Well, no news is good news...

Before you see this on TV I felt it was only appropriate that you should hear it from me first. Feel free to forward any questions or concerns.
Just know that I’m “okay”.

The press release that went out this morning is below:


Work-strapped Borders Employee Union (BEU 109) Purchases local Landscaping Company

For Immediate Release

Dateline: Nashville, TN - With the fate of the Borders chain uncertain in many markets across the United States, many employee unions are torn with the decision of what to do with the monies in their pension and special union funds. Most unions will divide those funds up evenly or will dump them into special 401 K programs. Others, however, are taking more radical approaches as to how their funds are used. In Nashville, one Borders employee union has taken their fate into their own hands and unanimously voted to invest their funds rather than distribute them.

“We want to work”, said Olmar Chekopski, store manager and Union President of the Brentwood location. “We had just had a collective meeting in which we had decided that we would find a business model we could start or even purchase. My assistant manager walked in at that moment and asked if I still wanted him to put all of the landscaping books on clearance at 60% off.
I looked across the table at our union VP, Jim, who is responsible for the History and Personality Disorder section. He gave me a nod and smile so I said, ‘no, make it 70% off’. We then took some of our union petty cash and bought all of the books. It ended up being a 90% savings with our employee discount and we even get a $50 rebate. Our dream was born. After all, isn’t everyone a landscaper right now? Why shouldn’t we be?”

As fate would have it, one of Border’s lurker customers, so called because they only read books in-store and never purchase, was lurking and reclining while reading the book titled, How to influence Friends, Pets and Music Industry Executives through the Power of Hypnosis and Suggestion,2nd edition, hardback. Alan Murdock, owner of ArtHouse Gardens based in East Nashville was just this person and in the right place at the right time. Chekopski said that he knew Murdock was a landscaper because they had to clean the mud off of their floors and furniture every time he left and that Murdock always disguised his book or comic book choices with the covers from authors like Einstein and Tolstoy. Chekopski admitted that at first he was
going to kick Murdock out of the store for good because Borders perhaps went broke due to the cleaning supplies used after Murdock’s visits when he was overcome with a compulsion. Chkopski felt compelled to ask Murdock if he would be willing to sell his company for a reported, but unconfirmed, six figures to the BEU 109. Murdock immediately accepted pending the union board approval of the purchase.

During the purchase inquiry it was discovered that Murdock had many setbacks in 2010 which was important in the unions decision to purchase ArtHouse Gardens, Inc. or not. Certainly numerous community rumors about Murdock and his company circulate his community which actually peaked
BEU 109’s interest. But some of the rumors and information found during the inquiry was, in fact, common knowledge as Murdock recently disclosed his bout with depression after being denied in the first round of the current American Idol season. “It wouldn’t have been so difficult to hear the rejection had Steven Tyler not kept singing, ‘dream on, dream on’ when I sobbed uncontrollably on international TV begging for the second chance which I deserved.
Honestly, I think Steven was distracted because he was looking at me inappropriately.” Murdock suggested.

But just last week, the Tyler controversy was overshadowed by new claims that local American Idol star Paul McDonald and Street Corner Symphony, the Nashville based acapella group that had recent success on America’s Got Talent competition were really behind Murdock’s quick departure with A.I. TMZ quoted Murdock yesterday saying, “Seriously, I was told by several music business sources that I was bullied out of the competition by my peers that live in my very own community. ” But Murdock’s tenure as an American Idol may still be happen – not just in the musical sense. Be sure to watch Murdock’s depression confession and his weight loss goals on tonight’s episode of ABC’s Biggest Loser. If you ask me, it sounds like Murdock should be on the Biggest Winner, but management for both Paul McDonald and Street Corner Symphony would only comment, “nope, Murdock is pretty much the biggest loser”. Murdock says his biggest goal for 2011 is to hypnotize someone into giving him tickets for an upcoming U2 concert. Have a happy April Fools Day!

For more information about this and other ArtHouse Gardens related news please visit www.arthousegardens.blogspot.com or read Murdock’s articles in past and
Upcoming editions of The East Nashvillian magazine.


