In this series—The Secret Formula to Award-Winning Landscapes—all eight steps are vital, and you couldn’t achieve award-winning landscapes without carefully considering each step.
Step four, best landscape practices, deals with drainage and proper planting. If you don’t get your drainage and planting right, the quality of your design, plants, or soil won’t matter.
Best Landscape Practices: What You Need to Know About Drainage
For your Kansas City landscape to thrive and provide you with many years of enjoyment, you must carefully consider drainage before you even begin to think about planting.
Drainage problems can be extremely difficult to fix after the fact, and if they occur, whole sections of your landscaping may need to be re-done. While the “do-it-yourself” approach can work, we recommend you seek professional advice from a Kansas City landscape company for this crucial step.
Some of the local companies may skip this step or cut corners in an attempt to offer cheaper pricing, but without proper drainage, there is a real possibility that you’ll have to do your landscape twice, far exceeding the cost of having it done right the first time with the best landscape practices.
Steps for Optimal Drainage
- The grade along your home’s foundation must slope away from your home.
- Downspouts must be checked regularly to ensure that they stay free of debris and remain fully operational. Their positioning should be carefully planned, so water won’t adversely affect aspects of the landscape. Safety should also be considered when determining position, to prevent a tripping hazard.
- Consider addressing any low areas by installing a French drain (a trench lined with gravel containing a perforated pipe) or creating a swale (a type of shallow channel).
- Berming (a narrow ledge or shelf) may be necessary to divert water from areas where it is unwanted.
How to Ensure Proper Planting
Even the most exceptional design and the best soil won’t save your landscape without proper planting. One of the worst things about improper planting is that it often doesn’t become instantly apparent that there’s a problem.
For example, even a large, well-known Kansas City landscape company may employ staff who are so inexperienced or poorly trained that they don’t know that they must untie the twine holding burlap in place around a new tree. The tree doesn’t die immediately, but over a few years, it is slowly “choked” to death by the twine. When we bring a living thing, such as a young tree into our landscapes, it depends on us to protect and care for it, and such careless practices are unacceptable.
Planting a Tree: The Basics
Even the healthiest tree will experience some amount of stress during the transplanting process, but you can minimize this stress with the following these nine steps:
- Select the right tree. Be sure to choose a tree that appears healthy so that it will have an easier time adapting after planting.
- Protect the tree during transport. If you are unable to plant the tree shortly after you get home, be sure not to let its roots dry out.
- Prepare the soil at the planting site. If you’ve been following this series, perhaps you’ve implemented a soil customization plan (the secret step!), and your site is ready to go. But if not, you may want to consider having your soil tested for pH and mineral content before planting, especially if your tree is a considerable investment.
- Plant the tree. Trees can be planted at any point throughout the year, as long as proper horticultural practices are followed. Depending on the type of tree you choose, and the time of year, our Kansas City landscape professionals can advise you on the correct technique.
- Protect the tree’s bark. As a newly planted tree adapts to its new environment, it is susceptible to “sunscald” on its side that faces southwest. To prevent sunscald, loosely wrap the trunk in a light colored material such as Kraft paper wrap. The wrap can usually be removed after the tree’s first winter.
- Stake the tree. To help secure the tree against strong winds, use a stake that is only approximately one-third as tall as the height of the tree so that its top can sway in the wind.
- Prune in moderation. You can remove broken branches or thin out any that are growing too close, but it is best to preserve the tree’s natural form as much as you can.
- Add mulch. It’s important to add a ring of mulch around your tree soon after planting. Mulch prevents turf grasses from competing with the tree’s roots for water and nutrients. The wider the ring of mulch, the more the tree will appreciate it.
- Water, but not too much. Soil moisture is the most critical factor that affects a tree’s survival rate during its first year after planting. The soil needs to be moist, but too much moisture can kill a tree just as easily as not enough water. Whether you purchased your tree “balled and burlapped” (B&B), bare root, or container-grown, we can advise you on watering requirements so that your new tree will thrive.
If you’re looking for a Kansas City landscape company that offers all the products and services you need, our team at High Prairie Outdoors prides takes pride in building long-term relationships with our clients and earning their repeat business. If you’re ready for an award-winning landscape with the best landscape practices, contact us today.