Design and Construction, Inc Design and Construction, Inc Notes Landscaping Tips -Ashes from the fireplace or a wood-burning stove can raise the pH in the soil. Spread 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet to raise the pH by one unit. -Coffee grounds help reduce alkalinity. -Do not waste time. Get rid of  aphids the first time you see them; this pests reproduce rapidly. They not only suck the nutrients from a plant but can also spread any number of deadly viruses, including bean mosaic virus and cucumber mosaic virus. A simple and effective spray for aphids is 4 ounces of dish washing liquid in 1 gallon of water. Spray the plants with the mixture and follow with a spray of water. Wait about 15 minutes  and repeat. Sprinkle wood ashes over bushes and low-laying plants; they are caustic and will dehydrate and suffocate aphids. Use a large-hole shaker- the kind for grated cheese works well-or sprinkle them on by hand. After a day, wash away the ashes with a hose. -Ward of  slugs and snails by encircling your plant with a ring of ashes  about 6 inches out from the stem. The soft-bodied creatures will turn the other way. -Maintenance for azaleas. Azaleas often fall victim to too much fertilizer. For a good homemade fertilizer combine 4 cups of dried coffee grounds with 1 cup bone meal and 1 cup granite dust. For rapid growth and dark green leaves, apply nitrogen in spring and early summer. Good sources  are cottonseed meal, ammonium sulfate, manure tea, and urea formaldehyde. Adequate moisture is critical for azaleas until they become established- at least 2 years after planting. Once mature,  they can survive drought, although they are more susceptible to diseases, incests, and cold. Wilted leaves are a sign of drought stress; water with a deep soaking. Ease up your watering in the autumn. Watering induces new growth, which may not harden off before the first freeze. - Do not rake around ferns in spring, do your spring clean up  by hand instead and do not cut back in winter- the dry fronds of deciduous ferns protect the base of the plant. Once the new shoots show in spring, prune old fronds off at the soil line.