Thanks to all of you who have volunteered this week. We have had hundreds of you pass through our doors this week and you are appreciated. We are still in dire need of volunteers as we will be losing many as their businesses open back up. Please join us at 9am each morning and you will be placed with a team to make a difference here in your community.

We are needing water bottles for volunteers, cleaning supplies and more. Please call 227-8733 for more info or stop by and see Catherine McTamaney.

We are located at 1108 B Woodland Street, Nashville, TN 37206 Behind I Dream of Weenie (or across from the East Nashville Post Office).


Annual and Perennial... weeds?

Hi! Welcome to our blog. There's a whole lot of posts going on in here from Jazz to Jack Bauer to gardening and landscaping. We hope you sometimes laugh and sometimes... well, laugh... but most of all we hope you'll learn more about the art of gardening. It's "that time" of year so we're more geared up for gardening than humor -- but don't worry, that won't last very long! In the mean time, our goal is to make gardening and landscapes affordable for everyone. We design and plant based on your budget, your likes and your needs. We talk about gardening for yards of every size, too. So come on in and learn about today's topic. Be sure to check out the other ones below, too! PS -- our contact info and photos of just some of our work is to the right.

TOPICS: What you need to know about Annual and Perennail weeds and will I ever have a weed free yard?

Most of you are aware of the definition of an annual and perennial. In case you don't, annual flowers and plants only live for one growing season. Perennial flowers and plants live for more than one season. An annual here in Tennessee might just be a perennial in Florida. Somewhere every annual is a perennial in some part of the world.

But what about weeds? Weeds fall into the same categories.

Annual weeds such as crabgrass, germinate from seeds each spring. After maturing, they *drop seeds before dying. These are the seeds that germinate the following year. This is why a crab grass preventer, key word is preventer, is put into your lawn a few times a year at specific times. A crabgrass preventer actually stops the germination process so that the crabgrass does not make it to "full term".

CAREFUL: Putting down weed preventer at the wrong times can be fatal to other plants. Weed preventer does not distinguish between weed seeds and flower seeds. Some people feel like putting a weed or seed preventer is inhumane (those people need another hobby). Read the label carefully or hire a professional.

* The process of dropping seeds can be caused by human error, too. Never pull a weed and leave it on the ground. You might just have a lot more weeds in your lawn the next season as you did this year.

Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, do not die at the end of growing season. They may lay dormant in the winter, but will become noticeable in the spring. Dandelions are one of the most prevailing perennial weeds throughout the U.S. You would think that they were native, but they came from Europe many years ago.

The best way to control perennial weeds and especially dandelions is to actually pull it out of the ground leaving no roots at all. Discard the dandelion in a bag immediately. Blowing dandelions in your yard is a blast and an American past-time but do not blow dandelions in the yard if you want a perfectly weed free yard and do not cut them with the mower or weedeater (blowing is much more fun).

Probably not. If you do then we have much greater issues than as to whether our lawn looks good or not. As long as there are birds (which carry and poop weed seeds), dandelions even miles away and strong gusts of wind --- you will have weeds. If you take good care of your lawn and garden beds then you will have an easily controlled weed environment. Even the most perfect looking lawns have weeds. It's unavoidable. However, you can easily have a healthy, vibrant, weed-free looking yard with determination or with the aid of a professional. Just keep in mind that a great yard takes time.

TIP: Weeds will come when they want to and when birds poop, etc. Inbetween cracks in your driveways and patios are especially prone areas that will have unwanted weeds and grass because water runoff carries them into concentrated areas. If you use a professional service to eliminate your weeds then pour salt on these weeds/grass in between visits to help irradicate them. Salt works!


Before meeting with a garden or landscaping professional you should have some goals in mind -- even if they are basic. Or perhaps your 1st meeting will inspire questions and thoughts that will prepare you for a second meeting. If even after reading this you're still "stumped" and do not even know where to begin, don't sweat it. We'll guide you through it. But here's some reading that might help you during your first or second visit with a gardening professional.

