Porcelain Garlic Care: How To Grow Porcelain Garlic Plants

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What is porcelain garlic and how do you grow it? Porcelain garlic is a type of large, attractive hardneck garlic. The plump cloves, usually four to seven to a bulb, are easy to peel, delicious to eat, and store longer than most types of garlic. Let’s learn how to grow porcelain garlic. How to Grow Porcelain Garlic Growing porcelain garlic is basically the same as growing any type of garlic. Porcelain garlic performs well in most climates, with the exception of extremely warm regions such as southern California, Florida, and Texas. It is well suited for cold weather and tends to be larger when grown in chilly northern climates. Plant porcelain garlic in well-drained soil sometime in the fall (between September and November) when the soil is cool. Before planting, dig in a generous amount of compost or well-rotted manure. If you want fat, plump garlic, plant the fattest, plumpest […]

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Backflow Preventer box always flooded

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Hi, my backflow preventer sits in a low ground point. It always gets flooded after rain or sprinkler use. Since my soil type is heavy clay, it usually takes a day or two to get it seeped down.

I'm wondering if I can simply remove some soil under my backflow preventer, allowing it not to get submerged. I had the valve handles rust off, and requiring replacement by professionals…

There doesn't seem to be a leak since when i'm not using water, the water meter doesn't move.

Will removing…

Backflow Preventer box always flooded

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Ready to roll

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Keep climbing

By Brian Horn

In the past, Paul Welborn would have taken the lead on assembling his company’s career ladder. But not this year, as Welborn continues to learn to delegate at Lawn & Pest Solutions in New Albany, Ms. He’s put his managers on the lawn side of the business in charge of creating the steps a technician has to take to climb the ladder.

“A year ago, I would have put a lot of the information together and had them look at it and see what they thought,” he says. “Now they’re building out that information and I’m giving my feedback, which is the way it should be.”

Welborn has learned through the process that his managers are more than capable of taking on the responsibility, and saves him the headache of one more task.

He says they always had the ladder in their minds and operated as if it was official, but never had it in writing.

“It’s sort of the way we did it anyway,” he says. “But the value in it now, it’s putting it on a piece of paper and being able to put it in front of a guy and say, ‘Here’s your path. Okay, here’s the things you need today.’ Maybe we were pushing them towards some of these things, but it wasn’t a formal, ‘Here’s your plan, here’s a way you can attack this and continue to move up in the company.’”

Paul Welborn continues to delegate as he works with the Harvesters.

© Jon Arman

In the details.

Allowing managers to assemble the career ladder has provided Welborn teaching moments. Technicians will have to take 7-10 tests to move to a new level. The tests are taken via training software the company uses.

The managers were in charge of formulating the questions technicians would have to answer to pass a test. One manager was asking entry-level technicians for knowledge that a technician who’s been there a year and a half would know. So, that manager was asked to create tests for the more advanced levels. And now that the lawn side has a foundation for a career ladder, Welborn wants to build one out for the structural pest side of the business.

“We’ve brought the pest manager in and he’s going to start giving some feedback of, ‘Okay, we can tweak this to better fit pest’ and make everything match up for their job responsibilities, versus a lawn tech,” Welborn says.

Sales challenge.

Right now, Lawn & Pest Solutions is 80% lawn care and 20% structural pest, but Welborn would like to grow the pest side. For 2020, they have mapped out a sales challenge where they will focus on growing one segment of that division a quarter – perimeter pest in first quarter, termite in the second quarter, mosquito third quarter, and then back to perimeter pest in the fall.

Since they started mapping out the contest in the first quarter, the pest challenge wasn’t too much of a priority, which was a good thing.

“Luckily (we didn’t have a) real strong contest in place for first quarter because our weather here has been rainy and very uncooperative,” he says. “So, our customer interaction or upsell ability has been very limited in the first quarter of this year.”

Harvesters’ take.

Paul is faced with several key challenges not the least of which has been the weather in February. Rain, and more rain, has affected their production goal drastically from a goal of $116,000 down to $18,000 for the month.

