Tips Planting A New Tree

A proper planted tree
The result of correctly planting your tree

Planting trees are not something that everyone thinks of as being part of garden design, but it should be. Not only do trees provide you with even more beauty, color and texture for your yard and garden, but they also provide your home with shade from the sun during the summer, they provide a wonderful gathering place for backyard barbecues, and they help keep the air around your home cleaner too.

Plant a Small Tree

Like bushes and shrubs, trees can be purchased when they’re still quite small. Because of this, it’s very important to know what kind of tree you’ll be buying, how tall it will be once it’s fully matured, and how far it will spread at maturity too.

A tree’s spread is how far in either direction the branches extend at full growth. If a tree has a spread of fifteen feet, for instance, this means it will be about fifteen feet at its widest point once it is fully mature. This is an important thing to note about trees before planting them, particularly if you live in a city or urban area.

Think Ahead to Where It is Planted

When trees grow up if they’ve been placed in the wrong areas they can cause dangers and problems you may not have considered when they were still young and small. The primary problem people run into with planting trees is overhead power lines. If you plant a tree directly beneath a powerline, you will find yourself or the power company constantly trimming it to keep it from touching those power lines.

Knowing how large your tree will grow before you plant it though, will allow you to select the best location for it. You don’t want to put a tree near a powerline if it will eventually be twenty-five feet tall with a spread of fifteen feet for instance. You may, however, like to put that one on the west side of your home – at least twenty feet or more away from any utility lines – because it will be an excellent source of shade and energy savings for your home during the hottest months of summer.

There are plenty of smaller, and dwarf trees that can be planted under or near utility lines, of course, so knowing the full-grown size is important when making your tree selections.

Remember The Beauty It Will Become

You’ll also want to find out what the tree looks like at different times of the year. Some trees produce beautiful flowers in some seasons for instance, but if your gardens are designed to be red and white, you might not want to have a tree that produces yellow flower blooms.

Trees also come with a wide variety of leaves and barks. Some trees look extremely interesting in the wintertime even though they don’t have leaves on the branches, simply because they have an unusual type of bark. Some tree barks will actually change color during the seasons like leaves do too.

The Final Product

So carefully select the types of trees you will plant and the locations they will live in, and you will be pleasantly surprised at how finished they make your lawn and garden look in the end. Clemson Univ. has put out a great pdf to explainShow me your root flare!

This video will show you the proper way to transfer a potted tree to your ideal location.

Related How To article: How to Plant a Tree

What Are Soil Microorganisms?

soil microorganisms
One of the most important part of gardening.

Soil is alive!

MICROORGANISMS We find that more life is living below the surface than above in most environments. Soil are put into six groups: earthworms, nematodes, arthropods, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa with each having their own function. They do play an important role in plant health and water. The cycle of nutrients going thru our environment are mainly driven by these microorganisms. They maintain:

1. Decomposition

2. Mineralization

3. Nitrogen cycling

4. Storage and release of nutrients

5. Carbon cycling

6. Take the pollutants out of the water before it reaches underground or surface water.

The Location, Living Conditions, And Functions Of Microorganisms


Effective microorganism, they are responsible for distinctive scent of freshly exposed, moist soil. Prefer neutral to alkaline soils; high oxygen requirement; prevalent in dry regions. They release carbon, nitrogen, and ammonia during decomposition of organic matter. They help form humus. Associate with non-leguminous plants like bitterbrush to fix nitrogen and make it available to other plants in the area. Some nitrogen may be unusable without the bacteria converting it to a form that can be used.


Microorganisms found all over the world and even found down in the earth as far as 1 mile. It thrives under most conditions but found near plant roots, an important food source. Feeds on organic matter; encourage organic and inorganic chemical reactions that affect plant growth; and fix nitrogen from air in soil.

Earthworms are the reason for a huge industry today. People are raising & selling earthworms all over the world, especially wholesale earthworms. The work of the earthworms in the soil is what earthworms eat. Producing castings that are equivalent to compost as an organic fertilizer and soil supplement.


