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Late Spring Gardener’s Calendar

Turn over your vegetable garden and add humus, mushroom compost or manure to enrich the soil.  Apply Bonide Fruit Tree Spray as buds swell and again at petal drop to all fruit trees.

Fertilize perennials with Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer.

Continue spring cleanup.  Completely remove winter mulch.  Cultivate to remove winter weeds and debris from the planting beds, then edge.  Prepare your annual beds, and mulch landscape beds with shredded mulch, bark chips or gravel.   Apply Preen or Corn Gluten and scratch it in to prevent future weeds, or try the new Preen Mulch Plus which combines mulch and Preen and prevents weeds for up to 6 months.

Plant and transplant trees and shrubs, including roses, ground covers, and perennials (including hardy lilies and lily-of-the-valley).

Seed or sod new lawns.  Reseed bare spots in established lawns.  Keep the area moist until seedlings appear, then mow when the new grass is 3” high.

Put down a second application of Team or Tupersan (newly seeded lawns) for pre-emergent goosegrass control and control of crabgrass the rest of the year.

Transplant cool-season seedlings into the garden.  When the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees, sow warm- and cool-season vegetable and herb seeds.

Dig and divide crowded spring bulbs after they have finished blooming. Enrich the soil with compost, manure or Espoma Bulb-Tone.

Prune forsythia and other spring-flowering trees and shrubs after the flowers fall.

Place gro-thru sets and link stakes over or around peonies, grasses or any other perennials in need of support.

Check arborvitae, cedar, juniper spruce and pine for bagworms.  Hand-pick bags from the host and spray with Ortho Systemic Insecticide.

Begin summer rose care program of deadheading, spraying and watering.

Fertilize roses with Bayer All In One Rose and Flower Care or Dr Earth Rose and Flower Fertilizer, azaleas with Espoma Holly-Tone or Dr Earth Azalea/Camelia Fertilizer, and fruit trees with Dr Earth Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer.

Deadhead bulbs, but leave foliage to mature and yellow before removing.  This will help nourish the bulb for next year’s flowering. Fertilize with Dr Earth Bulb Fertilizer.

Prune new growth on needled evergreens.

Dig and divide early blooming perennials after flowering.

Apply Encap Fast Acting Iron Plus or Bonide Liquid Iron Plus to azaleas, hollies, junipers, laurel, pines, rhododendron and spruce to provide iron for chlorophyll production by foliage.

Fertilize container plants and window boxes weekly with a Master Nursery Bud and Bloom Plant Food, or use Dynamite All Purpose Plant Food for season-long feeding, to promote healthy, vigorous plants all summer.

Pay close attention to the watering needs of these plants as well as hanging baskets, because they tend to dry out quickly on hot summer days.

Check plants for spider mite damage and treat with Bayer 3 in 1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control then alternate every 7-10 days with Bonide All-Season Oil Spray.

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Kids and Nature: Uncovering Surprises Everywhere

Wherever you live, nature is always near, with entire worlds to discover around the trees in your yard, in the carpet of grass or beneath that pile of rocks. With school vacations rapidly approaching, you may already be thinking of ways to keep your children or grandchildren busy during the long summer months. Well, how about setting up your own Nature Camp! An appreciation of nature will stay with children forever and teach them the importance of caring for the environment and all living things, including themselves. 

Top Nature Activities for Kids

Spring and summer nature activities with your child could be as simple as a daily walk around the block or backyard, or as complex as starting your own backyard wildlife preserve. Popular options include… 

  • A stroll through the woods or a nearby meadow, observing or gathering things of interest along the way. Spend some time watching ants or earthworms, caterpillars or butterflies. Take an evening walk to look for fireflies and bats or to listen to crickets and frogs. Note different species of birds, or look for other wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits or deer.
  • Very young children love collecting things – rocks, feathers, flowers, shells and leaves are a few easy examples. See how many different types, colors, shapes or sizes they can find. Older children might want to start a pressed leaf or flower collection, or capture some insects for identification and observation.
  • Raising butterflies or moths from caterpillars, noting how they grow and change in a nature journal or through a series of photographs to create a scrapbook of the experience. When they’re ready to be released, let the child have the wonder of connecting with nature as their fluttering friends fly free.
  • A more extensive nature activity could be to help your child plan and plant a whole garden devoted to attracting wildlife. By planting trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that attract birds (including hummingbirds) and butterflies, and by installing bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths, you can create a miniature wildlife refuge that you and your child can enjoy for many years to come.

