Tips & Resources
PLANT CARE GUIDE
Watering Trees & Shrubs
After the initial installation, check your plants each week, water plants thoroughly if natural rainfall is insufficient. Apply water to individual plants by placing the hose at the base or truck of the plant, allowing the water to run at a slow trickle long enough to saturate the entire root zone. If the water tends to run off, go to another plant and then complete the watering. After the first year, established plants should be watered every 3 to 4 weeks – June thru September. A lay of mulch reduces water loss to evaporation.
In order for these plants to spread and become established, they must be watered every other day for the first month, and then once a week for the next 2 months. If planted in late spring (after May 15th) or in the summer, watering may be necessary on a daily basis. A rotary sprinkler works best for large ground cover beds. After the first year, your ground cover should be watered every 2 weeks from June thru September. Mulch is also highly recommended.
Sod & Seeded Lawns
Seeded lawn should be kept moist until a uniform stand of grass of established. Apply enough water to keep the soil moist, but not so much to cause run off.
Sod should be soaked daily the first week after installation. After the first week, sod should be watered every 2-3 days. If the sod shows signs of drying or turning brown, it should be soaked immediately.
Special Situations and Exceptions Concerning Watering
To every set of rules or guidelines there are exceptions. The following list of special tips is included to help you adjust your watering methods to your specific soil type or plant types.
The required frequency of watering will vary greatly according to soil types. Heavy clay soils tend to hold water and therefore need less water to sustain plants. Remember that it is just as easy to kill a plant by over watering as it is underwatering. Use common sense! If a plant begins to show signs of weakening (yellowing of leaves or needles) and you know that it cannot possibly be due to lack of water, using your hands, dig into the soil around the ball and check to see if the root system is saturated with excess water. If it is, quit watering – your soil is not draining as fast as it should.
Frequency of watering also varies from season to season. Usually, watering is not as critical during the spring and fall as it is during the summer months (June – September). Make sure, however, to water plants close to buildings or beneath overhangs where they receive little or no rainfall.
Some plants simply do not like wet conditions under any circumstances. Probably the easiest plants to kill by over watering are those in the evergreen family. The list includes all Taxus varieties (Yews), most pines, most Junipers, most Broadleaf Evergreens such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Boxwood, Holly Euonymus varieties, Oregon Grape Holly, and Pyracantha. A few others include Bayberry, and most Flowering Ornamental Trees (especially Dogwoods). This is not to say that these plants necessarily prefer dry conditions, but they seem to be the severely affected by “water-logging”.
Pruning is one of the most essential landscape maintenance practices. When pruning is done properly, it will help maintain the plant forms that were intended. The best pruning practice is that which accomplishes the desired end result without destroying the natural growth pattern of the plant.
- Pruning maintains a plant in vigorous and healthy conditions.
- Shrubs and trees often become unshapely unless restrained by pruning.
- Because of the blooming and fruiting of many shrubs and trees, maximum displays of blooms or bountiful displays of fruit can only be obtained by pruning.
- Flowering Deciduous Trees and Shrubs should be pruned immediately after flowering.
- Non Flowering Deciduous Trees and Shrubs ideally should be done during the dormant season. However, pruning may be done anytime the wood is not frozen.
- Evergreens may be pruned just after the new growth is completed, usually in late spring or early summer.
- Broadleaf Evergreens (Rhododendrons and Azaleas) need to have faded flowers pinched off (deadheading). Be careful not to pinch off next year’s buds along with the faded flowers.
- Whenever a stem or branch is dead or damaged.
The key to proper pruning is to have the proper tools and know how to use them. Some of the tools include: hand pruners (secateurs), loppers, and pruning saws. Hedge shears, both electric and manual, are to be used for hedges only. Often trees, shrubs, and evergreens are sheared into squares, globes, cones, etc., causing the natural beauty of the parts of the plants to become shaded out and weakened, thus resulting in poor growth. Following are some general guidelines for pruning trees, shrubs, and evergreens:
- Individual cuts should be made ¼” above an outward facing, active bud at a 45 degree angle.
- Branches should be cut at different lengths again, to enhance the plant’s natural shape. Remember, avoid “haircut” pruning.
Maintaining Ornamental Grasses
Watering Ornamental Grasses to get them established is the same as for your newly planted trees and shrubs. The one difference being, if your grasses begin to look a little dried out simply cut them back and new growth should emerge. Once the plants are well rooted little or no supplemental watering is required, except in periods of drought.
Cutting Back Grasses
This the single most important maintenance rule for growing healthy, attractive grasses. Cut back the foliage at least once a year. Cut back ornamental grasses just before or just as the new season’s growth begins to appear. It’s best to cut back most grasses in late winter generally in our area early to mid March. Most grasses should be cut back to within a few inches of the ground. Cutting back old foliage before the new growth emerges is easier than working around the new growth. Most grasses can be cut back very nicely with a pair of hand pruners. Be sure to sharpen the blade on your pruners, because the grasses will surely dull them quickly.
Watering Perennials as with other new plantings is the same. Frequent checking of the soil and applying the water close to the soil, so as to avoid getting water on the foliage, is the best advice. Most perennials prefer good moisture with good drainage to the soil. With proper soil preparation, water your perennials 2-3 times a week. Once your perennials are established water only as weather conditions permit.
Mulching with bark, peat moss or other organic material will improve air / water relationship in the soil. Most perennials will perform better the following spring if an application of mulch has been applied in late autumn to protect against winter damage.
Trimming Dead-heading (removal of dead flowers) and trimming off damaged parts during the growing season will maintain neat, clean, long blooming perennials.
Fall Clean Up – When the top growth has died back, trim for neatness as desired. Dead top growth may either be removed or left as a protective mulch. Trim back to within a few inches of the ground. Clean out weeds and mulch over the plants to protect against winter damage. Fall is the best time to divide spring and summer flowering perennials. Otherwise, divide perennials in spring.