Earth Day! April 22

Earth Day is on April 22nd and everyone here at The Family Tree just loves to have any excuse to plant!earth day Trees, shrubs and flowers help stave off the effects of climate change, help protect communities from extreme weather, and provide valuable oxygen! Trees have huge impact on our environment, both locally and globally (and of course visually), and we think there is always a need for more trees and shrubs!

Here are some great facts about how trees and shrubs benefit our earth:
1. Trees absorb CO2 thereby removing carbon and adding oxygen.
2. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases.
3. An acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.
4. Provide shade to conserve energy.
5. Provide habitats and shelter for birds, bees, and wildlife.
6. A beautiful landscape can increase property values by as much as 15%.
7. Hundreds of thousands of plants provide food source for people, birds, and wildlife.
8. Trees, shrubs, and flowers make you feel good… ‘nuf said!

Just ask us! Our designers and plant professionals offer their friendly expertise in helping you choose the perfect plants for your outdoor living spaces. Here are some great ideas for Earth Day planting:

Flowers – Save the pollinators! Plant some flowers.  Bees and butterflies love most perennials like Agastache, Echinacea, Tick Seed, and Gaura.  They love Mexican Heather, Salvia, and petunias and hundreds more annuals.  Remember bees and butterflies pollinate some of our most nutritious foods. Click here for some great hummingbird, butterfly and bee attracting plants.

Veggie Garden – Planting a vegetable garden will not only provide you with delicious, fresh veggies this summer, but it also gives you a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the lovely weather! Plant some tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans.  If you’re not up to the challenge of planting a whole vegetable garden, try a container garden with herbs and a tomato or two.

container gardenContainer Garden – Liven up any area with a beautiful container garden.  With our designer’s help, you can decorate your porch, patio, windowsill, and pool area with stunning colors and textures.

And of course, plant a tree! Choose one to honor a special someone in your life.  Add a focal point to your landscape.  Add some shrubs to your landscape too.  We can help!

For ideas for your landscape check out our professional services:

Quick Sketch – If you have a small area in your landscape that needs attention, one of our expert designers can help.  We will sit down with you for 20 minutes, sketch out a plan, and give you some ideas on how to make that area blossom into beauty.  Whether it’s a flower bed that just won’t thrive or you’re just plumb out of ideas, we can help you choose the perfect plants to solve the problem no matter what it is!

landscapePlanting Services – You’ve had a great time picking out a cartload of plants for your home, but now you’re dreading the task of planting them; now what do you do? Call The Family Tree; we offer planting services with FREE delivery and no job is too large for us! We’re as happy to plant petunias around your mailbox as we are to put in the new landscape you’ve picked out!

Expert Advice – We have more than 12 Horticulturists and GA Plant Professionals at The Family Tree, all of whom are full of excellent tips and helpful advice. If you have any questions or even just want someone else’s opinion on which color roses to plant by the front door, our experts are always happy to help! Every one of them knows the plant selection at The Family Tree like the back of their hand and can help you find the perfect plant for any condition!

Why not do your part to help make the earth more beautiful this Earth Day? Stop by The Family Tree this week and browse our huge selection of trees, shrubs, flowers, and more! Oh, and remember to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of this world that we live in!

Ultimate Geranium Container Gardens

Geraniums offer a show from early spring to fall. They blend velvety foliage with large clusters of show-stopping blossoms that range in color from red, pink, rose, salmon, orange, purples, to white. Geraniums look great in flower beds but they perform even better in containers.

There are two main types of geranium – the common geranium has rounded, velvety, green leaves often contain a burgundy ring. They tend to stand upright and offer flowers on long stems. The ivy leaf geranium has glossy green, ivy-shaped leaves and tends to grow more like ivy rather than upright. Use the common geranium as a thriller or filler to add height to your container and the ivy leaf as a spiller to hang over the edges of your hanging baskets, window boxes, or the edge of a big planter.

Geraniums like well drained soil. Water thoroughly and let slightly dry between watering. Pick off spent flowers from the bottom of the stem. The same for leaves that turn yellow. It is perfectly normal for some leaves and flowers to need to be picked off but if many leaves turn yellow or brown, check your watering schedule for over or underwatering.

Geraniums are not crazy about high summer heat (unless you use Calliope® geraniums). They may quit flowering during the super hot weather but they will start up again when the weather cools lasting well into fall!

