I was hired in May this year to maintain the gardens on a 10 acre wooded estate that is for sale. This is where the great spotted owl lives that sometimes visits me while I work. The property backs on to the ocean and has a private cove. The gardens were all existing but needed to be trimmed, pruned and cleaned up. The lawn needed to be aerated, thatched and seeded. I work there once per week to maintain everything. This includes cleaning out the garden beds, amending with soils and fertilizers, trimming a laurel hedge around the carriage house, trimming a cedar hedge along the driveway and cleaning the driveway each time I am there. The garden owner is a great person to work for and has a fantastic sense of humor. She is clear and concise on what she wants done and appreciates the work I do…and I am so very grateful to work for her.
The driveway runs through the entire property and opens up on the water with the main house and a carriage house overlooking the water. So of course a fall clean up was required also.
Recently we were hired to plant a privacy hedge in Ladysmith. The weather is perfect for planting trees…for the trees…not so much for people who don’t like the rain. The trees were purchased at Dinter’s and are very healthy and full. The root balls were packed in clay and wrapped in burlap. This ensures the roots stay moist. The trees were 8 to 10 feet tall and weighed about 120 lbs each.
Preparation for planting.
- We measured the entire length of the planting area.
- We divided the number of trees by the length so we knew how far apart to space the trees.
- We set a couple of trees in place to see how they looked against the fence and to decide how far from the fence to plant them.
- We calculated how much soil we would require for the planting. In order for the trees to thrive we mixed 1 part organic garden soil with the original garden soil.
- We knocked off half of the clay off of the roots of the trees to ready them for planting. You can plant them with the clay and the burlap on them but we chose not to. The roots must work that much harder to grow through the clay and burlap to get to the soil nutrients. Since the clay and the burlap are designed to protect the root ball against dry conditions and we are in rainy season, we knew they would not be at risk.
- We picked up 1.5 yards of soil ( You can find a soil calculator on line or ask your local soil retailer to calculate how much soil you will need depending on the area you are planting.) and 2 bales of coconut peat along with 2 pails of bone meal and 2 pails of blood meal. This helps to minimize the transplant shock as the nutrients feed the tree a balance of what it requires. The coconut peat is sustainable unlike regular peat moss that comes from bogs and is not sustainable. Both lighten the soil, hold moisture and improve soil structure.
- We took all of the sod out and started digging holes. We dug the hole 2 times bigger then the root ball and 2 times deeper. This allows the roots an easier time spreading out and growing. We placed the first tree in the hole and measured from the centre of the root ball to the centre of the next root ball to ensure they were equally spaced apart.
- We mixed our soils together and added 2 cups of bone meal and 2 cups of blood meal to each wheel barrow of soil. Then we placed the soil in the bottom of the hole, placed the tree and packed soil around it until it was just above the ground level. This ensures as it settles it will be flush with the ground.
- We picked up 1 1/2 yards of mulch and top dressed the trees after planting as it holds moisture during dry seasons, helps to control weeds and for its pleasing aesthetics. Happy Planting! See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
I have planted, topped and pruned many cedar hedges this year for many customers. With each customer I give the same advice on caring for your cedar hedge. Although cedars are hardy and often seem easy to grow creating a beautiful privacy or back drop in your garden, they do need proper care to not only survive but thrive. Especially with the extreme environmental changes we have witnessed over the past five years. Yes, cedars do evolve and adapt to changes just as humans do but need time and a little helping hand to ensure they do it well. So with that in mind, here is a basic list of care to follow:
How to Care for your Cedar Trees
Cedar Trees – Types of Fertilizer
Newly planted cedars can benefit from a high phosphorous fertilizer. In many cases, adding a fertilizer with a balance similar to 5-15-5 into water and thoroughly watering the newly planted tree can help to reduce transplant shock. Subsequent fertilization should be with a balanced fertilizer or with a higher nitrogen fertilizer with a balance similar to 30-10-10. A good organic alternative organic fertilizer is a combination of blood meal and bone meal mixed with some organic compost from your composter or can be purchased at the local garden centre, like Dinter’s, Buckerfield’s,.
Giving your cedar more phosphorous at planting will help provide nutrients to the roots as the tree becomes established in the new location. Higher nitrogen levels after the tree is established will help produce more green growth on the tree or shrub. Organic fertilizers at either time will provide a more gentle fertilization that will help protect soil conditions for the life of the tree.
If your tree is showing signs of under-fertilization, such as yellow leaves, you may want to have the needles tested for nitrogen content. In some cases, soil pH problems, such as a soil that isn’t acidic enough, may appear to be a fertilization problem. If your leaves have enough nitrogen, the yellowing leaves may be caused by another problem.
When to Fertilize
Begin fertilizing either at planting or in the spring after the tree has begun to grow. Cedars may appear healthy in the winter, but are often dormant. Fertilizing in the winter can cause a buildup of fertilizer in the soil that may result in spring over fertilization. Stop fertilizing in the fall when deciduous trees begin to lose their leaves.