September is here and fall is for planting! Most of us know of springtime as a great time for planting because the weather is warm (not yet hot), the ground is thawed, and plants can go into the ground without as many environmental stressors impacting their adjustment. Well guess what? Fall is excellent for planting for some of the same reasons! Temperatures are beginning to dip, we have cool mornings and the ground is still a long ways away from freezing. The conditions become ideal for putting in trees, shrubs, and perennials as they won’t have to contend with the heat of summer in order to establish themselves.
Some things to consider when you are adding to or beginning a garden in the fall are what kinds of spring color you’d like to see. So, for example if you plant a flowering cherry tree now such as the Prunus serrulate ‘Kwanzan’, you will have its blooms to look forward to in the spring. You also have had the whole summer to watch your garden grow and think about what you would like to move around. The conditions are also ideal for dividing your perennials and moving already established plants. The ultimate reason why planting in the fall is best is all about root growth! The roots of most perennial plants will continue to grow in soil as cold as 45 degrees. Even after their above ground growth has ceased their roots will go on extending out into the soil. It is best to plant from early to mid-fall or about 4 weeks before first frost. This will give the root systems a lot of time to establish themselves in the soil. Rather than putting their energy into new growth up top they will be focusing on root development. When spring comes they will be adjusted to their location and soil conditions and so will emerge stronger plants.
Some important considerations when planting in the fall are that things still need to be watered. Not only should you water in your new plantings right after they go into the ground you should also check the soil regularly for dryness especially if it is not raining regularly. It is also a good idea to mulch after planting because when the weather starts to turn cold new plantings sometimes shift a bit above or below the soil. Having a layer of mulch will help to protect the root ball from any cold exposure.
Martha O'Neill, Retail Nursery Manager
We're excited to announce that many of the trees we potted up this past Spring are now ready for sale. This year we chose to grow a wider range of sizes including smaller-sized or younger trees, so we have trees in #3, #7, and #15-sized containers. We wanted to make it easier, more affordable and accessible for more people to plant trees. Younger (or smaller) trees are great for do-it-yourselfers, mitigation projects, or for those who have a big project and want to plant a large quantity of trees and still meet their budget. They fit more easily in your car or in the back of your pick-up, require a smaller hole be dug, and are much lighter and easier to handle. They also tend to experience less transplant shock and take off and start growing much quicker than a larger tree. But, if you have the budget and are looking for that instant gratification of planting a larger tree, we also have many of those available to choose from here at the nursery. We currently have the following available in 3 gallon containers: river birch, sweet bay magnolia, dogwoods, redbuds, and American sycamore. Follow this link for a complete list of Unity-grown plant material that is currently available and still in production.
This past week, we've been busy checking up on our irrigation systems, weeding and doing a little pruning and staking of our trees. In the process of potting up, sometimes roots can be damaged and they die back causing some dieback in the top of the tree or shrub, so we have to prune a little to maintain a balanced shape and help create a strong and structurally sound plant. On some of the red maples and dogwoods, for example, we were pruning to remove competing branches and maintain a single leader. Some of our sweet bay magnolias had a lot of new growth emerging from the base of the plant, so we were limiting them back to 3 or 4 main stems. Also, some of our trees were a little bent, and so we tied them to a bamboo stake to help straighten them out. We are hoping that by starting with young trees, and giving them the right care and attention, we'll be able to grow high-quality trees that will thrive in your yard or landscape.
Theresa Mycek, Production Manager
Unity Landscape Design and Build
Despite the August heat, Unity Landscape has been busy completing a wide variety of projects and starting exciting new ones.
The Deal Island Shoreline Restoration project was recently completed, with a 1,200 linear foot sand fence, the installation of 40,000 Spartina patens and American Beach Grass plugs, and goose exclusion fence to discourage waterfowl grazing. The drone photo above shows the planting immediately following completion, and the supplemental photos below were taken 3 weeks (on left) and then 8 weeks (on right) after planting. The Spartina patens has proved to be very successful, despite having its feet wet almost daily, and the American beach grass (top of dune) has taken its time in taking off. This project was designed to restore, enhance, and preserve a quarter mile of eroding marsh and relatively clean beach using a breakwater system with clean sand bays to handle the high energy of the open bay. The high marsh planting and dune planting stabilize the upper portion of the project and help stabilize the new sand.
Unity crews have begun the construction of stormwater management improvements at the Greensboro Volunteer Fire Company in the town of Greensboro. This project includes constructing a step-pool system, removal of an asphalt parking lot and installation of permeable pavers, installation of underground storm drain, as well as the removal of several invasive plants and replacing them with native species. The crew is currently working on the step pool system which will convey the stormwater from the new drain system (collecting stormwater from the roof of the fire station) down to the Choptank River. The step pool system is intended to slow the flow rate of the stormwater to reduce erosion and allow sediments to deposit before entering the waterways. Stay tuned for updates on this project.
Looking ahead to the beginning of fall, Unity will also be installing many native plants, shrubs, and trees. Fall is a great time of the year to plant. We are looking forward to the start of a new season and working with you on your landscape needs!
Lucas Lees CBLP, ASBPA, Coastal and Environmental Design
Sandy Appel, Chief Operations Officer