Basically 2 types of fungi- mycorrhizal and normal. Fungi thrive in well-drained, neutral to acidic, aerated soils. Normal fungi help decompose the organic matter in litter and soil but play less of an overall role. Mycorrhizal fungi help develop healthy root systems by growing on plant roots. The fungus is actually a network of filaments that grow in and around the plant root cells, forming a mass that extends considerably beyond the plant�s root system. This essentially extends the plant�s reach to water and nutrients, allowing it to utilize more of the soil�s resources.


MIcroorganisms exist in almost all moist soils. There are both beneficial and destructive microorganisms types. The beneficial control termites, grubworms, and other soil inhabiting pests. The destructive ones feed on roots and cause root knots. In dry spells they are dormant and with moisture in the soil they are active. They are being looked at for their biological control of noxious weeds.


These microorganisms are present in almost all soils. They feed on bacteria and other protozoa. Classified into 3 types based on their mobility: Amoebae, Flagellates, and Ciliates. There are both good and bad protozoa, just like everything else I guess. Good protozoa feed on bacteria and release nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. Since they live in and around roots the plants benefit from this supply of food.


Bugs-like insects(ants), crustaceans(sowbugs), arachids(spiders), and myriapods(centipedes). Their functions vary widely:

  • Stir and churn the soil
  • Shred organic matter so to assist other microorganisms in the decomposition.
  • Help distribute beneficial microorganism in the soil.
  • Through consumption, digestion, and excretion of organic matter, arthropods help improve soil structure and change nutrients into forms available to plants.
  • Help regulate the population of other microorganisms.


Common organisms found in 1 gram(1/5th teaspoon) of soil:

  • bacteria- 3,000,000 to 500,000,000
  • actinomycetes-1,000,000 to 20,000,000
  • fungi- 5,000 to 1,000,000
  • protozoa- 1,000 to 500,000
  • nematodes-10 to 5,000

“Every time you take a step in a mature Oregon forest, your foot is being supported on the backs of 16,000 invertebrates held up by an average total of 120,000 legs.” -Dr. Andrew Moldenke, Oregon State University.

Soil Microorganisms Facts

  • A cup of soil can have the equivalent population of bacteria to people on earth.
  • The bacteria in one acre of soil can weigh as much as a cow or even two.
  • Bacteria and actinomycetes make up half of soil biomass, they are small and numerous.
  • On a farm, soil may have yards of fungi available, but in a forest there may be miles of fungi.
  • Practices of no-till farming and crop rotations are rebuilding the stock of soil organic matter.
  • On a 2 acre plot of land of wheat, it can have more than 30,000 miles of roots which is greater than the circumference of the Earth.
  • Within an hour the air in the upper 8 inches of well drained soil is completely renewed.
  • If you dug up a spade full of rich garden soil it would have more species of organisms than can be found in the entire Amazon rain forest above ground.

“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” -Leonardo Da Vinci, circa 1500s.

Can you guess what will happen to these essential microorganisms if we keep adding chemicals?


pest free garden and lawn
pest free garden and lawn, thank you beneficial nematodes

BUY BENEFICIAL NEMATODES when ground pests are present

BENEFICIAL NEMATODES provide the best control of many pesty insects. Steinernema and Heterorhabditis nematodes provide the best control when environmental conditions keep them healthy.

These beneficial nematodes target many insects such as:

  • Weevils
  • Billbugs
  • Black vine weevil
  • Strawberry root weevil
  • Citrus weevils
  • Carrot weevils
  • Caterpillars
  • Cutworms
  • Army worms
  • Sod webworms
  • Artichoke plume moth(Steinernema carpocapsae)
  • Clear wing moth
  • Iris borer
  • Flies
  • Fungus gnats
  • Sciarid larvae
  • Beetles
  • Flea beetles
  • Mole crickets
  • Flea (larvae)
  • Japanese beetle grubs
  • Mole crickets
  • Flea (larvae)
  • Japanese beetle grubs

The main beneficial nematodes are Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. If you have these two handy to spread on your property than most of the harmful insects will be taken care of.

