5 Spring Gardening Tips

5 Spring Gardening Tips Arizona

For a gardener, nothing gets us up in the morning like upcoming growing seasons or attending a flower and garden show during this time. If you are familiar with this show, you will know that there are a few that rival the Philadelphia Flower Show, which happens in march and is known for being the worlds longest running and largest indoor flower show.

I have attended the show almost every year for the last 2 decades. I remember the first year I went, I came home energized and ready to begin gardening right away, just to find that there were around 3 inches of snow on the ground. It was too early, or at least that is what I thought. In the following years, I learned that there are a lot of things that you can do to start gardening season before the frost, and that will save you time and money.

Get an Early Start Indoors
Get an Early Start Indoors

Some plants and flowers should be started as seeds weeks prior to it becoming warm enough to transplant them outside. Plants that are started from seeds will normally cost a lot less than what you will pay at a nursery for those seedling containers once gardening season begins.

Cut the bottoms out of plastic jugs to protect your seedlings. Finding when you should start your plants indoors will depend on when the last frost happens, then counting backwards based on t he type of plants you want to grow. Seed packets for your plants will often have instructions on starting your plant indoors which states how and when to plant. In most of the country, March is the month for starting seedlings indoors.

You can also repurpose throw away items such as cardboard boxes, newspaper, toilet paper rolls, half-egg shells, egg cartons to make mini biodegradable seedling pots. Some of the common plants that need to start as seeds indoors are eggplant, squash, melons, peppers, tomatoes and a variety of herbs and flowers. If you don’t really have a sunny space which is a necessity for starting plants inside, you should consider creating a cold frame in the yard as a place to start your seeds. You can find cold frame designs online and how you can build them with inexpensive materials like old windows, plastic sheeting, scrap lumber, and even bales of hay.

Prepare your garden and lawn equipment
Prepare your garden and lawn equipment

Being ready for the yearly upkeep of our landscapes starts with having our lawn and garden equipment serviced.  Depending on your landscape and how much rain we get there can start to be a wait for tune ups and repairs, so the earlier you have your lawn mower or gardening equipment served, the better.

There’s nothing worse than getting started on a hot day with a lawn that is overdue to be mowed, only to be stopped by a dull lawn mower blade or other issue with your equipment.  Get a jump on the season and be ready with your freshly serviced lawn mower, edger, and other gardening equipment.

Declare war on weeds early
Declare war on weeds early

Whenever the first signs of plants and new growth come back to life in the spring, you can also bet that there will be a variety of weeds with them. Once the soil is no longer frozen normally weeks before the last frost is when you need to start preparing the soil in areas that are prone to weeds. Cover this area in mulch to help keep weeds at bay. Also begin pulling up hard to kill weeds such as dock weed, dandelions and poison ivy. Weeds will just get stronger, bigger, and harder to get rid of as the growing season continues, so taking care of them now will save you money and time for the spring season. You should stock up on rock salt, which should be marked down and then sprinkle it on side walks and driveways in the spring to keep weeds from popping up.

Remove yard debris and leaves
Remove yard debris and leaves

If you haven’t gotten around to raking the leaves and yard debris during the fall, that is okay. In some situations, leaves can become a protective barrier like mulch which can help some plants to make it through the winter. When new plant growth starts, the leaves from last year can stop the growth and cause pest issues and even some plant diseases. You should consider composting the leaves and yard debris or shred it to make mulch. If you have a mulching lawn mower, just mow over the leaves so that the nutrients return to the soil.

Tend to the perennials
Tend to the perennials

Most of your perennials, plants that continue to grow for years, including shrubs and trees, could do with some attention. Perennials can add value to your home, so consider giving them some TLC as an investment for your future. Later winter and early spring are the best times to prune shrubs and trees in most areas. Ornamental grasses should be cut before the new growth starts, and thinning and pruning fruit trees should be done prior to the new growth starting. You can even divide some perennials like asters, hostas, yarrow, and Siberian Iris in the early spring which makes a whole new barrel of plants for free. Now that is music for a cost friendly garden.