This has put quite a dent into their overall sales goal of $2 million. The team will have to hustle to get caught up and we believe this team will do just that. We will follow this team very closely as they make up this temporary setback.

Another key front is with people. In our last Harvesters’ Take, we shared that Paul had executed our retention game plan Perfectly with a key player and they have decided to remain on board! After deciding that the pay rate was probably too low for this high-skilled position, Paul made an adjustment but that was still lower than the offer they had received. After considering everything, this person stayed on board for two reasons:

• Culture: Lawn and Pest has an excellent culture! People feel engaged, challenged and part of a team that has strong core values and an excellent team atmosphere.

• Location: Yes, location! The excellent job opportunity this person received was a considerable drive to work each day while the Lawn and Pest location was very close. This was discovered during our meeting to learn why they were leaving. Once it was brought to their attention that they would spend more than an hour more per day driving to their new job, they agreed that a better work life balance was worth staying at Lawn and Pest.

• Lesson: Don’t undervalue the location of where you are based.

Making headway

By Kim Lux

Frank Leloia Jr. says he feels his business, Custom Landscaping and Lawn Care, in East Brunswick, N.J., is improving.

Since the team’s initial meeting with the Harvesters in December 2019, Leloia says they’ve already made a number of changes.

“The biggest factor that we’ve worked on so far has been HR-related issues,” he says. “Harvester Steve (Cesare) has been working with our operations manager, Syril, to make sure we are fully compliant.”

Leloia says the company has performed a full I-9 audit, looked into EPLI insurance and restructured the company handbook.

The business has also done some hiring recently, which will help streamline operations and allow the company to better delegate tasks.

“We hired an operations manager just for our residential lawn care,” Leloia says. “That went along with our strategy to organize more internally. We feel this will make us stronger. Our retention and our recruiting should increase.”

Frank Leloia Jr., left, has spent the early months trying to sign more commercial clients.

© Amie Retzlaff

Before the new hire, three employees were contributing to heading up the department.

“Now, with the hire we are more streamlined. We’ve essentially decluttered our organization chart,” Leloia says.

Along with the behind-the-scenes upgrades, Custom Landscaping has been striving to grow its commercial customer base.

“We’re out there chasing commercial accounts,” he says. “We’re very proud to say that we just got our sixth new commercial account. I think we should increase revenue by half-a-million dollars contractually.

“We’ve talked a lot with (the Harvesters) about how we can have better sales presentations put together,” he adds, “so that when we’re meeting with commercial clients, we want to be able to wow them and set ourselves ahead of the competition.”

To improve their presentations, the company has been holding mock sales pitches.

“Now we’re quicker on our feet,” Leloia says. “We’ve also been preparing more and our no longer just giving estimates. We’re more transparent in our contracts and we’re looking into incorporating some unique, video presentations, too.”

One of the goals set by the Harvesters was for Custom to have a 50-50 blend of residential and commercial accounts by 2022.

“Obviously it takes work, but the main thing they taught us is to have a target and identify what we want. At that point, we were able to focus on what we wanted and go get it.”

Leloia says to get to the 50-50 split, Bill and Ed urged Custom Landscaping to review its residential accounts and eliminate those that aren’t profitable.

“They wanted us to cut back a little on our residential accounts,” he says. “We haven’t cut back as much as they have wanted us to, but we’ve trimmed the edges of our less dense areas in order to make our denser areas more profitable.”

Harvesters’ take.

Frank and his team are going after more commercial work and leveling off on their residential work as we have agreed upon from our original Harvester visit. This will require a significant change in their mindset and what has been done here over several decades…. Frank is all in.

In order to take advantage of this market it will require some tune ups, changes and key action items if they are to be successful, here are some key points:

• Editing of Non-Desirable Residential Work: This will require a review and ranking of accounts coupled with some professional termination notices.

• Keep the Keeper Residential: The primary focus here will be to keep a dense route location to best serve the customer and to be most efficient.

• Learning How to Say No: Get a very clear selection criteria in place and know when to say no both with residential and commercial work.

