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Chris Sabbarese

Recent Posts

Upgrading to Sustainable Landscapes

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Mon, Sep, 30, 2019 @ 14:09 PM

Ask homeowners what they think a sustainable landscape is and you'll like get many differing opinions. Most likely, it will include a sparsely-planted landscape that is primarily rocks or gravel. In reality, a sustainable landscape is quite beautiful with flowering plants, trees, grasses and shrubs. Not only do they use less water, they can require less maintenance, invite beneficial pollinators like butterflies and birds, while still being visually aesthetic for the entire neighborhood. Regardless what zone you live in, a sustainable landscape is an upgrade without compromise. Want to know more? We caught up with Cynthia Bee of Jordan Valley Water Conservancy who shares her insights on how to take the leap towards sustainability in this interview and GILN podcast episode.

Dispelling the Myth - It isn't ZERO-scape

During a recent visit to Salt Lake City, UT for a garden conference, one of the most interesting educational sessions was "Selling Sustainable Landscapes". Fellow GardenComm member and Outreach Coordinator, Cynthia Bee of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy, helps to educate home owners on what sustainable landscapes really look like. The term Xeriscape has been gaining in popularity in western states who deal with drought on an regular basis. However some homeowners, think it's called ZERO-scape and means they will have no landscape. It's unfortunate that a sound principle design has resulted in many perceiving a landscape such as this.

localscapes-101-11-1024courtesy of Localscapes

In reality, a sustainable landscape can be lush, green, beautiful and functional. It's a fundamental shift for a homeowner to view landscape differently. Instead of making grass the predominant feature, it can be a smaller functional focal point. We've been ingrained to use lawn to achieve a beautiful landscape however Cynthia points out there are alternatives which JVWC promotes in their Localscapes program. Instead of looking sparse with no curb appeal, it can be dramatic and quite often considered an upgrade over a traditional landscape.

seedum-resizedcourtesy of Localscapes

Benefits of Upgrading to Sustainable Landscape

There are some obvious benefits to a sustainable landscape. First and foremost is saving water which is better for the environment and will save on your monthly water bill. Now if you live in an area where there is ample rain fall, a sustainable landscape can require less to maintain when done correctly. Cynthia shared an example of a homeowner who upgraded to a sustainable landscape that reduced the time to cut and maintain it, from 45 minutes to just 7 minutes! It also can provide a great habitat for wildlife including butterflies and birds. Other benefits include weed control. When you control the water, you can control the spread of weeds!

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Getting from Traditional to Sustainable Landscapes

Cynthia outlined that many homeowners don't even realize they have a problem so it's difficult to sell them a solution they don't think they need. When you talk about conserving water, many homeowners think they are already conserving water inside their home, without thinking of the water being wasted in the landscape. Water use in a landscape can be up to 70% of their overall usage. Being able to show them they can still have the things that are important to them and changing what is less important, can have a huge impact. It's getting them to see landscape differently, and when they do, they will seek out new creative and sustainable elements.

 Sustainable-Landscapes

Hear the Interview on the Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast

Whether you are a homeowner or a landscape contractor, Cynthia Bee shares some great insights on the JVWC program called Localscapes, on this episode. It's a great discussion that can change how you look at your landscape design. You can listen to the our complete interview and helpful information, 24/7 on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast.

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Topics: gardening, Landscaping, planting, trees, shrubs, sustainable

What to Know About Fall Planting

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Wed, Aug, 28, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

Many gardeners think about planting in spring when the weather starts to warm up. However when it comes to weather and temperatures, fall and spring are very similar. There are some big advantages to planting shrubs and trees in fall so we've talked to expert, Stacey Hirvella with Proven Winners, to share some fall planting tips and other do's and don'ts this time of year. Planting in fall is ideal since cooler temperatures will help with root growth and plant development, soil retains more moisture and a thick lay of mulch will help protect new plants from freezing temperatures throughout winter. Read on to learn more about fall planting and garden activities and why you should put your pruners and fertilizer away this time of year.

Why Fall is Ideal for Planting

Many people think plant in the fall is out since winter is right around the corner. They think a newly planted shrub or tree will not survive. But when properly planted in fall, the shortened days will trigger dormancy. This allows a plant to put energy into root growth and development. Instead of trying to push out new leaves and flowers. Because the temperatures are also cooler, it's not only optimal for root growth, there is less water evaporation. Rainy weather also minimizes the need to water. You can also find some amazing deals on plants in local garden centers as it gets closer to freezing weather.

