Happy Birthday Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring”

Rachel Louise Carson, author of “Silent Spring” (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She credits her mother for instilling her with a love for nature. In 1932, after many hard personal life problems, she graduated with a master’s degree in zoology. She taught for a few years, then in 1935, she obtained a part-time position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries as a writer of the radio show, “Romance Under the Waters”. She was promoted to full time junior aquatic biologist after being the first woman to take and pass the civil service test.

Her writing career started in 1951 with, “The Sea Around Us”. Followed by other books titled, ”The Edge of the Sea” & “Under the Sea Wind”. She wrote multitudes of articles on topics from pesticides to ecosystems. In 1958, her work started on the famous, “Silent Spring”, which implied if we continue using (DDT), it would cause the death of songbirds, hence no singing equaled silence. The book was released on September 27th, 1962 with much controversy.

In 1960, after some other health ailments, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This caused the delay in the publication of “Silent Spring”. After the book was released, many critics downed the book as being inconsistent and the research was not backed.

In the End…

Her book didn’t stop the government from banning DDT shortly after it’s release, though. Additionally, the pesticide industry took great measures to discredit her. Carson responded to these attacks by speaking to organizations, testifying at Congressional hearings, appearing on television, and conferring with President Kennedy and his Science Advisory Committee. In letters, she continued to defend her life’s work and urge that man use restraint and knowledge in his treatment of the environment.

Ultimately, Rachel Carson also started many influential, grassroots environmental movements, giving the start of the Environmental Protection Agency. She won many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her research was the vehicle for the banning of DDT worldwide, though again, is still debated today.

Sadly, she died of breast cancer at the age of 56. Way too young for such a defender of the universe!!

© Wellness Garden Design

Featured In Wellness Lounge Magazine

Pamela Dittmer McKuen recently interviewed me for her article featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Wellness Lounge Magazine.

I really enjoyed talking to Pam about the concepts of Wellness Gardens and why sharing their concept is so important to me. I want everyone to understand that their landscaping can be so much more than just green, boring and a chore.

Wellness Gardens are more than just nice landscaping. They entice all of your senses to bring you into a more relaxed state of mind. Many people use the stimulation promoted by the plants to practice mindful meditation.

Wellness Garden article
Continue reading at Wellness Lounge Magazine

“My mother loved nibbling on the mint, rubbing the lamb’s
ears (plants) and talking to the cardinals,” says Farrell, founder
of Wellness Garden Design in Wauconda, Illinois. “I decided to
focus on this type of design because I wanted to see more people
in the happier, healthier mood my mother was in when she came
indoors.”

Holly Farrell featured in Wellness Lounge Magazine

Available to Speak and Share

I am available to speak locally or via podcasts regarding Wellness Garden concepts or anything horticulture for that matter. Please contact me for more information.

© Wellness Garden Design

DIY Potpourri After Gardening

After a hard day of deadheading your flowers, instead of tossing them in the compost bin, how about some DIY potpourri!?!

Potpourri Fixings:

Potpourri can be made from many different things from your yard that you’d normally consider waste. Woody seedheads, nutshells and even tree bark can hold fragrance essences for a long time. The only things that don’t work well are things that get soggy or mushy when left out, in lieu of drying.

Flowers are a colorful addition to the potpourri. There are a wide range of flowers available that hold up well for making potpourri:

  • roses
  • carnations
  • chamomile
  • hyacinths
  • heliotrope violets
  • lily of the valley
  • red beebalm
  • mock orange
  • lemon balm
  • bachelor buttonss
  • pansys
  • geraniums

Other plants that have a natural perfume in their leaves or stems:

  • cinnamon
  • wood of cedar
  • ginger
  • citrus fruits
  • orange seeds
  • pine cones
  • almonds
  • anise
  • juniper berries
  • geranium
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla

Herbs that blend well into potpourris:

  • bay leaves
  • blossoms of hyssop
  • lemon balm
  • mints
  • rosemary
  • lemon verbena
  • santolina
  • marjoram
  • thyme
  • lavender
  • lamb’s ear

How to DIY Potpourri

Essential oils can be used to enhance the scents of your potpourri and help the smell last longer.

Fixatives, such as orrisroot, oak moss, amber and frankincense all help with maintaining the fragrance. These products are usually found being sold alongside the essential oils.

Use glass, ceramic, or wood bowls for mixing your potpourri, they won’t react to the essential oils. Metal bowls will.

Steps For Dry Method:

  • Dry all of your ingredients by laying them out on racks, parchment paper or your preferred method.
  • Mix the essential oils together with the fixative and set aside.
  • Mix all of the dry ingredients, taking care not to crush the blooms.
  • Add the oil mixture and steep for a month, covered. If scent is too weak, add more oils.

Steps For Stronger Sachet-Type Potpourri:

Making potpourri with partly dried materials is time consuming, but the fragrance lasts longer. This method produces a stronger smelling potpourri, but is not visually attractive. It is best used for sachets.

