Container Gardening in New Hampshires Short Season

Container gardening is one of the most popular ways to add interest and color to any outdoor space. The only rule you need to follow when creating your container garden is to be creative and enjoy it! At Miracle Farms we generally follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method when planting containers. This concept utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded combinations. Here’s how it works.

thrillers, fillers, spillers

thrillers, fillers, spillers

Thriller Plants

•                Thrillers are plants with height that add drama and a vertical element to the combination

•                Thrillers can either be flowering or foliage plants or ornamental grasses

•                Thrillers are generally put either in the center or at the back of the container

•                Place it in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides

•                Place it in the back of the container if it will be viewed from only one side

•                Some examples are: angelonia, argyranthemum, grasses


Filler Plants

Once you’ve chosen your Thriller, next start choosing your Filler varieties

•                Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and make the container look full

•                Fillers are generally placed in front of, or around, the Thriller variety

•                Fillers should be placed midway between the edge of the container and the Thriller variety

•                If the Thriller is in the center of the container, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety

•                Some examples are euphorbia,  calibrachoa, and  petunias


Spiller Plants

•                Lastly, you add the Spillers

•                Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter

•                Spillers are placed close to the edge of the container

•                If the container is going to be viewed from all sides, Spillers should be placed on all sides

•                If the container is going to be viewed from only one side, Spillers should be placed in the                 front of the container

•                Some examples are bacopa, lobularia, and sweet potato vine

use potting soil rich in organic matter

use potting soil rich in organic matter


Feel free to plant containers full. You don’t need to go by the space requirements listed on the plant label because it’s not making a permanent home in your garden.  Especially here in New Hampshire where are growing season is rather short, who wants to wait for a container to fill out?  However, you will need to make sure you have enough space for the root zones.   Use a well-draining, mixed potting soil that’s rich in organic matter.  You can fill the container part way with a substitute fill material (we use empty plastic containers) to save on the cost of soil and to make the container lighter and easier to move.  Most annuals will do very well with about 12 – 16” of soil. Remember to fertilize once a week as frequent watering of containers results in leaching of nutrients.

Raised Beds in the Lakes Region, NH – Pros and Cons

The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I build raised beds, or plant directly in the ground? Depending on where you live, soil conditions, sunlight, cost and time involved, your answers may vary.  Let’s take a look at some of these factors to help you decide.

1. If the soil where you were hoping to plant is hard-packed, sandy, or rocky then there would be an advantage to building a raised bed and filling it with a healthy mix of topsoil and compost.  Of course the cost of materials and the construction time may be enough to make you dig a little harder and amend the soil in the ground.

raised bed in early spring

raised bed in early spring

2. The raised height can help to keep pets out of your garden and by putting a layer of wire mesh in the bottom, you will likely deter burrowing critters trying to come in from below.  Again, this adds cost to your project.

3. The fresh soil that you would start with should by nature be cleaner and more free of weeds and a raised bed requires no edging to keep grass out. Because of the height, raised beds are generally a bit easier to weed and maintain.

4. Once you commit to raised beds you can get creative with the design and layout.  Check out this article on HOUZZ that details lots of options for materials to use when constructing your raised beds.

5. Time and Cost are a disadvantage. Planning, building and maintaining season after season takes time and financial investment. Even naturally rot-resistant woods such as red cedar and cypress will eventually need replacing and can be difficult to find. Although today’s pressure treated lumber is no longer made with arsenic, many people still prefer to use untreated wood.

6. Soil temperatures in raised beds will warm sooner than soil in the ground so planting can begin a bit earlier.  It is also easier to cover raised beds should you fear an early or late season frost.

There is certainly a lot to consider when making this choice.  If you know you want raised beds, but don’t have the time or energy to construct them, call Miracle Farms Landscape Contractors and we will help you get the job done. 603-253-9292

raised beds early spring

raised beds early spring

Controlling Crabgrass in your Lakes Region Lawn

Mother Nature has been teasing us with some beautiful spring like weather for a month or so now here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and here’s hoping we are headed in the right direction. With the warmer temperatures and lack of snow it’s a great time to think about what we can do to get the lush green lawns we’ve been dreaming about and there’s no room in the dream for crabgrass! Crabgrass control starts with good practices that encourage the growth and health of desirable lawn grasses, as crabgrass will not invade vigorous, healthy turf. Good management is the best means of crabgrass control, and often least expensive as it will also help control other weeds and diseases.