Now for the fun part! Pairing your geraniums in your containers.  Here are just a few examples but there are so many plants to use! Creeping Jenny, Ivy, and Sweet Potato Vine make wonderful spillers, pairing well with geraniums.  Bacopa, Lantana, Vinca, and Verbena look beautiful as fillers to create a full colorful look.  Use spiky Dracaena & Cordeline for tall texture and Salvia and Angelonia for tall color.  Dusty Miller with it’s silvery leaves adds even more color!

Bring your container by or choose one from our wide assortment. We’ll help you create the container garden of your dreams!

Soft pink offers a cool, refreshing feel and is perfect for a lush geranium head.
It’s a perfect partner for purple and chartreuse.
This white container helps the colors pop.

A: Pink Geranium  — 2
B: Asparagus fern — 1
C: Purple Calibrachoa  — 2
D: Pineapple sage  — 3



Keep It Simple!
Sometimes simple, straightforward combinations give the biggest impact. Here blue and red offer a stunning presentation. Red Calliope Geraniums offer the stunning flower heads with the Blue Daze soft leaves and bright blue blooms fill in this deep blue container beautifully.

A. Red Geranium — 1
B. Blue Daze—  5



Geraniums, spikes, and vinca is a tried-and-true combination that has worked for thousands of gardeners. Add on to the theme with extra textures for bigger impact! 

A: Hot Pink Geranium  — 1
B: Verbena  — 1
C: White Bacopa  — 2
D: Ivy, Vinca, or Creeping Jenny  — 1
F: Dracaena Spike — 1

Spring Kick Off Sale

Garden Sale in Lawrenceville, GALet’s kick off spring with a 20% off sale**! Join us Friday, March 24, 2017, we’ll have a greenhouse overflowing with annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs.  You’ll get the best selection by shopping early for spring.   We’ll have more great specials throughout the store.

It gets even better! Get a FREE bare root dogwood with your purchase! While supplies last, we want everyone to have one of these beautiful southern favorites.

** (20% off excludes seed, sod, soils, straw, sale items, services and previous purchases.  Cannot be combined with any other sale, coupon, discount or promotion.) 

Pretty Peonies!

Flowers in Georgia Peonies are beloved plants all over the country, especially right here at our Garden Center in Snellville, GA, for their stunning, long blooming flowers. They come in beautiful shades ranging from whites to yellows, pinks to reds.  Many of today’s peonies have stronger stems, more profuse blooms, and lovely fragrances.  Getting peonies to grow in the south is not too difficult but getting them to bloom might be a little more tricky.

Four things are essential to succeed with peonies in Georgia:
 • Loose, well-draining soil.  Amend the soil with plenty of soil conditioner before planting.
 • Protection from afternoon sun in summer.
 • Chilly winters. Typically peonies need at least 3 weeks of 32 degree or cooler temperatures during the winter to bloom the following spring
Flowers in a Georgia Lawn • Plant in a spot that gets about six hours of morning sunshine but dappled shade/sun in afternoon. 

The cool thing about peonies, among others, is that they can live and bloom for over 25 years once they get established.  

Since peonies need to be cold in winter, we in the south may not have that many cold days, plant your roots shallowly, barely an inch deep in the soil. Make sure you have well-drained soil.  Add Nature’s Helper Soil Conditioner, Espoma Root-tone® Starter Plus, and even a little bit of perlite to your soil.  You can fertilize in fall with an organic fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone® or in spring with bulb fertilizer.

Many peonies are fragrant such as Shirley Temple, Sarah Bernhardt and Karl Rosenfeld.

Peonies make wonder cut flowers!  Try these tips for creating show stopping arrangements:
• Select half opened blooms, they’ll last longer.
• Cut the flowers early in the morning.
• If the heads are heavy with dew, gently shake to remove water.
• Handfuls of peonies in a vase make a beautiful arrangement.
• Remove foliage below water line to prevent bacteria build up
• Keep flowers away from heat and direct light.


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Bio-tone® Starter Plus, Our Favorite Product!

We want your plants – all your plants – to have a great start! And we’re pretty sure you do too.  That’s why we recommend (yes, we might even hound you about it when you are at the store) that you add Espoma Organic Bio-tone® Starter Plus to every tree, shrub, annual, perennial, sod, and vegetable that you are planting.  Our landscapers add it to everything they plant and have had great success.

Bio-tone® Starter Plus is an organic, all-natural plant food that is combined with a stronger concentration of beneficial bacteria along with both endo and ecto mycorrhizae. The ideal starter plant food, originally designed for professionals. Bio-tone® Starter Plus will increase root mass and help avoid transplant loss in difficult planting conditions.

