Trees & Shrubs

Trees and shrubs have many benefits that make them important additions to the landscape.  They are beautiful, provide cooling shade and shelter, screen undesirable views, help blanket noise, enhance privacy, reduce air pollution and add property value. These benefits make trees and shrubs a valuable investment, especially with careful selection, planting and long-term care.  At Sunnyside our friendly, knowledgeable staff are here to help you make the right selections for your site.  You will be able to enjoy the splendor that trees and shrubs add for many years.

We carry a large selection of nursery stock from common to unique varieties.  We start bringing in our nursery stock in May and get fresh stock in on a weekly basis until September.  We have something to suit everyone’s needs no matter how green their thumb. 

Calgary’s climate presents unique challenges when trying to grow plants.  Chinooks can cause plants to start growing during warm spells, only to be knocked back once temperatures fall back within normal winter ranges.  The lack of humidity and dry soils add another obstacle to success with plants in our climate.  Don’t get discouraged; there are lots of different varieties that are spectacular performers for the Calgary area.  The work being done with plant breeding is amazing and each year we are inspired by new varieties that have improved hardiness, disease resistance and ornamental attributes.

Planting

Plant containerized nursery stock anytime from spring through to fall.  Spring is a great time to plant as you get the best selection and allow plants time to establish before the onset of winter. 

Hardiness Zone

Hardiness zone is a geographically defined area in which specific plant life is capable of growing.  It encompasses climatic conditions such as plants ability to withstand minimum temperatures.  Calgary is located in zone 4 within a Chinook area.  We experience a large variance of climatic conditions within the city, depending on where you are located.  You will notice different microclimates within your yard that allows you to grow plants that would otherwise be out of your zone.  It is recommended to use zones as a guideline when selecting plants.  Zones 1, 2, 3, and 4 are ideal candidates for landscapes in Calgary.  Zone 5 trees and shrubs can be seen growing successfully in many different landscape situations; a little extra care may be required.

Watering

Watering is a key component to success when planting.  All trees and shrubs require water regularly while becoming established; the first two years are crucial.  Newly planted nursery stock needs to be watered frequently and thoroughly.  What does this mean?   A general guideline is a deep watering twice a week, and more often during hot weather.  Place a hose at the base of the tree on a slow trickle for 20-45 minutes; this will ensure root ball and surrounding soil has enough water available to support plant growth and establish a deep, strong root system.  Monitor new plants and if at any time the root ball feels dry water deeply using a slow trickle. 

New plantings will often wilt during the heat of the day and then recover at night when temperatures drop.   This is normal as plants are trying to set down and establish a root system to support their canopy.  If plants look limp and wilted for several days you may need to increase watering and add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help prevent the soil and root ball from drying out.

In the early fall, allow the soil to dry slightly so plant growth slows down in preparation for winter.  Depending on temperatures, watering deeply every 2-3 weeks is ideal.  In the late fall it is extremely important to water everything thoroughly to increase winter survivability.  All plants, especially new plantings, need a good drink before the ground freezes; this prevents damage to roots from cold dry, soils which in turn will prevent damage to above ground portions of trees and shrubs.

Fertilizing

Soil contains all the nutrients plants need to grow and thrive; unfortunately soils may not have nutrients in sufficient quantities to suit each plant’s needs.  It is advisable to add 2-3 inches (5-7.5cm) of organic matter on an annual basis will help add nutrients to the soil.  Plants also benefit greatly from the regular application of fertilizer.

New Plants

It is strongly recommended to use a starter fertilizer at the time of planting for all new transplants.  Choose a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous, such as 10-52-10, will encourage the development of a strong root system which is necessary for healthy growth and production.  It will also help prevent transplant shock. You can continue to use this fertilizer throughout the first growing season.

Established Plants

There are a variety of fertilizer formulations available for established plants.  Regular applications throughout the growing season are recommended, following label directions.  Stop fertilizing at the end of July, late summer or fall fertilizing may stimulate new growth at a time of year when plants should be hardening off and preparing for the winter.

Pruning

Pruning is a technique used to limit or train growth, improve appearance, influence flowering and fruiting, and remove damaged or diseased parts.  Each type of tree and shrub require slightly different methods of pruning and the timing varies with the species. 

The most important rule to remember when pruning is the three Ds – always remove dead, damaged and diseased wood.  Certain trees and shrubs will require more pruning while others will require very little or none.  Keep in mind that too much pruning can cause plants unnecessary stress.  A good rule of thumb is to limit your pruning to ¼ to ⅓ of the overall plant (live material) in one growing season.