PLANTING AND CARE
This section is intended to answer most of your basic questions. Should you need additional information, or if you cannot find the answer you need, please call or visit and we will attempt to provide you with the information you need.
Potted plants: If you are not going to plant immediately, ensure that the plant has adequate moisture. If it will be a few days before planting, store the plants where it will be easy to water.
1. Begin by digging a hole 1"- 2" deeper than the container, and to a width 1 1/2 to 2 times the width of the container.
2. Remove the plant from the pot by gently pulling it from the container after pushing on the sides of the pot to loosen it from the container. It may be easier with smaller containers to invert the plant and pot, and give it a gentle shake, which will usually cause the plant to slide out of the container. With the plant removed from the container, check to see if the plant is rootbound. If the roots are tight and formed to the shape of the pot, loosen them by gently pulling them apart, or lightly scoring the root ball to a depth of approximately 1/2" with a knife. Score the root ball vertically in 4 or 5 places around the side, and do the same on the bottom, cutting an "X" shape approximately 1/2" deep. Lightly pull the roots apart where you have scored the root ball.
3. Set the plant in the hole to a depth where the final soil level will be above the uppermost root by one inch (1").
4. Backfill with soil and pack well to ensure no air pockets exist. With larger shrubs and trees, we use our shovel handle to pack the soil around the root system.
5. Apply sufficient water to ensure that the entire root system will be moist.
Balled in burlap plants:
1. Begin by digging a hole 1"-2" deeper than the root ball height, and to a width 1 1/2 to 2 times the wider than the root ball.
2. Place the plant in the hole, with the top of the burlap ball one inch (1") below the final soil level. There is no need to remove the burlap or the nails, as it is untreated and will deteriorate in the soil in just a few weeks, allowing the roots to grow without interference.
3. Backfill with soil and pack well to ensure no air pockets exist. With larger plants and trees, we use our shovel handle to pack the soil around the root system.
4. Apply sufficient water to ensure that the entire root system will be moist.
1. Bareroot plants must not be allowed to dry out, or they will die. Keep the plants wrapped as you receive them, keeping them out of the sun and wind, and keep the roots damp by spraying with water.
2. Dig a hole to a depth that will allow the uppermost root of the plant to sit 1" below the final soil surface, and wide enough to allow the roots to be spread out . The roots should not be curled up in the hole. It there are one or two roots that are much longer than the others, trim them to the same length as the other roots.
3. Place the plant in the hole, with the top of the roots 1" below the finished soil level.
4. Backfill with soil and pack well to ensure no air pockets exist. With larger plants and trees, we use our shovel handle to pack the soil around the root system.
5. Apply sufficient water to ensure that the entire root system will be moist.
New plants: Newly installed plants should be watered thouroughly immediately after being planted. Apply sufficient amounts of water to to completely saturate the soil surrounding the roots and to the depth of the deepest roots.
After the initial watering, plants should be watered when the soil becomes dry. Check for moisture by digging down near the plant with your finger to a depth of two inches (2") and checking for moisture. If the soil is dry to the touch apply a sufficient amount of water to moisten the entire root ball. In average soils, 1" of water per week is usually adaquate to ensure proper moisture levels. Lighter soils will require more water, and heavy soils less. Do not water everyday, as this will be too much water and the plants may suffer root rot and die. This is not covered by warranty.
After 1 month, treat the plant as an established plant.
Established plants: For most plants, 1" of water each week during the growing season is adequate for good growth and health. Lighter soils require more water weekly, and heavy soils will require less. A good guage of how much water your plants need is to watch your grass. One inch (1") of water a week in average soils will keep you grass green.
If you have a sprinkler system, it should be programmed to water twice a week, applying 1/2" of water each time. Running your sprinklers everyday will keep your grass green, but if they run for only a short period of time, they will not get the water down deep enough to benefit larger plants. Also, watering frequently, but for short periods of time will cause your lawn to become shallow rooted, requiring daily watering.