Here are some of the basics for your meeting:

  • What are your goals for your yard? We (landscapers in general) can help you with those goals, but before we tell you what we think, you should have some thoughts too. It could save you a lot of money. Are you looking to have your yard spiffed up with a few plantings or do you want a total overhaul? Your yard seems "pitiful" but is it because you no longer have a pretty grass? A nice lawn can make your whole landscape look so much better. Try to put what's wrong with your yard (turned into goals for your yard) into words for your meetings with landscapers. Do you need sod or do you need to get on a "healthy lawn program" or both? Do your garden beds need dimension to really stand out? Don't hesitate to bring pictures of plants or landscapes from magazines to your meeting either. These pictures are goals. Goals are good.
  • (However) Be open minded. A good landscaper or gardener is a better listener. Sometimes you're words and expressions are giving us clues to what you want, but more importantly what you need. Sometimes your yard itself does the talking for you. Your yard situation could be an easy fix. For example, if your grass isn't growing because your tree limbs are too thick and sunlight is no longer passing through -- you need an arborist. Or perhaps a tree has been removed and now your azaleas have turned for the worst because they're getting too much sun -- in that case you need a green thumb or a landscaper/gardener. You may not know that this is the reason why, but we should. We should offer good solutions to your problems.
  • Don't call someone because you don't feel like you know enough. Listen, don't let the two previous bullets worry you. We've had customers say that they've considered landscaping for years but were too embarrassed by their lack of knowledge. Just know that first and foremost --- you are why we have a job in the first place. It's okay if you don't know anything. If we make you feel uncomfortable then we're not the team for you and we have failed in customer service. However, if we can guide you and educate you along the way -- without manipulating you, then we've done the right thing. Don't be afraid to bring a knowledgeable friend to the meeting either.
  • What is your budget? You really should know your budget "range" before you start a landscaping project (or at least by the 2nd meeting). If Aunt Ethyl just left you a million dollars and you want "the works" then great, let's do the works. But you shouldn't engage in a $10,000.00 conversation with a landscaper when you know you only have $2,000 to spend. When you buy a car, you generally know what your budget range is. Same thing for a new refrigerator, stove or even a house. So you should know how much you are willing to spend and to save on your landscaping needs. Now, this does not mean you have to spend that much money, but be prepared after meeting with a professional to come back and tell them what you have available to spend and for what projects. Don't hesitate to prioritize your lawn goals. I often have people come to me and say, "I have $2,000 to spend, what can we do?". I say, we can do lots for you -- and we do. Sometimes a client will say, "I only have $500.00 so I know I can't get but a plant or two". That's crazy. You can or should get a lot for $500.00. The plants may be smaller, but they'll grow and in a few years you'll never know the difference. Who knows, maybe one day, heaven forbid, Aunt Ethyl will leave you with a lot of extra money. Hopefully you'll call us again because you were pleased the first time.
  • THIS INDUSTRY GOES THROUGH PHASES (PART 1): There are two times a year that we get really busy (the biggest is between May 1st and April 1st). During those times it will seem that we are moving really slow and don't want your business. That's simply not the case. You should realize that we are fully taking care of our clients (some are ongoing clients) to the best of our ability. This is a service that you, too, will appreciate in your yard even if it's a few weeks later than you wanted. If we say we'll get to you in a week tack on an extra few days to a week for good measure. We want your business, but we want to keep our regular clients even more. Hopefully you'll soon be a regular client.
  • THIS INDUSTRY GOES THROUGH PHASES (PART 2): I'm going to get in trouble for saying this but it's the truth. Right now the landscaping industry is going through a terrible price gouging on several fronts, but specifically lighting. You have to be rich to have professional lighting installed. It has an amazingly high profit margin so every "landscaper" should be doing it if they can go home with themselves at night. But what happens is that the "high-end" well runs out and people stop doing lighting. The reputation that lighting is expensive takes it's course (and potential clients) until some brilliant young company comes in an underprices everyone. Eventually, lighting, or whatever, becomes popular again but some formerly potential clients will be forever burned. Overall, the lawn and garden industry is overpriced right now. Prices from wholesalers are way down because of the quantity of purchases, but the prices that landscapers are charging are going up (it should be going down). Being a small company allows us to right that wrong and try and readjust the baseline for landscaping so that more people can afford it. It costs me less in 2007 to landscape than it did in 2004 --- my prices should reflect that.

