It is critical that new plant materials be watered
immediately! Plants are in shock from transit
and relocation. It is essential that water is
available to their root systems, and to seat
soil around the root ball, removing air pockets
and reducing stress!
We recommend that plants be watered with a garden
hose 20-30 seconds in one direction, and 20-30
seconds again as you work back from plant to
plant. Obviously larger plants may require more
and smaller plants somewhat less. Lawn sprinklers
can work in a pinch, the time being adjusted
accordingly. Irrigation system settings should
be discussed with your landscaper and the installer.
Larger trees benefit from a steady drip from
the hose for as much as an hour.
New landscape plantings need to be watered 2-3
times a week for the first month. Do not water
everyday, except under extreme conditions.
After they have been established for a month,
watering can be scaled back to once or twice
a week thoroughly, as described. The first month
is the most critical time to acclimate plants
to their new home.
Generally, we would recommend continued watering
once or twice a week until Thanksgiving of the
first year. However, there are no absolutes,
and common sense suggests that if it has rained
everyday, you might be off the hook. Conversely
plants burn or desiccate in the winter because
of insufficient water available to plants, more
so than cold temperatures. A final watering
of new materials before putting the garden hose
away for the year is not a bad idea.
Long Term Watering Needs
Hopefully, your plants are selected according
to hardiness and geography. With proper planting
bed construction, your plants should be able
to establish themselves for years of growth
and enjoyment. Mulching the planting beds helps
to conserve water and cool the root systems
of plant material. Occasional watering through
dry periods (regardless of season) can reduce
stress to your plants and provide for a vigorous
and healthy plant.
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Trees and shrubs benefit greatly from fertilizer.
Most have been fed routinely in the nursery
and without added fertilizer in their new locations
tend to look tired and their growth stunted.
Most plants tend to fall into two categories;
those that prefer an acid (pH) based fertilizer
and those that do not. Most evergreens and those
flowering shrubs that retain their foliage into
winter (rhododendrons, azaleas, etc.) tend to
prefer an acid based fertilizer. I usually recommend
HOLLYTONE granular fertilizer, or MIRACID
water-soluble plant food. Plants that don't
require special fertilizer seem to do well with
generic garden fertilizer, either 10-10-10 or
Shrubbery and trees should be fertilized twice
in the early spring, March-April or early April
and early May. Do not fertilize trees and shrubbery
in hot weather, and do not give newly planted
shrubbery more than a half rate application.
Trees should also have a deep root feeding late
in the fall after they have gone into dormancy.
Jobe's tree food spikes or a specially formulated
tree fertilizer work well.
Liquid MIRACLE GRO is fine for flowers and ground
covers and usually can be applied throughout
the summer as long as plants are well watered.
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Shrubbery and most evergreen trees can be trimmed
or sheared in the second week of June, locally.
New leafy growth has flushed out and evergreen
'candles' have hardened off. Trimming helps
to maintain the form of the plant and helps
check growth. Try to determine the natural form
or habit of a plant and work toward that end.
Topiary is the art of trimming a plant to determine
a shape other than that which nature had intended.
While trimming the yews in front of the house
to resemble Donald Duck may be topiary, it is
also a shock to ones sensibility. Try to exercise
some restraint when the urge to sculpt the shrubbery
I generally do most of my trimming with a pair
of hand shears. It lessens the mistakes and
develops a Zen rhythm I enjoy. The gasoline
powered Enduro 9000's are fine for trimming
the neighbor's hedge.
Pruning can be a different matter. When we prune,
we selectively remove branches or parts of branches
to create a desired character. We can thin a
tree of crossed branches or remove the old woody
growth of lilacs to try and invigorate them.
We can prune a Japanese Maple to give it a lighter
and more delicate feeling. Most pruning is done
in the late fall or early spring to shape a
plant or to remove damaged or diseased wood.
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Newly seeded lawns must be watered at least
once a day. It is important to keep the seed
moist until germination. A sprinkler moved around
the seeded area at timed intervals is the most
effective means. Be careful not to over water,
flooding the ground and floating the seed away.
Usually 15 minutes in any one position is enough.
Once the grass has germinated and it is a fairly
uniform stand of green, we can cut back on watering.
Once a day in hot weather and every other day
in cool weather. Seeded lawns are easiest to
establish in spring, before the middle of May,
and in the fall, not later than mid-October.
