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Trees and shrubs are the long-term investment plants that anchor your landscape. These plants will be around for a long time, so choose wisely and take good care of them! Here are some of my favorite resources for finding and caring for larger woody plants in your yard.
-Cheers, Mary Jane
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Finding the right varieties of trees and shrubs for your landscape is worth the effort. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find the perfect specimen tree or flowering shrub, but it’s worth the hunt!
There are some excellent sources of specialty trees and shrubs, including Nature Hills Nursery, Planting Tree Nursery, and Home Depot’s Garden Center. Nurseries generally ship plants as bare-root plants during the offseason so as to minimize shock. For potted plants during the growing season, shop at local nurseries where you can check the health of the plant before buying.
Trees and foliage shrubs in the landscape are generally fed in early spring or early fall. Most tree & shrub fertilizers are rich in nitrogen to help plants grow lush green foliage. While you can apply liquid or granular products, tree fertilizer spikes are the easiest type of fertilizer to use.
Jobe’s Organics Fertilizer Spikes For Trees, Shrubs, and Evergreens is an easy-to-use fertilizer product that’s readily available in hardware stores and garden centers. With an NPK ratio of 8-2-2, this product is nicely balanced while still being rich in foliage-boosting nitrogen. Jobe’s Organics Tree Spikes are approved for organic growing by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
While regular tree & shrub fertilizer will certainly give flowering shrubs a bit of a boost, some gardeners like to feed their flowering shrubs with a fertilizer that’s a little richer in phosphorus (the P in the NPK), as this nutrient supports a plant’s ability to flower.
Kellogg Organics Rose & Flower Fertilizer is a balanced slow-release plant food formulated specifically for flowering shrubs. This fertilizer can be used before and/or after flowering to give plants the mineral nutrients they need to thrive. Kellogg Organics Rose & Flower Food is approved for organic growing by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
Trees and shrubs have much different planting, care, and maintenance requirements than other types of plants in the home landscape. A solid educational foundation in caring for these larger plants can keep you from making expensive and time-consuming mistakes with your investment plants.
How to Grow Anything: Make Your Trees and Shrubs Thrive, by Melinda Myers, is a great introductory course for everything from choosing plants themselves, planting trees & shrubs, and caring for them from season to season.
A good shovel is key for planting trees and shrubs, especially if you’re planting in areas nearby to other trees and shrubs or in compacted soil. I like tools with sharp edges for slicing through the soil.
The Radius Garden Root Slayer Shovel is very popular – and for good reason. This shovel has a 3/4-length long handle with a grippy circle at the top. The blade has serrated sides to slice through soil (and potentially saw through any roots you come across).
Drip lines can keep young trees and shrubs perfectly watered even when you’re too busy to hand water. They also water right at the soil surface, which avoids getting plant leaves wet (which can invite disease). In garden beds, you can cover them with mulch so they don’t affect the aesthetics of your garden.
My favorite brand is Rain Bird Drip Irrigation. They offer a number of kits and parts so you can make your own custom configuration without repeated trips to the hardware store. I like to use 1/2-inch emitter tubing in my perennial garden beds.
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