Landscaping your yard is supposed to create a relaxing atmosphere, not one in which you cringe everytime you walk outside because you think of how much it cost you.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... "Happy New Spring!" Time to make your new spring resolutions

Spring is almost here. The countdown has begun. Oh, no! You haven't made your "new spring" resolutions yet? What? You haven't even heard of "new spring resolutions" before? Well, it's a good thing you're reading this blog then.

Hey, the new year is a great time to make new resolutions but it's better for watching Dick Clark in Times Square and cuddling up to a roaring fire. Let's be honest. You haven't kept very many of your new year's resolutions have you? None of them? Well, perhaps you've never tried making your resolutions at the right time of year... spring. Yep, that's right. Right now -- spring is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year for making resolutions. Spring is about rebirth, newness and a healthy change for the good. Nature is leading by example. You feel it, it's that natural lift in your heel that comes around this time of year -- so it's only natural to make your resolutions now.

Last December, during that short time between Christmas and January 1st you panicked to come up with your resolutions. Here are a few common ones:

  • Start running/walking (yeah, right. It's 30 fricking degrees outside and you're going to go walking everyday? Now make that resolution on the first day of spring while the trees are blooming, a blanket of mild air surrounds you and... wallah! A resolution you can keep!)
  • Start eating healthier (I'm a gardner, not a doctor, but it makes sense to me that January and winter in general is not a good time to start a healthy diet for those you who find this time of year a struggle. Your body naturally wants more fat to keep itself warm. It's a wayward fight. Your weight loss goal is more effective in spring, while you're actually out walking and increasing your metabolism, your body has a natural tendency to shed some excessive pounds as warmer weather approaches --- work with the curve, not against it)
  • Talk to mother more (can't help you with this one unless mom is actually out walking with you)
  • Relax More while spending quality time with friends and family (see below).

This last resolution is right up my alley. While gardening is growing across the U.S., it is still trailing behind parts of Europe, many Americans are finding that the lost art of gardening is extremely relaxing. The benefits of gardening include good health, higher property value to a prospective buyer and having a great place to congregate with friends and family. So get out of the house and garden more -- in the spring. You'll find that many of your old resolutions can be met with this one simple chore.

But getting started on a garden can be daunting. That's where we come in. Professional gardeners can help design your landscape and garden beds in a way that is manageable. If that's still too overwhelming for you then we can help you actually take care of your yard. It's not expensive (and yes, we even pull weeds). We have many maintenance plans to help you with your gardens with the most common one being our monthly care program designed to get your yard under control, healthy and a great place to hang out. It also leaves a little room for you to get out and work too, without feeling overwhelmed.

Our clients range from busy professionals who love to garden, but don't have the time they used to have so they need a hand from time to time, all the way to the stay at home mom who wants a beautiful and safe yard for the children to explore.

Read our other posts to learn more about gardening (and some other random thoughts too).

Why Do I Need A Gardener?

There are many reasons why you need a gardener for your lawn, trees, shrubs and garden areas. One of the obvious reasons is that a gardener takes his/her time in your yard not just planting, feeding, fertilizing, etc., but also looking for signs of disease, pests or other problems. Gardeners are not in a race to get from one house to the next. It's about the experience and creating a better overall lawn and garden.

Here are some other reasons:

  • Gardeners actually pull weeds out of garden beds
  • A sharp increase in back injury and back pain has been attributed to d0-it-yourself gardeners
  • Your lawn is speaking and gardeners know how to listen to it. There are signs that your grass, trees, shrubs and flowers give you as to what kind of health they are in and what they need to get better.
  • specific plants, trees and shrubs need to be trimmed at specific times of the year --- not EVERY time.
  • Specific plants, trees and shrubs need to be fed at specific times of the year.
  • Aeration can be good for a lawn, but it's not always good for a lawn to be aerated every year. Can you tell the difference?
  • Unless you are creating new beds or your current beds require a complete overhaul, garden beds should be mulched at specific times of the year. Established beds need and should get much less mulch than new non-established beds.
  • Some mulches are detrimental to animals. Do you know which ones?
  • Having a gardener does not have to be expensive. If yours is, then shop around.
  • Gardening is a pleasure. If it's not for you, then you need a gardener

Gardeners don't have to be full-time. They can be part-time and help you to keep things in your garden under control so that you're not overwhelmed with your yard, but you fall in love with it. Our goal is to get you out into your yard and enjoy the experience.

