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May Landscapes – . . great time to be outside!


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Amy-and-Family-Planting-an-Oak-Tree-540x

 

 

May is here! What a great time to be outside!

 

There’s an old saying – April showers bring May flowers. With the rains we’ve received during the last month, this should have no problem holding true again. May is one of the most colorful months on the calendar and combined with the relatively pleasant temperatures we see this month, it makes an excellent time for families and folks to get outside and experience it.

 

I have encouraged the practice of families planting a tree together. It’s a fun activity that each member can participate in. From deciding which type of tree to plant, to choosing a location, to picking out the specimen together – its a great way to make lasting memories. The tree will grow as the family does over the years and will have special meaning for the whole family.

 

The number 1 deterrent that keeps this idea in the idea phase is a lack of know-how. So let’s solve that problem right now, shall we?

 

I am going to describe the step by step process of tree planting for the homeowner.

 

Step 1 – What type of tree do you want? This is sometimes determined more by the space you have available and type of conditions present in those locations. If you want a large, sun-loving tree then you’ll need ample space and sunlight to offer it.

 

If you want a smaller, ornamental tree, decide if you want a shade lover or sun lover and then choose your location. You will want to select a spot that has good drainage and is a safe distance away from other trees or man-made features such as utility terminals.

 

Step 2 – Deciding where a tree would be suitable on your property. This mostly comes down to space and how much of it you have to dedicate to a tree. You also want to consider what other elements are present, such as a swimming pool or play space. Homeowners with pools do not want trees that will drop a lot of leaves or flowers.

 

Again, you’re looking to make the tree happy so if it wants sun, select a sunny spot that offers good drainage. When I mention “good drainage†I mean a spot where, when it rains, the rain water will flow away from the trunk of the tree and has no accumulation or puddling near the tree.

 

Step 3 – Before you go out and shop for your new tree, take a minute and dial 1-800-DIG-TEST. This is a free service that allows utility companies to mark their lines on your property BEFORE you begin digging. If you know you want your tree in the front or back, you can tell the representative on the phone that you only need one or the other marked.

 

Once you call, they have 72 hours to mark you lines. In most cases, its completed in 48 hours. You will be notified via email if there are any unusual circumstances existing on your property with regard to the lines. Otherwise, you’ll see the location of the various lines by the spray paint and flags. It is best to stay clear of these lines entirely.

 

This is a necessary step – its the law. Digging without knowing is dangerous.

 

Step 4 – Picking your tree. There are several things to consider when searching for that “just right†tree. Look at shape. You want your tree to be full on all sides and have an appealing, natural shape. You want to look at the leaves to make sure there are no unusual spots or markings that might indicate disease. You’re looking for a good, healthy tree.

 

Trees are sold in both containers and B&B (balled burlap). Most retail nurseries will sell container grown trees. Those will typically come in sizes of 10 gallon, 15 gallon, 30 gallon, 45 gallon, 65 gallon and 100 gallon. If this is a family endeavor, you will want to stay with a relatively small size due to the size of hole that will later need to be created. I recommend 30 gallon or smaller.

 

Don’t forget to buy planting mix and mulch for your new tree.

 

planting.jpg

 

 

Step 5 – A crucial step – digging the hole. Regardless of what size of tree you purchased, the hole you dig for it will need to be twice as wide as the container it was sold in. The hole only needs to be as deep as the root ball in the container, so measure the height of the root and then dig your hole to that depth.

 

The soil that you will put in will be the good planting mix you’ve purchased or created. Make sure your mix is primarily organic material, such as compost and is mixed with the native soil you removed from the hole. Take excess soil you removed from the hole and dispose of it.

 

Once this hole is dug, you are now ready to remove the tree from the container and place it in the hole. This is best done with at least two people. One should hold the container and the tree is leaned to one side. Holding the base of the tree with one hand and the trunk with the other, slide the tree out of the container while the other person holds the container still.

 

Place the tree in the hole. Fill the hole halfway with water, then begin adding your planting mix (mixed with native soil). Once the hole is filled around the tree, step on the new soil part to pack it down and eliminate air pockets. If necessary, add more soil once you’ve packed it in. Your tree’s root flare should be about an inch higher than the surrounding soil. This will allow water to flow away from the trunk and root flare. Do not cover the top of the root ball with soil. Keep the root flare exposed at all times, including after mulching.

 

Step 6 – Not necessary if you purchased an ornamental tree, but certainly a must-have if you purchased a larger tree – Tree Stakes. Tree stakes will keep your tree upright and from blowing over during inclement weather, until the point where the roots of the tree have had time to extend into the surrounding soil. This normally takes at least six months. So stake your tree and let it remain on for at least that amount of time.

 

Tree stakes are sold at your local nurseries.

 

Your tree will need some TLC for the first few months. Make sure it stays properly watered. You can do this by having a bubbler extended to it from your sprinkler system lines – or – by purchasing and using a “Gator Bag.â€

 

Tree_Gator_Lg.JPG

 

Using a Gator Bag ( or Tree Gator) allows you the opportunity to mix supplements with the water that you’re giving your tree. A Gator Bag wraps around the tree’s trunk, holds up to 21 gallons of water, and disperses slowly over the root ball via two pin holes in the bottom of the bag. This allows for deeper watering with no waste.

 

Transplant Shock

 

Newly planted trees can experience a symptom called “transplant shock.†This can be caused by a number of things. Transporting a tree without covering its canopy and driving fast (causing high wind on the canopy) can send the tree into shock. Either have your tree delivered or make sure you cover the canopy with a tarp and drive slowly during transport.

