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Garden Maintenance How to clean a fountain l How to prevent pests l Watering Plants l Watering Techniques

How to clean a fountain

Many people purchase fountains for their soothing effect they have in the garden or home. Most think that maintaining a fountain can be a difficult challenge, but it is really quite easy. We recommend using an toothbrush or other small bristled brush, dish soap, and warm water. The most important thing to clean is the pump. You will need to disassemble the pump and scrub inside of it where algae and mineral deposits build up.

Next, you should clean the base of the fountain and any rocks in the same manner. Taking apart the pump is not a difficult task and only takes a few minutes. Move any tension clips that hold the pump together, but in most circumstances you will not need any tools. Most manufacturers will include instructions with their fountains, and will discuss the methods of cleaning the pump and where the different parts are. Average pumps will run 2 to 3 years if kept clean and maintained.

Some fountain owners use mixtures of bleach, lemon juice, vinegar or even bacteria killing mouthwash to remove algae growth. Replacing all the water in the fountain once a month will naturally cut back on algae growth. Green Lea also carries Henri water cleaners, an excellent, gentle algaecide that keeps algae at bay. It greatly reduces the need to take a fountain apart for cleaning.

Calcium - Unsightly calcium deposits on ceramic and stone parts of your fountain can beremoved with products such as Lime-Away. (Lime-Away cannot be used on bronze, slate, orpainted wood.) For preventative maintenance, we offer Protec, a product that will deter mineral buildup. Please see Fountain Accessories for more information.

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How to prevent pests

The best way to protect your plants is to keep pests away from your garden. Your plants will be able to withstand pests if you grow different varieties of plants or wait four years before growing the same vegetables or flowers in the same area. Plants that are healthy and well fed from the beginning have less chance of being ruined by pests. Keep wide spaces between plants to help the leaves dry. Plant diseases are less likely to spread this way. Mulch your plants to help their growth. Mulching also helps soil keep its moisture, and helps stop some weeds, insects, and diseases from spreading. Once the growing season begins, the best way to prevent pests is to look carefully and regularly at your plants. Check your garden often for insects, weeds, and plant disease.

How to Use Natural Methods to Get Rid of Pests

  • Surround your flowers and vegetables with plants that naturally keep the pests out.
  • Quickly clean up any dead or diseased plants and plant parts so diseases will not attack more plants.
  • Check with your city hall or county officials to see if you can burn diseased plants in your community. It is not legal in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding cities.
  • Keep mulching your plants.
  • If the pest is an insect, use a natural enemy - an insect that eats the pest but does not hurt your plants - to remove the pest.

How to Use Pesticides to Get Rid of Pests

  • Pesticides are poison! Only use them if nothing else has worked.
  • Follow all the label directions carefully. Wear clothing the label tells you to wear so that you are protected from the poison.
  • Apply pesticides only on the plants listed on the label, and only for the problems listed there.
  • Do not spill pesticides.
  • Do not get rid of unwanted pesticides by putting them in the trash, pouring them down the drain or dumping them outside. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has programs to safely recycle pesticide containers and collect unwanted pesticides.
  • Do not use more pesticide than the label tells you. Pesticides are costly and using too much of them can poison you, your land, and your plants.

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Watering Plants

Depending on soil and weather conditions, water your new plant thoroughly once every 4 days thru the first 3 weeks (a crucial time) and then once a week for the rest of the growing season. Adjust this depending on rainfall (you might want to skip a watering if it rains a considerable amount, etc) and temperature (time of the season). In the heat of the summer times between watering intervals may need to be shortened, in cool seasons it may be lengthened. Sandy soils may need more frequent watering as water leaches out quicker and clay soils less frequent as they hold more water.

Another key to success with new plants is thorough watering. Thorough watering encourages deep rooting. Deep-rooted plants are less likely to suffer in times of stress. Thorough watering means watering long enough to allow water to reach deeper than the top 6” of soil. Generally this means leaving your sprinkler on in one spot for at least 30 minutes. It is better to water thoroughly and with longer intervals between watering then short intervals and short watering times.