• Build Killer Proposals: Build a proposal format that is more relational and less transactional and deals with solving their pains vs. selling and telling them how great we are…

• Estimating: Get a more formal estimating process in place using the Harvesters’ triangulation method: Crew Hours per Visit – Hours Per Task – Production Method – Compare to Similar Jobs

• Hire and Commercial Business Developer: Keep on the hunt full time with a business developer that is committed full time for selling commercial work.

It all starts with the leader in each organization. Frank is doing great and understands the importance of having a better balance of market types. Change is hard, especially if a business has been doing it one way for a long time. Frank has surrounded himself with good people and that is always a good start for the path of success.

Next take, we want to share how Frank got a top flight CFO on board at a most reasonable cost.

Remaining calm

By Jimmy Miller

David Hawkins Jr. says his employees are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Of course, he adds that these measures are all things they should’ve been doing anyway: wiping down trucks at the end of the day, creating wash stations around the company yard and washing hands before lunchtime. But there’s only so much he can do to prevent the spread of germs and fear at his own company – clients are going to be equally concerned about the virus as well.

To this point, Hawkins Jr. says he hasn’t lost much business yet, which is a positive. He says his company has many long-standing relationships with clients that are handled differently now to maintain physical distance. No handshakes or hugs; just service and quick conversation.

“We just talked to them and we’re taking everything that we can do,” Hawkins Jr. says. “We want to keep our people safe. We’re one big family and try to do the right thing, which is not panic.”

David Hawkins Jr., left, says a mild winter allowed for a head start on spring maintenance.

Photo courtesy of Hawkins Landscaping

Among the chaos caused by COVID-19, one thing’s remained constant: Harvester Ed and Bill call Hawkins Jr. and the Hawkins Landscaping crew, based in Frederick, Md., every three weeks to catch up on the progress made on the team’s objectives. They’ve had plenty of time to focus on big-picture stuff given that it was a mild winter, though that presents a variety of problems on its own. With $60,000 worth of salt still in storage, it’s taking up space where seed and fertilizer usually goes. Plus, it resulted in less business over the winter than usual.

“But that’s part of the animal that you deal with when you do when you do snow removal,” Hawkins Jr. says. “It seems it’s either feast or famine.”

They never took any days off over the winter though, and Hawkins Jr. says they got a head start on spring maintenance work since the weather was so mild. They also did some hardscaping work, and some of the clients they have for snow work ended up giving the go-ahead for more work this spring. Plus, through word-of-mouth advertising with the clients they already have, Hawkins Jr. says they’ve landed some extra accounts like a nursing home recently.

The word-of-mouth helps because he says their prices are probably higher than some of the larger competitors in the area, but referrals ensure that potential clients know Hawkins Landscaping will spend more time on the little details.

“That way we didn’t have to bid it out,” Hawkins Jr. says. “That’s worked out pretty good, and we’ve got a couple others like that in the works.”

Now they’re working through creating a mini budget and identifying 200 possible clients over time. Hawkins Jr. says it’s been a while since they’ve looked at the bigger problems like pricing out new materials properly because usually, with so much going on, they just buy the first ones they find right at last minute.

“That’s one of my problems. You get busy, and we stay busy year-round, so we don’t watch our numbers as good as we can,” Hawkins Jr. says. “Traditionally, when we first started, we would work on equipment, but as the business evolved, we ran out of that time. Now we might be even busier over the winters than in the spring.”

Harvesters’ take.

It’s been a year of very little snow for the Hawkins team, but that has allowed them to work more on the company than in it. In a good snow year there is plenty of cash coming in for the spring, but this is not happening this season, so it’s been all hands on deck selling work and working on the urgent items in their playbook.

As of this writing, they are in full production with cleanups beginning and design build work underway. At this point, they have a solid backlog of work priced at our 50% gross margin goal. We talked about morphing over into more commercial maintenance work but this has been slow, in that they prefer to be selective in the accounts they go after. They are working with Harvester Ed’s Be 2@200 Campaign, which should bear fruit later in the year. One thing for sure: They don’t want to do any HOAs.