 

Miscellaneous tidbits . . . 

I am just going to list some bulleted items that I will share, hopefully you’ll find them helpful.

 

1. How do I make ferns grow like they’re supposed to grow? Make them happy!!! Ferns must be planted in total organic compost/planting mix. They will not do well in native soil, especially the black gumbo clay we have in North Texas. When you plant them, make sure you take in consideration the room they’ll need for future root growth.

 

After you’ve planted and they’ve become established . . . I use a product called “Garrett Juice†(named for its creator, Howard Garrett). Garrett Juice is a compost tea. Pouring a small amount into a bucket, mixing with water, and pouring around the base of the fern will create an exceptionally happy fern. Garrett Juice is sold in nurseries. Read the directions for correct product/water ratio.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Medina-Garrett-Juice-Plus-Gallon/dp/B0044EQBGA/ref=sr_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1493617968&sr=1-1&keywords=garrett+juice

 

2. What kind of fertilizer do you give Palm Trees? . . . You don’t. Palms react negatively to most fertilizers. Its just too strong for them. Instead, use common Epsom Salts. This far inland, Palm Trees will lack the things they make them native to the coast – salt content. Down on the coast, its in the air and soil. Here, none at all. So we must supplement to give the Palms what they really want. DO NOT give common table salt – table salt will kill anything you put it on.

 

Take a 1/4 cup of Epsom Salts and pour into a bucket. Mix with water and stir to get more dissolved. Then pour around the base of the Palms. They will love you for it. Repeat this twice a month during growing season.

 

3. How do I get more blooms/growth out of my spring flowers? I use a product called Jack’s 10-30-20. It is a fine granular product that you mix with water and pour around the flowers. You may want to use a watering pitcher for this since spring flowers can be very delicate. It is a water soluble plant food that also contains micronutrients that your flowers love. The high phosphate and potash in this product really get the blooming going.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JDRWFF4/ref=sr_ph_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493617788&sr=sr-1&keywords=jack%27s+10-30-20

 

 

4. How can you help your plants/trees without spending money on supplements? I once toured an elderly lady’s backyard garden. Everything she had in that garden was at its very best health and appearance. I was amazed at this and had to ask – â€œhow do you do it?â€

 

She showed me where she collected rain water, a barrel positioned beneath her downspout which collected rain water coming off the house. She then showed me buckets of cow manure chips she had collected from a friend’s pasture.

 

She would take 3-4 large cow chips (dried) and placed them into buckets, filling them up with rainwater. After a couple of days, a tea was made in the bucket. She would then water her plants with the manure tea. I have been doing this at my home ever since with great results.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We've been thinking about putting in a Crepe Myrtle tree, my wife loves them, in the area where we had another tree die.

 

Question, I was hit hard by cinch bugs last year (they came from my neighbors yard) and my grass is finally starting to fill in most areas. Is late May too early to put bug stuff on the yard or should I wait until mid June?

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We've been thinking about putting in a Crepe Myrtle tree, my wife loves them, in the area where we had another tree die.

 

Question, I was hit hard by cinch bugs last year (they came from my neighbors yard) and my grass is finally starting to fill in most areas. Is late May too early to put bug stuff on the yard or should I wait until mid June?

 

 

Chinch bugs won't be much of a concern until August. But NOW is the time to treat your lawn for grub worms. They are feeding early this year due to the mild winter.

 

Crape Myrtles need full sun, so your spot needs to offer that. Is there are a stump there now? That will need to be grinded out and the debris removed before you attempt to plant another tree. You could also move your new tree a few feet away from the previous one.

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Hi Mark

Do you remember a guy named Jerry Baker (whom I think has since passed away) who use to be on PBS frequently promoting his use of a tonic of beer, coke, ammonia, mouthwash and sometimes chewing tobacco for use on your lawn?  What is your opinion of this approach?  I ask because I have a friend who uses a similar tonic (mostly ammonia, beer & syrup) and says he has good results (his yard does look healthy).  Would be a lot cheaper than the chemical fertilizers.  Also some golf greens keeper in Oklahoma (sorry) also promotes a similar tonic.

thanks gmcc

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Hi Mark

Do you remember a guy named Jerry Baker (whom I think has since passed away) who use to be on PBS frequently promoting his use of a tonic of beer, coke, ammonia, mouthwash and sometimes chewing tobacco for use on your lawn?  What is your opinion of this approach?  I ask because I have a friend who uses a similar tonic (mostly ammonia, beer & syrup) and says he has good results (his yard does look healthy).  Would be a lot cheaper than the chemical fertilizers.  Also some golf greens keeper in Oklahoma (sorry) also promotes a similar tonic.

thanks gmcc

 

 

I have never tried that combination. I can tell you that I use old beer (beer that sits open for 12 hours) in my compost piles. The Coke and tobacco are acidic. The ammonia and mouthwash would be soil softeners. I've also heard of using Tide soap. Syrup is just a hi-carb substance, much like we get when we apply dried molasses.

 

Its actually not cheaper. To have enough Coke, for instance, to make a difference, you're going to buy a lot of Coke. I can buy the a bag of Fertilome to cover 7K sq ft for about $20. A bag of dried molasses runs me (wholesale) about $40.

 

The chewing tobacco in question should be chewed tobacco, otherwise it could be too acidic. 

 

There are no organically maintained golf courses in DFW. If it were effective enough and cheap enough – every one of them would be doing it.

 

Don't get me wrong though, I try to stay organic where I can. I use only rain water on my vegetable garden (I collect rain water). So I can be picky. But two places I can't find an organic equal is fertilization and insect control (grubs, chinch bugs).

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