Today was an incredible day. We are so grateful and humbled by the acts of kindness from our customers, employees and many local residents. In just 24 hours, we collected an unbelievable amount of donations for Boston’s ‘Help for Houston’ drive. We trekked into City Hall this afternoon and delivered 2 box trucks and a van’s worth of diapers, formula, food, clothing + toiletries– all headed for Houston tomorrow. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
It’s the perfect time of year to refresh your tired summer window boxes and patio planters with fall color. Now arriving daily- mums, cabbage, kale, and cold-tolerant annuals in festive hues that will take you through the fall season.
When you think lawn care, spring may be the first thing that comes to mind, but the fact is now is the time to reinvigorate your lawn with new seed. I know there’s a lot of contradicting information out there about when exactly to seed- and it gets confusing about who to listen to or when to do what. Do I use a fertilizer, and if so what type? Can I do it organically? When is it too late to seed? All of these are good questions, so I wrote a check list for you to simplify the process.
So, how much soil do you need? Well that depends on your conditions. Keep in mind here that your turf success is really just a result of your soil quality. The stronger your root system is in deep, healthy soil- the better your new seed will perform. I put down up to 10 inches of compost and loam when I redid my back yard and it shows in times of summer drought. This summer, my lawn stayed green while others dried out. It is deeply rooted and healthy enough to withstand stressful conditions. Use a quality top soil or compost to amend your existing conditions. If your soil is of good quality, just till and loosen the top couple inches and rake out a good grade.
One other great product that I always recommend is Jonathan Green’s Love Your Lawn, Love Your Soil. It’s a cool organic product that stimulates microbes in the soil and helps to loosen heavy, hard packed soils, to release trapped nutrients. It’s a good preparation amendment so your soil can better stimulate root growth for your new seeding.
The soil test will tell you your lawns pH, nutrients and soil structure. I find the most important right now is to test pH levels. You see, if your soil has a low pH– your fertilizers won’t work as well. The best way to explain this is if your soil is too acidic you can’t derive the iron and magnesium naturally occurring in your soil so your lawn will never get to that dark green color everyone wants. To adjust your pH into the desired neutral area, add Jonathan Green’s Mag-i-cal or lime.
Your grass seed is more important than most people think. Cheap grass seed is just that, cheap and we can’t in good faith carry it. You see, varieties of grass seed get old and are replaced as better seeds become available. This makes the older seed cheaper than the newer, better performing ones. Another way to get cheap seed is to add annual blue grass to the mix. Annual blue grass is an inexpensive filler, but it doesn’t come back the next year making it a turf that comes up well initially, but then your lawn comes in very thin next spring. Cheap grass seed is like a cheap beer only that headache you get is going to last for years.
It’s also important to pick the right seed for your sun requirements. You don’t want to take a full sun blend and put it in the heavy shade areas. Use the right seed for the right sun. Jonathan Greens dense shade will do great under those trees down to about 3 hours of sun. Don’t forget grass seed does need about 3 hrs of sun to grow or it will just slowly fade away. Sometimes shrubs and perennials do better for those heavy shade areas.
Fertilizers are meant to release phosphorus into the soil at time of germination and then add nitrogen in a slow release fashion thereafter to continue feeding. Don’t mix seed and fertilizer. It doesn’t matter which one goes first or second but add one and then put the other down and water.
The rest is up to you! Be sure to keep your new seed evenly moist in the beginning because if you let grass seed dry out too much, it may prolong the germination or even worse– kill the seed during germination. This first week is very important, after that you can back down to a deep water every 2- 4 days depending on the weather forecast.
I know there’s a lot of contradiction on when is the best time to seed, the fact is you can seed anytime you want to or when you may have to. Spring and fall are often seen as a good times because they typically have lots of natural rainfall and cooler temps, but as long as you can keep the seed moist– you can seed whenever you want.
Just remember a few things when seeding. Any crabgrass preventers or other herbicides may prevent the grass seed from germinating in early spring. Sometimes seeding too late results in an inability to get the seed to germinate, also called dormant seeding. This is when you throw seed down without expecting it to germinate until spring. Most people have pretty good results doing it this way and you get germination first thing in the spring. However, we often put our seed promotions together for early fall or even late summer because you can take advantage of warm soil temps coming out of summer and there’s still plenty of time to get good germination and even a mowing or two to harden off the grass for winter.
It happens every year, people from towns near and far make their spring pilgrimage to Mahoney’s. They come filled with anticipation of new perennials, lush lawns, and flowering shrubs. Simply put, it’s spring, and they want to plant something. No question of course, that spring is a great time to plant, but what many people don’t realize is that fall is not only an equally good time to plant, in many ways it’s better.