We’ll be delighted to help you and your future naturalist select plants suitable for a wildlife garden, plan a backyard refuge or to identify flowers or leaves that have been collected on your nature walks. 

So, what are you waiting for? Make the most of this spring with a child and go back to nature!

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Vegetable Garden Weed Control

You may want to grow many different things in your vegetable garden, but weeds probably aren’t on your favorite edibles list. Weeding can be an enormous time-drain and is one of the the least liked gardening chores. What’s wonderful is that we have so many weed control methods to choose from; there’s a solution for every type of gardener and their schedule.

Safe Control Methods in Edible Gardens

When it comes to vegetable gardening, many gardeners are very particular about what goes into their soil and onto their plants, as it will eventually end up on their plates and in their bodies. Here are some indisputable safe and effective ways to control weeds, without chemicals, in your veggie or any other garden for that matter.

  • Apply corn gluten meal to prevent weed seeds from germinating (don’t use if direct seeding your garden as all seeds will be affected).
  • Plan your garden to crowd edible plants together, effectively crowding out weeds because there isn’t space left for them to grow.
  • Manually pull weeds when the soil is wet and roots are looser. This can be done after a natural rainfall or after supplemental watering.
  • Hoe when the soil is dry to break apart weeds and damage their roots. Pick up larger weeds after hoeing so they cannot reestablish themselves.
  • Mulch with salt hay which contains no weed seeds. The hay will shield weed seeds from the sunlight and moisture they need for germinating.
  • Lay biodegradable and compostable mulch film down to create a firm barrier to keep weeds out or to prevent existing weed seeds from germinating.
  • Attract seed-loving birds such as finches and sparrows, which will happily eat hundreds of weed seeds each day for natural control.
  • Consider raised beds or container gardening to more effectively control weeds and make any remaining weeding easier.
  • Use fire (with all appropriate safety precautions) to burn out unwanted weeds, especially in pathway areas or along garden borders.
  • Treat exposed weeds with boiling water – the hotter the better – to cook and kill them. Several treatments may be needed for the best effects.

Weeds can be some of our worst enemies in the garden, and it is impossible to eliminate every single weed all the time. By using multiple methods and keeping on top of the task, however, it is possible to minimize weeds and make this chore less onerous, without resorting to harsh chemicals.

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Rain Barrels

You’ve heard it said, “When it rains, it pours.” In gardening terms, this could easily refer to the amount of rain on the roof going through the gutters and downspouts, and then out to the storm drains and pouring away from your garden. With the unpredictability of rain and the cost of water, don’t you wish you could keep some of that rain and put it to better use? You can, by installing a rain barrel, or two, or three or more. Rain barrels don’t have to be expensive or an eyesore.

The Best Rain Barrels

By diverting the gutter downspout to the rain barrel, rainwater is collected during a storm and stored. A fine mesh screen across the top prevents rocks and debris from entering the barrel and mosquitoes from laying their eggs. It’s a good idea to use a small amount of algaecide to prevent algae from building up in the barrel as well. Some barrels even have a solid cover with an opening to fit the downspout into, and the darkness inside the barrel helps inhibit algae growth.

Most rain barrels have two spigots, one at the top and one by the bottom. Attaching a hose to the top spigot redirects excess water when the barrel is full. You may use this to connect to another rain barrel that stores the overflow from the first, or you may position the overflow hose to direct excess rain to a nearby flowerbed, tree, garden or other plantings that can benefit from a good soaking.

A hose attached to the bottom spigot allows the stored water to flow for use. Incidentally, the water pressure increases if the rain barrel is elevated even just a few inches, allowing gravity to assist getting every drop of precious water out of the barrel so it can be put to use.

