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Old 06-27-2008, 11:58 AM
 
Location: NE Charlotte, NC (University City)
1,894 posts, read 5,736,187 times
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In my effort to learn the ways of this new land (new to my wife and I), I'd like to hear from folks with experience about how and when they plant things in their yards and gardens. Coming from Florida, pretty much all year long is an acceptable time to plant things. Up here, I know there is a planting season, a fertilizing season, a pruning season, etc. I ask because we are on the verge of spending some time in our new yard...probably some flower beds, maybe a tree or two, plans for a small vegetable garden. Nothing crazy, just enough to give some "wow" to the otherwise sorta bland scenery in our yard.

So my specific questions are:

1. How do you plant things here? We've got this pretty orange soil, but it's hard as cement in my yard and doesn't perc(ulate) very well. Say I were to build a flower box out front of the house and I wanted it to be 2 feet tall or so. Do I backfill the box frame (presumably bricks or timbers) with normal clay (or whatever is available) and add a top 6-12" of potting soil? Can things actually be planted in just some tilled up clay?

2. When is the best time to plant...or better yet, when is the time when I'm sure to lose whatever I plant, no matter how hard I try? I hear September-ish is grass season and/or grass fertilizer season. What about flowers and trees? I think vegetables will speak for themselves since most vegetables need a specific time to grow and sprout.

Any tips would be welcome...such as how to get new plantings up and growing in our region. For example, "watering in" is common in Florida for new trees and shrubs where you basically flood the hole with water and plant the new item in it...then water the heck out of it for the next few weeks. I assume our plants up here may be different and have different tricks to successfully start a garden.

Sugestions for colorful and easy to maintain flowers, shrubs, and ground cover (more easy than colorful for ground cover) are welcome too!

I know we've got some green thumbs on here..let's see 'em!
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:32 PM
 
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I'm sure you'll get some good replies here but in additon to that here's another good resource Gardening in the Carolinas - GardenWeb
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Cornelius
3,662 posts, read 8,680,352 times
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Well, you'll need to wait until at least September before you consider planting (from nurseries). Transplanting shouldn't take place until the leaves are gone and the plant/shrub/tree is dormant, which is usually late November to February. Early winter is better to allow maximum root growth before the coming summer.

Check out Welcome to Organic Plant Healthcare for all of you plant needs/food. They have organic products that reintroduce the microbial life back into the soil that was lost when your home was built. Generally speaking, you'll need to dig your hole, break up the clay, mix the organic soil with the clay, place plant in hole (which is generally 2-3 times larger than root ball), back fill about halfway, lightly tamp and water soil to expel air pockets, complete back fill, create mound around plant to gather water, top dress with organic product, top off with mulch.

You can, however, begin today your preparation for planting season. You should map out what you plan to do with your yard--somewhat of a rough master plan. Get a general idea of where you want to plant your shrubs, etc. Let's say you have grass all the way to the sides of your house, but you want to create foundation bedding. Go ahead and kill the grass where you will put your bed. Cut the grass at the lowest level possible or weed wack it (I say weed eat, you may say weed wack ). Use Round Up Grass and Weed Killer and apply in the morning once temps hit the 70s. After a few days, spread pine needles about 6 inches thick (they will break down).

What's going to happen is that as the ground is shielded from the heat and sun's rays, and as the pine needles retain moisture and compost, your soil will naturally become more moist, softer, more porous, and biologically ready for your shrubs when the time comes. And actually, you could probably go ahead and apply one of the organic product from OPHC, which will catalyze the process. Taking these measures will go a long way to ensure your plants take root and sustain themselves over the months after planting. And you might save yourself an aching back by not having to bulldoze through that rock solid clay!

Can't really give suggestions on watering, as all plants differ. You will have directions on the plant/shrub or you can ask the gardener from where you buy. You'll also need to consider the climate of your property, i.e. full sun, part sun, full shade, rain accessible, etc. These parameters will also determine your plantings.

There are lots of books at Home Depot or Lowes that will help get you started. I highly recommend getting one that will help you map out your project and offer suggestions for foundation plants, hedges, specimens, ground covers, screens, shady trees, etc. Maybe check the library or Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more too.

Good luck with everything--you will begin to reap the fruits of your labor in the coming 1-2 years!!
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:54 PM
 
1,166 posts, read 3,548,044 times
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I'm interested in your tree-planting-method aka "watering in ." Does anyone use that method here in Charlotte. Having a recently planted tree or bush wilt and die is one of the problems here in NC. Most people take the easiest route and don't plant them until it cools down considerably - maybe Oct. or Nov.

