If you are like I am I love noticing the landscapes of houses and neighborhoods as I’m driving around town. I like to see what people have done but not only give thought to the potential that many homes have for fresh landscape projects. This spring I see many neighbors are going to have landscape projects in common. Living Fences! Since the beginning of March, I have spoken to many people. By far the most asked question has been “what I can do with my privacy screen that isn’t so private anymore”. Many rows of evergreens were severely damaged during our string of late winter storms. In some cases, these wonderful old hedges can be rehabbed but in many more, the only option is to start fresh. In the past weeks, we received many shipments of some of the nicest Emerald Green and Green Giant arborvitaes I have seen in some time. They are bombers, fat and full, with many sizes to choose from. It is so nice to see fresh stock rolling in.
I hope most of you have great neighbors like I do. However, for those of you that don’t, a lush living fence will prevent a Hatfield and McCoy feud from breaking out. None of us want that!
When most of us hear the term privacy we think of passwords and electronics, and handheld devices. Being a plantsman, the first things I think of are living fences and privacy screens. Emerald Green and Green Giant arborvitaes make the perfect living fence. Emeralds have a tall, narrow growth habit maturing to 12-15’ tall and 4’ wide. Their natural shape makes them the perfect choice for planting along property lines. We recommend planting on three-foot centers, this will ensure a dense screen for years to come. Watch out for deer they love Emeralds as well.
If you are in need of a larger screen Green Giant is the way to go. They grow up to 3 feet a year truly living up to their name. They will mature to 25-30’ tall and about 10’ wide. They are very easy to shear if you would like to keep them a bit smaller. We offer them in many sizes from small 3’ tall all the way to 12’ for an instant living fence. Oh, did I mention they are deer resistant!
I invite you to visit us at the garden center and we will be happy to help you get started with your project. We offer delivery and planting services anywhere in the state or we can coach you through the planting process for all do-it-yourself projects as well.
On any given day you can visit the garden center and overhear customers asking for ‘’dwarf” plants. Usually, when the term dwarf comes to mind we think of small shrubs and flowering plants. Well, surprisingly those aren’t the only dwarf plants we offer at the garden center. We have a great selection of dwarf trees!
We like to refer to them at Van Wilgen’s as “Small Space Trees”. If you are like me and have a small yard but want to plant trees there are some awesome options out there. Here is a list of my top ten favorites. Many of them I have planted in my yard and love them! I invite you to come and visit the garden center and check them out.
- Limelight Hydrangea Tree- Awesome white flower color from summer to fall. Van Wilgen Grown
- Rising Sun Red Bud-Great early spring color, first to flower. One-of-a-kind foliage color!
- Thundercloud Plum-Small pink flowers followed by purple leaves. Van Wilgen Grown
- Coral bark Japanese Maple-Winter is when it’s at its best! Coral-pink bark all winter long!
- Scarlet Fire Dogwood-New disease-resistant hybrid. Deepest pink flower for a kousa. Great texture to bark and excellent fall color.
- Little Poncho Dogwood-The name says it all. For those that want a Kousa dogwood but don’t have a lot of space! Mine at home flowers for 6 weeks plus!
- Rhode Island Red Japanese Maple-great upright maple but on a very small scale. Deep red foliage all season.
- Baby Blue Spruce-this grafted spruce has the deepest blue color and keeps it!
We love the contrasts and textures of fall foliage. From grasses to trees we have compiled a baker’s dozen of our favorites to see in the autumn landscape. If you don’t see your favorite let us know, we are always interested in what you are planting!
Hydrangea ‘Little Quick Fire’
‘Standing Ovation’ Grass
‘Little Miss’ Miscanthus
‘North Wind’ Panicum
The best time to plant a tree or shrub is in the fall. A well-placed tree will cool your home in summer and block cold winter winds. Not to mention that the aesthetics can increase your home’s curb appeal and add value.
Even though you may be prepping for winter, you can still set your new tree or shrub up for success by planting it in a spot where it can thrive for generations to come.
Decide on the right tree for your yard and needs before you plant. Choose a tree based on the characteristics you want — shade, wildlife habitat, privacy or to block the wind.
6 Easy Steps to Plant a Tree or Shrub
You’ve found the right tree and the perfect spot, now it’s time for the fun part. It doesn’t take much to plant a tree — just a shovel, tape measure, and hose. To help your new tree survive, you’ll need to put in the extra effort. Use these tips to help your new tree to grow.
- Size up your yard for the perfect spot. Take the amount of sunlight, ground vegetation, and hazards like wires or pipes into consideration. Plant at least 15 feet away from your house, sidewalks, driveways, and other trees. Allocate enough space in the yard for your new tree to grow. Consider its mature height, crown spread, and root space. A fully grown tree will take up much more space than your tiny sapling. Look up to make sure a fully grown tree won’t interfere with anything overhead.
- Start digging. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Then, arrange the tree at the same depth it was growing before and fill half the hole with compost, Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix, or Espoma Organic All Purpose Garden Soil.
- Give trees a boost. Mix in organic fertilizer with the soil. For a trunk diameter up to 1.5 inches, use 4 pounds of Tree-tone. If the trunk is 2-3”, use 4 pounds of Tree-tone per inch. So, if your tree trunk is 2.5 inches, use 10 pounds of Tree-tone. And, for tree trunks over 3 inches, use 5 pounds of Espoma Tree-Tone per inch.
