Landscaping and GardeningPLANTING AND LOCATION the graph paper Site Inventory found inside theA beautiful landscape is a vital part of your front and back coverhome and community. A well-planned of this guide. If youlandscape can save you money by reducing don’t have a longenergy consumption. It also improves the tape measure, a 25quality of your local stream or pond and foot or 50 foot longbecomes a delightful place to spend your time. garden hose or overgrownPLANNING AHEAD measured piece of shrub streetBefore you start to dig, it is wise to plan. The string will work. bare spot sidewalklaw requires you to call MISS Utility before This sketch is usefulstarting major excavations. Look around your for making an house porchproperty and assess its physical conditions — inventory of anywhat is shaded, what is rocky, where is it trouble spots youwindy, where is the grass soggy day after day. might have or places drivewayIf the project is larger than you can handle, hire you want to barea gardener, landscape designer, or landscape preserve. Keep the spotarchitect, or work with the staff from a local sketch and add garagenursery to develop a plan. changes you make over time. It canA simple sketch of your property showing the existing shade unpruned serve as a handy tree low spot ugly hedgelocation of buildings, driveways, sidewalks, (collects tree companion to your water)streets, terraces or decks, septic fields, and weeds and record sheet, found overgrowntrees, shrubs, gardens, and lawns is a good shrubs on page 77 of thisstarting point. book.You can make your own custom plan with Step One Startthese three easy steps. Before starting, collect with your builder’sa ruler, a tape measure, and several copies of NORTH plan or a copy of Landscaping and Gardening 19
your plat plan. These plans diagram the shape the builder’s plan may have changed during WHAT DO YOU WANT AND HOWof your lot, its dimensions, where your house, construction. If you have such plans, double DOES IT FIT?sidewalk, driveway, and garage are located, and check their measurements. Use the guide Make a wish list of items you would like toany easements you will need to avoid. included below in “Measuring Your Yard” to include in your design. Perhaps you have figure out what dimensions you will need. always wanted a pond. Do you have enoughStep Two Measure your lot and home. Use space? What is the drainage pattern? Are youra long tape measure, your garden hose, or Step Three Draw your home, garage, soils appropriate? Or perhaps you want tostring. The dimensions or locations shown on driveway, sidewalk, pool, patio, and other grow fruits and vegetables. Where is a sunny features on the graphMeasuring Your Yard spot? paper you copied from this book. You It is okay to make changes to an existing will have to convert landscape. Perhaps that tiny holly tree you your measurements planted ten years ago at the corner of your to make a scaled house is now threatening to obscure your front t ee Starting point m str for all drawing. Use an door. Or those lovely shrubs that were so fro measurements ce ordinary ruler or a appealing when they were 3 feet tall now cover tan use r ub (look for an iron dis ho sh pipe on your to plat and in the special scaled ruler your kitchen window and block the morning ground). known as an sun. One of the delights of growing things is gth lot lk wa len us e lot engineer’s scale. the element of surprise every living thing wid o ho et ho th lin The unit of presents. But some surprises wear better than lot us an e m us e fro street c e ho ds measurement for others. Be bold and take charge. The only tan ide drive dis wa wa your diagram is an caution is if you are new to an established lk inch. As long as you landscape, consider waiting a year before y are consistent, you making changes. During that year, study the can equate any land and its plants. Learn what blooms when, ga number of feet with where sun travels through the day and the rag bare sp spot e one inch. seasons, and what remains shady and cool or ec garage ial alk cold year round. After this year of observation, ew tre sid If you have a small e you can make educated decisions about the ra ge lot, equate 10 feet ga y appropriate changes to make. with every inch on sh wa ve rub tre e dr i your ruler. On a Now that you have made your list, studied your s large lot, you might land, and become more eager to improve your need to equate 30 site, where do you start? There are many feet with every inch things to consider when choosing a site for the on your ruler. construction of something on your wish list. Walk around your piece of land and note NORTH answers to the following questions.20 You and Your Land
