Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gardening Article: All About Trees

The right tree adds value to a home and provides generations of pleasure, beauty, and cooling shade. The wrong tree planted in the wrong place causes constant aggravation. Selecting, planting, and caring for the right tree is a simple process so long as basic landscaping rules and practices are followed.

Choose the Right Tree for the Right Place

Before selecting a tree for the home landscape, first think about expectations. Is the primary goal shade or ornamentation? How much maintenance is needed? Some trees, like conifers, arbor vitae, and slow growing shade trees need very little care after the first year. Ornamental trees like flowering cherries, crabs, and weeping trees of all kinds require lots of annual pruning and maintenance.

Buy From a Reputable Nursery or Garden Center

Resist the temptation to dig up a wild tree and bring it home. Wild trees are often poorly shaped and can harbor unwanted pests and diseases. Many parks are protected by laws that prohibit the removal of wild trees. Also, choose a tree for its mature size, not its size in the nursery. If the tag says the tree grows to thirty feet tall and wide, believe it, even it if is much smaller at purchase. In general, fast growing trees like poplars. sugar maples, and willows live shorter lives and create more debris than slow growing trees like oaks, hemlocks, and red maples.

Dig a Thousand Dollar Hole for a Fifty Dollar Tree

Most people dig a hole that is much too shallow when planting a tree. To plant a tree correctly, dig a hole that is at least twice the width and depth of the root ball. Mound loose soil in the bottom of the hole to bring the tree to ground level, then fill in with soil, checking the tree regularly to make sure it is straight. Water immediately and apply a phosphorus-rich root stimulator to give the new tree a strong start.

Water Generously

Trees are vulnerable to drought and sun the first year after planting. Deep weekly watering and a monthly dose of root stimulator help a new tree become securely established. After that first year, most trees can fend for themselves, although ornamental varieties benefit from early spring pruning and systemic insecticide. Most people water trees too little and prune too much and too often, when actually the reverse strategy is better for the tree.

Prune Sparingly

When pruning, read up on the species of tree before touching it. A few trees must be pruned after they flower, but most trees are pruned in the very early spring while the weather is still very cold, before the leaves come out and before buds form. Prune away dead branches first, making clean cuts with a sharp anvil pruner. Do not leave stubs. Remove root suckers and small branches that cross each other next. Go slowly and stand back frequently to check the tree's appearance. Once a branch is cut, it can't be put back.

Plant trees in the early spring or in the fall, care for them well, then enjoy them for a lifetime!

About the author: Provided by the research team at, home of HP coupons. FatWallet is a bargain hunting website that provides informational forums, and helps consumers find deals, coupons, cash back, and much more!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Bulbs Are Growing

I planted a good number of summer bulbs early this spring, including dahlias, babiana, anenomes, ranunculus, and a few varieties of lilies. Sometimes the bulbs I buy at my local store are smaller and less hardy than bulbs I'd buy at a nursery. I've had a few bulbs that failed to grow from past store purchases. At half price I have to take the chance that the bulbs are going to grow. This year it looks like a number of the bulbs are doing well and growing, partly due to my care in where they are being planted this year.

A number of the bulbs I planted are starting to grow as we get closer to summer. My two small pink dahlias that are in pots on the patio table are sending up green shoots, I can't wait to see the plants in bloom. The nasturtium seeds I planted under the climbing roses are starting to send up leaves, and the nasturtium seeds around the obelisk in the back yard are also sending up leaves. Once I get the nasturtiums established in a few areas in the garden I should never need to buy nasturtium seed again because they produce quite a bit of seed. The pot that had a beautiful display of yellow and purple tulips is now growing the ranunculus bulbs I planted in the same pot. The first flower head came up and was quickly covered by black fly, which I easily rinsed off the flower. There is something about the back yard deck that seems to attract small black fly to the plants there. Luckily the flower is still tightly closed, so it is a warning to keep an eye on the ranunculus as they begin to bloom.

The babiana bulbs I planted in the half-moon shaped planter are starting to come up. Babiana produce really pretty flowers in pinks and purples, the shape of the flowers are similar to freesia with a tall, thin stem, wide shapely leaves, and colorful flowers. There are three terra cotta pots with pink and purple allyssum where the babiana bulbs are planted. Plants that are in these small terra cotta pots tend to dry out fast, its harder to get plants established in them so I'm keeping them watered every few days. I'm hoping finally the pots in the half-moon planter look fuller with the bulbs and allyssum in place. The lilies I planted under the green arbor are starting to grow, they have a number of long leaves in layers on either side that are growing up and out, very similar to the leaves of an amaryllis bulb. I'm looking forward to seeing these lilies bloom in summer.

The hosta I bought last year for $2.00 at my local store was potted up in a container on my deck and came up last season, producing a small amount of leaves. Snails love hosta and it is a battle keeping the leaves clear of them in our back yard. The same problem with the leaves is happening this year, plenty of holes and still small leaves, but this year there is a flower stem that has come up from the center with creamy white flowers. I may eventually need to plant this plant out in the garden since the leaves are being eaten anyway, and see if the hosta grows bigger and does better planted in the ground.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pink Jasmine And Pruning Duties

We spent time in the garden this past weekend, there was a lot of pruning and mowing that needed to happen. Now that the rains finally seem to be over we are getting a later start on our garden clean up. My husband spent quite a bit of time mowing the front and back lawn, then trimming the edges of each yard. I trimmed back the climbing roses, they like to send up tall shoots into the air that make the roses look uneven during the summer. Every two weeks or so I have to cut back the long stems to make the roses look better. Next I started to trim back the pink jasmine vine surrounding the front porch railing. I haven't kept up as well with this vine and pink jasmine grows wildly during spring and summer, its really meant to be crawling up a tall trellis, not a short porch or on the deck like it is in the back yard. I hand trimmed the vine and tried to cut back some of the runners it sends out. I still have some work to go to really totally clean it up but its in better shape now.

My husband decided it would be easier to use the hedge trimmer on the pink jasmine on the back yard deck, he cut the vines back quite a bit, which really gives us a better view now of the back yard. The front yard hedges have to wait until next week since just cutting back the jasmine vines filled our large garden waste container. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to remove the pink jasmine and replace them with a lower growing plant that is easier managed. I hate to dig up a perfectly good vine so hopefully the hedge trimming will keep the pink jasmine vines in better control during spring and summer.

I noticed the trellis boxes look pretty pathetic with only one passionflower vine each in the boxes. Two of the original passionflower vines died off last year. For whatever reason the two pink jasmine vines in the trellis boxes are not doing nearly as well as they do in the rest of the yard. Generally you have to prune them like crazy because of the rampant growth they produce, but they seem to be growing very slowly in the trellis boxes, even with an addition of fertilizer and new dirt every season. I may try again adding nasturtium seeds to grow and fill out the trellis boxes. I added a few nasturtium seeds last spring and they didn't grow which was surprising, I think it's worth one more try to help fill out the sparse vines in the trellis boxes.

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