With Bio-tone® your plants will enjoy:  
     •  Microbe enhanced all natural plant starter food.
     •  Both Endo & Ecto Mycorrhizae attaching to it’s roots to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
     •  Grows larger root mass to help plants establish fast.
     •  Promotes bigger blooms.
     •  Reduces transplant loss.

After you dig your holes and add your amendments (Fafard Planting Mix, Mushroom Compost, and/or Nature’s Helper Soil Conditioner) to your existing soil, we suggest you add Bio-tone® into the soil that will be surrounding the roots.  Bio-tone® is most effective when it comes in direct contact with the roots so that it can attach it’s mycorrhizae to each root hair. It is not as effective as a topical fertilizer.

Flower Beds: Mix 4 lbs. (12 cups) per 100 square feet into the top 4” to 6” of soil.
Bulbs: Place 1 tsp. per bulb in the hole prior to planting.
Potting Mixes: Mix 9 lbs. per cu. yd. or 1 cup per cu. ft.
New Lawns: Apply 25 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. prior to seeding or installing sod.


Bio-tone Starter Plus Application Table:

Plant Size Cups Lbs.
Up to Two Gallon 1 1/3
Five Gallon 2 2/3
Fifteen Gallon 4 1-1/3
24″ Ball 6 2
36″ Ball 24 8
48″ Ball 30 10


Just in case you need a little help planting your new plants, we have a wonderful service for you! We call it You Pick It, We’ll Plant It-click here for more information.  Just choose and purchase plants from our huge selection (we will help you, of course) and let us do the rest for an affordable fee! We will even deliver your plants for FREE with this service.


Growing Asparagus, Garlic, Potatoes, Strawberries

Planting asparagus is a commitment to gardening in that asparagus
is a perennial and should be placed near your garden in an area where it can grow and spread each year.
Asparagus grows best in sunny well-drained soil with minimal weeds.
You will not get edible asparagus the first year and possibly the second year so be patient.
Plant your asparagus 12-18 inches apart. Make sure to eliminate weeds before planting.
Dig a depression 6 to 8 inches deep running the length of the row, mounding the amended soil on each
side for later use. Set seedlings into lowest part of the depression, planting about 2 inches deeper than they
were originally growing. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart.

Amend by tilling into your soil with mushroom compost, Nature’s Helper and Espoma Bio-tone.
As plants grow taller, rake a little of the soil on the edge of the row into the depression where plants
are growing. Soon the bed will be level. Mulch to prevent weeds.
Once asparagus plants are strong enough to be harvested, cut all new shoots in spring when they are about
8 inches tall, snapping them off at the soil line. Many seasoned gardeners use a knife to cut below the soil line,
but it is important to avoid cutting into emerging spears nearby. Also, the knife can spread any disease
from one plant to the next.

Remember, if the spear has begun opening and developing foliage, it will be too tough to eat.
To avoid this happening, plan to harvest at least every other day. Go ahead and pick all the spears each
time you harvest. Discard those that have grown too large.

Garlic is one of the more heralded vegetables in your garden. Plant garlic cloves in the early spring,
and you will harvest garlic bulbs in summer. Home grown, freshly harvested garlic bulbs are much
stronger than those found in stores. They can be cooked and eaten by themselves deliciously.

Garlic is simple and easy to grow. Anybody, make that everybody, can learn how to grow garlic.
Plant it in soil that has been amended with a good planting mix, mushroom compost and/or soil
conditioner, in a partly to mostly sunny location and it will thrive. And, best of all, it takes little space.
It can even be grown amidst your flower garden if you are short on space.

Potatoes – Plant on hills and keep covered:
The most common form of planting is in “hills”. Prepare and loosen the soil where you will make the hill.
Place two or three potato eyes on the ground. Cover or “hill” three to four inches of soil on top of the
seed. Water thoroughly. Space center of hills a foot apart.

Fertilize every two to four weeks. A good fertilizer for potatoes contain low levels of Nitrogen, and
high levels of phosphorus. 6-24-24, or 8-24-24, are good fertilizers for potatoes. Too high nitrogen
will develop lots of green leaves and not great potatoes.

**As the plants grow, mound additional soil around the plants every week or two. Do not let the
tubers or potatoes be exposed to sunlight. You can cover the soil around the plants with
compost, mulch or even black plastic.

