03/20/09 — Planning to enjoy your outdoors

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Planning to enjoy your outdoors

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 20, 2009 1:46 PM

Spring is here, and if you want to smell flowers as you sit on your porch in the next few months, you better plant them now.

Darnay Barefoot, owner of Landscape Design of Goldsboro Inc., says that Wayne County residents should be looking into what kinds of flowers they would like to see sprouting up in their yards and plant them by April.

If you are starting a landscaping adventure in a new home or want to get your yard looking just perfect this year, you should start with a plan, Barefoot says.

If you aren't the green thumb or yard-working type, you can either hire his landscaping firm or another -- after you check their references and ask for a scope of work or contract -- to design your yard for a cost between $75 and $100 an hour.

"A typical design costs between $200 and $500," Barefoot said.

Or, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can draw up your own plan.

It doesn't have to be much, Barefoot said -- all you need is a piece of paper and a few ideas.

Start with what you want to see accomplished first.

"Prioritize what you want to get done," Barefoot said. "For example, if you use your deck on the back of the house a lot, then start by planting flowers around your deck and where you look out into your yard. Don't start in the front if people are never out there. You won't get to enjoy it."

After you know where you want to start your landscaping and what flowers, trees or shrubs you would like to have, then start preparing your flower beds or the place where you want to plant your tree or shrub.

"This is the time when you should be mulching, pruning and preventing weeds," Barefoot said. "Make sure you have your weeds under control. If you need to spray for them, spray for them now."

And give your beds new life by adding some fertilizer, new soil or mulch, but make sure you do a soil test first, he added.

"We can help them do that, or you can get help through the Cooperative Extension office," he said.

The soil test helps the homeowner know exactly what is needed in the soil for maximum plant growth potential.

Once you have your soil ready for plants, the next step is to make sure the flowers, trees and shrubs you have picked grow well in the area you are going to put it in.

Barefoot says to look at plant guides and place plants where the guide tells you to.

"You don't want to put a shade plant where you get a lot of sunlight," he said.

And residents may want to check to see if the plants they have picked are drought tolerant.

"People are saying we are going to see a dry period, so you might want to prepare for that," he said. "Get plants that will need less water."

Planting new trees and shrubs and laying grass seed or sod should be done by April, but flowers can be planted all the way through April, May and even June, depending on what type it is.

The absolute best time to plant, to keep in mind for next year, is winter.

"That's when the plants are dormant," he said. "And in the winter, the plants are less stressed. You don't have that heat stress.

"The less stress the plants have, and the earlier you plant them, the better chance they have of growing. ... For best results, don't wait until the last minute."

Once you have your planting finished, you have to maintain it.

"You have to start it and stay with it," Barefoot said. "Be consistent. Make sure you keep the weeds out.

"You've got to be doing something with it. You can't let it lie idle."

Residents should also make sure they keep their landscaping, including the grass, watered properly, which is typically once a week.

And newly-planted trees and new lawns will need more water than that.

If you have difficulty keeping plants alive outside, try a few plants that are really hard to kill.

"A cactus, it's hard to kill a cactus. Or bamboo," he said.

And if you just don't have good luck with plants and have killed every plant you have ever touched, Barefoot suggests having someone do the landscaping for you.

"And hire them to maintain it," he said.

Then, you will have a beautiful landscape and you won't have to put on a garden glove.

But make sure you call on people that have experience, Barefoot said.

"If you want to get solid advice, ask for credentials, licenses and see if they have insurance," he said.

Landscape Design has been in Goldsboro for 29 years.

Barefoot will be hosting a show on Channel 21 Saturday at 7:30 p.m. that will feature more in-depth discussions on how to make your landscaping beautiful.