The Best Guide to the 2007 Nashville Home and Garden Show

The 2007 Nashville Garden Show is a week away. Get your tickets now! Admittedly, I'm excited. I even like the 007 reference, "Live and Let Grow". Kudos to them. The cost for adults is $8.00 and it's a great way to see what's new, what's back and what you should be buying. From those that just want to get out of the house and into the great outdoors that are actually indoors... or those that are even slightly interested in their gardens should attend this show. And don't worry. You don't have to speak latin to communicate with anyone.

However, there are some key, but simple things you should know before attending the show so that you don't get a headache later (for starters, to get in you'll need a ticket or cash -- no credit cards for entry). Some of these things are funny and some of these are serious. You may want to purchase, order or ruminate over something while at the show so this guide will hopefully get you thinking about the right things. Look out for # 10!


1. Water. How much does it need? How often does it need it? Is all that water going to attract mosquitos, algae, mold? Am I really going to spend $500.00 for something that needs that much agua? Wow. You guys are going to get so much more than just 10 things out of this! Before you commit, know the commitment or get help.

TIP: Water lawns less often, but for longer periods of time.

2. WHERE Am I? Knowing where you are... or what zone you live in is important. Sometimes these shows can have not-so-local vendors selling swings and talk about things they shouldn't so know your zone, know what grass grows best so you can ask the right questions about seed and weed and know when those things can be dealt with best. By the way, if you are in Middle Tennessee so you are in Zone 6b (officially). But we're also a little Zone 6a and 7a, too. Admittedly it's confusing and there is still a little bickering about our zone being changed to "b". Most of what will grow in Zone 7a and zone 6a can be grown in 6b. That's pretty much what you need to know. Need to see it on a map to understand? Go here. However, I have grown plants outdoors for years that I keep being told can't grow in our zone, or even two under us. The whole zone thing is just a reference, but it can be confusing to vendors, too.

3. What grass should I be growing in Middle Tennessee? I get questions from people who have been to Georgia and Florida and fall in love with St. Augustine grass or zoysia. It's great, my parents have St. Augustine... but you aren't going to get it to grow here for very long and zoysia is getting better but needs more tweaking before you spend lots of dough on it. Middle Tennessee is a transitional zone for grass and therefore needs a more transitional grass like fescue. Fescue is a cold season grass so it's green in the winter and most year round. It gets weak and whimpy in July and August but picks back up late August. Don't call me in December through June and say, "my fescue grass is dead -- I only planted it 3 years ago". That's not fescue. It's bermuda. Bermuda, just like a weed will overtake your yard when fescue is weak during the heat of summer and especially if your yard is weedy and has been neglected by proper nutrition. If you went outside today and looked at your lawn and it's brownish, whitish with green spots here and there, it's bermuda. The green spots are what's left of your fescue. Proper nutrition of a yard will keep the bermuda and weeds out. I was kidding when I said "don't call me" -- please, call me. I'm nice, I promise. And I'm less likely to crack jokes in person.

4. Am I a bad person for killing weeds? I'm sorry, I don't do philosophical questions and if someone at the home and garden show tells you you are an "evil weed killer doer", you're at the wrong place. However, weed control is a very important factor in having a beautiful lawn. A four-leaf clover might be lucky, but it's still a weed. Dandelions, broadleaf weeds, and other types of weeds can attack a weak lawn. There are very good weed control products on the market today and they are usually noted what type of weed the product was developed to get rid of. Organics are getting better and better but are still a little way off on competing with non-organics. If you have the time, energy and money then use organics. Otherwise, they'll catch up in a few more years.