Plant strawberries on slightly raised hills in your garden, in hanging baskets, and in strawberry pots.
Strawberries need at least 8 hours of full sun each day, and they prefer slightly acidic well drained soil.
Mix Espoma Bio-tone Starter Fertilizer into the soil before planting.
Be sure to set the plants so that their roots are well covered with soil
but the central growing bud, or crown,
is exposed to light and fresh air.
Note: If you bury the crown, the plant could easily rot.
Water them well upon planting. It is best to water at ground level if possible.
Strawberries appreciate mulch to hold in moisture and keep weeds down.
Just be careful not to cover the crown.

Fertilize with Espoma Plant-tone or another quality organic
fertilizer and water so that the plants don’t dry out (but DO NOT overwater).

15 Ways To Use Pansies

Pansies and Violas set the stage for a fresh bright spring season. Planting these perky winter/early spring favorites bring seas of color to your gardens and containers from fall to spring. With so many colors to choose, here are some easy ways to incorporate fresh color now before warm season annuals come available.

  1. Set the table Use the purple and yellow blooming pansies in green, glazed pots to create a living centerpiece on your patio table.  Or, simply plant one pansy in a tea cup for a simple elegant look.  
  2. Classic Containers Yellow faced pansies combined with solid yellows come together in an impressive arrangement that bring a classic look to any container.
  3. Stack for Texture Gather two galvanized buckets. Plant the smaller one with pansies and parsley. Tuck more pansies and Creeping Jenny or Ivy around the edges of the larger one, and stack.
  4. Window Charm Winter days have you feeling gloomy? Bring happiness inside with just a few snips. Plant fragrant pansies, snip some flowers and place in a jar on your windowsill.
  5. Thrillers, Fillers, Spillers A cone-shaped, evergreen arborvitae works perfectly as an attention-grabbing thriller. To brighten up the look of your container, fill up the pot with multi-colored pansies and have variegated English ivy spill over the sides for a dramatic visual.
  6. Classic Green & White Pair variegated American boxwood (‘Elegantissima’) with white pansies for a classic look. Variegated English ivy also serves as green and white accents.
  7. Herb Pairings Pair yellow and purple violas with a cool-season herb such as curly-leaved parsley for an easy-to-care-for display. Snip pansy flowers and herbs to brighten up your kitchen.
  8. Strawberry Jar Makeover Cool Wave pansies dress up a strawberry jar. Pair with yellow, white, and purple pansies and set jars on your porch or patio for waves of color.
  9. Balls of Blooms Create orbs of color with violas that love to bloom. Use sphagnum baskets and Cool Wave Pansies along the sides, then top the container with more pansies. Hang in a sunny location for more optimum splendor.
  10. Tuck In Color To dress up your entryway, tuck in a few pots along the steps and walkways with a simple color scheme to add whimsy and pop.
  11. Window Box Color When filling a show-stopping window box, don’t hesitate to use small evergreen shrubs or perennials, which last throughout the seasons. Euphorbia, Cyclamen also look striking in window boxes.
  12. Fairy Garden Fun Give your outdoor fairies something fun! Fairies love to play hide and seek in flower beds. Pansies are perfect for when warm season flowers are not available.
  13. Glowing Beds Bright yellow and stark white pansies add rich color that will make your pots and flowerbeds glow.
  14. Front Door Spectacular Spreading Cool Wave pansies provide color through fall, winter, and spring. You can add to the show in early spring by slipping in pots of forced tulips and some chartreuse foliage, like tiger ferns and heucheras.
  15. Perfectly Placed Pots A perfectly-placed container makes a big impact in your garden and yard. Try placing 3 sizes of containers for even more drama. Mix pansies with small evergreens, Creeping Jenny or Ivy, and Euphorbia.

One great tip for planting pansies, annuals, trees, shrubs, and perennials is to always use Espoma Bio Tone Starter Plus in your soil mix. We at The Family Tree are huge believers in this product for getting ALL your plants started on the right root!

January Garden Therapy

Your Yard Is Calling!

January has arrived and it brings with it a new year and the anticipation of spring gardens in a few short cardinalmonths! Here are some tips and suggestions for you to get your gardening off to a great start.

Feed the birds

January is bird month! Although there isn’t much snow in Georgia to prevent their finding food, birds will still appreciate it if you decide to put out birdseed to help them through the leaner winter months. The bonus is that they’ll get into the habit of hanging around your yard and stick around all year feasting on pesky insects and grub.