  • Let materials dry a few days until limp.
  • Add layers to a bowl and cover with coarse salt. Alternate layers of vegetation & salt until bowl is full.
  • Cover with a flat dish, and weigh it down with a stone.
  • Store in a dry place until the mixture achieves a cake like consistency (about 3 weeks). 
  • Remove the weight, crumble the mixture and add fixative / essential oil mixture of your choice.
  • Let it age in cool, dry place for six months.

Refreshing the scent of the potpourri can be done by adding more essential oils or sprinkling it with brandy… (A little for the potpourri & a little for yourself 😉 )

© Wellness Garden Design

How to make dry potpourri?

Steps For Dry Method:
Dry all of your ingredients by laying them out on racks, parchment paper or your preferred method.
Mix the essential oils together with the fixative and set aside.
Mix all of the dry ingredients, taking care not to crush the blooms.
Add the oil mixture and steep for a month, covered. If scent is too weak, add more oils.

Asparagus: An Edible Privacy Border Hedge

Using an asparagus hedge is just one way to incorporate an edible plant into the ornamental landscape. It’s easy to grow and good for you!

asparagus hedge
Asparagus Hedge

Asparagus is So Healthy

Mother Nature sure knew what she was doing when she created asparagus.

Asparagus is low in calories & sodium. It is a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, protein, vitamins B, A, C, E, & K, rutin, thiamin, fiber, potassium, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, copper, niacin, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that heightens the ability of insulin to transfer glucose from the bloodstream in cells. The amino acid asparagine derives its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is rich in this compound.

field of asparagus

If I’m able to match up an asparagus lover and a landscape plan, it’s a win-win for both of us. However, many folks don’t even know what an asparagus plant looks like grown-up. What we eat is the young shoot before it unfurls it’s leaves.

This is an farm with rows of it at its full size, which is about 5 feet (1.5M). Once you recognize it, there’s nothing like it.

It tends to grow wild in forest preserves… You’ll be spotting wild ones in the local forest preserve in no time! They are an introduced species, which means many preserves don’t mind you picking it. (Check with yours, though!)

Location and Planting

Sunny, sunny, sunny. If there is more than 3 hours of shade, the plants can become floppy. They will grow fine, however staking may be required.

As the actual planting process is quite long and too long to include here, Please see this post on Modern Farmer. I agree with their methods 100%.

How to Create an Asparagus Hedge

Each plant will be about 3 feet wide (1M). However, when using them as a border, I do tend to over-plant them closer than recommended, about 2 feet apart. I also plant them in a zig-zag pattern to create a denser screen.

Generally speaking, the hedge will be about 5 feet wide (2M), so be sure there is enough space available for the hedge to grow in.

In autumn, the plants will turn a striking yellow. It’s up to you if you want to prune them down or wait until very early spring like I do. I prefer to see them throughout the winter against the white snow.

Harvesting

Harvesting your asparagus hedge will have no ill effects on how it will fill out, as long as you stop harvesting when the spears get smaller.

daily harvest

This is our daily harvest from approximately April 15 to late May (20 foot hedge). Asparagus starts turning up in every meal; from breakfast omelets to stuffed pork for dinner. Soup can use up a lot when we’re inundated.

I save the thinner ones to pickle. These are a great treat while kayaking or in a Bloody Mary.

Maintenance and Care

When it comes to low-maintenance, there’s nothing better than the asparagus plant! Aside from harvesting, all it needs is to be pruned down in the dormant season and a light covering of fresh composted manure in the spring.

Freshly manured beds
A freshly manured asparagus hedge bed

Asparagus Beetle

asparagus beetle

There are two kinds of asparagus beetle, the common asparagus beetle (bottom), Crioceris asparagi & the spotted asparagus beetle, Crioceris duodecimpunctata. Both feed on the tender young tips of the spear, but the spotted beetles larva tend to only eat the berries.

The easiest way to catch these buggers is to have a cup of water ready. As you move towards them, they move to the other side of the stalk (quite funny to watch!) Put the cup under them & wave your hand near them. Their instinct is to drop to the ground, but instead, the cup of water will catch them. The larva and eggs aren’t as easy to remove. It’s the same method I use for typing… Hunt & peck.

© Wellness Garden Design

Beware of the Mulch Volcano

mulch volcano from hell

Creating mulch volcanos is one of the worse things you can do to a tree.

I am so saddened when I see trees mulched up to their lower branches, called ‘Mulch Volcanos’. If the truck of your tree looks the same as a telephone pole, there’s too much mulch on it!!! The tree should flare out where it comes out of the ground.

In my opinion, this has to be the worst volcano I’ve seen in my entire life…

Monkey See, Monkey Do….

