In the midst of our summer heat wave, now is an ideal time for gardeners to put down traditional garden tools and pick up some paper and a pen.
"While it's so hot outside, it's difficult to get a whole lot done in the garden, so it's a really good time to sit down and plan for the upcoming seasons," said Mary Ann Woodworth, of Greenbrier Nursery.
"This is just a good time to think about what you want to improve upon. Think about the upcoming cold season as well as the next warm seasons," she said.
If you're not quite sure where to start, or whether a particular plant will work in your space, a good thing to do is to "take pictures of your landscape and take them to your local nursery. That way, you can better choose plants and trees to the scale of your house and landscape," Woodworth said.
When planning trees for the fall, remember that "the root ball is 5 to 10 times greater than the canopy of the tree," she said.
"Consider the mature size of a tree, not just what you see at the time. You want to be sure to give the roots adequate room to grow and that it's not planted too closely to your foundation," she said.
Another thing to keep in mind is the color of the tree's foliage.
"And if you opt for deciduous trees, then, of course, there will be leaves to rake, so just keep that in mind," Woodworth said.
Also know that trees are more than a way to visually enhance your environment.
"A lot of trees are actually energy efficient. For instance, the tulip poplar, which grows 8 to 10 feet per year, provides shade in the summer, lowering your energy bill and then in the winter, it loses its leaves and allows the sun to come in and warm your house," she said.
When you've figured out what to plant, the next step is to prepare your soil.
"It's really best to get a soil sample prepared by the county extension office," Woodworth said. "It will tell you exactly what your soil is deficient of and exactly what it needs for a particular plant.
"Taking the time to get the soil tests done will really save a homeowner money in the long run, and your plants will be much healthier for it."
If you have claylike soil, "a great way to soften it up is to wet it down and then add mulch." Then, when it's time to plant, "all you'll have to do is dig the holes," she said.
While you're planning for plants and trees, don't forget to add some fun.
"It's nice to include a piece of garden art or a bench to create a focal point," Woodworth said.
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