Monthly Gardening Tips
The Gardening Tutor Buttons About Button Announcements Button Contact Us Button Links Button Who Needs The Gardening Tutor Button Services Button First Visit Button Before and After Button Testimonials Button About Button The Garden Shoppe Button Monthly Gardening Tips Button The Gardening Tutor Home Button

See Past Gardening Tips Here


2014 Gardening Tips
September Things to Consider When you Want to Plant a Tree
plus Gardening Tips for September
August Watch out for Wasps while Gardening
July It’s not too Late to Plant Sunflowers
plus Gardening Tips
June Irrigation - Do it Yourself or Hire Out
plus Gardening Tips

Know your Foe
plus Gardening Tips

April Have you Checked your Fencing?
plus What to Plant
March Weeding takes Top Priority this Month
plus What to Plant
February Buy Summer Flowering Blubs Mow
plus What to Plant
January Rose Pruning, Sweet Peas and More
plus What to Plant

2014 Gardening Tips

SEPTEMBER 2014 (recycled from September 2011)


To help yourself decide which tree to plant, ask yourself why you want a tree. Do you want fruit; summer foliage to shade the house; bare branches in winter to let in more sun; a focal point; to add some colorful blooms above your head; to attract birds and other wildlife; or to hide the neighbor’s house?

Be careful when choosing a tree because it’s your favorite and you simply ‘have to have it.’ Many gardens today are simply too small for the mature size of some trees, such as Sequoia sempervirens (Redwood), Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo), Liquidambar (Sweet gum), or Magnolia grandiflora, as well as many others.

When the description of a tree says, ‘fast growing’ or something similar, be aware that fast growing trees may fill in quickly but they also tend to have weak branches that can snap in the wind. This does not necessarily mean ‘never’ plant a fast growing tree, it means that formative pruning while the tree is young and keeping the tree in good form when mature will be extra important.

Formative pruning is important for all trees, especially those trees that have narrow crotches (branching that grows more parallel to the trunk or other branches creating a tight angle where the branch begins). Branches with narrow crotches can grow together (known as ‘inclusion’) and lead to problems in the future. Included branches can tear apart and leave a shredded open wound on your tree.

In years past, when digging the planting hole, gardeners would dig the deepest hole they could in which to plant their tree. Today, horticulture science knows better and we disturb the soil only as deep as the soil level of the tree in the container. We also know today to disturb the soil two to three times as wide as the width of the rootball in the container so that the new roots have an easy time getting established. Also in the past, gardeners added copious amounts of amendment into the planting hole. Now, we know to only add a small amount of amendment (especially if the soil is really poor) or no amendment at all in the planting hole so that the new roots grow into the native soil instead of staying in a highly amended small area.

Many trees come from the nursery with a stake that is tied right up on the trunk. When you get your tree home and are ready to plant it, replace that nursery stake with a sturdy stake placed about 6 inches from the trunk. Use a tree tie and make certain to cross the tie between the tree and the stake (this allows the tree to move a bit in the wind which will strengthen the trunk).In high wind areas you may need three stakes and in no wind areas you may be able to plant your tree without any stake at all.

Remember to consider the mature size of the trunk and canopy of your tree when deciding the placement of your tree next to your house, other buildings or fences.

If you would like to learn more about planting your trees, shrubs and other plants or more about pruning contact Mary.

    2011 Tips

Do you want more photos and gardening tips? Sign up for the newsletter and receive Mary’s monthly newsletter with design idea photos, pest photos, and other information. We never share your email address with anyone for any reason! You can contact Mary directly and ask her to sign you up or sign yourself up on the website.

  • Spring flowering bulbs will be arriving in local nurseries this month; shop early for best selection. Remember to choose plump, unblemished bulbs for your garden. Alliums, Anemone, Crocus, Freesia, and Sparaxis are just a few of the choices you’ll have.
  • Fall is ‘plantapolooza’ time in our area! You can begin planting trees, shrubs, some perennials and all frost hardy plants (including winter annuals) now. Keep all new plants watered until the rains arrive, helping to establish the root systems over the winter.
  • Continue to weed out Bermuda grass and other invasive grasses before they go dormant for the winter and come back twice as bad next year.
  • If you did not amend your veggie garden soil with aged compost in August you can still add it now. If the compost is not aged (and you plan to add a lot) you’ll need to wait about 4 weeks before you plant (if you are only adding an inch of compost you do not have to wait to plant-thanks Wendy at You can tell if manure type compost is aged when it is no longer hot to the touch and it smells like earth and not ammonia.
  • Birds will appreciate the food source if you leave your sunflowers and Amaranth to go to seed.
  • Do you want winter color in your garden? Pansies and Iceland Poppies are real wintertime show stoppers. If you plant winter annuals in late September and October they will have time to spread their roots in what’s left of the warmth from the summer soil. Keep annuals deadheaded and your plants will be big and full of blossoms in spring when everyone else is just starting to buy their six-packs!
  • Once the winter rains come annual weeds will follow. Mulching with at least a three inch layer of compost or other mulch will help keep down weed seed germination. If you apply less than three inches however, you will not block the sunlight from the dormant weed seeds and the compost may simply fertilize the weeds.
  • You may find some great sales on all kinds of plants at your local nursery this month. Remember to make certain to hand water your new plants for at least a few weeks until the rains arrive in earnest. If you have a drip irrigation system, watering your new plants once or twice a week on drip may not be enough water to keep your new plant happy. Get your hands in the soil the day after you water and check to see how moist it is in the root zone.
  • If the soil depth in your raised beds is low, now is a good time to add a soil mix to build the soil level back up. You will need to buy a product that actually has ‘loam’ (actual soil) in it not simply compost. Remember that bagged ‘potting soil’ usually does not have soil in it. I know, it can be confusing, just remember to look for ‘loam’ on the label and you’ll be good to go. Call Mary if you need more clarification 707.545.6863