Video shows you how easy it is to apply these nematodes.

When to apply and how: Most important is timing.

  • Find a reputable supplier
  • Know when the varmint insect is present in or on the soil
  • Two applications may be necessary
  • Keep beneficial nematodes stored properly until use
  • Apply as soon as possible after purchase.
  • They need moisture for movement in the soil so water before and after application.
  • Apply in the early evening or early morning as high temperatures kill the nematodes. Best in soil that is between 60-90 degrees F.
  • Apply with watering cans, sprayers or pump sprayers.
  • Beneficial nematodes are safe for plants and animals (worms, birds, pets, children).
  • With organic fertilizers you need no special precautions but with inorganic fertilizers, there are, so check label.

However, there are others that seem to specialize as to insects they eradicate. Although there is a right beneficial nematode for that varmint you want out of your lawn and garden there is not a way right now to get them all commercially. Here are the others listed and their main dishes.

Use S. carpocapsae on:

  • Artichokes for Artichoke plume moth
  • Cranberries for Cranberry Root weevils
  • Cranberries for Cranberry girdler
  • Billbugs
  • Armyworms
  • Cutworms
  • Webworms
  • Wood borers

Use S. riobravis on:

  • Citrus Root weevils
  • Mole crickets

Use S. feltiae on:

  • Mushroom sciarids
  • Fungus gnats

Use S. scapterisci on:

  • Mole crickets

Use H. bacteriophora on:

  • Berries Root weevils
  • Cranberries Root weevils
  • Wood borers
  • Turf Scarabs
  • Billbugs
  • Ornamental Root weevils

Use H. megidis on:

  • Ornamental Root weevils


Buy beneficial nematodes and you will be amazed how well they do their job, ridding those nasty unwanted pests.

Companion Planting Vegetables

The table below lists some commonly held beliefs about the uses of companion planting vegetables. It will perhaps give you the name of the plant, what to plant it near or around, and what it repels/deters. Also to improve flavor and growth if planted near. The list will contain names of herbs, flowers, and vegetables that seem to control the destiny of other plants. Companion plants are used to puzzle or fight plant pests, to promote the development of other plants and to behave as a trap crop for parasites and pests. Trap crops attract destructive insects from the plants you are struggling to grow. These plants might also be employed to supply food or perhaps an appealing home or place to live for beneficial insects. They may even have odors that will confuse and hide the plant. Treat your plants and the soil with the best organic fertilizers.
Visit my home video on Companion Planting click here

This infographic was obtained from

companion plantings infographic
Graphic by

Just a quick video to show what companion planting is like.


USDA hardiness zones map
by USDAgov

What is a hardy zone?

If you are a gardener, then you probably already know a little about the hardy zones. Understanding the USDA hard zones is an important step in getting the results you want with the plants that you choose to grow. In order to help gardeners and farmers learn which crops work best in their areas, the USDA has set out growing zones and assigned them to each area of the United States. Those areas are grouped with like weather and climate for the best growing results.

Take a look at the USDA hardy zone map.

This map shows us that there are eleven different zones in the United States. Each different zone represents ten degrees warmer or colder than the neighboring zone. When you look at the map, you can pinpoint where you live and find out which zone you live in.

How does the zone help your garden?

Any avid gardener will tell you that your zone can certainly make a big difference in the success of your gardening. Planting the wrong plants in your zone, or planting them at the wrong time of the year can lead to not so good results with your gardening.

If you always stick to plants that are labeled for your zone, you will surely find success with your garden. In fact, the USDA hardy zone is accepted across the United States and most plants and seeds that you buy will have planting instructions listed for each zone or will at least tell you if that plant is recommended for your zone. Depending on where you live, you can find plants that will do very well when planted correctly.

