Articles by Sam Marshall Special to Topsail Advertiser

  • Black Twig Borers: Tiny insects pose a big threat to your trees and shrubs

    What’s small, brown, and has the potential to damage your ornamental trees and shrubs? Why, the black twig borer of course. But have you ever actually seen one? Unless you happen to be extremely observant and own a microscope, the answer is most likely no. However, the black twig borer is fast-becoming a common pest in nurseries and home landscapes throughout our region. READ MORE

  • Master gardener: The right way to water your lawn

    Editor’s note: This article is the first in a three-part series on water-wise practices for lawns and gardens. This article focuses on watering lawns. Next week's article will focus on watering landscapes. And the following week will finish out the series with a discussion of watering vegetable gardens. READ MORE

  • Back to school; time for a soil test

    Any successful gardener in this area will tell you that the key to a beautiful lawn or garden starts with healthy soil. The only way to ensure your soil is healthy is to conduct a soil test. Soil test results guide decisions like which type of fertilizer to use and whether or not to apply lime. Different types of plants have different pH and nutrient requirements. By soil testing, you can ensure you are applying the proper amounts for optimal growth of all your plants. READ MORE

  • Fall vegetable gardens extend growing season

    Fall is an exciting time in southeastern North Carolina! We finally get a reprieve from the heat and humidity and the bugs are more tolerable, which means you can begin to reclaim the outdoors and get back in the garden; and now is the time to start a fall vegetable garden. If you typically grow a summer garden—tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash—and no fall garden, you are only getting half the production potential from your beds and are missing out on some tasty cool-season veggies. READ MORE

  • Get your lawn and landscape ready for cooler months ahead

    Fall weather is in the air and its arrival to the Cape Fear region is much-appreciated! But the work isn’t over. Cooler weather means that deciduous landscape plants and warm-season turfgrass will soon be going into dormancy, a period of inactivity when plants store energy for the colder months ahead. As you reclaim the outdoors and get back to your garden you will still find there is plenty of work to do in order to get your landscape ready for winter. READ MORE

  • Avoid invasive plants in your landscape

    From soil preparation to choosing the right variety, there are many factors that go into choosing the best plant for your landscape. However, one factor that may go overlooked is whether a plant is invasive. Invasive plants can escape cultivation and spread to natural areas, where they displace native plant species. The loss of native species to invasive plants reduces wildlife diversity and also has direct impacts to humans. So before you plant this fall, consider first what you will be planting and whether it has the potential to become invasive. READ MORE

  • Home grown pecans delicious by any name

    If you are from Western North Carolina, you probably call them pe-kahns, and if you are from Eastern North Carolina, you likely call them pe-cans. No matter how you say it, pecan trees are becoming more popular in home landscapes. Native to North America, pecan trees have many benefits as edible landscape additions for the patient gardener. With minimal effort and inputs and the right soil conditions, you can grow pecan trees in your backyard. READ MORE

  • Master Gardener: Mistletoe considered potentially harmful addition to landscape

    Mistletoe is a common sight this time of year in deciduous trees throughout coastal North Carolina. A parasite of many hardwood trees, mistletoe can also be blamed for the increase in stolen kisses from December through the first of January. While it has had many uses throughout history, this evergreen plant is usually considered to be an unsightly, unwanted, and potentially harmful addition to the landscape. That being said, there are a few factors to consider before deciding whether this is a friend or foe to your landscape trees. READ MORE

  • Master Gardener - Heirloom tomatoes perfect for home gardens

    Instead of trying something new this year, why not try something old? Join a growing number of gardeners who are seeking out heirloom varieties. Planting heirloom varieties offers a unique chance to connect with our past and literally taste our gardening heritage. Heirloom varieties of tomatoes are particularly popular because they offer a diversity of shapes, sizes, and colors, as well as an abundance of old-time tomato flavor. You will be able to find several popular heirloom tomato varieties at garden centers this spring, but if you wish to grow your own, now is the time to start the seeds. READ MORE

  • Master Gardener: Ground covers can work as lawn alternatives

    Lawns provide an attractive and durable surface for areas that receive a lot of traffic in your yard, but can also require a lot of upkeep. Mass plantings of ground covering plants can provide a low-maintenance alternative to traditional lawns. Replacing large sweeps of lawn with groundcover plantings can be beneficial to wildlife, highly attractive, and reduce your landscape’s irrigation needs. If you are searching for something different this year, consider planting ground covers as a lawn alternative to help wildlife, reduce water use, and save money. READ MORE

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