East Phoenix Valley Nurseries
Spring Gardening Tips from AP Nursery

If you need to have your lawn mower serviced, want to find plants or seeds to use in your garden, need some fertilizer, or have anything garden product A&P Nursery has 4 locations in Arizona in Mesa, Gilbert, and Queen Creek.  We carry everything you need to start, maintain, and get the most out of your garden. With partnerships with local landscapers we can also organize services to plant and maintain your gardens and landscapes.

Growing Apricot Trees In Arizona

Growing Apricot Trees In Arizona

If you love apricots and gardening then you should have an apricot tree in your garden. Growing Apricot trees in Arizona differs from other places in the country. It is hotter and more dry in Arizona, especially in the South. While Apricot trees do prefer the cooler temperatures of the north, we can still get them to grow well in the south.

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Apricot Tree Propagation
Apricot Tree Propagation Arizona

All Apricot trees are grown from the stone in the fruit, which is the seed. It takes 3 or 4 years for the stone to develop into a fruit bearing tree. This is why most gardeners choose to buy their apricot trees from a local nursery. These trees can be transplanted into your backyard and start producing fruit a whole lot faster than starting with a seed. The trees nurseries stock are usually already a couple of years old. This cuts out a lot of the wait time for you’re to get fruit from your new tree. That being said it will still be a couple years before you can expect fruit from your apricot tree.

Planting Apricot Trees
Planting Apricot Trees

While most places in the country recommend full sun for the apricot tree, Arizona gets more sun than most. This means that partial shade is not a bad idea for your tree. Choose a location that isn’t too close to the house or power lines that gets good sun.

Get your shovel and dig a deep hole in your chosen location. Make it deep enough to place some decomposed compost, if you have some. Blend the compost with your regular garden soil. If you bought a tree in a peat pot you don’t have to take it out, but you can slit the sides. This will make it easier for the roots to get out and for the tree to get established. If your apricot tree came in a burlap bag take the bag off and gently spread the roots in the hole you dug.

Replace the dirt that you dug out so that the tree is covered to the same depth it was when it was sold. You want to test how deep the hole you dug will be with the compost so when you place your tree in the hole that you have the mark where the bag or soil was in the peat pot is at the same level with the garden soil. Once the tree is at the right level and the soil is back make sure to give the soil a good soak with your hose.

Growing Apricot Trees
Growing Apricot Trees Arizona

Vigorous growth is common after planting the apricot tree in the first year. It is recommended to stake the tree for support in the first year of growth. Without the support strong winds can push and warp your tree. This can make your apricot tree grow at an angle instead of straight up. Excessive winds and not stakes can even mean that your tree is uprooted and damaged.

Fertilizing the apricot tree should happen during late winter and early spring. Another round of fertilizer when the tree is producing fruit will help produce more and better fruit. Many gardeners choose fruit tree fertilizer spikes as a way to encourage good growth. These spikes are driven into the soil and slowly release the fertilizer that is specifically engineered to fruit trees.

Pest & Insect Control
Pest & Insect Control Apricot Trees Arizona

Like most fruit trees insects and pests can be a nuisance. Every spring before the buds open up it is a good idea to apply a dormant oil fruit tree spray. To protect your fruit it is very important to use both a spray against plant disease and insecticides. Safety comes first when using these products and proper clothing, eye protection, and face masks should be used. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for using these products for correct mixing. If your apricot tree is suffering from birds pecking your fruit you can get netting that will keep the birds away from the fruit.

Apricot Tree Pruning
Apricot Tree Pruning Arizona

If your goal is to produce fruit from your tree, which would be the point, make sure you don’t over prune. Apricots grow from 2nd year growth and you need to make sure you leave it in the right places. Lightly pruning in the early years will help you get more fruit out of your apricot tree earlier.

Effective pruning helps all plants grow better and produce more fruit. The best time to prune your apricot tree is when it is coldest, during the winter time. You want to make sure you get it done before the new year’s growth starts to pop out.

