We hope you enjoy your new trees and shrubs. Your landscaping has been carefully installed with an eye toward your particular cultural requirements. The plants will need to be watered regularly throughout the growing season to maintain their health. Your landscaping may include deer-resistant shrubs, but there is no guarantee that tender new plants will be free from deer browsing. Please watch your plantings carefully and if you notice any damage, take precautions like netting the affected plants or spraying them with repellent. Netting new plants in the fall is always the safest alternative and we highly recommend it. If you have concerns regarding your new plants, please call your designer at (609)737-7644.


You will need to water your plants until they become established which takes a couple of years. Once they are established, nature will provide the water except for unusual or extended dry spells. Since too much water can be worse than too little water, always check the plant and soil before you water.

When to Water

Check the soil around the base of the plant by moving the mulch out of the way. Poke your finger into the ground about an inch and see if it feels dry or wet. Check the plant next. If the leaves are drooping, check them for dry brittle edges or crunchy spots. If they have dry brittle edges, then the plant is dry. If they are droopy with yellowing on the leaves, it may actually be too much water. Check the soil to see if it is wet. If so, then don't water yet.

How to Water

Use a hose without a nozzle on it. Turn the water on at a trickle and place the hose on the ground at the base of the plant for about 30 - 40 minutes. The water should be slow enough that it doesn't overflow the basin that was created when it was planted.

The Use of Sprinklers

Sprinkler heads can make your watering job much easier, but aren't the most effective way to water trees or shrubs. More importantly, they also can produce many leaf diseases by spreading organisms that are already in your soil or mulch. Many broadleaf evergreens (rhododendrons, certain azaleas, cherry laurels, andromedia or pieris) can be severely affected as can some deciduous species, like dogwoods, crab apples, sycamores and lilacs. If you don't have time to water properly, then you should consider a soaker hose system. Call your designer if you'd like more information regarding one. Using sprinklers or irrigation systems may invalidate your warranty. Please ask us if you can use sprinklers without damaging your plants.

Winter Care

If we experience a mild winter or one without much precipitation, then you may need to water your new plants. You should consider watering your plants if no precipitation has been received for a month or if little precipitation has been received all season. Heavy wet snows may damage some evergreens (boxwood, arborvitae, fastigiate blue spruces, cryptomeria and other spruces and pines) if it is not removed with a broom. Damage from wet snows is not covered by your warranty so be sure to remove the snow off of these plants. During mild winters, it is common to experience a few days of unseasonably warm weather during the early spring. If the ground is frozen and temperatures hit 60-degrees or more your plant is losing more moisture then it can replace causing damage to the plant including possible leaf drop. This is called "winter burn" and can be prevented by making sure the plants do not dry out over the winter. Spraying shrubs prior to the temperature spike with an anti-desiccant such as 'Wilt Proof' will help prevent drying from the wind as well. 'Wilt Proof' reduces the plants natural water loss through its leaves. Most plants that drop their leaves like this, if taken care during the following year, will recover.

Spring Care

Though spring is usually a wet season, if no measurable precipitation has fallen for 2 weeks with temperatures above 55-degrees, you should water. Broken branches or twigs can be removed with a pair of pruners (lopers if larger than half an inch). Twigs that aren't showing any new growth when the rest of the tree or shrub is leafed-out can be removed. Excessive browning on needled conifers (Christmas trees) can be a sign of lack of water during the previous year or other problems. You should call us and let us know. Any cottony substance on stems of needled conifers can signal a problem. You should call us. Your plants don't need any fertilizer their first year since they were fertilized when they were planted. If you fertilize anyway, the plant may become overfed attracting insects, diseases and predators like deer. If you overfeed your plant your warranty may be invalidated. You can spread dried cow manure or leaf compost around the base of the plant when the ground is frozen. The freeze-thaw cycle slowly works the organic matter into the soil. The organic matter gently provides nutrients without overfeeding.

Summer Care

Make sure your plants are kept watered throughout the summer as previously described. You should be watering your trees and shrubs about once a week. Be sure to plan for someone to handle this while you are on vacation. Most shrubs and trees should not be fertilized after the middle of August as this promotes soft new growth that won't have the opportunity to harden off prior to winter and will suffer winter damage.

Fall Care

Keep watering your plants throughout the fall. The frequency will lengthen as the temperatures cool. If it hasn't rained much prior to Thanksgiving, then water your plants for one last time. If we are experiencing unusually warm spells then continue regular watering.

Green Thumb Tips for Deer Protection

Protect Your Garden from Deer Damage!

You've invested time and money, possibly blood, sweat and tears into your landscape. You may also have had the frustrating experience of finding that the deer had eaten half your garden while you slept, or stripped the bark off your tender young tree with their antlers.

There are a number of tactics you can employ to protect your plantings, but they boil down to four main strategies:

  1. Planting Selectively: Avoid planting things that are known to be deer favorites. This can vary from one herd to another, but there are many plants that seem to be universally palatable to deer. Our landscape designers can recommend deer-resistant plants.
  2. Strong Odors: Apply commercially available or homemade deer repellant sprays, suspend strong floral scented soaps in or near plants, or spread animal-based fertilizers like blood meal, bonemeal or Milorganite around susceptible plants.
  3. Physical Barriers: Fence your yard (most effective method of all) or net susceptible plants, especially evergreens in winter. You can also plant deer favorites among strongly scented or thorny plants as a deterrent. Wrap the trunks of young trees in September to protect from bucks when they rub the velvet from their antlers in the Fall.
  4. Scare Tactics: Install lighting with motion sensors in your garden. You can also get devices that shoot water when a motion detector is tripped, and baited, battery-operated stakes that shock the nose of curious deer. Of course, a diligent dog can be wonderfully effective! If you don't have the time or inclination to stay on high alert for deer damage, our partner company Deer Solution Repellent (888)503-8313 offers a deer repellent service. Call for a free estimate and mention Stony Brook Gardens to get your first spray free. Best of luck in your battle against deer damage!