Planting Trees & Bushes
Common Ash Tree
Why is it that Ash trees became so popular to plant anyway? Green, Black and White Ash are native over a large portion of the US and Canada. Many nurseries have some incredible selections from the native species that are seedless, have great fall color, and beautiful upright and rounded forms. Municipalities, homeowners, and Landscape Architects began noticing the beautiful seedless selections that were coming on the market. They began being used on most all the projects not only because of their varied forms and fall color, but because of their adaptability of different soil types, and hardiness. If you have ever seen an Autumn Purple Ash in fall color, you know just how unbelievably and intensely gorgeous they can be. Too much of a good thing maybe? You would think we would have learned from our past mistakes by lining so many streets and urban plantings of American Elm only to see the demise of such a stately tree from Dutch Elm Disease that has wiped out so many trees. Thus, plant hybridizers and nurseries have developed so many different new Elm selections that are Dutch Elm Disease resistant and we are now able to grow many different cultivars once again.
Damage Caused By Emerald Ash Borers
The same thing has happened with the way we were using (or I should say overusing) Ash trees in the landscape. Who would have guessed that we would import a bug that bores into the trunks of all the different kinds of Ash trees and eventually kills them all? What no one really expected is that borers typically only affect trees that are stressed or not healthy, but the difference with this bug is that it wildly attacked every single healthy Ash in its path. Movement was slow and eventually we figured out the movement of dead Ash firewood was being transported to many campgrounds and people moving infected wood to their cabins and summer homes in heavily wooded areas that contained many native Ash trees. Many years later, we have yet to introduce a resistant Ash tree to the market. The bug continues to spread slowly and in all directions taking out all Ash in its path. What is the answer? Diversity is the key when it comes to all urban landscapes. A healthy urban forest includes many different kinds (many different Genus) smartly planted without a monoculture of any one kind of tree. Planting many kinds of trees alternating with different Genus is the key. Should I treat the Ash I have in my yard? Treatment is available and if you have a very important specimen in your yard, you may want to consider having it treated. What many are finding out in areas that are infected, they are spending their money on replacing those Ash trees instead of treatment.
Look at how far the Emerald Ash Borer has moved across the US. Scary. So, what are some trees that are taking the place of Ash? What should I plant in my yard? There is not one single tree that is taking the place of Ash for the exact reason mentioned earlier; diversity within the landscape. Nature Hills sells trees across the entire U.S., so specific trees that do best in your area will automatically come up for your hardiness zone to best assist you with your selection. It is not a good idea to line your driveway or lot with all the same kind of tree. Strategically planted deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) on the southwest side of your home will produce shade from the hot afternoon sun. In the winter months, those trees lose their leaves and allow the sun to warm your home in the afternoon. Some trees that might be used to replace Ash in the landscape or street trees keeping in mind a tree similar in size include the following:
Maples (Norway types, Red maple types, Sugar Maple types, Silver Maples, and many hybrid types), Buckeye, River Birch, Catalpa, Hackberry, Yellowwood, Ginkgo, Honeylocust, Kentucky Coffeetree, Tulip tree, Ironwood, London Plane tree, Poplar, Oak varieties, Black Locust, Sassafras, Linden (especially American Sentry), and Elm (many Dutch Elm Disease resistant varieties available).
There might be some smaller trees that you should consider using in place of an Ash:
Lilacs (tree form), Mountainash (not an Ash, but does need a cool moist soil), Callery Pear, Flowering cherry, Flowering plum, Crabapples (many excellent and clean growers), Magnolia, Hawthorn, or Beech selections.
However you choose to handle your existing Ash trees in your yard (treat or remove) if your Ash trees do become infected, just be sure to select trees that are hardy for your area, will work in the soil type you are planting them into, and one that has some interest. Keep a mixed urban landscape by including plants that are not in your neighborhood or overplanted in your area. For specific help, please let us know if we can assist you with selection for your area.