Fall planting with corona shovel

When Should You Be Planting

There is no magical date on the calendar to tell gardeners, it's time to start planting. Depending on your zone, Stacey indicated you can safely plant up until about 6 weeks before the ground freezes in cold climates. In hot climates that rarely see freezing temperatures, plant when night time temperatures are in the 50s. It's also a good time to plant bulb flowers in fall to help force their blooms in the spring. She also mentions that Halloween is a great time to buy bulbs since there are some steep discounts and closeouts on remaining inventory. So there is plenty to do in the garden this time of year!

water_after_planting

 

Fall Planting and Gardening Do's and Don'ts

DO:
Apply Mulch - a thick layer of shredded mulch to extend the window of optimal root growth and conserve water, especially important or plants with shallow roots.
Watch for water – keep an eye on moisture in the soil roots moist are moist and don’t let the ground freeze dry
Use Fall Leaves - they act as a great mulch and provide a habitat for garden wildlife

 corona fork mulch

DON'T:
Plants susceptible to winter damage – butterfly bush, bluebeard, evergreens
Push hardiness zone experiments - planting too close to freeze date or plants not suited for the zone 
Fertilize - many gardeners way too much in general but fertilizing this time of year, could encourage the plant to push out growth and leaves if there is an unseasonal temperature spike, which will freeze and cause damage to the plant. Save it for spring when plants are putting on growth.
Prune - except for any damaged limbs or branches

Hear the Interview on the Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast

As a regular podcast guest, Stacey Hirvella is an experienced and knowledgeable horticulturist with tons of great insights. Look for an upcoming #plantchat episode on What to Know About Fall Planting on 9/6/19. You can listen to the our complete interview and helpful information, 24/7 on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast. You'll be prepared for the upcoming fall planting season and planting like a pro with these great tips.

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Topics: gardening, Landscaping, planting, trees, fall, shrubs

Smart Irrigation Saving You Water and Money in the Garden

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Tue, Jul, 30, 2019 @ 13:07 PM

Smart Irrigation Month of Corona ToolsIn case you missed it, July is Smart Irrigation Month which promotes using water efficiently and making every drop count. I made an effort to be more sustainable in my garden this year by installing a drip irrigation system. My goal was to maintain a vegetable garden in our hot and dry zone 9B, while saving water and keeping the plants well hydrated. To do this, I retrofitted my wasteful spray sprinklers with a Jain Irrigation drip kit. Not only are my raised planters thriving, converting to drip has actually reduced my monthly water usage. It couldn't have been easier to do, and it should pay for itself by the end of the 2021 growing season. Sustainable and smart irrigation at its best! Want to know how I did it? Keep reading for all the details and ideas to introduce smart irrigation in your garden.

Making the Switch to Drip

Converting my garden to a drip system is something I've wanted to do for quite a few years. What always prevented me from getting the job done was figuring out all the parts I needed. How much of this and how many of those...I just never had time to map it all out and make a list. Then one afternoon I was recording a podcast on drip irrigation and Michael Derewenko of Jain Irrigation, who was sharing the details about their drip irrigation kits. It sounded like everything I needed in one easy solution.

A Look at Irrigation Drip Kits

The kits are designed to connect to the regular hose bib, but I since I already had an irrigation system in place, I decided to remove the sprinkler heads and add riser to connect the drip irrigation line. That enabled me to use the smart controller to schedule the watering times and days to water. I'd call that even smarter irrigation! It did require a trip to the hardware store for a couple adapter pieces but those were easy to find and install.

Jain Drip Kit on Corona Tools

I capped off all but two of the sprinkler heads and retrofitted those with a 1/2 in - 3/4 adapter, then added a 3/4 in riser. This is what I attached the pressure regulator to. It's an important piece for any drip irrigation system so your fittings and emitters don't go flying when the water flow is turned on! If you don't have sprinkler lines to retrofit, the kit comes with everything you need to hook it up to a standard garden hose bib.

Sprinkler retrofit on Corona Tools

From there, attach the main drip line to the connector, then to the pressure regulator. At this point, you can start running the main drip line to reach the center of your raised beds. There are many different configuration options you can use for maximum efficiency. One major bonus that there are no tools required except something to cut the drip line to the correct length. Corona snips to the rescue! Then connect the tubing to the elbow or T connectors and screw to tighten. Super easy, fast, and no leaks. It's a genius connector system!

