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Gigi Hines is the landscape superintendent responsible for flower selection and in charge of upkeep on four golf courses along the Grand Strand. She oversees landscaping at River Club, Willbrook Plantation Golf Club, Litchfield Country Club, and Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club.
“My team and I maintain all of the ornamental plantings and seasonal flower beds,” said the Pawleys Island resident who has been with several of the same courses for 26 years. “My job is to make sure these golf courses are beautiful.“
Here are seven of Hines’ most important tips for successful gardening and a look at how she keeps the landscaping as some of the best along coastal South Carolina.
1) Proper pruning. With the internet at many people’s fingertips, take time to identify the bushes and trees in your landscape. A plant or tree can be misshapen for life by improper pruning. “Just because the neighbor did it doesn’t mean it’s correct,” she said.
2) Correct timing for pruning. Flowering shrubs need to be pruned at the proper time of year, if at all. Many, like camellias should be left to develop their own beautiful shape. Hydrangeas, as a rule, bloom on last year’s wood, so pruning them to the ground in winter will assure you have no flowers. Azaleas should be pruned after blooming and before mid-July when they will begin to set buds for the following spring.
3) Location, location, location. Knowing ahead of planting how large a shrub or tree will grow and what type of exposure it needs will assure you plant the right thing. Trying to maintain a large growing plant in a small area becomes next to impossible. The older and woodier it becomes the more unattractive it becomes.
4) Water. Most trees and shrubs are self-sufficient once established. The key is getting them established. Be prepared to water often if you don’t have irrigation until they are mature. Turf needs regular watering as do seasonal flowers, especially during hot summers in the Carolinas.
5) Fertilization. Again, most trees and shrubs are self-sufficient so fertilization is not too important. Turf will really benefit from a weed and feed application in the spring. This is very helpful in limiting weed seeds from germinating. Seasonal flowers do need to be fed. Hines said she likes to use a slow release 14-14-14 at planting, a formula that represents the percentage of nutrients. She also applies a liquid 16-32-16 at regular intervals. “Might as well push them along,” Hines said. “They only have one season to grow.”
6) When to plant. “I always wait until after mid-April to plant summer flowers. I know we’re chomping at the bit to get out there and beautify our yards, but our weather is crazy here at the beach,” Hines said. “I have witnessed hard frosts as late as April. Flowers are expensive, and no one wants to plant them twice. Better safe than sorry.”
7) What to plant. Here are some of Hines’ favorite tried and true summer bedding plants: Torenia Moon series, Alternanthera true yellow, Euphorbia diamond frost, Lobularia snow princess, Salvia summer jewel series, Large growing begonias like whopper, baby wing and dragon wing. And, if you’re familiar with Litchfield’s front entrance, you have seen the awesome sun coleus redhead.