During extremely dry periods, it may be beneficial to aid trees by placing a hose at the drip line (tips of the banches) and allowing it to run slowly, so the water soaks in and doesn't run away.
An alternative to using a hose is to drill a couple of 1/8" holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, place it at the dripline, and fill with water. The water will then slowly drain from the bucket and soak into the soil without running away. This will also allow you to easily determine how much water you have applied by monitoring the number of buckets of water you have applied.
Evergreens will benefit from having a sufficient supply of moisture in the months leading up to winter, prior to the ground freezing. If rainfall is below normal, applying a minimum of 1" of water every two weeks from the 1st of October until the ground freezes will minimize or eliminate winterburn by providing extra moisture for the needles of the plant.
Overwatering can cause the leaves of plants to droop, often appearing yellowed and limp. Many times people mistake this drooping for being dry, and apply more water, causing the leaves to droop further. If this cycle continues, the plant will die. If the leaves of the plant are yellowing and droopy, dig in the soil with your finger. If the soil is very wet or feels cold, reduce watering. If this condition exists and adjustments are made soon enough, the plant will usually recover.
Underwatering will also cause the leaves to droop, but they will appear dry, droop, and often have a dull green color. The edges of the leaves may also display browned edges. Dig in the soil near the plant with your fingers to check the moisture level, and if the soil is dry and powdery, water thouroughly. Make adjustments to your watering schedule to ensure adequate moisture. If this condition exists and is detected early, the plant will recover quickly.
Evergreens do not require as much moisture as deciduous plants. If your evergreens begin to take on a washed out or yellowed color, they may be receiving too much water. Check the moisture around the plant, digging near the roots to check for moisture levels. The soil should not be soggy. If it is, reduce watering to keep from creating a saturated condition.
TRIMMING AND MAINTENANCE
Flowering shrubs: A simple rule to follow for flowering shrubs is this: Trim after the plant has finished flowering, but not after August 1st. In other words, the best time to trim any flowering shrub is immediately after the shrub has flowered and the flowers have dried and turned brown. If the plant is still flowering after the 1st of August, trim it in spring before it leafs out.
Trimming at other times may remove flower buds that have formed for the next flowering season, and result in few or no flowers. Flowering shrubs should not be trimmed after the after the 1st of August as new growth formed late in the summer may not harden off properly before the cold temperatures set in late fall and winter. If shrubs are trimmed too late in the fall, tip dieback may result, or, in some instances, the plant may not survive winter.
Shrub roses: Shrub roses may be trimmed aggressively in spring prior to leafing out. Dead stems and branches should be trimmed close to the base of the dead branch. The plant can be shaped by shortening any of the branches as deemed necessary at this time. Spent flowers can be removed through the summer, which will help to force more blooms by removing any rose hips that may form.
Evergreens: Spruce trees can be shaped by shearing after the new growth hardens off, and the needles are stiff and rigid. Trim to the shape desired.
Pine trees should be shaped before the needles fully open from the new growth. This 'candle' can be shortened 1/4 to 1/3 of its total length, which will result in shorter spaces between the branches, creating a more dense tree. This would typically be done in late May or early June. New buds will form where this cut is made.
Arborvitae, juniper, and yews can be trimmed at most times of the year, except from August 1st to October 1st. Shorten branches as necessary to obtain the desired form.
Shade trees: Most shade trees can be trimmed at any time of the year. Exceptions are: Oak should only be trimmed from November to March when the risk of infection from oak wilt is at a minimum. Elm should only be trimmed when dormant, as the risk of infection from Dutch Elm disease is at a minimum. Maple and birch are 'bleeders' meaning that they will produce large amounts of sap from any open wound in spring. Therefore, they should only be trimmed when they have leaves on them and will be able to heal the cut before winter.
If a branch must be removed from a tree when it is susceptible to disease, (broken in a storm or by winds, etc...) the cut should be sealed immediately after it is removed. Use any water based paint to completely cover the wound. Do this within 15 minutes of making the cut. For trees that are not susceptible, the wound will heal quicker if no sealing paint is applied to the wound. Simply leave it open to the air, and it will heal fine on its own.