• Do you have wet spots or dry areas? What this book (see pages 57-68) for recommended for a reason is a cost-effective use of your time, are the soils like? species for the region. labor, and money. Specific plant genus and• Are there any spots protected from wind or species appropriate for the following Plants are known by both a botanical name and hot summer sun? Do you have frost applications are listed in the plant tables. a common name. The botanical name is in pockets? What are the microclimatic Latin and most often consists of two words: the Planting a Screen or Windbreak A conditions? genus and the species, sometimes followed by screen or windbreak planting provides privacy• Does your land tilt? Are your slopes a variety. Frequently, the same plant has and protection for your yard, porch, or garden. steep? several common• What direction does your land face? Does it names. If you don’t Site Plan mostly receive hot sun in the late afternoon? use the botanical• Where do people walk? name when selecting Tree planted• Where do you have good views? Where are for shade and Small trees and purchasing sculptural or shrubs the views you don’t enjoy as much? quality in the used to plants, you may be front yard. define street• Do you have utilities on your land? edge. surprised later when The patio or deck• Where does the rain go when it falls on your provides transition it blooms. For between the house land? Do you have any erosion problems? (inside rooms) and example, you might outside.Matching your wish list with the specific call a nursery and A groundcover sidewalk edge to lawnconditions of your land will get you started. ask for a Burning provides contrast in texture. street Bush. Instead of aCHOOSING PLANTS shrub commonly“Choose the right plant for the right place” are known as Burning porch flowerswords to guide your plant selection process. Bush (EuonymusFactors that will influence this decision include driveway alatus), you mightyour climatic zone (Virginia falls in Zones 5, 6, get there and see a patio7, or 8 — see drawing on page 3); specific site perennial known as garageconditions and the plant’s hardiness; the Burning Bushpotential size and growth rate of a particular (Dictamnus albus).species; and a plant’s shape, form, and texture. Planting in clumps To help you avoid Shade for vegetables or massingsA tree that is petite and dainty at planting time summer provides continuity. this problem, the cooling. The use of toomay grow into a 100-foot towering specimen. many different kinds plant tables give of trees and shrubsA fast-growing tree may be weak wooded and Stepping stones can make a space both a common and can be used in feel disjointed andshort-lived. As always, watch out for mail- Evergreens and a fence transition areas appear smaller. a botanical name. or wall combination can between frontorder plants that seem too good to be true; they be used to screen yard and back neighbors, provide yard.probably are. Your best bet is to find a local PLANTING FOR privacy, and establish walls of an outdoornursery with a knowledgeable staff and use A REASON room. If ground is wet, use plants adapted toreputable mail-order sources for more unusual Plantings serve wet conditions. NORTHspecies. Refer to the plant tables in the back of many uses. Planting Landscaping and Gardening 21
Plantings reduce your home’s energy north- and east-facing slope will receive are rarely needed. As few as three trees aroundconsumption by providing shade, reflecting considerably less sunlight and be much cooler your home can cut air conditioning bills insolar rays, and providing barriers to snow, rain, than a south- and west-facing slope which will half.and wind. Selecting the appropriate plant is be hot and dry. Planting for Pedestrian Traffic Controlcritical to the long-term success of your screen Planting for Erosion Control Areas that The right plant can provide a barrier toor windbreak. The wrong plant may have been disturbed need protection with fast- unwanted foot traffic. Plants with thorns,overwhelm the site and be expensive to growing grasses, groundcovers, or mulch. dense and twiggy shrubbery, and moundedremove. Remember to think of your neighbors groundcovers can guide pedestrians to theirand the effects of your planting on their Planting for Wildlife Conservation actions destinations.properties. for wildlife habitat improvement can be incorporated in any planting. These plantings Cover Crops A cover crop may be requiredPlanting in a Wet Spot Sometimes it is may reduce the need for fertilizers and for larger areas or in a winter garden. Thesebetter to accept your site’s drainage conditions pesticides and enhance water and energy crops, referred to as green manure, can addthan to try to change them. If you have a soggy savings. Maintenance requirements can be organic matter to the soil, improving fertility ifspot, choose plants that thrive with wet feet. reduced if you allow the plants’ natural form to left in place for six months to a year. LegumesYou may even want to redirect your excess be exhibited. Group the plantings as they are are especially efficient because they “fix”storm runoff to this low spot, and allow the found in the wild: an understory of shrubs and nitrogen from the air into the soil. After thewater to slowly seep into the ground. small trees, a forest floor covered with summer garden crops have been harvested andPlanting on Slopes Hillsides or sloped perennials and groundcovers, all beneath a stalks and vines removed, lightly till the gardenareas provide different conditions that may forest canopy of tall trees. Plant a hedgerow of to prepare a seed bed, incorporating lime andaffect plant selection and growth. Soils on mixed species for a screen or in an area that fertilizer if necessary. Cover crops such as ryehillsides can be excessively well-drained, gets little use. Plants adapted