Protect Your Plants

With the unusual weather that Georgia can have, some plants may get confused and think that spring is right around the corner and begin to sprout. Because the warm weather is sure to be followed by more normal winter temperatures, you’ll need to protect those tender sprouts from frost with a thick layer of compost or mulch. If the temps drop below 25 degrees, consider frost cloth for your tender flowering shrubs.  (Never cover your plants with plastic.  It reduces air circulation and could cause damage.) Also, this sounds weird, but go ahead and water your plants thoroughly before a frost.  The water will, at worst, freeze around the roots keeping them at a constant temperature.

Prepping Soil

If the ground is workable, (in other words, isn’t frozen solid or too damp), now is a great time to turn over the soil in your garden plot. Exposure to the elements help to break down hard clumps of dirt, saving you valuable time when spring rolls around. In addition, turning over the soil reveals a multitude of insect eggs and other goodies for hungry birds!


Yes, you can plant trees and shrubs this time of year.  As long as they are container plants (not B&B) and the ground is not frozen.  Planting now has great benefits!  The roots have time to get established before the spring and summer, and we get lots of rain this time of year so you will water less.  Remember to mulch them well and cover them if it does get super cold.

For monthly gardening chores click here

We welcome you to come visit our team at The Family Tree! If you need information, direction or help please contact our office by calling 770-972-2470. Make sure to follow-us on Facebook , TwitterGoogle+!

Top Three Landscape Design Elements

When asked to drill it down to the top three most important things to think about when designing a landscape, our landscape designer has this to say:

Think about:
Mature structure (size) of the plant

landscape-front-afterDesigning a landscape can be a monster if you don’t think about the end product. You can choose what you see and like in other landscapes and garden centers and just hope for the best. But if you can look into the future and design accordingly, you will enjoy your yard for years to come.  Garden centers carry plants from small 4 inch pots to large 15 gallon pots.  These plants are not fully grown.  When you start your landscape, they may seem puny at first.  Don’t make the mistake of planting them too close together.  It may look sparse right now, but your plants need room to grow their roots and branches.  If they are too close together, their leaves and roots will not be able to get the nutrition and sunlight they need.  Check with a professional and make sure you are spacing for proper mature growth.

Mature structure (size) is very important. You don’t want plants to cover your windows, sidewalks, driveway. If you don’t like endless yard work pruning and trimming, large plants in front of your windows would not do.  Pay close attention to the tags and signs on the plants you are choosing. commercial-plant-health-care-tree-services-public-gardens-3 Measure your area or take pictures and ask an expert if the plants you are considering will work.

Last but not least is texture. We like to think of varieties of plants as having their own personalities. Leaves and bark have distinct size, shape, and color according to their variety. Combining textures is as important as color in your landscape. Textures offer year round interest when applied correctly.

Check out The Family Tree Garden Center’s FREE Quick Sketch design service. We care about your landscape!

Add Some Early Color to your Landscape

Bring on the color! This time of year is always the hardest when it comes to achieving color in your landscape. There are berries, colorful foliage, but what about flower color? Pansies and violas will provide color, but this still leaves us yearning for more!  Here are a couple of  ‘must haves’ for your garden to add winter interest.


PrimroseKeep an eye out for these lovely annuals which will be arriving at the nursery soon.  They come in all different colors so they are great to pop into containers or dress up a garden bed for explosions of color.  They love the cooler temperatures so will bloom their heads off until we get hot weather.  Give them good drainage and this time of the year they can be planted in full sun or partial shade.

Lenten Rose

HelleboreAlso called Hellebores, these beauties are a great addition especially if you have shaded locations.  They bloom and bloom, and then bloom some more starting in January and going for months.  Hellebores are an evergreen perennial which means it never goes away!  Such an added bonus for the shade garden. The older varieties self-seed so you end up with lots of little babies which can be spread around your landscape.  The new hybrid varieties have been bred to have more dominant looking flowers in a variety of colors.

Keep your Pansies looking good

pansyPansies are an amazing plant in that they can be covered in snow one day and bounce back the next. However, with the cooler temperatures, fertilization becomes important.  Temperatures below 45 degrees F result in ammoniacal nitrogen not being available to the plant.  Therefore it is important to feed your pansies this time of the year. Make sure your pansy fertilizer also includes nitrogen sourced from nitrates which will be available to the plants in cooler temperatures. Pansies also respond well to deadheading spent flowers.  Try pairing pansies with parsley and other cool loving herbs in your containers and gardens.