Apricot Trees For Sale
Apricot Trees For Sale Mesa Gilbert Queen Creek

If you are ready to plant an apricot tree in Arizona A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the East Phoenix Valley to help you get your project started. We have the tools, fertilizers, trees, and even have services to get the tree planted for you. No matter how you want to get started we have the advice and services to fit your needs. Call or stop by one of our 4 locations.

How to Choose Plants at a Nursery

How to Choose Plants at a Nursery Arizona

If you are searching for “How to Choose Plants at a Nursery” you are looking to find information about how to get the biggest bang for your gardening buck.  People who love gardening love browsing through nurseries.  We want to share with you how to get the most for your money and make the best use of your time.

Ways Plants are Packaged at Nurseries

As gardeners browse through the nursery its easy to notice that plants are sold in 3 main forms: containers, bare-root, and balled and burlapped. The way that plants are sold is usually related to their size and type of plant. Plants that are sold with bare roots are typically roses and hedge plants. The plants that are sold in containers are usually smaller plants like small trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. Burlapped root plants are normally the largest plants like trees and large shrubs.

How Nursery Plants are Grown

Bare-root, container, and burlap packaged plants are grown in fields where nurseries can better manage their growth, nourishment, and allow for more aggressive growth.

Small Container Plants

Small Container Plants Nursery ArizonaThese smaller plants start life and grow in containers and continue to grow in progressively larger containers. Some container plants are pretty expensive as there is cost involved in investing in larger and larger containers as the plants grow through the years of maturing.  A good example of this is the dwarf conifer, they are notoriously slow to grow. It takes several years for them to grow big enough to be sold.

Bare-Root Plants

Bare Root Plants Nursery ArizonaDuring the cooler parts of the year nurseries offer bare-root plants, such as roses or lilacs.  This is the time of year where they won’t begin to grow before being planted. Some nurseries keep bare-root plants in suspended animation by keeping them in cold storage.  Being able to purchase your bare-root plants at your local nursery does help avoid fungal diseases that can cripple your plants.

Large Burlapped Plants

Large Burlapped Plant Nursery ArizonaNurseries typically grow shrubs and trees in fields where the plants are able to grow to larger sizes and are easier to maintain.  The stock grown in the field needs to be dug up in winter and early spring while the plants are dormant. After they are dug up the larger plants get the roots wrapped in burlap and twine. The largest trees many times also end up having metal cages used. Large trees that are for sale at nurseries lose a portion of their roots when dug up and package, but this is the only way to get a larger specimen.

Selecting Nursery Plants

Every gardener in Arizona wants to get the most for their money, and the healthiest plants for their landscape. The following will help you get the best stock and best fit for your home and landscape.

Signs To Look For

When you have a nice selection of plants you can learn a lot just by comparing the available plants. For example let’s say you are thinking about buying a river birch and there is a wide selection of plants. All of them are about the same height and are maturing by showing substantial trunks and peeling of the bark.  The price per tree is all about the same and although aren’t cheap they offer immediate landscaping cover from a more mature tree.

Things to keep in mind while you are comparing a tree like this, or any plant, are things like how many trunks or stalks they have, the condition of the leaves, smaller root balls, or roots that are exposed and look distressed or dried out. Some plants like the river birch have a classic look like those with 3 trunks. The leaves shouldn’t be yellowing as this can be an indication that it is nitrogen starved. Smaller root balls typically mean either drought or poor quality soil they were grown in. Look for signs of poorly maintained stock and only buy the best that is on display.

  • Configuration of plant
  • Condition of leaves and roots
  • Size of root balls
  • Overall maturity of the plant

Getting The Best Fit

Landscaping relates to architecture and the trees you plant shouldn’t be too small or too big for your home or business. The scale of you tree should stay to within 1/3rd to 1/4th taller than your home. If it is too much taller it will dwarf your house. Ranch style homes that are one story should consider trees that grow to no more than 15 to 20 feet in height. Two story homes can go bigger and allow for trees that mature to be 22 to 30 feet in height. It is best to plant the biggest trees at the edges of your property to avoid overpowering your home.  This keeps them away from the house, and it is best to think ahead if there are power lines.

