms for several years, and some varieties last for decades.

If you plant perennials this spring, you won’t have to worry about replanting for at least a few years. However, your gardens may not come as alive with color, as perennials only bloom for a few weeks. You can find ever-blooming perennials at your local garden center, but even these varieties don’t produce as many flowers or bloom for as long as annuals.

Should You Plant Annuals or Perennials?

Some gardeners appreciate the advantages of annual flowers, while others prefer to plant perennials. And really, there are good reasons to go with either option.

The benefits of planting annuals include:

  • Profuse blooming
  • Several months of flowering
  • Lower cost

Plus, annuals produce their own seeds. Start them indoors in the winter, and you’ll have new flowering plants for next spring.

Perennial flowers, on the other hand, generally require less maintenance than annuals. For gardeners who are pressed for time or want an easy-care garden, they can be a solid choice.

Other reasons to plant perennial flowers include:

  • Blooming season after season
  • Tolerance of extreme weather
  • New plantings created by dividing large perennials

The truth is, both annual flowers and perennial flowers can boost the beauty of your landscape. And, in many cases, using a mixture of both is the ideal solution. Different varieties of annuals and perennials flower at different times, and strategic planning can ensure your gardens are always full of eye-catching blooms.

The plant experts at Millcreek Gardens would be happy to help you get the look you want for your northern Utah landscape. Our garden center has a vast range of delightful annuals and perennials ready for spring planting, along with all of the gardening supplies you need to create an impressive display.

If you’re ready to start shopping for annual flowers and perennial flowers, visit the friendly, helpful team at Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah, today.

Garden Center Guide to Spring Soil Maintenance

At your local garden center, you can find everything you need to help your spring plantings flourish – and that includes expert advice on soil maintenance.

If garden growth and plant health have been problems in the past, the quality of your soil could be to blame. In that case, improving it is the key to achieving a bountiful, beautiful landscape full of thriving plants.

Fortunately, shaping up your soil doesn’t take a lot of time and effort. Follow these easy steps to soil maintenance, and you’ll be on your way to gardening success.
Garden center guide to spring soil mix

Remove Rocks

Rocky soil can be a definite hindrance to garden growth. When too many rocks are present, plants have difficulty putting down roots and in getting the water and nutrients they need to flourish.

Before planting this spring, use a rake or soil sifter – available at your local garden center – to remove rocks from the top few inches of your garden beds. Doing so can have a dramatic impact on plant health.

Aerate the Soil

Aeration is the next step to soil maintenance. Soil that is heavily compacted or has a high clay content is detrimental to plant growth, as it has poor drainage.

To aerate your soil, stop by your local garden center and pick up a spike or plug aerator tool. Use it throughout your planting sites, and you’ll notice an improvement in the health and beauty of your outdoor plants.

Add Organic Material

Just about any garden can benefit from the addition of organic matter. As it breaks down, the soil will absorb the nutrients and pass them along to your plants.

Working compost into the first several inches of your garden beds before planting this spring can provide you with greater gardening success. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can purchase the organic material at your local garden center.

Test the Soil

When you visit the garden center, make sure to pick up a soil test kit. Follow the instructions, and you’ll know right away where yours stands in terms of nutrient content and pH level.

For more accurate results that allow you to identify specific amendments for soil maintenance, you can purchase a kit designed to send samples out to a lab for analysis.

Amend the Soil

Depending upon your test results, you may need to adjust the pH balance of your soil. If yours is too acidic, adding ground limestone can resolve the problem. If the garden bed is too alkaline, you may need to add sulfur.

In addition, ask the plant experts at your local garden center about ongoing soil maintenance. As your plants grow and use up the available nutrients, you may need to consider fertilization – and you’ll need a product that is formulated to meet your particular plant needs.

Do you have questions about how to achieve gardening success this spring? If you live in northern Utah, the friendly and knowledgeable plant professionals at Millcreek Gardens are happy to share their expertise. For help with soil maintenance, or to shop for the gardening supplies you need to grow healthy, beautiful plants, visit our Salt Lake City garden center today.

How to Train a Climbing Rose Bush

A climbing rose bush, with trails of beautiful blooms, makes for a stunning garden focal point.

Getting to that point, however, doesn’t come without some effort on your part. Left to their own devices, climbing roses will still bloom — but they won’t climb. Instead, they tend to become awkward-looking shrubs.

Fortunately, training a climbing rose bush isn’t all that difficult. Follow these steps, and you’ll have the dramatic display of roses you desire.
How to train a climbing rose bush

Choose a Planting Site

As with any other outdoor plant, climbing roses need the right growing conditions to thrive. Choose a site with plenty of sunshine – most varieties need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Install a Support Structure

Roses won’t climb unless they have a structure for vertical support. Their long structural canes need to be attached to or woven into some sort of framework, such as a trellis, arbor or fence. Choose a structure that’s strong enough to handle the weight of a mature plant, and make sure it’s firmly anchored in the ground.