Corona Tools Snips

A couple things to note on installing these lines. The tubing is fairly rigid and wants to coil up to its original state. The kits include stakes to hold the line in place but if you have loose, friable soil, the tubing tends to want to coil up and pulls out the stakes. I found if you let the main line sit in the warm sun before installing, it will be more pliable and the stakes were able to hold it in place.

One of the other surprises about the kits were the clips that closed off the water flow at the end of the line. They basically hold a kink at the end of the line which I was sure would leak if I tried to use them. But to my surprise, no leaks, no wasted water. Simple yet effective (and smart) irrigation!

Drip line end fitting on Corona Tools

After getting the main lines installed, the next step was to run the emitter lines or drip tubing off the main and around the plants. There are a couple of different types of tubing provided in the kit. A drip line with an emitter or a reinforced line with evenly spaced holes that allows the water to drip out slowly around the plant roots. This is a more efficient way to deliver water, slowly and directly to the roots. It's also important to note, if you put a line in a spot and decide to move it later, the kit is complete with goof plugs to plug up any holes in the main drip line! Especially helpful when your just getting the hang of things.

I initially used the emitters that deliver a controlled spray of water to a larger section of the planter. I chose this method as I had planted seeds in rows, and wasn't exactly certain where the rows were. It kept the soil moist, and once the plants started coming up, I could go back, put in the drip lines with the holes near the roots. Then cover them with some organic mulch to keep the soil moist, even on hot days.

Installed drip lines on Corona Tools

How Much Water Does it Take?

After getting the drip lines in place, I needed to set the smart controller water them. I started with 2 days a week, Wednesdays and Sundays. On those days each station waters 3 times in 5 minute intervals, with 30 minutes in between. I set the timer to begin watering at 5AM, giving the water time to seep, deep into the soil before the heat of the day. It seemed to be sufficient during the cooler spring weather, however when the summer temperatures hit, the plants were wilting in the heat.

Having plants in full sun with days in 100F+ the soil was drying out, so I decided to give set the controller to come on the other 5 days at 5AM for just 2 minutes. Even in these hot, dry conditions, the plants are thriving and producing plenty of fresh food. The best part is, everything is automatic and has still decreased my water usage. As the weather gets cooler, I can start cutting back on these extra watering days.

Raised beds in Corona Tools

Everything You Need and Then Some

What a great way to celebrate Smart Irrigation month, with a garden that is more water efficient and can survive in hot weather like Corona, CA! These drip kits were just what I needed to finally have a nice garden that can take the heat, without driving up my water bill. I also appreciated that there was leftover of tubing and extra emitters that came with the kit.

I was able to install drip lines in all my potted containers that are difficult to keep hydrated. I gave my lemon tree some citrus fertilizer and a fresh layer of mulch. Since then it's put on tons of new growth and fruit. I'll also be retrofitting a rose bed on the other side of the house with drip irrigation and much of what I need is leftover from the drip kit.

lemon tree drip line on Corona Tools

Investing in a drip irrigation kit was a great way to stop procrastinating, giving me everything I needed and then some. While being more sustainable in the garden and landscape. Add in controlled watering times and not only is it smart irrigation, you don't have to spend time watering. However you celebrate Smart Irrigation Month, just remember that every drop you save helps the environment and your wallet!

 

Topics: gardening, Landscaping, tools, Jains Irrigation, Drip Irrigation, Smart Irrigation Month

5 Essential Garden Tools for the New Homeowner

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Fri, Jun, 28, 2019 @ 14:06 PM

Sold HomeWe recently had a young couple move in next door to us. They moved from a one bedroom apartment, into a home with an established front and back yard they need to maintain. Of course, me being the tool geek I am, I started talking to them about what tools they need to take care of their property. Having trees, shrubs, lawn and flowers, I came up with a list of essential tools that would help them maintain their new property. Top of my list for our new neighbors; a pair of loppers, hand pruners, folding saw, rake and shovel. Why these tools? Keep reading to find out and share you suggestions in the comments.

Maintaining the Established Yard

So you buy a home with a landscaped front and back yard. With some nice trees, a lawn, plenty of shrubs and flowers that eventually will need pruning and maintenance. With my new neighbor just getting started with a new home and a new baby on the way, buying power tools can be expensive.  Also noisy tools can startle a baby or wake them up from their nap. And let's face it, no one ever wants to make that mistake! I'd also highly recommend saving the power lawn mower for a time when mom takes the baby out for a walk or runs to the store.

