One look at the 338 hanging flower baskets lining High Street downtown shows the importance Capital Crossroads SID places on keeping downtown clean and beautiful. All told, the hanging baskets alone represent a $60,000 investment the SID makes in downtown beautification. In addition to cleaning, removing graffiti and clearing the crosswalks of snow and leaves, the SID is responsible for five major areas of landscaping. Along with the hanging baskets on High Street, our beautification efforts include the planters around Capitol Square, the landscaping on Nationwide Boulevard, the medians on Gay Street and the new planters in Lynn Alley. Capital Crossroads Landscaping Specialist Jack Low leads the SID's effort keep downtown green and bright. Jack retired as the City Forester in Columbus’ Department of Recreation and Parks, and the SID gets a great deal leveraging his skills on a part-time basis.
Downtown properties benefit from Jack's skills and so you can your front porch. Whether you’re an urban dweller without much outdoor space or you have a large yard, you can enjoy container gardening. With good care, containers can brighten your windowsill, porch or yard until fall.
Create a dramatic display. First, start with a great pot that has drainage, and make sure to use a good potting soil. Next, combine different plants thinking “thrills, fills and spills.” Each container should feature taller more exciting plants mixed with medium size “fill” plants and smaller plants that cascade over the sides of the planter. Ferns, ivy and wave petunias make great “spills.” Make sure your plants have the same needs in terms of sun and water. Finally, remember to water often as the weather gets warmer.
Create an herb garden. You can extend your kitchen by creating a container herb garden. Unlike flowers, herbs are hardy and do not require much care. Herbs that grow well in containers include basil, chives, cilantro, thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, sage and rosemary.
Grow fruits and vegetables. Because you are starting with fresh soil, it is easier to avoid pests and weeds when growing in containers. Fruits that grow well in pots include blueberries and strawberries. Blueberries require acidic soil and only a couple applications of fertilizer. Most importantly, make sure you have at least two plants to ensure a fruit set. Strawberries are a sprawling plant that require a tall container. While you should allow the plant to grow over the sides, be sure to cut back baby shoots for the best yield. Vegetables that grow well in containers include tomatoes and bell peppers. Most noteworthy is that you will need sturdy cages or wire to grow tomatoes and they need plenty of sun and water. Also, bell peppers are best grown in two-gallon pots.
A word about mulch: mulch helps conserve moisture, moderates temperature, provides nutrients and controls weeds. If there is old mulch, loosen it up with a rake. Apply mulch 1 to 2 inches deep. Do not pile mulch around the base of a tree.
Finally, if you are unsure whether a branch is dead or alive, bend it to see if it seems flexible. Scratch the bark with your fingernail. If it is green beneath the bark, the branch is alive.