on the progress of the landscaping project in Asheville,
Asheville like many places in the south has been hit hard
by a severe
drought, it is known as an agricultural drought. This means
the land and
ground is dry 18 to 24 inches down.
Alfie, the gardener extraordinaire, has been in charge of
installation. He reports that every step has been made harder
because it has been so dry. Asheville is experiencing a
rain shortfall of about 15
to 18 inches so far this year, combined with previous years
it's well over 30 inches below normal. Some plants did better
others. The Hostas were purchased in gallon pots and had
established root systems, plus they were in a good potting
added amendments. Thus they stayed about the same, they
dramatically but don't show signs of suffering. As you remember,
ferns were bare rooted, they didn't have much of a root
have done ok some have failed, none of them grew dramatically.
planting, Alfie used soil amendments, an under mulch, ground
bark, about an inch and a half of soil conditioner, which
once wet holds moisture like a sponge. He added a layer
of mulch on the top, it is not only decorative but also
holds moisture. If you have a fine textured organic matter
and don't cover it, it will quickly evaporate. By using
chunkier mulch it protects or keeps the fine textured mulch
evaporating as quickly. So it is a good idea in dry conditions
the different soil amendments.
Alfie planted understory trees, like the Eastern Redbud
and they seem to be holding their own. To prepare the soil
he dug a normal sized hole. He realized he hadn't hit any
moisture and was down 2 and 1/2 feet. He
went down to about 3 feet, found a little moisture in the
clay. He then
made a clay cone to hold the tree up because the tree will
settle in the
hole and if it were to settle the organic matter he lined
the hole with
could decay the tree. Then the hole was filled with water,
later the hole had dried and was filled again. This insures
around the plant won't wick away the water from the plant.
Then soil and soil amendments, like garden soil, were added.
These trees were balled and burlap. The burlap is still
on the root
system. This doesn't need to be removed from the plant it
disintegrate over time. Even if there is wire around the
ball it too
will rust in the ground over time. This tree had a rigid
could be cotton, manila, wire, nylon or plastic) around
the tree trunk,
it should be removed. It could girdle the plant when it
grows in girth
making it strangle the tree causing severe damage.
The Eastern Redbud was a good selection for an understory
Understory trees are trees that live underneath large, mature
They are second tier trees under mature hardwoods. The key
when selecting these trees is to select trees that tolerate
conditions because the mature hardwoods suck up or pull
the soil. They also need to tolerate shade. Eastern Redbuds,
are both good, they are native to shady areas. Look for
that have flowers in the spring and interesting fall color.
provide a nice smooth transition between small plants, like
covers, hostas, ivies or small shrubs like Azaleas and mature
In any installation you will have successes and failures.
look very good and a lot were planted. They have put on
a good deal of
growth, they will need about a year and a half to make their
Plants like fox glove, astilbe look great. Some plants didn't
year but will next spring, early summer. There is growth
tierella, it has put out pups. When it gets a little cooler
little string that attaches and move it around the garden
where it is
wanted and let them cluster. The area with perennials was
area because it is near the sitting area. They're small
but will really
take off in several years. Perennials don't have the growth
annuals such as coleus. They are building their roots and
next year will
start their blooming process.
Establishing woody plants in drought conditions can be a
key is matching the plant to the sight. Rhododendrons tolerate
drained soil, in fact they require it, and they like some
picked healthy plants with full root systems. The time it
takes for the
roots to establish themselves or feel at home in the landscape
may take normally several weeks or several months but in
a drought it may take a year or so. The key is how they
are watered and fertilized during
establishment. With mature root systems they can be watered
infrequently and deeply. This encourages the root system
to grow deep and the plant thrives. With plants recently
put in the landscape, it is best to water frequently and
lightly, once a day or even twice a day water lightly. This
will keep the root ball moist, that encourages root hairs,
small hairs, to grow out into the soil. If we water thoroughly,
infrequently the root hairs will dry out and that shocks
plant. Thus water lightly yet frequently. Another important
step is to
fertilize. With woody plants fertilize past the drip line,
the edge of
the plant. This encourages the root system to grow out into
the soil as
opposed to down below the plant. Don't place the fertilizer
base of the plant, it could cause burning and there are
no feeder roots
in that area.
One of the most expensive, challenging and time consuming
establishing a landscape is keeping it watered or irrigated,
with a drought. Water restrictions make the task even more
Often when we think about irrigation we think about overhead
systems. An overhead system is reasonably efficient but
allows for an enormous
amount of evaporation and run off. It has been estimated
that up to 40% of the water in this type system is wasted.
Alfie has installed a much more efficient system, it is
a soaker hose. It oozes water along the complete tubing.
He has curved it back and forth between plants. Under normal
conditions it will provide coverage about a foot on each
side of the hose. It is placed around the drip line of plants
and again that encourages the roots to grow into the entire
planting bed. There is no water run off and with this soaker
hose we get the same amount of water at the top of a hill
or end of the hose as at the faucet. It is made of recycled
rubber, the holes are very small allowing just a few gallons
of water per hour flow depending on water pressure. The
hose can be moved throughout your garden or bury it in mulch
(the hose is black) so it isn't noticeable. It comes with
a little holder to keep it in place.
This hose has a UV inhibitor so it won't break down in full
Alfie is running two 75 foot soaker hoses from one faucet.
He has a "Y"
connector on the faucet that allows him to connect two systems
switch back and forth.
Creating outdoor rooms is an important element of any landscape
Alfie has created a stone patio with inexpensive materials
and not a lot
of work. He leveled the ground, going down to the basic
all organic matter. He packed the ground and added stone
screenings from granite, this makes for a variety of different
packed it down and edged it with chicken wire. He then stuccoed
a masons mix (S-type, waterproof concrete) making about
3/4 inch of
reinforced concrete framing. Add sand, then place the stone
wiggle it around making it level (on 2 sides). He added
mortar to the
top to make sure lawn furniture wouldn't catch or the sand
wouldn't wash out. It is nice looking, takes less time than
placing the stones in
mortar mix and is inexpensive.
When designing outdoor living spaces where should the furniture
placed for maximum efficiency of this area?
First, buy the nicest furniture you can afford, it can be
viewed as a
piece of artwork from both the inside as well as the outside
house. Remember 90% of the time we're inside the house.
Then determine which parts of the garden you want emphasized.
If the furniture is not an art object it may be treated
as a forb. A forb is a plant that lives on the edge of the
turf, actually in the mulch, in the planting bed allowing
you to view the open turf area. Desire lines are the lines
of natural circulation. Place your benches or furniture
near or around those areas. Where two paths meet might be
a good area. Where people tend to congregate, near a pond,
near something fragrant, all are excellent spots to place
furniture. These areas can actually lower blood pressure
and make a difference in the quality of time spent in your
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