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The Essential Tools

With my young neighbors in mind I put together this list of helpful hand tools that can get the job done for them. They are admittedly new to the caring for the yard, and it's not something they necessarily find joy in doing. So the tools I selected, were designed to help make the tasks easier and getting the job done quickly.

DualLINK™ Bypass Lopper - these loppers provide assistance with making cuts. It has a compound lever that amplifies the amount of force, requiring less effort to get through a cut. Think of a lifting a heavy weight tied to a with a series of pulleys. One pulley puts 100% of the weight on you. Add more pulleys and the task becomes much easier. That's what DualLINK provides. They also have ComfortGEL® grips and a ShockGaurd™ bumper system so you won't feel sore the next day.

SL 4264-in use_

FlexDIAL® Bypass Pruner - I chose this hand pruner for a couple reasons. The adjustable dial allows them to both use the tool and get a custom fit for their hand size. He can use them on the widest setting to prune back branches and stems up to 3/4 in. And she can use them with a lower setting to go out, and cut some roses to bring in the house. When the baby gets older and wants to go help in the garden, setting FlexDIAL to 1 can be a great tool they can use too. Supervised of course!

BP 4214-In Use_2

RazorTOOTH Saw® - 8 in Folding Saw - This is one of the most helpful tools for any household. It makes quick work of larger limbs and branches, with a well-designed blade, that helps keep the cutting channel free of saw dust and pulp. Just a few pull strokes is all it takes to complete a cut. They also come in handy for going camping, out on the trails and for cutting off the bottom of the Christmas tree before you bring it inside.

RS-7255-in-use

Spring Brace Rake - Since my neighbor will be cutting his own lawn, a rake is essential to help rake up the grass clippings that don't make it in the catcher. The magnolia leaves that fall in the summer here can also clutter the lawn quickly in between mowings so this will help keep things tidy.

Corona Spring Brace Rake


#2 Round Point Shovel - Inevitably, once you're in a new home for a while, you're going to want to make some personal changes to make your landscape reflect your personality and tastes. That's when you start looking at the shrub that was planted long before you moved in and think it's time to be replaced with something else. Having a shovel to dig up, plant or remove a plant, is work most every new homeowner will want to do.

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What More Could You Use?

So far my neighbor has appreciated my suggestion and I've seen them out using some of their new tools already. I told him that if he ever has a need for something else, I know a guy who might have the right tool for the job. For those who have recently moved into a new home, tell us in the comments what you found to be your essential tools for maintaining your landscape and garden!

 

 

Topics: gardening, Landscaping, plants, tools, shrubs

Overcoming the Plant Fear Factor

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Fri, May, 31, 2019 @ 21:05 PM

We often talk about the therapeutic aspects of gardening, working in the soil and reducing stress in our day to day lives. It's such a great activity with numerous benefits. So why doesn't everyone  want to have a garden? We'll tell that to someone who's hortiphobic, a fear of growing plants, and they are likely to break out in a cold sweat and stress just thinking about it. It's almost like having a pet that you need to feed and care for. And if you forget to water it, it will die. Who needs that kind of stress? If that's you, you're not alone. Many Americans fear growing anything whether it's one plant, or an entire garden. This post is designed to take the fear factor out of plants, so you can move closer to a stress-free lifestyle that takes advantage of all that gardening can provide. Read on to learn how you can overcome your fear of growing plants.

What Makes Someone Hortiphobic?

Okay, you're convinced that caring and nurturing a plant of any kind, is not for you. It's possible that you suffered a traumatic plant-related event in your life, and Botanophobia set in. Maybe an episode of severe poison ivy, or you got stung in the nose by a bee while smelling a flower. Or suffer guilt over killing that poinsettia you received the holidays. All very real and potentially traumatic experiences. If you fall into any of these categories, there's still hope!

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Moving Past the Fear

If you identify yourself as a person with a black thumb, rest assured, there is a plant out there for you. Even if you have a killed a plant or two before. It could just mean it was the wrong plant for you. Or the environment wasn't ideal. Or you kept an outdoor plant, indoors. Whatever the case, failure is an option. All it means is it wasn't a good fit and it's an opportunity to try something new. If you like indoor plants, but that orchid you picked up at the garden center, perished after being in your home, that's okay. Try another plant that does well in those same conditions. It may be time to try a succulent or cactus. Point is, there is something out there for everyone at every level of gardening experience. Check out our recent podcast Trends in Indoor Plants, for some great ideas on where to start.

