Often considered to be the jewels of the landscape, it can be especially satisfying to enjoy a yard enhanced with beautiful plantings. While permanent elements such as paver patios or bubbling water features have a finished look as soon as the installation is complete, plantings often don’t meet the designer’s intended vision until the third year of being in the ground.
Patience is a Virtue in Gardening
Why does it take so long, you might ask? A common adage in the gardening community is “sleeps, creeps, then leaps”. This generally means that the first year you may not see much change in new plantings. In year two, plant growth will creep steadily outward, and by the third year, plants “leap” and show significant growth from their starting points. It is in this third year after installation that a landscape generally looks mature and exemplifies the designer’s intended vision.
While patience tends to go hand-in-hand with gardening, we want our clients to enjoy their new plantings right away. The size of plants we recommend at time of installation takes several factors into account: sizes available at nurseries, clients’ budgets, and impact. We typically recommend larger sizes for slow-growing trees and shrubs as well as for specimen or focal points in the landscape. For items such as ornamental grasses, perennials, or groundcover plantings, we typically to start with small sizes as these are apt to grow quickly and are generally in the planting plan in larger quantities. With that said, if budget allows, we’re happy to install larger plants across the board. One important thing to note is that mature plants can become heavy quickly. So, if for example, we’re looking to install a 25 gallon tree, we’ll need to make sure we have heavy equipment access to carry the tree to its new home in the yard.
How to Encourage Faster Growth
There are a few things you can do to help encourage faster growth with your plantings.
One of the most important factors in establishing happy plants is a healthy soil environment. We amend planting holes with compost and mycorrhizae (a beneficial fungus) at the time of installation to help give plants an optimal start. Compost benefits the soil not only by providing nutrients for the plants, but it also helps improve the ground texture. If soil is heavy with clay or compacted, compost can help loosen it up, allowing water and nutrients to flow and roots to grow more freely. If the soil in the planting area is too loose, the compost can help bind it together and keep water from flowing away too quickly. A top dressing of compost helps even further to give your plants a healthy boost by ensuring longer-term nutrient delivery and reducing soil compaction from rainfall.
Most plants in the Pacific Northwest – even drought tolerant ones – need supplemental water when they’re becoming established. While our area may be known as a rainy part of the country, summers here tend to have long dry spells. If a plant is struggling to survive, it’s not going to shoot out that quick growth that you’re hoping to see. We will program your irrigation system to ensure water is adequately delivered to your new and established plants. Upgrading to a system with weather forecasting abilities and a rain sensor not only ensures optimized watering for your plants, but it also helps protect your pocketbook by turning off the system if rainfall is already meeting your plants’ moisture needs.
To give plants such as shrubs a further push to grow faster, you can lightly prune off the tips of the branches, and this will signal to the plant that it’s time to grow! The buds at the end of the branches contain hormones that suppress growth below. By removing these, the buds behind this point are encouraged to sprout and develop more quickly. If you decide to take on pruning, it’s always a good idea to do some research. Many plants like to be pruned at certain times of the year, and if trimming a flowering shrub, you don’t want to accidentally sacrifice the blooms by cutting at the wrong time. Or, you can leave this chore to us by signing on for our maintenance program. Either way, a little trimming here and there can actually help you achieve bigger plants in a shorter timeframe.
Contact Blessing Landscapes today!
So, sit back and enjoy your new landscape, knowing you can rest assured that while your plants may look small at first, they’re really hard at work preparing to leap! We love delighting our clients with beautiful yards. If you’re ready to take the leap yourself, give us a call so we can help design, install, and maintain your own gorgeous yard!