Boston Ivy Care
Many people use boston ivy plants to cover walls, fences, pergolas and more. Being a very low maintenance plant, it is easy to care for but some upkeep is still needed for a beautiful looking vine.
Planting Boston Ivy
When choosing a location it is best to find an area that is sunny and has good soil. These conditions will help get better results with the plant growing faster and healthier. Boston ivy should be planted 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant them closer together if you want faster coverage on a wall or trellis. Boston Ivy should be planted 12 inches away from the wall to allow the roots more room to grow. The best time to plant Boston ivy is spring or fall. This is a hardy plant that will be able to grow even if planted in the summer; however, will need plenty of water and well drained soil.
General Boston Ivy Care
Sunlight - Boston ivy can take a wide range of sun exposure, from full sun to partial sun, but it does best in full sun.
Watering - These plants should be well-watered when first planted in order to get established. Once the plants get going, there is no need to worry about watering unless there is a severe drought.
Mulching - Use mulch to help conserve moisture for the plants. This helps prevent weeds from growing around the vines and protects the roots in the winter.
Fertilizing - Fertilizing is not necessary but feel free to use all-purpose granular fertilizer in the spring. Don't overdo it since too much could hurt the plants.
Winter Care- The main thing for caring for Boston Ivy in the winter is pruning. There is more information about this below. It is best to prune in late winter once the leaves have fallen off and the plant has gone dormant.
Pruning Boston Ivy
The vines will grow aggressively if given the right soil, water, and sun conditions. Sometimes it is necessary to trim these plants back to a more desirable size, especially around doors and windows. The best time to prune Boston Ivy is in the winter. Even though this is a very tough plant, you can prune anytime during the year if you are careful not to trim too much. If you want to remove Boston Ivy, be careful not to rip the vines off of walls. This could damage the wall, take off the paint, or remove chunks of wood as well. To do this without damaging anything, first cut the vines off at the base of the plant and let the vines die, then the vines should come off the walls easily and without damaging anything. You will also want to kill the roots. To do this naturally, we recommend using white vinegar, but be careful to put the vinegar only on what you want to kill.
Why is Boston Ivy Famous?
You may have heard about Boston Ivy, but do not know why or in what context. The Ivy League was named after this plant and refers to the vines found on buildings at Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth colleges in the Boston area. The Chicago Cubs baseball field, Wrigley Field, has also helped make this plant widely known. The outfield brick walls are covered with Boston Ivy for a truly unique stadium. [ Photo Credit to jimcchou on Flickr
You've purchased a Blue Chinese Wisteria Tree, or an Amethyst Falls Wisteria Vine, and are now looking into how to maximize the blooms of this plant. Follow this simple guide to best care for your wisteria plant.
Selecting a Location
For best results, your wisteria should be planted in well-drained soil, and should receive a minimum of six hours of full sun. Be sure to have sufficient space for the full canopy to develop - 15 feet minimum is ideal. You may need to provide a stake for the tree for the first few years until the trunk can support the weight of the canopy. The vine requires support to grow up on- a sturdy wood or metal structure is best.
Cut those Branches Back! - Pruning Wisteria
Wisteria requires pruning twice a year - once in the summer after blooming, and once in the winter. Keep in mind that wisteria blooms on wood that is at least two years old - so don't be afraid to prune hard. In the summer, after the beautiful flowers have faded, prune the branches back, so six to eight inches remain on each branch. Pruning that amount off will encourage branching to develop further, increasing the number of blooms the next season. Remove any shoots that are growing at the base of the plant you do not want. Lower shoot pruning will most likely need to be done every year. Come winter, prune the branches down to about three to five buds. Reducing the branch length will force the energy in the spring into creating flowers, and you will have a prolific flowering season. Remove any long shoots that may have formed after the summer pruning. Since the foliage has dropped and you can better see the structure of the plant, this pruning will be easier than the summer pruning. The flower buds that form in the summer will be what produce blooms the following spring. Make note of this fact and make sure that you do not remove or damage all of the buds. Otherwise you may stifle next season's blooms. Root pruning is optional - it can help further develop the root system of the plant, but is not required. If you choose to root prune, take a sharp shovel and plunge it into the soil. Don't tip it taking it out, but instead go straight in and straight out. Make a series of slices into the root mass around the entire plant for best results.
