Tips For Gardening With Trees and Shrubs

Tips For Gardening With Trees and Shrubs

When some think of gardening, they picture billowing flowerbeds or tidy rows of vegetables. Experienced gardeners know that trees and shrubs are also part of gardening, and for some they may be the only plants in the landscape, other than a bit of lawn.

Trees and shrubs are generally easy to care for, and they lend architectural strength to garden design. In temperate climates, they remain in the garden for winter interest when frost has killed the herbaceous plants. Even trees that shed their leaves have a skeleton that remains, defining the garden.

Value and Uses of Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs can provide color from flowers or foliage, fruits and nuts and shade and wind protection. It’s possible to have blooms for most of the spring and summer and fruits or colorful fall foliage later in the season, without using any perennial or annual flowers. Evergreen trees provide winter color, and the bark of some trees even provides winter interest.

Properly placed and cared-for trees and shrubs add value to a home. Home builders generally landscape their model homes because they know that a well-landscaped home is attractive to buyers. And true gardeners judge other gardens by how well they incorporate trees and shrubs into their design.

Trees that shade the home can save the homeowner a considerable amount of money in cooling bills. The area shaded by large trees is often 10 degrees or more cooler than surrounding sunny areas. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide and remove other pollutants from the air. In the winter, trees that break the wind reduce heating bills and protect other plants in the landscape.

Trees and Shrubs

Choosing Trees and Shrubs

There are trees and shrubs native to every area of the country, from the desert to the Arctic. A good gardening reference book can describe those trees and shrubs and suggest others that may grow in your gardening zone. Since trees and shrubs are more expensive than perennials, choose them carefully according to your site conditions.

Make sure you consider the adult size of trees and shrubs when making your gardening plans. Most references and plant tags will give you the mature size. It is unfortunate to see trees whose tops have been lopped off because they were planted under power lines, or shrubbery that has grown to cover the windows and doors of a home. Trees and shrubs should be planted far enough from a home or other building so that they do not touch it when mature.

Other things to consider when choosing trees and shrubs is whether the plant will have fruits or nuts that will be messy on walks and lawns, or become a problem because they attract insects or birds. No trees or shrubs should be planted over septic tanks or fields or close to water lines, and some trees are more likely to invade water and sewer lines if planted close to them.

The time you have to spend on gardening can also affect the choice of trees and shrubs for your landscape. Some trees and shrubs require frequent trimming and pruning to look their best. Some people enjoy trimming shrubs into exotic designs; if you like the idea, make sure you choose plants that won’t suffer from your efforts.

The most important thing to remember about gardening with trees and shrubs is to choose diversity. A variety of trees and shrubs keeps you from losing your total landscape should an exotic disease or insect invade. And diversity attracts more wildlife to your grounds than just planting one or two species.

Choosing Trees and Shrubs


If you are landscaping a bare lot, start with the trees and shrubs. They are the most expensive, but they also need time to grow. Your other plantings can then be built around these structural points. Use your gardening reference books to get a feel for how fast a plant will grow.

Dig your planting holes wide, but only as deep as the plant’s root system so the tree or shrubs sits at the same level it was planted previously. Gardening justify will try to sell you soil amendments such as peat to put in the hole, but resist the sale. Current research says it is better to back-fill with what you took out of the hole, no matter what type of soil you have. You can fertilize, but mix it with the soil, don’t dump it on the bottom.

Trees and shrubs are sold in a variety of ways. Bare-root plants have no soil on the roots or are wrapped in damp wood shavings. These are dormant plants and they should be planted in the spring, as soon as you can work the soil and while it is still cool and wet. Plant them as soon as you get them.

Balled and burlapped trees and shrubs have the root systems wrapped in a ball of soil. Some larger plants have a wire cage around the root ball also. These plants can be dormant or growing. They are best planted in the spring or in the fall when it is cooler.

You must remove as much of the burlap and wire as you can after setting the tree or shrub in the planting hole. Modern burlap does not rot fast enough to get a good root system established quickly. It will wick moisture away from the roots, especially if any becomes exposed above ground. Wires may girdle roots or trunks as the plant grows and kill it.

Trees and shrubs that are potted can be planted any time of the year, but make sure they are kept well-watered if it is hot. Remove all pots before planting, including those so-called degradable pots. They don’t break down quickly enough to let the root system support the top growth.

For more information on planting care, visit the home and garden section of


Tree Care Basics – Arboriculture Services

Tree Care Basics - Arboriculture Services

We all enjoy trees in our garden and the local area. Many home gardeners do not realise that trees just like other plants need some basic care. Here is a few tips that ensure the health of your trees.

Regular mulching –

By placing some good quality garden mulch around the base of the tree will ensure that any moisture in the soil will not evaporate to quickly. Also as the mulch breaks down it will add vital nutrients to the top layer of soil, which is where trees have most of their feeder roots. Always be certain not to allow any of the mulch to come into contact with the trunk of the tree, as this could cause collar rot.Regular mulching will also encourage macro organisms such as worms. to thrive in the soil.

Regular mulching

Fertiliser –

Using a good all round liquid fertiliser on a regular basis will ensure that the tree gets all of the nutrients it needs to continue healthy growth. This will also help boost the trees immune system and assist in warding off infection. Use a special fertiliser for Australian Native species, as these trees are prone to toxicity from phosphorus.

Soil De-compaction –

One of the major causes of bad health for trees is soil compaction. Over time the soil becomes unable to breath, this will inhibit air and water freely moving into the top soil. Take a garden fork and step down on it gently so as t goes about 15 centimeters into the ground. Gently move it back and forth so as to create some spaces or air holes in the soil. Do this about a meter away from the trunk of the tree so as to avoid damaging any surface roots.

Soil De-compaction

Check for Bugs –

Check your trees regularly for bugs and signs of insect attack. These are usually pretty obvious and if see any insects eating your trees you will need to act fast. There are a few natural alternatives to pesticides. My favourite is soapy water. Just take three table spoons of dish washing liquid and add it to a bucket of water. Splash the soapy mix all around the leaves of the tree.Alternatively you can use a garden hose spray attachment to reach higher places. This will suffocate the bugs as the detergent dries up. Do not spray detergent on trees in the hot mid day sun. This could burn the leaves.

Use pesticide as a last alternative and always consult the instructions before use.

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