One of the first things on the list for a healthy lawn is an application of a pre-emergent weed control just after completing a spring clean up. If your lawn tends to be spotted with yellow dandelions and crabgrass, pre-emergent weed prevention is for you. Timing is everything however; so don’t get ahead of yourself before your lawn is ready. Pre-emergent crabgrass preventer can wear off before crabgrass actually germinates if you put it down too early. Crabgrass germinates based on soil temperatures, generally around 56 to 64 degrees at the earliest.

Many professionals watch for a colorful sign in the landscape as an indicator that soil temperatures are within an adequate range for crabgrass to germinate. The sunny golden yellow of forsythia in bloom is a sure sign to move forward with your pre-emergent crabgrass control application, as they will be in full bloom just prior to crabgrass germination. Keep in mind that the herbicide will not be effective after the crabgrass is out of the ground and actively growing so keep this window in mind.

Applied in spring along with your much needed spring fertilizer, pre-emergents work by stopping weeds and crabgrass before the plants have an opportunity to germinate and grow. They work by forming a barrier over the surface where they are applied leaving the roots of established plants (such as perennials, shrubs and trees) unaffected. Be sure to keep pre-emergents away from garden beds where you may be planting seeds. You need to activate the herbicide by watering the lawn after the application. Most products call for a half-inch of irrigation (or rain) within 21 days of application.

Your lawn will grown green and healthy if it doesn’t have to compete with weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients. Apply a pre-emergent yourself or leave your weeds in the experienced hands of the “Lawn Enforcement Officers” at Miracle Farms. Contact us to schedule a free estimate for this service and any other lawn and landscape needs we can help with.

For the Lakes Region in NH, call us at 603-253-9292

Spring! Bring it on or Bring it in!

donald wyman crabappleThe mild weather we are experiencing here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire will surely turn your thoughts to the warmer more colorful days ahead. Forcing branches to flower indoors is a great way to get in to a spring state of mind.

A tall vase of blooming forsythia branches can chase away the winter blahs. Bring a bit of spring indoors by gathering branches of flowering deciduous shrubs and trees and forcing them to bloom or leaf out early in your home.

Early native bloomers are particularly suited for indoor early forcing such as forsythia, witchhazel, and pussy willows. The closer to the actual bloom time you prune the shrub or tree branch for forcing, the faster it will bloom indoors. In late March or early April, later bloomers such as cherry, crabapple, flowering pear and dogwoods are great choices.

Follow these easy steps for success:


  • Select a branch with many large, round flower buds on it. Leaf buds tend to be smaller and flatter, and lie closer to the branch. Cut the branch to about 6 to 18 inches long. Split the cut end with sharp shears or a knife. Remove any buds that would be under water.
  • Once indoors, recut the stems and place them in cold water overnight to take up water and acclimate.
  • Place the vase in a 60-65 degree room, out of direct sunlight. Once the buds start to show color, move to a sunnier spot and enjoy.

Unseasonable Lakes Region Winter

Unusually warm Lakes Region NH temperatures

Unusually warm Lakes Region NH temperatures







No, you’re not seeing things… my thermometer, on a fairly overcast February 25th, reads 60 degrees! If we feel confused by the record high temperatures this winter, just imagine how our gardens are feeling. Although I’m thrilled that my heating bill has been super low, I hate to think I’ll be paying for it with the loss of some of my favorite plants in the landscape. With the mercury creeping toward 60 degrees today here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, you may actually see some spring bulbs beginning to poke their heads through the soil. Don’t panic, they should be fine even if Mother Nature drops another deep freeze on us. The foliage that emerges first is fairly hardy and can handle the cold temperatures while the flower buds remain protected underground.

We may however, lose plants to this freeze, thaw, refreeze pattern that we’ve been having lately, and the lack of snow cover doesn’t help at all. On one of these mild days take a stroll around your garden and check things out. If you notice any perennials beginning to push out new growth at this early date you can cover them with mulch or branches – a great use for the old Christmas tree!  Check perennials and roses for signs of heaving when the weather is this warm.  Gently press the crowns back into the ground and add a light mulch if possible. Be sure to uncover the plants when the temperature gets consistently warm to discourage the growth of mildew and fungus… you know… in the spring!

