Gardening 101

Plant Selection

1. Diversify!

Use a mix of plants from different Family, Genus, and Species in your landscape.

  • Guards against a disproportionate loss of plants due to a harmful event – such as pests, disease, droughts, etc.
  • Adds year-round visual interest
  • Provides more useful environmental functions, such as visual screens, windbreaks, shade, food and shelter for birds and other pollinators

2. Right Plant – Right Place

  • Consider the mature size of the plant, and the local environment – amount of sun, moisture, drainage and soil.
  • Avoid invasive plants, which out-compete native ones and harm the environment.  Review the Virginia Invasive Species List, published by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov
  • Select plants that are suitable for the USDA Hardiness Zone where they are grown. The hardiness zone defines the annual average minimum temperaturesHenrico County is located in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7a (west of Richmond; 0 – 5 º F), and Zone 7b (east of Richmond; 5-10 ° F). Go to http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/  to view the Plant Hardiness Zone map.

Lawns

Lawn grasses are classified as Cool Season (Fescues) or Warm Season (Bermuda, Zoysiagrass). Both are used in Henrico County. Typically one or the other is cultivated, depending on the use, traffic and sun exposure.

Cool-season grasses have a long growing season and provide green winter color. Tall fescues dominate the home lawn market in Henrico County, though fine-leaf varieties are also used. Fescues are commonly mixed with Kentucky Bluegrass in seed and sod.  Generally:

  • Cutting height is 2 – 3″; Raise cutting height in mid-May
  • Fertilize in Fall – late September, October, November
  • Establish new lawns in September, October

Warm-season grasses go dormant after the first hard frost, and stay brown throughout the winter. They are very drought-tolerant, and spread by rhizomes and stolons. They are usually established from sod, sprigs or plugs. Bermuda grass is often used in athletic fields and golf course fairways. (Bermuda grass is planted in Henrico County’s Short Pump Park.) Generally;

  • Cutting height is 1″- 2″; Raise cutting height in early September
  • Fertilize in Spring – April, May, June
  • Establish new lawns in May, after soil is warm
  • De-thatch / aerate periodically

Trees

General care of landscape trees includes:

  • Mulch every-other year, no more than 2″ to 4″ deep.  Keep mulch 3″ to 6″ away from tree trunks to prevent rot and rodent damage. No “mulch volcanoes”! 
Mulch Volcano
  • Don’t top trees! Consult a certified arborist for professional services.  One can be found through the International Society of Arborists at http://www.isarbor.com.
  • Remove ivy and other invasive climbers.
    Ivy Covered Tree
  • Prune dead, damaged and diseased branches at any time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommended Gardening Activities in Henrico County -

January
  1. Clean & sharpen garden tools, lawn mower blade.
  2. Check perennials for frost heave; tamp & mulch if needed.
  3. Remove late-falling leaves.
  4. Remove snow from evergreen branches.
  5. Water stressed foundation shrubs & plants if little rain.
February
  1. Remove leaves & debris from perennial beds & shrub borders.
  2. Apply thin layer of compost to shrubs after slow-release fertilizer.
  3. Prune roses, evergreens & summer-blooming shrubs.
  4. Cut back ornamental grasses, like liriope, to 1/4 height.
  5. Remove suckers and crossing branches from crape myrtles.
March
  1. Amend soil if needed. (Do a Soil Test first!)
  2. Divide & transplant perennials.
  3. Plant strawberries, roses, vines & ground covers.
  4. Patch bare spots & plant cool season grass seed.
  5. Prune summer-blooming shrubs.
April
  1. Plant flowering plants for pollinators.
  2. De-thatch & aerate warm-season grasses (Bermuda, Zoysia).
  3. Prune spring-flowering shrubs after they bloom, if needed.
  4. Cut oldest stems of lilac, forsythia & quince to the ground after flowering.
  5. Apply slow-release or organic fertilizer, if needed.
May
  1. Apply weed control to lawns.
  2. Plant warm-season vegetables (tomatoes, squash, peppers & cucumbers).
  3. Plant annual plants (seeds after temperatures stay above 60°F), summer bulbs & tubers.
  4. Dig & divide spring-flowering bulbs after leaves yellow & wilt.
  5. Deadhead roses, rhododendrons after blooms fade.
June
  1. Dig, divide & replant crowded spring-flowering bulbs.
  2. Mulch trees & shrubs (1-3″ deep); keep away from trunks.
  3. Look for brown patch in lawn & treat.
  4. Fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after blooming, if needed.
  5. Look for pests and disease; treat as needed.
July
  1. Deadhead summer-blooming plants.
  2. Remove water sprouts and suckers from the base of crape myrtles & fruit trees.
  3. Monitor soil moisture, esp. around shallow-rooted trees & shrubs.
  4. Water plants & lawns deeply if < 1″ rain/wk.
  5. Inspect plants for pests and disease; treat as needed. 
August
  1. Keep lawn at 3″ height; leave grass clippings.
  2. Water plants & lawns deeply if < 1″ rain/wk.
  3. Cut back aggressive vines (esp. ivy) that are overgrown.
  4. Continue to weed and deadhead flowering plants.
  5. Inspect plants for fungal problems, pests and other disease; treat as needed.
September
  1. Add compost to gardens before fall planting.
  2. Plant cool-season vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, lettuce, arugula, spinach, cauliflower).
  3. Aerate, fertilize and over-seed cool-season lawns, or start new cool-season lawn from seed.
  4. Divide perennials like hostas, liriope, daylillies, if needed.
  5. Fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs!
October
  1. Continue to divide and transplant perennials.
  2. Plant spring-blooming bulbs at the end of the month.
  3. Plant shrubs and trees.
  4. Cut peonies, phlox, & other herbaceous perennials to the ground at first frost.
  5. Pull up and compost frost-damaged annuals.
November
  1. Replenish mulch (2-3″ deep) around tender plants.
  2. Keep leaves off the lawn to prevent smothering the grass. Leaves may be mulched and used around trees and shrubs.
  3. Plant shrubs and trees.
  4. Continue watering if < 1″ rain/week.
  5. Store pesticides and herbicides safely.
December
  1. Continue leaf removal and mulch them if possible. 
  2. Prune tall flowering perennials after flowers die.  May leave the seed heads for the birds.
  3. Remember to water foundation plants if needed.
  4. Drain and store hoses at the end of the month.
  5. Remove snow from branches before freezing, to prevent breakage.