Care of Your Replacement Plants

We have just replaced one or more perennials, shrubs and/or trees in your landscape. Where possible, we have marked your replacements with a colored ribbon.

Your new plants require special attention for at least 4 weeks after planting, until the root system gets a chance to grow out into the surrounding soil. Until then, THE ROOT BALL WILL DRY OUT WELL BEFORE THE SURROUNDING SOIL DOES. Thus we strongly recommend that all replacements be watered BY HAND until established. PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON YOUR SPRINKLER SYSTEM TO DO THE JOB. IT WILL NOT GIVE YOUR NEW PLANT ENOUGH WATER WHERE IT NEEDS IT – IN THE ROOT BALL.

Please DO NOT adjust your sprinkler system to an every-day schedule simply to water a few new plants or a small patch of new sod. You might damage your established sod and shrubs by over-watering them, and the sprinkler heads may not actually provide enough water to saturate the newly installed plants sufficiently.

Following the watering guidelines below will help integrate your replacements quickly into the landscape:

A. Small Shrubs and perennials – by hand with hose and/or bucket

1. First 2 weeks – Water every other day for shrubs and perennials in full sun, every 2-4 days if in shade. Under extremely hot or windy conditions, you may need to water every day. Treat them like house plants and aim the hose directly into the root ball.

2. Next 2 weeks – Cut down to once every 3-4 days.

3. After 4 weeks – Your new shrubs should be somewhat established. Continue to water every 2 weeks by hand as a supplement to your sprinkler system right up until the end of December and throughout the following spring while the plants have leaves.

B. Trees and Large Shrubs – by hand with hose or bucket

1. First 2 weeks – Water by placing the hose directly on the root ball, then turning on the faucet so that the water comes out in a slow trickle. Let it trickle for ¸ – 1 hour. The larger the tree, the more time needed. Repeat every 3-4 days.

2. Next 4 weeks – Water once a week as above.

3. After 6 weeks – Water occasionally as above during extended periods of no rainfall (or about once every 2-3 weeks) right up until the end of December and throughout the following spring while the plants have leaves.

Care of Your New Landscape

Your new trees, shrubs, and/or perennials require special attention for at least one month after planting, until the root systems get a chance to grow out into the surrounding soil. A little vigilance in ensuring that each plant receives its full allotment of water during this time is the single most important factor in determining the future success of your plants. Keep in mind that the root balls of your new plants will dry out just like a houseplant even though the surrounding soil appears wet. The best way to check the roots is to pull away the mulch from the stem of the plant and use your finger to scrape down an inch or two directly into the rootball to feel for dryness.

Sprinkler systems, even the best ones, will water some areas better than others. After your landscape has had time for the plant roots to spread out and intermingle (at least 6 weeks after planting), this unevenness in sprinkler coverage is not a major problem. But when the plants have just been installed, some plants may not receive enough water from the sprinklers to survive the critical first few weeks. For this reason it is imperative that you make frequent (daily to every second day) inspections of your landscape so you can spot plants that may be dry, and water them by hand to give them the opportunity to grow roots into areas that get more water.

Following the guidelines below as a supplement to your sprinkler system will help integrate your plants quickly into the landscape:

A. Shrubs and Perennials – by hand with hose and/or bucket

1. First week – Water every 2 days for shrubs and perennials in full sun, every 3-4 days if in shade. Under extremely hot or windy conditions in full sun, you may need to water every day. Treat them like house plants and aim the hose directly into the root ball. Make mental notes of areas that seem to need extra attention.

2. Next two weeks – Water your extra-attention areas as above. For the areas that are not a problem, water once a week just to be sure.

3. After 3 weeks – Your new shrubs should be somewhat established. Continue to water your extra-attention plants once a week by hand until the end of the season as a supplement to your sprinkler system.

B. Trees and Large Shrubs – by hand with hose or bucket

1. First two weeks – Water by placing the hose directly on the root ball, then turning on the faucet so that the water comes out in a slow trickle. Let it trickle for ¸ -1 hour for each plant. The larger the tree and the more exposed it is to wind and sun, the more time needed. Look for special-attention plants. Repeat every 5-7 days depending on weather and sunlight conditions.