Sadly, homeowners see mulch volcanos and think this is the correct way to mulch, and the vicious cycle continues. Professional landscapers do it all the time just to fill their pockets, telling you it’s horticulturally correct. Don’t fall for it! You DO NOT need to add mulch to your beds yearly. It is a good idea to cultivate what is still there, though. My advice is to apply biannually or only where it may have eroded.

fallen tree

There are many problems that a mulch volcano can cause. Girdling roots, poor growth, mold to name a few… However, crown rot rates as a number one worst issue. One stiff breeze is all it will take. Notice in the photo to the right, the trunk snapped off right at the mulch-line. These types of happenings can cause some costly repairs. Mulch volcanoes are sneaky. This tree looked completely healthy. Sometimes a tree with a lot of gumption will grow large, however the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

mulch volcano surgery

Saving trees from the damages of mulch volcanoes is a tedious job.

Depending on the size of the tree and how long the tree has been improperly mulched, there are couple ways to fix the problem:

  • Digging it out by hand
  • Using pressured water

After removing the mulch, prune errant roots and check the trunk for damage and disease.

The Right Way to Mulch a Tree

Here is a tree properly mulched, you can clearly see the root flair at the top of the mulch line. The area for mulch ring is also the same distance out from the trunk as the crown is. Grass prevents the tree from getting moisture, along with stealing all the nutrients available in the soil. Sometimes it’s not possible to make the ring this large, however make it as big as possible. Lastly, only put enough over the area (3″) to control weeds and to help the area retain moisture.

Correct mulch
This tree is not only properly mulched, it has the right sized ring around it too.

© Wellness Garden Design

What is a Mulch Volcano?

A tree that is mulched up to its lower branches is called a ‘Mulch Volcano’. If the truck of your tree looks the same as a telephone pole, there’s too much mulch on it!!! The tree should flare out where it comes out of the ground. Mulch volcano

How do you Mulch a Tree Properly?

Here is a tree properly mulched, you can clearly see the root flair at the top of the mulch line. The area for mulch ring is also the same distance out from the trunk as the crown is. Grass prevents the tree from getting moisture, along with stealing all the nutrients available in the soil. Sometimes it’s not possible to make the ring this large, however make it as big as possible. Lastly, only put enough over the area (3″) to control weeds and to help the area retain moisture. Correct mulch

Save Your Forest – Eat Garlic Mustard!

Seems many folks are taking advantage of the forest preserves during the quarantine, which is awesome, as nature can heal us both mentally and physically!

However, sadly, due to the same quarantine, volunteer work days at the forest preserves have been cancelled. These workday delays will allow invasive species to get a stronger foothold in the forests.

Since we’re about to come into Garlic Mustard season in the Midwest, maybe you could do the forest and yourself a favor? Pull as much of it as you can!

How to Find It!

Alliaria petiolata is a biennial flowering plant in the mustard family and tastes great! It was brought here by early settlers, who spread the seeds freely as they traveled, to help folks who traveled through in the future.

This prolific weed can be found growing almost anywhere, but prefers a shady location. Procuring this herb is as easy as traveling to your nearest forest preserve. Removing native plants from protected parks is illegal, but because of garlic mustard’s invasive status, most parks will encourage you to take all you’d like.

This herb can be a bit evergreen, and these ‘old’ leaves will be a bit bitter. It s best to harvest the young, lighter green leaves for eating. It will also start blooming in our area soon, making it easier to find. It is very easy to identify, with its serrated leaf and strong garlic smell.

Spring rain makes the ground soft which helps with removal of garlic mustard’s tap root. This root only goes down for about an inch, then takes an abrupt turn. When you pull slowly, you can feel which way the root goes and pull accordingly. If all of it is not removed, it will grow back like a dandelion.

Garlic Mustard

During the first year of growth, plants form rosette clumps of heart shaped, slightly wrinkled leaves that smell like garlic. The next year plants flower in spring, producing white flowers, and as the flowering stems bloom they stretch into a spike-like shape. This pain-in-the-butt plant has enough energy in it, that if you pull it while it’s blooming, it can still produce seeds, which are released during the early summer.

So what can be done about this invasive species? EAT IT!

Garlic Mustard Recipes:

Garlic Mustard Pesto
Garlic Mustard Pesto

Garlic Mustard Scallion Cakes

2 eggs, 1 bunch scallions, chopped 1 pkg flour tortilla, 1 cup garlic mustard – chopped, 2 tsp sesame oil oil for frying. Mix scallions and garlic mustard. Beat together eggs and sesame oil. Brush on side of a tortilla with egg mixture. Sprinkle on scallion/garlic mustard mixture. Brush egg mix on another tortilla, then put on top of 1st tortilla with egg side down (repeat until all tortillas are used). Cover with plate and weigh down with cans to seal tortilla (about 15 minutes). (Separate cakes with wax paper.) Heat oil in heavy pan. Brown cakes on both sides (~2 minutes total). Drain on paper towel. Cut into wedges and serve.

Garlic Mustard Tossed Salad

4-6 leaves ruby red leaf lettuce, 4-6 leaves Romaine Lettuce, 1-2 handfuls tender garlic mustard leaves, French sorrel and bronze fennel, one leaf each 1/3 cup mandarin orange slices, drained 1 slice of smoked salmon, 1/8 cup sunflower seeds, croûtons.