Native trees and shrubs usually survive these periods of extremely warm weather very well. If the dormancy requirements of the plants have been met then the warm weather may cause buds to swell or even flower. These could be damaged by another cold spell, which is certainly possible being that we haven’t yet turned the calendar on March!

2016 Perennial of the Year


anemone honorine jobert



And the winner is … Anemone Honorine Jobert!

Bobbing 3-4 feet above the neat 12-inch mound of foliage, this superb cutflower is also a garden standout, adding a lightness to the perennial border.

They begin blooming in late summer, just when colorful displays of most other perennials have left the landscape, and continue well into fall. Multitudes of big, bold, bright white, yellow centered flowers are beautiful in borders, cottage gardens, woodland gardens and very showy in mass plantings.

Ideal for the garden or the vase, Honorine Jobert performs best in rich organic soil kept consistently moist. A charming and prolific shade or part sun garden performer it is hardy to Zone 4 and is an attractive companion to astilbes and hostas.

The Perennial Plant of the Year showcases a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list. At Miracle Farms we often rely on the list of past Perennial of the Year winners to be reliable bloomers year after year.

Here are some of our favorites:

Rudbeckia ‘goldsturm’

Salvia ‘may night’

Echinacea ‘magnus’

Phlox ‘david’

Leucanthemum ‘becky’

Nepeta ‘walker’s low’

Brunerra ‘jack frost’

Amsonia ‘hubrichtii’

Love the Walkway!

Miracle Farms did a wonderful job sprucing up our waterfront with a beautiful walk of granite and bluestone. Additional stone work under our deck and on the north side of our home really completed a well-needed facelift. Chris was delightful to work with, and his crew left our property in pristine condition.
Judy & Edmund


foliage reflection 1

We’ve all been enjoying the spectacular colors of fall for a couple of weeks here in the Lakes Region, but we know what’s right around the corner… even before the first snow fall… the dreaded fall cleanup! Although it is tempting to rake them into piles and jump in a few times, a proper cleanup requires a bit more work. Leaf clean-up is just a small piece of the big job that will leave your yard looking its best next spring. A complete fall clean-up is the key to preparing your entire landscape for winter and giving it a boost for spring.

Here are some tips for a last minute fall clean-up:

Leaving the leaves creates several problems for your lawn. It will deprive the grass of needed sunlight and cause brown patches. Leaves can also suffocate the lawn by depriving a flow of oxygen and they trap moisture potentially creating fungus issues.

Give your lawn a last mow, a little shorter than normal. Prune any dead wood. Lifeless limbs can fall victim to snowfall and wind endangering you and your home.

Perennials should be dead-headed to promote healthy spring growth. Trim spent foliage down to the ground; this sends energy to the roots, for next season. Every three years, divide crowded tuberous plants, like irises and daylilies: More space means more flowers.

The time and expense of a proper fall clean-up will not only pay off come spring with a beautiful and healthy yard but will also create a perfect backdrop Christmas lights and decorations.

Any heavy raking of lawn areas should be done now and not the in spring when lawns are more tender. Although it’s too late in the Lakes Region now to over-seed, we do recommend a core aeration and topdressing with a layer of compost, especially areas that were thin or trampled.

Protect any pots or containers that are vulnerable to cold weather. Soil will expand inside pots as temperatures drop below freezing causing cracks. Move them undercover and tip them upside down to prevent water from collecting inside.

It’s not too late to get bulbs into the ground for a spectacular spring show. You may even get more for your money at end of year sales if you still have the energy to plant!

If this is just too much work for you to think about, then call Miracle Farms and let us help you put your Lakes Region landscape to bed for the winter.

Love the Lilacs!

Dear Chris,

Good morning on this rainy start to the day. I hope your day is going well
despite the weather.

I am writing a quick message to thank you. I appreciate you have your crew
come out to the house to work on the landscaping. I am thrilled with the
four lilac bushes and eagerly look forward to them blooming in the spring.

I am so happy that we have an agreement for work on the property through
the fall season. I am sure the lawn will look beautiful under your care.

I wish you a joyful day.

Best regards,

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