I hope everyone enjoyed their summer and are preparing for the fall planting season. Of all the seasons, fall is the best time to plant. Planting should be done from mid-September to late October or before the first heavy frost. Here are some tips to ensure that the investment that you are making into your home will survive for years to come.
1. Choose the proper plants for the areas that you will be planting in. Do not buy plants that thrive in shady areas for the middle of your sunny lawn or vice-versa. If you have a question about that, the people at your local nursery should be able to recommend the correct plants.
2. Pick high quality plants- look at the plants closely- most nursery stock is left over from the spring. Check for tip die back, insect damage, disease activity (i.e. Leaf spot, rust) and poor overall health. Plants should be solid in their root balls, with no movement. Check to see if the plants have been regularly watered through the summer months.
3. Cover your plants during transport. If you have a pick up, tie a tarp over the plants to protect them from the wind while driving. Wind can damage the leaves and break small branches.
4. Prepare the planting site- dig the hole 2X the size of the root ball or pot. Slope the sides outward for better root development. Do not amend the soil- peat moss is probably the worst thing that you can put in the planting hole. Peat moss can act like a sponge drawing water away from the roots. If anything is to be added to the hole, I would recommend good quality compost. This will help to introduce microbes and protozoa into the soil that is lacking in most Long Island soils.
5. Before the plant goes into the hole prepare the root systems properly. If the plant came in a pot, score the sides of the root mass and spread it slightly to encourage outward growth. If this is not done, you run the risk of having the root mass retain the shape of the pot. This is almost always a sure death sentence for the plant. If the plant came balled and burlaped, remove as much of the outer wire mesh basket as possible- all is perfect, half is acceptable. Cut down and remove as much of the burlap as possible. Burlap will rot away; however, sometimes it does not rot faster than the tender young roots grow. These roots are the key to the plants survival.
6. Back fill the hole half way. Add organic, granular low nitrogen fertilizer to help stimulate root growth. Fill the rest of the hole with soil. Form a ring of soil around the outer reaches of the root ball to hold water and mulch to the depth of 3 inches.
7. Stake up trees using hanger wire and old rubber hose to protect the bark. This should be removed after the first year.
8. Water the plants immediately and continue watering when we have extended dry spells until the ground freezes.
By following these steps, you can make sure that your investment in your landscape is not wasted.
As always, if there is anything I can help you with, do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.