Plant the Climbing Rose

Amend the soil, if necessary, and dig a hole for planting in the center of the support structure. The hole should be about two feet deep and twice as wide as the roots of the rose bush. Place the plant, add more soil and water deeply. To finish, spread compost and add a layer of mulch.

Attach the Canes to the Structure

Find the sturdiest structural canes and loosely attach them to the support structure. Use flexible ties, such as strips of pantyhose or stretchy cloth, as ridged ties could cut into the canes as they grow.

Maintain the Rose Bush

After the first year, begin training the structural canes to grow horizontally – this encourages the development of more side shoots, which leads to more blooms. As the canes become longer, use more ties to provide support and guide their growth. Once the climbing rose is about three years old, start pruning each spring.

Are you ready to beautify your landscape with a climbing rose bush? The friendly and knowledgeable staff at Millcreek Gardens can recommend rose varieties suited to the growing conditions in your part of northern Utah.

Along with an array of gorgeous and healthy plants, Millcreek Gardens has all of the gardening supplies you need – and we’re always happy to offer tips and advice to our fellow Salt Lake City area gardeners.

For more information on how to train a climbing rose bush, or to shop for the must-have gardening supplies, stop by Millcreek Gardens today.

Top 10 Plant Nursery Tips for Easier Gardening

Who doesn’t love browsing the local plant nursery and having gorgeous, bountiful home gardens? Unfortunately, doing the work to create a lush landscape can sometimes seem like a chore.

Take heart, however, because easier gardening is in reach. Use these tips from the plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens, and you can enjoy a beautiful landscape without investing a ton of time and effort into the cause.
Plant nursery gardening tips

No 1: Start with Quality Garden Soil

The better the soil, the healthier the plants – and healthy plants require less attention. Test your soil, and if it’s less than optimal, visit the local plant nursery for advice on amendments.

No. 2: Choose Low-Maintenance Perennials

Before buying any plants, read their tags. For easier gardening, look for perennials – or, ask the plant nursery staff to recommend low-maintenance options.

No. 3: Group Plants with Matching Needs

If you have plants with different care needs scattered all around the yard, it will take more of an effort to keep them healthy. Group like with like for easier gardening.

No. 4: Add a Layer of Garden Mulch

Mulch makes for easier gardening, as it retains moisture and, therefore, allows you to water less often. Plus, it enriches the soil and works to help keep weeds in check.

No. 5: Pull Up Weeds When They’re Young

Speaking of weeds, pull them as soon as you see them. The younger they are, the easier the gardening task is – and, pulling weeds prevents them from reproducing.

No. 6: Take Time to Deadhead

Spend a few moments deadheading self-seeding perennials, and you’ll spend less time dividing out-of-control plants later on. If you’re not sure how, ask the local plant nursery staff.

No. 7: Use the Right Plant Fertilizer

When it comes time to feed your plants, choose an organic fertilizer from your local plant nursery. Synthetic fertilizers are more of a short-term fix, so they require more frequent application.

No. 8: Consider Raised Bed Gardens

When a garden has definite boundaries, it’s much easier to care for. Planting in raised beds also means saving your back from the strain of constant bending.

No. 9: Invest in Efficient Gardening Tools

Repetitive motions stress the joints and using some gardening tools can be painful. Ergonomic tools designed for comfortable use make for much easier gardening.

No. 10: Keep Your Garden Design Simple

When deciding on your garden design, don’t go overboard. Plan for easier gardening by keeping it simple — only use as many outdoor plants as you can truly maintain.

If you live in northern Utah and are looking for ways to make gardening easier, stop by Millcreek Gardens. Our plant nursery is stocked with plenty of delightful low-maintenance perennials, and we carry an extensive range of ergonomic, easy-to-use gardening tools.

The friendly and knowledgeable Millcreek Gardens staff is always happy to share their expertise. For more advice on easier gardening, visit our Salt Lake City plant nursery today.

How to Create an Indoor Succulent Container Garden

An indoor succulent container garden can bring instant beauty to your home or office. And, you don’t need a green thumb to achieve success with this gardening project – creating a beautiful display is easy, and the plants don’t need much ongoing care.

 

Ready to get started? Follow these steps, and you’ll have a gorgeous, easy-care indoor succulent garden in almost no time.

Succulent container gardening

succulent plants

Select a Variety of Succulents

 

To begin, head to your local garden center and choose an assortment of succulents with different textures, shapes, colors and heights. You really can’t go wrong by selecting what you like, but make sure the plants are healthy – look for plump, tender leaves and avoid any succulents that look leggy.

