Planting Tips & Care

Planting Tips

To plant shrubs and trees – Late fall and early spring are considered ideal planting times because roots will have more time to grow into the surrounding soil before the stress due to new foliage growth and high temperatures occurs.

Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and so that the root collar is level with the surrounding soil level – flush with the ground. Planting the tree to deep will cause water to sit and rot the stem and planted to high above the soil lever will prevent it from getting water. Carefully remove plant from container and gently separate roots. If planting a balled and burlap tree simply cut the rope and top of the burlap off the ball. No need to remove the basket. Position in center of hole, best side facing forward. Backfill with a mixture peat moss and healthy start fertilizer or an amended mixture. Build a water well or moat under the tree to help the tree retain water. Finish by mulching and watering well.

  • If soil is too sandy or too clayey, add organic matter. This will help with both drainage and water holding capacity.
  • Remove rocks or grass, and completely break up any dirt clumps. This will help prevent air pockets and grass from growing.
  • Be sure to generously water your plants 3x’s per week the first few months in the morning 5am – 10am.
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  • Getting your mower ready: Start the lawn-care season by taking care of your mower. Bring in your mower for service in early spring. This helps you beat the rush so your mower is in tip-top shape right when you need to use it. Be sure to sharpen the blade at least once a year.
  • Starting a new lawn from seed: Though fall is the ideal time to start a new lawn from seed, you can also do it in spring. Don’t wait until late spring, though: Give your lawn a chance to grow in and get established before summer temperatures arrive.
  • Attacking crabgrass: Because crabgrass and other annual weeds need to sprout from seeds each year, a well-timed application of pre-emergence herbicide can do wonders for keeping these pests at bay. Spread the pre-emergence herbicide as forsythia blooms in your area start to drop.
  • Aerating: If your lawn doesn’t grow well due to compacted soil, springtime — when your grass is in active growth — is a great time to aerate. This loosens the soil, allowing grass roots to reach deeper and the soil to absorb moisture better.Mowing: Start mowing once your grass reaches about 3 inches tall. It’s best keep most turf types in this region at least 2 inches tall — this helps the grass ward off weeds and withstand summer drought.
  • Fertilizing: If you feed your lawn a couple of times a year, a light application of lawn food in early spring will help get your lawn off to a great start. Keep it light, though, and use a slow-release or organic fertilizer. Wait to fertilize until your lawn needs mowing for the first time.


  • Controlling grubs: Attack grubs and keep them from destroying your lovely lawn with a grub-control product that continues to work throughout the season. Apply your grub control in early June.
  • Mowing: Watch how your lawn grows. During hot, dry periods, it may only need mowing once every two or three weeks (when the grass grows about 3 inches tall). During cooler, moister periods, it may need mowing twice a week
  • Watering: It’s fine to let your grass go dormant during drought. It’ll turn brown, but it’ll stay alive and then will go green and start growing when the rains come again. If you don’t want a brown summer lawn, select drought-tolerant types such as buffalo grass or plan on giving your lawn about 1 inch of water a week.


  • Fertilizing: If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, fall’s the time to do it. In fact, your lawn could take a light application of fertilizer in early fall and again in late fall.
  • Mowing: As temperatures cool, your lawn will start growing faster: You’ll likely need to mow regularly through the end of the season.
  • Cleaning up: For a healthy lawn, it’s a good idea to clean up fallen leaves. If you don’t want to rake up leaves, do several passes over your lawn with a mulching mower. You’ll chop up the leaves into fine pieces so they decompose and add to your soil’s structure. It’s easier and also better for the health of your lawn!


Mulch is a garden’s best friend.  It holds down grasses and weeds that will compete with your new plants roots for water, and also helps the soil retain water. It helps the soil from becoming overly compacted and acts as an insulator during the winter months. Create a mulch bed around your tree that is 2-3 inches thick, while encircling your tree with a several foot diameter. It is also recommended to leave a slight area mulch free just where your trunk reaches the ground.

  • Mulch:  1 yard covers 10’ x 10’ = 100 sq ‘
  • Applying high quality mulch in the spring / fall helps insulate your plant’s roots by keeping the soil around the plant warmer and moist.
  • Cold nights or rapid temperature drops can harm or kill plants, but proactive mulching will protect your plants.
  • Mulching also suppresses weed growth by almost two-thirds.
  • Mulch provides nutrients to plants as it decomposes, prevents erosion, and helps retain moisture in dry months.
  • Adds color and volume to your garden.

To Revive Lawns & Reduce Thatch

Once or twice a year, spread or broadcast a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch layer of Compost over your lawn. This will add nutrients and organic matter and help stimulate beneficial microbial and biological activity. Water daily, and the compost will filter through the lawn.