To understand why, it’s good to remember that plants do not think like people. While we lament the end of summer, plants – especially newly planted plants – find the cooler days far less stressful. We may dig in our closets for a sweater, but for plants the soil feels warm, which boosts root growth. And while fall rains seem gloomy to us, plants much prefer it to the hot dry summer. And this is true for a whole host of plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, roses, ornamental grasses and even your lawn. Practically anything planted now will have extra time to establish, so when it’s time to grow and flower next year, it will give you a great show at your house, not at the garden center.
Fact is, if the ground isn’t frozen and you can still dig the hole, you can still plant. Planting in September and October however allows that much more time for plants to become established, so sooner is better.
There are other reasons fall is a great time for planting. Unlike a lot of garden centers that wind down for the year, Mahoney’s brings in lots of fresh new plants every fall, especially shrubs. Check out our new shipments arriving daily. Planting them now will allow you to enjoy the foliage throughout all seasons, including color changes this fall.
Fall is also the unofficial “hide your neighbor” season. Why, we’re not sure, but a lot of people plant hedges in the fall. We’ll have fresh arborvitae, boxwood and other hedging evergreens as well as privet, hydrangeas, ninebark, spirea, weigela and many more deciduous shrubs. (Social note: for neighbors that need immediate hiding, we carry large and fast growing hedge shrubs. The ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is especially popular)
Also very popular in the fall are miniature evergreens for urns, containers and window boxes. They add a festive touch for the holidays, and with a little protective care they will survive in a container through the winter. If you want to be greeted with tulips, daffodils and other flowers next spring, you have to plant the bulbs in fall.
Perennials especially benefit from the extra time in the ground before next spring. We bring in a lot of fresh perennials in the fall – especially the fall blooming varieties. We also have a wide selection of ornamental grasses – great for landscapes or containers.
Speaking of grasses, fall is the very best time to pay attention to your lawn. Not only do most lawns need a serious pick-me-up after the summer heat and dry spells, the warm fall soil encourages quick germination and cool air temperatures reduce stress.
It’s the time of year when the sight of a rabbit, deer, or chipmunk in the yard can awaken your inner Elmer Fudd. Rabbits and deer nibbling at your leafy annuals and perennials, chipmunks and squirrels munching on your tomatoes – it’s a scene all too common these days…. even in the most urban of yards! Our favorite products to treat the problem are made by Bonide. Repels All, Go Away! Deer and Rabbit Repellent, and Rat Magic (don’t be fooled by the name, it’s great for chipmunks and squirrels) are our go-to solutions for the weary gardener who feels helpless against the army of critters.
An outstanding repellent, specifically for deer and rabbits. Protects gardens and valuable landscaping. One application can last up to 2 months! Effective in all seasons. Made with natural ingredients including white pepper, putrescent egg solids, garlic and cloves. Does not harm plants or animals.
The unique blend of ingredients like putrescent egg solids, cloves, and garlic is offensive to an animals sense of smell without harm! Lasts up to 2 months. When they come in contact, it causes a natural instinct to escape and avoid the area. Available in a concentrate, granules and ready to spray.
Designed for outdoor use to repel rodents such as rats, chipmunks and squirrels. This unique combination of essential oils is people and pet safe, and biodegradable. Naturally drives rodents from around homes, garages, gardens, sheds, patios, wood piles, and more. With active ingredients like cedar, castor, clove and peppermint oils– rodents won’t want to be anywhere nearby! 5lbs. treats up to 1000 sq. ft. or a 2ft. barrier that’s 500 ft. long.
Twenty-five years ago, ornamental grasses were rarely seen in the landscape. As their virtues – low maintenance, drought tolerance, a long season of interest – became more widely known, gardeners began to integrate them into their landscapes. Today they are recognized for bringing qualities of light, line, motion and sound to the garden. They are durable, graceful and versatile. No matter the size or variety, ornamental grass foliage has a unique architectural quality. Strongly linear, yet at the same time pliant and sinuous, grasses add a wonderful sense of motion to the garden. They sway in even the slightest breeze and add a sense of drama in heavy winds. There is a special luminous quality to the foliage and inflorescences (ie. flowers) when the low angle of the autumn and winter sun shines through from behind. Whether you garden in a container, have a small urban lot, a sizeable suburban yard, or a country property, ornamental grasses can help define your space. They can be used as groundcover, as edging along a pathway, as a privacy screen, and as part of mixed perennial and shrub borders. Some are low and clumping, some are arching, and others are more upright. While some bloom in spring, others start blooming in August, and their plumes subtly change color as they age. Grasses can be left in place all winter. Their straw-like colors and interesting textures are attractive to look at and provide food and shelter for birds.