5. Are you a tool junkie or a tool sucker? Tools are great. Since the earliest of days, cavemen developed tools to make life easier and better (well, I actually wasn't there but I'm sure it happened). But tools do not always make our lives easier. Sometimes they are much more hype than help. Personally, I'm recalling my great terra cotta roasted-garlic cooker purchase. I think I still have it and have NEVER used it because it was an impulse buy. But it is doing a great job taking up space in my kitchen. I think I'll keep it as a reminder. If you see a cool tool, don't make an impulse buy but take their information so you can research and then order it from them if you still want it. If you want a new "tool" for the garden try this: The topsy turvey tomato grower thingy. It works, I've seen them in your yards full of tomatos. It's not my style, I like staking them in the ground, scaring away the squirrels and building scare crows... but you are not me. To order one or read about it, click here, or look for one at the Home and Garden Show.

6. Don't buy that shammy OR that rake! Look, this is an addendum to #5. Nobody in our area, except maybe Gregg Bolling, is going to buy one of those whacky shammies that can clean everything from stinky butt to cigarett butt from those local vendors in the mall at Christmas time. Likewise, you don't need a high-tech rake for $50.00 because it's going to save you money in making the job go by faster. Look, 4 months from now, if you are really, in fact using it, it's going to break. All rakes that are used break, get crushed or if you're in Lockeland Springs -- get stolen. Buy the cheap one with the larger head fan and be prepared to buy another. Even including cost of gas, you're much better off.

7. This product is not available elsewhere! Then forget it. You don't need it. THINK: If it's that good, then Home Depot, Lowe's, Lesco, Worm's Way or your favorite local hardware store will have it. This product "only available here" will probably be in Big Lot's in less than 6 months selling for $1.99 instead of $99.00. Then, as everything does, it will be proven to cause cancer. So... control your impulses.

8. Which way to see the two headed goat? Okay, sure you're at the fairgrounds, but if you came for the two headed goat you're about 7 months early. Relax and take a stroll through the vendors areas. Look at the set ups that they have and refer back to rules #1-7.

9. Okay, I'm skipping #9 because #10 is much more important.

10. WARNING: The Home and Garden Show will give you a bad back!

Okay, so the 2007 Nashville Garden Show won't really give you back pain, but the BBC has some warnings for beginners and not so beginners to heed in regards to gardening. So keep this in mind when choosing equipment or deciding to take on a project yourself.

The BBC put out a report detailing the rise in trend of backpain. A Gallup poll of more than 2,000 adults found that nearly 42% had suffered from back pain. Of these, nearly half (47%) said their problems were a result of working in the garden.

In the 35 years of age and older category it was 56% who said their back pain was a result of gardening. The article goes on to say that most problems stem from not knowing how to lift and bend properly.

Why the sudden increase in back pain? Experts say that it is the Lawn and Gardening shows that are inspiring people to get out and work but are not inspiring people to work smart. But it's not necessarily the one's like our 2007 Nashville Home and Garden show, but it's the on TV variety.

Calculating Lime, Fertilizer and Sod in your yard (more)

In this edition:
  • how do I calculate how much lime to put in my yard?

  • how do I calculate how much sod or seed I would need in my yard?

  • important note at bottom for our maintenance clients

Middle Tennessee typically has a high acid ph and lots of clay. Lime pellets break down both the clay and acid content to a more manageable and broader plant loving level. Yes, there are plants, like azaleas, that like acid, but not too much acid nor do they like being planted in dense clay. Lime helps resolve those issues. But how much lime do you put down? Well, that would vary based upon the soil acidity in your lawn. February is a good time to take a soil sample to see how much acid your yard contains, but in general, we would use about 40 lbs of pelletized lime per 1,000 sq. ft about 2 to 3 times per year.

In plainer terms, take the square footage of your lawn areas (see diagram). Let's say you have 2,000 square feet of lawn, you would use 80 lbs. of pelletized lime. 3,000 sq. ft you would use 120 lbs. of lime (adding 40lbs for each 1,000 sq ft).

Being able to calculate your square footage is important in putting proper amounts of seed, fertilizers, etc., in your lawn. If this is rocket science to you or you don't have the tools or time to do it --- see the note below this next section.

Here's how to determine square footage (this can also be calculated to find out how much sod would cost, too -- call us for details):

  1. On a piece of paper, sketch out your yard-- don't sweat over it, just a simple drawing is fine.

  2. Section off your lawn into squares and number them.

  3. Take section one and measure it using a pedometer, long measuring tape or "guestimating" by walking it off. Measure both ways to find the length and width.

