Maintaining your landscape need not be a chore.  By giving proper care to your plants, they will not simply survive…they will thrive! Use this guide to help individual plants grow into your own personalized, spectacular landscape.

Drink Up!

Though watering needs vary according to plant varieties, soil types and weather, there are general certainties to keep in mind.

Most importantly, observe your plants! Dig down about 6 inches just outside the root zone. If the soil crumbles when you squeeze it, it’s time to water.  If the soil forms a ball, wait a few days.

When you water, soak the ground thoroughly enough to saturate the root zone. Allow adequate time between waterings for proper drainage.

Watering properly is essential the first growing season.  Following years allow for less watering, but always check the soil and look at the plants!

Boost with Fertilizer

Bonide Plant Starter is a sufficient fertilizer at planting time. For any other fertilizing, use an all-purpose fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro or Osmocote.

General fertilizing is not recommended after August 15th. Fertilizing promotes leaf production. As winter approaches, the plant needs its energy for root production instead.

Less is more! Never give your plant more than the recommended dosage. You will burn your plant.  Always follow label instructions on fertilizers.


Important for water retention, maintenance of soil temperature, and reduction of weeds, mulching also makes the planted area aesthetically pleasing.

Use shredded cottonwood or hardwood mulch around all newly planted trees and shrubs.

Mulch should be layered 3”-4” thick, and extended to a 3’ radius.

Always leave 3” or 4” between the base or trunk of the plant and the mulch. This allows for air circulation.

Seasonal Watering

Hot summer days are not the only times plants thirst. When there is little snow or rain throughout autumn, winter, and spring, roots will easily dry out. Since soil expands and contracts (called “heaving”) air pockets can form around roots. During days of constant freezing temperatures, roots are apt to freeze too! Water prevents air pockets from forming, thus insulating the roots.

Pruning & TrimmingConsidered by many to be an art, important for aesthetic beauty and shape, pruning trees and shrubs is actually essential to the overall health and proper growth of plants.A few tips:

  • Wait 2-3 years before shaping your tree.
  • New plants do not require pruning, and usually establish quicker if left untrimmed.
  • Pruning stimulates growth. Old plants, or those which have become woody or “leggy” may need to be trimmed back drastically (no more than 25% of the shrub). This will give the plant a fresh start.
  • However, not all plants can afford to be pruned heavily. Whether you take out a few out-of-place branches, or give the plant a hair-cut depends on its variety.
  • Remove the D’s…that is, all dead, damaged, and diseased branches. Also, trim out any crossing branches. Use a sharp pruner to avoid further damage.
  • Most shrubs can be trimmed in March or April after the year it was planted. Those flowering in spring, however, such as lilac and forsythia, must be trimmed after flowering is over in early summer. Consult Steinbrink’s for your trimming needs.
Healthy Soil, Healthy PlantsThe most fundamental element in the garden is soil. Few gardens or planting areas have naturally perfect soil. Fortunately, there is help.

  • EKO Compost is rich in nutrients and microorganisms. Add it to flower beds before planting, or mix it with back fill soil when planting trees and shrubs.
  • Vermiculite and Perlite are lightweight soil conditioners that improve soil aeration, drainage, and moisture retention in soil. Ideal for container planting, these amendments can also be used in small planting beds.
  • Clay soil, a common problem for many gardeners, can be conditioned with EKO Compost. It improves soil structure and aids air and water penetration.
Adding to Your LandscapeSpring is a nice time to do some “remodeling” in the yard. So is summer. So is autumn. Container-grown plants can be planted anytime during the growing season…from the last frost of winter (usually April) until the ground freezes hard in late autumn (October or November).

  • Heed this precaution for summer planting: Water generously! Check the soil and look at the plant daily, even twice per day, to make sure it has not gone into transplant shock.
  • Steinbrink’s carries plants all season long! Don’t wait to plant. The sooner it is in the ground, the quicker the plant will become an established asset to your garden or landscape.
Give us a buzz!Gardening can be both exciting and overwhelming. If you ever have questions or need advice about your plants, call us! We can help!(308) 234-6670 On the Straight & NarrowContrary to popular belief, staking is not always necessary for newly planted trees.

  • Stake trees that are subjected to extremely high winds.
  • Make sure the supports are not rubbing the bark.
  • Keep the tree staked for one growing season only unless otherwise directed by a Steinbrink’s specialist.