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Backyard Conservation and Integrated Landscape Management. Ronald C. Smith, PhD NDSU Extension Horticulturist & Turfgrass Specialist. Created by Andrea Carlson. Soil. An extremely important component in a plant’s ability to survive on a site

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Backyard Conservation and Integrated Landscape Management


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    1. Backyard Conservation and Integrated Landscape Management Ronald C. Smith, PhD NDSU Extension Horticulturist & Turfgrass Specialist Created by Andrea Carlson

    2. Soil • An extremely important component in a plant’s ability to survive on a site • Testing is advisable to determine soil attributes: • Texture • Physical/Chemical • Erodibility Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    3. Soil Texture • % of sand, slit, and clay particles • A loam, equal parts of sand, silt, clay, is ideal for plant growth Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    4. The Physical/Chemical of Soil • Physically, an ideal garden consists of: • 50% Solids • Soil, rock, organic matter • Organic matter offers nutrients, assists with water infiltration, retention, promotes root growth • 25 % Water • 25% Air • Chemically: • pH measures acidity/alkalinity of soil • Salinity and sodicity measures Ca, Mg, Na salts • High salinity/sodicity may be toxic Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    5. Soil Erodibility • Highly erodible soils, on steep slopes, needed to be protected from wind & water during site preparation & plant establishment • Moisture difficult to maintain • On slopes, mulch can reduce problem • On windy sites, properly placed plants can help

    6. Planting • Get it right the 1st time! • Do not plant too deep! • Remove stakes after 1st growing season Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    7. Bareroot Trees & Shrubs • Lowest price • Easiest establishment • Usually fastest growth rate • Do not firm with feet! Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    8. Wildflowers • Extend flowering season by deadheading • Divide every 3-5 years • Cut back in late fall or early spring Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    9. Attracting Birds & Butterflies • Flowering plants that attract butterflies attract birds as well • Honeysuckle • Juneberry • Crabapples • Pines (fruit) • Flowering tobacco • Bee balm

    10. Xeriscaping A sample design for a front yard in which the lawn has been entirely replaced with drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, perennials, & ornamental grasses

    11. Nitrogen Depletion, Toxicity, & Acidity: • Extra nitrogen may be added to the soil at a rate of 1 kg (2lb) per 45 kg (100 lb) of wood amendment. Or, sawdust, shavings, & bark may be composted before being added to the soil • Trees with competitive phytotoxic properties include: • Western red cedar • White pine (bark) • Black walnut • Hemlock (bark) • Redwood

    12. Nitrogen Depletion, Toxicity, & Acidity: • Bark or sawdust from green, newly milled trees will be more detrimental to plantings; stunted growth, chlorotic symptoms • Reduce toxicity by allowing products to leach for at least 6 weeks • Toxic substances usually destroyed by soil bacteria & fungi within a few weeks

    13. Environment Influences Plant Water Use Most water taken up by the plant is lost through evaporation, & factors in the environment will speed or slow the rate of drying that occurs • Shade • Reduces water needs of plant • Lowers surrounding air temperature • Losses on shady side 25% less than sunny side of plant • Forest-less water loss than lone tree • Humidity • In dry air, water evaporates more readily; plants dry more quickly • Plants increase humidity by transpiring • Slows the rate of water loss from leaves

    14. Environment Influences Plant Water Use • Wind • Greatly increases the rate of evaporation from leaves • Plants exposed to wind dry much faster that those in calm air • Shelterbelts reduce wind velocity & reduce water loss of plants • Temperature • Plants lose water more quickly on hot days • Water uptake is slowed by low soil temps. • Evergreens show dieback due to spring drying

    15. Drip Irrigation • The wetting pattern of drip irrigation depends on the soil. • Clay soils: Water tends to percolate both laterally & downward • Sandy soils: Water moves primarily downward

    16. Drip Irrigation Advantages • Easy, relatively inexpensive to install • Less water is needed since little is lost to evaporation • Energy savings due to lower pumping costs & lower pressure • Fewer weeds • Fertilizer can be applied through lines • Plant stress is reduced • Plant damage due to water impact is reduced • Foliage remains dry; fewer disease problems

    17. Drip Irrigation Disadvantages • Design formation is not as well prepared by industry as it is for sprinklers • Product inconsistency • Low level of industry knowledge • Cannot “see” what is happening below wetted surface; may lack confidence in system, initially • System requires filtration systems since emitters can be clogged with soil, organic particles, algae • Require pressure regulation • Lateral lines are vulnerable to damage from machinery, hoeing, animals • Emitters must be checked regularly • Potential for salt accumulation

    18. Mulch • Summer mulch • Apply when soil has warmed to 68°F • Suppresses weeds • Conserves water • Winter mulch • Protects perennial plants • Temperature variations • Desiccation from drying winter winds • 3-4” Layer recommended • Depth greater may inhibit gas exchange

    19. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map North-Midwest U.S. http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-nm1.html

    20. Ornamental Grasses • Common components of landscape • Add color, texture, form, shape • Low-maintenance landscaping • Ground covers • Individual accent or specimen plants • Prairie or meadow restoration • Low water & fertility requirements • High insect & disease resistance • 1+ seasons of interest http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/programs/index.htm

    21. Ornamental Grasses • Establish quickly • Hardy, tough • Reproduce by seed, above- or below-ground stems • Various forms • Compact & tufted • Erect in bunches • Creeping on the ground surface • Spreading--sod • Heights vary from ground-hugging to several feet tall

