Soak it in! Designing your own rain garden is easy

Have you been thinking about adding a rain garden to your landscaping? Well, this is the perfect time! In spring, the soil is softer to dig and the rainy weather contributes to the initial watering. Rain gardens are a beautiful way to enhance your landscape both visually and sustainably — benefiting everyone. So let’s get started!

Raingarden buildA rain garden is a garden in a shallow depression made to naturally gather and filter rain water -designed to temporarily collect storm water runoff from roofs, driveways, walkways, patios, and lawns. Once the water is collected, it percolates down into the soil, which is then absorbed by trees, shrubs and other plants – cleaning the water of pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers. Rain gardens are also a natural habitat for butterflies, birds and beneficial insects. We call that a win-win!

When choosing a rain garden site, first, decide where the rain garden will be filtering storm water from such as a downspout, driveway or sump pump. This area should receive water regularly from its source during a rainstorm. Also, make sure to choose a garden site that is at least 10 feet away from building foundations and septic system to avoid storm water from leaking into these areas.

Determine your hardiness zone before picking out your trees and shrubs. Knowing which hardiness zone you live in will clarify which trees will grow properly in your area. Also, select plants that will add beauty but also have the ability to thrive in wet areas. Find information on trees and shrubs through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Guide.

Sweetbay MagnoliaOne recomendation we have for your design is the sweetbay magnolia, thriving in zones 5-9. Its creamy white flowers have a light lemon scent and are visible in late spring and early summer. Bright scarlet-red seeded fruit ripens in the fall attracting a variety of songbirds.

Redosier DogwoodAnother colorful choice is the redosier dogwood. It has a wide range of tolerance except for extremely dry conditions. Its fibrous root system provides effective erosion control on banks and slopes. The shrub also has vibrant red stems that remain in winter-adding color all year round in zones 2-7.

Another bird-friendly option is the prairifire flowering crabapple. Long-lasting spring blossoms add variety and color to the year-round beauty it offers. Withstanding climates in zones 3-8, this ornamental is disease-resistant and able to adapt to many different conditions.Flowering Crabapple

In the final steps of designing a rain garden, dig the desired area and arrange the spacing of plants according to their directions.  Mulch the area with woodchips that won’t float away and apply so it is two to three inches deep. Remember to water!

Most importantly, while your plants are soaking in the water, you can soak in the splendor you have just created! Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Nursery to find a wide variety of trees and shrubs, perfect for your rain garden. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Spring into action! Are you ready for the spring planting season?

Spring is nearly here and we couldn’t be more excited. Soon we will be enjoying the beautiful colors and fragrances of spring trees and shrubs – like the dogwood, Japanese flowering cherry and of course the lilacs.

Japanese Cherry Bloss

Japanese flowering cherry

Now is the perfect time begin your spring planting planning and ordering! The Arbor Day Foundation Online Tree Nursery has a large array of affordable trees and shrubs. You will find fast-growing trees, flowering trees, fruit trees and every tree in between. And we will send your trees to you during the optimal time to plant in your zone, ensuring their health and longevity.

Or maybe you need some landscape design inspiration? Arborday.org has free, professionally designed landscape plans that focus on trees and shrubs, available to download for free. For example, we have a plan called flowering green giant, this a design plan combining a beautifully contrasting trio of trees—the rich green of a green giant arborvitae, the sprightly, springtime yellow of forsythia, and the dazzling profusion of white blooms that grace the yoshino cherry tree. Other designs include the a bird-attracting tree/shrub combination (Bird Magnet Hedgerow), a blooming shrub plan set beneath an existing shade tree (Shrubs Under a Shade Tree) , a flowering tree/hedge plan planted along an existing wood line (Flowering Woods Edge) – just to name a few.

Bird Magnet Design

Bird Magnet Hedgerow Design

If you already have your trees and are ready to plant consider reading our 9 Tree Care Tips & Techniques, an easy-to-follow guide that takes you step by step from selecting and planting the right tree, to the care and upkeep of a mature tree. Remember, what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span. Planting done with care and some knowledge of trees and their needs will help your trees grow more rapidly and live at least twice as long as improperly planted trees.

Finally, before you get that hole dug and your new tree planted, make sure you’ve got “Right Tree in the Right Place.” Planting an appropriate tree in an appropriate location is vital for the health and longevity of the tree as well as your satisfaction with it—for example, a tree too close to the house could be a hazard, and a tree with “too-tall” potential will be unlikely to remain if it interferes with a power line overhead.

Right Tree Right Place

Are you gearing up for spring planting season? What do you plan to plant this year? Please let us know in the comments.

Which late-blooming trees and shrubs suit your garden?

Having a garden that provides year-round interest is easy with some careful planning. For the best results, carefully choose your trees and shrubs so that some flower in early spring, others in late spring/summer, and yet others that flower in the fall or carry their blooms through the winter. This will ensure plenty of activity in your garden from birds and wildlife, as well as giving your landscape a variety of colors and shapes. Following are three late-blooming trees and shrubs that are easy to grow and will brighten up your lawn or street.

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Trees, the 800-Lb. Gorillas in the Yard

Don’t get me wrong, I love trees. I’ve never actually been caught in the act of hugging any, to be sure. But neither will you ever catch me with a yard without trees. I just couldn’t imagine warming up to a landscape without them. The importance of the vertical element they supply in landscape design is not to be underestimated.

But now that I’ve established my credentials as a lover of trees, let me state what I really set out to say when I sat down to write this blog post today. Large trees, as indispensable as they are, pose an awfully difficult challenge in landscaping — unless that’s all you wish to grow in your yard. Read more…

Smoketree

If you should ever find yourself luxuriating in the French Riviera, and in the unlikely event you grow tired of the sand and sea, a walk in the hills will introduce you to the unique woodlands of the Mediterranean.   There, among the scrubby oaks and umbrella pines you will find a familiar bush or small tree, the European smoketree – in its native environment.

There are only two species of trees in the genus Cotinus.  One is the American smoketree, the other is its close relative from Europe.  For both, their claim to fame is the wispy clumps of filaments that look all the world like smoke.  The mirage has given rise to other names such as mist tree, cloud tree, wig tree, and Jupiter’s beard.  By whatever name, the site of this tree is what Minnesota garden writer Don Engebretson has called “one of the most arresting shrubs available to…gardeners today.”
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Dogwood: Beautiful Tree With Many Uses

Writer-naturalist Donald Peattie once wrote, “Lovely as it is, dogwood stoops also to be useful.”

What’s in a Name?

For all the beauty of this tree, the common name of dogwood may come from something less lovely – “dagger.”  This, in turn, may actually come from its early use as a skewer, or thin piece of wood used to hold meat together.  The tendency of its wood to not splinter made it popular for this purpose.

The scientific genus name, Cornus, derives from the Latin, cornu, or horn, in reference to another use of its hard wood.  The species name, florida, is also from Latin, flos, meaning flowery. 

Seasonal Color

The blossoms of dogwood add a welcome touch of color in early spring.  If space allows, the white can be accentuated with a background of conifers.  Bright autumn foliage and red berries that linger into winter add a bold stroke of color to any landscape design. Read more…

Trees That Attract Honeybees

Q: What trees attract honeybees?

 This is a good question, especially in light of the struggle our industrious little friends are having just to exist in our ever-urbanizing world. 

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