Wash and crisp all the leaves and tear the lettuce leaves into a salad bowl. Cut the garlic mustard leaves, the French sorrel, and the fennel into narrow strips and add to the salad. Cut the oranges and the smoked salmon into thin strips and place in the salad. Sprinkle on sunflower seeds and fresh, herbed croûtons. Dress lightly with Italian dressing. Serve immediately.

Stuffed Garlic Mustard

20 medium garlic mustard leaves, 5 wooden spoonfuls of sausage, 4 wooden spoonfuls of rice, 2 Tbsn. chopped garlic, mustard leaves, 1 Tbsn. lemon juice.

Mix rice and sausage and stir well. Add chopped leaves and lemon and toss. Put a teaspoon of this mix on a medium leaf of garlic mustard. Hold leaf together with a toothpick. Serve on a plate.

©Wellness Garden Design

Can I Pull Garlic Mustard at My Forest Preserve?

Yes! This prolific weed can be found growing almost anywhere, but prefers a shady location. Procuring this herb is as easy as traveling to your nearest forest preserve. Removing native plants from protected parks is illegal, but because of garlic mustard’s invasive status, most parks will encourage you to take all you’d like. Garlic Mustard

How Do I Get Rid of Garlic Mustard?

Spring rain makes the ground soft which helps with removal of garlic mustard’s tap root. This root only goes down for about an inch, then takes an abrupt turn. When you pull slowly, you can feel which way the root goes and pull accordingly. If all of it is not removed, it will grow back like a dandelion.

Pro Tips for Designing Spring Annual Containers

Although there’s still a chill in the air, I’m all giddy to start planting my Spring annual containers! Here are some basic tips to make your Spring annual season pots wonderful.

Before I get into the DIY tips here, If you’re NOT a DIYer, contact me to quote having your seasonal containers installed.

I’m also offering to deliver everything you need to complete your pot yourself! To help lessen exposure during this time of physical distancing, I can deliver your soil, plants and anything else you need to plant your own containers. Remember, I can get a wider selection of flowers than any big box or local nursery.

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

Spring Annuals that love the cool weather:

Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.

PRO TIP: Well watered containers allow plants to live through a nightly frost. However if you need to cover it, use a natural fabric, not plastic!!

These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Just like autumn pots, these don’t grow any larger than they are now. So design accordingly.

© Wellness Garden Design

What annuals are good for spring pots?

Spring Annuals that love the cool weather:
Petunias
Tulips
Hyacinths
Primrose
Cyclamen
Hydrangea
Muscari
Snap Dragons
Ranunculus
Helleborus
Viola
Ivy
Diascia
Spring Container

How Do you design a Spring Pot?

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Plant These Trees and Shrubs For More Butterflies

Who doesn’t want more butterflies in their yard?!? However, so many folks worry about feeding adult butterflies, that they forget that caterpillars need to eat too! With this in mind, here is a list of larval host trees and shrubs, along with the butterfly species that they attract. Planting these species in your yard will surely bring more butterfly parents to your yard.

One last thing; don’t worry, none of these species will eat your whole tree or shrub.

Red Spotted Purple butterfly
Red Spotted Purple Caterpillar

Amelanchier spp. – Serviceberry

  • Bruce Spanworm
  • Blindy Sphinx (small)
  • Striped Hairstreak
  • Amorpha canescens
  • Black-spotted Prominent
  • Dog Face
  • Asimina triloba
  • Zebra Swallowtail

Betula spp. – Birch

  • Compton Tortoiseshell
  • Dreump Duskywing
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Tiger Swallowtail
  • White-marked Tussock Moth

Carya spp. – Hickory

  • Hickory Hairstreak
  • Hickory Horn D.
  • Luna Moth
  • Skipper spp.
swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail Caterpillar

Catalpa

  • Catalpa Sphinx
  • Ceanothus americanus
  • Filamont Beaver
  • Spring/Summer Azure

Celtis spp. – Hackberry

  • American Snout
  • Io Moth
  • Question Mark
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Spiny Oak Slug
  • Tawny Emperor
  • Comptonia
  • Gray Hairstreak

Cornus spp. – Dogwood

  • Monkey Slug
  • Dogwood Thyativid
  • Polyphemus Moth
  • Spring/Summer Azure
  • Unicorn Caterpillar

Corylus spp. – Filbert

  • Polyphemus Moth
  • Saddled Prominent
American Dagger Moth
American Dagger Moth

Crataegus spp. – Hawthorn

  • Interruped Dagger Moth
  • Small Eyed Sphinx
  • Smeared Dagger Moth
  • Striped Hairstreak
  • Fraxinus spp.
  • American Dagger Moth
  • Black Auches
  • Giant Leopard Moth
  • Harvis Three-Spot
  • Hickory Horned Devil
  • Linden Looper
  • Spiny Oak Slug
  • Tiger Swallowtail
  • Lindera benzoin
  • Giant Leopard Moth
  • Promethea Moth
  • Spicebush Swallowtail

