Planting a Live Christmas Tree

Perhaps you’re looking to start a new family tradition for the holidays by planting a live Christmas tree in your yard. Though many of the varieties we think of as ‘Christmas Trees’ grow better in areas to the north of us, there are some that will fare better than others in our Georgia climate. With some careful care and attention, you can have a living tree grow successfully in your yard.

It’s best to start with a tree that can tolerate Georgia’s temperatures. Though many people prefer the trees woodpecker 996685 1280of their childhood Christmas memories, Fir, Scotch Pine and Spruce trees have a hard time surviving Georgia’s hot summers. The trees that grow best in Georgia include:

·        Sand Pine, White Pine, Virginia Pine

·        Red Cedar

·        Arizona Cyprus, Leyland Cyprus, Murray Cyprus

·        Canadian Hemlock, Carolina Hemlock

If you are also using the tree as your inside tree for the season, keep in mind that the tree will do best if not kept inside for more than 2 weeks. It’s best to buy the tree as close to Christmas as possible and be sure not to place it near heating vents. You will need to water it slowly and thoroughly from the top of the root ball every day that it is indoors. Before planting, let it sit in the garage for a day or so to get reacclimated to the outside temperature.

When deciding where to plant your live Christmas tree, remember that many of these trees can grow very large. Avoid planting them too close to your home or too close to other trees. Location of powerlines should also be something you consider. Different trees will require different amounts of shaping and shearing. It’s best to do some research on the type of tree that lends itself to your schedule and skill set before you choose.

When you’re ready to plant, choose an area that drains well. Dig a hole 6-feet wide and approximately 1 foot deep, backfill, water well, then mulch. And remember, the tree will need to be watered weekly until the spring. With the right care, the tree can be a festive part of your landscape year-round for years to come! 

Managing Fall Leaves

What’s there not to love about the fall? The colors are beautiful, the air is crisp, football games are plentiful and there’s a pumpkin spice version of just about fall leaves smallanything you can think of. With the summer months behind us, the mowing that used to take up so much time on the weekends is on hold until the spring.

But by late October and into November, your lawn will need a little TLC again. The leaves that were so beautiful on the trees when they started changing colors aren’t as beautiful accumulating in your yard. And unfortunately, leaving them there isn’t healthy for your lawn either. When the leaves pile up, they come between your lawn and the nutrients, sunlight, moisture and airflow that it needs to stay healthy. Additonally, leaves on a lawn that stay wet invite disease and fungus.

While jumping into freshly raked piles of leaves was fun as a kid, as a homeowner, raking can feel like a never-ending, time-consuming chore. Since leaves fall in stages, it may require you clear them weekly until the large majority of them have fallen for the season.

One of the easiest ways you can manage leaves if you don’t want to rake or blow and then bag them is to mulch them with your mower. If you don’t have a mulching mower, your regular mower will suffice but may take a few passes to get the leaves to the desired size. To do this successfully, raise the blade to its highest level and remove the bag from your mower. Next, proceed to go over your lawn like you regularly do until the pieces of leaves are the size of a dime or smaller. In addition to being a much easier way to deal with leaves, mulching them adds valuable nutrients to the lawn as they decompose resulting in a turf that’s better able to withstand winter conditions and greens up nicely in the spring.

Maple Trees: The Crown Jewel of the Fall Season

fall color change small

The Maple tree is considered the crown jewel of the fall season. With dozens of varieties, Maple leaves are brilliantly colored and can run the gamut from green to yellow to orange and finally, red. Maples are hardy trees and certainly thrive in north Georgia’s landscape hardiness zone. It is rare for a Maple tree to be afflicted by disease or insect infestation.

Like most trees, Maple trees do best when planted in the fall when it’s cooler and they are less stressed. Before planting a Maple tree, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Maple tree roots grow close to the surface. Be sure you plant the tree a good distance from driveways and sidewalks so the roots won’t eventually break up the concrete

  • Plan for plenty of space for your Maple Tree. They can grow to be anywhere from 20 to 100 feet tall. At full growth, the Maple tree will develop a large rounded canopy and should not be located too close to other trees or buildings. They will also provide lots of shade at full growth

  • Choose a well-drained area with lots of sun for your Maple

  • You’ll want to dig a hole that’s 1 or 2 feet wider than the root ball. Be sure to break up the sides of the hole if there is red clay compaction 2/3 soil, 1/3 compost or manure is the ideal planting medium

  • Water slowly 2 or 3 times per week with 3 to 4 gallons of water as the roots get established. Mulch will help retain moisture but should not touch the tree’s trunk

Fall Bulb Planting

When it comes to landscaping, knowing when to plant is critical. Though they won’t bring immediate gratification, planting bulbs in the fall will bring beautiful blooming color come daff smallerext spring. It’s definitely one of those cases where your patience will be greatly rewarded.

Some of the bulbs that must be planted in the fall to produce these Georgia favorites include: Bluebell, Crocus, Daffodil, Grape Hyacinth, Iris, Ornamental Onion, Star of Bethlehem and Tulips.

The process for planting bubs isn’t super technical and your chances for success are pretty good if you follow a few general guidelines. The good news is, with a little supervision, kids can have fun with this too.

  • Choose areas that receive lots of sun and are well-drained
  • Purchase more bulbs than you think you’ll need and plant generously. It’s a given that despite your best efforts, some bulbs will not sprout
    The guideline for digging holes for your bulbs should be depth equals 3 times the width of the bulb
  • Apply fertilizer and water right after planting to give the bulbs a healthy start
    Mulch will help keep weeds out and help the ground retain needed moisture

Spotlight on the Sassafras Tree

Though the Sassafras tree is native to North America, many people consider it quite the novelty. The tree has 3 distinctive leaf patterns on the same plant: Oval, mitten and 3-pronged.sassafras tree small

This hardy tree, which shows yellow leaves in the spring, green in the summer and yellow to fiery orange in the fall, has been used for many purposes throughout time. Native Americans used its leaves and roots for medicinal and aromatic purposes. Tea is often made from its roots and is the main ingredient that flavors Root Beer. Sassafras leaves are also used in Creole cuisine to add a licorice-like flavor.

If you are considering planting a Sassafras tree, find a space that is sunny to partial shade. This area should accommodate a tree that could reach 30 feet in height with a 20 foot spread.

You can grow from a seed by planting in cool soil in the fall. It will stay dormant until the spring when its tap root will begin to form. For those less who are less patient, start with a sapling in a container from a garden center. Successfully transplanting a Sassafras tree is difficult due to the tree’s long tap root.
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