Grasses respond and start to grow based upon temperature. Some grasses will start to grow in early spring when temperatures are still cool and others will wait until the soil is warm and temperatures are more stable. Cool season grass will start to grow early in the spring and may even remain semi- evergreen over the winter. Warm season grasses do not begin to show growth until the weather becomes stable and the soils warm. The previous season’s growth of warm season grasses requires cutting back to 4-6” in the spring. Here are some top performing ornamental grasses in the New England area:
^ Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ has creamy white and green stripes along the length of its leaves. The foliage grows to 18” but its seed heads reach a majestic 5-6’.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Eldorado’ has distinctive golden and green variegated foliage that grows in a neat clump and reaches a height of 3-5’. The stems have an attractive honey-colored hue. Plumes appear in summer and add a vertical element to a height of 6’. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ was named Perennial Plant of the Year is 2001, the first ornamental grass to be so honored. The green foliage grows in a neat, upright 2’ clump. In early spring, stalks rise to 6’, capped with elongated wheat-colored seed heads. It is undemanding and will tolerate clay and compacted soil conditions. Good looks, long-lasting plumes and undemanding growing requirements – no wonder it is an award winner!
Many varieties of Carex make effective ground covers. They also sparkle in containers and mixed plantings. While most ornamental grasses prefer sunny conditions, Carex thrives in shade. It flowers in late spring.
^ Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ has fine blades with narrow green margins and a broad yellow center.
Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ grows to a height of 12” in a gently arching form. Its narrow blades are deep- green and have a white striped edge that will brighten a shady area. It spreads slowly via rhizomes.
Carex morrowii ‘Ice Ballet’ is a sport of ‘Ice Dance’ and has wider, creamy-white margins on the blade.
^ Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ has gorgeous blue foliage that grows in a tight clump. It maintains its color throughout winter. It forms spiky mounds that are 10” in height. It thrives in sunny situations and flowers in early summer. It makes a lovely edging along a stone pathway and brings a beautiful blue tone to the garden when planted in groups in the perennial border. Prune any winter damaged foliage, but otherwise do not cut back.
Hakonechloa adds interesting form and texture to the garden with its graceful, arching habit. It tolerates sun but prefers a shady location to keep its tips from scorching. It is semi-evergreen and will only require cutting back any winter damaged or spent blades. With age, it develops an interesting mounding and cascading shape that seems to flow like a waterfall. It is magical when it sways and rustles in the wind. All in all, a beautiful, elegant grass for the garden.
^ Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ has bright golden foliage. It grows 18-24” tall and spreads slowly by rhizomes to form a ground cover.
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ is a variegated form whose golden leaves have intermittent green lines that are most pronounced in shade.
Hakonechloa macra ‘Beni Kaze’ has thin, rich green blades that start to develop red tips in late summer and gradually become increasingly red. When autumn is in full in swing, this grass is a bright blend of deep red, burnt orange and deep gold.
Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Sapphire’ has deep blue foliage that grows in a rounded clump to a height of 2’. Its graceful stems emerge in late spring and are topped with tan, oat-like seed heads. It prefers full sun and is a great small grass for containers.
Miscanthus is perhaps the most recognizable group of ornamental grasses. Miscanthus varieties vary in heights, textures and habit but are often recognized by their upright plumes in late summer and autumn. Many varieties can be used to create privacy screens, given their generally tall, dense nature.
^ Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’ is an upright and colorful grass known for horizontal yellow bands on its foliage. In autumn, reddish, fan-shaped seed heads extend above the 7’ tall foliage. It grows in a strongly upright fashion. It makes a beautiful and unique statement in the garden.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ has fine textured, narrow leaves and grows in a compact, rounded shape. Fan-shaped, rose colored flowers rise above the foliage. The leaves turn a beautiful burgundy hue in autumn. At 4’ in height (reaching 5’ with blooms), it is suitable for small spaces, borders and massed plantings.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ is known for its elegant form and narrow, silver-veined foliage that grows in a pleasing symmetrical vase shape. Long stems produce fan-like, reddish plumes held high above the leaves. Flowers turn silvery-white as they mature and the foliage becomes auburn-gold after the first frost. It keeps its shape well into the winter. It grows to a height of 6’, reaching 7’ with its flowers.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ is one of the most popular in its genus with finely textured, slender foliage that has a well-defined white variegation along the leaf margin. It grows in a neat, upright, arching form to a height of 4’, reaching 6’ when in bloom. It is an interesting option for those looking to create a “white garden”. It looks good in a mass planting or standing alone as a specimen.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ is considered a classic among ornamental grasses. It features beautiful wide leaves with cream-colored stripes running the length of the deep green blades. It grows in an arching shape to 5’ in height and has red-tinted blooms.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ is similar to ‘Strictus’ with deep green foliage marked by yellow horizontal bands in random patterns. Some leaves may have more stripes than others. Copper-colored flowers appear at the end of tall stalks. It grows in an arching shape, in contrast to the more erect ‘Strictus’. The foliage of ‘Zebrinus’ will reach a height of 7’ and with its blooms, it will reach 8’.