Populus spp. – Poplar

  • Compton Tortoiseshell
  • Red-spotted Purple
  • Twin Spotted Sphinx
  • Satin Moth
  • Sigmoid Prominent
  • Viceroy
  • Virgin Moth

Prunus spp. – Cherry

  • Cherry Dagger Moth
  • Coral Hairstreak
  • Striped Hairstreak
  • Viceroy
  • Wild Cherry Sphinx

Prunus serotina – Black Cherry

  • Tiger Swallowtail
  • Red-spotted Purple
Striped Hairstreak butterfly
Striped Hairstreak Caterpillar

Ptelea trifoliata – Common hoptree

  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Quercus spp.
  • Striped Hairstreak
  • Edward’s Hairstreak
  • Banded Hairstreak

Rhus spp. – Sumac

  • Spring/Summer Azure

Ribes spp. – Currant

  • Gray Comma
  • Rubus spp.
  • Sphinx Hairstreak

Salix spp. – Willow

  • Acadian Hairstreak
  • Compton Tortoiseshell
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Northern Finned Prominent
  • Red-spotted Purple
  • Striped Hairstreak
  • Viceroy
  • Sassafras albidum
  • Cecropia Moth
  • Imperial Moth
  • Io Moth
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Smilax
  • Spotted Phosphila
  • Turbulent

Spiraea spp. – Spirea

  • Woolly Bear
Cecropia Moth
Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

Tilia spp. – Basswood

  • Question Mark

Viburnum spp.

  • Hummingbird Cloverwing
  • Vitis spp.
  • Grapeleaf Skeletoniter
  • Xanthoxylum spp.
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Skipper spp.

© Wellness Garden Design

What trees and shrubs attract butterflies?

Who doesn’t want more butterflies in their yard?!? However, so many folks worry about feeding adult butterflies, that they forget that caterpillars need to eat too! Planting species that feed caterpillars in your yard will surely bring more butterfly parents to your yard. Monarch butterfly

How to attract butterflies to my yard?

By planting trees that the butterfly larvae feed on, butterflies will come to lay their eggs on those trees. Planting these species in your yard will surely bring more butterfly parents to your yard. butterfly

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Get Quality Landscaping For Dirt Cheap Pricing

Simply put: The words Quality Landscaping and Dirt Cheap don’t usually go together in a sentence! However, I’m here to tell you how they CAN go together and how you can get the landscaping you’ve been dreaming of, without breaking the bank.

A woman enjoying her quality landscaping
Enjoy every season’s display of color

I wrote this guide to help you learn a bit about the process that goes into the design and implementation of your landscape. After reading this guide, you’ll be able to make an educated and informed decision regarding your landscaping.

The Opposite of Quality Landscaping

Sadly, just like any industry, it’s important to realize there are some businesses that are only looking for a profit, aren’t addressing your budget or just don’t have the experience to do the job right.

Finding the right designer to work with is key to achieving your perfect landscaping. Although landscape contractors have landscape designers or architects on staff, they don’t always have all your best interests at heart. Let me explain:

Many times landscape contractors will use the same 30 plants, the same stone materials and even the same designs for multiple residences. Yikes!! Why? So they can make more money and save time. By using the same plants and stone materials, contractors are able to buy those materials in bulk. The same goes for the designs, why reinvent the design for each house, when with a little tweak, it can be used at multiple houses.

Another issue that can arise is scheduling. Countless times, larger jobs are put in front of smaller installs, or a job is started and days (or even weeks) go by before seeing the contractor again. Granted, weather-related delays are a part of landscaping, however your job shouldn’t be pushed to the back-burner because of the weather or the size of the job.

This Isn’t Quality Landscaping

Generally speaking, unless you have landscaping knowledge yourself, you won’t know if the landscape contractor is working with your best interests in mind. It’s not uncommon to see different plants installed (or different sizes than contracted), less base material under pavers than is recommended or causing future problems like flooding or damage to existing trees and plants.

Lastly, landscape contractors generally make more money on the installation (labor) of your landscape install than on the materials. With that being said, landscape contractors are unlikely to sell you a design without the catch of installing it. So if you’re looking to save money and install yourself, don’t look to a landscape contractor for your design.

So Why Choose Me For Your Landscape Design?

Why? Because I will design quality landscaping that satisfies your wants, meets your needs, falls within your budget and is installed in a timely manner.

Quality Landscaping Design

As an independent landscape designer I work for YOU and will act as a liaison between you and the installing landscape contractor by doing the following:

  • Quoting out your design to many responsible landscape contractors, assuring you’re getting the best service and schedule for the best price.
  • Tagging your woody plants at the nursery, to be sure you’re getting the best stock
  • Being present on installation day to check all aspects of the build
  • Keeping the landscape contractor on schedule
  • Supplying you detailed care information on all of your plants

Adventurous? You Can Install Your Plants Yourself and Save BIG BUCKS!

Here’s something you don’t see everyday… Being able to ‘Plant Your Own Landscape‘! Here’s how I’m able to save you a lot of money! Remember, landscape contractors make the majority of their money on the labor (install) part of the build.

