You must first know what you are pruning, and then find out when the best time of year is to prune. For example, blooming shrubs must be pruned depending on what time of year they bloom. Shrubs that bloom in early spring are best pruned just after the flowering period. They actually set their flower buds the season before, and if you prune them off in early spring, you will lose much of the flower power for that season. Shrubs that bloom in the summer usually produce their flowers on new wood, and these shrubs CAN be pruned early in spring to shape them up.
Other circumstances dictate pruning time. Some trees are susceptible to disease and insect infestation if pruned during the growing season, and should be pruned in winter. Other trees, when the sap is flowing heavily, must be pruned after the spring season.
Many trees need to be thinned out over time to form a healthy crown. Branches that overlap and rub against each other need to be thinned out. Overgrown shrubs may need some thinning or just a shaping up.
Last but not least, invest in some good pruning tools. A high quality pruning shears is worth its price and if taken care of properly, will last a lifetime. A lopping shears and a pruning saw are also essential tools to own when pruning woody plants.
It's really critical that you watch the watering on newly planted trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials and even annuals. Young root systems that are trying to get established can dry out easily.
One thing that really helps hold the water in soil is a natural mulch such as wood chips, bark, or even cocoa bean mulch. These mulches keep soil cool and prevent water from evaporating. If you are unsure if the ground is dry, it is as easy as sticking your finger in the soil and see how dry it is. Plants will wilt, and although that is usually a sign of dry soil, it can sometimes be a sign of overly wet soils as well, so you cannot use it as your only indication that it is time to water.
When you do water plants, it is best to give them a deep, thorough watering less often, than it is to water lightly every day. Soaker hoses are great for this purpose.
As plants grow and mature, you'll find the need to water less often. This doesn't mean, though, that during extended dry periods you won't need to water.
Get out into your yard with a shovel and start digging. Soils can be simply classified into three types - sandy, clay or loam. In some cases you'll have a combination of all three types in your yard. If you are unsure what your soil really is, put some in a bag and bring it in and we can analyze it for you. You may even want to have a soil test done to check the pH (which is the acidity or alkalinity of your soil) and nutrient levels.
One simple way to check your own soil is to dig a hole and grab a handful of soil. Now make a tight ball with your fists, trying to compact the soil. Then, open up your fist. If the soils fall apart and through your fingers, you have a light, sandy soil. If your soil turns into a rock-hard ball that you can hardly pull apart, you have a heavy clay soil. And if you have something in between, you have some nice loamy soil.
Once you know what your soils are like, you can then choose plants that are appropriate for your soil. If you have light sandy soil, you'll want to choose plants that are more tolerant of dry soil. Conversely, if you have heavy clay soil, which hold lots of water, you'll need to choose plants that are more tolerant of wet soil.
Now that you know what soil type you have, you can use that information to your advantage when deciding whether or not to apply fertilizer to your landscape plants.
Fertilizer has a tendency to escape through sandy soils, it can wash away from the root system and not become available to the plant.
Many landscape plantings will benefit from a spring application of a simple, well-balanced slow-release fertilizer. You can find these at the garden center in granular form, spikes and water-soluble types which you mix up in your watering can. Choose what you find easiest to use.
When applying fertilizer, FOLLOW THE LABEL DIRECTIONS! Do not over fertilize because you can damage the plant severely by burning the roots.
Some plants benefit from additional applications of fertilizer through the season. Roses in particular are heavy feeders, and can be fed monthly through mid summer. Annual flowers will also perform beautifully when fed regularly throughout the summer, and the water soluble types are perfect for your flowers, especially in containers.
Not sure what type of fertilizer to use? Ask our team of professionals at the garden center.