How-to: Staking Trees

To properly stake a tree place two stakes outside the planting hole on either side of the trunk in such a way that they’re perpendicular to the prevailing winds (which means typically one stake on the north side, and one of the south side, unless you’ve got abnormal wind directions in your area). Tie the stakes to the tree using something broad and flexible. Specialty tree ties are made, but old nylons work great. They’re stretchy, flexible, and broad. Then, leave your stakes on no more than one year.

Tree Hole Sizes: for DIY’ers

  • 6/7’ plants 48” wide
  • 8/10’ plants 60” wide
  • 10/12’ plants 64” wide
  • 12/14’ plants 72” wide
  • 14/16’ plants 72” wide
  • (These are estimates)

Proper Watering For Your Trees And Plants.

The watering requirements of trees, shrubs, and grasses are directly related to our weather and soil conditions. It is important to understand that over-watering can be just as stressful to plants as under-watering. The failure of plants to survive or thrive in the first few months is almost always due to under- or over-watering. Follow these steps and we think you will have great success. If you notice your trees or plants wilting or looking unhealthy please contact us right away so we can try and help you before they get worse.


When: 5am – 10am. Trees and plants have all day to absorb the water.

How: The best way to water most trees is to provide a slow, constant amount of water provided by soaker lines connected to your irrigation system. This will assure that water reaches the roots. Depending on the size of the tree we recommend 3-5 gallons of water 3 mornings a week. A hose placed at the base of the tree and turned on also low works well. The goal is to soak the soil surrounding the tree’s root system – NOT THE BODY OF THE TREE.

If don’t have irrigation purchase a soaker hose, connect it to your spicket. They also sell battery operated timers at the big home improvement chains or your local hardware store. A good little investment because you are going to forget to keep turning on your hose. You can also take a 5 gallon bucket (that has never had paint or chemicals in it) drill small holes in the bottom and fill. Move it around from tree to tree.

Don’t: water at night – plants don’t drink at night and can stay wet for a pretty long time without the help of the sun. They are bound to get a fungus or sick.


Most newly planted shrubs should be watered at least every 3rd day. About five minutes per shrub, depending on its size, should be sufficient. Keep the water pressure fairly low so that water can seep into the ground without running along the surface away from the plant’s roots. Newly planted material should be watered directly at the base of the plant, as if it were still in a container. Once a shrub has been in the ground for several months and shows no signs of stress, this technique is less important, and you can start watering with a sprinkler. However, this direct base watering technique is much more efficient during critical watering periods such as droughts.


Lawns, too, should be watered deeply. For newly seeded or sodded lawns, thorough early morning watering is best. An inch of water per week is what is needed. Once you start watering in the summer, maintain a regular schedule- a hit-or miss approach can be worse than no watering at all. 


Overwatering (or excessive rainfall) can create several problems. Among these are “drowning” (reduction of the oxygen available to root systems) and encouragement of fungal development. Unfortunately, overwatering can produce symptoms like drooping, wilting, or browning leaves that mimic the symptoms of under watering. In such cases, we tend to water even more, compounding the problem. Dogwood and rhododendron are prime examples of plants that react this way. If you feel you are providing enough water to your trees and shrubs, yet they look like they need more, you should consider this problem as a possibility. If you have an automatic irrigation system, you need to pay close attention to potential overwatering.

Signs You are Under-Watering:

  • Soil is dry.
  • Leaves are wilted.
  • Leaves curl.
  • Older leaves turn yellow or brown, and drop off.

Signs You are Over-Watering:

  • Soil is constantly damp.
  • Leaves turn a lighter shade of green or turn yellow.
  • Young shoots are wilted.
  • Leaves are green yet brittle.
  • Algae and mushrooms are growing.


Vacations are the primary summer threat, especially to newly-installed plants. As little as one day of hot, dry weather without watering can determine whether newly planted material will survive. If possible, have a friend or neighbor tend your plants while you are away. While our local winter weather is unpredictable, we often experience cool, clear, and windy days that can dry plants out as quickly as hot summer days. In non-freezing temperatures, trees and shrubs planted in the fall need to be watered throughout the winter months (particularly evergreens). The watering requirements described above, though, can usually be cut in half. 


Never underestimate the value of a layer of mulch around the bases of all your plants – annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. Mulch prevents the intense rays of the sun from baking the soil, keeping it loose and easy for water to penetrate. Mulch also cuts down on much of the evaporation from the soil, “holding in” the water you are adding while giving you some weed control to boot. Cold nights or rapid temperature drops can harm or kill plants, but proactive mulching will protect your plants. Mulching also suppresses weed growth by almost two-thirds. In addition, mulch provides nutrients to plants as it decomposes, prevents erosion, and helps retain moisture in dry months. Call or click for a quote.

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