Other information according to the hardy zone.

There is a lot of other information that the hardy zone will tell you. A lot of research goes into coming up with the hardy zone. Researchers look at the climate and temperature of each area, but they also look at rainfall year-round. By looking and using the hardy zone map, you will also be able to obtain other information such as the lowest and highest temperature for each season in your area. This type of information is very important when you are dealing with gardening and planting crops and other plants.

Find your hardiness zone by zip code or by state, just click here.

Looking at the hardy map.

By looking at the hardy zone map, you will see that the areas that are colored are not always the same even from city to city or within the state. The temperature will vary where you live. You should also know that this zone map gives you a quite simplistic view of gardening and a good place to get started. As you well know, the temperature of your area could certainly change and fluctuate and you never want to depend solely on this map when planting. You will also need to use good common sense.

I thought this video would help explain the benefits of understanding what zone you are in and then what is best for your flowers, vegetables and trees.

Related How To article: How to Understanding Plant Hardiness Zones

List of Beneficial Insects- And What They Do

lady bug
Just one among thousands that help us garden

Here is a list of the most common beneficial insects that I know of. Getting to know these insects is a must if you are actively taking care of your garden, lawn, and flower beds. Just like any other form of life, there are good and bad insects. The bad like grasshoppers and aphids will totally destroy anything you plant and it is a good idea to know what is destroying those plants. The beneficial insects are ladybugs and dragonflies which live on the bad insects. So we need to be able to identify the good, bad, and the ugly(whoops that’s me). Through experience and making a few mistakes we can keep those roses, apple trees, and blackberries flourishing, but we have to know what we are doing. This page is not everything you need to know but a teaser to get you started thinking about what happens when you go out and spray those bugs. By the way, there are natural ways to get rid of those bad insects and most will leave the good guys alone.


  • Prey on many insects which are captured in their pits of 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
Antlion larva
by Jonathan Numer
  • Similar to dragonflies but are fragile and poor fliers


  • Adults are about 1/16 inch long, a very small fly
  • Almost entirely feeds on aphids
  • The females lay 100 to 200 eggs near aphid colonies where the larvae will eat their way to adulthood


  • May be confused with the squash bug
  • A voracious predator of flies, mosquitos, beetles and large caterpillars
  • This beneficial insect is about 1/2 inch long with a narrow elongated head
  • Assassin bugs range from brownish green to dark brown


  • Used in commercial mosquito dunks placed in water and eaten by mosquitos


  • Noted as beneficial insect hawks because they pounce many pests including crane flies and other flies
  • They are excellent pollinators
  • They resemble yellow jackets but are a little bit larger–up to 3/4 inch long
  • Have extra large heads with black and white markings, wings extend to the end of their abdomen
  • For more information, please enjoy my VIDEO.


  • This beneficial insect feeds mainly on caterpillars, aphids, mites, chinch bugs and other pests and their eggs
  • Found on soil surface preying on many small insects
  • Bigeyed bugs are small 1/8 to 1/4 inches
  • Have very large eyes and clear wings, black and silver in color
  • Bodies are stout and somewhat flat


  • Resemble the Ichneumonid wasps but braconid are more stout and are black
Braconid Wasp
Tomato Hornworm Parasitized by Braconid Wasp
  • They parasitize many different insects like aphids, caterpillars, weevil larvae, flies, true bugs, sawflies and other larvae
  • Over 1700 species in North America


  • Noted for being great pollinators
  • These beneficial insects are about 1 inch in length and are black and yellow
bumble bee
  • A queen bee can lay 8 to 12 eggs in nests in the ground, empty mouse burrows and discarded mattresses


  • Have 1 leg per segment and are usually brown to black
  • Can be 1/2 to 3 inches in length
Long-legged Centipede
  • This beneficial insect feeds on slugs, worms and fly pupae


