Tree Planting- Don’t Get Stumped!

You might find tree planting as simple as plopping a tree into the ground and watching it grow. Believe it or not, there is much more that goes into it than that. Think of it this way: trees are an investment. If you care for them properly and help them grow from the start, they might outlive you! Just like any investment, it’s good to do research and think long and hard before buying. Here are some words of advice for those looking to buy a tree:

  • Location: It might be easy to say where you would like the tree to go, but is the area sufficient enough to propagate tree growth? Check the area for indications of possible tree failure. This could include: too much competition in the soil, compacted soil, overhead wires, underground utilities, overhead structures, high erosion areas, or confided spaces. This list is certainly not limited, as there are many potential hazards to tree health and growth.
  • The Perfect Fit: Not all trees work in all places. Be sure to find the right tree that can grow in the spot that you determined to plant. There are many informational guides out there to help you with choosing the correct tree. Some things that you want to keep an eye out for:
    • Plant hardiness. Can this tree grow in our climate?
    • Evergreen vs. Deciduous. Are you looking for a tree that can keep its foliage?
    • Height and Width: What is the maximum height and width this tree can grow? Will it fit in the space that you determined?
    • Sun: How much sun does this plant need? Can it take periods of shade?
    • Water: How much water does this plant consume? If it likes moisture, for instance like a bog or swamp, it might not be a good fit for a dryer area.
    • Pests: Does this tree attract certain pests. Could it be susceptible to Asian Longhorns?

Once you have determined a tree for the location, it’s time to head to your local nursery! You will find that trees vary in size. Larger trees are typically balled and burlapped, while smaller trees are located inside containers. Be sure to check for a straight form, a single leader (if applicable) and possible blemishes.

Once the tree is on site, it’s time to begin the planting process!

Rick and Susan Walters house, Concord, MA, 2009

You first begin by digging the hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball, but only as deep as the root flare. Determining the root flare is key to a healthy tree. The root flare is the lower area on the tree right where the roots begin to curve away from the straight trunk. Always be sure to keep this area free from debris. If the root flare is covered by rocks, dirt, or mulch, the tree will suffocate or rot and will ultimately die.

Remove the container or wire cage so that the root ball can be covered with soil in the hole. It’s key to snip and remove as much burlp and cage as possible so that the tree can root out into the soil. A great gardening tip is to scrape up the edges of the root ball ever so slightly and gently so that some of the roots are exposed. This will promote the roots to spread into the existing soil. The next step is to ensure that the tree is straight on all sides. Make sure to walk around and inspect the tree up close and far away. Next: add soil.

Adding soil back in while watering is a great way to ensure that the soil becomes slightly firm around the tree. Shoveling in healthy soil that is compliant with the plant’s needs is key. A sprinkle of fertilizer to stimulate root growth is also not a bad idea when filling in the hole. Pack the soil around the base to prevent sinking and raise the soil to grade and root flare.

Next is more water before adding the mulch. Be sure to give your tree a good drink since you just opened up its roots for water. Once the soil has absorbed the water, it’s time to layer on some mulch. Mulch will help hold in moisture for the tree. Be sure to add a 2-3” layer of mulch (keep most of it away from the root flare). Do not make a mulch volcano or mound. We see this all the time and it’s not healthy for the trees! This is when there is mulch burring the root flare in the shape of a mound or volcano. This not only suffocates the root flare, but it sheds water away from the tree.

The last step is all about water. Water, water, water. Keep a good eye on the weather and be sure to give your tree enough of a drink so that it is not under stress!

For more details, check out this helpful article:

Upcycling: Pallet Garden Ideas

You may have come across a few photos of people using pallets as a garden bed or vertical growing walls. The reuse of recycled material to achieve a higher purpose and value is known as upcycling. Upcycling is exactly what pallet gardening is. Nothing is better than taking a pallet, composed of raw wood, and refining it into a crafty planter.

