New book a landscaper's encyclopedia

By Times Staff, Wires
Published December 1, 2007

Here's the big, thick book on everything you want to know about trees and shrubs: The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook (Storey Publishing, $29.95) by Penelope O'Sullivan. Learn basic landscaping, identify the plants that meet your needs, create a four-season garden, and read lots of tips and suggestions.


Keep colors simple during holidays

Decorating tips: Keep holiday flowers monochromatic so they don't compete with multicolored decorations, Traditional Home magazine suggests. Give summery white wicker a holiday look with pots of red poinsettias.


Bide your time before picking fruit

When's the right time to pick citrus from your backyard trees? Wait until the fruit is fully ripe, the Pinellas extension service says. The sweetening process stops once the fruit is picked. Many varieties of citrus have a long season and can be left on the tree until you're ready for their sweet juice or tasty fruit. Eventually the tree reaches a point where it stops caring for the fruit and it starts to dry out. Don't prune your trees until after they bloom next spring or you'll be cutting off the budwood that leads to the blooms that lead to next year's harvest. Spray trees with basic copper fungicide to help control fungus diseases.


Let pictures help sell the seasons

Once you've got your yard and the exterior of your home decorated for the holidays, take a few pictures. When the time comes to sell, prospective buyers will enjoy seeing how nice the place looks at Christmas, and the photos may give them ideas about how to decorate. Do the same throughout the year when flowers and trees are at their blooming best. Show the buyers what treats they have in store.


To water, just follow the light

When do your plants need watering? Stick a Thirsty Light in the pot and this digital moisture sensor will blink when the plant is thirsty. A sensor at the tip of the probe measures the electrical resistance of the soil environment once every second. Lower resistance indicates higher moisture levels. A digital circuit interprets the results and either emits a blinking pattern or remains dormant. The Thirsty Light by Trident Design is available for $9.95 online at www.thirstylight.com; watch for it soon at retailers.