Feeding your Wisteria - Fertilization
Nitrogen fertilizer is not needed - wisterias are a legume plant, and can produce its nitrogen as it develops. In fact, adding nitrogen fertilizer can decrease flowering, as it helps the plant produce leaves, not flowers.
Aunt Dee Wisteria Flower
It's Not Blooming! - Trouble Shooting
If your wisteria is not blooming, it is most likely an environmental issue. Check to see that your plant is getting at least six hours of direct light during the day - that is the absolute minimum wisteria requires for blooming. If it is not, see if you can increase the time by pruning other plants. Temperature is another factor that may negatively impact blooming. If a late frost comes before blooming, the buds may be damaged and will not flower. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to correct this issue except wait for the next season. If you know a late frost is coming, you can cover smaller plants with sheets to help protect them. If you have added a significant amount of nitrogen fertilizer to your wisteria, it may be encouraging it to produce leaves instead of flowers. Wisteria does not require nitrogen fertilizer - they can create their nitrogen in the soil, much like beans do. If your plant is young, it may not be mature enough to flower. If after two to three years of being planted in the ground, and it still is not blooming, check to make sure the environmental conditions are correct. Enjoy your wisteria and it's beautiful flowers!
Along with planting evergreens and deciduous trees, shrubs are an essential part of windbreak design. Because they provide another layer of protection from the harsh winter winds, consider using these shrubs in your windbreak to maximize the protection available to you in every season.
Elderberry - Sambucus spp.
Prized for it's fragrant flowers and delicious fruits, elderberry serves a multitude of purposes in a windbreak. Along with providing protection from severe winter winds, elderberry is favored by pollinators and birds alike. Consider using Black Lace or Black Beauty elderberries for a little different appearance, rather than the green foliage with white flowers found in the York Elderberry, these have purple foliage with pink flowers. Best planted in zones 3-9, elderberry will provide you with tasty fruits and become an integral part of your windbreak.
Hazelnut - Corylus americana
Another shrub with edible nuts, hazelnut is an ideal addition to a windbreak. Mature height is anywhere from 8 to 15 feet tall, and will spread to approximately the same size. Male catkins dangle from the branches in the spring, pollinating the tiny purple female flowers. In the fall, the hazelnut seed can be harvested and eaten. Fall color ranges from yellow to orange to red, depending upon a multitude of environmental conditions. Known to thrive in zones 4-9, hazelnut will provide you with years of protection and edible fruits in your windbreak.
Dogwood - Cornus spp.
With branches ranging in colors from bright red to yellow to grey, dogwoods provide winter interest and color in a windbreak. Flowers appear in the spring, and in the fall can range in color from yellow to bright red. Try Cardinal Redosier dogwood for bright red stems you can use in arrangements or Bud's Yellow dogwood for yellow stems that will catch your eye. Grey dogwood boasts of beautiful white berries and grey branches. Because dogwoods are so adaptable, they are ideal for windbreak conditions; they will thrive where they are planted and provide support to the rest of the windbreak's efforts to lessen the winter weather.
Nanking cherry shrubs - Prunus tomentosa
Another edible shrub that thrives in a windbreak is Nanking Cherry. Pale white flowers dot the shrub in the spring, and become bright red fruits in the summer. These fruits can be used for jams and jellies, or left for the birds to enjoy. Nanking cherry grows between 8 - 10 feet high and 10 - 15 feet wide. Nanking cherry does require cross pollination to produce fruits, so be sure to plant more than one in your windbreak. A hardy plant that will thrive in zones 2-6, Nanking cherry makes a strong addition to your windbreak that will tolerate most conditions.