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Fear of Plant Commitment

What if you are the person who is always on the go? You like to travel or work and home life is especially active? You don't have time to care for plants. Yes, there are plants for you too. There are plants that can survive on very little water or light, so you can be gone for weeks and not worry about them dying. And If you have issues with a long term commitment, try some annuals in a container on the porch or deck. When they die back in the fall or winter, that's the nature of annuals, so no long term commitments are required and you will still have been successful!

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WIIFM?

If you're still on the fence about trying to grow even one plant, it's worth considering what's in it for you. Yes, you need to provide a some water and general care for plants to do well. However there are studies that have shown a direct correlation to gardening and reducing stress levels. Plants have a therapeutic quality that is calming. Working in soil has been shown to boost our mood, due to a harmless bacteria, mycobacterium vaccae, helping to better cope with anxiety and depression. They can ratchet up the curb appeal of your home. As well as spruce up your indoor living spaces for sharing the perfect #plantsofinstagram and #shelfie post.  And guys, let's face it, women appreciate a guy who can nurture and care for something.

BandB on Corona Tools

Conquer Your Fear

So if you are among those who fear plants or swear you have a black thumb and kill everything, you're not alone. Even the most studied horticulturists out there, have killed a plant or two in their day. Toss out those sad, dusty fake plants in the corner, and start with an easy live plant that won't hold outright neglect against you. You'll begin to experience the joy of seeing that first flower or when a new leaf emerges. This is a sure sign that you are doing something right. It will boost your plant confidence, make your house feel a more like a home, as you start channeling all the stress going on in your life into your plants. 

 

 

Topics: gardening, Landscaping, shrubs

Importance of Using the Right Type of Hand Pruner

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Tue, Apr, 30, 2019 @ 20:04 PM

One of the most interesting things we see quite often from gardeners and landscapers, is the confusion about which tool to use for the job. There seems to be a misconception, from beginners to advanced, that one tool is good enough for all jobs. This post sets the record straight when to use bypass pruners and when to anvil pruners. At the most basic level, bypass are ideal for pruning and cutting fresh, live green stems. This will make the cleanest cuts, allowing the plant to properly heal and promote new growth. For hard, dead wood, an anvil pruner cuts through this dense material easily, without risk to the plant or tree, and even your pruner. Read on to find out the why's for both and why not's of using these tool interchangeably. It will help protect your plants, your tools and yourself.

Corona bypass hand pruner blog post

Bypass Pruners - Cutting Live Stems and Branches

A bypass pruner has a cutting blade that passes a the non-cutting hook, much like a pair of scissors. The blade is sharped on one side with the flat, unsharpened on the side, passing the hook. When sharp and cutting live branches and stems, they make the cleanest cut on the plant, without any damage to the remaining stems. This is important as it helps the plant to heal from the cut, and encourages new growth. 

Corona FlexDIal bypass hand pruner

Anvil Pruners - Cutting Hard, Dead Wood

Unlike the bypass pruner, an anvil pruner has a blade that is sharped on both sides. This closes down on a flat anvil, which typically has a narrow channel for the cutting blade, as not to damage its sharpened edge. What makes this great for cutting hard, dead wood is, there is no risk of crushing any stems. In fact removing the old dead wood, help the plant direct energy towards new growth.

Corona Anvil hand pruner

The Why Not's for Using the Wrong Tools

This is where confusion and misconception happens is that many gardeners think, this one pruner will handle their all their small pruning jobs. However, using an anvil hand pruner on a live stem or branch, will likely crush it. In most cases, it will make the cut, the remaining branch gets crushed and damaged. The plant must recover from it and will be more susceptible to diseases and pests. This could ultimately kill the plant.

Using a bypass pruner on hard, dead wood can be plan disastrous. Since the wood is harder to cut, a gardener is likely to twist and torque their hand, causing the blade to cross over the hook. Not only will this kill your hand, once the cut is made, the blade will come down on the hook, rather than bypass it. This will cause the blade to become damaged or chipped. And the worst case, cause the blade to snap and potentially become a sharp projectile. Not only are you out a good hand pruner, since this is using the tool incorrectly and not covered under warranty, you could risk serious bodily injury to yourself

Do You REALLY Need Both?

It's best to assess what the job is and bring the correct tool for the task. You wouldn't use a screwdriver to drive in a nail. So if your if job is mostly cutting live stems and branches, a bypass pruner is your go to. If you are cutting out dead wood or even harder, denser plants and trees like mesquite, invest in a decent anvil pruner. Spending a little extra budget will ultimate save you from replacing your good bypass pruners down the road. Or replacing a plant that didn't survive due to a poor cut. Most importantly, a visit to the emergency room when a blade snaps and injures you.