2. Next four weeks – Water twice as above during this period.

3. After six weeks – Water those special-attention plants during extended periods of no rainfall occasionally as above until the end of December.

Establishing Your New Seed Lawn

A. WATERING

First month – Watering is the most critical factor for the rapid and healthy development of your lawn. To promote germination, the seed and young grass should not be allowed to dry out for the first three weeks after seeding. The lawn area should be kept moist but not saturated. A daily schedule consisting of a light watering early in the morning, a light misting in the early afternoon, and a second light misting in the later afternoon (especially during hot, dry weather) will help achieve this.

After first month – After the grass greens up and reaches a height of about 3″ (about 30 days), watering should be adjusted to approximately 35 – 45 minutes (rotary heads) every 2 days in Summer (in Spring and Fall every 3-4 days). ONCE THE GRASS HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, DO NOT WATER EVERY DAY. This can lead to disease problems, drowning of roots, and weak root development. If the lawn is drying out in the summer heat, increase the time per zone rather than the number of watering days per week.

BEST TIME TO WATER – between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m.
WORST TIME TO WATER – between 4 p.m. and 1 p.m. (Fungus will develop and grow when the grass stays wet for more than 6 or 7 hours during the course of the night, so avoid the urge to water your lawn in the early evening.)

B. MOWING

First mowing – About 30 days after seeding. TIMING IS CRITICAL. If the lawn gets too long it will fall over and mat down, leading to the development of disease. The lawn should not be watered within 24 hours of the first mowing so that the mower tires and workers’ feet don’t make ruts in the wet soil. Make sure to turn off your sprinkler clock the night before. The mowers should cut off no more than the top 1″ of the grass blades so that the grass will not go into shock. Resume normal watering after mowing.

C. AFTERCARE

The establishment of a healthy lawn from seed is a long-term process. Use of the seeded area should be limited as much as possible while the grass is getting established. Depending on the time of the year the seeding is done, it may take up to 12 months to reach the look of a sod lawn. The ideal time for seeding and touching up of seeded lawns is mid-August to mid- October. Avoid use of crabgrass control while the lawn is newly seeded.

D. FERTILIZING

Apply a complete fertilizer only after the lawn has been up for at least 30 days. Avoid fertilizers heavy in Nitrogen (the first number of the three that appear on the bag) for this first fertilization. An ideal balance would be in the range of 10-30-15 (as opposed to 25-3-3). After the initial fertilization, follow a May-August-Thanksgiving fertilization schedule (i.e. 3 applications per year). If you are a chemicals minimalist, then use an organic fertilizer and apply on Thanksgiving only, or again in July.

Establishing Your New Sod Lawn

A. WATERING

First week – Every day for 15 minutes (mist zones) to 45 minutes (rotary zones) per day for zones in full sun or on slopes, 10 minutes (mist zones) to 30 minutes (rotary zones) for zones in shade half the day or more.

After first week – should now be changed to 20 minutes (mist) to 45 minutes (rotary) per zone every two days (summer), every four days (spring and fall). For low-lying zones that tend to stay wet and zones that are shady most of the day, watering time should not exceed 30 minutes, and preferably these problem-area zones should be shut off and turned on manually only when necessary. WATERING EVERY DAY, REGARDLESS OF TEMPERATURE, CAN LEAD TO DISEASE PROBLEMS AND DROWNING OF ROOTS. If your lawn seems to be drying out in the heat of the summer, increase the time per zone rather than the number of days per week that the system goes on. Lawns will tend to turn light brown in spots during times of drought, but will green up again after the next heavy rain. Watering schedules should be adjusted to accommodate for natural rainfall.

BEST TIME TO WATER – between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m.

WORST TIME TO WATER – between 4 p.m. and 1a.m. ( Fungus will develop and grow when the grass stays wet for more than 6 or 7 hours during the course of the night, so avoid the urge to water your lawn in the early evening.)

B. MOWING

First mowing – 7-10 DAYS AFTER LAYING. TIMING IS CRITICAL. If the sod gets too long it will fall over and mat down, leading to the development of disease. The lawn should not be watered 24 hours prior to first mowing so the mower tires and worker’s feet don’t make ruts in the soft, wet sod. Make sure that you turn your clock off the night before the grass is scheduled to be cut. The mowers should cut off no more than the top 1″ of the grass blades so that the grass does not go into shock. Resume watering after mowing.