  4. Repeat this step for each square. Do not include garden beds, sidewalks, patios, driveways, etc.

  5. Multiply the length x width of each square to find the square feet for that area.

  6. Now add all of the square feet (length x width) from each square together to get your square yardage (a typical E. Nashville house may have 900 to 1200 sq. ft in the front yard alone).

NOTE: While not being 100% accurate is not a problem in calculating how much lime or fertilizer you should be using, being decently close is important. If you're not sure if you've measured correctly, call us or another professional to come and measure for you. We have professional tools to measure you yard and ArtHouse Gardens will do this at no cost. Also, please note the recommendations on the bag of lime (pelletized), fertilizer, seed, etc. These will differ from product to product so use their suggestions. You will need to know your square footage to determine amount of product to use and how many bags to buy.

Want a free quote for sod? Take these same #'s that you've calculated and email us or call us at 615.243.5499. Otherwise, contact us and we'll come out and take the measurements for you and assess your yard. We give advice for free. Last year we gave advice to an E. Nashville neighbor family and they won a neighborhood association award for their lawn.

MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS: This year we will be adding small sections of sod in trouble spots in your lawns at no extra cost . Also, you do not need to put lime down--- we do this for you automatically.

Photo of the Week :New Orleans

Just when you thought neon was a thing of the past. New Orleans would be so boring without it.

Weekend Gardening Project: Forcing Forsythia to Do Your Will

February Gardening:

TOOLS: Gloves, pruners/scissors, hammer, cutting board, paper towels, water and vase

I always laugh when I hear the term "forcing forsythia" or in reference to another plant. I'm a creative and visual person so when I hear this term I picture forsythia being forced into a car at gunpoint or something of that nature (yes, I'm only 58% normal brain functioning capacity as I am reminded daily). And while there is one camp that adores forsythia and another that hates it, there is a way to force forsythia in such a way that all will love it.

In case you don't know, forsythia is that arching plant in your yard that is budding right now and will have yellow flowers on it in the next week or so. Forsythia is a key to understaning when to take on other projects in the garden, too, which we'll get into further down. Forcing forsythia refers to removing branches of the forsythia and growing them indoors for a beautiful stand alone arrangement, or mixing them with other flowers for your enjoyment.

Forcing forsythia is really easy, too and needs to be done soon. Here's how:

Just cut a few branches from your forsythia (or other favorite spring blooming shrubs like Quince) on a day when the temperature is above freezing. Make sure you cut each branch all the way to the main stem. Later on you can cut the branches to the size you need them for your vase or arrangement. Bring the freshly cut branches inside and immediately put them in water.

Take each branch out of the water and cut the end off again. The forsythia branch will not drink enough water if not given a fresh cut. Now, pound the cut end of the branch with your hammer to split the end. Trust me, it will love it as now the branch has a better means to drink water. Just like in humans a scab will start to form over your cut so immediately place the end into a vase. In forcing flowers, we do not want the scab to form. Repeat this with each branch.

Keeping your branches "moist" is important for several days since indoor winter air is usually very dry. You can accomplish this by wrapping the branches in damp paper towels while they are still in the vase and misting them for several days.

In about two weeks you will begin to see the buds about to burst on the branches. Before long the shrubs branches will be blooming and there will be beautiful spring color in your home.

Make sure you change the water in the vase every few days for lasting color. The forced branches should last several weeks inside for your enjoyment.
Try this technique with other early spring and spring blooming plants. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Forsythia Facts:
Forsythis is an "indicator plant". The bellowy blooms tell you that the soil is above 45 degrees and the roots are active. The blooms also tell you it's time to prune your roses, fertilize some grasses, trees and shrubs (careful, not spring blooming ones).

The standard "goldenbells" variety can grow 8 to 10' in height and width so crowding them in a small area is not recommended. For smaller areas or yards, try the Fiesta variety which only grows 3' in height and width.

After bloom ends in spring, prune tattered shoots to ground level; you can remove up to a third of the plant's wood each year.

Forsythia looks best when the branches are long and arched.

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