- Stake the tree. Use two opposing, flexible ties to stake the tree. Place ties on the lower half of the tree to allow trunk movement.
- Help your new tree become established by watering it weekly for the first two years.
- Finish with mulch. Use 2 ½ -3 inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch around the plant. Do not over-mulch up to the trunk or “volcano” mulch. This can kill the tree.
Planting a tree is an investment in your home and your community that will pay off for years to come.
One of the many questions we usually start hearing this time of year is “Can I still plant in the summer? We understand why people may be nervous but the answer is an overwhelming YES!
There are a few things we should all keep in mind before we get started.
- Choose the Right Plant for the Right Place. If you have a sunny dry spot you are looking to fill, choose a tree, shrub, or perennial that will be happiest in those conditions. This dramatically improves the chances of success. If you are unsure of your requirements please see a Van Wilgen’s plant expert and we will gladly work with you.
- Proper planting technique is crucial. Dig your hole twice the width of the root ball and no deeper than its height. If you’re planting a container plant make sure to score the roots first. If you are planting a tree with a wire basket take of all the burlap as well as the basket. In both cases, this ensures the plants will develop girdled roots.
- Add Van Wilgen’s Jump Start starter fertilizer or our organic option, VW Root Boost to the hole when planting. Making sure it comes into contact with the root system. Both are formulated to get the fine feeder roots of newly planted plants into action.
- Mix Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix with your existing soil. If you just added nice new soil, not incorporating any native soil, the roots will stop dead in their tracks once they outgrow the pocket of nice new soil.
- Backfill the hole with your soil mixture, tamping the soil as you fill to eliminate any air pockets. Add a 2-3” layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Make sure to leave the stem or trunk flare exposed. Over mulching can lead to its own set of problems.
- Water the base of the plant thoroughly. Avoid overhead watering. Your new plants will need a deep soaking two to three times a week for the first season, depending on water. Please visit vanwilgens.com for a watering guide that will take all the guesswork out of watering your new summer plantings.
Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your new plantings and some warm summer weather!
When people think of Lilacs the first thing to come to mind is the wonderfully fragrant flowers. There are four basic requirements that lilacs need to ensure they are the spring rock star of your garden.
- 1. Drainage. In their native homes, you will find them in fertile hills and on the edges of mountain woodlands. They are never seen in swampy wet areas. Lilacs prefer sandy, gravel-like soil.
- 2. Soil- Lilacs prefer a fertile well-drained soil with a neutral (ph7) to alkaline soil. When in doubt add garden lime! Flowers are produced from new shoots each year. Poor soil will lead to poor growth affecting flower production. If lilac is established in good soil new growth will be at least 6” and pencil-thick. This type of shoot will give you plump flower buds for next spring. If the growth is longer than 18” and thin this is a sign the soil may be too acidic, have too much shade or need to be thinned out by pruning. For lilacs, it is best to enrich the soil with good organic material over traditional fertilizers.
- 3. Sun, Sun, Sun! Lilacs require full sun, at least 6 hours or more each day. They are also “selfish” and don’t like the root competition that nearby trees may give. If you’re not sure how much sun your location gets, please ask a Van Wilgen’s expert and we can help you with that.
- 4. Pruning- Out of all the care lilacs need this can be the most intimidating for most beginners. However, it is much easier than you think. Prune out any diseased or declining canes, suckers, and small branches each year. Small growth and suckers are signs of poor growth. Next, prune out ¼ to 1/3 of the oldest branches each year. Make sure you leave a strong main stem giving you a god form for the plant. This practice ensures strong canes and growth. Also make sure you deadhead your flowers immediately after flowering, before July 4th. By doing a little pruning to your lilac each year you will enjoy great form, flowering for years to come.
JASON SCIRE, Nursery Manager
Big or small, that patch of earth in your backyard is a part of the planet we live on. Celebrate Earth Day by being kind to it. Like you, all of us at the garden center enjoy digging in the dirt and outdoor living. Here are a few of our favorite ways to “go green” this week and year-round.
• Plant a Tree. So for us, this is a no-brainer. Aside from the fact that we love beautiful the green canopy they create, they produce the oxygen we breathe. The amount produced by an individual tree is dependent on its species, maturity, and health. They also assist in filtering pollution from the air, and in reducing erosion.
• Mulch your Garden. Applying a layer of mulch to your flower beds not only limits erosion, but it also reduces the need to water. Mulching also means less weeding, and that’s a win/win
• Plant Milkweed and Fill a Planter with Annuals. Though it may be a weed to some, this plant is the only food eaten by the kind of caterpillars that become monarch butterflies. While you’re at it, fill one of your annual planters with flowers that welcome pollinators. The results will be beautiful and beneficial!
• Grow Your Own. Nothing tastes like vegetables that you’ve grown yourself. Whether you just grow a pot of tomatoes on the patio or you expand your large vegetable garden, you’ll be able to say, “I grew this, and it’s delicious!”
These are all kinds of practical ways to be kind to the earth 365 times a year. In the Garden is a great place to start.