Well, when Andy Williams said, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” he was talking about Christmas – and I suppose he has a point. But for landscapers, horticulturists, and home gardeners in the Midwest, fall is the most wonderful time of the year. As a landscaper, I’m often asked when is the best time to plant trees, or shrubs, or just about anything. The answer for me is easy: fall – and here are the reasons why.
Fall Soil Temperatures Are Warm
First, and perhaps most importantly, the soil temperature is warm. Warm soil means plant roots have a favorable environment in which to begin their growth. Contrast this with early (and even mid-spring) soil temperatures which are downright cold and inhospitable. Second, fall brings warm daytime temperatures and cool nighttime temperatures which are perfect for plant growth. And third, fall rains generally come in the form of light, consistent, prolonged showers, as opposed to violent eruptions and heavy downpours that often characterize spring rains.
Active Growing Gives Plants Time to Establish
Additionally, trees, shrubs, and perennials planted in the fall are actively growing, giving them an excellent chance to establish, before slowly going to sleep and storing up energy for the coming spring. Again, contrast this sequence with what happens in the spring to plants – dormant or semi-dormant plants have their roots thrust into cold, soggy soil, and then have little opportunity to prepare for scorching Midwest summer heat. It’s easy to see why fall planting is easier on plants and preferable to most gardeners.
Planting Early in the Fall Is Best
While fall is a great time to plant, there are guidelines to remember. It’s best to plant evergreens and broadleaf evergreens early in the fall so they have time to establish before the onset of winter. Broadleaves like azalea, holly, rhododendron, and laurel can have a difficult time in our dry winters, so it’s best to plant these before late October. Pines and spruce are more adaptable, but it’s best to plant these before soil temperatures are too cold. Late season planting difficulties can be overcome with careful watering, mulching, and the application of anti-desiccants, but early fall planting makes the process much easier.
Nursery Plant Selection May Be Reduced in Fall
The only significant downside to Fall planting is lower plant inventories and reduced selection. There simply may not be as many plants available in the fall to choose from, but most nurseries make a great effort to have excellent supplies of fresh inventory in September. So, take advantage of nature’s gift to gardeners, and improve your landscape this fall!
If you need help choosing which plants or help with the planting of shrubs or trees, give Greenleaf Garden Services a call at (816) 916-5171 or contact us online. Our experts will be happy to help!
One thing about living in the Midwest is that you never know, from year to year, what kind of weather to expect. A few years back we had snow on May 5th! Happy Cinco de Mayo! (The tulips were not happy!) This year, following a near-record cold April, we’ve experienced the second warmest start to the month of May in Kansas City weather history…dating back to the 1880s. 1962 was a bit warmer through the first 17 days. Add to that the lack of rain in the first half of the month and plants all around town are begging for a drink. We did finally get rain the third weekend of May, so that helped, but our outdoor plants have experienced a roller coaster ride of a spring.
Hopefully, things will settle down in June and the plants can get back to business as usual, providing beautiful blooms and colors all summer long. Don’t forget, if you have a container or hanging plants, they need water almost every day unless they have gotten rainwater. Here are a few pics of some spring plants doing what they do best.
When choosing plants for your landscaping, pick plants that bloom at different times throughout the season to ensure a beautiful view all summer long and into fall. This terraced landscape looks great in the spring with the soft yellow of a Bartzilla peony, the purple irises and the pink dianthus. In the background, Veronica, lilies, and a Miss Ruby butterfly bush wait to make their debut. They will be followed in the fall by flowering asters complemented by the rich red of a Full Moon Japanese maple tree and several colors of groundcover sedum that change with the seasons.
Container Garden Tips
Containers are a great way to add a pop of color to any area all summer long. And if you’re entertaining, they are easily moved from one spot to another so you can jazz up a back patio for company and move them back to the front porch when the party is over!
Planning to plant some containers this year? Remember the rule for container gardening – you need a thriller (a big showy plant that is the main focus), a filler (something shorter and bushier that will fill the area around the main plant), and a spiller (a plant that will dangle over the edge of the planter to create even more color and contrast). You can also add a tall plant in the back, like a spike, to give your container more dimension and variety.
If you need help with landscaping or container planting, call the gardening pros at Greenleaf to help. Call us at (816) 916-5171 or contact us online.
For most gardeners, the winter months are a time to take it easy, evaluate the past seasons’ triumphs (and failures), and browse through gardening and design magazines in search of ideas to make the upcoming spring a blooming success. But the winter months are a valuable time to accomplish some important tasks in the garden as well. Two important things to remember to do are pruning and watering.
The Perfect Time to Prune
Winter is possibly the best time to prune and trim deciduous trees, especially shade trees. The reason for this? With the leaves on the ground or in the compost pile, the branching structure of the tree is easily viewable and pruning cuts are readily made because leaves don’t impair sight lines and elbow room. The tree is essentially dormant during the freezing temperatures of December, January, and February so work on it is easily accomplished.
A Word of Caution for Flowering Trees: Pruning of ornamental deciduous trees can also be done during this time period, but spring blooming trees will have often already set their flower buds for the spring bloom, so those blooms will be sacrificed if pruned in winter. Flowering trees should generally be pruned in the spring soon after blooming is complete.
Don’t Forget to Water
The other critically important task in the winter garden, especially in the Midwest where fall and early winter days appear to grow drier with each passing year, is supplemental watering. This is of primary importance for evergreens (pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, yew, etc.), broadleaf evergreens (rhododendron, azalea, boxwood, laurel, etc.), and newly planted trees and shrubs of all kinds.
