Torrey Pines Landscape Company

Torrey Pines Landscape Company
As featured in Ranch & Coast Magazine ( design by )

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Planting Trees in San Diego - How to

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. has been planting trees in the San Diego area since 1983. We want to ensure that the trees we plant not only survive, but thrive. Here's the process we generally follow:
1. The general rule: the ideal time to plant a tree is the autumn or early spring. Since we install landscapes year-round in San Diego, this isn't as much of an issue as it would be in other parts of the country. Palms and tropicals are ideally planted in the summer. Deciduous trees plant best when they are dormant.
2.Choose the right tree for the right area. As a professional design company, we understand the characteristics of each species (climate needs, growth rate, mature shape, maintenance requirements, & disease tolerance) and can help homeowners to choose a tree that not only enhances their garden but will thrive in its placement.
3.Where to buy a tree? We have established long term relationships with many of the wholesale nurseries in the San Diego County and will scour our sources to find you the best specimens that are available. We also import specimens from our contacts out of county which are then shipped safely with the plants health in mind. We want to ensure that we are starting with a healthy tree. 4.To dig or not to dig? We'll find out and avoid any underground piping, cables etc. There may be local code requirements that your community has as well.
5. The most common mistakes when planting a tree happen before the tree is even planted. Successful planting relies on the digging hole. Holes that are too deep prevent the newly planted trees roots from having access to sufficient oxygen. Holes that are too narrow prevent the rootstructure from expanding enough to nourish and anchor the tree. Holes dug in clay soil without breaking up the slick sides create a barrier known as glazing which prevents water from passing through. So here's our technique: We dig a hole that is 2.5 times the width of the root ball. The general rule for depth is that the crown of the root ball where the trunk starts should sit above (about 1") the surrounding earth. The added height allows for settling. Remember when handling a tree, use the trunk. The bottom of the hole should have a slight pedestal in the middle which the root ball sits on and water pools away from. This prevents water from collecting directly below the trunk which can cause rot. We score the side of the hole, particularly if there is a high clay content to the soil.
6. Creating the back-fill: The soil that we excavate is tilled with peat moss, composted manure, topsoil and mycorrhizae. This blend is what we use for back-fill. The blend may vary depending on the type of tree being planted.
7.The planting: After gently opening the root ball by hand, we seat the tree upon the pedestal in the hole and surround it with the back-fill soil up to the crown of the root ball. This soil is then hand compressed to allow water to reach the roots. We then water, wait an hour, fill with back-fill after the settling and water again. (1 gallon for every 6" of trunk height is appx.) We then mulch 3" from the trunk out past the circumference of the original hole at least ot the drip line (the widest point that there are leaves). This helps to keep the tree hydrated and most weeds out. We stake trees where appropriate.
8. The first year of a transplanted trees life is critical. It will need consistent & regular watering until the roots are established. To form deep roots, water slowly for an extended period. Deep roots help the tree to resist droughts and winds.
9. Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. gives a year warranty for all trees that we plant. We are a design, install and maintenance company. We want you to enjoy the tree as it grows over the years.
-garden girl says "Get out there and enjoy your garden!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If your conscience has ever felt the pangs of guilt of having a tree cut for your holiday use of just a few weeks...and an artificial tree doesn't suit your style, you may want to consider purchasing a living Christmas tree. A living tree comes with the roots intact for the purpose of planting it after the holidays pass. They are usually more expensive but they provide more long-term value and create less waste. A well selected choice not only enhances your landscape but it will make the memory of your holiday season linger and grow in your own yard. If your garden design doesn't need any more trees, a great option would be to donate it to a plant-a-tree organization. The usual fresh-cut varieties of Christmas trees like Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Blue Spruce are not suited to our climate zone here in San Diego. They are cut and shipped outside their natural areas. For San Diego, you'll have to select a tree that will: 1. thrive in our local zones and 2.Fit in your landscape design. For estates with lots of space, here are a couple of options: Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) or Incense Cedar (Cedrus deodara). For a smaller garden, you could choose a Blue Point Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point').
So here are some tips for opting for an 'Environmentally Conscious Christmas:
1.If your going to donate: find an organization before you purchase the tree. Living plants need care from the second you bring them home and you wouldn't want a lapse in care post-holidays to prevent a successful transplanting. If your going to plant it: 1) pick the spot wisely by researching how much space a mature tree will need and 2) dig the hole before you even bring the tree inside the house. (Next weeks blog- tips for planting)
2. Keep in mind a living tree is much heavier than a fresh-cut tree. A balled and bur-lapped tree with its roots and soil should be kept constantly moist. (a 5' tree can weigh about 200 lbs) You might want to go for a living tree sold in a container pot instead.
3. Selecting a tree that has moist soil, a firm root ball and flexible branches. A lot of needles shouldn't come off when you brush a branch gently. When handling and moving , lift it by its roots rather than trunk. Be gentle.
4. It's best to acclimatize the tree to its indoor debut. Store it under a covered porch or garage. Living trees can't stay inside for long, so wait to bring them in until the week of your celebration. The less time indoors the better. There are anti-wilting sprays that help keep the tree moist and prevent the loss of valuable moisture. Plan for about 5 days inside.
5. Locate in a cool area away from heat. A balled-in-burlap tree can be placed in a galvanized tub & straightened with rocks. Add about 3" of mulch to help aid in retaining moisture. Don't pile mulch directly on the trunk. The same, more or less, goes for a potted tree, put it in a pan & add mulch. You'll need to water the soil/mulch mixture often as necessary to keep the roots moist.
6.Decorating. Live trees can be decorated as long as you use care. Use small lights that DO NOT give off any heat.
7. Next week - the replanting guide for your Live Christmas Tree
If you're thinking, this is different than a fresh-cut tree. You're right. Having a live tree in your home is an 'eco-friendly' choice that is well worth any of the inconveniences that the differences may entail. Beyond the commercialism, lies the symbolism. Evergreens promote good cheer and hope while reminding us of the life just waiting to burst forth in the coming spring. What better way to honor life than to give your holiday tradition a future for decades to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Holidays are here again, (or should I say 'already'), and for those who celebrate the season by displaying a Christmas tree, it is time to weigh the three main options: Artificial, Fresh-cut or Living.
Since I know next to nothing about artificial trees, I'll withhold any advise in that arena.
For those who choose fresh-cut, the most popular varieties in San Diego are usually Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Blue Spruce. When any of these varieties are cut, over half of their weight is water. Displaying these trees in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss. Most fresh-cut tree sales lots will make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2" thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk which you'll want to keep clean and treat gently while transporting home. Once home, get that clean cut trunk in water as soon as's just like fresh cut flowers. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, vents or lights. Use a stand that fits the trunk without chipping away any bark or outer layers since they wick up water even better than the middle. The general rule of thumb for how much water to use: 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. You'll need to check the stand daily and refill to your original water mark when necessary. A warm room makes the tree draw water more quickly. The same goes for lights...the hotter they are, the quicker they dry out the tree. A dry tree, overloaded with lights is a recipe for disaster. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. After the holidays, go to to find a recycling location near you. The program, which has been offered since 1973, recycles all of the collected trees into products that are available to the public. Green recycling is essential to prolonging the life of the landfill. By recycling your Christmas tree, you are doing your part to reduce the amount of material in the landfill and help the environment by giving your holiday tree a 2nd life as compost, mulch or wood chips.
Next week, I'll talk about the third option: Choosing a Living Christmas Tree.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Step 1 Open your mind
Step 2 Get a design concept
Step 3 Install subterranean drip irrigation