to the local grass are usually planted in the fall to protectproviding little moisture to plants. Often, climatic and soil conditions are likely to be soil from wind and water erosion. Broadcasthardy erosion-control shrubs are needed. A more resistant to disease. Chemical controls the cover crop seed, rake lightly to cover it, and then irrigate. Where you have fall cropsWildlife Habitat growing, sow cover crop seeds between rows a mixed woodland month or less before the expected harvest, but not later than November 1. A hardy species that survives the winter will resume growth as riparian vegetation the weather begins to warm. Do not let it go to seed. Cover crops and green manure are usually turned under in the spring before planting. If the crop is tall or thick, mow it old field meadow prior to tilling, especially legumes that may clog machinery. Leave the clippings on your stream garden, so they also may be turned under to help condition your soil. For large gardens, a22 You and Your Land
rototiller is the most practical way to rosemary in December? Or do you cherish the Avoid excessive irrigation following the rare camellia in February? With a bit ofincorporate any type of cover crop. The crop application of chemicals or fertilizers. Runoffshould be turned under two to three weeks ingenuity, you can extend your area’s climatic could carry these pollutants into nearbybefore planting new seed. zone range. Create a windbreak by planting on streams and drainageways. the leeward side of a building or wall,Planting to Extend the Microclimate Do Time of Day Water deeply in the early sheltering more fragile and delicate plants fromyou yearn for a home-grown fig? Fresh morning hours. The air is relatively cool and cold winter winds. Plant in Windbreak and Energy Conservation Plantings front of a south-facing wall Measuring Irrigation Applications or slope where the spring Plan and fall sun warms the soil Use a simple experiment to determine and keeps frosts from how fast and how deep water soaks into damaging sensitive plants. your soil. • Apply a known amount of water with FOR MORE your water system when the soil is INFORMATION relatively dry. • Virginia Cooperative • Wait for the water to soak in fully: one Extension hour for sandy soils, two to four hours Use light-colored • Virginia Native Plant roof materials for loam, and four to six hours for that help reflect Large, deciduous Society sunlight. shade trees shade clayey soils. house from • Virginia Department ofNORTH summer sun. • Next, dig several small holes, measure Forestry the depth of the moist soil, and average Keep ground • National Wildlife plane thinned the depths. To be less destructive, use to allow air to Federation, Backyard circulate a screwdriver, which will easily around Habitat Program house. penetrate the wetted soil and meet resistance in the dry soil below.Summer Section Use overhangs for shade. IRRIGATION With this new knowledge, you can figure Water your lawn and out how much water to apply. (Otherwise plantings only when know as the application rate.) Set buildings needed. Use drip irrigation into hillside. • Place several rain gauges at random in cold north whenever possible around the irrigated area for a determined wind Deciduous plantings and match the length of time (usually one hour). trees allow sun to irrigation level to the • Average the water levels in the gauges penetrate and warm specific plant’s needs. and divide it by the length of time to house. Newly transplanted plants determine your sprinkler rate in inchesUse evergreens and/or outbuildings to buffer cold north winds. will require more water per hour.Winter Section than established plants with • Water wisely! a mature root system. Landscaping and Gardening 23
moist, reducing water loss to evaporation. Late precisely calibrated, and reduces weeds by years of precious tree-growing time may beevening watering may encourage mildew and watering only desirable plants. Problems can lost before the mistake is realized.disease on plants. occur if rodents damage the tubing or the PLANTING tubing becomes clogged. The system is notLength of Time Three factors affect the Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs in the easily portable.length of time required for adequate irrigation: dormant season while there are no leaves onthe depth of watering, the application rate, and Hand watering requires no special equipment the plant. Early spring, before new growththe amount of water needed. and applies water to targeted areas. Often, begins, is the most favorable time. Evergreens though, too much water is applied too quickly, can be planted any time the ground is notThe amount of water needed varies with your which causes runoff and results in frozen, but the optimum time is September orsoil type. To estimate the amount of water underwatering. Plants can be harmed if they October. March or April is the next bestneeded, figure the depth of watering and do not receive adequate amounts of water planting time. For best results, transplantcalculate how much water is necessary to wet slowly. Instead of roots growing deeply, they younger trees.the soil to the desired depth. Divide the reach toward the surface, creating a demand foramount of water required in inches by the Plants are packed