10 Steps to Planting Trees & Shrubs

1.      Dig a hole 2 to 2 ½ times greater than the diameter of the rootball. Do Not dig the planting hole any deeper than the rootball is long because the soil that you disturb will eventually settle causing the plant to also settle too deep. Preparing the planting hole 1” to 2” too shallow will doubly insure that your plant will not sink too deep to breath and will not suffocate.

2.      Amend the existing soil with 25% organic matter. We recommend DENISON MID ATLANTIC MIX.

3.      If planting balled and burlapped (B&B) plant material, DO NOT remove the burlap securing the soil around the roots. Untie the rope at the base of the trunk, peel back some of the burlap and plant with not affect the growth of the roots into the ground.

4.      If planting a container grown plant, gently break-up the roots on the sides and bottom. Plants grown in containers can be “Root-bound” With no room for additional growth, roots become tangled, matted, and grow in circles. Root-bound plants placed in the ground without having their roots untangled often fail to overcome their choked condition. This results in stunting the plants growth and potential or not surviving. If the plant is too root-bound, you will need to “butterfly” the roots by vertically splitting open the bottom of the root mass.

5.      Correctly position the plant/tree upright in the center of the hole. Be sure it is straight before backfilling the hole.

6.      Backfill the planting hole with your prepared soil mix. Tamp the backfill to completely secure the rootball in the ground. Once thoroughly watered the soil will settle and the plant/tree could shift if not backfilled with enough soil and tamped down.

7.      We also recommend using a new transplant starter fertilizer such as Biotone Starter Plus from Espoma. This product contains Mycorrhizae which is designed to stimulate root growth and development.

8.      All disturbed soil needs to be finished off with at least 2” to 3” of mulching material to prevent soil erosion and moisture loss to the roots thus ensure optimal potential for your newly planted material.

9.      Continued post –transplant care will provide your newly transplant with a better chance of survival. Be sure to water the plant regularly for the first growing season. Watering requirements will vary with the weather cycles. To determine if your plant needs watering, place your hand under the mulching and into the soil. If moist, wait to water. If dry, place your garden hose on a slow trickle at the base and allow it to remain there for approximately 15 minutes. This will ensure an adequate, deep watering which will also encourage deep root development.

10.    Finally, remember to fertilize your material. Plant material recently transplanted and material still in their rapidly growing stage should be fertilized yearly according to their specific needs. Well established, mature trees should be fertilized only every 3 to 4 years.


Nutsedge Control

Why is some of my grass growing much faster than the rest of my yard? If you have asked yourself this recently, then you may be dealing with the grass-like weed known as yellow nutsedge. Yellow nutsedge, despite its appearances is not a grass at all, rather it is a member of the sedge family and it can be found throughout the region in homeowners lawns at this time of year actively growing and growing and growing and ruining the aesthetics of your turf. You can identify this weed by its yellowish green leaves, its triangular shaped stem and its rapid growth rate (generally growing 2-6″ taller than the canopy of the rest of the turf). It is the rapid growth rate, prolific reproduction and color which draws negative attention to the turf and is why, as a homeowner you want to stay on top of this weed.

Here are a few tips to keep your yard from being overrun. Fertilize regularly to maximize your lawn’s density; mow your lawn at the appropriate height (this is generally a setting or two higher than what most people set their mowers at); and make sure your lawn receives adequate water throughout the summer to stave off stress.

If you already notice nutsedge in your yard, then handpulling can be an effective means of control, however you will want to get as much of the roots up as possible when you do this otherwise the plant’s underground tubers may be able to produce more shoots. When the nutsedge is too prevalent for handpulling to be an effective means for control then it may be time to call in a licensed presticide applicator who can spray the lawn targeting the sedge specifically. This would ideally be performed in late spring when the sedge is still young and can be controlled with chemicals more readily; late summer spraying may require more than one application for satisfactory results.

Dormant Pruning

Winter or dormant season pruning is the best time of year to correct structural problems in several species of trees and shrubs. Pruning wounds heal & callus quicker leaving the tree less vulnerable to insect & disease attack. Deciduous trees will be easier to correct, because the lack of foliage allows us to see the full canopy structure of the tree, making pruning decisions much easier.

Oaks should be pruned prior to April to avoid oak wilt disease which is spread by beetles in late spring. Honey Locust can develop stem cankers, if pruned in hot, humid weather. Apple, Crabapples, Mountain Ash, Pears, Cotoneaster can spread the bacterial disease Fire Blight. If pruned in spring or summer. All of these trees should be pruned in winter if possible.

Certain trees such as Maples, Walnuts, and Birch trees are know as Sap “Bleeders”. This seems to be of little concern for the health of the tree but may present problems if cars are to be parked under them. In this case, pruning is recommended after the spring flush has hardened off, to prevent tree sapping from damaging paint on motor vehicles.

Early blooming species which includes: Azalea, Chokeberries, Cherry, Forsythia, Lilac, Magnolia, flower on last year’s wood and should be pruned after spring blossoms are over. Spruce, Firs and Douglas Firs are best to be pruned in late winter before spring flush. Shrubs that bloom on new growth may be pruned in early spring which includes: Clematis and Shrub Roses.

Now that we have decided the time to prune, let’s discuss a purpose.
1. Prune to promote plant health, remove all disease or damaged branches. Remove all branches that rub together, also, all branching that has less than a 45 degree angle needs to be removed when possible for this creates weak limb structure which can become a hazard later on.
2. Prune to maintain landscape shape and form. Trim hedges to keep a desired shape. Young tree’s heal quicker and are easier to correct than mature trees that need drastic corrective pruning. New shrubs benefit from early pruning which creates a dense branching structure.
3. Prune to protect people and property, prior to snow or ice; trees should be trimmed to prevent broken branches. Over hanging limbs above structures and power lines need to be removed. Intersections need to be maintained so not to obscure the vision of drivers.

In conclusion, dormant pruning, if performed with a purpose and executed on the correct species can allow our landscapes to develop and perform as intended with health and vigor.

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