Stauffer Lawn & Landscape, LLC

1150 Washington St, Auburn, KS, 66402 | 785-256-7300

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Plant Care Guide

Proper plant care is critical for the successful establishment of your landscape plants.  Most plants are easy to grow in our area.  By devoting a small amount of time taking care of them, your garden will grow beautifully.  This can be achieved by following a few simple guidelines.

 

Adequate Moisture Supply

Water is just one essential ingredient for plant growth.  Air and light are just as important but, in the first year, proper watering techniques can determine the plant’s ultimate success in your landscape.  For trees, shrubs and most perennials, water when the first one to two inches of surface soil over the plant root zone is dry to touch. In dry weather, this can be as much as three times per week. Make sure to pull back mulch from the root zone to determine whether the soil is really dry.  

Mulch application is designed to help retain water in the soil and help control soil temperature extremes. Surface mulch can appear dry but the soil underneath may be moist.  If dry, the entire root zone should be soaked at least 1-2 inches below the soil surface. Continue this, even in the winter months, unless the ground is frozen, for a full year after planting to establish good root growth.

 

Caution:  Some plant species are especially sensitive to over watering and the symptoms of too much water can mimic that of drought stress, especially in Redbuds, Roses and Yews.  If your plant looks wilted and the ground around it is wet, DO NOT ADD MORE WATER.

 

After the first year additional roots have grown and less water is needed, but in times of drought water when the soil is dry use the same guidelines described above.  Watering should take place at the drip line (area directly below the farthest outer edge of branches) rather than next to center trunk or stem.  

 

The most effective way to water is by slow drip directly over the root zone eliminating evaporation and other problems.  Overhead watering late in the day can leave water on the leaves long enough to establish fungal disease colonies overnight especially where there is little air circulation.

 

To determine how long it takes to water your plants with one inch of water follow these steps:

  • Place a shallow, steep sided dish or empty tuna can on fairly level ground in the path of overhead sprinklers.  

  • Start a timer when you start to water and monitor the water level in the can or dish until it is one inch deep.

  • If it takes twenty minutes to fill the container with one inch of water, then you will want to water for twenty minutes for each inch of water you want on your planting area.  

  • It is better to water less often but more deeply than briefly many times per week.  If you notice that there is excessive water runoff over your soil and that the soil is still fairly dry an inch or so under the soil surface, reduce the water volume and increase the duration so that the soil has more time to absorb the moisture.

Monitoring for Disease or Insect Pests

Most often pests and diseases are symptomatic only when the plant is under extreme stress.  Some examples of these symptoms are:

  • Pale color, stunted size or shriveled texture in new leaves

  • Small holes in the body of the leaf or ragged leaf edges

  • Skeletonized leaves

  • Excess sticky sap along stems or leaves

  • Leaf drop or wilting even with adequate moisture

  • Visible insect infestation

  • Dead leaves or stems

 

Your best defense against all pests and disease is to prevent plant stress in the first place.  Drought or any extremes in soil condition (compaction, poor drainage, too little organic matter, etc.) or weather (too much rain, wind, hail or ice damage) can all add to plant stress and impacts the plant’s immune system. Observe your plants closely and be aware of any unusual changes.  However, some conditions are beyond our control and plant stress will be unavoidable. At that point, additional steps must be taken when disease or insects become established.  Please call us with any questions you have and we will be happy to address them.

 

Proper Fertilization

The plants in your landscape have been chosen for their planting sites based on the specific cultural requirements of each variety.  With this in mind, most are expected to establish themselves with minimal additional fertilizer.  However, a regular fertilization routine should be considered to insure healthy roots, luxurious top growth and continuous flowering.  Normal plant growth will pull nutrients and trace elements out of the soil that must be replenished over time to maintain the plant’s vigorous growth. We recommend time release fertilizers (Osmocote, ClassiCote, MultiCote or Shake ‘n Feed) for all ornamental plants, especially annuals, at the beginning of the growing season.

 

Low soil fertility can be a result of many factors, not just low nutrient levels.  We recommend obtaining a soil analysis from the county extension office for specific soil amendment recommendations. The ultimate decision to fertilize is made by you, the homeowner.  If and when fertilizer or other soil amendments are applied, always follow the product label application rates.

 

Pruning and/or Dead Heading

Your new plants should not need pruning for at least one year.  Always practice proper pruning techniques for that specific plant, shrub or tree. Many plants have different pruning recommendations based on blooming time.  When pruning flowering shrubs, please be aware of whether the plant flowers on old or new growth.  Old wood (last year’s growth, usually tough and woody) should be pruned immediately after flowering.  New wood (this season’s growth, usually soft and green) can be pruned either before or after flowering.

 

Dead heading is the removal of spent flowers to prevent seed development.  Dead heading stimulates certain plants, such as spirea and shrub roses, to re-bloom and improves their curb appeal.  Pruning can be done with pruning shears, clippers, by pinching stems back with your fingers or with power equipment.  Your pruning tools should be clean, well oiled and sharp to prevent unnecessary damage to your plant.  Under most circumstances, no more than one third of the plant should be pruned away at one time while in active growth.  In many specific evergreen varieties, hard pruning will not stimulate new growth from old wood and permanent bare spots will result.  Call us for specific information on pruning your plants if you have questions.

 

Awareness and implementation of these simple cultural practices are vital to the successful establishment of your new landscape!  Our one-year plant guarantee is valid only with professional installation and proper plant care.

 

Vandalism, neglect, excessive heat and winter injuries are not covered by this guarantee.  This guarantee does not cover certain marginal plants such as Hybrid Roses, Crape Myrtle, Weeping Cherry, Japanese Maples, Azaleas, Bulbs, Emerald Green Arborvitae, Tropicals and Rhododendron.

 

Labor is not guaranteed and a planting charge will be additional to any replacements.