Getting Your Plants Home

If you aren’t taking advantage of delivery and planting from your nursery you need to know the best way to transport your plants home. If you are taking the plants home yourself in your vehicle make sure you have a tarp to cover them and some rope to secure them. The wind from driving can seriously damage or even kill your plants so make sure you have them covered, even if it is a short distance home. One example of tree that is especially sensitive to wind and dehydration is the evergreen, it simply cannot tolerate dehydration of the needles.

East Phoenix Valley Nurseries

Residents of Mesa, Queen Creek, Gilbert, and the whole East Phoenix Valley have 4 A&P Nursery locations to choose from for the best plants, knowledgeable staff, and friendly service.  Delivery and planting services are available through a network of trusted landscapers, so you can rest assured that your landscape will look great with your new plants. Call or stop by one of our locations today!

Growing Avocado In Arizona

Growing Avocado In Arizona

With the rising costs of produce at the local grocery stores many Arizona residents are starting to grow more and more of their produce themselves. Avocado is a favorite for many recipes and meals. Being able to grow it in your yard saves money and gives you the knowledge that they were grown organically and in the best methods possible.

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Best Type Of Avocado Tree For Phoenix
Best Type Of Avocado Tree For Phoenix

There is a wide variety of avocado trees. Some do better in different climates than others. With the heat in Arizona the type of avocado tree you choose can mean the difference between success and failure. For the heat in our area it is best to choose either the Guatemalan or Mexican Avocado trees.

Avocado Tree Site Selection
Avocado Tree Site Selection

The site you choose for your avocado tree should be protected from the wind and have fast draining soil. This means that you will want a more sandy type soil as opposed to the clay that can be common in Arizona. It is best to prep the soil in the area you want to plant the avocado tree. Include some compost in the mix so nutrients will be abundant. The soil should end up being equal parts of sand and compost.

It is best to plan a spot that gets sun in the morning, and shade in the afternoon. The afternoon is the hottest part of the day and the avocado tree does not enjoy the harsh light and temperatures.  This means planting the tree on the east side of your yard. It is also best if there is a large tree to plant it near or under.  If you don’t have a tree that will provide shade for the afternoon you will need to provide shade for the tree so it does not burn. Shade structures are pretty easy to set up, as your local nursery

Planting Avocado Trees
Planting Avocado Trees

A hole should be dug that is 2 to 3 times the width of the container and the same depth. Before putting the tree in the hole saturate the hole with water and wait for the water to drain. Once the water has drained from the hole you can place your avocado tree in. Gently pack the mixed soil, compost and sand around the root ball.

Create a little berm, or moat of raised soil around the base of the plant with the soil you have and fill it with water. It should be about 4 inches high and help contain the water so it is delivered well to the root ball.

Watering Avocado Trees
Watering Avocado Trees

During the summer and growing months you will need to give the tree a good soak at least once a month. For the hotter months you should give your avocado tree a deep soak every 2 weeks. You need to irrigate the avocado tree for several hours to push the salt away from the root ball.

Avocado Trees Fertilization
Avocado Trees Fertilization

Stay away from standard fertilizers that may contain salt or sodium. It is harmful for the avocado tree and will stunt its growth. Many avid gardeners choose to use fish emulsion at least once during the growing season. Fish fertilizers are safer for your avocado trees and are available at your location nursery.

Avocado Trees Pest Control
Avocado Trees Pest Control

With the avocado tree not being native to Arizona they have no natural pests. If you find that your garden ends up with one or another type of insect that is attacking your avocados make sure to check with your local nursery for which type of pesticides or covers you can use to help protect your investment.

East Phoenix Valley Nurseries

A&P Nursery has 4 locations that can help you with all of your gardening needs. From the large yard to small urban farming type set ups we have the plants, the tools, the knowledge to help get you going and keep your gardening thriving!