Home-Yard Landscaping; The Most Frequent Planting

Blunders

Using too much fertilizer; some people seem to think that a strong dose of organic fertilizer will make a newly planted tree grow like and old, already established tree. All they usually succeed in doing is injuring the roots and and making the tree look worse than before. After planting in well-prepare soil, it is best to allow the tree time to establish and start normal growth before applying any kind of fertilizer.

Planting broad-leaved evergreens in too much wind: If you have ever climbed mountain trails, or studied pictures of windswept mountains, you will remember grotesque and tortured pines, fir, spruce, etc. on the ridge. Often all the needle-growth will be on the side of the tree away from the wind, but still they live, for Nature has designed needles so that wind slips through them easily.

So, in very windy yards or in almost any yard where the wind whistles around a corner or through a breezeway a needled evergreen will often survive.

Yet in the same location a perfectly temperature-hardy broad-leaved evergreen may batter badly each winter. Nature just didn't intend most broad-leaved evergreens for windy places. These do much better in quiet locations in the yard. For you see, broad leaves present a surface to the wind like a kite. Particularly when frozen, some leaves may be twirled off by the wind; other leaves may break or bend so that the veins are severed and all or part of the leaf turns brown.

If you have a broad-leaved evergreen in a windy place that is not doing well, why not move it to a more favorable spot ? The east side of the house is often very good. The improvement in a year or two may amaze you !

Planting directly into clay without any soil preparation: Growers seldom think of a plant's root area as a burlapped ball or pot. They think of an azalea as a mass of hair roots. They see a magnolia as a mat of venturesome, asparagus-like roots. When planting in the nursery they use leaf-mold, peat moss or compost for hairy-rooted things and select good friable soil areas for most other types. No organic grower in their right mind would ever set out nursery stock in the kind of clay subsoil that is often found in a new housing development after the bulldozers have been at play. Yet new home owners are often stuck with this type of soil and must make the best of it.Fully half of the dead, or sick landscape plantings which I see these days are caused by innocent homeowners planting shrubbery right into heavy, poor soil. It is against Nature to plant fine-rooted things in other than a well prepared,humusy,loose soil,but it is a lesson costly to learn by experience.

Planting shade-loving shrubs in too much sun: Certainly many azaleas, rhododendrons, andromedas, hollies, dogwoods, etc., are native to woodlands or woods-edges. In their native state they have been protected from strong sun by the shade above, and from strong wind by the density of the forest. So, in our home-yards if we plant them in very windy locations or hot sunny spots, we're just asking for trouble. Note: Try to duplicate growing conditions which prevailed in natural environment.

Mistreating plants from warmer, drier climates: Pyracantha is noted for its showy masses of berries, yet often refuses to berry at all when planted in the shade. It also has a reputation of being hard to transplant. It is easy to understand why these things are true when you consider that pyracantha is native to a semi-desert region of hot sunshine and limited rainfall. Nature has taught it to send roots way down in search of water.

Many homeowners fall in love with Southern shrubs when on vacation and bring a few home. These usually winter burn when planted in cold, windy spots in your yard. Yet things like crepe myrtle and Chinese holly will grow quite far north if planted on the sunny, quite side of the house. This is because the wind-sheltered sunny side of the house really has a climate all its own, a little bit of the South.

Planting too deep: Surface feeder roots of trees and shrubs need aeration. It is natural and good when fallen leaves and twigs form a mulch over the roots in the forests. Natural mulches are loose and permit air to reach the top feeder rootless.

It is unnatural when soil is piled over the roots, shutting out air and often causing root rot and the slow death of the tree. This smothering effect is what makes a big tree die after a year or two when its roots are buried by levelling operations at a new housing development.

When you buy an evergreen the old leaves are healthy because they were grown in good soil at the proper depth. If the new leaves that grow at your home are very small and sickly, it can be the shock of transplanting, but more often it is because of planting too deep. Such sick trees should be dug up and replanted with lots of compost around the roots so that they will have something to push out into that they like. Mulch well on top with 2-inches of leaf mold or peat moss.

We all like to keep from weeding, and thick mulches are a wonderful help. It is well, however, to use mulching materials which have large enough particles or which are naturally loose enough to allow air to pass through.

Letting overgrown shrubbery take over your home: Why do we see so much overgrown shrubbery ? The cause is really quite simple: When the homeowner is faced with a limited budget they have two real choices in landscaping. They may start with smaller-sized things of the type which may be sheared to size or which do not become too large. Then, too, developers add to the problems by landscaping new homes with inexpensive rapid-growing shrubs.

If your shrubbery has become over-grown, or if you have moved into a house with overgrown shrubbery, why not plan to do something about it ? One way is to budget the job, and do one side of the house each year.

The idea of saving overgrown shrubbery, or moving it elsewhere in the yard in these days of high labor cost's, just to save the tree, is often pure foolishness. What's the harm in weeding out undesirable, overgrown shrubbery ? It is no worse than cleaning out underbrush in the woods or mowing an abandoned lot to improve its appearance. Plant something new, interesting and worthwhile. .... Therein lies true conservation.

Now, you don't have to follow a landscape plan to enjoy planting your home. Home-yard landscaping is a joy to each in their own way. Some homeowner like to collect and plant most every kind that they can find so that their yard is like a small arboretum. Others like expanse of lawn and little planting except near the house. Lilacs beside a fence will be every bit as lovely as those in the flower border. A dogwood in full bloom overshadowing that tool shed can be a thing of absolute beauty.

After all, isn't working in the yard a way of getting back to a more natural way of life at least for a few hours each week ? Isn't it a means of losing yourself in something that you wish to do where you can create things in your own way at your own speed in a healthy outdoor atmosphere ? What a relief to come home from office or factory where you have worked at a mechanical pace indoors, and then be able to relax and do what you wish outdoors !

Seems to me that the happiest people these days are those who have opened their minds to some of that curiosity they used to have when they were kids. They ask questions, they visit and talk, they read...,they Team, for the learning is fun. "All learning begin's with the simple pharse,I Don't Know."

Copyright · 1995