 

Gather the Necessary Gardening Supplies

 

While you’re at the garden center, grab up all of the other supplies for creating an indoor succulent container garden. You’ll need:

 

  • A planter that’s at least three inches deep
  • Pea gravel for drainage and, if you like, for a decorative touch
  • Fast-draining garden soil, such as cactus growing medium

 

Assemble the Container Garden

 

Once you have your plants and gardening supplies, you can create your indoor succulent garden. Here’s what to do:

 

  1. Cover the bottom of your planter with a layer of pea gravel.
  2. Add garden soil until the container is about three-fourths full.
  3. Arrange the succulents however you like, but make sure they have enough space to allow for future growth.
  4. Use more garden soil to fill around the plants and cover their roots. If you want, add pea gravel for a decorative finish.
  5. Water the container garden and place it in a sunny indoor spot.

 

Ongoing Care for an Indoor Succulent Container Garden

 

Succulents prefer bright, direct light, and they need at least four hours of sunshine every day. If the container garden isn’t in a good location, you’ll know it – you’ll see the plants growing stringy as they reach out toward the light.

 

An indoor succulent container garden doesn’t need watering very often. You can tell when the plants need a drink by touching their lower leaves. If they seem flat and deflated, it’s time to water. You can also check for moisture in the same way you’d check a cake to see if it’s fully baked. Simply insert a chopstick or bamboo skewer into the soil, pull it out and look for clinging crumbs – if it’s completely clean, the succulents are thirsty.

 

To feed your indoor succulents and keep them growing healthy and beautiful, you can fertilize between the months of March and September. Ask the staff at your local garden center for advice on which fertilizer to use and how often to apply it.

 

For more easy indoor gardening ideas and fun outdoor landscape projects ideal for northern Utah, visit Millcreek Gardens.

 

As Salt Lake City’s favorite garden center since 1955, Millcreek Gardens is the go-to source for practical advice and all the gardening supplies you need to complete any plant project. For more tips on creating an indoor succulent container garden, stop by and talk to the friendly Millcreek Gardens staff today.

Garden Center Guide to Pruning Flowering Shrubs

You can find all the supplies you need for pruning flowering shrubs at your local garden center – but is taking the time to prune really all that important?

 

Actually, pruning is one gardening task you shouldn’t skip. While many shrubs can turn out well without regular attention, flowering varieties need to be pruned to stay at their best.

 

However, proper technique and timing are essential when pruning flowering shrubs. For more on why to prune – and tips on when and how to get the job done right – read the following garden center guide.

 

Garden center guide for pruning flowering shrubs

How Pruning Helps Flowering Shrubs

 

With proper pruning, shrubs have a greater chance of reaching their full potential. When you prune, the plants enjoy several benefits, including:

 

  • Larger blooms
  • More frequent blooming
  • Improved health and growth
  • Decreased risk of pests and disease

 

Pruning can also rejuvenate plants that are overgrown or no longer flowering. And, of course, pruning works to give shrubs a more attractive, shapely appearance.

 

When to Prune Flowering Shrubs

 

Timing makes a difference when pruning shrubs. Prune at the wrong time, and you could end up with no flowers until the following year.

 

Every variety has unique needs, so it’s a good idea to ask your local garden center for guidelines on when to prune the specific types of flowering shrubs you own. As a rule of thumb, however:

 

  • Prune spring-blooming shrubs after their flowers have withered and died
  • Prune summer- and fall-blooming shrubs in late winter or early spring

 

When pruning is necessary for the purpose of removing dead, diseased or damaged branches, it can be completed at any time.

 

How to Properly Prune Flowering Shrubs

 

Before you begin pruning, you need the right tools for the job at hand. Depending upon the size and height of the branches, the task may require a hand pruner, lopping shears or a pole pruner – you can find all three tools at your local garden center.

 

If you already own the right pruning tools, make sure they’re clean and sharp before you start. And, if you need to prune any diseased or pest-infested branches, sanitize the tools between cuts to prevent the problem from affecting other parts of the plant.

 

When you’re ready to prune, the outcome you want to achieve will determine your approach:

 

  • To encourage fuller flowering, pinch back the growth at the branch tips
  • For denser interior growth, cut the branches back to just above a lateral bud
  • To open up the shrub, make thinning cuts to the interior branches

 

Do you have questions about pruning flowering shrubs? Stop by your favorite local garden center – in northern Utah, that’s Millcreek Gardens – and talk to the staff. As plant experts, they can tell you everything you need to know.

 

Don’t leave your shrubs to fend for themselves. For advice on the ins and outs of pruning flowering shrubs, visit our Salt Lake City, Utah, garden center today.