From a financial standpoint, Kristi Hawkins is working on setting up the Harvest Mini Budget so she will be able to see at a click, what the gross margins are each month, for each department. This will really help (in real time) in making sure their estimating, pricing and efficiency is on track. Carol Hawkins is working on their field-to-office paper flow to better track the work. She is also reviewing what was purchased last year to see if there is a way to be more strategic and save money. D2 an D3, that’s father and son, are working to improve their proposal process to be sure their estimates are more accurate.

So, all in all it looks like a good start and we will monitor their progress along the way.

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How Environmental Controls Suppliers Are Addressing Concerns in the Greenhouse

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Wadsworth Control Systems’ Seed Integrated Environmental ControllerKnowing the environmental conditions in your greenhouse — and being able to act when there is a problem — is more important than ever.

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L&L COVID-19 webinar recap

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<![CDATA[

 

Lawn & Landscape hosted a webinar on April 3 with columnists and industry consultants Jim Huston (J.R. Huston Consulting), Ed Laflamme (The Harvest Group) and Bruce Wilson (Bruce Wilson & Co.)

The panelists discussed best practices during COVID-19 and commented on exclusive Lawn & Landscape COVID-19 research. Here are some takeaways from the webinar. View the webinar its entirety here

For all our COVID-19 coverage, click here.

Spend accordingly. Planning during a good economy is a must, but it’s also important during an economic downturn.

“You’ve got to think short-term, long-term,” Huston said.

Laflamme added “Watch your cash flow. The most important thing is planning for the ‘What ifs.’”

The panelists also have a few suggestions on how to limit spending and what not to cut.  The L&L survey shows that the majority of participants have already paused spending in some way due to COVID-19.

"I hate to hear the word ‘cut,’" Wilson said. "I would suspend or postpone capital purchases unless you need them immediately."

“The worst thing you could do is lay off your people,” Laflamme said. “It could ruin your culture.”

Laflamme added that businesses shouldn’t cut marketing either, but instead market more to keep sales moving forward.

Take precautions. With the COVID-19 outbreak comes the need for more sanitation and safety procedures. Survey results show that businesses have implemented extra cleaning and disinfecting of trucks and equipment, outdoor meetings, staggering work hours and more.

The panelists also suggested that businesses may want to look into allowing workers to use their own vehicles and reimburse them for mileage, along with keeping the windows down in the trucks, wearing some kind of face mask or bandana and keep six feet apart.  

Increase communication. Some businesses have seen cancellations. According to the survey, the majority of the cancelled or paused jobs have been in the residential design/build segment.

To curb the number of cancellations, Huston, Laflamme and Wilson said communicate with your customers and let them know what you’re doing.

“Approach them before they cancel,” Wilson said. “Ask customers questions about how this is affecting them, and what they are concerned about. You’ve got to pick up the phone…become a resource for them.”

According to the panelists, there are opportunities for growth out there even during this pandemic.

Huston said there are opportunities in pest control and irrigation for those who are looking.

“A lot of it gets backed to mindset,” Huston said. “There’s opportunities out there.”

Laflamme said he has a client who’s essentially reinvented his business during this trying time by now providing disinfecting services.

“We have a client who does lawn applications and pest control, he completed shifted,” he says. “They got into the sterilization business. He’s turned it around to a positive aspect. The response so far has been incredible.”

Buy low and stay involved. Wilson said that now might also be a good time for acquisitions of small, owner-operated business.

“A lot of them are probably really stressed right now,” Wilson said.

The panelists also had some advice for those who have not been deemed essential businesses by their states.

“Get involved with your state association and also your local representatives,” Huston said. “What’s surprising is how inconsistent these definitions are as far as what is an essential business.”

Huston also suggested that companies who can’t work right now start networking.

“Maybe they can be doing some learning at home while they’re on these furloughs,” Laflamme said.

Wilson said businesses should ask their customers to call area politicians on their behalf.

“Lobby your customers to lobby the authorities to make it an essential service,” Wilson said. “I think you’ve got to keep the pressure on to get it to be an essential service.”

Stay positive. The three panelists agreed that how business owners choose to handle the crisis, and the difficulties that come with it, will have an impact on their business.

“Owners that have a very positive mindset seem to be having positive results, and the owners who have a somewhat defeated attitude about it are taking their lumps,” Wilson said.