Basic planting instructions

  1. Select a healthy plant from our nursery. Make sure you choose a plant that is well suited for your site.
  2. Dig a hole approximately twice as wide and 4” deeper than the root ball.
  3. Add transplant fertilizer to the backfill mix. (A good transplant fertilizer such as Ortho-Up-Start + Burpee Grow Transplants.)

Clay Soils-
Use 2/3 original (native) soil, 1/3 topsoil or cow manure. For heavy clay soils try mixing in gypsum according to instructions.

Sandy Soils
Use 1/3 original, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 topsoil.

  1. Set your plant in the hole, the depth of the plants is determined by soil type and planting area. As a general rule it is better to have the top of the rootball raised slightly above the existing grade (especially in clay soils). You don’t want to create a situation for a basin where water will collect and drown the plant. If your planting area is always wet such as the swale area between two properties, make sure you select wet-site tolerant plants or raise the plant up through the use of a berm (earth mound).
  2. Once the plant is in the hole (take containerized plants out of the container, cut the string and peel the burlap off the top of the rootball on Balled & Burlaped [B&B] plants) fill the hole in with your backfill mixture, tampering the soil down with the heel of your foot. After backfilling, water thoroughly to eliminate air pockets. Finish backfilling any areas that might have settled and then, mulch thoroughly. Mulch is an important component in the planting process as it retains soil moisture and prevents soil erosion.
  3. When can you plant?

ANYTIME - as long as the proper measures are taken to ensure success. Part of this is accomplished through proper watering.

Staking Trees
Trees that stand over 5 feet tall, trees that cannot support themselves, or trees vulnerable to wind damage should be staked in order to encourage a good quality, strong root system.
First, you need to wrap the trunk portion to be staked with a tree wrap to avoid sun damage to the trunk. Insert three to four 2x2 wooden stakes into ground. Use a wire rope to fasten tree to the stakes. Make sure to use pieces of staking hose around the wire where it wraps around the trunk, this will prevent the wire from cutting into trunk.
After 8 months remove the stakes after the tree seems stable enough to sustain itself.

Feedingyour plants
We recommend waiting 6-8 weeks before fertilizing your plants that were installed in the springtime and use a slow release fertilizer for the first fertilization. Wait until the spring to fertilize plants that were installed in the fall season. Studies have shown that fertilizing at initial planting time is not healthy for the plants. After year one, fertilize in early spring before new growth occurs and late fall after the first frost. You should avoid fertilizing your plants in summer and early fall.


Pruning your plants is a method to remove broken, injured, or dead branches. After the tree is mature, pruning should be minimal to preserve the natural form of the tree. It is strongly suggested to be cautious not to eliminate any more than ¼ of the branches leaf surface at any time.

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Watering Techniques

Target the specific areas of the plant that needs water. For most plants this means watering the area of soil around the base where the roots are. Make sure not to soak the plant with water because some of the water will evaporate or run off. You should only water until the soil feels moist. Avoid watering in the afternoon sun because the water will evaporate. The best time to water the garden is early in the morning or evening. If possible, use a watering can instead of a hose or sprinkler. It will be easier to target a specific area of the plant. To reduce evaporation, please don't water when it is windy.

By watering plants less frequently, but deeply and thoroughly will help them to develop healthy, deep root systems.
Automatic watering systems (sprinklers) should be altered according to the time of day, season of the year and the level of rainfall. Collecting rainwater is a good conservation method You can do so by connecting a bucket to a drainage system to collect water. It is an easy way to connect one to your existing guttering and down pipes. Before planting, burrow down deeply into the top soil. It is better for water saturation and will increase its moisture-retaining qualities in dry periods.
Improve your soil quality by adding organic matter such as compost, manure or leaf-mould. This also increases its moisture-retaining qualities.

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