• Outdoor Design & Living

Gardening Q&A

To help you on your gardening journey, we’ve compiled several of the most frequently asked questions we receive below. We’re here to help!

Q: What will grow in my garden?

In her 1984 book entitled ‘Right Plant, Right Place: The Indispensable Guide to the Successful Garden,’ author Nicola Ferguson encourages her readers to choose plants that are well-suited for their sites. Healthy plants, she writes, have the greatest chance of success with as little input as possible if they are planted inhospitable conditions.

To help you determine the right plants for your place, our expert staff in the Nursery will begin by asking several questions:

How many hours of sun does your garden receive? Is it morning light? Afternoon? Dappled?

What is the quality of the soil? Is it hard and dry, or soft and pliable? Acidic or chalky?

How will the plantings be watered? By hand, or with a drip irrigation system?

What is growing nearby?

Do you live near the coast, where the air is salty, or do you live inland, where the temperatures are colder?

Often with a little investigative work, the right plants for your places become apparent. If we need more information, we would be happy to discuss arranging a site visit.

Q: When is the best time to plant trees and shrubs?

A: Ideally, trees and shrubs should be put in the ground when they’re in their dormant state, either in the spring, before new growth is pushed out, or in the fall, after leaves have dropped. This gives the greenery a chance to set down some roots and get established before the big task of pushing out new foliage and top growth begins.

That’s not to say they can’t be planted in the middle of the summer! When temperatures are warmer, care should be taken to minimize the stress they may feel. Fertilizer to stimulate root growth and adequate watering is essential.

Transplanting trees and shrubs is another subject matter. In order to minimize disruption to their growing cycles, experts agree that trees and shrubs are best moved during their winter dormant periods when the ground is wet but not frozen, from November to March, depending on local temperatures. Sometimes it makes sense to prune the roots of larger trees the year before they will be moved to ease their transition.

Please feel to stop in the Nursery and talk to one of our expert staff to discuss your specific planting needs.

Q: How do I plant my new tree or shrub?

Step 1: Safety first! In Connecticut, whoever will be digging should get in touch with the state’s Call Before You Dig organization in order to request the utility companies in the area to mark their underground lines. It’s free, simple to do, and it’s the law! See www.cbyd.com for more information.

Step 2: Dig a hole no deeper than the container’s or root ball’s depth and twice as wide as its width. Amend the soil if needed.

Step 3: Remove the tree or plant from its container, or in the case of larger specimens, cut away the burlap and fold back the metal baskets from around the stems of the plants. Loosen the periphery roots of container-grown materials by hand or gently with a spade.

There are many opinions on whether metal baskets should be entirely removed from balled and burlapped plants prior to planting. On the one hand, doing so could compromise the structure of the root ball and lead it to fall apart during planting, severely compromising the tree or shrub’s chances for survival. On the other hand, some believe that if Mother Nature wanted burlap or baskets to surround her plants, she would’ve put them there in the first place. In any event, we’d be happy to offer our advice for your particular situation.

Step 4: Place the tree or shrub in the hole with the root flare or crown sitting just above grade and center the plant.

Step 5: Backfill soil into the open cavities around the roots, pushing down gently as you go to get rid of any air pockets that might have formed.

Step 6: Water your new green friends in thoroughly; more detailed directions can be found on our Watering Instructions and Warranty guidelines by clicking here.

Step 7: Stake the tree if necessary; add mulch or bedding plants and watch for signs of stress or insect infestation.

Congratulations on your new arrivals!

Q: Help! The deer are eating me out of house and home!

As beautiful as they are, deer can cause quite a bit of damage in the garden in a short amount of time. North American Whitetail magazine reports the animals typically prefer to eat weeds and grasses, but they will devour the leaves and twigs of herbaceous and woody plants, nuts, fruits, and mushrooms. And due to their small stomach size, deer usually eat several times a day to get adequate nourishment. As their natural habitats diminish, deer tend to be found in and amongst the human population.

While some of our clients delight in their presence, others want to deter deer from entering their yards. The most sure-fire way to keep them at bay is to erect a 6-8’ fence around your property’s perimeter, and sometimes even that is not enough or against town zoning restrictions.

While NO plants are truly deer-resistant as the animals will eat anything if they are hungry enough, there are ways to deter deer naturally.

Deer tend to turn their noses up at plants that have strong fragrances or fuzzy textures. Magnolias, boxwood, lilacs, sages, lavender, peonies and iris are not on their ‘favorite food’ lists, but trees that produce high-protein nuts and fruits, like chestnuts or apples, or shrubs with tender new growth like rhododendrons and azaleas are considered delicacies. Deer will especially thank you for planting narrow-leafed evergreens such as ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae and yew, wintercreeper or eunoymous, roses, vegetable beds, and yes, hostas.

The University of Connecticut’s Home & Garden Education Center has devised a list of deer-resistant trees, shrubs, and vines, which they have graciously allowed us to offer you here in a printable PDF format.

We would be happy to help you deter (or attract!) deer in your garden, depending on your love of the animals.


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