December is the new April to plant, design a landscape

December is the new April for landscape. Let the planting begin in earnest. Drought, water bans and restrictions, along with higher water prices have changed the parameters in the landscape. Fall has always been the premier time to plant your landscape but the charms of April seductively instigate action.

Early fall can be dry but late fall and December are known to have decent rains - the perfect time for planting. New trees, shrubs, perennials, groundcovers and bulbs should all be planted in December.

University studies, UGA and others, prove new plantings get a better start when the soil is cooler and the foliage isn't transpiring as much water as it must during spring planting. Planting trees and shrubs with bare sticks doesn't seem right but it is. Getting a perennial garden into the ground when plants are nonexistent above the soil feels like a leap of faith.

Once you've experienced December planting you'll be a convert. Comparing December planted plants to April planted plants, four months difference, looks like a year's difference quickly.

New nursery plants arrive from growers locally and great distance. Most have something in common, time release fertilizer in their containers. Some may be arriving from Florida or a covered greenhouse in Tennessee. Why does this matter? Those plants will not be acclimated to our weather past December. Plants not acclimated before winter may lose their outer leaves or stem tips. Use Christmas as the cutoff date for new plantings.

There is an exception to winter planting with new plants from the nursery. If new plants at a nursery are in the open air, without any type of cover, and they've been at the nursery several months, they are acclimated. And safe to plant throughout winter.

Move existing plants in your landscape throughout winter, they are acclimated.

Stone Mountain resident Tara Dillard designs, installs and writes about gardens. E-mail her at taradillard@agardenview.biz or visit www.agardenview.biz.