Plant Care Resources
Whether brand new or newly renovated, your landscaping is an
investment in the value of your home. You can protect the value of your
investment by following the helpful tips listed below, thereby
guaranteeing that you will enjoy your new landscaping for years to
Properly watering you new landscape is essential to its survival,
especially in Central Illinois where recent summers have featured
Check plants to see if they need watering by sticking your
finger 2-3 inches into the soil at the base of the plant. If the soil
is cool and moist, your plants should be fine for the moment. However,
if the soil is dry and crumbly to the touch, turn your hose on to a
pencil size trickle at the base of the plant. When watering your plants
it is a good idea to hand water each plant individually rather than
watering many plants at once using a lawn sprinkler. The sprinkler is
quicker, but watering the entire plant poses a greater risk of leaf
disease. Allow the hose to trickle for 3-5 minutes for each plant. (For
larger trees and shrubs, allot more time.) This slow intake of water
will allow for deeper root system development, which is a defense
mechanism for plants during drought situations. In summary, follow
these simple rules: * Check you plants at least once every 1-2 weeks. *
Water your plants only as needed. * Water your plants at the base to
avoid leaf disease.
Finally, high winds, high temperatures, and high humidity may call for additional and more frequent watering.
The peat moss and fertilizer surrounding your newly planted trees
and shrubs should be sufficient as a soil amendment. The peat moss acts
as a source of organic matter, which has good water holding capacity.
Perennials, groundcovers, and even your trees and shrubs can be
given another source of organic matter known as mushroom compost.
Mushroom compost can be applied as a top-dressing or tilled and raked
into beds annually. Mushroom compost can be used in combination with
Shredded hardwood bark mulch not only looks good, but also adds
a constant source of organic matter. It should be applied no more than
3 to 4 inches in depth for landscape beds. When adding organic matter
to beds, the use of peat moss, mushroom compost, and bark mulch
together will not only improve the soil, but also allow for air
movement, drainage, and increased water holding capacity.
SOD AND SEED CARE
To ensure proper germination, newly planted grass seed should be
kept moist continuously. Seed mixes that contain perennial rye grass
should germinate in 7-14 days while blue grass mixes should germinate
in 14-21 days. You should move sprinklers and hoses around to maintain
constant moisture until germination. It is important not to allow your
seed to dry out. You may add straw as a light top-dressing to conserve
moisture and to protect against erosion.
You should keep new sod completely saturated during the
establishment period. The drying out of your sod is severely stressful
and could be fatal. Watering should be increased and monitored during
periods of high winds, temperatures and humidity.
It may not be necessary to prune your new shrubs and trees during
their first few years. When the time comes for pruning and plant care
maintenance, follow the general guidelines below.
For flowering trees and shrubs, prune immediately after flowering
has occurred. Pruning flowering trees and shrubs in the fall may result
in little or no flowering the following spring.
Most evergreens should be pruned in late winter or early spring when they are dormant and before new growth begins.
Wait for a hard frost or until flowering has finished to cut back
annuals and perennials. Cut annuals and perennials back to the ground
and dispose of the debris. Waiting to cut back plants in the spring may
encourage overwintering of insects and disease. Ornamental grasses may
be left untouched through the winter months in order to add an element
of winter interest to your landscape, and then cut down to the ground
in early March before new growth begins. When pruning, always follow
these additional rules of thumb: * Never remove more than 1/3 of any
plant. * Make certain that pruning equipment is properly sharpened. *
Wear protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses.
Many of the plants that have been installed in your new landscape
have already been given granular fertilizer at the nurseries that they
originated from. These plants will be sufficiently fertilized for 1-2
years. After the first few years, you may fertilize your plants by
adding additional amounts of a balanced granular fertilizer (10-10-10
analysis) or a liquid fertilizer such as Root Stimulator. Root
Stimulator can be applied to trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials and
ground cover. Deep root feeding is recommended for trees to maintain
good health. You may need to repeat fertilization for plants that
flower often and heavily. Always follow label instructions when
applying fertilizer of any kind.