Fall Shrub Sale FAQ

With pick-up day just around the corner for our annual Fall Shrub Sale, our team has taken the time to compile some frequently asked questions about shrubs and our sale. Don’t forget to pre-order your shrubs now for pick-up on October 1st, 2022 between 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Victoria Hills Community Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Shrub Sale work?

The annual Fall Shrub Sale is a great opportunity to source native species that can be hard to find at the nursery. Pre-order your shrubs online, and we will have them available for pick-up on October 1st, 2022 between 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. We source the shrubs from reputable native plant wholesalers.  Our annual Fall Shrub Sale functions as a fundraiser to support local environmental projects that help people live sustainably.   

Why does this sale happen in the fall? How will my shrub respond to being planted in the fall?

Fall is often overlooked as a second gardening season. It is a great time for planting woody species such as shrubs and trees. The shorter days and cooler temperatures provide ideal planting conditions and allow newly planted shrubs to avoid the drought and heat stress of the summer. Planting in the fall also promotes strong root development thanks to the warmer soil following the summer months. This gives the shrubs a chance to establish before winter and get a jump start as they head into the spring.   

How do I ensure I am selecting the right shrub for the right place?

It’s important to make sure that the shrub you choose is suited to the conditions of your yard. In your selection process, take the following questions into consideration to ensure that the right shrub is being planted in the right place:  

a) Does the mature size of the shrub suit the space available in the planting location?  

Shrubs can be a great solution to add greenery to small yards or places with limited space, making a great alternative if you do not have the space to plant a tree.  

Consider the mature width of the shrub in your ideal planting location. Ensure there is enough soft ground surface area free from hard surfaces such as pavement or patio to accommodate the mature root span below ground. Adequate soil volume ensures that the plant receives adequate nutrients, moisture, and oxygen they need to thrive.

Don’t forget to request your utility locates through Ontario One Call before you dig! This is required and helps you to identify the utility lines buried underground in the area.  

If you are planning to plant near the street or driveways, make sure to check your municipal bylaws for the height of vegetation within a certain distance from these areas. This is important to maintain “clear lines of sight”. For example, in the City of Kitchener, shrubs planted near corners and driveways must be less than 3.3ft tall and must not block foot or vehicle traffic (see pg. 10 of Kitchener’s Community Bylaw Guide).

b) Do the soil conditions of the planting location match the preferred soil conditions of the shrub? 

The “jar test” is a method to help you determine whether your soil texture is mostly clay, silt, or sand.   

To complete the jar test:  

  1. Use a clear, clean, empty jar with a tight lid. 
  2. Fill the jar about half way with the soil from your garden.  
  3. Fill the jar just about to the top with water leaving room to shake up the contents of the jar.  
  4. Tighten the lid and shake the jar for several minutes so that all the particles are in suspension.  
  5. Set your jar aside for several hours so the particles have a chance to settle. They will separate into layers of clay, silt, and sand at the bottom of the jar.   

Observe the types of soil in the jar to determine what type of drainage your soil will support:

  • Predominantly silt – well draining
  • Predominantly sand – quick draining
  • Predominantly clay – slow draining

c) Do the sun conditions of the planting location match the preferred sun conditions of the shrub?  

Observe the amount of sun that your ideal planting location receives over the course of a full day:  

  • Full sun – an area that receives between 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. 
  • Partial sun – an area that receives between 4-6 hours of direct afternoon sunlight per day.  
  • Partial shade – an area that receives between 4-6 hours of direct morning sunlight per day.  
  • Full shade – an area that receives less than 4 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Check the plant description on our website (or on the tag that accompanies the plant if you are shopping in a nursery) to ensure the sun conditions match the conditions of your location. 

How do I plant my shrub?

Your new plants should be planted as soon as possible. If there is some delay in planting, store plants in a shady, wind protected area, and keep root area evenly moist. Handle plants gently and use the container or root ball to move the plant. Never hold onto the plant itself. 

Dig your planting hole at least 5” larger than the size of the pot on all sides. The hole should roughly be the same depth as the pot. For shrubs, the finished level of the planted shrub should be the same as it was grown. 

Water your plant thoroughly before removing it from the container. If a light tapping on the sides and bottom of the pot does not release the soil, make two cuts (with a box cutter or similar) the length of the pot on opposite sides and gently pull away the halves. Use your fingers or a knife to gently loosen and spread exposed roots that appear crowded. 

Place the plant in the hole and fill in around plant with the original soil mixed with compost or manure. Tamp the soil down with your hands so the plant is secure. Water thoroughly, then place an even 4″ layer of mulch around the plant.  

For more in-depth information, check out this great resource from Credit Valley Conservation for detailed instructions about planting and caring for your shrub.

How do I care for my shrub?

Water your plants regularly when the soil feels dry to the touch. Ensure the water is reaching at least 3” down into the soil around the root area. Continue this form of watering until the plant is well established and growing – through at least its first summer and during periods of infrequent rain.   

Applying mulch around the planting area is a great way to help the soil retain moisture and foster the soil health through the decomposition of organic matter. Go for a natural, un-dyed organic mulch. Shredded bark, woodchips, and leaves are a great option. Make sure to pull mulch back from the base of the stem applying it in a doughnut formation with a 6-8cm “hole” around the stem.  

Avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers. Instead, if you are keen to provide more nutrients to your shrub, mix a layer of organic compost in with the natural mulch. Both act as a natural fertilizer that feeds the soil as they break down.

My yard is soggy. What should I do?

Planting water-loving shrubs could be a great way to help absorb excess moisture and manage the stormwater on your property. A good option for wet soil conditions would be gray dogwood. They are great for stabilizing soil and can thrive is poorly draining soils.

When do I prune my shrub?

In the first couple of years after planting, only prune dead or diseased branches of your shrub. Once established, it is important to recognize the blooming season of your shrub. As a general rule, wait to prune until after the shrub has finished flowering for the season and the blooms are spent. For example, early spring bloomers should be pruned in late spring to avoid cutting back new buds whereas summer bloomers may prefer to be pruned in the winter while they are dormant.  

Be sure to look into the specific requirements of your shrub.  

Our gardens provide habitat and shelter for insects and wildlife throughout the winter. Leaving spent flowers and fallen leaves in place can help ensure these critters have a safe place to winter.  

Why is it important to plant native species?

Native plant species are well adapted to our soil conditions and climate. For that reason, once they are established, they require little maintenance which in turn saves time, energy, water, fertilizer, and money.  

Native plants are also part of the larger ecosystem of native wildlife and provide habitat and sustenance for native pollinators (such as birds, butterflies, and bees) and other animals. Planting native species supplies natural food sources for birds and other critters. This ecosystem service provides the right nutrients at the right time of year as opposed to bird feeders which can provide low-protein foods or empty calories throughout the year. Planting native species is a great way to help re-create hospitable habitats for native wildlife in our urban environments.  

I want to purchase a shrub, but I’m not available on the pick-up day. Can I arrange another date/time?

No problem! Send us an email at [email protected], and we can arrange an alternative pick-up date and time (within a couple days of October 1st) at the Reep House for Sustainable Living located at 20 Mill St, Kitchener, ON N2G 2Y3. 

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