I need to run out and water my deck plants, but I'll add some of my thoughts later. A good ground cover for a sun location is creeping jenny - keep in mind that it's invasive. White nancy and it's sister red nancy (Perennials.com :: Plant Details (Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy&rsquo) are easy to grow and very attractive. Then there's always pachysandra for the shady areas.
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Old 06-27-2008, 02:02 PM
 
Location: NE Charlotte, NC (University City)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbJ View Post
I'm interested in your tree-planting-method aka "watering in ."...A good ground cover for a sun location is creeping jenny - keep in mind that it's invasive...
"Watering in" is probably more of a contractor method than a gardner's method...yet it is still very much an acquired skill since you can easily kill the shrub/tree you're planting. It's used primarily in an area where you don't want to have to spend lots of time watering and maintaining after planting (like a job site where you plant and have maybe a few weeks before you pull off the site and let the owner or owner's landscape service take over the grounds--the site contractor generally wants very little to do with landscaping). The amount of water is the critical piece in the process...too much and the plant drowns. In my experience, I'd fill the hole up to just about halfway full of water (for a moderate size shrub like Lugustrum--3-4' tall)...work the shrub into the hole and back fill good soil on top. The theory is the water works itself into the root ball and associated dirt/soil that came with it...as well as getting into the new backfill. Again, low maintenance and minimal survival was the driver for this method, although I always tried to make it look nice too!

As far as invasive species...I don't think I could bring myself to plant such a plant. Unless, of course, I'm misunderstanding "invasive." I guess all ground covers/iveys are invasive by nature. I think of cudzu when you say the word "invasive."
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Old 06-27-2008, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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I didn't know the name "creeping Nancy" but I do know it as Lamium. I get pink/purple flowers on mine and it is excellant as a grower, both in Miss. and in Ut. Any plant that can cover that many conditions is a plant for me! It looks spectacular by the 3rd year and is not too invasive. It's easy to pull out any that you don't want somewhere. A lot of people like creeping Vinca, or wild Vinca, but I find it too invasive. It takes forever to get rid of and you have to keep at it all the time.

Yarrow is a good plant for a hot, dry location. Feathery leaves and yellow, white, or red flower varieties are available.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:04 PM
 
Location: The 12th State
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the orange soil does appear hard at the surface but it generally red clay .
Underneath the top layer it actually pretty moist.
Unless the desire place you are wanting to plant has buried boulder rock the plants that are meant for this area and certain climates will do well due to the plant will grow into the moist ground underneath.

YOu can plow or dig up the top layer and either replace it with topsoil or mix it with the dirt you just removed.
For new plants water very frequent in the summer .
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:28 PM
 
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I agree with Southern Belle. Don't plant vinca; you'll spend the rest of your life trying to get rid if it. Southern Belle, I think you've mixed up the two plants. White Nancy and red Nancy are varieties of lamium. I personally think that the red or dark pink variety is a better grower. Creeping jenny which is a lime green color is very invasive but can easily be pulled up, so I wouldn't hesitate to plant it. It covers an area very quickly and is fairly attractive.

Some plants can grow in tilled up clay, I suppose, but most perennials that I'm familiar with prefer better drainage than the clay provides. Mix it with compost, topsoil and perlite or some other medium to make it more friable. I imagine that to do a whole garden in potting soil could get rather costly.
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Old 06-28-2008, 05:37 AM
 
1,644 posts, read 4,104,271 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbJ View Post
I agree with Southern Belle. Don't plant vinca; you'll spend the rest of your life trying to get rid if it. Southern Belle, I think you've mixed up the two plants. White Nancy and red Nancy are varieties of lamium. I personally think that the red or dark pink variety is a better grower. Creeping jenny which is a lime green color is very invasive but can easily be pulled up, so I wouldn't hesitate to plant it. It covers an area very quickly and is fairly attractive.

Some plants can grow in tilled up clay, I suppose, but most perennials that I'm familiar with prefer better drainage than the clay provides. Mix it with compost, topsoil and perlite or some other medium to make it more friable. I imagine that to do a whole garden in potting soil could get rather costly.

But Vinca is a great ground cover plant if you want something to cover large areas especially under trees.
We have Hostas at out our home, which I always thought liked shade, but they grow well in full sun in our garden.
Also some of the herbs will tolerate drought, but they like well drained soil so probably better in pots with gravel and non clay soil.(some varieties of lavender and rosemary)
We also have lambs ears which grows well with little attention.

If you plant in October/November does the frost not get them later on?
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Old 06-28-2008, 06:50 AM
 
Location: NE Charlotte, NC (University City)
1,894 posts, read 5,736,187 times
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I forgot to mention that the ground cover is in a 100% shaded area under poplar trees.

If I were to use potting soil or top soil, it wold only be the top 6-8" of the soil...with the rest either being a blend or just tilled clay underneath. Obviously, if I built a flower/planting box that's 12-18" high, I'm not going to fill it 100% with expensive store-bought potting soil.

So, if I'm understanding things here, I should spend the summer getting things ready: building flower boxes, outlining areas with stone, killing grass where I want flower beds, etc... Then plant things in the fall? As the above poster asked, what about the winter frost?

Another question I have is about composters. I have a lot of trees on my property...and obviously, a lot of leaves that are eye balling the ground as a nice place to fall down to and lay this fall! I've thought about building a composter (I've seen plans for building one...seems easy). Does anyone else have one? Are they worth the hassle? My goal would be to have an easy place to dispose of leaves every fall and get something in return: great fertilizer for my plants. The only advice I've gotten is to keep it away from the house since it will develop an earthen/rotting leaves smell that may be unpleasant.
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