  • 1 to 2 inches in length and are similar to dragonflies
  • Feeds on small insects like flies, mosquitos, gnats and aphids
a young female Common Blue Damselfly
  • Usually work from May to November and overwinters as immatures


  • 18 to 5 inches in length and are similar to damsel flies
  • Feeds on small insects like flies, mosquitos, gnats and aphids
  • Usually works from May to October and overwinters as immatures
Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica
  • Their color is brown to blue
  • Found in and around water where they wait for their main food mosquitos
  • Both nymph and adult are vicous on many insects


  • Feeds mainly on slugs and brown garden snails
  • Will also eat old leaf mulch but not live plants
a European species that has been introduced in a number of areas worldwide.
  • This snail works at night and attacking the eggs of snails and slugs
  • Once established should not have to worry about these pests again


  • They are gnat size burrowing insects
3 different species: Spalangia cameroni, Muscidifurax zaraptor and Muscidifurax raptorellus.
  • These predators serve as a leading check of fly groups by killing flies in the early maggot and pupa stages
  • Have no affect on humans and horses-only manure breeding pest flies


  • Possibly 2500 species in North America
  • Feed mainly on root maggots and cutworms and other soil inhabiting pests
  • A few types will eat snails and slugs
Carabidae Caminara Starred ground beetle
  • They are usually black and shiny, may also have a metallic sheen on wing covers
  • Hard to find because they hunt at night and then hide under yard debris


  • The larvae feed on aphids, mealybugs and other small insects
  • They are about 1/2 inch long
Hoverflies mating
  • They hover(like a helicopter) and dart about making a loud buzzing sound
  • Bodies are like bees yellow or white and black
  • Adults are excellent pollinators because they must feed on nectar before they can reproduce


  • These wasps are from 1/10 to 1 1/2 inches in length
  • Bodies have long abdomens and are usually brownish black or red and black
parasitic in caterpillars and other insect larvae
  • They are good pollinators but feed mainly on caterpillars, beetle larvae and othe soft bodied insects
  • A large group with over 3100 species just in North America
  • Lay their eggs in host insects


  • May be found inside the house during the fall and winter-won’t hurt anything
  • Lacewings are brown or green
it is difficult to establish and maintain populations in fields of crops
  • The larvae are also known as aphid lions, attacking the eggs and young stages of pests like spider mites, aphids, thrips, sweet
    potato whiteflies, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and eggs of most pest moths
  • Grow to about 3/8 inch
  • Use with Trichogramma wasps for a very effective treatment of these insects


  • Shaped like a volkswagen with bright red or yellow body with black, red, white or yellow spots.
  • It may be confused with the Japanese Beetle
Ladybug, 7-Spot Lady Beetle, Ladybird, Lady Beetle
  • Feeds on aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects
  • Don’t be surprised to find in the house over fall and winter
  • During their life span one ladybug may consume as many as 2400 aphids
  • In the female’s short life she may lay up to 500 eggs
  • Probably the most used beneficial insect


  • Are long legged compared to small bodies and hence their names
  • Over 1200 species in North America
a large, cosmopolitan family of true flies with more than 7,000 described species
  • They are colorful insects with metallic green, copper or blue in color
  • They are predators of mainly aphids and spider mites


  • These flies are beneficial bugs that are slender, yellow brown in color with red eyes
  • Have long antennae and spotted wings
Marsh Fly
this one found in Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • They are pollinators and prey on small snails


  • They are active pollinators between apple blossom and cherry blossom season
  • Mason bees look like house flies than honey bees and are smaller
Blue Mason-bee female – Osmia caerulescens
  • They are a dark blue black with no stripes


  • As the name implies loves mealybugs, both adult and larvae

  • They will lay their eggs in a mealybug egg mass letting the new larvae feed on immature mealybugs


  • Feeds mainly on spider mites, caterpillars, thrips and other insects and their eggs
  • Adults are about 1/4 inch long
minute pirate bug
also known as flower bugs
  • Bodies are silver and black with the tips of their wings are black resembling a pirate flag, hence the name
  • These bugs are excellent hunters and will kill more than they can eat