Value of a Rain Barrel

Is it worth it? According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a rainstorm measured at 1/10th of an inch, over a 20’x30′ roof, would more than fill a 32-gallon rain barrel if all the water is properly directed. Multiply this amount by your water charge per gallon and you’ll see it won’t take long to pay back the small investment made in a few barrels.

Furthermore, rainwater is often better for watering garden plots, containers, flowerbeds and new plantings, and is even better for many houseplants. Rainwater does not contain the same chemical treatments or compounds found in tap water, so collecting rainwater is a healthier alternative for keeping all your plants well hydrated.

Not sure which rain barrels will suit your style or how to set them up effectively? Stop in to see our collection and consult with our experts to choose exactly the barrel that will help meet all your watering needs.

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Succulent Container Garden

Have you noticed how a container garden can really jazz up a front entryway, back deck or porch? Perhaps you’ve thought twice about including this addition to your plantscaping because you just don’t have time every day to water. 

Cheer up! You can plant a container with succulents (plants with fleshy or thickened leaves, stems or roots) and you will not have to worry about watering frequently. Succulent container gardens are relatively carefree, and they’re so easy that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. If one container makes a statement, several will create a conversation! 

Succulent Container Garden Tips and Tricks

To have the greatest success with your new succulent container garden, consider… 

  • Exposure
    Full sun is a must for all succulents and will help show off their subtle colors and textures. If your viewing location has less than adequate sun, place your succulent garden in a full sun area for the majority of the day and move to your desired location when you have company or time to enjoy it yourself. Remember to move it back out into the sun when company leaves.
  • Containers
    Because succulents do not have extensive root systems, your chosen containers may be shallow. Too much soil can hold excessive water causing the succulent’s roots to rot. Perhaps a strawberry pot would make the perfect focal point at your front door, and many front doors look great with a single shallow round planter sitting on the stoop. If you have several steps to the door, try a pot on each step. How do you want your front entrance to say “hello”?
  • Height
    Think about varying the heights of your containers. Perhaps your containers will require a pedestal or something else for elevation. This could be an inverted pot, a table, shelf or even pot feet. You may even consider hanging your container for elevated elegance. Whatever you choose, it’s important to remember succulents require excellent drainage. Therefore, the containers must have holes.
  • Soil
    All succulents need fast draining soil. Pre-mixed soil is available that is specifically blended for succulent container plantings. You may also use a general all-purpose potting mix and add perlite, coir or sand to increase the drainage sufficiently.

Plants for Your Succulent Container Garden

When making your plant selection, it is fun to let your imagination go wild and embrace the full range of amazing succulents available. As a good container gardening rule of thumb, Use a thriller (something stunning to catch the eye), a filler (a sturdy, reliable choice to fill in bare spots) and a spiller (a trailing plant to blur the container edges) and you’ll never go wrong. 

Succulents come in an extensive variety of colors, striking shapes and varying sizes. As when planting any container, evaluate plant color, texture and shape when making your selections. You may feel overwhelmed when choosing your plants. If you can’t decide, here is a simple “recipe” for planting one 16″ container to be seen from all sides. Maybe it will give you some ideas: 

  • 1-thriller (Euphorbia tirucalliSticks on Fire‘) planted in the middle.
  • 3-fillers (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) to surround the thriller and provide texture or color contrast
  • 5-spillers (Sempervivum arachnoideum) to drape over the container’s edge.

As an extra bonus, many succulents bloom, adding extra unexpected beauty. Blooms can be few and far between, however, but they will be exciting and rewarding when they are spotted. 

The Importance of Topdressing 

After planting, gently brush off any residual soil from the succulents’ leaves. Add more interest by topdressing the container. This is a layer of material will give your container garden a finished appearance. Desert type plants look great with a thin layer of light tan-colored gravel or red lava rocks. Create sparkle with sea-glass toppings or add a clean, contemporary look to Zen-like or Asian inspired plantings with smooth black river stones. Other popular top dressings include glass marbles, colored aquarium gravel or tiny seashells. You might even add a fairy garden surprise in the container, such as a miniature hut, hidden gnome or other quaint character who will call your succulent garden home.

Most importantly, have fun!

