Five Steps to a Beautiful, Drought Tolerant Garden

on Monday, 03 May 2021. Posted in Drought tolerant

Drought proof

It’s no secret that we’re in for another low-water summer here in the Rogue Valley. And while none of us are happy at the prospect of a drought, there are a lot of things you can do right now to have a yard that is both beautiful and drought resistant this summer.

Here are five simple steps to get you started: 

 

 

Plant Now: Drought doesn’t mean you can’t add new plants to your garden this year – but you do want to plant before the summer heat moves in to stay. Plan on doing most of your major planting this month, so your new plants have time to get their roots established before our prolonged hot weather arrives.

In fact, this is a great time to consider adding some drought tolerant and native plants to your garden. These plants are beautifully adapted to our hot, dry summers and are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. Instead of growing ‘thirstier’ plants that you’ll need to continuously coddle and fuss over, you can have a garden full of plants that thrive here in the Rogue Valley – many of which are also deer resistant and pollinator friendly.

 

Water Wisely: Your plants will actually be a lot healthier if you water slowly, deeply, and infrequently; rather than sprinkling them once (or even twice) a day – and you’ll end up using a lot less water overall. Check out our Watering 101 blog post for more information. If you start implementing these waterwise guidelines now, by your new plants will only need occasional water – anywhere from twice a week to once or twice a month, depending on the plants you select.

 

Mulch: Once you get that water into your soil, you want to keep it there for your plants to use – not lose it to evaporation! Mulches like hemlock or shredded fir bark, compost, and even gravel act like an insulating blanket for your soil; keeping your plant’s roots cooler and reducing water loss due to evaporation.

 

Go Easy on the Fertilizer: Fertilizers are designed to push fast new top growth in plants – that’s why they’re popular! But growing fast isn’t always in the best interest of your plants – particularly during a dry year. Those tender new leaves require a lot of water to keep them healthy until they harden off. This spring, consider skipping the fertilizer and let your plants get themselves established at their own pace. Instead, they can focus on putting on deep roots to successfully weather the high summer temperatures.

 

Try One of our Waterwise Collections: Not sure where to start? Not to worry! Shooting Star Nursery has designed two curated ‘waterwise’ plant collections –a Waterwise Jewel Tones collection and a Waterwise Pastel Tones collection. These collections include plants for a 90-100 sq. foot garden bed, design vignettes that provide year-round interest, plant descriptions, and spacing guidelines. If you’re new to drought tolerant plants, our collections are a great place to start!

Hedges and Privacy Screens

on Monday, 30 November 2020. Posted in Landscape architect

Great options for Privacy Screens and Hedges

Privacy hedges or screens are more than just an attractive living visual barrier between you and whatever is on the other side. They also buffer noise, wind, dust, and other pollutants kicked up from nearby driveways and roads. There are many great selections of mid-size conifers and broadleaf shrubs that stay green all year round. Since we get a lot of questions about what can be used for privacy screens and landscape borders, we thought it would be great to tell you a little more about what we have.

This is just a small sample of many other options for evergreen hedges and privacy screens. We'll tell you more about other options in future posts. Make sure to sign up for the Shooting Star Nursery Newsletter for the most up to date news and new arrivals!


cedrusDeodaraDivinelyBlue2Cedrus deodara,
'Divinely Blue' Deodar Cedar

A dwarf variety of the full-sized Deodar Cedar, with the same beautiful blue-green evergreen foliage on graceful nodding branches that forms a low mounding shape. Prefers well-draining soil and full sun but will tolerate some shade. Drought tolerant once established. Slow grower of about 6" per year, reaching up to 6' tall x 3-6' wide within 10 years.

 


taxusHicksiiHicksYewTaxus hicksii, 'Hick's Yew'

The upright, columnar form of the Hicks Yew is made up of long branches with lush, glossy, evergreen foliage that makes it a great option for tall hedges and privacy screens. Does well in full sun to full shade and prefers well-draining soil. Drought tolerant once established. Grows slow at about 12" per year, reaching up to 10-12' tall x 3-4' wide at maturity.

 


thujaExcelsaThuja plicata,
'Excelsa' Western Red Cedar

A Pacific Northwest native with full-bodied, evergreen, fan-like foliage that is Aromatic with some deer resistance. Prefers moist, well-drained soil and full to part sun. Drought tolerant once established. Grows fast at 24-36" per year for an almost instant privacy screen! Reaches up to 30' tall x 20' wide at maturity.

