Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Stitch in Time

Rudbeckia "Golden Glow"

The 1700’s proverb, “A stitch in time, saves nine.” certainly applies to today’s topic.

The following will allow water to move slowly and directly to the root system of a plant. It applies to setting out annuals and to larger perennials, shrubs and trees.

For all projects:
When setting out a plant, dig the hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball or soil clump. Then dig another six inches deeper than the correct planting depth.

Amend the replacement soil. Insert plant in hole. When finished filling in around the plant, the bottom most exposed portion of the stem or trunk will be six inches below ground level. Do not plant the stem or trunk in the soil deeper than recommended.

Three options to make watering more efficient:

1. Build a 3 inch dam of soil around the outside of the 6 inch indentation. The top of the dam will be a total of 9 inches from the bottom of the soil in the pit. Pat the soil on the dam down tightly. Gently water the dam and let dry to harden. Lay newspaper over the dam and again gently water to adhere. Insert about 3 inches of mulch into the pit and over the dam. Leave mulch an inch from the stem/trunk. OR:
2. Cut 5 inch high rings from an old 20-gallon metal or plastic barrel. Wearing gloves, push the ring slightly in the ground (with about a quarter turn). Mulch as in #1. OR:
3. Cut a length of lawn edging, vinyl siding, flashing or any solid material that bends. Make a circle to fit the outside edge of hole. Attach the two ends by metal clips. Gently push into ground as in #2. Mulch as in #1.


  • The “well” around your plants catches water from the hose and rain to accomplish:
  • Drains slowly onto the roots.
  • New plants do not compete with weeds for moisture and nutrients.
  • Allows more protection from mower or weed eater damage.
  • It looks tidy.
  • If you fertilize, it is directed to the roots.
  • The mulch won’t scatter as easily.
  • It is cheap to accomplish. It will conserve water

As gardeners, we dream that our every effort will be beneficial, wise and cost efficient. Doing this prep work at the time of planting (A stitch in time) will save the gardener hours of work in the coming months and years (Saves Nine). This old saying stands the test of time.

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