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Rose Care Basics

Beginners often become confused with the many recommendations and suggestions for growing roses. However, it is important to start with the basic guidelines for successful rose growing. Roses can thrive under many conditions, but they are sure to grow better, with more luxurious blooms and fewer problems, when you follow the basics. 

Prepare the Soil 

The proper soil is essential to nourish roses so they can grow to their full potential. To make the soil ideal for roses… 

  1. Take a soil sample to test the pH, either with a home testing kit or through your local extension service. Roses like a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. You may need to add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it to the optimum rose range.
  2. Incorporate composted cow manure or other healthy compost into the soil. This will provide superior drainage and excellent organic material for roses to absorb.

Planting Roses

If they aren’t planted properly, roses won’t thrive as well as they could. Improper planting could even damage roots and destroy a rose bush. 

  1. Select a sunny spot with good soil drainage – roses require at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Early morning sun is preferred because it dries the leaves, which helps prevent disease.
  2. Dig a wide, shallow hole that is 2-3 times as wide but not quite as deep as the root ball (about 1 inch shallower). The plant should sit on solid ground so it doesn’t sink when the soil settles.
  3. Remove the plant from the pot and loosen any circling roots. If you can’t pull the roots apart, use a knife to make 4-5 vertical cuts in the root ball. This will allow new roots to grow out into the surrounding soil as the plant becomes established.
  4. Place the plant in the hole slightly elevated above ground level. Backfill with soil until the hole is half full.
  5. Soak the root ball with a mixture of a Root Stimulator & Transplanting Solution.
  6. Fill the rest of the hole with soil and water thoroughly. Apply mulch to a depth of 2 inches, being careful not to mound mulch against the trunk of the plant, which could encourage rotting or insect damage.

Pruning Roses 

To look their best, roses must be properly pruned. This can be intimidating for rose-growing novices, but once the basics are mastered, the techniques for pruning roses are not difficult. 

  1. In spring, remove winter mulch when new grow appears. Prune out all dead wood and twiggy growth and cut back to sound wood with a clean slanting cut, just above a good bud eye.
  2. During the growing season, remove fading roses promptly, cutting just above a five-leaflet leaf. This will help encourage reblooming on many cultivars, and will help prevent rot or disease infestation.
  3. To winterize, remove all fallen leaves and debris from the base of the plant, cut back to 10-12 inches after the ground freezes, then apply a mound of mulch over the canes to protect them from temperature shock. 

Food and Water 

Roses need the proper nutrition – water and fertilizer – to bloom well and develop stunning colors and fragrances. 

  1. Roses thrive best when given 1 inch of water weekly. A thorough soaking from rain or hose will keep roses blooming all season. Try not to overhead water unless it is early in the day, as the damp leaves can promote disease.
  2. Fertilize monthly with Espoma Rose-tone or similar products specially formulated for the nutritional needs of roses.

Treat for Disease and Pests 

There are times when roses will succumb to diseases and pests. Quickly recognizing these problems and treating them properly will help minimize outbreaks that can damage several rose plants at once. 

  1. Fungus diseases cannot be cured, so a regular spraying schedule is very important. Keep an eye on plants that were infected last year and spray with a fungicide to prevent outbreaks this year.
  2. You may also need to use an insecticide for severe insect problems. Minor problems can be handled with less harsh methods, but diligence will be necessary to keep pests from taking over the rose bushes.
  3. Many rose lovers find it convenient to use an all-purpose insect and disease spray once a week or a systemic control every 6 weeks.

It may seem like a lot of work to cultivate roses, but when you wander through your rose garden or see your favorite rose bush in full bloom, that effort will be well rewarded.

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Green Gardening

Planting a vegetable or flower garden seems like the perfect thing to do when you are looking for ways to adopt a greener, more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Some traditional gardening practices, however, may not be quite as “green” as you might think. Planning your gardens with the environment in mind and choosing some practices that maintain healthy ecosystems can help you create a truly “green” garden. 

