Posted on July 9th, 2010 No comments
The most important thing you can do for your landscape during the summer months is also the simplest: WATER, WATER, WATER.
Chicago summers are hot, and plants need you to make sure they have moisture. This not only keeps them growing, but also helps ward off diseases that attack plants weakened by thirst.
Don’t over-water, though. Plant roots need oxygen, and too much continuous water keeps the soil from breathing. Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry enough so that the air can penetrate before watering again.
When you water, water well. Just wetting the leaves and soil surface quickly may do more harm than good. This encourages plants to develop shallow roots that will be extremely vulnerable in dry spells or to sudden freezes.
Most people don’t have the time or patience to water a whole garden with a handheld hose. Use a sprinkler. Until you become accustomed to the rate your sprinkler distributes water, you may want to use a rain gauge (or a cup or can) to measure. A measured inch of rain or sprinkler water will penetrate the soil about 10 inches. In dry periods, water at least a measured inch every week. Note that it may take several hours for a sprinkler to distribute an inch of water.
Interestingly, a 35-foot tall tree loses 30 gallons of water on a hot summer day. During a dry spell, even large trees must be watered to ensure good health and promote growth. Give special care to all new plants. Trees, shrubs, evergreens and groundcover planted within the past four years should be considered newly planted. Generally, soaker hoses deliver insufficient water for newly planted trees and shrubs. When you water, water well.
The simplest rule of thumb? If your plants are looking dry, water them!
Posted on July 9th, 2010 No comments
A properly planted perennial shade garden possesses a charm of its own, with quiet harmonies of color and texture that are so different in character from its sunny counterpart. Shade gardens provide a cool refuge from the glare of summer. Limited sunlight is often viewed with mixed feelings by those who maintain a garden in shade, especially if they are trying to grow plants that will not do well in a shady site. Luckily, many colorful and interesting plants that will tolerate shade conditions are available. When you begin to plan your shade garden, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the type of shade you have. There is a great difference between the heavy, almost total shadow cast by buildings and dense evergreens, and the dappled shade of deciduous trees.
In addition to the amount of sunlight, the other factors that have to be taken into account are soil texture and moisture. Remember that although many plant varieties will grow in a shady location when the shade is caused by a large established tree, soil moisture becomes the limiting factor to good plant growth. Typically the area under the entire tree canopy contains the tree’s root system and is very dry. Imagine drawing a line from the outermost edge of the tree canopy to the ground. This is the drip line, and the area from that line to the trunk of the tree won’t receive as much sunlight or water as the area outside of the drip line. Tree roots tend to grow out from the trunk twice as wide as a drip line.
Thorough soil preparation is essential and the incorporation of humus, in the form of composted organic matter, will benefit the soil. Compost should also be used as a mulch to conserve moisture and as a protective covering during winter.
Evergreen trees such as Spruce and Pine are the hardest to grow below, as the dense needles block most, if not all, of the natural light and water. Very rarely do you find plants surviving below an evergreen. It is best to plant outside the drip line on these trees.
Here are some beautiful shade-loving perennial combinations we love.
New shade-loving perennials are constantly being introduced and may be right for your garden. With that in mind, remember that there is a solution for you, no matter what type of light, moisture or soil you have.