Muhlenbergia capillaris is a North American native. It can stop traffic when in bloom! It grows in a mound of semi-erect, blue-green foliage to a height of 3’. In fall, billowing pink seed heads form a cotton candy crown. It needs full sun and should be planted at least one month before first frost to allow sufficient time to establish.
Panicum is native to the Prairies of North America. All varieties develop deep, fibrous root systems that help them tolerate poor soil and drought. They have an upright nature that is useful in the garden as a vertical accent to other plantings, or as a screen to enclose an area or hide equipment. Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’ has wide blue leaves and complementary rose-pink seed heads. It grows to a height of 5’ and adds another foot when in bloom.
^ Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ is appreciated for its metallic-blue foliage, strong upright habit and its pink-tinted, airy midsummer blooms. It can serve as a colorful backdrop, either as a specimen focal point or grouped in a large mass. It grows to a height of 4’, reaching 5’ when in bloom. Panicum virgatum ‘Hot Rod’ emerges blue-green and quickly shifts to deep red. In fall, the foliage becomes deep purple. Topped with red-purple seeds and graced with an upright stature, it is a wonderful and colorful addition to the landscape.
Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ has a dependable upright habit and beautiful blue-green foliage. In early fall, it produces a multitude of cream-colored panicles that reach a height of 5-6’. It makes a stunning vertical accent in the garden. When planted in a group, they add a dynamic structural element. In 2014, ‘Northwind’ became the second ornamental grass to be awarded the Perennial Plant of the Year honor.
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ is a spectacular red Switchgrass. Its upright foliage becomes red-tinted during the growing season, ending in dazzling red in autumn. It is drought tolerant, easy to maintain, and provides food and shelter for wildlife. Foliage grows to a height of 3’ and the plant reaches 4’ when in bloom.
Pennisetum grow in a flowing, fountain-like shape and are easily recognized by their bottlebrush plumes. We frequently see varieties with red leaves used in decorative containers and annual beds. While they are not hardy in our winters, there are many varieties, mostly with green foliage, that are strong performers in the New England landscape. They are charming when used as specimen plants and look spectacular when used in sweeping masses.
^Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ is a dwarf variety that grows 2’ tall. It has a lovely fountain-like shape and produces pretty bottlebrush blooms. It is a great edging plant and is also at home in the mixed border.
Pennisetum alopecuroides is a graceful 3’ tall grass with pretty blush-colored bottlebrush plumes that appear in midsummer. The flowers add another foot of height and turn a lovely almond color later in the season. They need full sun and once established, need little care. This grass a very useful in the mixed border and is equally attractive when used in a mass planting.
Even shorter is Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ which forms a 1’ by 1’ clump. When planted in a group, they can serve as a ground cover. As with all Pennisetum, they remain attractive well into winter.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’ forms an upright clump of arching green leaves that reach 2’ tall and 3’ wide. It has bottlebrush spikes of dark purple-black flowers that turn silvery as they dry. The leaves turn bright golden-yellow to orange in the fall.
Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’ has many great qualities: quick to establish; long-lasting pink plumes; upright, deep-green foliage; drought tolerance; and real hardiness. The foliage grows 2.5’ tall with the same lovely fountain-like shape.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head’ has 8” long red bottlebrush plumes that emerge in midsummer. The foliage is dark green and forms a rounded, arching habit. It is attractive in mixed borders and creates a dramatic wave of color when planted in large groupings.
Schizachyrium scoparium is a North American native. It produces a kaleidoscope of hues in summer that further change color in autumn. It grows in loose clumps that branch out at the top. Summer’s greens, blues and purples turn tones of red and orange in the autumn. Its flowers produce downy, white seeds. The foliage grows to 2’ in height and when in bloom, the plant reaches 3’. Because it develops deep roots and tolerates environments with poor soil, it is useful in covering slopes and in restoration sites. But don’t overlook its potential in the mixed border or in a meadow-inspired landscape.
^ Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ has an upright quality that results from its sturdy, thick stems. It also has lovely color – blue with hints of greens, purples and pinks that change to shades of red and orange in the autumn. It reaches 3’ in height and adds another foot when in bloom.
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