When is the best time to plant?
The Southern Piedmont area of North Carolina is zone 32, (old zone 7b). The average winter low is in the 20's although occasional temperatures drop much lower. The growing season is long and annual rainfall is 40-45" normally. This allows for a wide range of plants with year round planting possible. Typically, for best root development before the summer heat, plantings of shrubs and trees is best done between October and March. Perennials, roses and vegetables vary, with both Spring and Fall planting having good results. In fact, cool season vegetables should be started in February! With irrigation, planting can be done in the summer as well, but require more monitoring and water to assure success.
How can I fix my drainage problem?Drainage is one of the most important elements of having healthy plants, from grasses to trees. Some of the solutions include french drains, dry creek beds, catch basins and recontouring beds. Each property has it's own unique drainage situation and needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. But, as Syd says, in his 25 years of experience, he's never seen a drainage problem that can't be fixed.
Grass won't grow under my trees, what can I do to fix the problem?Large mature trees create many problems for all types of grass, even the 'shade' types. While they are more tolerant of shade, they don't like it, and will not usually give the thick green carpet most people think of when they think of grass. You can try limbing up your trees to let more light in, but the tree roots are always going to be competing with the grass, and as we all know from recent droughts, a lawn can demand a lot of water to stay green. It won't usually die, but will go dormant until it gets water. While this is a natural cycle, it isn't always what we want to look at! We have found that many clients are reducing the size of their lawns and creating natural areas under their trees. Some very beautiful plantings can be achieved with shade tolerant shrubs, perennials and bulbs.