The following survey results were taken between March 20-23 and March 28-31.

 

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L&L COVID-19 webinar recap

Sourced content from: http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/Article/lawn-and-landscapecoronavirus-webinar-recap

Lawn Mowing Local goal is to provide the best journals on keeping your front yard looking good. From tips on do it yourself projects to how to keep your lawns green we labor to cover the entire dimensions of every homeowner’s landscaping needs. We hope you enjoy the content below and find it useful in your gardens.

<![CDATA[

 

Lawn & Landscape hosted a webinar on April 3 with columnists and industry consultants Jim Huston (J.R. Huston Consulting), Ed Laflamme (The Harvest Group) and Bruce Wilson (Bruce Wilson & Co.)

The panelists discussed best practices during COVID-19 and commented on exclusive Lawn & Landscape COVID-19 research. Here are some takeaways from the webinar. View the webinar its entirety here

For all our COVID-19 coverage, click here.

Spend accordingly. Planning during a good economy is a must, but it’s also important during an economic downturn.

“You’ve got to think short-term, long-term,” Huston said.

Laflamme added “Watch your cash flow. The most important thing is planning for the ‘What ifs.’”

The panelists also have a few suggestions on how to limit spending and what not to cut.  The L&L survey shows that the majority of participants have already paused spending in some way due to COVID-19.

"I hate to hear the word ‘cut,’" Wilson said. "I would suspend or postpone capital purchases unless you need them immediately."

“The worst thing you could do is lay off your people,” Laflamme said. “It could ruin your culture.”

Laflamme added that businesses shouldn’t cut marketing either, but instead market more to keep sales moving forward.

Take precautions. With the COVID-19 outbreak comes the need for more sanitation and safety procedures. Survey results show that businesses have implemented extra cleaning and disinfecting of trucks and equipment, outdoor meetings, staggering work hours and more.

The panelists also suggested that businesses may want to look into allowing workers to use their own vehicles and reimburse them for mileage, along with keeping the windows down in the trucks, wearing some kind of face mask or bandana and keep six feet apart.  

Increase communication. Some businesses have seen cancellations. According to the survey, the majority of the cancelled or paused jobs have been in the residential design/build segment.

To curb the number of cancellations, Huston, Laflamme and Wilson said communicate with your customers and let them know what you’re doing.

“Approach them before they cancel,” Wilson said. “Ask customers questions about how this is affecting them, and what they are concerned about. You’ve got to pick up the phone…become a resource for them.”

According to the panelists, there are opportunities for growth out there even during this pandemic.

Huston said there are opportunities in pest control and irrigation for those who are looking.

“A lot of it gets backed to mindset,” Huston said. “There’s opportunities out there.”

Laflamme said he has a client who’s essentially reinvented his business during this trying time by now providing disinfecting services.

“We have a client who does lawn applications and pest control, he completed shifted,” he says. “They got into the sterilization business. He’s turned it around to a positive aspect. The response so far has been incredible.”

Buy low and stay involved. Wilson said that now might also be a good time for acquisitions of small, owner-operated business.

“A lot of them are probably really stressed right now,” Wilson said.

The panelists also had some advice for those who have not been deemed essential businesses by their states.

“Get involved with your state association and also your local representatives,” Huston said. “What’s surprising is how inconsistent these definitions are as far as what is an essential business.”

Huston also suggested that companies who can’t work right now start networking.

“Maybe they can be doing some learning at home while they’re on these furloughs,” Laflamme said.

Wilson said businesses should ask their customers to call area politicians on their behalf.

“Lobby your customers to lobby the authorities to make it an essential service,” Wilson said. “I think you’ve got to keep the pressure on to get it to be an essential service.”

Stay positive. The three panelists agreed that how business owners choose to handle the crisis, and the difficulties that come with it, will have an impact on their business.

“Owners that have a very positive mindset seem to be having positive results, and the owners who have a somewhat defeated attitude about it are taking their lumps,” Wilson said.

The following survey results were taken between March 20-23 and March 28-31.