More about Step 1: Open your mind. Homeowners tend to believe that a water-wise garden is going to look like a back drop from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'. Well, that's just not true. You can enjoy a garden that doesn't waste water and is cactus free & tumble weed free. There are such a wide variety of California natives, Mediterranean natives, and drought tolerant succulents or perennials, that a garden design can deliver aesthetically pleasing gardens that require less water usage. Water-wise landscaping uses plants that either grow here naturally or thrive in climates similar to ours.

More about Step 2: Getting a Design concept. As with any design concept, having some plant 'know-how' is essential. A professional landscape company can save you a great deal of money and heart ache in the long run, because they understand: 1.what needs to be done to improve your gardens soil and drainage and 2. what will thrive in each of your gardens micro climates. We can help you choose low-water use plants and stategically arrange them in your garden according to their need for sun, shade and drainage. There is nothing wrong with admiring and wanting to emulate the work of others. Visit places like the Water Conservation Garden in San Diego. Responsible developers in some of the exclusive gated communities in the Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar areas are showcasing beautiful drought tolerant landscaping surrounding model homes or in their common areas and entrances. When looking for ideas, remember to pay attention to the plants placement in the garden. Another good place to visit is on the Monrovia growers website. They have an extensive list & pictures of drought tolerant perennials for the San Diego climate. At Torrey Pines Landscape Co., we can share our portfolio of the water-wise gardens we have designed, installed and maintain, as well as provide you with references.

More about Step 3: Subterranenan drip irrigation eliminates problems like: water waste from sprinklers. Water is wasted by either misdirection and/or over-spraying causing water to run off down the street. By implementing subterranean drip irrigation, you save your home's exterior from water damage and it's a lot easier for gardeners to work around without breaking. It puts the water where you need the plants roots.