• When your astilbe is through flowering, buy some red spray paint and paint the dried blossoms. You'll have color for the rest of the season. Lighter corals and pinks don't show up very well, so stick with the darker reds.

• Taller sedums like the popular Autumn Joy can get floppy by the time they are ready to flower in fall. To prevent this, trim them in half before July 4th and you'll have more stout, upright plants come bloom time in September.

• Hold the chemicals. Many plant diseases won't kill the plant. Less than 10 percent of landscape problems warrant the use of pesticides.

• The best time to trim trees and live branches is in late winter, just before buds swell and growth starts.

• The leaves of tulips should be left on as long as they're green because they're making food for next year's flowers. Don't cut them back until until mid- to late June.