Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to mulch like a pro!

How To Use Mulch

Do not. Ever. Use this much mulch.

Many people don’t understand how mulch can impact the health of your garden. Mulch is important to the health of your plants as it helps to retain the moisture in the soil and cut down on the amount of weeds you have around your plants.

How Much Mulch Should You Use?

To determine how much mulch you need take the length and width of your garden and then multiply this by the height of the mulch which is going to be about 3 inches. This will give you the total cubic feet that you need for your mulch. Since mulch is sold by the bag you need to divide the total cubic feet by the number of the cubic feet of mulch ion the bag.
  • If the mulch is sold by the yard you’ll divide the total cubic feet by 27 since there are 27 cubic feet to one cubic yard.
There are online calculators you can use to help you figure out the amount you need and even calculators for your mobile devices. Use these if you can’t figure out the exact amount to sue or ask at your local garden center.

Spreading Your Mulch

Try to spread around three inches of mulch on the ground. As you do this a few times the mulch will build up so if you already have a lot of it on the ground use about 1 inch of new mulch. You can also remove the old mulch if you want and start again with fresh. If there’s too much mulch on the ground this can trap too much moisture and rot can set in as not enough water will reach the roots of the plants. Don’t pile the mulch near trunks of trees or shrubs as this can cause insect, fungus and rot problems. You should spread the mulch by hand as you can control how it looks. A shovel can help you move mulch from a wheelbarrow to the garden area.

Benefits of Mulch

  • Mulch inhibits the growth of weed
  • Helps keep moisture in the soil so plants don’t dry out as quickly
  • Helps prevent fluctuations in the soil temperature
  • Protects roots from the cold in areas where frost cаn be a problem
  • Keeps roots cool in hotter areas
  • Can provide some nutrition to plants as mulch breaks down

Mulch Dangers

  • Rubber or tire mulch can damage the soil by leeching chemicals into it
  • Cocoa mulch can be dangerous to pets, especially dogs
  • Too much mulch can damage trees and plants. Rot can set in as well as diseases
  • Mulch can present a fire danger if it dries out too much in hot sun

What Mulch Not To Use

  • Wood – Some wood mulch can contain chemicals and dyes
  • Rubber or Tire Mulch – This mulch can contaminate the soil with chemicals
  • Decaying Leaves – Perfect breeding ground for weeds and seeds can germinate creating more weeds

Ask Your Local Garden Center

Your local garden enter can provide more information on mulch. This is a great way to take care of your plants.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fun with Leaves!

Fun with Leaves!

I know what you're thinking. "Well, I got all these leaves in the yard and don't know what to do with um!" Well let's take a break from the technicalities of tree care to have some fun. Here's some things you can do with your leaves.

1. Make a scarecrow. It's a classic. Get a flannel shirt, some blue jeans, and if you're feeling extra creative, a straw hat. Next, stuff them all full of leaves and shove a long stick through its back and some shorter ones through the arms. That's pretty much all there is to it.

2a (city limits version) Spend all day raking them into a huge pile, then throw your kids in there. Everyone wins.

2b (country version) Spend all day raking them into a huge pile, then set it on fire. (DON'T THROW YOUR KIDS IN THERE!)

3 Girls are crazy about artsy, nature-y stuff, so why not be an awesome husband and do some easy projects to make your lady think you have an artsy side too? For example, you could press the leaves in a book. They can be used for all sorts of things. Centerpieces, decoration, notepaper, picture frame, you name it.

4 Or you could rake/blow all of your leaves into your neighbors yard and let them deal with it.*

* basic-tree-care.com and its owner and affiliates do not take responsibility for repercussions this option may cause.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Root Rot

Root Rot

Root Rot is exactly what it sounds like. It's what happens when a plant has been over watered to the point that the roots are not getting enough oxygen, causing decay of the roots and most often killing the tree. Once the process starts, there's usually nothing that can be done, which means the only way to beat it is to know how to avoid it. Over watering (especially in an indoor plant) can cause the roots to not get enough oxygen which will choke them off and start the rotting process. This is also a big problem when growing with hydroponics. This is why you should always have an aerator, much like a fish tank.

When mulching trees outdoors, you always need to remember to not put more than 2 inches of mulch on a tree that hasn't developed a strong root system yet. For a tree that is well developed, 3-4 inches is okay.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to plant a tree

How to plant a tree

You might think planting a tree is pretty self explanatory. Well, for the most part, it is. But there are a few steps you should take to make sure that it's done correctly and to make sure your tree will thrive after planting.

  1. Digging

  • You will want your hole so that the rootball is 2/3 the size of the hole. (ie: if the rootball is 20 inches wide, make sure your hole is 30) This will give the rootball a nice barrier between it's own soil and the soil it's about to go into. Make sure the hole is deep enough for the rootball PLUS a few inches. This will be explained in the next step.
  • Height: you will want the ground level of the hole to match up with the trunk where it flares out and forms roots. An easy way to do this is to measure your rootball, bottom to flare, and lay your shovel across the hole so you can see exactly where the flare needs to be. burying the flare too low can cause all sorts of problems, mostly root rot which can damage the tree, sometimes severely.
  • Once the digging is complete, raise the bottom of the hole a few inches in the shape of a mound. This will give the rootball a little pedestal to sit on. The reason this is important is because of watering issues. If you dig a typical hole thats lowest point is in the center, then you drop your tree in the hole, excess water will gather right at that point and could drown the tree. So this mound is meant to create almost a moat-like protection from flooding.
  • If you have tough, packed dirt or clay, scoring the sides of the hole with a rake, shovel, or just your hands will help the tree adjust from its current soil to it's new soil. With highly compacted ground, the roots may try to keep growing in the soil it came in because they can't penetrate the ground. This scoring gives them a nice transition into their future dirt.

    2. Prepping the tree

  • Depending on the size of the tree, these instructions will tell you what steps you will need to take before planting
  • Large trees usually come wrapped in a burlap sack, which is pretty simple to remove. YOU MUST have the hole dug and ready before you unwrap the tree. Exposing roots to sunlight and wind for too long can cause the roots to girdle, dry out, and sometimes die completely. So, the faster you get it in the ground after unwrapping, the better. 
  • Small trees can come wrapped, but mostly will come in a pot. Same deal as above, but its easier with smaller trees. most of them you can just tip right out of their pot and put directly into the hole.
  • Once the tree is out of its bag/pot, set it immediately into the hole and give it some water. About a gallon for every foot of height.

     3. Planting the tree

  • So far we've dug the hole, scored the sides, built up a little pedestal, and set the rootball right in the center of it. Now you need to start packing in the topsoil you dug up. You want to avoid any weeds, turf, or any other object that isn't plain old dirt. When filling the rest of the hole with dirt, try to keep it somewhat loose. Packing it in hard can choke off the tree or make it hard for the roots to extend. After you get the dirt in, give it another good watering. 

     4. Just about done!

  • Some things to remember:
  • Mulch/compost can benefit your new tree in many ways. The obvious reasons being that it helps keep a more constant moisture level and prevents weed growth. Some not so obvious ones: mulch will also make it unnecessary to weed whack around the tree, which is important because those little knicks you put in the trunk can harm the tree more than you think. The mulch will also help airflow in the ground. without grass or weeds growing, the soil can stay somewhat loose. This will help the tree by allowing more nutrients to stay in the soil around the tree.
  • Staking: Newly planted trees DO NOT always need to be staked. Unless you have wind or soil erosion issues, odds are you won't need to stake it. Any more questions about staking, please read my last article
And last but not least, enjoy watching your new tree thrive!

pictures courtesy of: