Trees do some impressive things for us – so we should do something for them right? Trees clean the air of carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen necessary for human life. They improve soil quality, provide shade, prevent erosion, and support wildlife and ecosystems the world over. All of these amazing feats are only possible when a tree is healthy. Yale School of Forestry did a study that concluded trees in distress or decline can actually adversely affect the environment. So, let’s go over a couple of the most common things we see that causes stressed trees and measures you can take to keep your trees healthy.
- Plant the tree properly and at the right height! One of the biggest issues is planting your tree too deep. Often a tree comes from the nursery with mulch or soil up against the root flare from years of cultivating weeds with mechanical tools. Pull back that material and set the root flare at grade. When you plant, we of course recommend using VW Planting Mix; it has peatmoss to help retain moisture, bark fines to condition the soil, compost to add organic material to the existing soil and manure to give it a little extra jump. Speaking of ‘jump,’ use VW’s JumpStart to get a 2-year warranty and a great root stimulator that we know works – we’ve seen it! The other thing we often see is that people leave the burlap and the wire cage on their purchased tree. I have removed trees that were planted 20 years ago and firsthand witnessed that the burlap did NOT decompose, and the roots are all tangled in the wire cage and never put out those feeder roots to the drip line. Our crews are taught the Van Wisdom way and that’s why anything installed by us has a 2-year warranty.
- Do not mulch against the trunk! I see what we call ‘mulch volcanos’ all over. This is one of the worse things for your tree. The bark is not meant to be in the dark and suffocated. Over time the bark thinks it needs roots, so it sends out something called adventitious roots. These are small feeder roots that take up water and nutrients but only from a small area. Eventually the real roots which support the tree and feed it are sent a message that they are no longer needed and it’s downhill from there.
- KEEP THE WEED WHACKER AWAY! When you install a tree in a lawn area, the ring around it is not only for pretty mulch but it’s for protection from you or your lawn guy who does 20MPH on his riding mower. When Van Wilgen’s plants a tree, we create a ring around the tree to help keep water where the roots are at the time of planting, but the other main reason is to make sure there is a separation between the tree and the lawn. Banging into the trunk of the tree with the mower and/or weed whacker damages the most important part of the tree’s bark. That outside layer of bark carries all the water and nutrients up to the leaves. The tree can heal itself from all most anything, but weekly hits from power tools is too much to handle. Remember, trees don’t have legs so they figure out how to survive in the environment they are in.
Have questions on keeping your tree healthy and fixing the most carbon it can? We are always happy to share our Van Wisdom!
Someone said we should create a machine that soaks up all the carbon in the air and fixes back into the soil. The response is… we already have them! They are called TREES! This week we celebrate the 150th Arbor Day. I thought we were doing great being 102 years old! This special day was established in April 1872 because the good people of Nebraska understood the importance of trees in conserving soil, processing carbon dioxide (so WE can breathe), and contributing to the health and well-being of the future.
I started thinking… how much difference can I make this arbor day. So, I looked around and found out… A LOT! One mature tree… ONE TREE… absorbs 48 pounds of carbon and releases oxygen into the air annually, that’s amazing. So, pick out a tree knowing that when it leaves (get it) here, it is ready to start fixing around 15 pounds of carbon right out of the gate! I am a numbers guy, so I LOVE hearing this stuff. Some cool facts:
- In 40 years, your tree will fix over 1 TON of carbon
- One mature tree can provide enough oxygen in a day for 4 people!
- There are enough trees in the world to remove 1/3 of fossil fuel emissions annually…time to get planting!
- In one year, an ACRE of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles.
- Every dollar spent on planting and caring for a community tree yield benefits that are two to five times that investment—benefits that include cleaner air, lower energy costs, improved water quality and storm water control and increased property values.
Enjoy these fun facts about trees, I truly enjoyed learning more from the arborday.org website stop in and we can help you pick out the right tree for the right place so you can have years of enjoyment from your new tree. As the old proverb said the best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is today! Happy 150th Arbor Day… keep on growing!
Temperatures climbed higher this week and we’re itching to lay the foundations of a great garden. That foundation is your soil. However, your soil may not be perfect for your needs, and at Van Wilgen’s we offer a variety of soil mixes to help prepare your garden for planting.
The BIG news at Van Wilgen’s is that our new and improved bagged soil mixes are now in stock! Ryan has been working hard to keep the fulfillment of these in the state which means better pricing for us… and better pricing for you!
For more information check out our Soil 101 blog post from last week.
Questions? Email or call us any time. We are always here to help.
Roses are synonymous with love and gardening! Rose enthusiasts are a discerning bunch –some gardeners go for conventional growing and some go the more organic route, but neither is right nor wrong.
At Van Wilgen’s we want you to have beautiful roses and with a little TLC they are not as hard to maintain as their reputation may suggest. Here are a few tips and tricks from the Van Wilgen’s team:
- The most important thing with roses is to plant them in full sun. Roses like to bask in the sun and not in a place where they’ll get wet. They only need to be watered every third day or so – let them dry out well in between – and make sure they aren’t near a downspout or boggy spot but one that is well-drained.
- To get your roses started put down some fresh Van Wilgen’s Mulch (available in both bulk and bags!). Apply a 3” layer of mulch around roses to keep moisture in and keep weeds at bay. You’ll just want to keep mulch three inches from the canes of the rose. You’ll also want to fertilize your roses monthly using a slow-release fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Rose-Tone until about September.
- As you start to see blooms, it’s important to “deadhead” them as the flowers die in order to encourage them to re-bloom.