Fruit trees and Flowering Crab trees: All fruit trees should be trimmed in late winter or early spring prior to April 1st, when the risk of infection from disease is at its minimum. Flowering crabs are apple trees, and should be treated like a fruit tree. Do not paint the cuts, as they will heal rapidly as the tree begins growing in spring.
Control of pests which damage fruit is more complicated than can be covered adequately here. Please call if you have questions.
Always disinfect pruning tools when moving from one tree to another by dipping cutting tools in a 10 percent solution of bleach and water. Immerse tools for 15 to 30 seconds to fully disinfect them. Does this for all fruit trees, flowering crabs, mountian ash, and ornamental pears.
Ornamental trees: Mountain ash should be treated as fruit trees. Trim them only when dormant, ideally in late winter or early spring prior to April 1st.
Treat other flowering trees like a flowering shrub, trimming immediately after flowering has concluded. This will ensure you do not trim any flower buds off and reduce the number of flowers produced.
Hedges: Any hedge, whether evergreen of deciduous, should be trimmed so that the base of the hedge is wider than the top. This ensures maximum light interception by the foliage from top to bottom, and eliminates bare spots.
When trimming a hedge, the hedge must be trimmed slightly below the desired final height, and then allowed to grow to the final height while being sheared. Growing a hedge taller than desired, then trimming to the final height will result in heavy stems and a bare top to the hedge.
Perennials: Most perennials have foliage that will die down in the fall after a hard frost. This dried foliage can be trimmed from the plant in fall after a killing frost when it has dried, or left in place and removed in spring. Allowing the foliage to remain throught the winter will help to insulate the crown, and provide more protection through the winter, especially if there is little snow cover. Peony foliage must be trimmed in the fall to a height of 1 to 2 inches and discarded to prevent disease.
Small Fruit: July bearing raspberries produce fruit on second year wood. Shoots that emerge from the ground this year produce fruit next year, then die off. These dead canes should be removed after fruiting.
Everbearing raspberries produce fruit in the fall of their first year, and the summer of their second year and then die off. These canes should be removed after they die, or if only a fall crop is desired, all canes can be cut to the ground in spring.
Strawberries should be covered with a layer of 6 inches of straw in late fall after the ground has frozen. In spring pull the straw back and tuck under the newly developing foliage. This will keep the berries from laying in the dirt and will help control weeds and preserve moisture. If you have June bearing varieties, immediately after they finished producing fruit, cut them down to 2", remove the old straw, weed thouroughly, and fertilize. They will begin growing and producing new runners. You can reset the new runners to start a new row or patch. After 3 years the old plants should be removed and the new young runners left in place to create strong productive plants.
Grapes can be trimmed in late fall after they drop their foliage, or in very early spring. Grapes produce fruit on one year old wood, meaning the vine that grew last summer will produce fruit this summer. Once a vine has produced fruit, it can be removed, and a new vine left to produce the next seasons fruit.
The best time to fertilize is late spring and early summer, when most plants are producing the largest amounts of growth. Fertilizing after the 1st of August is not recommended, as it can produce flushes of tender growth late in the season. This tender growth may not harden off properly prior to the colder temperatures in fall, and the tender growth may die back, or in some instances, the entire plant may die.
There are many fertilizers available. The type you use is often a matter of personal preference. If you are using a water soluable product like Miracle Grow, remember that the plant should be actively growing to be of any use to the plant. Water soluable fertilizers are available immediately to the plant, and produce the quickest results.
Tree and shrub spikes should be applied in mid spring after the ground has thawed. These spikes take some time to dissolve and become available to the plant, so they are best applied 4 weeks before the start of the growing season.
Most plants will perform well with a balanced fertilizer. Plants that require acidic conditions will benefit from the application of an acidic formulation. Acid loving plants include: Spruce, Pine, Fir, Arborvitae, Juniper, Yew, Hydrangea, Blueberry, Rhododendron, Azalea and Dogwood.