Need more advice when it comes to pruning and proper tool care? Check out Corona's free Principles of Pruning guide packed with lots of helpful tips and information. 

 

Topics: gardening, Landscaping, garden tools, hand pruners

Get the Most from Your Garden this Season

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Thu, Mar, 07, 2019 @ 13:03 PM

Ask any gardener what they want most from their garden, and you're likely to hear, more produce, abundant blooms and perfectly shaped trees, shrubs and hedges. One of the best ways to help ensure that gardening nirvana is pruning. Experts know that well-pruned plants and trees will yield more fruit, bigger and better blooms and healthier plants. And with spring just around the corner, it's time to get the work done. You can do it quickly and efficiently with these 4 essential pruning tools; bypass pruners for fresh green stems, anvil pruners for removing and cutting out dead wood, bypass loppers for the bigger limbs and a folding hand saw to remove the bigger stuff. Done right, your trees and plants will reward you with a successful bounty, season after season. Not sure where to start? Keep reading for some great ideas and resources that can help.

Where to Start 

Pruning is an essential part of maintaining good tree and plant health, so don't shy away from it. Note that not all shrubs should be pruned at this time of year. Done at the wrong time of year, pruning could limit growth and flowers in the summer months. The best place to start is by downloading, Corona's  Principles of Pruning is a free guide that is packed with many of the basic how-to's for pruning confidently.

Timing Your Pruning is Key

Making the right cuts, at the right time with the right tool will help ensure a better crop of fruit, blooms and foliage. Joe Lamp'l of Growing a Greener World on PBS, shares some sage advice on Biggest Pruning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them in his Joe Gardener video series, presented by Corona Tools. For the hydrangea enthusiast, check out our two part podcast, Demystifying Hydrangeas with Proven Winners.

Corona Tools on Joe Gardener

Recommended Pruning Tools for the Job


FlexDIAL_on_Corona_ToolsPruning Live Stems & Branches
Prune live rose canes, trees, woody shrubs and vines with a bypass pruner. FlexDIAL® lets you adjust how wide the pruner opens, up to 3/4 in., to maximize cutting power and reduce hand fatigue when there is much work to be done. It provides gardeners with a custom fit for small to extra large hand sizes.

 

RatchetCUT on Corona ToolsPruning Deadwood
Dead tree branches, rose canes and thick vines can seriously damage a good pair of bypass pruners. Look for an anvil-style pruner like the RatchetCUT™ that helps power through tough deadwood. It makes a series of smaller, full-leverage cuts which is easier on your hands. It will save your favorite pair of bypass pruners and added hand stress when making a large cut.



DualLInk on Corona ToolsLive Limbs & Branches 1 - 2 in
A bypass lopper can be the ideal choice when cutting larger limbs and branches. Remember, while a lopper like the DualLINK™ Forged Bypass Lopper may be rated for cutting up to 2 inches, the larger the limb, the more upper body strength you'll need to successfully make the cut. If it's difficult to make a cut, look to a Corona hand saw to zip through the cut.

 

razortooth on corona toolsBranches & Limbs Greater Than 2 in
One of the easiest ways to tackle larger limbs and branches is a pruning saw. These are a must have for every gardener. Many are compact like the RazorTOOTH Saw® - 7 in Folding Saw that fit nicely in your tool pouch and can be tossed in a backpack when you're out on the trails. Some have an available replaceable blade option, making them a sound investment.

Spring Cleaning and Maintenance in Your Yard

While proper pruning helps ensure healthier plants and trees, it's also the ideal time to do spring clean up and maintenance in your yard. Take time to inspect your irrigation and drip systems for leaks which can result in wasted water, but also poorly irrigated plants and crops or brown spots in the lawn. Check out this podcast episode for 6 steps for saving up to 85% of landscape water use.

One of the most important maintenance tasks you can do is spreading a thick layer of mulch that will help suppress weeds, while helping the soil retain moisture throughout the hot, dry months. Want more great suggestions for effective spring cleaning projects that will get the most from your garden? Check out Greenpal's Spring Clean Up Guide.  

 

 

Topics: gardening, Landscaping, late-winter pruning

Seed Selection, Storage and Saving Techniques

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Thu, Jan, 17, 2019 @ 17:01 PM

It may be the dead of winter with snow on the ground, but many gardeners are in a "seeding frenzy" and getting ready to plant their crops for this season. This is prime time for buying seeds and planting them to take advantage of short growing season. There are many great reasons for growing plants and vegetables from seeds. We caught up with the Seed Keeper Company on a recent Green Industry Leaders Network, #plantchat podcast everything you need to know. They share their passion and enthusiasm about the proper techniques to seed selection, storage and saving seeds to grow next season.