Newly seeded lawns are generally mulched with
either straw or mushroom manure. When the grass
is about 2-3 inches tall the straw can be lifted
and the grass cut. After the grass has been
cut, water the lawn once a week, with one inch
Sodded lawns should be watered once a day until
rooted. Sod usually initiates roots within a
few days, and after two weeks has established
a root system that can support the sod with
less frequent watering. Sod can then be watered
about 2 or 3 times a week. Sod requires a little
more water for the first season.
Continued Care- Lawn Treatments
Discuss the treatment of your new lawn with
your landscaper through the first year. New
lawns usually demand a little more starter fertilizer
and are susceptible to injury from treatment
with weed and crabgrass control.
Maintaining a beautiful lawn is probably the
most confusing and conflicting area of home
landscape care. This is a billion-dollar industry
that feeds on ignorance and a strange desire
to have a perfect green carpet outside the door,
no matter what the cost. While lawn treatment
programs should be tailored to your specific
needs there are some basic guidelines to follow.
While not every lawn may require each treatment,
there are some key applications that hold true
for the majority of lawns, whether seeded or
Time for pre-emergent crabgrass control. When
the forsythia turn yellow, noxious grasses must
be treated before they germinate. Most are annual
and go to seed in the fall. Follow the manufacturer
recommendations for applications of crabgrass
A high nitrogen fertilizer should also be applied
early in spring. Fertilizers list available
percentages of nitrogen- phosphorous- potassium
in the numeric listing on the bag. The first
number, nitrogen should be the highest number
Spring is in the air; flowers are in bloom....
A young mans heart turns to... dandelions taking
over the lawn! Dandelions and other broad-leafed
weeds are out in full force. Most can be controlled
with a granular application of Weed and Feed.
Weed and Feed is sold under a variety of trade
names. Most are effective when applied early
in the morning with dew on the foliage to help
the chemicals adhere to the plant.
Spraying with 2-4D weed control is an effective
way to treat more aggressive and persistent
weeds. Applications can be reapplied at manufacturer
recommendations. Some weeds like ground ivy
and geranium require an on going program to
Fertilizer to build up root growth should also
be applied. A 'starter' fertilizer or turf builder
will help your lawn into the summer. A higher
middle number (phosphorous) on your fertilizer
bag indicates increased root development.
Drought, insects, disease... the joy of summer!
Insects tend to be most active at this time.
Chinch bugs, chiggers, grubs, beetles, all are
actively feeding on your lawn and its roots.
I normally recommend insecticide as a response
to an infestation as opposed to a preventative
measure. Insecticides are powerful, residual
and can be dangerous to people! Insect populations
will always be present in your lawn! Controlling
their numbers through insecticide or integrated
pest management is a subject that needs responsible
How do golf courses manage to look so green
through the summer when your lawn has taken
on the appearance of toast? Proper watering
practices, watering with at least an inch of
water per week and the application of non-burning
fertilizers like Milorganite will help maintain
the appearance and vigor of your lawn.
After the heat of summer has passed, another
application of a starter fertilizer or turf
builder can help a lawn recover from stress.
Usually September is a good time for this application.
Later in October or November, liming is essential
to maintain a proper pH. A rate of up to 50#
of dolomitic limestone per thousand square feet
of lawn may be applied.
Sod a heavy feeder; will green up more quickly
in the spring with a November fertilizing. A
good starter fertilizer will help to wake up
the turf in the spring.
Fall can also be a good time to treat for crabgrass
control. Pre-emergents can also be effective
at this time.
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Protecting our investment from the elements
is common sense. Plants that have been established
for years require little preparation. Plants
that have been in the ground for a short time
deserve a little extra care. Making sure they
are well watered late in the year is the single
best step we can take to help insure their survival.
Covering sensitive or exposed plants with burlap
(never plastic) can reduce wind burn. Mulching
graft unions on roses and protecting root balls
from extreme cold helps to reduce casualties.
Having bought hardy plants raised from reputable
growers can save time and money in the long
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize
that nature can be demanding teacher. Awareness
of the weather and an intelligent response to
conditions is the best advice I can give. There
are no absolutes. All of these guidelines are
generalities that should help to make one aware
that plants like people respond a whole lot
better to a little care and understanding.
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