Tips for a Green Garden 

There are easy, effective steps you can take in your garden to go green, including… 

  • Plant local and native species of trees and shrubs which are naturally adapted to the conditions in your area, thus requiring less watering and having natural defenses for local insect pests and plant diseases.
  • Collect rainwater for watering your container gardens and new transplants, and adjust your irrigation schedule to compensate for whenever Mother Nature does the watering for you.
  • Use organic compost and mulch to improve soil health and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Better yet, make your own compost so you can adjust it to exactly what your plants need while keeping more waste out of landfills.
  • Opt for disease-resistant and pest-resistant plants rather than trying to force plants into an unfriendly area where they will need chemical assistance and extra maintenance to thrive.
  • Try to use natural products instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Use traps, parasites and natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings. Plants that repel insects – basil, chives, mint, marigolds or mums – mixed in with other plants can help keep pests away.
  • Choose wildlife-friendly plants such as flowerbeds that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators, and don’t be upset to share some of your garden space with other critters.

These are just a few of the simple changes you can make in your gardening practices that will benefit the environment.

Green Products 

More and more “green” products are readily available to help you maintain the natural health of your garden. Before using a product, however, be sure it is suitable for your situation, and follow all application and use instructions. Even organic or eco-friendly products can become toxic contaminants if they are improperly used.

Popular options for green gardening products include… 

  • Dr. Earth contains probiotic beneficial soil microbes, plus ecto- and endo- mycorrhizae which feed the fiber of the living soil by releasing natural organic matter. People and pet safe.
  • Dr. Earth pest controls are organic controls for all of your pest problems, including all types of unwanted or troublesome insects. People and pet safe.
  • Espoma Organic Traditions line of products includes bone meal, kelp meal, garden sulphur, potash and garden lime for helping to improve your soil without artificial chemical compounds.
  • Bonide offers organic fertilizers as well as organic formulas for pest and plant disease control, such as fruit tree sprays.
  • Scotts Organic Choice lawn care products provide more environmentally friendly choices for your yard.

Developing “green” gardening practices benefits you and your family, your garden, your native plants and animals, your water supply – our world, all of us.

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Conserving Water Through Proper Planting

Worried that you may have to give up color in your landscape to save on maintenance and water? Afraid that watering restrictions in your area will put a damper on your colorful flowerbeds, borders and shrubs? It doesn’t have to be that way! Many brightly-colored trees, shrubs and flowers don’t require as much water once they become established, which generally takes about a year. The key is knowing which plants to select and how to treat them for that year. 

Choosing Plants That Tolerate Drought 

The key to keeping your color while losing the water is to opt for plants that aren’t quite so thirsty. Fortunately, there are all types of beautiful drought-tolerant plants to choose from, with more cultivars being developed every year. 

Dry soil tolerant plants include: 

Annuals

  • Cosmos
  • Nasturtium
  • Portulaca
  • Strawflower
  • Verbena

Perennials

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Anthemis (Golden Marguerite)
  • Artemesia (Wormwood)
  • Asclepias (Butterflyweed)
  • Baptisia (False Indigo)
  • Echinops (Globe Thistle)
  • Gallardia (Blanket Flower)
  • Hemerocallus (Daylily)
  • Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)
  • Salvia (Sage)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Stachys (Lamb’s Ear)

Shrubs

  • Berberis (Japanese Barberry)
  • Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Chaenomeles (Quince)
  • Cotinus (Smokebush)
  • Hamemelis (Witchazel)
  • Hypericum (St. John’s Wort)
  • Juniper
  • Ligustrum (Privet)
  • Myrica (Bayberry)
  • Potentilla
  • Rhamnus (Tallhedge)
  • Pyracantha (Firethorn)
  • Vitex (Chastetree)
  • Yucca

Establishing Drought-Tolerant Plants 

To be sure drought-tolerant, water-saving plants get the good start they need, it is important to plant them in appropriate locations. Some do well in full sun, others need varying amounts of shade. Also pay close attention to soil needs, including pH values – the chemical composition of the soil affects its water retention and the ability of plants to absorb that water effectively. If your plants are in the right spot, they will flourish with the best foliage and flowering possible, even with little watering. 

Plant drought-tolerant plants as early as possible so they can begin growing strong, absorbent roots well before the driest days of summer, and use drip watering systems, mulch and windbreaks to protect delicate plants from too much heat stress. Grouping plants with similar watering needs together can also help minimize water loss by avoiding irresponsible watering. 