Common lilac - Syringa vulgaris
Common lilac is known for its beautiful spring flowers and the fragrance that goes along with them. Growing to approximately 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide, it is a great plant to use in your windbreaks not only because of it's beauty, but because it is hardy and adaptable. Best planted in zones 2-7, common lilac will thrive in your windbreak, providing you spring beauty and winter protection.
Shrubs in windbreaks provide another layer of protection from winter's harsh winds. Try using these shrubs in your windbreak and enjoy the added benefits: edible fruits, fragrant flowers and habitat for wildlife.
It may seem counter-intuitive to plant deciduous trees in your windbreak, given that they have no leaves in the winter when they come into the most use. However, using deciduous trees in you windbreak provides you with shade in the summer and creates a more diverse planting. Having increased diversity helps prevent the total devastation of your windbreak should one species be impacted by disease or other natural causes, along with providing habitat for wildlife.
Ohio Buckeye - Aesculus glabra
At maturity, Ohio buckeye trees typically reach 40 to 50 feet tall and spread approximately 30 to 40 feet. As one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, this tree will give your windbreak a push into greening up for the year. Along with bright green leaves, yellow flowers attract pollinators and hummingbirds. Come fall, the foliage turns bright orange, and hard seeds develop. Best planted in zones 4 - 7, Ohio buckeye is sure to provide some eye-catching color to your windbreak.
Kentucky Coffeetree - Gymnocladus dioica
Kentucky coffeetrees are unique and exciting species to have in your windbreak. The dark, furrowed bark will provide depth and interest to your windbreak in every season, and the persisting brown seedpods create an interesting silhouette against the winter sky. In the spring the leaves emerge, reaching up to three feet in length and small white flowers contrast beautifully. With the potential to reach 60 to 70 feet tall in ideal conditions, Kentucky coffeetree thrives in zones 3 - 8.
Greenspire Linden - Tilia cordata 'Greenspire'
An extremely adaptable tree, Greenspire Lindens will thrive in your windbreak. Bright yellow flowers in early summer fill the air with a pleasant scent, and the green leaves turn a similar shade of yellow in the fall. The dense foliage will provide shade in the summer, and the branches will help slow the wind in the winter. Best planted in zones 4-7, and reaching 50 feet tall at maturity, Greenspire Linden will adapt to whatever conditions your windbreak has.
Thornless Honeylocust - Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis
Thornless honeylocust is thorn-free, making it ideal for planting in a windbreak. Standing 60 feet tall at maturity, thornless honeylocust is an understated, subtle tree in the summer. Come fall, the small foliage turns bright yellow, calling attention to the tree. Small white flowers in the spring provide a light scent when blooming. One of the fastest growing trees in this list, thornless honeylocust thrives in zones 4-9, and would be a great addition to your windbreak.
Black Walnut - Juglans nigra
A tree prized for its wood and nuts, black walnut is one tree you should consider planting in your windbreak. Known for its longevity and ability to withstand extreme weather conditions, black walnut is a power-horse. Seedpods give way to delicious walnuts you can eat (provided you can beat the critters to them), and the tree turns a bright yellow in the fall. Reaching above 50 feet tall, black walnut will be a tree that will survive in your windbreak for decades in zones 4 - 9.
Deciduous trees provide another source of diversity for your windbreak, increasing its effectiveness in the summer and providing necessary habitat for local wildlife. Each of these trees will thrive in your windbreak, so be sure to consider them when designing.
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese Proverb Every tree is different. Some are little more than bushes at their tallest, while others are meant to grow gigantic and form canopies in the sky. If you're looking for a tree that will tower over your yard for decades to come, check out these varieties:
5. Northern Red Oak: avg. 90 ft, exceptional specimens taller than 140 ft
Sometimes called the champion oak, the northern red oak (Quercus rubra) is native to North America and can be found growing wild almost anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. In the forest, they grow over 100 ft tall. Grown in an open yard, they are likely to be more stout, but with heights still averaging about 70 ft tall. In spring and autumn, the red oak earns its name with bright red foliage. This tree puts down deep roots quickly, and is not easy to relocate once it's been planted. However, a healthy Northern Red Oak may have a lifespan of 500 years, according to the USDA.
