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Published: Thursday, 5/1/2003

Save Money this Season with Easy Do-It-Yourself Landscaping Projects

BY JOE SHERINSKI

(MS) -- Outdoor landscaping plays a vital role in enhancing the home's beauty and value; yet, for many, professional landscaping can be a pricey proposition. The good news is that there is a wide variety of landscaping projects that homeowners can do themselves. Many are easier than one may think.

One of the easiest and most satisfying landscape projects to try first is planting a tree. Most trees have either bareroot, or balled and burlapped root systems. The root system will determine the proper procedures for planting.

Bareroot trees are always dormant and their roots lack soil of any kind. When purchasing or receiving a bareroot tree, be sure to inspect the root system; it must be kept moist until ready to plant. Prune any damaged, rotten or discolored roots.

When getting ready to plant, dig the hole to a size that will accommodate the roots without bending, pruning, or crowding them. Build a cone of soil in the bottom of the hole, spread the roots out over the cone, and fill the hole halfway with soil that has been mixed with Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees, Shrubs and Ornamentals, which helps condition the soil for improved aeration and moisture retention. It also contains Miracle-Gro® Plant Food to get the tree off to a great start. Next, water the soil to eliminate air pockets, fill the hole completely, water again, and build a heap of soil around the hole. Be sure to stake the tree to prevent roots from being uprooted by strong winds. Then, apply mulch like Nature Scapes™ by Scotts® Color Enhanced Mulch to insulate the roots and protect against compaction. Nature Scapes™ protects your tree and maintains its vibrant color all year long. Finally, for easy feeding with no mess, use Miracle Gro® Shake `N Feed Slow Release Plant Food to ensure the tree receives balanced nutrition and enjoys long-term health.

When planting balled and burlapped trees, dig the hole only to the depth of the ball height. The sides of the hole should be kept rough, because a smooth-sided hole can lead to girdling, or encircling, roots that can damage or kill the tree in later years. The width of the hole should measure 24 inches greater than the ball diameter. Again, build a cone of soil in the bottom of the hole, spread the roots out over the cone, and fill the hole halfway with soil that has been mixed with Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees, Shrubs Shrubs and Ornamentals. Then alternately add soil and water until the hole is completely filled and has no air pockets. Staking of the tree is required for the first six months.

Mulching is another do-it-yourself landscaping project that can enhance the beauty of property. A quality mulch like Nature Scapes™ is ideal for beautifying and accenting garden beds all year long. It also provides numerous benefits to soil and the plants growing in it. Mulch reduces erosion, conserves moisture, increases infiltration and percolation (the movement of water into and around in the soil), reduces and/or inhibits weed growth, and insulates the soil (keeping it warmer in winter and cooler in summer).

For proper mulching, first remove weeds and rocks from the application area. Then apply a pre-emergent weed control such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Weed Preventer™ to stop weeds from germinating. Then spread mulch over the soil surface around and between plants. For plants with low-hanging branches, gently lift the branches and spread it completely around the base of the plants. For seeded flowers and vegetables, wait until seeds germinate and plants have started to develop before applying mulch.

Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch, depending on the size of the plants. For smaller annuals or seeded plants, apply the lesser amount, but cover the soil surface. Yearly additions of smaller amounts will replenish the mulch and improve its appearance. However, avoid piling mulch directly against the bark of trees as this may encourage insects and bark decay. Also avoid direct contact with house foundations or wood structures. Nature Scapes™ is available in three colors: Classic Black, Sierra Red, and Deep Forrest Brown, offering the perfect aesthetic complement for any landscape.

Planting trees and proper mulching are just two landscaping projects that are ideal for do-it-yourselfers who want to increase the beauty and value of property while avoiding the cost of a professional landscaper. For more gardening tips, visit miracle-gro.com or scotts.com.



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