More Watering Tips 

To make the most of every drop of water you offer to your garden, flowerbeds or landscape… 

  • Water in the very early morning when the air is still cool and less water will evaporate before it soaks into the soil.
  • Water deeply but infrequently to help plants stretch their roots deeper into the soil seeking moisture.
  • Check your irrigation system regularly for any leaks or other problems that could result in poor watering practices.

With thoughtfulness and care, you can easily enjoy beautiful, colorful flowerbeds, gardens and landscaping even without a great deal of water.

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Worrisome Weeds

Gardeners spend hours carefully cultivating their favorite plants, whether they are delicious veggies, flavorful herbs, sweet fruits, stunning flowers or luxurious grasses. It hardly seems fair that unwanted weeds barge in and take advantage of all that work, and seem to sprout up without any effort. Fortunately, there are many ways to control weeds without losing your mind or your garden to their influence.

Stopped Before They Start

The easiest way to stop weeds from invading your lawn and garden is preventing them in the first place. Proper practices can discourage weeds from growing. Helpful tips to achieve a beautiful, weed-free lawn and garden include…

  • Buy only high quality, certified grass seed and select a variety that is best suited for the amount of sunlight and traffic expected in the area, as well as its ability to withstand drought, insects and disease. The healthier the lawn is, the less room there will be for invading weeds to use.
  • Avoid light, frequent watering or overwatering. Plants that receive deep, infrequent watering generate extensive root systems. Strong roots foster thick, hearty plants and lawns that withstand stress, preventing invasions from pests, weeds and disease.
  • Fertilize your lawn and garden on a regular basis. Be sure to first test your soil to determine its pH and add any soil amendments necessary to ensure ideal growing conditions. This will help keep your turf, garden and plants healthy so they crowd out any unwelcome weeds.
  • Always cut lawns at the proper mowing height. Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time. Keep mower blades sharp to avoid tearing plant leaves. Scalping or mowing too closely will stress your lawn, while weeds thrive under these conditions. A dense, healthy, vigorous lawn will resist the intrusion of weeds.
  • Properly cultivate lawns and gardens. By routinely tilling flower beds and aerating lawns, you reduce compaction and thatch. This allows air, water and nutrients to flow freely through the soil, making them more available to plants. Healthier plants will grow more vigorously, taking room and nutrients away from weeds.
  • Densely plant and generously mulch flowers, trees and ornamentals. By eliminating space and sunlight, weeds won’t have the needed room or nutrients to gain a foothold in beds and gardens. Always be careful mulch does not come in contact with plant stems and trunks as this can create areas of excessive moisture where fungus and disease problems can arise.
  • Plant ground cover or landscape hard to grow areas. If weeds are a persistent problem and you have difficulty growing grass in certain areas of your yard, consider alternative plants or decorative material such as landscape rock or other hardscaping.
  • Stop weeds before they can seed or develop extensive root structures. Remove existing weeds by pulling or hoeing them or use an all-purpose weed killer of your choice. Then apply Preen, corn gluten or similar pre-emergent controls to prevent new weeds from germinating.

Weeds may be a problem in any landscape, lawn or garden, but the more steps you take to eliminate them, the more successful your efforts will be and the fewer weeds you’ll see.

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Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Planting Basics – Trees & Shrubs

Are you ready to add trees and shrubs to your landscape? You don’t need to hire professionals to do the planting when you learn the basics of doing it the right way yourself.

Soil Preparation

How quickly and how well trees become established once they are planted is affected by the amount of stress they are exposed to before and during planting. Minimizing planting stress is the goal of proper planting. Trees and shrubs should also be thoroughly watered prior to planting to minimize water stress.

Ideally, soil preparation should be carried out well ahead of planting. Preparation could include incorporating organic matter into the soil to improve aeration, assist drainage of compacted soils and improve soil nutrient-holding capacity. Specific preparation may be needed if the soil has an inappropriate pH or is lacking in certain elements. Trees and shrubs with a limited soil tolerance range may require very specific soil preparation to meet their requirements.