It Starts with Selection

If you are in the garden industry, you've likely met Carol Niec and Kerrie Rosenthal, owners of The Seed Keeper Company, an online resource and nifty product for storing and saving your seeds each season. SPOILER ALERT: We have one to giveaway to a lucky blog reader so stay tuned for your chance to win! They are both a wealth of information about the benefits of growing from seed, which can yield healthier plants and varieties you won't find at your local garden center.

Carol and Kerrie explain what you need to know about seed selection before you purchase. Deciding what food your family enjoys most influences what you plant. Planting at the right time of year depending on where you live. Most gardeners know their climate Hardiness Zone but the knowing your growing season based on your last spring and first fall Frost Dates is going to determine when you sow your seeds. And of course, some basics of knowing your soil type, light requirements do different seeds need?

Knowing the Seed LingoGILN Social Media Icon

Carol and Kerrie also explore an in-depth look at terms such as annual/perennial/biennial, organic, heirloom, native hybrid, GM
O and open-pollinated. Since seed packets are a source of abundant information, they recommend you choose reputable brands. Find out which ones they like best.

Storing and Saving Your Seeds 

Discover how to save your own seeds! Follow their “good and dry” guidelines, and keep your seeds in a cool (40F), dark and dry place in their Seed Keeper Deluxe organizer, inside paper or glassine packets and add silica desiccants. Did we mention we're giving one away??? 

Teaching the Importance of Seeds in Schools


Finally, as a way to give back to the community, Carol and Kerrie started the Seed Keeper Project and work with 51 school gardens each year, selected from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The Month of January is the time to nominate schools from your state, on their Facebook Page.  Corona Cares has participated in their Seed Keeper Project for nine years, and this year is donating three Corona Cares tool grants valued at $1,000 to each of three winning schools.

Win a Seed Keeper Deluxe

seedkeeper on Corona toolsAre you saving seeds? Please tell us in the comments below, and be entered to win a Seed Keeper Deluxe. Tell us how you currently organize leftover and saved seeds and why you would benefit from this handy organizer. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on January 31, 2019. Open to all US addresses and good luck!

Resources

Download and subscribe to the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast on Simplecast, iTunes or Google Play. Be sure to connect with Corona Tools and share your thoughts on this podcast. Be sure to connect with both our guest and with us on all our social media networks. Connect with Carol and Kerrie on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Connect with Chris at Corona Tools on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Topics: #Plantchat, gardening, seeds

Getting the Most from Your Garden This Winter Season

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Mon, Nov, 26, 2018 @ 18:11 PM

The post-Thanksgiving rush is on to get ready for the holidays and the gardening season is quickly becoming a memory. There is still plenty to do during this season including decorating your home with festive decor. Instead of shopping at the same store as your neighbor for the latest yard ornaments, why not create a festive custom look, that costs you next to nothing? Your holiday decor just might be hiding in your backyard. Here's how to make a gorgeous garland with your own greens.  If you don't have greens in your yard, visit your local garden center and ask for leftover tree cuttings for no cost. We've also got some tips for helping out wildlife during the winter months.

Deck the Halls: Greens from your Garden 

Swag Bundles  Swag

 Materials & Supplies

  • Jute twine cut to the length of the garland you want + extra for hanging
  • Floral wire
  • Your favorite Corona Hand Pruners

Instructions

  • Cut 6-inch pieces of greenery from your favorite shrubs and ornamental grasses. Make sure to cut pieces of varying colors and textures. (What you cut depends on where you live.)
  • Make bundles of 3-5 pieces by wiring the cut ends of the pieces together. (You can bundle 3-5 cuttings from the same type of plant together or make bundles with a few different types of cuttings in each bunch.)
  • Tie one end of your piece of twine to a doorknob and hold the twine taut. 
  • Start wiring the bundles to the twine. (Leave enough twine at the end to hang the garland.) Hold the first bundle, cut ends up, and tightly wrap the wire around the twine and the bundle. For the first one it helps to poke the end of the wire through the twine once to hold the bundle in place. Do not cut the wire! Use the same piece of wire for the whole garland for extra strength.
  • Place the next bundle along the twine about 3/4 of the way down the first bundle. Wire the second bundle to the twine and one piece from the first bundle. (This helps hide the twine once you hang up the garland.)
  • Continue wiring bundles to the twine until it is covered. 
  • Hang up and enjoy!

