Batten down the hatches in the garden too
As we move into the high-risk hurricane months, take a few minutes to see if your garden is prepared. Now's the time to trim dead branches and prune out-of-control shrubbery. Don't wait until the day before the storm. Piles of trimmings turn into dangerous windborne debris.
Note these other tips:
• Take a quick inventory of what you'll have to remove/unfasten/bring inside on hurricane day: roll-up blinds on the porch, hanging plants, containers, flags, garden accessories. Make a checklist.
• Think twice before you use rock mulch. Those stones turn into missiles that can shatter windows.
• Clean gutters and downspouts and make necessary repairs.
Even an idiot can befriend a shrub
Everything you need to know about trees and shrubs — and more — is in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Trees and Shrubs (Alpha Books, $19.95). What to plant where, what's colorful, how to fight diseases and pests, the right tree for the right place. Plus a CD-ROM with more than 200 color photographs of 101 trees and shrubs, with information on zone, size, shape, color, maintenance and price.
Plan some black days for white flies
White flies usually appear around in August. Check your citrus trees and shrubs for heavy populations of flying adults. When you see them, wait 10 days, then spray with horticultural oil or Malathion. Why the wait? By then the flies will have laid their eggs and the new larvae, which do the damage, can also be killed. Scouting your landscape weekly will allow you to find pest infestations early, when they are easiest to control.
Buy holiday decor at everyday prices
As you shop yard sales and the bargain bins at garden centers, keep an eye out for containers in seasonal or holiday colors: gold or orange for fall, red or green for Christmas. They'll be useful longer than vases or planters with specific holiday motifs (ghosts and goblins, turkeys and pilgrims, Santa Claus). They can also do double duty: Those red vases can reappear for Valentine's Day and the Fourth of July.
Compiled by Times Homes and Garden editor Judy Stark
Trees can put green in the wallet
Carefully positioned trees can reduce household energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25 percent, floridagardening.org reports. Computer models from the U.S. Department of Energy estimate that three properly placed trees can save an average household between $100 and $250 in heating and cooling energy costs annually.
Key West garden needs caretakers
Since 1993, Nancy Forrester has maintained the Secret Garden in Key West, a one-of-a-kind center for exotic plants and rare palms that is the last wooded acre in Old Town Key West. Now, at age 70, she is no longer able to be its sole financial support. A "Save This Garden" effort, sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land, is trying to raise $160,000 by Sept. 1 to keep the garden open. Details are at manaproject.org.