There are a few things that are great about pallet gardens:

  1. Easy to Weed: It’s easy to manage a small pallet garden if it becomes infested with weeds. Because it is a small defined growing area, maintenance is simple! There are many ideas out there in regards to making elevated planting beds. This allows easy reaching for those who are elderly or handicapped.
  2. The Divide: It’s easy to plant from seed or grow from starter packs when everything is planted in a line. Gone are the days of tilling soil and losing track of where you have planted your flowers or veggies.
  3. The Creative Approach: Pallet gardening can be taken to the next level by adding or removing boards and even adding a dash of paint.

Upcycling pallets is not limited to gardening. There are hundreds of creative ideas to reuse pallets: everything from treehouses, to patio benches, to architectural pieces! Check out these ideas from around the web:

New England Winters: How to Prepare for Spring

13Although it may be the dead of winter, there is plenty to do in order to be fully prepared for the spring. Gardening is not over once the snow flies! Here are some helpful ideas to help you be prepared for the coming days of thawing and melting:

  • Inventory and order seeds. Figure out what you might want to try growing this year and make a list of seeds that you need to order. You may want to begin growing the seeds indoors first so that you have a head start on the season.
  • Inspect your Tools: Now is the time to sharpen any cutting or digging tools. This will make planting, pruning, and deadheading run much smoother and quicker. This is also a great time to check over your power tool to ensure they are in working order.
  • Pruning: Now is a great time to structurally prune any trees. The leaves are out of the way and you have a clearview of any branches that may be overlapping, touching, or cracking. If you have Lenten Roses growing, now is the time to remove the old stalks and leaves. The new leaves and blooms will be arriving shortly.
  • Antidesiccant Spray: February is known for harsh winds, frozen soil, and chilly temps. Now is a great time to do what you can to protect the leaves of your evergreens by spraying antidesiccant. Why is this important? The elements are leaching water from your evergreens. By spraying a waxy like cover on the leaves/needles, you are essentially armoring your evergreens against the elements.
  • Winter Ice Threats: Handle plants that have the potential of causing damage if a heavy snow or ice storm were to hit. It’s better to act ahead of time before things turn for the worse. If there is a tree that has termite-ridden limbs that are hanging over your deck or house, it might be wise to call in an arborist to care for the situation.


What type of Landscape Company are you looking for?

Summer Time!!

There are many types of landscape companies out there.  There are people who operate like a one man band. There are landscape companies who concentrate solely on maintenance, lawn care or design build.  There are national firms (the Walmarts of Landscapers) who can seemingly do it all.

Then there companies like ours who are small enough to understand you individually, yet big enough to be able to handle whatever your needs.  We have professionals (yes professionals) dedicated to  building and caring for landscapes.  Our mission is to provide you with peace of mind while creating and caring for your property.  Our staff consists of Licensed Landscape Architects, Certified Mass Horticulturists, Certified Mass Arborists, Licensed Lawn Care technicians. 

We have these designations because this is a profession to us, not just a job until the economy turns around.  You would be hard pressed to find a more talented caring Landscape Architect than ours.  She can turn a pile of rubble (if you look on our site at the lake house) into an exquisite, interesting place to enjoy the serenity of lake living.   

Likewise our certified horticulturists love tending and caring for plants.  We care for many of the areas finest perennial gardens and our annual displays are awe inspiring.  We cultivate and tend an organinic vegetable garden for The Harrington Farm Restaurant and event facility.   

The picture for the heading of this blog is a lawn that we have taken care of for over 10 years.  When we took over the lawn it was more weeds than grass and went dormant annually.  With our stewardship this lawn clearly thrives! Believe it or not this lawn is not irrigated or over treated with chemicals.  Drop us a line and we can tell you how.

I have yet to mention our crews who actually build our landscape projects.  They consist of people who have years of experience in grading, masonry, planting as well as just being great people to be around.  Many of our clients tell us they wish the project could go longer as they will miss having the contact with our staff.  I think that speaks as much to the quality of our team as the pictures on our site speak to the quality of our work.

