So, it’s a beautiful day – perfect temperature, perfect breeze. You look outside and realize how dull your yard looks so, you decide to plant some stuff. You hype yourself up and drag yourself away from what could turn into a lazy Netflix-binge day, go to the garden center and pick out the prettiest flowers and shrubs you can find, carefully fill your cart with all your new material, get to the register, swipe your card and watch half of your savings disappear.
You get home, spend an hour unloading and planning where it’s all going to go, grab a shovel and sweat your butt off digging and planting for the next 4 hours. When you’re finally done, you stand there holding the shovel, marveling at your pretty “new” yard.
A month later, 90% of what you planted has died. WTF! You’re sad, frustrated, and pretty pissed you just spent all that money only to have all your new plantings die.
Here are 5 things to ask yourself before choosing your plantings, next time – should you be so brave.
What Are The Sunlight Requirements
Where are you planting? Does that spot get a lot of sun during the day or, is it a more shaded spot? Some plants thrive with a lot of sun and some will die pretty quickly if it gets too much sun.
For example, I bought a fern and placed it in front of my garage not realizing how much sun hit that spot during the day. The fern started browning within a week. I moved it to the shade where it is doing very well and instead, put a tropical hibiscus there which is also doing very well.
So – take a look at the spot where you are planting at different times of the day and determine what kind of plant you need there.
Ferns = SHADE
What Kind Of Soil Does It Need
One of the things that many homeowners do not consider is the type of soil they have. Some tree and shrubs only do well with highly acidic soil while some can thrive in a more compact soil.
For Example: Hollies, Rhododendron, Azaleas are some of the shrubs that do best in acidic soils. They will not do as well in a lower-grade, more compact soil.
Consider what type of soil you have and maybe even do a soil test for doing new planting work.
How Often Do You Need To Water - Can It Be "Too" Watered
Watering requirements differ from plant to plant. Annuals require consistent daily watering because their roots don’t run deep enough to get water from the soil deep down. But, larger trees with deeper roots can go months without water because they are pulling water from deep underneath the ground.
You also have to consider if a plant can get “too much” water. Rhododendrons are extremely susceptible to root rot. Root rot is a condition where the roots of the shrub rot and therefore, can not take up the necessary water and nutrients to stay healthy.
This year has been a very wet year in NJ so far and we are seeing a lot of Rhododendrons with brown/scorched leaves and die-back – symptoms of root rot.
Be Aware Of Current Insect And Diseases In The Area
There are lots of insect and disease issues that could wipe out an entire new planting job in no time. It is SO important to be aware of the current problems within your area.
For example, we are seeing a lot of issues with Plum Trees. Black Knot – a fungal disease that has been attacking majority of plums here in North Jersey.
So, do some research before picking out certain trees/shrubs that you’d like to plant.
Black Knot Disease
How Does It Need To Be Planted
Contrary to popular believe – and even the practice of many unqualified landscapers around here, you can’t just dig a hole and throw a shrub in it and expect it to thrive. There are many different ways to plant a flower or shrub.
For smaller (3-4 feed and under) shrubs, you should always make sure the rootball is at ground level. If you plant too deep, you will deprive the plants of oxygen. If you plant too high, the plant will struggle to pull nutrients and water from the ground. DO NOT FOLLOW THE “PLANT HIGH DON’T DIE” METHOD – we hear landscapers say this all the time. It’s not right – it’s lazy.
For larger trees or shrubs, make sure the root collar (where the roots meet the stem) is at ground level. FOr all the same resasons as above.
Of course, if you are here in North Jersey and would like a consultation with our certified plant expert, just give us a call! 🙂