Green Landscaping the Smart Way

Green Landscaping the Smart Way
  • Opening Intro -

    If you want to change the look of your yard and add value to your home, new trees and shrubs can enhance your property.

    You don’t need to hire a landscaper to put in a new tree, but you do need to know what you’re doing.


Seasonal Plantings

Winter and summer are not then best seasons for installing new greenery, but spring and fall are. Summer’s heat and the threat of killing winter frosts can destroy your plants, costing you hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars in lost greens. Even where winter is mild, you risk a sudden cold snap that could damage or destroy trees and shrubs.

Before you start planting, you’ll want to find the ideal location in your yard to plant. Leave enough room from property lines to allow trees to grow, familiarizing yourself with your neighborhood compact or town rules which might dictate the placement of larger greens.

You do not want to be forced to move something later, especially when the roots have begun to grow and spread. Avoid plants that cannot withstand a drought. Importantly, consult with your state’s extension bureau to determine the best plants for your yard. You may need to obtain a soil sample first.

Making It Green

Now that you know where your plants will go and what types of plants you’ll be using, you can start the greening process:

Start digging — Dig holes that are twice as large as the rootball and as much as three to five times wider to give roots an opportunity to grow. American Forests, the nation’s oldest nonprofit conservation organization, advises homeowners to select a site large enough to give roots a chance to spread and for branches to reach full size.

Careful extraction — Loosen the rootball from its container by tapping on the sides and bottom to disengage. With smaller containers you can hold these upside down and simply slide the plant out, taking care to support the top of the rootball with your hand. Consider enlisting the help of friend when working with a larger container. Lay the container sideways on the ground and slowly pull the tree or shrub out of its container.

Root separation — Intertwined roots need to be separated; this you can manage carefully by hand. The University of Tennessee Extension advises that dead roots be removed and broken roots trimmed back. Roots should be of uniform length, therefore even these before planting.

Planting – Place the tree or shrub in the center of the hole, spreading the roots to avoid curling and twisting, then place soil in the hole, moving it around the roots. Carefully, pat down the soil to remove air pockets, filling the hole to be even with the ground. Pat the soil again, refilling the hole until it is even with or one inch above ground level.

Work with the soil that came in the container and use spare soil as needed. Avoid filling the hole with peat moss or other fillers, and water the tree immediately. Avoid mulch as this may invite rodents, insects and contribute to disease.

Indoor Starter

If you live in a colder climate and want to give your tree a fighting chance at surviving, consider starting it out as a seedling indoors. You’ll need to use a container that is deep enough to hold your young tree and one offering several drainage points to allow water to flow out of the container. The rootball must be packed in dirt and fully covered.

Place your young tree in a room that is warm and gets direct sunlight. Keep your tree watered and be prepared to move it outside as soon as the weather conditions are opportune.

Tree Protection

Staking may be necessary if your tree cannot stand on its own. Stake the tree with the wind to avoid damaging it and keep pets, children and your lawnmower far from it. Your local nursery can offer additional tips relevant to your area and offer maintenance tips as your plant grows.

Finally, if you’re looking at reasons to plant, remember that Earth Day is on April 22, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May and Arbor Day is celebrated by states at different times of the year or on the last Friday of April.



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Categories: Landscaping

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".