Plant Nursery Advice: How to Care for a Christmas Cactus

Did you get a Christmas cactus at the plant nursery this holiday season? This flowering houseplant, native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, can live for years with the right care.

Fortunately, keeping a Christmas cactus happy and healthy is pretty easy. Here, the plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens explain the basics.

care for christmas cactus

Light

Christmas cacti produce more abundant blooms when exposed to bright light, so keep yours in a sunny spot indoors. However, don’t place it in direct sunlight, as that can cause the leaves to burn. In the summer, you can move the cactus to a semi-shaded location outside if you like.

Water

Since Christmas cacti come from the rainforest – and not the desert like other cactus plants – they appreciate moisture. Plant nursery professionals recommend frequent, thorough watering. And, if the indoor atmosphere is on the dry side, boost the humidity by keeping a shallow tray of water near the plant.

Temperature

Warm temperatures, between 60 and 70 degrees, are better for a Christmas cactus, but the plant needs to be cooler at night during the fall and winter. For optimal growth, keep your cactus well away from any sources of hot air, such as heat vents and fireplaces

Fertilizer

In the early spring and throughout the summer, your Christmas cactus can benefit from monthly fertilization. A water-soluble fertilizer for flowering houseplants is best – the Millcreek Gardens plant nursery staff can help you find the right type.

Repotting

Christmas cactus plants need repotting every few years, when the soil appears depleted and the roots appear ready to burst out of the container. Spring is the ideal time to repot, as that’s when the plant is actively growing, but you can take on the task at another time of year if necessary.

Blooming

Did you know you can force a Christmas cactus to bloom? To initiate blooming, count back eight weeks from the date you want to see flowering. Put the plant in total darkness for 13 to 15 hours each day, watering just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling. Once buds start to form, move the cactus back to its usual spot and keep the soil moist.

Do you have questions about houseplant care? The plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens, northern Utah’s favorite garden center since 1955, are always happy to share their expertise. Our friendly team can help ensure your indoor plants — and your outdoor annuals, perennial flowers, shrubs and landscaping trees – have exactly what they need to thrive.

For more detailed information on how to care for a Christmas cactus or any other indoor or outdoor plant, stop by Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah, and talk to our knowledgeable plant nursery staff today.

Outdoor Plants and Winter Damage – What You Need to Know

The cold spells and frosty conditions we get here in northern Utah can wreak havoc on your outdoor plants. Winter damage is a real problem for many local gardeners, and not all plants survive when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

 

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent winter damage to vulnerable outdoor plants. Here’s how to protect your landscape and make sure it bounces back next spring – no matter how brutal the weather gets this winter.

 

Causes of Winter Damage

 

Winter damage affects the landscape in a number of ways:

 

  • Early cold spells can threaten specimens that aren’t prepared for winter
  • Frozen soil can prevent plants from drawing in enough moisture
  • Dry winds combined with bright wintertime sun can burn foliage and crack tree bark
  • Alternating freeze-and-thaw cycles can make plants heave out of the ground
  • Mid-winter warm periods can cause plants to come out of dormancy too early

 

Identifying Vulnerable Outdoor Plants

 

Landscaping trees, shrubs, rose bushes and plants that are native to Utah or that are hardy for our region can usually get through winter unscathed.

 

However, some landscape plants may not be so lucky. Winter damage is more likely to occur in:

 

  • Species at the boundary of their viable hardiness zone
  • Container garden plants
  • Newly-planted deciduous trees and shrubs
  • Broadleaf evergreens

 

How to Mitigate Winter Damage

 

Want to make sure the harsh Utah winter weather doesn’t take too much of a toll? To protect your vulnerable plants, follow these garden center tips:

 

Provide insulation against the cold.

Applying a three- to four-inch layer of mulch can help newly-planted landscaping trees and shrubs get through the winter.

 

Keep an eye on soil moisture.

If you discover dry soil, plan for a thorough watering on a day when the outdoor temperature is above 40 degrees.

Consider wind protection.

To guard against drying winter winds, you may need to erect a windbreak or wrap vulnerable shrubs and landscaping trees.

 

Wait for signs of recovery in the spring.

Some outdoor plants take longer to recover from winter damage than others. Resist the urge to prune or remove any specimens until the end of spring arrives.

 

Encourage healthy growth.

When you see new growth emerge, you can easily identify dead branches that are in need of pruning. After you prune, fertilize to speed up the healing process.

 

Are you worried about winter weather damage to your landscape? Millcreek Gardens, serving northern Utah and the Wasatch Front, is here to help. Our friendly and knowledgeable garden center staff can offer more pointers on how to protect your outdoor plants.

 

For expert advice and answers to all of your questions about indoor and outdoor plants, head to Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City today.