Designing an Xeriscape Boulevard Part 1

In an earlier post I designed on paper a Xeriscape boulevard with Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees.  Recently, I completed the design and must say it looks better then the design on paper.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Choosing a Planting location
This slow-growing dwarf spruce requires full sun to part shade and  well drained soil. Because of it’s small size and slow growth, it works well in foundation plantings.  Plant 4 to 5 feet away from any structure to ensure the spruce is not crowded.

Planting Instructions
Take note of the depth of the soil the tree is potted in and the size of the pot.  The size and depth of the pot are the approximate size of the prepared hole required to plant your tree.  Dig a hole 2 x as deep and 3 times as wide as the size of the pot.   Set the excavated soil to one side of the hole.  I use a tarp for more efficiency and less mess.  I use several different shovels depending on the type of soil.  I also use a steel bar to break up the very bottom of the hole and I use a pitch fork along the inside of the hole to help the roots penetrate into the soil.

Soil Preparation                                                                                                                                                                 In a garden with heavy clay or poor drainage,  I often add a mix of sand and small pebbles to the bottom of the hole.  This will help ensure that it will have better drainage and that the roots will not be sitting in water during heavy rains or rainy seasons.

Add approximately 1/3 to 1/4 organic compost (should be well composted) to the excavated soil.  If it is not well composted then do not mix it with the native soil but rather layer it about 4 to 6 inches deep as the second layer in the hole if you have added sand and pebble mix first. This will ensure that the plants will have a continuous supply of nutrients slowly breaking down to feed the tree.   If the compost is new and fresh then it will still be composting down.  Composting requires a considerable amount of nitrogen to break down.  And although eventually it may be great soil, while it is stilling working itself down, it can and will take a large amount of nitrogen and any other nutrients required  from the native soil to produce a finished compost.  Which means that your trees are at risk of vital nutrients necessary in the health of your plants.  So it is always better to use well composted material to minimize this.

When preparing the soil, I add a combination of excavated top soil mixed with peat moss and well composted manure mixed at about  2/3 excavated soil and 1/3 each of the peat moss, and composted manure.  I also add Bone Meal to help the tree  root in its new home.  Mulch your newly planted spruce with 2 to 4 inches of shredded bark to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.

The Dwarf Alberta spruce will maintain their original pyramid shape with very minimal pruning or trimming. Sometimes spider mites can be a problem, so watch out for these pests and treat before a heavy infestation seriously injures your tree. When watering, provide a gentle soaking with a slow, steady stream of water or use a soaker hose to wet the entire depth of the root ball. Continue watering newly planted spruces, if nature doesn’t provide soaking rains. Established plants are relatively drought tolerant.

Landscaping on Vancouver Island has its challenges as the soil is often rock encased in clay…which is what this boulevard was.  The soil was dense and compacted so the most difficult part of the job was digging the holes for the trees, which is usually the case.  Making a list of everything I require is the most efficient way to organize the job.


Clean Organic amended soilOrganic soil  ToolsShovelsTools requiredSteel Bar & Pitch Fork

Designing a Xeriscape BoulevardNewspapercost of trees and amendments Cost $280.00Peat moss

manure  mushroom compostBonemealmulchliving wood chips

Steer Manure, Mushroom Compost, Bone Meal, Mulch & Living or Green Wood Chips


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