Want to improve your quality of life?

Get your hands dirty and plant something. That’s right, putting trees, flowers or shrubs in the ground doesn’t just provide you with beauty and shade, it can also improve your property value, lower your energy costs, clean the air and water—even lower your heart rate.


When should I plant my annuals?

Tender annuals cannot be planted until after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Half-hardy annuals can be safely planted if nights are still cool as long as there will be no more frost. Hardy annuals can be planted in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked.

Should I fertilize annuals?

Most annuals don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but will do much better if adequate nutrients are available. In general, you can fertilize once or twice during the growing season. Over-fertilizing will cause a build-up of soluble salts in the soil, especially if the soil is heavy, and result in damage to the plants. Soil that has been enriched with compost will not generally need additional fertilizer.

How often should I water my trees and shrubs?

Water your trees deeper, but less frequently. For most soils, you should be able to apply 10 to 30 gallons of water once a week, depending on plant/root ball size. It is always good to apply the water slowly enough that the soil will absorb it and have as little run off as possible. For this reason soil basins and mulch are an important part of the irrigation procedure. Once established (after a full growing season), trees and shrubs should require only supplemental watering during extended periods of hot, dry weather. Keep an eye on them during summer drought conditions, as they will adversely affect flowerbuds for the following year just as much as extreme cold winter weather.

What is the best time of year to trim my trees?

Flowering deciduous trees should be pruned before the end of May, when they are done blooming. Deciduous trees that flower after May should be pruned between January and March. Conifers should be pruned during the fall. Flowering evergreens can be pruned in May. Cut out any dead, damaged or diseased wood as you happen upon it.

Do I have to use mulch?

Most plants will benefit from an organic mulch covering the soil surface around them. A good organic mulch, such as hardwood bark mulch, will conserve moisture, help maintain a more even soil temperature, inhibit weed growth, and prevent soil compaction and erosion from rain and irrigation. Applying mulch 2 to 3 inches deep surrounding, but not resting against, the trunk will give you a more vigorous plant. Last, but not least, mulch will help prevent damage by a mower or other lawn equipment. Mulch, being a natural product, does decompose over time. You will probably find it necessary to add to your mulch, especially the first few years.

How long should I wait before mowing newly planted grass?

Your new lawn will be ready to mow when the grass plants are higher than the height at which they will normally be maintained. For instance, if you plan to regularly cut the lawn to 2″, then mow for the first time when it is around 3″ tall. For mowing, the general rule of thumb is to never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at any one time. Also, avoid mowing when the ground is too wet. A sharp mower blade is very important. A dull blade rips and shreds the grass instead of cutting it and could actually tear seedlings from the soil. Mowing with a dull blade also makes the plants susceptible to diseases and other problems.

How much water does my lawn require?

Typical lawns in Illinois require about 1 inch of water each week. Your contractor can calculate how long each zone should run to provide this amount of water. There are automatic devices to stop watering when it is not needed.

When is the best time to water my lawn?

Water early in the morning to avoid losing water to evaporation.

I only have time to water my lawn after the sun goes down. Will that offer the same benefits as early morning?

Avoid watering your lawn in the evening. When left damp overnight, your grass can be especially vulnerable to the formation of mold, fungus and other diseases.

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