 

]]>

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John Deere produces face shields for health care workers

Sourced content from: http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/Article/deere-produces-face-shield-health-care-workers

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<![CDATA[

John Deere, in collaboration with the UAW, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association has joined a number of organizations and companies across the country to produce protective face shields for health care workers in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.  

Employees started production on Wednesday, April 8, at the John Deere Seeding Group in Moline, Illinois. The factory manufactures planting equipment and precision ag solutions for a global customer base.

The company expects to produce 25,000 face shields in the initial stages of production and has ordered materials and supplies to produce an additional 200,000 face shields.

The first 25,000 protective face shields will be delivered to 16 U.S. Deere factories in eight states as well as the company’s U.S. Deere-Hitachi factory for local distribution. The initial run will help meet the immediate needs of health care workers in those communities.

The company is using an open-source design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the project and leveraging expertise, skills, and innovation of its employee base.  

 “Our manufacturing and supply management teams, along with our production and maintenance employees, the UAW, and our partners have worked tirelessly to ensure we could lend our support and protect our health care workers during this crisis,” said John May, chief executive officer, Deere & Company. “By working closely with the communities where our employees live and work, we can help support the needs we’ve identified close to home and, as the project expands, address additional, urgent needs across the country.”

John Deere Seeding Group employees are supporting the special project and are utilizing extensive and robust safety measures adopted across the company to safeguard employees.

“This is a very proud day for the UAW and our UAW members,” said Rory L. Gamble, UAW president. “I want to recognize the hard work that Secretary-Treasurer and Agriculture Implement Department Director Ray Curry and Region 4 Director Ron McInroy contributed to this effort. This included working to put the necessary health and safety provisions in place for our members to begin manufacturing critically needed face shields for the health care workers who are on the front lines of this crisis saving lives. We are especially proud of the courageous UAW members who are stepping up to do this critical work.”

The production of protective face shields is one of many initiatives the company and its employees have executed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Efforts in the U.S. have included the following: 

  • PPE donations to health care facilities
  • 2:1 employee match program encouraging donations to local food banks and the American Red Cross
  • Production of approximately 18,000 protective face shields for use by factory employees
  • Employee volunteerism efforts to sew cloth masks for community members along with a match from the John Deere Foundation for the time invested in this volunteer activity
  • Launch of a COVID-19 innovations site to share open-source specifications for related projects, including 3D-printed clips to affix face shields to protective bump caps   

For additional information regarding Deere’s response to COVID-19, visit the company’s Coronavirus Update Center.

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Burt House Plant

Sourced content from: http://www.walterreeves.com/name-that-plant/burt-house-plant/

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Plant identification – This plant is nine years old and has grown to the ceiling. Would like to cut and start a second plant.

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Name that bug Please!! Part 3

Sourced content from: http://www.walterreeves.com/name-that-plant/name-that-bug-please-part-3/

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Here are a few more photos. Once you are looking for the bug, you can’t find one and when you do they don’t want to cooperate and sit still for a picture! Hopefully they are zoomed in enough and clear enough for a description. Thank you!!

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Little Bunny Fountain Grass Care: Growing Little Bunny Fountain Grass

Sourced content from: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/foliage/fountain-grass/little-bunny-fountain-grass-care.htm

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Fountain grasses are versatile garden plants with year-round appeal. Many varieties reach 4 to 6 feet (1-2 m.) high and can spread up to 3 feet (1 m.) wide, making most types of fountain grass unsuitable choices for small spaces. However, the miniature variety called Little Bunny dwarf fountain grass is perfect for tiny areas. What is Little Bunny Grass? Little Bunny dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’) is a low maintenance ornamental with a compact size. This deer resistant fountain grass reaches 8 to 18 inches (20-46 cm.) in height with a spread of 10 to 15 inches (25-38 cm.). The slow growing grass is ideal for rock gardens, borders, and small perennial beds – even containers. Like other types of fountain grass, Little Bunny grows in a clumping, fountain-like formation. The ribbon-shaped leaves are dark green throughout the growing season and turn russet gold in the fall.

The post Little Bunny Fountain Grass Care: Growing Little Bunny Fountain Grass appeared first on Gardening Know How.

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