This show is a follow up to
our landscaping project in Asheville, North Carolina. Alfie
the gardener has been implementing Dr. Rick's landscaping
plan. Many improvements have been made, there are some still
Today we review the work done so far. Alfie
has created a path from the back of the house around the
front connecting with the front sidewalk. He has used two
striking mulches, one a red color the other black. The path
goes in front of the Azaleas discussed before. The contrasting
colors show the difference between pathway and bedding areas.
Alfie has saved the old Azaleas, moved some from other locations
and added new Azaleas. They were in a straight line during
our first visit. According to our landscape plan the bed
lines are out from the house and they have a nice out-curve.
By placing the Azaleas in a large massed bed they make a
much more dramatic statement. You can see the difference
between the old plants and new, but by the end of the summer
with fertilization, water and care they should all match
nicely. Alfie shows us how he moved the old Azaleas. Since
the best time to move them would be late fall, early winter
and because he knew it might be some time before the move
was completed he took steps to reduce the transplant shock.
He went all the way around the Azalea, then trimmed it back
to the drip line about 12"-18" from the base,
and cut the roots with sharp clean cuts. He did not dig
under the plant, leaving those roots intact. This encourages
feeder roots, the lateral roots, to bunch up around the
root ball and absorb moisture and nutrients and encourage
root growth. It also makes moving the plant easier. Alfie
used a high phosphorus liquid fertilizer, a 15-30-15, which
encourages root growth and provides needed nutrients to
the Azalea. This was done in the spring, so the nitrogen
didn't interfere with the blooming. To now move the plant
we'll cut the roots underneath, place burlap underneath,
lift it and move it. We'll add soil amendments and the Azalea
should not know its' been moved.
Dr. Rick gives us an update. A lot of research has been
done recently that tells us whether a plant will thrive,
make it, barely make it or bite the dust. The number one
criteria for survival is matching the plant to the site.
Number two is the plant health during planting time, does
it have a healthy root system, is there stored energy near
the stem base, is the plant ready to deal with the rigors
of establishment. And number three is what happens during
establishment? Establishment is essentially intensive care
time for your plant, it's the time it takes for the plant
to feel at home in the new landscape site. Typically that
takes 6-8 weeks but that depends on the size of plant. Smaller
plants establish more quickly than larger plants. During
establishment water is important. Established plants like
deep and through watering. New plants, on the other hand,
don't have a developed root system, they need to be watered
lightly and frequently. If the soil dries out and the root
system dries out on a regular basis the new young little
roots, the root hairs won't establish themselves and it
will shock the plant. So use small amounts of water almost
on a daily basis. This is especially important if there
is heavy clay soil, since clay soils wick the water away
from the plant. A coarse mixture of pine bark will also
pull water away from plants roots. So water lightly and
frequently with new plants. Fertilization is also helpful
in establishing the plant. Most effective is placing fertilizer
on top of the soil. As the fertilizer slowly percolates
down the root system, the roots will grow. Many gardeners
add fertilizer to the soil when planting, that is not a
good idea. It could burn the roots but even more importantly,
roots in the south grow laterally, the fertilizer could
miss the roots.
Alfie has done a lot of bed prep for the seasonal color,
adding attractive bed lines. The flowers have presented
a challenge because there is a range of sun to shade. The
annuals were put close to the house so people on the porch
or inside the house could enjoy them. From the street it
draws your eye to the front of the house. The colors and
plants are fabulous, very eye-catching and have a very different
texture. They're refined, delicate, even elegant Alfie selected
colors that matched the house and they're intricate plants
that need to be viewed up close. To prep the beds Alfie
used a garden soil and tilled it in with existing soil about
50 -50. That gave him the extra volume to raise the beds
so they can be better presented and this allows the beds
to drain well. The garden soil has bark, starter fertilizer
and some manure. Most of the plants are sterile hybrids,
which means they won't turn to seed, and will continue to
bloom. They are new varieties that have been tested in this
country and around the world to ensure success. Armesia,
Candy Girl is one plant, low maintenance, just dead head.
A perennial Oxalis, Alva, has little white flowers, does
well on the edge of shade, but can take some direct light.
Lungwort or Pulmonaria spreads and has a nice clumped, drifting
area. It draws attention to dark corners, it has a variegated
leaf with a pattern. It is a nice alternative to Hosta.
Raspberry Splash has a cluster of spike like
flowers on top. Heuchera, Purple Petticoats is new and unusual.
Foam Flower contrasts well with the dark mulch. Tiarella,
Heronswood Mist, is variegated and helps woodland plants
connect with the rest of the garden. Alfie has planted these
plants in a natural, informal way. Nothing in a straight
line, more like what you would find in the woods. These
are low maintenance plants, don't require pruning or clipping
and are insect or disease resistant.
Both trellises and an arbor have been added to provide privacy.
The arbor is welded steel, strong enough to hold heavy vines,
but light enough to be airy and doesn't dominate the area.
On the arbor Alfie has put Wisteria. The Wisteria was here
before, and provides an excellent screen from the alley
and street. The Wisteria is a fast grower and has been wound
around the Arbor. In three or four weeks it's covered almost
half of the arbor. It is in full sun, which helps growth
and Alfie thinks that it will quickly and completely cover
the arbor. Alfie has placed a trellis nearby to screen the
hillside. The trellis doesn't take a lot of space but provides
an effective screen. The trellis is also a steel frame,
but to make it stronger he's driven 18" of steel pipe
or PVC pipe into the ground. This will keep erosion or wear
and tear from weakening them over the years. Again he has
Wisteria on the trellis. Wisteria is a naturalized plant
and in some places it has taken over. The beauty to these
locations for Wisteria is that it can be pruned with hedge
trimmers several times a year and kept in its' place. Suckers
or sprouts may grow around the plant, trim them and it should
Alfie has taken the area with exposed tree roots, and the
hill, before a barren waste land, and made it attractive.
The steep hill before acted like a waterfall. He broke up
the soil as much as possible, tilled the soil and again
added lawn soil (in spots as much as five to eight inches)
to somewhat level the area. He then seeded with grass seed.
At one point he had to cover the area with burlap but roots
are now taking hold and erosion shouldn't now be a problem.
It is looking good, nice and green. One question Dr. Rick
often receives is can you and if so how much soil or other
material can be placed on top of roots. The answer is 4-5
inches, but it needs to be well drained, so it doesn't rot
the roots. This allows you to plant something on top of
the roots. It's best to incorporate whatever you put on
top of the soil into the soil so there isn't a layering
effect. In this yard, the roots are now covered with one
exception and those roots don't get hit by a lawnmower.
The lawn now acts like a giant sponge and now longer is
there a waterfall. One of the things Alfie did to encourage
growth in this area was to limb up the trees. He took four
or five limbs off the tree, this allows in more light and
takes less water. It creates high shade and makes the area
a better place to grow plants.
Alfie has done a wonderful job. We'll be back in several
weeks and review the progress in another part of the yard.
We'll then return in a month or so to check on the job when
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