4. Red Maple: avg. 59 to 89 ft, exceptional specimens taller than 115 ft
Another big red tree to consider is the Red Maple. These are among the most common trees found in the eastern and central United States and Canada. The tallest known specimen is in Michigan, and is 125 ft tall. Because they are so common in the wild, the red maple is a good tree for bringing birds to your yard. On average, they will grow to around 60-90 ft tall. They grow somewhat quickly, with saplings reaching 20 ft tall within the first 10 years.
3. Dawn Redwood: avg. 50-90 ft
The Dawn Redwood is the last living species of its genus, Metasequoia. Native to Asia, it can thrive as an ornamental in the United States. Unlike its relative the California Redwood, the Dawn Redwood is deciduous. Its leaves are thin and conifer-like, but it is not an evergreen. Although it is dwarfed in comparison to the other redwoods, it will still grow up to 200 ft.
2. American Sycamore: avg. 30 to 40 m (98 to 131 ft)
Lovely, hearty, and steadfast, the American Sycamore (Plantus occidentalis) is a deciduous tree native to North America, east of the Rockies. Its most distinguishing feature is its bark. Older bark sloughs off in thin pieces, exposing dappled fresh bark underneath. This gives the tree a nice ornamental appearance.
The Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) can become a giant in your very own yard. They are fast growing between the ages of 15 and 45 years, adding around 3-4 ft of new height every year. Younger and older trees grow more slowly. They have a long lifespan, thought to be around 400 years. The tallest currently living white pines are around 180 ft tall.
If one of these 5 trees do not fit your needs, click here to check out our entire selection of large trees.
Winter is the ever-returning friend and foe of gardeners. You may rue the arrival of Jack Frost every year, driving you inside and sapping all the color from your garden. But did you know that there are a number of plants that can keep your garden pretty all through the cold season? Looking to liven up your white-washed winter landscape? Dust the dreariness with one of these winter interest plants:
During the summer, Arctic Fire Dogwood is your everyday deciduous shrub. Round and green and merry, it is a cute little puffball. When winter comes, its leaves fall away, exposing its fiery red-orange branches. They spray upward from the snow like fire, boldly defying the cold.
Holly is a timeless winter tradition. Stalwart, it stays green all year long. Its iconic spiney leaves and evergreen cone shape make it a great pop-up in any garden location. It's beautiful as a border, framing an entrance, or simply standing in a field of snow. The best part? Its berries arrive in late winter! Consider them an early burst of color to herald the coming spring.
#3 Winter Glow
Bergenia Winter Glow's leaves don't fall off or die, they simply shift from frog green to deep red. Want a garden that changes with the seasons? It's simple: plant a bed of these greens to surround your flowers. As the cold rolls in and the flowers die back, the Bergenia will start to glow.
If you're a wildlife lover in a temperate climate, Fire Chief Arborvitae is your friend. This little red-tipped evergreen grows in sun and shade, a naturally round hedge. During the winter, it is a valuable source of food and shelter for your garden's visitors. It'll make your yard a popular spot for migrating birds as well as deer and other non-hibernating herbivores.
Taking the crown for winter wonders, Cardinal Candy Viburnum is the full package. It's cold-hardy (of course), ornamental in every season, and panders to the local wildlife. During the warm seasons, it grows tall and wide and features white flowers. As autumn falls, its leaves turn burgundy and its flowers turn to bright red fruit that birds love. The fruits persist throughout the winter, always shining ruby bright. Winter doesn't always have to win. Fight back with garden color it can't beat!
