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Home & Garden: Makeover considerations

With warmer weather now upon us, many are excited about sprucing up their outdoor environment. Due to winter damage, constant pruning or just bad plantings some landscapes could use a makeover.

Take time to research and plan your landscape makeover. Preparation and proper knowledge are essential in developing a beautiful landscape. Below are a few mistakes homeowners make that can be avoided with proper planning.

How big will this plant get? Most buy plants without knowledge of how fast they grow or the mature size. Dwarf loropetalum may not be so dwarf in a few years. Shrubs labeled “dwarf” such as burfordi holly and dwarf Alberta spruce will eventually stretch eight feet tall. Many think that dwarf means it will not get much larger than the size in the container. Consult with knowledgeable growers or sales persons to learn as much about the plant as you can before planting.

Wrong exposure. Often homeowners place plants where they want them rather than where the plant needs to be. Many have determining the amount of sunlight they have for a given area. Shade trees, buildings and other obstacles often confuse homeowners. Some plants can adapt to full sun exposure while others, such as hydrangea and some azalea types wilt within minutes. The same problem occurs when sun-loving plants with too little sun exposure. Take time to study the amount of sun in any given area before planting.

Over planting. Many tend to over plant, impatient for the shrubs to mature. Placing plants close together is appealing, but as shrubs become established, they become overcrowded and unattractive. Overcrowded shrubs often must be removed after a few years.

Improper or no pruning. I probably get more questions on pruning than any other subject. Most inquires concern trees that are too big. Horning back trees or shrubs creates unnatural structural forms, weakening plants and predisposing them to insect and disease problems. Take time to learn growth habits before pruning. Also determine your rationale for pruning. If you have a tree or shrub that you must constantly prune, it’s the wrong place.

Improper planting techniques. It doesn’t matter how much time or money you spend preparing the soil if you don’t plant the shrub correctly. Sick or diseased shrubs are often a result improper planting, usually too deep. In tight clay it’s better to set shrubs a little high in a plant bed than too deeply. Shrubs planted a few inches too deeply slowly die.

Impatience. Planning is very important part of good landscape design. Landscape architects spend hours developing the perfect landscape. Take time to learn about growth and maintenance of new shrubs. Great landscapes often take years to develop. Your landscape is an open book to your personality, or some refer to landscape an outdoor living room.

Maintenance. Proper landscape maintenance is very similar to housekeeping. It’s a routine chore, however, the rewards can be bountiful.

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