Gardening In The Zone
By Mike Hayes –
Spring has sprung. With summer on the way, vine ripened tomatoes and Robert’s Ridge sweet corn are next for me, along with some freshly caught fish. We have had a decent amount of rain on the Outer Banks so far this spring, and we are in the beginning of an active solar cycle that can easily indicate an active hurricane season. Let’s hope together we are spared.
I generally focus the content of “Gardening in the Zone” toward the near beach zone. As I have mentioned previously, the near beach zone presents the most difficult and restrictive landscape requirements. I am also consulted regarding some of the other micro landscape environments that exist on the Outer Banks, such as maritime woods settings, and simply western side areas removed from the near ocean influence.
There are lots of landscape opportunities available when ocean exposure is removed from the equation. The list of satisfactory plant materials expands by multiples. The limiting factors become sun exposure, soil quality, and perhaps deer browsing in some of the more woodsy settings. Be cautious about standing water in areas where the water table is closer to ground level. Some of these areas may be subject to standing water above ground level during wet spells.
Standing water, submerging the root system of most plants, is a potential terminating factor. Also some plants need soil with a higher mineral and organic content than the sandy soils here offer. Soil amendments such as certain fertilizers can help with this problem.
I have recently had questions about the two plants described below. Both can be grown here. The Rhododendron must be coaxed carefully into the landscape setting. It must be well cared for after planting.
Remember that watering is a requirement for landscaping in our sand-based soils, especially for the time it takes plants to establish themselves in your landscape. In a treed setting watering becomes even more critical—trees will often out compete their under-plantings for water. If you are in an area where deer visit your yard be sure to use deer repellants. I use as combination of Liquid Fence and Deer Off by Direction.
Good luck with your gardening and landscapes.
Mike Hayes is the owner of Mike Hayes Landscape Design and Installation and can be contacted for landscape services and consulting at 252-261-0404.