There’s only two requirements needed from you; the physical capacity to be able to plant a plant (bending, kneeling, strength) and the tools (shovel, spade, rake). That’s it!

A Quick Note About Nurseries and Big Box Stores

Before you bring up the fact you can go to your local nursery or (gasp) that Big Box Store for plants, let me tell you a few things about the plants at those locations.

OK, I’m not going to dis local nurseries too much. Some points I’ll make is that the selection won’t be as wide and the pricing will be double. If they are willing to sketch a plan out for you, it will only encompass plants they have on their lot, which may be limiting. They also aren’t at your home, viewing the actual location the plants will be growing, which can cause growing issues in the future such as not enough sunlight for a plant to flower…. or too much sunlight and the plant burns up.

With regards to Big Box Store plants, just don’t do it! Other than getting your annuals or veggies from these stores, leave those other plants right where they’re at. Being that these stores are nation-wide, they get their plants from all over the nation, too. Although I’m sure they try to only stock plants that are hardy in the area, you really don’t know where the plants came from, which means there’s no guarantee they will survive for long.

Here’s How the DIY Planting Service Works:

  • After design approval, we assess where the plants will be installed. This may include sod removal, old plant removal, adding soil (I’ll give you amounts) or any other preparation work that needs to be completed before the plants arrive.
  • After all the preliminary work is done, the plant delivery is scheduled.
  • Next, I will personally choose your plants at the many wholesale nurseries I work with to be sure they are healthy and well-formed.
  • Finally, I will deliver your plants, place them in their locations and give you the knowledge you need to plant them correctly.
  • Lastly, I’ll calculate the amount of mulch needed and have it delivered.
  • Can it get any easier than that?!?

Landscape Design Costs

It’s important to realize that every landscape design has its own set of challenges. For this reason, it would be a disservice of me to quote rates. However, you will have a clear understanding of the processes and estimated costs necessary to bring your landscape to fruition before any money is exchanged.

Things I Need For Our Meeting:

  • Plat of survey
  • Wish list of desired features (Pinterest or Houzz are great assets, just tag me into your page)
  • Favorite colors or plants – photos work if you don’t know the name.
  • List of any special needs, if any (i.e. no stairs, limited sight, children, housebound family member, etc.)
  • Budget – I can easily phase out the project over a few years

Contact me today to get your quality landscaping done right for dirt cheap prices!!

© Wellness Garden Design

FAQ’s

How do I save money installing landscaping?

By planting your own plants! Remember, landscape contractors make the majority of their money on the labor (install) part of the build. By working with a designer that allows you to DIY your own install, you’ll save over half the going price of an installed landscape. Plants placed in plantbed via quality landscaping

How do I find a Landscape Designer?

Finding a good landscape designer will require some interviewing on the homeowners part. Talk to a few and make sure you’re not getting a cookie-cutter plan with the same boring plants. Be sure to ask about budgets and scheduling, as those two things can shift once season starts. landscape designer

Plant Trees Like a Licensed Arborist

If you’re not going to plant a tree correctly, why even plant it at all?

If you’ve invested in adding a tree to your yard, you’ll need to know how to plant it properly. Remember, your tree is an investment (at the least) and a part of the family, you should only do what’s best for it. Although the general concept of planting a tree; dig hole, place tree, bury tree, is pretty simple… However, it can go wrong fairly quickly during planting, yet take years for the mistake to become noticeable, thus causing wasted time and money.

Noooooooo! I won’t let that happen to you!

Let me teach you how to plant your tree correctly, so you can enjoy your newly planted tree for your lifetime and your grandchildren’s lifetimes!

We’ll start with a quick pictorial summary, then delve into the nitty-gritty details afterward!

These are small, PeeGee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora) on a standards. These were grown in containers, but are in B&B (Balled & Burlapped) format since the client did not like them, I was the lucky recipient of these two free trees! As they were small and the rootball was solid, I chose to remove the burlap first (not recommended for amateurs!!), then felt the top to find the roots, which were right at the top. Next, I dug my hole 3 times larger than the rootball.

Move the tree into the hole, by holding the rootball, NOT by picking up the tree by the trunk! After that, I back-filled it about halfway with native soil and watered. After that water soaked in, I filled the remainder of the hole and watered again. Notice how I did not put any soil on the rootball? Be sure to water your new trees regularly. One long soak is better than three fleeting waters. Lastly, I love these type of Gator bags more than the Teepee types as they somewhat settle the soil with their weight and they will fit on bushy shrubs also.

This tree is at a perfect grade. It is about 1″ – 2″ higher than the soil around it. Next year, I will dig the grass out in between them and add some groundcover. For now, the grass is an insulator.

How to Plant a Tree Like a Licensed Arborist! 

Determine the depth of the top roots in the root ball

  • Start by systematically probe the root ball with a slim rod or screwdriver. At least two structural roots should be found in the top 1” to 3” inches of soil, 3” to 4” inches out from the trunk. On species prone to trunk circling-roots⊗, the top structural root should be within the top one inch of the root ball. Furthermore, if any circling roosts are found, prune them out.
  • Excess soil needs to be removed from the top in the backfill step of the planting process.