for sale in three ways. frequent watering cycles. A 5-gallon bucketapplication rate of your sprinkler to determine • Balled and burlapped (B&B) with small holes in the bottom placed next tothe number of hours your system must operate. • Container grown the plant will allow water to slowly drain intoFor example, if your system applies .5 in./hr. • Bare root the soil, encouraging deep root growth. Aand you need to apply 1 inch of water, 1 inch garden hose turned on very low and left for Balled and burlapped and container growndivided by .5 in./hr. equals 2 hours. If runoff several hours is an easy way to slowly soak a plants can be transplanted any time of the year,occurs, turn the system off for an hour or two, single planting. although the hottest, driest days of summeror even a day if necessary, to let the water soak should be avoided. Bare root plants generallyin. Then apply the rest of the water. Irrigating with Well Water If you use well are less expensive and should be planted during water, be careful to not over-water and causeTypes of Irrigation Sprinklers are very the dormant season. If you are unable to plant your well to go dry. Install a low-pressurecommon and provide even coverage over large immediately after obtaining plants, prevent the switch that will automatically shut down theareas. However, they can be difficult to use on roots from drying out by watering them and well if too much water is being consumed.slopes and often waste water because of the storing them out of direct sunlight in a coollarge amount of evaporation that occurs. place. Protect bare-root plants by temporarilySprinklers are hard to control and may cause TREES AND SHRUBS planting (heeling) them in the soil.excessive runoff. Operating sprinklers late in Trees are the most permanent plants we grow. Trees and shrubs need a wide and shallowthe day may increase plant diseases because Many will live and enhance the landscape for planting hole. For a tree, dig a hole three timesthe leaves don’t dry quickly without sunlight. 100 or more years if they are given a chance. wider than the diameter of the roots or root ballAnother type of irrigation places water directly Because of the relative permanency and and no deeper than the roots or root ball. Digat the plant’s roots, reducing losses to importance of trees, take care to select the best a hole twice as wide as the root diameter for aevaporation. This type includes soaker hoses, tree species for each situation. The wrong tree, shrub and no deeper than the root ball.trickle systems, and drip irrigation. It can be or one planted in the wrong spot, can actually NEVER plant it deeper than it was originally.used in irregularly shaped areas, can be detract from the overall landscape. Five to ten Do not dig, loosen, or amend the soil under the24 You and Your Land
root ball. In poorly-drained, heavy soils, select tends to accumulate, select from the limited Balled and Burlapped Shrub Plantinga plant that will readily adapt to the site. Set number of plants that tolerate these conditions,the root ball 1 to 2 inches higher than the or improve the site with underground drainage,surrounding soil. Once settling has occurred, and regrade to alter the surface runoff. Use 2-3 in. ofthe plant will remain above the original soil mulch. Keep Once the planting hole is dug, remove the pot away fromlevel. Mound the soil from the existing grade trunk. from container grown plants. Insert a sharpup to the soil level of the tree or shrub where it knife about 1/3 of the way into the root ball,was originally growing. In areas where water Fold back make three vertical slits on the sides of the soil, burlap. and make an “x” on the Remove wire or stringTree Planting bottom. This will mesh. Dig 2 times wider than the root ball. encourage new root growth outward into the new soil. If the cuts are not made, the Container Grown Shrub Planting roots will continue growing in a circle around the plant, Remove container. eventually girdling and Cut roots as shown to killing it. Remove any keep them from synthetic material, twine, growing in a circle. tags, or wire, and roll back any cotton burlap on balled Add 2-3 in. of and burlapped root balls. mulch. Keep away from Do not knock the soil off trunk. the root ball. Bare root Dig 2 times wider than the root ball.Do not wrap or stake trees should have the rootstree. spread out in the hole.Use 2-3 in. of mulch.Keep away from Firmly pack the soil around Bare Root Shrub Plantingtrunk. the roots or root ball.Add water to settle soil. Heavily water when the Plant lateCreate a well around hole is 3/4 full of soil to fall or earlyroot ball to contain water spring.and mulch. eliminate all air pockets and to provide for better Use 2-3 in. of mulch. KeepScore edges of hole. away from root-soil contact. Fill the trunk.Remove wire basketand cut away twine. hole, building a ring of soil 2 to 3 inches high aroundLeave soil pedestal. the outside edge of the hole Dig 3 times wider than root ball. to hold moisture. Fill Dig 2 times wider than the root spread. Landscaping and Gardening 25
again. Most homeowners over-water newly and boxwood. If this is your model and you • Keeping them healthy — pruning is vital forplanted materials. Wait until the top inch of must shear, make the bottom of your hedge removing dead, dying, or diseased wood.soil has dried before watering again. Remove wider than the top. This will allow the entire Any dying branch or stub can be an entrybroken or crossing branches after planting, but surface of the hedge to get sun and continue to point or buildup chamber for insects orwait one or two years for additional pruning. grow. In all other cases, a natural shape is best diseases, which can readily spread to other for plants. Thinning a shrub involves the parts of the plant.PRUNING removal of entire branches at their junction • Improving flowers and fruit — pruningPruning is essential for attractive, healthy trees with another branch or the trunk. This opens reduces the amount of old wood in trees andand shrubs and improves the quality of flowers, the plant to sunlight and air, encouraging shrubs and thus diverts energy into thefruit, and foliage. The best way to avoid growth from the center of the shrub, while production of larger, though possibly fewer,difficult pruning jobs is to plan ahead; select reducing the shrub’s overall size. Most plants flowers and/or fruit. Properly timed pruningplants that will fit available space after the respond best to selective pruning. This is will improve the quality of fruit, foliage, andplants have matured to their maximum size. healthier for the plant and gives a more natural stems.What Should Your Plant Look Like? appearance. When Should You Prune? Most pruningThe landscape of Virginia’s formal gardens is Why Prune a Plant? There are three is done in late winter or early spring to give thefilled with sheared hedges of hemlock, privet, reasons to prune the plants on your land. maximum time for the wounds to heal.Shrub Pruning • Training — some pruning may be necessary However, there are many exceptions. SpringBefore at the time of planting to shape your tree or blooming shrubs should be pruned after shrub. Remove broken and crossed flowering, but those that bloom in the summer Remove awkward branches, but avoid excessive pruning at or fall should be pruned in winter. Use renewal horizontal branches. transplanting as it tends to retard plant pruning on multiple-stemmed plants like Prune leggy growth and inhibit survival. forsythia. Young growth produces more leader shoots. Hedge Pruning Pruning Don’ts! Remove inside shoots. Practices to avoid: • Stubbing the cut. Instead, prune just above a healthy Cut suckers. bud, with the bud pointing Shear or hand prune hedge by in the direction you want making the shape the plant to grow.After wider at the base • Tree topping — cutting all and tapering to the top of the plant. the branches close to the For shrubs trunk. If the tree survives, like: Right Wrong many suckers will replace Azaleas what you removed. Forsythia Photinia For hedges like: • Cutting flush to the trunk. Junipers Boxwood Leave the branch collar. Privet Hemlock • Pruning sealers on cuts. Research shows that the tree’s own sealer in its branch collar is more effective against decay.26 You and Your Land
vigorous flowers, so each spring after summer. Remove dead or diseased wood at organic mulch or compost around plantings isflowering, remove 1/3 of the oldest and tallest any time necessary. an excellent source of nonchemical fertilizer.stems near ground level to encourage A soil test for fertility and pH level will WHAT TOOLS SHOULD YOU USEdevelopment of new stems. Some shrubs such determine the appropriate type and application FOR PRUNING?as roses are reduced in size by pruning rate for fertilizing. Cut branches the size of your thumb or smallerindividual branches. Trees such as elm, maple, with a hand pruner. Slant the cut to promote Fertilizers are salts, much like table salt, exceptbirch, dogwood, and walnut bleed freely if healing and prevent the collection of water on that they contain various plant nutrients.pruned in late winter, so prune them in early the cut. Remove branches Nitrogen is important for leaf and stem growthTree Pruning over 1 inch in diameter and provides the rich, green color in a plant. with a pruning saw or Phosphorus provides for root and flower lopper. Use the three-cut growth. Too much phosphorus will method to prevent the bark contaminate the local streams and from tearing. Any shearing drainageways; it has been banned from laundry may be done with hedge detergents for this reason. Potassium helpsPrune dual leader shears. Keep your tools build plant tissue and aids the production ofbranches. sharp to make your work chlorophyll. easier and to make smooth, Fertilizing Trees Trees that are not thriving even cuts. because of poor soils may respond to moderate FERTILIZING applications of fertilizer after the first hard Are you wasting money on frost in the fall. Measure the diameter of the fertilizer? Gardeners tree’s trunk 4 feet above the ground. For eachPrune branchesgrowing towards frequently injure theirtrunk. plants with too much or too What Is Fertilizer?Remove V-shaped many applications ofcrotches.Prune broken fertilizer. Misapplied All fertilizers you purchase at the storebranches. fertilizer will wash into are labeled with three numbers such as streams and drainageways 10-10-10. These three numbers give the and encourage unwanted percentage by weight of plant and algae growth in the water. New plants • nitrogen (N)Use the three-cut should not be fertilized for • phosphorus (P)method to preventthe bark from 6 to 12 months. Trees in • potassium (K)tearing. the lawn area may never need fertilizing if a turf The nutrients are listed in the order theyPrune suckers. fertilizer program is appear: N-P-K. followed. A decomposed Landscaping and Gardening 27
