IS It Too Hot To Plant??

shw001(6/MD)July 10, 2011

I am in Maryland, Zone 6b or 7 (just north of to Washington DC) and a landscaper wants to come this week to install about 1,000 sq. feet of sod and 2 beds planted with shrubs (holly, hinoki cypress, eyonemus, perhabs emerald green arborvitae). The temperature will be in 90s for next week and possibly longer, and we are entering hottest time of year. I know the fall is better, but could this be done now if I keep wattering 3 times per day?

The incentive is a good price and I am sick of looking at the mess in my front yard.

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Well, will the landscaper replace any plants that die (on his dime)? I think this is a bad time to plant if you can avoid it.

Disclaimer - I recently put in a half acre of grass seed in the backyard after we had some grading work done. So far, so good, but I am watering 2x/day and expect to have a thin lawn by the time I reseed in the fall. In the front yard, where waiting to seed won't create so many problems, I am waiting until the fall. It looks awful now with a mix of loam, old weedy grass, and loam-with-weedy-grass sticking through ... but so be it.

We seeded the backyard at a bad time (now) because our dog needs a place to play ball & we didn't want to deal with mud for the next 3 months. If the seed fails I'm out about $350 (seed + fertilizer) and that's a risk I'm willing to take for the chance of having 3 fewer months of muddy dog.

How much of a savings are you getting for doing it now as opposed to waiting? Can you live with losing the cost of the sod and/or half the plants? Is the payoff (savings) worth the risk (expense)? I'd bet you're getting the job at 20% - 25% less, that's not a risk I'd take, personally, but YMMV.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 8:35AM
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Thanks Pam, This landscaper is a small independent and half the price of any of the "established companies." I feel confident in using him because a friend has used him for five years with good results, and I know something about this so we have discussed details of the job. However, I am not shure I can get into his schedule during the first couple of weeks in September which would be the optimal time. So that is a risk. I did not discuss warrantee with him, that is a good idea. Although I'm not sure if it would be enforceable.

Also, because of the weather, we are doing sod. Even though I have heard people plant this time of year, my gut tells me the plants will be stressed, even with 3 times per day watering (I work at home most days), and I am not sure if there would be long term plant damage that doesn't show up for a couple of years.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 9:36AM
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It can be done the secret is in the preparation, in other words the soil under the sod needs to be receptive to the sod and the sod needs to be moist when it goes down. Same goes for the planting, half an hour in the open back of a pick up in the drive from the nursery will dehydrate them before they are in the ground.

Perhaps you could compromise by laying the sod now and do the planting later. Well prepared soil and sod laid in your yard within a day of harvesting, rolled and kept moist for 10 days. 'Dressed' joints would be the icing on the cake but that is not likely to happen. And make sure the sprinklers cover TOTALLY.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 12:59PM
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Oh, I see, this is a landscaper you have good knowledge of. I take back what I said then, I'd probably go for it and really prep the soil (like Ink says) and water the living daylights out of it during hot/dry/windy spells.

In another thread I posted that one year I had to move a slew of mature plants from the backyard to the front yard (from morning sun to midday sun) in the first week of JULY. Everything suffered, and I made big cones out of unbleached, unprinted newsprint (I had a roll of it). I used the cones to shade the plants from the harsher sun & ran a soaker hose so it wound all around those plants. Even so, they weren't thrilled but they did make it & thrived the next year.

So it's possible, and sometimes it's just how life hands you opportunities. If this guy is reputable & you really want to do it, then just ask him for a check-up in a week & 2 weeks after install. That will help you identify any plants that are struggling and how best to help them recover.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 8:46PM
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Thanks all. Great suggestions. I will get the landscaper to soak everything prior to planting and keep the water coming.
Ink, does your note imply that the plants would be less likely to do well than the sod? If so, Why?

Pam, That idea with the "paper plant hats/teepees" is a great and clever effort. I am putting in some 4-5 foot blue (cnetenial princess) hollies and small crep myrles and some small euonymuses (spell), and these would be difficult to cover. The idea may come in handy another day. One plant I hope to get, a dwarf hinoki cypress, I may or may not hold off on planting until fall.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 4:50PM
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"Ink, does your note imply that the plants would be less likely to do well than the sod? If so, Why?" There are more things likely to go wrong and failure harder to spot.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 8:51PM
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What are "dressed joints"?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 1:38PM
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Sod comes out of the field in rolls of a uniform size, they are placed on the ground in a staggered pattern like bricks. When laid in dry conditions or when the result is expected to be perfect (ie a bowling green) a 3-2-1 soil mix and grass seed is sprinkled along the joints just in case shrinkage occurs. 3-2-1 is 3 portions of top soil 2 portions of sand and 1 portion of sieved organic. Obviously the seed should be the same mix as the sod.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 5:47PM
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