Dig a saucer-shaped planting hole three-times the root ball diameter

remove excess soil
backfill your hole
  • To maximize soil oxygen levels, plant the tree 1” to 2” inches above grade
  • The root ball MUST sit on undug soil, which stabilizes the tree and prevents sinking and tilting. Measure after each shovel-full if you have to!
  • A saucer-shaped planting hole allows the root system to grow rapidly to 400% of the root ball volume before being slowed by the lower oxygen levels in the site soil. This is enough to minimize post-planting stress in normal planting situations.
  • The wide, saucer-shaped planting hole gives the tree more tolerance to over-watering and waterlogged soils. A wide planting hole also allows for root ball wrappings to be removed after the tree is situated in the planting hole.
  • A labor-saving technique is to dig the planting hole about two times the root ball diameter with somewhat vertical sides, then widen the hole into the desired saucer shape with the shovel during the backfill process.

Set the tree into place and remove container/wrappings

tree crook
  • In the event that the tree has a “dogleg or crook” (a slight curve in the trunk just above the graft) the inside curve must face north to avoid winter bark injury. This is a good practice to follow, however if you must place it differently because of aesthetics, you may need to wrap the trunk the first couple of winters to prevent sun scald on the trunk.
  • Next, vertically align the tree, with the top centered above the root ball. Due to curves along the trunk, the trunk may not necessarily look straight.

In this next step, techniques vary for Container-Grown Trees and Balled And Burlapped (B&B) Trees.

Container-Grown Nursery Stock:

Container-grown nursery stock describes a variety of production methods where the trees or shrubs are grown in the containers (limiting root spread to the size of container). In some systems, like pot-in-pot and grow-bags, the container is in the ground. An advantage of container stock is that it can be planted in any season.

  • First, lay the tree on its side in or near the planting hole.
  • Next, wiggle off or cut off the container.
  • Shave off the outer 1-1½ inches of the root ball with a pruning saw or pruners. This is to deal with circling roots.
  • Tilt the tree into place with the inside curve of any graft crook facing north.
  • Check the depth of the root ball in planting hole. If needed, remove the tree and correct the hole depth.
  • Align vertically. A tree will NOT straighten out if planted crooked.
  • For stability, firm a shallow ring of soil around the bottom of the root ball
firm rootball
  • The ideal container-grown tree has a nice network of roots holding the root ball together. After removing the container, guide the tree into place.
    If some of the soil falls off (often on the bottom), it may be necessary to adjust the depth of the planting hole. Backfill and pack the bottom of the planting hole to the correct depth.
  • Fabric grow bags must be removed from the sides. They are generally cut away after setting the tree into place.
  • Paper/pulp containers should be removed. Most are slow to decompose and will complicate soil texture interface issues. Pulp containers often need to be cut off, as they may not slide off readily.
  • In handling large trees (3-inch caliper and greater) it may be necessary to set the tree into place before removing the container.

Field-Grown, B&B Nursery Stock:

Field-grown, balled and burlapped (B&B) trees and shrubs are dug from the growing field with the root ball soil intact. In this harvest process, only 5-20% of the feeder roots are retained in the root ball. B&B nursery stock is best transplanted in the cooler spring or fall season.

To prevent the root ball from breaking, the roots are balled and wrapped with burlap (or other fabrics) and twine (hence the name B&B). In nurseries today, there are many variations to the B&B techniques. Some are also wrapped in plastic shrink-wrap, placed into a wire basket, or placed into a pot.

An advantage of the wider planting hole is that it gives room for the planter to remove root ball wrappings AFTER the tree is situated in the hole.

Based on research by the ISA, standard procedures are to remove root ball wrapping materials (burlap, fabric, grow bags, twine, ties, wire basket, etc.) from the upper 12 inches or 2/3 of the root ball, whichever is greater, AFTER the tree is set into place. Materials under the root ball are not a concern since roots grow outward, not downward. It is still a good idea to remove as much as possible.

Planting instructions

  • Remove extra root ball wrapping added for convenience in marketing (like shrink-wrap and a container). However, do NOT remove the burlap (or fabric), wire basket and twine that hold the root ball together until the tree is set into place.
  • Set tree into place with the inside curve of any graft crook facing north.
  • Check the depth of the root ball in planting hole. If needed, removed the tree and correct the hole depth.
  • Align vertically.
  • For stability, firm a shallow ring of soil around the bottom of the root ball.
  • Removed all the wrapping (burlap, fabric, twine, wire basket, etc.) on the upper 12 inches or upper 2/3 of the root ball, whichever is greater.
  • If circling roots are found, shave off the outer 1-1½ inches of the root ball with a pruning saw or pruners.
  • The consensus from research is clear that leaving burlap, twine, and wire baskets on the sides of the root ball are not acceptable planting techniques.
    • Burlap may be slow to decompose and will complicate soil texture interface issues.
    • Burlap that comes to the surface wicks moisture from the root ball, leading to dry soils.
    • Jute twine left around the trunk will be slow to decompose, often girdling the tree.
    • Nylon twine never decomposes in the soil, often girdling the trees several years after planting.
    • Wire baskets take 30-plus years to decompose and may interfere with long-term root growth.
  • With tapered wire baskets, some planters find it easier to cut off the bottom of the basket before setting the tree into the hole. The basket can still be used to help move the tree and is then easy to remove by simply cutting the rings on the side.

