A MUST READ: Watering Wisdom

When we talk about the importance of newly planted trees and shrubs becoming “established” in the garden, we are referring to the development of a healthy root system. This root system is the basis for the plant’s top growth and long term health. And water is the key ingredient in developing that root system.  For the first two years of its life in your garden, the tree and its roots are particularly sensitive to water deficits. As the tree matures, its roots reach deeper into the ground and are able to tap water sources there. 

New shrubs and trees will require supplemental watering throughout the first growing season, right up to the onset of winter, and again in the second growing season. Water needs to be applied in the form of a gentle and deep soaking, down to the bottom and around the entire circumference of the root ball. Importantly, plants will require this watering at least once a week, and oftentimes twice a week in order to prevent any part of the root system from drying out.  

How much water a plant needs depends on its size. A small shrub will need 2-3 gallons of water each time it is watered. A larger shrub, 3-5 gallons. A small tree will need 5-8 gallons.  Mid-sized and larger trees, correspondingly more.   

 

Water can be delivered in several different ways: 

  • A garden hose turned on at a slow trickle and set near the base of the tree or shrub should be moved around the tree so that the circumference is equally watered.  
  • If you enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden, holding a watering wand attached to the end of a hose is a pleasant and effective way to water plant material. Allow the water to form a large puddle under the first tree or shrub. Move to a second tree or shrub and form a puddle there. As you are working with the second tree or shrub, the first puddle will be soaking into the soil. Move back and forth between these trees and shrubs 3 or 4 times to ensure a deep soaking.  
  • Soaker hoses can be placed around the base of trees and shrubs in concentric circles to cover the root mass circumference, or wound in a serpentine pattern up and down a row of newly planted trees and shrubs. They can be set on a timer and left to run for several hours depending on the size of the plant material. 
  • Traditional sprinkler systems are intended for watering lawns or beds with annuals and perennials. They are not the best way to water new trees and shrubs because they do not allow for sufficiently deep watering. It is recommended that you supplement with any of the methods described above. It is worth noting that systems are available that utilize special drip lines and emitters that allow for longer watering cycles. 

 

Two watering strategies that will not serve your plants well: 

  • Watering frequently but lightly does not benefit the tree or shrub as it encourages root development at the surface, making the roots particularly vulnerable to drying out in times of water deficit.  
  • Keeping a plant in soaking wet conditions day after day will deplete the oxygen in the soil, not a good thing for any life form! Hence the need for deep watering followed by a period in which the soil is allowed to dry out.  

New England experienced drought conditions in 2015 and 2016. The spring rains of 2017 were certainly welcome and while the official drought designation has been lifted, our trees and shrubs, even established ones, may still be feeling the effects of the drought. Parts of their root systems may have died back and it can take some time for the effect of that to be seen in the top growth. By providing supplemental watering we can encourage new root growth and mitigate the long-term drought damage. 

Even as night time temperatures cool and the grass is moist with dew in the morning, it is important to keep up your program of supplemental watering.  Scientific data indicates that plants need one inch of rainfall per week throughout their lifetime. While we can hope for a soaking rain every week, it is not something we can rely on, so it falls to us to be good stewards of our landscapes. 

What’s In Store: September 15, 2017

We’re filled to the brim with fall color! Mums, asters, ornamental cabbage, kale, and many late-blooming perennials are now in to refresh your window boxes and patio planters. It’s the best time to shop our incredible selection of Spring flowering bulbs too! Plant now and enjoy in the Spring- daffodils, tulips and more! Plus, our nursery yards are loaded with fresh trees and shrubs… it’s the best time of year to plant!

What’s In Store: September 7, 2017

Autumn is upon us and that means we’re loading up with truckloads of fresh plants daily! Visit our nursery for beautiful new trees, shrubs and perennials! Take a peek at our special on 3 Gallon Ornamental Grasses: Only $19.50! (reg $29.98). Our greenhouses are filling up with hues of orange, yellow, reds and purples to decorate the doorstep with lovely fall color. Spring flowering bulbs are now in too– plant now for spring blooming daffodils, tulips and more. Plus, check out our garden shop for festive fall decor to refresh the home!

Simple Tips for Designing and Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Bulbs are the gateway to the garden. Plant them now and forget about them. By the time spring rolls around, the garden will be full of buds ready to blossom. And, with cooler temperatures, fall is the best season for planting. Whether you’re beginning a garden for the first time or tending an old one, planting flower bulbs has never been easier. Bulbs are a fantastic way to start or maintain a garden because they spring back up each year without any effort. But the key is to plant them correctly now. Don’t worry! The hardest part is deciding which flowers and a color scheme to use.

bulb-tonePlanting Bulbs

Planting the bulbs is simple. Follow the steps below to create a flawless garden.