inch of diameter, apply 2 pounds of a 5-10-5 equal parts of dry soil or sand, and distribute in shrub and send it into nearby streams orformula. Spread the fertilizer over the feeder each hole. Water the area to encourage the drainageways, wasting your money and timeroots, located in a band around the tree, starting fertilizer to move out into the soil from the and harming the watershed.about 6 to 8 feet from the trunk and extending holes. Fill the top portion of each hole with If you apply fertilizer in the late summer andout 10 feet beyond the ends of the branches. rich garden loam. The treatment should not early fall before the frost, your plants are likelyApply water liberally to wash the fertilizer into have to be repeated for several years. to have a growth spurt. This will encouragethe ground, using care that the fertilizer does Fertilizing Shrubs Most shrubs do not vigorous tender growth late in the season,not wash away. require fertilizer to thrive. Don’t fertilize which may be killed by cold weather in earlyTrees with trunk diameters greater than 3 shrubs that are making satisfactory growth. A winter. A dry summer followed by a rainyinches, measured 4 feet above the ground, may soil test will indicate when you should add autumn may also promote late growth that isbenefit from fertilizer placed in holes around nutrients and in what amounts. However, if tender to cold. Such conditions may also causethe tree. Make the holes with a punch bar soil test information is not available and your flowers to open in the fall on shrubs thatwhen the soil is moist after a period of rain or plant’s appearance warrants — its leaves are typically bloom in the spring.sprinkler irrigation. For each inch of trunk off-green or yellowish and its twigs are short MULCHINGdiameter, mix 3 pounds of 5-10-5 formula with and thin — apply about one cup of a 5-10-5 Mulching reduces weeds, prevents erosion, fertilizer to medium-sizedFertilizing Trees moderates the soil temperature, and helps shrubs (4 to 8 feet tall) in maintain soil moisture. Many materials are Make the fall after the first hard concentric suitable for mulch. Organic materials such as circles around frost. Small shrubs (under the tree for shredded bark, peat moss, leaves, pine straw, hole spacing. 3 feet tall) need about half Start circles and wood chips are commonly used. There are 6-8 ft. from this much, and shrubs trunk and some artificial materials available. continue at 2 ft. larger then 8 feet require intervals until 10 ft. beyond twice as much. Uniformly When mulching, leave 4 inches clear around outer branches. apply the fertilizer over the the trunk of larger plants, and maintain no Punch 8 in. root zone, starting about 6 more than 2 to 3 inches of mulch around your deep holes into moist soil. inches from the base of the Space holes 24 Mulching in. apart along shrub and extending out the circles. about a foot beyond the Fill holes with fertilizer/sand ends of the branches. Soak mix and cover with topsoil. the fertilizer into the Water after treatment. ground with a gentle spray Leave ground bare 4 in. between trunk and edge of of water to avoid burning mulch bed. the plant’s roots with the fertilizer salts. Too much mulch 2-3 in. water too fast will wash the deep tree trunk fertilizer far from your28 You and Your Land
trees and shrubs. Excessive mulching provides • Physical damage to trunk and branches FOR MORE INFORMATIONan excellent home for mice that will feed on • Change in groundwater table • Virginia Cooperative Extensionand kill your plants during the winter. Feeder • Virginia Department of Forestry The spring before construction begins, fertilizeroots will tend to grow in the mulch and will be and prune. Prior to beginning construction,more susceptible to drought and winter GROUNDCOVERS, erect a fence (snow fencing, plastic netting, orfreezing. plywood sheets with 2 x 4s) around the areas to PERENNIALS, VINES, &PROTECTING TREES AND SHRUBS be protected. Be sure to include the outer ORNAMENTAL GRASSESConstruction Sites Protect your landscape edge of the tree canopy — the drip line. To These plants add color and interest to yourfrom damage during construction. avoid soil compaction, don’t allow equipment property and may reduce maintenance once or materials to be stored within the fenced area.The following actions may result in injury to established. They can carpet your land, Once soil compaction occurs, there is little youtrees and shrubs. highlight and feature its assets, and screen its can do to remedy this problem.• Addition of soil to, or the removal of soil unattractive spots. Hundreds of varieties with from, the tree’s root zone Animals and Equipment To protect varying colors, textures, and growth habits are• Storage of fill under your trees against damage caused by animals or available.