Evergreens continue to grow in the winter despite cold temperatures, especially during sunny, “warm-up” days, and they benefit greatly by having water around their roots readily available. It is definitely a hassle to drag the hose out and get these watering tasks done, but experience has taught those of us in the horticulture industry that it will pay huge rewards in the spring when your azaleas are green and lush and blooming, and your neighbor’s plants are a brown pile of sticks! If you have a heated garage, or unfinished basement area where you can store your hose, it will make the task much easier. And, the good news is, it only needs to be done once or twice a month during those winter days—less if your area benefits from a lot of snow or rain provided by Mother Nature.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy that hot cup of coffee or cuddle up by the fire, but don’t forget to take a few days to think about the plants outdoors and give them a little love too. Check out our blog on your garden dreaming days.
Happy winter garden planning from your friends at Greenleaf Garden Services! Give us a call come spring if we can be of any help – (816) 916-5171.
While there may not be as much rain and the temperature continues to rise, underground moisture keeps plants watered so you can typically still successfully plant garden vegetables and plants in June.
Year after year it’s the same thing. We get calls, questions, and concerns; asking whether or not it’s too late to plant? Did we miss our window? These concerns are appropriate and believe me, nothing is worse than seeing a plant (anything for that matter) die, let alone see all your hard work and time go down the drain.
We like to say it’s never too late to plant if you really want to and are up for the challenge; heck if not outside then indoor plants are becoming more popular and aid in air quality too! While indoor plants are great, I’m more specifically talking about planting your vegetables and ornamental landscape plantings outside.
Underground Moisture Keeps Plants Watered
Yes, the weather is getting warmer and we’re not receiving as much rainfall. While it is hot above ground, the deeper layers of soil are still moist, especially if your beds are properly mulched (if not give us a call). The roots of your plants, if they’re fighters like you, are working to reach these deeper layers of soil while building strength. I guess the best way to explain this would be to provide an example of why it’s NOT too late.
Real-Life June Garden in Pictures
Last year, my (now) wife, two kids, two dogs, and a cat moved into our new home. Along with unloading and unpacking everything, which we are still doing, a requirement was that we have at least one small raised vegetable garden our first year and go from there; we moved into the house at the end of May. The end of June was showing its face and things were beginning to heat up just as they are this year and tend to do. The site was chosen, and it was time to get to work (keep in mind this was still turf area and had never been a garden before).
Constructing a New Garden Bed
We went to our local Habitat for Humanity Restore on Deramus Rd., on June 16, 2016, looking for some heat treated pallets to construct the garden bed and compost bin. We found one large 4’ x 12’ heat treated pallet that was used for the sides, and three smaller pallets which we used to construct the compost bin. Zero waste and super cool! We used the hillside to our advantage to save on material as well as used our moving boxes to suppress existing vegetation…Jilan wanted to keep them, and I said, “No”. Ha ha!
Next, a garden mix of sand, compost, and topsoil was added to level out the area. A family trip to our local Grasspad was now in order and most plants were on sale because it was “so late in the season!”
The garden’s official planting date was June 20, 2016, see photo below:
This was the garden July 26, 2016:
And again August 17 right before harvest:
A Hearty Harvest
The harvest was wonderful! We received several heirloom tomatoes, eight cantaloupe, basil & sage for days, lemon grass which has now been made into bug repellent, chives, which have come back again this year, lemon balm, which we let seed and is now growing everywhere, and two really great pumpkins that we let decompose in the garden bed and now, this year, there are nine pumpkin plants growing in the bed!
Story aside, I believe the photos speak for themselves; if you want to plant then plant.
If you want Greenleaf Garden Services to take the hassle out of planting for you, give us a call at (816) 916-5171. Happy planting and we’re looking forward to our continued service with you!
If you are anything like us, you’re itching to get outside, you’re always thinking about being outside, and when you have an opportune moment not preoccupied with other “things”, you are outside.
So, you just got home from work, or it’s the weekend and time to plant those plants that have been sitting on the deck or driveway in containers for days, weeks, months (hope you own a nursery).
While this excitement to exercise your green thumb helps the world go round, it can also have reverse effects on your garden beds and landscape if Mother Nature is beckoning us to wait.
Related Read: Be Ready for Spring with Landscape Maintenance
Wet Soil Compacts Easily
Planting in wet soil or when it is raining ES NO BUENO. Not only can anything and everything that you touch get caked with muddy soil, but everywhere you step, the soil begins to compact.
Compacting the soil is bad because it removes the air pockets your plants’ roots will seek as they grow (or don’t, if you have not hung up the gloves yet). It’s good to wait a few days after a heavy rain to allow the soil to dry out a bit. If you time it “perfectly” you could dig easily and water minimally.
When Your Schedule Won’t Allow You to Wait to Plant
Adding compost and things like peat moss can also help to create those air pockets mentioned previously if waiting a couple days is out of the question. Also, if the area where you are planting is very wet or dry frequently, you might investigate why this is, consider planting in another location, amend the soil, or fix the landscaping to alleviate the issue. The team at Greenleaf can help if you have questions.
From all of us to you, we hope your planting season is off to a great start for future beginnings!
If you need garden or landscaping help, give us a call at (816) 916-5171 or contact us online.