    22. big bluestemAndropogon gerardii • Full sun • Height: 4-8’ • Season of interest: June-frost • Perennial (Zones 4-9) • Copper-red fall color • Prefers well-drained, fertile soil • Tolerates wide range of soil types • Native plant http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass

    23. side oats gramaBouteloua curtipendula • Full sun • Height: 1 ½-2 ½’ • Season of interest: July-frost • Perennial (Zones 4-9) • Purplish flowers • Oat-like seeds on one side of stem • Dominant prairie grass http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/kemperweb/plantfinder

    24. Karl Foerster feather reedgrassCalamagrostiss x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ • Full sun • Height: 4 ½’ • Season of interest: July-winter • Perennial • Blooms 2-3 weeks earlier than common feather reedgrass • Stiff, pink, upright flowers in July, turning beige by August • Wheat-like appearance http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf

    25. blue sedgeCarex flacca • Filtered sun, part shade in hot areas • Height: 14” • Season of interest: June-winter • Annual/Perennial (Zones 5-9) • May be invasive • Silver-blue blades • Tolerates drier soil than most sedges http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf

    26. Elijah blue fescueFestuca cinerea ‘Elijah Blue’ • Full sun • Height: 8-10” • Season of interest: Year-round • Perennial (Zones 4-10) • Buff colored flowers • Well-drained, moist soil • Border plant, groundcover • Fast growing http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass

    27. pampas grassCortaderia selloana • Full sun • Height: 7-10’ • Season of interest: Year-round • Annual (Zones 7-10) • White, 30” plumes • Tolerates variety of soils, prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soils • Once established, tolerates drought • AKA Miscanthus sacchariflorus ‘Robusta’ http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf

    28. silver feather maiden grassMiscanthus sinensis ‘’Silberfeder' • Full sun • Height: 7’ • Season of interest: Year-round • Perennial (Zones 4-9) • Red foliage in fall turns gold in winter • Silver-pink flowers • Variety of soil types; well-drained http://www.gramineae.com/missi.htm

    29. blue switchgrassPanicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ • Full to part sun • Height: 3-5’ • Season of interest: Year-round • Perennial (Zones 4-9) • Metallic blue-gray foliage • Moisture tolerant • Salt tolerant • Loose, broad, purple-green spikelets http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf

    30. purple fountain grassPennisetum setaceum'Rubrum' • Full sun • Height: 3-4’ • Season of interest: July-frost • Annual (Zones 9-10) • Neat clumps of maroon-purple blades • Rose-red flowers • May need staking • Drought tolerant http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf

    31. Feeseys form ribbongrassPhalaris arundinacea ‘Feeseys Form’ • Part shade • Height: 2-4’ • Season of interest: June-frost • Perennial (Zones 4-9) • White & green striped foliage • Pink/red foliage in spring • Not as invasive as sp. • Tolerates wet or dry soil, prefers moist, well-drained http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass

    32. little bluestemSchizachyrium scoparium or Andropogon scoparius • Full sun • Height: 2-4’ • Season of interest: August-winter • Perennial (Zones 4-10) • Predominant prairie species • Blue-green foliage, turns red-orange in fall • Variety of soil types, except high fertility& moist soils • Common cultivars: • ‘Aldos’ • ‘Little Camper’ • ‘Blaze’ http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass

    33. Indian grassSorghasturm nutans • Full sun • Height: 5-7’ • Season of interest: August-winter • Perennial (Zones 4-9) • Tolerates a range of soil conditions including clay • Drought tolerant • Copper flowers in August • 'Sioux Blue' common cultivar http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass

    34. prairie dropseedSporobolus heterolepsis • Sun to light shade • Height: 2-3½’ • Season of interest: August-winter • Perennial (Zones 4-8) • Fine texture • Airy flowers • Reddish in fall • Very drought tolerant http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass

    35. Spring “TO DO” List • Prune evergreen shrubs • Mow lawn to a height of 3 inches, leaving clippings on lawn • Check lawn to determine if it needs aeration or power raking • Compost garden prunings to reduce trash volume & recycle nutrients back into the garden • Plant trees, shrubs, and most herbaceous plants now; look for disease-resistant cultivars to cut down on pesticide use. • Pressurize & check all zones of automatic sprinkler system to make sure there are no leaks. Set system for shorter &/or less frequent cycles during cool spring months; install rain-sensor for greater efficiency of system. Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    36. Summer “TO DO” List • Water plants early in morning, according to plant needs, to maintain healthy root & top growth & to reduce water loss by evaporation • Control aphids & mites with insecticidal soaps to spare beneficial insects & provide long-term pest control • Prune spring-flowering shrubs just after bloom, leaving the branch collar instead of making flush cuts • Keep ahead of weeds by mowing & hand-pulling. Use herbicides sparingly & apply according to label Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    37. Fall “TO DO” List • Compost equal parts of dry leaves & green plant materials for next year’s soil amendment • Prepare soil for next year’s plantings; plant trees & shrubs now for superior root establishment & better spring growth • Water landscape plants for good establishment & winter survival • Drain & blow out irrigation system • Apply repellents & barriers to reduce animal damage • Install snow fence on windward side of plantings to trap moisture & protect sensitive plants • Fertilize lawn with “winterizer” fertilizer Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    38. Winter “TO DO” List • Prune deciduous trees & late summer-blooming deciduous shrubs • Watch south-facing slopes & windy areas for winter drying & protect as needed • Be aware of heavy, wet snow and ice on trees and shrubs; carefully remove or support. Do not hit with broom or shovel! • Begin any extensive deciduous woody plant pruning tasks in late winter weeks Creating Native Landscapes in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, USDA Natural Resources

    39. Questions?