 

 

thujaVirescensThuja plicata,
'Virescens' Western Red Cedar

A Pacific Northwest native with upward reaching branches that create a tall, tight, and narrow pyramid shape. Glossy evergreen aromatic foliage some deer resistance. Prefers moist, well-drained soil and full to part sun. Drought tolerant once established. Grows moderately at about 15" per year, and up to 25' tall x 12' wide at full maturity.


portugueseLaurelPrunus lusitanica, 
‘Portuguese Laurel’

If you don't want a conifer hedge, laurels are the way to go. Portuguese laurels have narrow, rounded, glossy, evergreen leaves and red stems. They are fast-growing, bushy, and produce fragrant white flowers that bloom in late spring. They respond well to being trimmed into a uniform shape, and if you prefer the look of natural growth, you should still trim them at least once a year. Prefers well-draining soil, and does equally well in full sun or full shade as long as its root system is established. Generally, these shrubs can reach 18-20' tall x 10-15' wide, and larger if not maintained.


buxusGrahamBlandy2Buxus sempervirens,
'Graham Blandy' English Boxwood

If you love boxwoods and need an option for a tall privacy screen that fits in a narrow space, then 'Graham Blandy' (Buxus sempervirens) boxwood, is the superstar you have been looking for. This is a relatively slow-growing boxwood, at less than 6" or less per year and that can reach up to 10’ tall and only 2’ wide. 

There are many great options available to you for a privacy screen. Take a look at some other ideas with compact and dwarf conifers, columnar plants, and even bamboo that is cold hardy enough for the Rogue Valley! 

Watering 101

on Friday, 29 May 2020. Posted in Drought tolerant, Fruit trees, New Plants

Watering Guidelines for the Rogue Valley

soaker hoseWith the temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, we thought this would be a good time to give you a little “Watering 101” overview. Watering problems are behind the overwhelming majority of the garden-related concerns we deal with here at Shooting Star. We’d love to help you avoid some of those problems this summer! Let’s start with a few basics:

--- Even if it is 100 degrees out, do not water twice a day - or even every day! Your plants can’t take up that much water; they actually shut down when it gets very hot. In addition, most plants actually need a period to dry out between waterings.

--- Frequent, shallow watering (e.g.: 10 minutes a day, every day) only encourages shallow root systems in perennials, shrubs and trees, which makes your plants even less drought tolerant!

--- Ideally your yard should have multiple irrigation zones, to accommodate different plant needs.
      • Trees should be on their own watering schedule, separate from shrubs, perennials, and lawns
      • Drought tolerant areas should be a different schedule than areas that need more water
      • Lawns should always be on their own separate watering schedule

One of the trickiest things about watering is that everything happens out of sight – under the ground – where you can’t see what’s going on. Here’s a quick little exercise that can help you get a better understanding of what’s going on below the surface. Pick an area and water on your regular schedule. Wait for about an hour after watering (to let your water soak in), and then dig down to see how far down your moisture zone extends. In general, the roots from lawns will penetrate about 6-8” into the soil; most perennials will go 2-3’; shrubs will go anywhere between 3-6’ down; and a tree’s roots are often as big below the ground as your tree is above the ground. In order water effectively, you want your water to penetrate all the way down to where those roots are. What did you learn?

Woman Watering Garden Hose.jpg.653x0 q80 crop smartSo what are our recommended watering strategies for different kinds of plants? For most perennials and shrubs: water deeply every 2-3 days for first 2-4 weeks after planting, then switch to every 3-4 days. After the first year, drought tolerant plants can usually get by with a weekly deep soak of an hour or more during the growing season. Once established, non-drought tolerant plants will generally need an hour-long deep soak twice a week. If weather is cooler, or if you have heavy clay soil, your plants will need water less often. Trees need a good deep soak upon planting, and then on average a deep soak for an hour or two once a week through the first summer. Once they are established, trees will be fine with a long, soak every two weeks. If you are watering trees with drip, consider placing multiple emitters in a ring around the tree.

Finally, retrofitting your irrigation system might sound overwhelming, but it is actually pretty easy. If you are the DIY type, the folks at Grover’s and the Grange do a good job of walking you through the process, answering your questions, and making sure you have the parts you need. If DIY just isn’t your thing, there are a number of irrigation specialists here in the Rogue Valley who can install a system that does what you needed to. Rest assured that the money you spend upgrading your irrigation system will be more than made up for by the money you save when you don’t have to continually replace dead and dying plants!

Want to learn more? Check out our Watering Guidelines for the Rogue Valley handout here.