Pro Tip: Hide Your Cuts

Keep in mind that fall isn't the ideal time to fully prune anything, so you're going to want to take a few cuttings from a variety of different shrubs. 

Here's the easiest way to hide your pruning cuts: Cut pieces for your garland from the underside of the branch. Works like a charm! If that isn't possible, try to remove a piece of branch that has another piece drooping over it, so the cut will be hidden. 

 

Bird on Coneflower

Fall Cleanup Part 2: Leave a Little for Wildlife 

Still working on fall cleanup? Make sure not to completely mow down everything in your garden. While that's tempting, it doesn't leave much for visiting wildlife to snack on. Here are our tips for easing up on cleanup so you can enjoy visits from your feathered (and furry) friends. 

  • Allow ornamental grasses to stand until snow or ice knocks them down. Their flowers are a good food source for birds and small mammals.

  • Let perennials dry and stand as well. Goldfinches love coneflower seeds and you'll love seeing their bright plumage in your garden. The insides of these plants also provide winter habitat for native bees and insects.

  • Leave some (but not all) leaves. It's not a good idea to allow dense mats of leaves to form on your lawn or in your flower beds. (Chop them up with your mower or leaf shredder and use them as mulch.) You can move a few piles of leaves to the edge of your property, though, to provide homes for overwintering native insects and butterflies. 

 

Tell us your winter gardening tips 

With so many regions and climates, there are many different activities to enjoy in the garden during the winter. Whether you're planting cool season crops, protecting your roses from the winter freeze or draining your irrigation system, we want to hear what tips work for you. Please share a comment, include your garden zone and tell us what works best for you during the winter garden season. 

Topics: gardening, Landscaping, Winter Garden Prep, Holiday Decorating Like the Pros, holiday

Demystifying Hydrangeas with Proven Winners

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Fri, Nov, 02, 2018 @ 18:11 PM
an introduction to the many types of hydrangeas

GILN Social Media Icon-1Did you know that hydrangeas are the most Googled shrub and flower on the planet? They are a favorite for many gardeners, yet often times they confuse one for another. Different types of hydrangea produce different types of flowers, can thrive in different zones, and have different requirements when it comes to pruning. We caught up with Stacey Hirvela, of the #1 plant brand, Proven Winners and she helps shed some light on this amazing shrub.

The 6 Types of Hydrangeas

If you’ve ever had a hydrangea shrub that hasn’t bloomed or wasn’t the mop-head burst of color you had expected, chances are, it’s related to the type you have. Whether you pruned it back when you shouldn’t have, or put the wrong one in the wrong spot, it can lead to disappointment for any gardener. The folks at Proven Winners joined us for a podcast to help make sense of all the types. 

Hydrangea PodcastKey discussion points include;

  • What makes these hydrangeas similar?
  • What makes them different?
  • Define what it means to bloom on old wood and bloom on new wood.
  • Explain how this affects pruning your hydrangea.
  • Describe how to prune the types of hydrangeas.
  • Why reblooming hydrangeas bloom on old and new wood – what does this mean for gardeners and for pruning?

Since there is so much information about hydrangeas to cover in one podcast, this episode is part 1 of 2. Download this and listen on a walk or out in the garden. Proven Winners also has this free handy guide, Demystifying Hydrangeas so you don't have to take notes. And if you have questions, join us live via Twitter.


Listen  Now, Chat Later

Since 2014,  Corona along with its industry partners, American Horticultural Society and Proven Winners, has been hosting plant-related topics via Twitter.  The new podcast gives chat participants an opportunity to hear the chat take place,  then  connect live with the host and guests. It's an opportunity to ask questions about the podcast, the general topic discussed or get more information on something that was shared. 

Chat Live and Win!

The live discussion takes place on 11/6/18 at 2PM ET. To join the discussion, log on to Twitter and search for #plantchat. If you are using Twitter, be sure to select "Latest" at the top to see the latest tweets. We'll also have plantchat prizes for those who listen to the podcast and can answer questions from it during the tweetup, including Corona tools! So listen to the podcast while you garden or commuting to the office then join us for the live chat!  And please share the good news on your favorite social networks too!

Resources

Be sure to connect with Proven Winners on Twitter and Facebook

Topics: #Plantchat, gardening, hydrangea, shrubs

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