The first step to gardening is to find out your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. The Springfield, Missouri area is in USDA Zone 6. Zones are based on the average extreme minimum temperature during a previous 30-year period. Other environmental factors contribute to the health of your plants, such as moisture, soil, wind, pollution, humidity, and amount of light. Using these factors as a guide, we can determine the types of plants that will successfully grow in our yards and gardens. See a few of our recommendations below or find some inspiration in our Idea Center.
Winter hardy plants have developed foliage and branches that can withstand very low temperatures, but their roots are far more sensitive and vulnerable to our cold winters. So a plant in an above ground container is especially at risk. To increase your plants in containers chances of surviving a harsh winter – choose a plant that is 2 zones hardier than our existing zone 6. Choose a planter that is extra larger. The greater the volume of soil, the greater the chances of survival. When possible, add some type of insulating material around the inside of the pot. Note, if you have a delicate container, you may want to insulate the outside to protect the pot itself. Use bubble wrap or burlap attached with a plastic shrink-wrap. All these steps are extra work, but they will pay off with healthy plants and planters come spring.
Trees are people too… ok maybe not but they do require some love now and then. It is easy to forget about established trees but keeping them happy and healthy will give your trees a much longer life. First, protect the bark. Damage by trimmers, mowers and the like can ultimately kill a tree. Spread mulch around the trunk not only to hold in moisture but the keep the yardman away from the trunk. If you have a younger smooth-barked tree such as a maple or crabapple, wrap the trees’ trunk through the winter months to prevent sun scald. Stay off the roots of your trees with heavy equipment. Trees rely on water. Deep water even your long-lived trees when it’s dry. Fertilize in the spring. When a tree is showing some age, or some “warts” get a professional inspection. A doctor’s visit for your trees can add years, even decades to their life. Maybe trees are people after all!
Newly planted trees, like an infant, require extra care. But unlike a baby you want to keep dry, a tree needs to be kept wet. Consistent watering is the most important need for a young tree. It is difficult to give a blanket rule as to how much. Sometimes nature takes care of it. Trees don’t need as much when they are dormant. But generally, once it starts to heat up in spring water twice a week. In the heat of the summer at least three times. And water slowly. Let the moisture sink into the soil. Even in the winter if we don’t get measurable moisture for a couple weeks, water. Fertilizing in the spring is good. And do a visual inspection occasionally. Look for signs of stress. Have a concern or question – give us a call!
Do a little research or talk it through with a professional. There are many directions you can go with a landscape. Consider your tastes, the style of the house, the type of neighborhood. Landscaping done correctly WILL pay for itself in the re-sale value of your home. But it is possible to do too much landscaping for the neighborhood you live in. Like most things you are better off to start with a plan to implement that to just by plants you like the looks of and shotgun them into your yard.
It is easy to look at a plant and like it – it is much harder to place that plant in a location in which it will thrive. That is our motto – the right plant in the right place for the right price. Know what type of exposure you are trying to landscape. Sunny, shady, or somewhere in between? Does the plant require a particular soil type? How large will the plant ultimately get? Am I looking for spring blooms or great fall color? Do I want a deciduous plant or an evergreen? Once you can answer these questions you are well on your way to determining the best plant for your space.
Non-blooming trees and shrubs: Prune in late winter while fully dormant. Summer- blooming trees and shrubs: Prune in late winter. Spring-blooming trees and shrubs: Wait until immediately after they bloom. They are the exception to the rule, but you still should prune them as early as you can. Prune evergreens after their candles (new growth) has hardened off, typically in July, but not when it is exceptionally hot.
If you have younger trees with smooth bark such as maple, willow, honey locust or crabapple you should consider wrapping prior to first frost. Wrapping helps protect against damage from lawn care implements, boring insects and pesky squirrels. Rabbits and deer that like to snack on tender bark when food sources are scarce. But the main reason is to prevent sun-scald (tree sunburn) which occurs in winter and early spring. This is damage usually presents itself on the south or southwest side of the trunk. Tip: on at Thanksgiving, off at Easter.
Start by doing your research on what you’re planting. Spring, often February in the southwest Missouri, is a great time to clean up your beds by adding fresh soil or peat moss. Then map out the perfect plant for your garden or landscaping bed. Spring is a great time to plant your cool weather vegetable garden, annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.
Trees are best transplanted when they are dormant. We plant trees all winter long. But the earlier in the winter the better.