6 Terrific Trees for Wildlife
If youre anything like me, watching a graceful deer stroll across my yard brings a special sense of awe and tranquility to my home. Theres nothing quite like the feeling of welcoming some of natures most spectacular creatures to share a part of my life, and having the right trees can be essential to issuing that invitation directly to them.One of my favorite choices for wildlife-friendly trees is the Quaking Aspen. Not only is this tree lovely (with its white bark and gently dancing leaves), but its also a versatile gift for wildlife. Deer, Elk and Moose enjoy its shade, and love to nibble its leaves and twigs for the nutritional boost it gives them throughout the year. Many animals venture into the Aspens stately presence to enjoy its protective shade, and Ruffed Grouse particularly enjoy it for the nesting opportunities it presents.
Peony plants are beginning to show up more in gardens all around the world. This is due to more gardeners receiving the word about how beautiful these plants can be when placed in the proper setting. Peony plants are also somewhat easier to grow than other plants, due to their nature to be able to sustain themselves without much human interference. Peony plants work in a variety of setting in the garden. They make excellent focus points, with their dense green foliage and large bold blooms. The lower growing peony plants, such as the fernleaf peony, also make excellent border plants and accents. The fernleaf peony plant is also very useful to plant in front of other flowers in order to hide foliage that may fall off earlier in the season than others.
A peony plant, grown in a pot, can make a wonderful addition to any room of the house. These plants will grow readily indoors if set in a location with a good deal of sunlight, such as a window ledge. The soft fragrance of the peony plant will waft on the air and give a nice springtime feel to the house nearly all year long. Peony plants make the perfect addition to any garden. No matter what the color scheme is, there is a peony plant that will match or complement it perfectly. Peony plant blooms come in nearly all colors, except for shades of blue, and are large and bold. Peony plant blooms also bloom early, usually in mid to late spring, and would work as a great start for a long, colorful flowering season.
Transplanting peonies should always be done in the autumn months, after the blooming period has ended.
The first step is to dig around the plant and fairly deep. The underground root structure of a peony plant can sometimes get pretty large, and it is important not to damage any roots if possible. Once the plant is up, remove much of the soil from around the roots. This can be done using water or lightly shaking the roots.
Once the soil has been removed, select a new location for the plant. Ensure that the new location will satisfy the needs of the plant. There should be a good amount of direct sunlight each day, and also good drainage of water.
Once the location has been selected, a hole must be dug for the plant. The hole should be large enough to house the entire root system freely, and not in a large clump.
Spread out the roots and add soil a little bit at a time and press firmly to remove any air pockets and reinforce the support for the plant. The crown of the peony, where the roots come together, should be just an inch or so beneath the surface of the soil.
Now, the plant must be watered gently, to ensure the roots are in contact with the soil.
Transplanting peonies is often done for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the plant may not be thriving in its current location. This may be for several reasons, including not enough sun or soil drainage.
Transplanting peonies that are not growing well to a sloping hill with full sun exposure may increase the chances of growth greatly.
Planting apple trees in a home garden will allow for delicious fruit that everybody can enjoy. Planting apple trees does not differ much from planting other types of trees, but there are some special things to consider when planting these fruit trees. The location should have soil that is well drained, since standing water will easily kill the trees. The location should also have good air drainage, keeping low-lying cold air in the spring away from the tree. Apple trees should be planted in November, if possible. They can also be planted up to the end of march. The location used for planting apple trees should also provide for full sun access. If planting apple trees in a lawn, the grass should be removed from the planting area in a four-foot diameter circle, to prevent the grass from competing with the young tree for nutrients and water.
Once the site is selected, the first step in planting apple trees is to dig the hole. The hole should be approximately twice the diameter of the root system, and two feet deep. The soil should also be loosened up around the border to allow the roots to break through more easily. The roots should be spread out on the loose soil, ensuring that they are not twisted or crowded. Soil should be placed around the roots and pressed down firmly, to remove any air pockets.
When planting apple trees, it is important to ensure that the location of the graft is at least two inches above the soil. This will ensure that no roots will grow out of the scion. When finished planting apple trees in the garden, watering will remove any extra air pockets in the soil. A newly planted apple tree may need to be supported with a stake until the roots can take hold. Mulch should also be applied around the base of the apple tree to help retain moisture during the first growing period.