Backfill

When backfilling, be careful not to over-pack the soil which reduces large pore space and thus soil oxygen levels. A good method is to simply return soil and allow water to settle it when irrigated.

Soil “peds” (dirt clods) up to the size of a small fist are acceptable in tree planting. In clayey soils, it is undesirable to pulverize the soil, as this destroys large pore space.
Changes in soil texture (actually changes in pore space) between the root ball soil and the backfill soil create a soil texture interface that impedes water and air movement across the interface. To deal with the interface, the top of the root ball must come to the surface (that is, no backfill soil covers the top of the root ball). Backfill soil should cover the root ball knees, gradually tapering down.

Optional Staking

When properly planted, set on undug soil, most trees in the landscape do not require staking or underground stabilization. Staking may be desirable to protect the trees from human activities. If the tree is in a windy location, staking may be necessary.

Install staking before watering so the planting crew does not pack down the wet soil. After the first year, remove the stakes for two reasons; one to be sure growth is not hindered by any cables and secondly, the tree will need to learn how to deal with the wind (by growing stronger). Consequently, if its left staked, it may blow down after it’s larger.

Water to Settle Soil

Water after staking so to not not compact the wet soil installing the stakes. Watering is a tool to settle the soil without overly packing it. Be sure the new tree gets enough water to settle the soil, then at least 1” of water a week, more if it is hot and dry.

Final Grade

With the wide planting hole, the backfill soil may settle in watering. Be sure to check the grade after watering.

well planted tree

Mulch

Do not place mulch directly over the root ball on newly planted trees. As a rule of thumb, 3” to 4” inches of wood/bark chips gives better weed control and prevents soil compaction from foot traffic when placed over the backfill area and beyond. Additional amounts of mulch may reduce soil oxygen.

At the same time, do not place wood/bark chips up against the trunk. Do not make mulch volcanoes!! On wet soils, mulch may help hold excessive moisture and be undesirable. Wood/bark chips are not suitable in open windy areas.

© Wellness Garden Design

These species are prone to girdling roots.
Austrian pine, Pinus nigra
Black gum tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica
Bradford pear, Pyrus calleryana
Bur oak, Quercus macrocarpa
Cherry, Prunus spp.
Crabapple, Malus spp.
Dogwood, Cornus spp.
Elm, Ulmus spp
Fruitless mulberry. Morus alba
Gingko. Gingko biloba
Green ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Hackberry, Celtis occidentalis
Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis
Holly, Ilex spp.
Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos
Juniper, Juniperus spp.
Littleleaf linden, Tilia cordata
Norway maple, Acer platanoides
Norway spruce, Picea abies
Pin oak, Quercus palustris
Poplar/Cottonwood, Populus spp.
Red maple, Acer rubrum
Red oak, Quercus rubra
Sawtooth oak, Quercus acutissima
Scotch pine, Pinus sylvestris
Shumard oak, Quercus shumardii
Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila
Silver maple, Acer saccharinum
Spruce, Picea spp.
Sugar maple, Acer saccharum
Sugarberry, Celtis laevigata
Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
White oak, Quercus alba
White pine, Pinus strobes
Zelkova, Zelkova sp.

FAQ’s

What’s the right way to plant a tree?

If you’ve invested in adding a tree to your yard, you’ll need to know how to plant it properly. Remember, your tree is an investment (at the least) and a part of the family, you should only do what’s best for it. Although the general concept of planting a tree; dig hole, place tree, bury tree, is pretty simple… However, it can go wrong fairly quickly during planting, yet take years for the mistake to become noticeable, thus causing wasted time and money. roots even with ground

Do I have to remove the burlap from the tree roots?

Yes!! Based on research by the ISA, standard procedures are to remove root ball wrapping materials (burlap, fabric, grow bags, twine, ties, wire basket, etc.) from the upper 12 inches or 2/3 of the root ball, whichever is greater, AFTER the tree is set into place. Materials under the root ball are not a concern since roots grow outward, not downward. It is still a good idea to remove as much as possible. root ball

How deep should I plant a tree?

Start by systematically probe the root ball with a slim rod or screwdriver. At least two structural roots should be found in the top 1” to 3” inches of soil, 3” to 4” inches out from the trunk. On species prone to trunk circling-roots⊗, the top structural root should be within the top one inch of the root ball. Furthermore, if any circling roosts are found, prune them out.
Excess soil needs to be removed from the top in the backfill step of the planting process. Don’t plant any deeper than the top root. water bags