  1. Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the bulb height.
  2. Set bulbs firmly in place, following spacing guidelines.
  3. Sprinkle in a fertilizer made for bulbs such as Espoma’s Bulb Tone
  4. Cover with soil.
  5. Water thoroughly.

Design ideas

Remember when planting bulbs, plant more than you think you need and avoid the temptation to plant in single rows.

  • For the most natural look, group them in a pyramid, rectangle or circular shape.
  • For a camouflaged look, plant low bulbs in front of high. As the high ones die back, the low will cover the dying foliage.
  • For a layered look, plant small bulbs in the same hole as large bulbs.
  • For an entire spring of color, stagger bloom time by planting early, mid and late-season varieties together.

Flower bulbs are a low-maintenance way to expand or start a garden and create a stunning look year-after-year. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful array of color that pops up in the spring.

Buy spring flower bulbs now to prepare for the upcoming fall-planting season.

What’s In Store: September 2, 2017

We’re welcoming fall with a color palette fit for season. Mums, cabbage, kale, grasses, and many cold-tolerant annuals are arriving daily perfect for refreshing your window boxes and patio planters!

A Big Thank You

Today was an incredible day. We are so grateful and humbled by the acts of kindness from our customers, employees and many local residents. In just 24 hours, we collected an unbelievable amount of donations for Boston’s ‘Help for Houston’ drive. We trekked into City Hall this afternoon and delivered 2 box trucks and a van’s worth of diapers, formula, food, clothing + toiletries– all headed for Houston tomorrow. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Refresh your Window Boxes and Planters with Fall Color

It’s the perfect time of year to refresh your tired summer window boxes and patio planters with fall color. Now arriving daily- mums, cabbage, kale, and cold-tolerant annuals in festive hues that will take you through the fall season.

SEEDING YOUR LAWN

a message from uncle mike

When you think lawn care, spring may be the first thing that comes to mind, but the fact is now is the time to reinvigorate your lawn with new seed. I know there’s a lot of contradicting information out there about when exactly to seed- and it gets confusing about who to listen to or when to do what. Do I use a fertilizer, and if so what type? Can I do it organically? When is it too late to seed? All of these are good questions, so I wrote a check list for you to simplify the process.

 

SOIL PREP

Now’s the best time to prep your soil. Loosen your soil on the top inch or so and get the grade you want. It’s also a great time to add more top-soil or compost if needed. The better your soil is, the healthier your lawn will be.

 

So, how much soil do you need? Well that depends on your conditions. Keep in mind here that your turf success is really just a result of your soil quality. The stronger your root system is in deep, healthy soil- the better your new seed will perform. I put down up to 10 inches of compost and loam when I redid my back yard and it shows in times of summer drought. This summer, my lawn stayed green while others dried out. It is deeply rooted and healthy enough to withstand stressful conditions. Use a quality top soil or compost to amend your existing conditions. If your soil is of good quality, just till and loosen the top couple inches and rake out a good grade.

One other great product that I always recommend is Jonathan Green’s, Love Your Soil. It’s a cool organic product that stimulates microbes in the soil and helps to loosen heavy, hard packed soils, to release trapped nutrients. It’s a good preparation amendment so your soil can better stimulate root growth for your new seeding.

SOIL TEST

If there’s ever a time to test your soil- it’s now. Even if you are only testing the pH. You can get an extensive test through our own lawn-care service, Safe Lawns, or the UMass Extension (for a fee). Or you can do a basic, at-home test yourself.

The soil test will tell you your lawns pH, nutrients and soil structure. I find the most important right now is to test pH levels. You see, if your soil has a low pH– your fertilizers won’t work as well. The best way to explain this is if your soil is too acidic you can’t derive the iron and magnesium naturally occurring in your soil so your lawn will never get to that dark green color everyone wants. To adjust your pH into the desired neutral area, add Jonathan Green’s MAGI-I-CAL or lime.

SEED

Now you want to add the seed. Make sure you pick a seed that’s good for your sun requirements and make sure you have a good quality seed.

Your grass seed is more important than most people think. Cheap grass seed is just that, cheap and we can’t in good faith carry it. You see, varieties of grass seed get old and are replaced as better seeds become available. This makes the older seed cheaper than the newer, better performing ones. Another way to get cheap seed is to add annual blue grass to the mix. Annual blue grass is an inexpensive filler, but it doesn’t come back the next year making it a turf that comes up well initially, but then your lawn comes in very thin next spring. Cheap grass seed is like a cheap beer only that headache you get is going to last for years.

