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Client Resources

Plant Care

We’ve put together some guidelines you can use to successfully take care of your newly planted shrubs and trees as they begin to get established in their new surroundings. These are meant as a baseline with you being the most essential part. It can't be stressed enough how important watering is, especially during the first year.

  • During the first year you’ll probably need to water twice a week, except during extreme heat, when you may need to water every other day.

  • Check your plants each week and water thoroughly if there hasn't been sufficient moisture. Water when the soil; at a depth of 1 to 2 inches around the plant, feels dry to the touch.

  • Water each plant by placing a hose at the base, allowing the water to run slow and long enough to saturate the entire root ball. If the water runs off, just go to another plant and then come back in a few minutes.

  • After the first year established plants may need to be watered every three to four weeks - generally June through September. The required frequency will vary according to soil types.

    • Heavy clay soils, for example, tend to hold water and therefore, need less water.

  • Be sure to water the plants that are close to the house or beneath the overhangs where they receive little or no water.

2. Signs to watch for

  • Some shrubs and trees do not tolerate wet conditions. Probably the easiest plants to kill by over watering are those in the evergreen family. They include:

    • Yews, Pines, Junipers, and broad leaf plants such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Boxwood and Holly, in addition to euonymus varieties and most flowering ornamental trees. This is not to say that these plants necessarily prefer dry conditions, but they seem to be severely affected by "water-logging".

  • If a plant is showing signs of weakening (yellowing of leaves or needles), and you know it's not due to lack of water:

    • Dig into the soil around the ball and check to see if the root system is saturated with excess water. If it is, discontinue watering. It’s suggested that the ground dry out a little between watering to allow oxygen to the roots.

3. Fertilization

  • Plants can be fertilized in the spring (March through April) and in the fall (Oct. through Nov.) with a complete fertilizer that contains at least three major elements: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K).

  • Some fertilizers contain micro nutrients that can be deficient in some soils. Proper fertilization will promote vigorous, healthy plants. Plantings that are growing vigorously are less susceptible to an attack by insects and disease.

  • Individual plant groups within your overall landscape will have different nutrient requirements. These nourishment demands may be supplied to the plants through a wide array of fertilizer materials. You should start your fertilizing program after your plants have been growing for one year.

Pruning Tips

Shrubs, like most plants, come in many shapes and sizes. Depending on a shrub's individual growth habit, and the tastes of the individual gardener, pruning will be approached in a variety of ways.

Understanding the natural shape of a shrub will help to determine how to prune them. All shoots grow outward from their tips. Whenever a tip is removed, lower buds are stimulated to grow. Buds are located at nodes, where leaves are attached to twigs and branches. Each node produces from one to three buds, depending on shrub species.

There are two basic types of pruning cuts,  heading cuts and thinning cuts. Heading cuts stimulate growth of buds closest to the cut. The direction in which the top remaining bud is pointing will determine the direction of new growth. Make heading cuts selectively to reduce shrub height and retain natural form. Prune 1/4 inch above the bud, sloping down and away from it. Avoid cutting too close, or steep, or the bud may die. When pruning above a node with two or more buds, remove the inward-facing ones. Non-selective heading cuts made indiscriminately will stimulate new growth rapidly from buds below the cut. These vigorous shoots are unattractive and make shrubs bushier, but not smaller. A non- selective heading cut is done when using hedge clippers on a hedge or topiary shrub.

Thinning cuts remove branches at their points of attachment. Used in moderation, thinning cuts reduce shrub density without stimulating new growth.  Make thinning cuts just above parent or side branches and roughly parallel to them.

Pruning at different seasons triggers different responses. Late winter or early spring, before buds break, is usually the best time to prune many species because new tissue forms rapidly. However, pruning should be delayed for most spring-blooming shrubs until immediately after flowering to avoid reducing the floral display.

Summer pruning tends to suppress growth of both suckers and foliage. Summer-blooming shrubs should be pruned in early spring prior to bud set, or in summer immediately following flowering.

Late summer or early fall pruning causes vigorous new growth, which in some cases may not harden off by winter, which could lead to possible cold damage. Whenever unexpected damage from vandalism or bad weather occurs, prune at once.

The information that has been provided is not meant to be all inclusive and should be considered as a starting point. Each plant may have different care needs and it is recommended that the care for each plant be thoroughly researched.

Top Care
The control of unwanted weeds or grass is essential to healthy plants in the landscape. The homeowner is the most effective line of defense. Using landscape fabric as an underlay to rock or mulch is not a 100% guarantee that there will not be unwanted growth from weeds or grass. Landscape fabric will not totally eliminate growth on top of or underneath the fabric.

Unwanted growth competes for light, nutrients and water. They should be removed by hand or by applying herbicides. Either which can help keep their growth to a minimum.
Seasonal Tips

The winter solstice has begun, are your trees and shrubs ready?

The arrival of winter means an increased level of care for plants given the changes in light, temperatures and overall growth environment. Adjustments for plant care are necessary to ensure optimal growth. A bit of extra attention during winter will help promote on-going plant health and well being.

Take care to protect the plants from wind, ice and snow. Although a fresh layer of snow on your plants look pretty and act as a blanket, it can damage a plant by its weight, so it’s important not to leave it sitting on plants but to brush it off before the stems become distorted or broken.

A good time to prune trees and shrubs is in early to mid-winter. Waiting until late winter is not a good idea as you could end up removing flower buds that have already set for the upcoming spring season.

With a little care and attention you can successfully over-winter your trees and shrubs.