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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 l.jpg

Backyard Conservation and Integrated Landscape Management

Ronald C. Smith, PhD

NDSU Extension Horticulturist & Turfgrass Specialist

Created by Andrea Carlson


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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Attracting Birds & Butterflies

  • Flowering plants that attract butterflies attract birds as well

    • Honeysuckle

    • Juneberry

    • Crabapples

    • Pines (fruit)

    • Flowering tobacco

    • Bee balm


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Xeriscaping

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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

North-Midwest U.S.

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-nm1.html


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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


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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


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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


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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


Karl foerster feather reedgrass calamagrostiss x acutiflora karl foerster l.jpg
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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


Feeseys form ribbongrass phalaris arundinacea feeseys form l.jpg
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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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