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Overcast, mist, light snow
Overcast, mist, light snow
15.8 °F
December 14, 2017
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Tips from a professional: Plan, plant, persist & be pleased with yourself

Backing up to a wooded area, Gavalla created a dramatic scene, filled with blouders, “under canopy” trees, cascading grasses, shrubbery and low-growing ground cover that hugs the stone wall.
Contributed photos

Landscaper Ed Gavalla of Jesse G’s Nursery in Glen Spey, NY is in the business of helping people create special outdoor spaces. His eyes twinkle and his passion for his line of work shows when he talks about the pleasure of creating a backyard dream oasis—a peaceful zone where a person can sit quietly and appreciate the birds, the bees, the flowers and the endless palette of nature’s colors, no matter what the season. In Gavalla’s world, spring should pop with color, summer should be lush and green, and autumn should be awesome. “Personally, I may be more about autumn leaves than summer,” he confessed recently as we talked.

Whereas spring is a time when homeowners engage in a frenzied period of planting—flowers, shrubbery, vegetables, you name it—Gavella plants up until the ground freezes or the snow flies. According to him, one needn’t confine planting (and replanting) to springtime. It’s OK to plant continually all summer and fall, but there are some rules.

Splitting perennials

Splitting of perennials—dividing them at their roots—is the best way to promote new growth, and you’ll end up getting new plants for free. While some gardeners recommend not splitting perennials when they’re in bloom, Gavella insisted, with proper care, you can split perennials any time of year. Divide a plant when it’s good and healthy, and replenish the soil with organic matter/compost. Depending on the kinds of roots the plant has, the procedure differs a bit. (Watch a four-minute video and read the accompanying information at


In early spring (oops, if you haven’t done it, do it now!), remove old material from deciduous plants, ideally before they leaf out or bloom. To transplant, remove and re-place in its new location and water immediately; don’t leave it sitting out to get stressed. Then, you want to provide proper maintenance to keep everything lush, green and growing. As for evergreens (they experience a tender, new growth season in the spring), it’s not recommended to transplant when their new growth is soft, but rather to wait until the new growth is fully developed and hardened.

Make a plan

So now that you’ve tackled a few small jobs yourself, perhaps you’re ready for the BIG PROJECT, and that involves making a plan.

Determine shade, wet and dry areas. Make a sketch of these areas on a large piece of paper.