• Compaction of soil equipment, install loose-fitting guards to Groundcovers are useful to reduce the area that protect tree trunks. LawnMulches requires mowing and weeding and to protect mowers and weedeatersMATERIALS NOTES slopes from erosion. For the best effect, may cut your tree’s trunk.Compost May contain weed seeds, pest larvae, or eggs. groundcovers should be perennial, low These guards should allowWood Shavings Can cause nitrogen deficiencies if not well maintenance, long lasting, attractive, and for adequate airand Sawdust decomposed. Low in plant nutrients, compacts, and interesting year-round. Avoid invasive plants; circulation. Do not wrap decomposes slowly. May encourage termites. what is fast and delightful the first year will be Keep away from buildings. trees, unless there is a a real maintenance nightmare the fifth year.Hay, Straw, and Not as attractive as other mulches. Can provide serious threat ofGrass Clippings nutrients if used repeatedly. Source of weed seeds. sunscalding. Thin-barked Seasonal CareLeaves Decompose rapidly. Excellent source of organic trees planted in spring or(whole or matter and high in nutrients. Oak leaves beneficial summer into hot or pavedshredded) to azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons. Spring Care Dark mulch and soil will areas may benefit from absorb the spring sun warming thePeat Moss Easily available and clean. Excellent for improving soil structure. Can be costly if covering a large wrapping if a white wrap is ground. It is okay to remove extra leaves, area. used. If wraps must be straw or other materials used for winterShredded Very attractive. Often available at low cost. May used, remove them within plant protection. Be sure to removeHardwood Bark encourage termites. Keep away from buildings. one year. Wrapping trunks weeds.Gravel and Do not add organic matter to soil. Long lasting and increases the risk of insect,Stone durable in high-traffic areas. Attractive when used in Fall Care Fall plantings can be disease, and water damage. rock gardens. protected by adding a mulch that trapsPine Needles Durable mulch. Create acidic conditions. Use heat and will delay the freezing of the soil. around azaleas and rhododendrons. Do not absorb water. Landscaping and Gardening 29
Perennials are plants that return year after year. grasses and wildflower seeds. Although after planting. Weeds will squeeze out newThe foliage frequently dies back every fall and advertised as easy and fast, a lush meadow will plants before they have a chance to grow.reappears in the spring. Planted in masses, take some effort to establish. Mulching A 2 to 3 inch-deep mulch aroundthey provide color and interest to a border or a PLANTING new plantings is a good defense against weeds.garden. They require more maintenance than Spring planting is recommended for most Mulches not completely decomposed, such asannuals to keep them thriving year-round. groundcovers and other herbaceous plants. If wood shavings, will draw nitrogen from theThey need to be weeded and mulched and planted in the summer, water frequently. soil. To avoid damaging the plant, add moreshould be divided every two to three years. nitrogen to the plantings. Selecting Plants Many of these plantsAnnuals are plants that flower and live for one require a mixture of direct sunlight and shade. Fertilizing Unless otherwise recommendedseason. They require little care and can be Knowing the amount of sunlight and shade by soil test results, work a slow release 5-10-10grown from seed or purchased as plants. View available is essential before you plant. Be sure or 10-10-10 fertilizer into the soil beforethem as a collection of paint pots to be used to to identify the mature size, growth habit, and planting. Be sure to follow application rates oncolor your garden or deck. And if you don’t water requirements before planting a large the packaging. Over-fertilizing will encouragelike the result, you can start fresh next year. number of plants. (These features are often weeds, pollute runoff, and burn the roots ofVines are annuals, perennials, or groundcovers listed on the plant’s tag at the nursery.) your new plants.that climb. They are valued as screens, as Spacing Each plant will grow at a different FOR MORE INFORMATIONcanopies on trellises, and as features in a rate, some slower and others faster. The list on • Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mastergarden. this page estimates the number of plants Gardener ProgramOrnamental grasses have become popular needed to cover an area with a specific spacing.landscape plants. Requiring low maintenance LAWNS Preparation Competition is keen for soiland ranging in size from a small pincushion to nutrients and water. Soils must be well-drained Producing quality lawns in Virginia can be atall and columnar, they provide a sturdy and yet retain enough water and nutrients to challenge, yet almost everyone tries. Manysteady ornamental planting. Meadow plantings provide for healthy growth. Add organic alternatives to a lawn are available today — aare another popular landscaping technique. matter such as peat, compost, or manure as 1/3 natural meadow, a butterfly garden, a grove ofThese are a mixture of prairie and meadow of the total soil mix. To achieve this, add 2 trees with an understory of rhododendrons, aSpacing and Coverage for Bedding Plants inches of organic matter and till to a depth of 6 flowering groundcover, or a stone terrace.SPACING 100 PLANTS inches. If tilling is not possible because of the However, sometimes only a lawn will do — for 4 in. 11 sq. ft. slope or size of the area, provide a pocket of baseball games, for croquet, for a putting 6 in. 25 sq. ft. well-mixed soil around each plant to give it a green, or for a baby crawling. So if you must 8 in. 44 sq. ft. strong start. plant and nurture a lawn, here is some advice. 