  • A single-celled protozoan destroys over ninety species of locusts, grasshoppers and several species of crickets
  • Not harmful to mankind, farm animal and pets
  • Is able of breeding through invasion of grasshoppers, had better cycle itself if vermins are present


  • These wasps are so small that you will not even notice them, less than 1/8 inch
  • 1600 species in North America
 Parasitic Wasps
Mating pair of Parasitic Wasps
  • The many different species will eat aphids, whiteflies, butterflies or moths, leafminers, scales, cabbage loopers and hornworms


  • Praying Mantises will eat insects and other invertebrates such as other praying mantises, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders,
    butterflies, and beetles
 praying mantis
South African praying mantis eating a fly
  • Also eat vertebrates such as lizards, mice, tree frogs, hummingbirds
  • Know by Praying Mantis, Praying Mantids or Praying Mantises
  • At least 2,000 species of Praying Mantis and are carnivorous insects
  • Camouflage is very important to these insects. Most are pea green or brown but may be light green to pink
  • Only insect that can turn it’s head 180 degrees side to side
  • The female will lay anywhere from 12 to 400 eggs usually in the fall of the year


  • Adults are about 0.002 inches in length
  • Are beige to reddish tan in color


  • They can consume up 5 to 10 spider mites and citrus mites or 20 eggs a day


  • Feeds on soil living insects, mites, fungus gnat and all stages of springtails
  • They are very small- 1/20 inch


  • Larvae prey on other insect larvae as they grow up in the soil or damp wood
  • Adults feed on grasshoppers, leafhoppers, wasps, dragonflies, beetles, bees, other flies, and many other insects
  • Sizes are about 3/8 to 1 1/8 inch
Robber fly
Robber fly with a prey
  • They are hairy bodied with a long tapering abdomen that are segmented, are usually gray to black
  • Their legs are strong, make for easy grabbing of their prey


  • Feed mainly on aphids, mites, nematodes, slugs, snails and flies
  • Range in size from 1/10 to 1 inch
Rove beetle
Most rove beetles are predators of insects and other invertebrates, living in forest leaf litter and similar decaying plant matter.
  • These black or brown beetles have wings that are short
  • They also aid in the breakdown of organic matter


  • These beetles feed on cucumber beetles, aphids, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs and other insects and their eggs
  • Soldier beetles are a slender, elongated, relatively flat insects
  • Range from 1/3 to 1/2 inches long
Soldier Beetles
also known commonly as leatherwings
  • Some species will have bright colors or markings in their back but mainly brown to black in color
  • Larvae are flat with a velvety appearance


  • Are sometimes confused with stink bugs which are real garden pests
  • These bugs feed on pest varieties of caterpillars and beetle larvae
Spined soldier bug
a species of insect common in North America.
  • They are usually about 1/2 inch long


  • Some weave webs and some don’t catch their prey
Yellow Garden Spider
North American species of garden spider
  • In North America, only the Brown Recluse and Black Widow are considered harmful to man


  • Look like house flies and are one third to one half inch long
  • They may be gray, black or brown in color
Tachinid fly
commonly are called tachina flies or simply tachinids
  • They are marauders of harmful caterpillars including codling moths, cutworms, gypsy moth larvae, tent caterpillars and cabbage


  • With a wingspread of 1/50th of an inch, is among smallest of insects
  • A favorite to use around crops like cotton, corn, tomatoes, avocados, walnuts, pecans, apples and alfalfa
  • They go after the larvae stages of both moths and butterflies which eat foliage off the plants


  • They are beneficial as a predator of caterpillars, flies and beetle grubs
  • Adult yellow jackets are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length
Often confused with bees, yellow jackets are much more aggressive
  • Their sting is feared for good reason because of allergic reactions

10 Beneficial Insects You Want in the Garden video that is only 6:54 minutes.

Related How To article: How to Identify an Insect