Second mowing – Ideally, 4 to 5 days after the first mowing. Follow the same instructions as for the first mowing. (Practically, it will be difficult to get your maintenance company to break their weekly schedule.) After this, a regular mowing schedule can be established.

Reinvigorating Your Summer Flowers

Now that it’s August, your summer flowers may require a little additional care to keep them attractive and blooming all summer long. Following the guidelines below will ensure a continuous flower display.

Grooming

Some annuals require a little grooming now and then in order to look and perform their best. Grooming includes removing spent flowers before they begin to form seeds, called ‘Dead-heading’.

Annuals that benefit most from deadheading — which promotes continuous flower production— are Dahlias, Zinnias, Snapdragons, Salvias, Geraniums, and larger-flowering Marigolds.

Pruning off leggy and overly-long branches of many plants promotes renewed flowering and plant compactness. Don’t worry about removing too much; even a severe haircut will become unnoticeable after a week or so.

Petunias, Verbenas, Scaevola, Calibrachoa, Bidens and Ivy Geraniums benefit from this, as do trailing foliage plants.

Watering

Watering during hot, dry months is critical, especially for plants in containers. Do not let your plants dry out! Excessive dryness causes leaves to become stunted and yellow, and reduces flower production. When you water your pots, wet the soil thoroughly until water runs out the drainage holes at the bottom. Repeat until thoroughly soaked. Check pots daily, as high summer temperatures and windy days will dry out your containers more quickly.

Summer and Fall Gardening Tips

August 1st: Last day for heavy summer pruning of rhododendrons, azaleas, forsythia and other spring-flowering shrubs. Also time to reapply slow-release dry fertilizer to your pots of annuals.

August 15th through September 15th: Time to divide and replant overgrown clumps of perennials.

August 15th through October 1st: Ideal time for re-seeding an old lawn or seeding a new lawn.

September 1st: Last day for trimming of hedges

October 1st through Thanksgiving: Time to plant spring bulbs.

November 15th through December 1st: Time to apply your last lawn fertilization.

November 15th through December 1st: Time to remulch perennial beds.

Spring Gardening Tips

March: Best time to do heavy pruning of trees and shrubs.

Late March: Time to plant pansies. Also good time for first lawn fertilization of the season.

Early April: Time to prune roses.

April: Ideal time to divide and move perennials, and to remulch beds.

Mother’s Day: Generally, last date for killing frost. Time to begin planting summer flowers and to turn on irrigation system.

June 1st: Safe to put cold-sensitive tropical plants outside. Introduce them only gradually to full sun.

Late June: Time to remove pansies and other cool-weather annuals and replace with summer flowers.

Spring Bulbs: Save or Remove?

Spring-flowering bulbs are loosely categorized into two groups in our climate: those that come back reliably every year, and those that don’t.

Daffodils, Narcissus, and most hardy woodland bulbs usually return year after year, as long as their leaves are allowed to turn brown after flowering before being cleaned up.

Tulips and Hyacinths, however, don’t stay green long enough to consistently produce flowers for the following season. Two or three seasons of brilliance is all you can expect, so it’s a good idea to remove them, bulb and all, right after the second year of flowering, while you can still find them. You can then plant new ones in the fall.

Mulching – Be Careful What You Cover

Mulching—Be Careful What You Cover

Annuals can be severely injured when fresh mulch is applied too soon

The benefits of mulching are well-known. Applying mulch in late fall (mid November through December) or early spring (March) will help your plant beds immensely. However, mulching newly-planted annuals can prove fatal.

In a nutshell, please don’t mulch your annuals. Extreme injury can occur when annuals have been mulched soon after planting. Fresh mulch can be extremely toxic to young plants. It can build up toxic gases (the sour smell you might notice) and trap moisture against the stems, leading to stem rot; steal fertilizer from the soil, and even burn the plants (fresh mulch can be hot to the touch when first used).

Your best defense against weeds is to keep your flowers growing rapidly when they are young.

Do a little additional hand watering daily in the driest spots so their tiny roots don’t dry out. Remember, annuals are basically tropical weeds, and they already have a head start on other weeds in the bed. Maintain that head start by keeping them growing!