Gifts for the Landscape
22 December 2008
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Charlottesville/Albemarle County Office
460 Stagecoach Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
phone: 434.872.4580 fax: 434.872.4578
Having trouble thinking of nice gifts for those around you? In tough times I try to think of what is really needed rather the nice to have stuff. For example, one of my trees really needed some pruning so it could be a safe place to park my car underneath. That was easy to decide because I do not want to get beaned by some dead but still hanging limb when a strong breeze blows through. There are lots of things like this you can do for your closest living friends and relatives. So here are some things you can get for your landscape for the holidays. They are important for everyone and they keep on giving long after the season has passed. No wrapping required.
- Test the soil to learn the pH and nutrients already present
- Use compost to improve soil structure and fertility in lawns and gardens
- Maintain healthy plants by meeting their cultural requirements with the goal of using less pesticides
- Avoid planting invasive species; instead choose plants, especially native plants that minimize maintenance and increase habitat.
- Group plants with similar needs (water, fertilizer, sun) for easier maintenance
- Use plants or mulch to conserve water, suppress weeds and prevent soil erosion
- Recycle/Reuse yard waste on site
- Fertilize based on a soil test and at the appropriate time of year
- Identify plant problem and severity of damage before choosing a control
- Read and follow all directions on pesticide labels
- Determine soil drainage capacity before planting
- In times of low precipitation irrigate landscape plants deeply and infrequently, at a rate of 1" per week
- When adding trees/shrubs to the landscape, select trees and shrubs that will grow in the conditions (soil pH, sun or shade, etc.) of the landscape
- Plant trees/shrubs in holes that are 3-5 times the width of the root ball, and slightly less the height
- Mulch only 2-3 inches high, and 4-6 inches away from the trunk of the tree/shrub
- Select trees/shrubs whose mature sizes will fit the scale and size of the landscape
- Use no soil amendments in individual planting holes of new plantings
- Maintain desirable pH (6.2-6.5) for turf grass through regular soil testing
- Eliminate turf in shady areas where it is difficult to grow
- Measure your turfs square footage dont guess!
- Re-test your soil every 3-5 years
- Follow the 1/3 mowing rule --Never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any mowing event
- Sharpen mower blades about every 10 hours of use or every 10 to 20 mowings. Wet grass tends to dull blades. Mowing with a dull blade also contributes to lawn diseases.
- Avoid mowing under drought conditions or when the leaf blades are wet.
- Return grass clippings back to the lawn-- it counts for up to 30% of a lawns nitrogen requirements for the year.
- Core-aerate the lawn in late August-early September or mid March-mid April.
- Choose a fertilizer with more than 50% Water Insoluble Nitrogen (slow release) formulation rather than a quick release formulation to prevent fertilizer runoff.
- Fertilize based on soil test
- Cool season grasses-Fertilize no more than 2 pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet TOTAL in the Fall; applying no more than 1 pound of Nitrogen every 30 days. Optimal time is September through November. Fertilize no more than 1 pound of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet TOTAL in the spring. Optimal time is May 15-June 15.
- Warm season grasses-Optimal time for fertilizing is June, July and August. Fertilize no more than 1 pound of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application. With no more than 3 lbs of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet TOTAL for the season
- Apply lime based on a soil test.
- Top-dress existing lawn with of compost to improve the soil structure of clay soils. A simple formula to calculate how much compost is needed is :
Area to cover (square feet) X depth of compost (inches) X 0.0031= compost needed (cubic yards)
- In late spring, add about 1 inch of compost around the trees and shrubs. Cover with a mulch of shredded pine needles, straw, bark chips, or leaves 2 to 3 inches deep.
- In the fall, spread about 2 inches of compost over your entire garden and work it 6 to 8 inches into the soil
For more information about landscape topics contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. The local Virginia Cooperative Extension office numbers are Albemarle 872-4580, Fluvanna 591-1950, Greene 985-5236, Louisa 540-967-3422, and Nelson 263-4035.
For more information about this and other landscape topics contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. The local Virginia Cooperative Extension office numbers are Albemarle 872-4580, Fluvanna 591-1950, Greene 985-5236, Louisa 540-967-3422, and Nelson 263-4035.