Additional soil preparation is essential when you are ready to plant trees and shrubs. Dig the planting hole 50 percent wider but only as deep as the root ball. Prepare soil by mixing one-third existing soil, one-third organic matter and one-third topsoil.

Planting Container-Grown Trees & Shrubs

When you buy a plant from a garden center or nursery, it often comes in a small pot that holds the roots. Remove the plant from that container gently, but without pulling on delicate stems or foliage. Squeezing the container all around can help loosen the root ball so it slides out more easily, or the container may be thin enough to cut away.

Because the plant was grown in a container, its roots have been restricted by the shape of the container. Loosen the roots all the way around, even on the bottom. If the root system is too tight to loosen with your fingers, cut through roots slightly with a knife or pruning sheers. Make three or four one-inch deep cuts, then gently pull the roots apart.

Center the plant in the prepared hole, keeping it 1-3 inches above grade. Keep roots spread out.

Planting Field-Grown Trees & Shrubs

If you are transplanting a tree or shrub that has been field grown, it may have bare roots or be lightly bagged or burlapped. Center the plant in the prepared hole 1-3 inches above the grade. Cut and remove all cords or twine from the root ball and trunk. Burlap should be left on, but loosened and pulled away from the trunk and below the soil surface. Remember to move trees carefully. Roll the root ball on its side and “steer” it into the hole with the trunk. Straighten the tree upright in the hole, checking it from different angles to be sure it is fully upright.

Completing the Planting

For both container-grown and balled and burlapped plant material, backfill the planting hole with soil your mix and pack firmly. Make a rim of soil around the plant to act as a “saucer” for holding water.

Water thoroughly with a slow soaking, and use a root stimulator fertilizer to provide good initial stimulus for the roots to spread out.

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around your new planting, keeping an open space of 3 inches around the trunk or base of the plant to allow for air circulation.

Staking Container & Field Grown Trees and Shrubs

When larger trees or shrubs are planted, they are not yet firmly established in their new locations and may tip or lean as the soil settles. For larger trees, use three wires secured to anchor stakes in firm ground (never into the root ball). Where the wires touch the tree, they should be covered with rubber hose to prevent damage. Remove stakes as soon as roots become established. This can be as soon as a few months, so check your tree frequently. Stakes should not be left in place any longer than one growing season.

New Plant Care

All newly planted trees and shrubs need gentle care as they settle in to their new locations. To keep them healthy and encourage good initial growth…

  • Water Properly
    Plants should be slowly soaked to a depth of 4 inches, which is the equivalent of about an inch of water per week. This is necessary during the first year or two. Let the hose run slowly at the base of the plant until the water has penetrated to the root depth. Too much water can also be a problem. Feel the soil. If it is soggy or squishy, do not add water. Frequent light watering is not as good as a thorough soaking once per week, which will encourage strong root growth.
  • Fertilize Appropriately
    Your new plants should be given a Root Stimulator type fertilizer right after planting. You should not use a fertilizer meant for mature plants on new material, as it could cause damage to your plant. It is essential for new plants to develop a healthy root system – top growth will follow. After the first season, regular fertilizers can be used.
  • Prune Safely
    Pruning at planting time may be necessary for larger trees to reduce leaf surface to match cut roots. Remove one-third of smaller twigs. Do not cut back the main trunk or larger branches. If shaping is necessary, trim side branches enough to get uniformity.
  • Be Alert for Insects and Diseases
    Keep an eye out for holes or brown leaves or needles. This could be a sign of insect or disease problems. Ask our staff for help identifying the insect or disease and to prescribe appropriate treatments.
  • Special Care Plants
    Some plants need extra special care because of their finicky needs. For example, azaleas, hollies, rhododendrons and dogwoods all need well-drained, acidic soils, high in organic matter and a shady location. Research the trees and shrubs you are planting to be sure you are meeting their needs right from the beginning.

It can seem intimidating to plant your own trees and shrubs, since they are an investment in your landscape that you hope to enjoy for many years. By understanding planting basics, however, you can easily give every plant a great start in its new home.

Time to PlantTime to Plant

Time to Plant

Time to Plant

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!