- Animals and insect pests can affect the flowers. If you have a known problem in your yard, control products, as well as deer and/or vole repellents, can be used preemptively. Additionally, as the season progresses, if new disease or insect problems arise, we have a full lineup of products that can treat these issues.
Stop by or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you identify the issue your roses are facing and find you the right solution!
Most people probably don’t give too much thought to the ground beneath their feet, but green-fingered enthusiasts know all too well that understanding Soil 101 is vital to a healthy garden.
Yeah, the soil is the “What”. This layer of ‘dirt’ is a complicated mix of insects and decomposing organic matter that is full of bacteria and air. The different composition of this ecosystem means that you can have different soils that can be categorized as:
Consists of larger particles and nutrients. Allows water to easily move through it.
Smaller, thicker particles that essentially traps moisture and nutrients.
Drains much slower than sandy soil.
Contains fine particle sizes that are packed together, restricting proper drainage and air circulation.
A combination of all three mineral particles rich in remnants of decomposing matter known as humus.
Topsoil is essentially what you want to put down to level larger areas of your garden, or if you are planning to seed for a healthier, lush lawn. Other types of mix to add to your garden includes:
Container Mix – great for use in raised beds and hanging baskets since it has a slow-release fertilizer that is triggered when you water.
Planting Mix – used for your vegetable garden, trees, and shrubs
Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix is a blend of peat moss and compost formulated for our soil. Everything you need to get your plants started off right. Developing a strong root system is the key to any healthy plant. Combine with our Van Wilgen’s Jump Start and you have a winning combo. These two things combined give your plant a jump start to establish strong roots.
Potting Mix– No moisture retention particles and these are great for houseplants, annuals, and vegetables.
Organic Potting Mix– all organic and great for annuals, herbs and veggies, and raised garden beds and pots.
Spring is great for planting and seeding lawns. We all can’t wait to get out into the yard to lay down the best soil for healthy roots. Remember plants grown in containers enable the gardener to plant at anytime the soil can be worked… even on hot summer days.
Pruning seems counter-intuitive to plant growth. Why would you snip off limbs or twigs? Well, targeted pruning can help with improving both the structure of a tree or shrub as well as the health, e.g., If branches, or woody stems, are rubbing against one another or if there is the presence of dead branches/twigs.
There is also the timing of pruning, which can affect bud growth, and with some trees and shrubs, it can affect the flowering for the following season.
Always think about what you are pruning and how it will affect the look of the tree or shrubs… like a haircut it is always easier to take more off than put it back on!
What should I prune?
- Dead, broken, or diseased branches
- Branches that cross or grow inward or downward
- Suckers and water sprouts
Remember the goal… if pruning is done correctly, when you are finished, others won’t notice you pruned!
When should I prune?
Evergreen and shrubs such as Arborvitae, Juniper, and Boxwood, and privet can be trimmed in early Spring and shaped to encourage new growth.
- Evergreen trees such as pines, Hemlock, Boxwoods, and Spruce control growth and size.
- Prune Roses in early Spring. Cut back by a 1/3 and remove all the deadwood.
Spring is here! Normally, the team here at Van Wilgen’s would say there’s no better time to get outside and get your hands in the dirt and start planting some veggies! We said “Normally!”
When I started here, I asked Ryan Van Wilgen, “When can I plant veggies?”
He replied, “When you can walk barefoot comfortably across your lawn!”
Well, last week’s snow showers and Arctic-like temperatures didn’t bode well for any tip-toeing across the garden– unless you like a bit of frost-bite! Hopefully this week the temperatures will resume their climb and we can get back out into the garden.
Once minimum temperatures get up above 50 degrees at night (and the socks can finally come off), it should be a green light for planting! Cold weather veggies e.g., broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, etc., are good to plant in early April. Warm weather veggies that include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, etc. are best to plant after May 15th.
Here are a few rules of thumb:
- Do not plant until the last chance of frost has gone by, usually the last full moon in May.
- Daytime soil temperature needs to be 65 – 70 degrees for warm-weather veggies. There’s an old saying that if you dig a hole and you can’t comfortably leave your hand in there because of the cold then you shouldn’t be planting just yet.
- Early isn’t always better. Your plant doesn’t start growing faster just because you planted it early. It’s just the opposite.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise when visiting the “stinky” department at Van Wilgens that some of our team LOVE fertilizer! We “Fertilize, Mulch and Preen” which rhymes with a “1-2-3 routine”
We love fertilizer because it can be so helpful to our plants and the environment; veggie gardens will give you a much greater yield; annuals will push out more bloom; trees will establish deeper root systems, and shrubs will be less prone to disease.
Should I Fertilize?
In a nutshell…Yes!
What kind of Fertilizer do I need?
There is a fertilizer for every seed, every plant, and for every time of the year, so there are different categories of fertilizers:
- Acid-Loving Trees and Shrubs
- Perennials, Annuals and Vegetable Plants
- Deciduous Trees and Shrubs
Mulching is considered one of the most beneficial things you can do for your soil and your plants. It is a vital step in keeping your plants healthy and thriving. A layer of mulch will help prevent the germination of many weed seeds, reducing the need for cultivation or use of herbicides. Over time, mulches made from organic materials break down and increase your soil’s structure and fertility. Mulches help moderate the soil temperature and retain moisture during dry weather, reducing the need for watering. Mulch also protects the soil from the impact of raindrops that can cause crusting.
Nope, this isn’t how bird’s keep their feather neat, it’s a granular pre-emergent put down after mulching, in early Spring, to prevent weed seeds from germinating