10 in. 70 sq. ft. 12 in. 100 sq. ft. MAINTAINING Geographically, Virginia is located in what is 15 in. 156 sq. ft. The most important aspect of establishing and known as the transition zone for turfgrasses. 18 in. 225 sq. ft. maintaining groundcovers and other This means the climate can be hostile to both 24 in. 400 sq. ft. herbaceous plants is to control weeds right cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, turf-30 You and Your Land
type tall fescue) and warm-season grasses Lime Turfgrasses do not perform well in done under these conditions, keep the turf(bermudagrass, zoysiagrass). However, with acidic soil, and most soils in Virginia are acidic moist and use water to cool the soil.proper cultural practices and some work, a and below pH 6.2, the ideal pH for lawns. The Thoroughly water the sod as it is laid.healthy lawn can be established and presence of moss is an indication of an acidic SELECTING THE BEST METHODmaintained. soil. The amount of lime recommended to Seed vs. Sod A quality lawn containing the raise the soil pH to 6.2 will be based on yourGrass may be established from seed, sprigs, recommended mixtures and species can be soil test. The lime should be tilled into the soilplugs, or sod. The method depends on the established with either seed or sod. Successful, to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. If a soil testgrass species desired, the environmental weed-free establishment is more difficult with indicates low available magnesium levels, useconditions, time constraints, and financial seed than with sod. Also, because of the time dolomitic limestone.considerations. Be sure to use only certified required for germination and root growth ofseed and sod so you end up with what you Fertilizer When applying the fertilizer seed, the area is exposed to erosion. Soddingintended. The same requirements for soil recommended in the soil test, till in 2/3 of the practically eliminates such problems, anpreparation apply for all methods. amount to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. The especially important factor on steep slopes. remaining 1/3 should be applied to the surfaceESTABLISHING YOUR NEW LAWN Seeding and Mulching Start by preparing just prior to seeding, then lightly raked into theSoil Test Always begin with a soil test. This a smooth, firm seedbed. Rake the seedbed to soil.will determine which nutrients are available in create shallow, uniform depressions (rows)the soil and will provide liming and Weed Control Any perennial broadleaf or about 1/4 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart.fertilization recommendations. grassy weeds should be eliminated prior to Divide your seed in half; sow the first half of planting by properly applying a herbicide. the seed in one direction (north/south); sow theSoil Preparation If you are grading a new Dispose of remaining herbicides properly and remaining seed in the opposite direction (east/lawn area, save the topsoil by moving it and clean up thoroughly. west). Cover the seed by raking lightly. Mulchstockpiling it for later use. The ground shouldslope away from buildings. Before replacing When Should You Plant? You’ll have the Plugging and Spriggingthe topsoil and planting, let the area settle most success with grass seeding if you do it atduring two or three heavy rains. Fill low spots certain times of the year when the temperature, Use for a warm-season lawn in thein the yard where water collects with additional moisture, and day length are most favorable for eastern portion of the watershed.soil. Remove debris, large rocks, and rotting establishing cool-season or warm-season Zoysiagrass and bermudagrass can bewood from the site. grasses. Cool-season turfgrasses are best established using either plugs or sprigs. seeded in late summer; early spring seedings Fit the plugs tightly into precut holes on 6Once the ground has settled, spread your are prone to damage from crabgrass invasions to 12 inch centers and tamp into place.stockpiled topsoil and any additional organic and summer drought. Warm-season turfgrasses Broadcast and lightly disk or press sprigsmatter evenly over the entire lawn area 6 to 8 are best established from May to July. into shallow rows on 6 to 12 inch centersinches deep. If you don’t have enough topsoil,mix what is available with organic material Sod can be installed during most of the year, and cover with soil. Sprigging rates forinto the upper inches of the subsoil by tilling. except when the turf or the ground is frozen. bermudagrass and zoysiagrass rangeWork the lime and fertilizer into the top 4 to 6 Delay installation during the really hot and dry from 7 to 10 bushels per 1,000 squareinches of soil. periods of the summer. If sodding must be feet. Landscaping and Gardening 31
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