 
It’s also important to pick the right seed for your sun requirements. You don’t want to take a full sun blend and put it in the heavy shade areas. Use the right seed for the right sun. Jonathan Greens dense shade will do great under those trees down to about 3 hours of sun. Don’t forget grass seed does need about 3 hrs of sun to grow or it will just slowly fade away. Sometimes shrubs and perennials do better for those heavy shade areas.

Fertilizer

Yes fertilizer. It makes a huge difference and it seems like everyone wants to either skip this step or add it later. Whether organic or synthetic, add fertilizer when you seed.

Fertilizers are meant to release phosphorus into the soil at time of germination and then add nitrogen in a slow release fashion thereafter to continue feeding. Don’t mix seed and fertilizer. It doesn’t matter which one goes first or second but add one and then put the other down and water.

 

 

WATER

The rest is up to you! Be sure to keep your new seed evenly moist in the beginning because if you let grass seed dry out too much, it may prolong the germination or even worse– kill the seed during germination. This first week is very important, after that you can back down to a deep water every 2- 4 days depending on the weather forecast.

Why seed now?

I know there’s a lot of contradiction on when is the best time to seed, the fact is you can seed anytime you want to or when you may have to. Spring and fall are often seen as a good times because they typically have lots of natural rainfall and cooler temps, but as long as you can keep the seed moist– you can seed whenever you want.

Just remember a few things when seeding. Any crabgrass preventers or other herbicides may prevent the grass seed from germinating in early spring. Sometimes seeding too late results in an inability to get the seed to germinate, also called dormant seeding. This is when you throw seed down without expecting it to germinate until spring. Most people have pretty good results doing it this way and you get germination first thing in the spring. However, we often suggest you seed in early fall or even late summer because you can take advantage of warm soil temps coming out of summer and there’s still plenty of time to get good germination and even a mowing or two to harden off the grass for winter.

FALL IS FOR PLANTING

.. Maybe Even the best time for planting…

It happens every year, people from towns near and far make their spring pilgrimage to Mahoney’s. They come filled with anticipation of new perennials, lush lawns, and flowering shrubs. Simply put, it’s spring, and they want to plant something. No question of course, that spring is a great time to plant, but what many people don’t realize is that fall is not only an equally good time to plant, in many ways it’s better.

To understand why, it’s good to remember that plants do not think like people. While we lament the end of summer, plants – especially newly planted plants – find the cooler days far less stressful. We may dig in our closets for a sweater, but for plants the soil feels warm, which boosts root growth. And while fall rains seem gloomy to us, plants much prefer it to the hot dry summer. And this is true for a whole host of plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, roses, ornamental grasses and even your lawn. Practically anything planted now will have extra time to establish, so when it’s time to grow and flower next year, it will give you a great show at your house, not at the garden center.

HOW LATE INTO THE FALL CAN YOU PLANT?

Fact is, if the ground isn’t frozen and you can still dig the hole, you can still plant. Planting in September and October however allows that much more time for plants to become established, so sooner is better.

There are other reasons fall is a great time for planting. Unlike a lot of garden centers that wind down for the year, Mahoney’s brings in lots of fresh new plants every fall, especially shrubs. Check out our new shipments arriving daily. Planting them now will allow you to enjoy the foliage throughout all seasons, including color changes this fall.

Fall is also the unofficial “hide your neighbor” season. Why, we’re not sure, but a lot of people plant hedges in the fall. We’ll have fresh arborvitae, boxwood and other hedging evergreens as well as privet, hydrangeas, ninebark, spirea, weigela and many more deciduous shrubs. (Social note: for neighbors that need immediate hiding, we carry large and fast growing hedge shrubs. The ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is especially popular)

Also very popular in the fall are miniature evergreens for urns, containers and window boxes. They add a festive touch for the holidays, and with a little protective care they will survive in a container through the winter. If you want to be greeted with tulips, daffodils and other flowers next spring, you have to plant the bulbs in fall.

Perennials especially benefit from the extra time in the ground before next spring. We bring in a lot of fresh perennials in the fall – especially the fall blooming varieties. We also have a wide selection of ornamental grasses – great for landscapes or containers.

Speaking of grasses, fall is the very best time to pay attention to your lawn. Not only do most lawns need a serious pick-me-up after the summer heat and dry spells, the warm fall soil encourages quick germination and cool air temperatures reduce stress.