5 tips for DIY landscaping

Posted on: April 2, 2018 | Written By: Matt Fincher | Comments

Creating your own planting area can be daunting, but these basic ideas will help make the landscape thrive. It’s always best to think carefully about planting, but it’s also good to know there’s always a window of opportunity to move something that’s newly planted if the gardener has second thoughts.

Put the right plant in the right place

It’s important to know how tall and wide a plant will get at maturity, as well as if it prefers shade or sun. Another thing to consider is what kind of soil is best for the variety. For example, rhododendrons prefer to grow as understory plants in acidic, woodland soil while lilacs need full sun and a pH neutral soil.
Gardening requires patience. Planting too close to a structure or other plants might look great at first, but it might mean removing the plant in just a few short years. Most plants will benefit from a soil amendment like compost. When planting trees, though, it’s best to backfill with native soil so the roots will continue to reach out to the drip line of the branches. This article from the Arbor Day Foundation has details on proper tree planting.

Grow what you love

Spend time at a good nursery, like Penn Hills Lawn and Garden, and explore the different varieties until you find something to enjoy looking at for decades to come. Shopping at a garden center should not be like going to the grocery store, so slow down and find something wonderful to plant.

Fall is for planting

Trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials all benefit from fall planting although many will also thrive by being planted in the spring. The temperatures in the fall are conducive to root growth as opposed to top growth. When a flowering tree or shrub is planted in the spring, it expends a lot of energy to put on foliage, flowers and also establish a root system. Fall planting allows for good root development. This article from the Morton Arboretum explains more about fall planting.

Water and proper mulching

Make sure plants get established by watering at the time of planting but also when rain is scarce. Most plants need one inch of water per week. Mulch should never touch the base of the plant and should look like a doughnut, not a volcano. Plants with mulch piled up around the base and trunk are doomed. The University of Illinois Extension has a lot to say about volcano mulch in this article.

Find something special

First-time gardeners revel in the fact that they didn’t kill a plant. After that, it’s all about growing something different. That’s where local garden centers come in. Each one has its specialty and can help navigate what might seem like an overwhelming number of plants to choose from.

There’s a great service available if you’re local to the Pittsburgh area, called Landscape Express. Submit photos of your space and information about your dimensions, budget and expectations and let the experts lend a hand.

Penn Hills Lawn and Garden is located at 200 Jefferson Road in Penn Hills. Contact them at 412-241-0411.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”