There are many great landscape companies to choose from.  I obviously think ours is the best!  So if you are in the need of landscape services this year, give us a call so that we can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with hiring a group of caring professionals to be in your yard building, enhancing or caring for it.

Geranium Bud Worm

A bit of advice if you try to over winter your geraniums.  There may be pests lurking in the soil in the form of Tobacco Bud Worms.  These worms also called Geranium or Petunia Budworms  are extremely hard to combat.  In fact they are resistant to most garden insecticides. 

You can try Bacillus thuringiensis/Bt as an effective biological control.  The worm must ingest the Bt in order for it to be effective, so once the worm has bored into the bud it looses its efficacy.  Also found to be somewhat effective is pyrethroid insecticides as a conventional approach. 

  If you bring your geraniums inside during the winter it is imperative to remove the soil from the plants and re pot them with new/ fresh potting soil before overwintering them.  Cold harsh winters (Temps below 20 degrees F) will kill the  budworms.  A cultural practice of  cultivating/ rototilling the soil in the fall where the plants were for the summer months will help expose the larvae to the harsh winter climate. 

The cultivation of the soil is important not only if you plan on placing the geraniums in the same spot or general area next growing season, but also if you plan on having petunias in the general vicinity.

Hopefully this helps.  Happy Gardening!!

Spring cleaning- good for your plants

Did you know that last years disease can over winter and infect the same plants this year?  Last year was a particularly wet spring and summer.  Subsequently, there were many disease/ fungus that occurred last growing season.  Those diseases lay dormant over winter in the leaf litter from the previous year.  To give the plants the best chance of not falling victim to the same disease two years in a row,  you need to remove all of the leaf litter, infected shoots and or cankers to keep them from reinfecting the plant. 

A thorough spring clean up not only makes your landscape look better, it also increases the likely hood that your plants will be healthier in the coming months.  There are many other issues that pop up in the spring that affect what your landscape plants will look like in the summer and fall months. 

As always we have comprehensive landscape maintenance and lawn care packages to help you enjoy your property to it’s fullest!  Let us know if we can help.

Watch out for your ornamental evergreens

As we get closer to the month of March and Spring it is important to keep an eye on our landscape plantings. March is famous for it’s winds which can dry plants leaves. March can also be as cold as the middle of winter. Add to that a strengthening sun and there is a recipe for serious scorch to your ornamental plants. Evergreens, especially broad-leaf evergreens, are particularly at risk.
The levels of damage to your plants can vary from one side of town to the next, but also from one side of your yard to the other. There are many things you can do to help your plants through these times.
– Wrapping the plants is a great way to protect them. However winter interest/ beauty should be a big part of your landscape. Most of us spend our free winter time at home looking out at our yard and dreaming of spring. It is much more pleasant to see an interesting and pretty plant sticking through the snow than burlap wrap. Another more aesthetically pretty way to wrap your plants is with evergreen bows. The bows do a great job of protection as well.
– A less visually obtrusive process in protecting our plants is to spray the plants with anti-desiccant. Anti-desiccant sprays cover the leaves/ needles with a thin coat wax, thus not allowing the plants to aspire so much moisture. This leaves the plants in their natural state, allowing us to enjoy the full benefit or their beauty. As with most things in the landscape (natural world) the process is not perfect. Applying the anti-desiccant will need to be repeated (at least) monthly in order for it to be effective. And with that said, it is still not quite as effective as wrapping the plants.
We spend much time focusing on our landcape in the warmer months. It is intelligent to think of them in the winter as well. Even if you leave your home for warmer weather, the benefit from protecting your plants from the winters harsh winds and drying effects will pay divedends in the spring when your plants will stand a better chance of starting the season lush and green and many unprotected plants will be wilted, brown and in distress.
Princeton Scapes has a full service landscape maintenance department that works in conjunction with our clients to make sure that they maximize their value while enjoying their properties.
Winter is beautiful, Spring is close and we are ready to get to work caring for your landscapes!