Last week I went over the basics of spring lawn care. This week with the colder nights and heavy rains, it is a good time to give your lawn a short vacation and to focus on other areas of the garden.
The wet weather is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs because you will not have to worry about water or making dams around your new plants’ root ball.
For trees, think small and save your back. I do suggest that whatever tree you decide on, to keep in mind how big and beautiful it will be in 10 years.
In general, there are three types of trees you can buy at a nursery:
1. Bare root trees is a great option, but they must be planted very soon after purchase to ensure that they will survive without issues.
2. Potted trees are great, they are instant green and take off very fast, no matter the climate, as long as they have water.
3. Burlap ball trees are my personal favorite, as you get a plant that is growing like a potted tree but the roots have not been confined for more than about a week, so they will begin outward growth immediately.
Choosing the right tree for the right place. Questions to ask yourself:
1. What kind of tree is it? Deciduous or Evergreen?
2. Is the tree a fruit bearer or an ornamental?
3 What is the tree’s maximum height and width?
4. Once full grown, will you be able to prune it properly, or will its branches be out of your reach?
Choosing the right place for a tree.
All trees prefer to have their area from the base out to the drip line, free of grass.
Some trees do well with other ornamental trees, while others prefer solitude.
What purpose will the tree have? Fruit trees are best placed in full sun, and prefer solitude unless it’s near another fruit tree.
Fruit trees prefer wind block areas because their branches rub in the wind. They can get diseases that harm fruit quality and overall health.
Fruit trees do very well when planted to be trained to grow in a trellis, in areas such as South Dakota, where wind is an issue.
Ornamental trees love to be near other trees and shrubs, but do not like to be choked. Choking is when too many plants are growing near the tree.
When choosing a location, always consider how far out the roots will grow. A general rule to use is 1.5 times the diameter of the drip line. The drip line is the farthest point a branch reaches out.
Never plant trees near your foundation- doing so will cause roots to push on your home’s foundation.
If near a sidewalk, know that trees with shallow roots can push up sidewalks.
If the sole purpose is shade, plant the tree to the farthest point out that you will want shade. This way you will not run out of shade before sunset.
Digging your hole:
Your hole should be 2 times the diameter of the root ball or the bare roots, and deep enough to cover all the roots but not the base of the trunk.
When filling in the hole, pack the dirt firmly but do not compact the soil. A good compost can also be incorporated into the hole but be sure to mix the compost with the soil.
For stability, for the first two years all trees should be staked in four directions with tree stakes, staking wrap, and cord. This wrap will ensure the tree survives elements such as wind burn. The stakes and cord will hold the tree straight until it is rooted.
Prune your fruit trees in late fall after harvest but before winter.
Prune to ensure branches do not cross over each other and that air flow is maintained with fall pruning.
Ornamental trees will bloom the following year and fruit trees will fruit the second or third.
Follow these same guidelines for shrubs and you will enjoy your garden more with less effort.
Next week I will go over more on planters and vegetable gardens.