Care Guides

A GUIDE TO MAINTAINING YOUR LANDSCAPE

Your landscape plants have been selected for their hardiness and suitability to the location.  This guide has been written to further ensure that your plants will not only survive, but thrive and mature in your landscape.

WATER

The Most Important Factor

By far, the chief reason plants fail following installation is due to too little or too much water.  Newly planted nursery stock should not be allowed to become dry.  Water thoroughly, then check the plants again every few days.  If the soil surrounding the rootball feels dry, then it’s time again to water.  Quantity is more important than frequency.  Deep soakings encourage better rooting, and the faster your plants set new roots, the faster they will begin to grow.  Frequent shallow watering encourages rooting in the upper layer of soil which is the first portion to dry out in a drought.  Do not water if the soil feels muddy or soggy--it is possible to over-water and kill your plants.

 Initially, watering can be a time-consuming chore.  Although a sprinkler can be used, it frequently misses the edges of a setting and must be done for several hours to allow enough water to penetrate deeply.  I suggest holding the hose at the base of the shrub or tree and letting the water flow out steadily for a period that seems appropriate for the size of the plant.  Remember that sandy soil will require much more watering than clay soil.

For shallow-rooted plants such as perennials and annuals, an oscillating sprinkler is sufficient.  Allow the moisture to penetrate the mulch and the upper five or six inches of soil.

LAWNS

Sod should be watered every day for the first three weeks.  Thereafter, a weekly rainfall of at least one inch or watering twice weekly will suffice.  Until well established, seeded or sodded lawns should not be allowed to dry out.  The soil should always be kept slightly moist.  Foot traffic is not especially damaging, but dragging hoses across the ground should definitely be avoided.  Mow your lawn approximately two inches in height in spring and fall and 2 1/2 - 3 inches in the summer. 

For lawn fertilization, have the soil tested, then lime in the Spring or Fall if necessary and fertilize in the Spring and early Fall. 

SHRUB AND TREE FERTILIZATION

A mild application of fertilizer was added during installation to promote rooting.  Shrubs planted from April 1st to June 15th can have a mild fertilizer application in late August.  Plants installed after June 15th should be fertilized in the early spring of the following year. 

Fertilize flowers and vegetables early Spring and lightly fertilize several times during the growing season. 

PRUNING

This is not usually needed during the first growing season.  Although it normally will not damage the plant, I do not favor tight shearing of plants to create or maintain unnatural shapes such as blocks or globes.  When pruning, consider the plant’s natural appearance and try to maintain that shape in the size desired.  Since different plants have individual pruning requirements, a manual on pruning may be helpful or consider having it done professionally. 

TREE STAKING AND WRAPPING

Remove guide wires and stakes after the first year. 

Remove tree wraps after three years.  Loosen tree wraps twice per growing season. 

PESTICIDES

With a large variety of pesticide chemicals available everywhere from supermarkets to hardware stores, homeowners are often eager to apply them to plants whether they show a problem or not.  Pesticides, in fact, are toxic chemicals that should not be used indiscriminately.  Preventative spraying, in most cases, has negligible benefits and does nothing but add more toxic waste to the environment.  If a pest or disease problem does exist and chemical treatment is necessary, use the proper product and follow the directions as to the dosage, application method and frequency.

OUTDOOR PLANTERS

Thoroughly insulate planter sides, top and bottom, if possible in mid-November.  Remove insulation in April.  Monitor soil moisture two to three times per week. 

WINTER PROTECTION

Information on winter protections is detailed on a separate sheet. 

DIAGNOSIS

You do not have to be a certified horticulturist to determine the general health of a shrub or tree.  An occasional once-over of the plants will give you a basis for comparison so that a problem in the future will be detected early.  Most problems can be corrected quite readily if the problem is not allowed to persist for more than a season or two.  Likewise, the inverse is true and sometimes a late detection prevents a plant from being saved.