by Lynn Richardson, vice-chair, Woodcroft Eco-friendly Landscape Committee; member, New Hope Audubon Bird-friendly Habitat Committee
Fall Is for Planting
In Piedmont North Carolina, fall is the best time to add new plants to your yard. Cooler air and soil temperatures reduce stress on plants and encourage root growth. Next summer when temperatures are soaring, the larger root systems will help fall-planted trees, shrubs, perennial flowers perform better than those added in spring. For great tips on how to assess conditions in your yard and how to improve your soil, follow this link: https://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/2017/09/fall-is-the-best-time-to-plant-trees-and-shrubs/ Plant a native plant or two this fall and increase your yard’s biodiversity!
Don’t Miss the North Carolina Botanical Garden Fall Plant Sale
Just in time for fall planting—Choose from a wide variety of southeastern native wildflowers, shrubs, trees, vines, and ferns.
Friday, September 27, 4:00-7:00 Members only plant sale preview party with 10% discount on plant purchases. Join at the door.
Saturday, September 28, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
North Carolina Botanical Garden, 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill 27517
Go Native with a Privacy Screen
by Leslie Fiddler
Do you and your neighbor share an interest in landscaping with native plants? The space between your houses offers an opportunity to remove invasive plants and plant native. Be it a privacy screen or a hedgerow, UNC-Charlotte’s Urban Institute and local landscape architect Preston Montague have suggestions. Montague suggests planting native trees (redbud, fringe tree, or dogwood) and filling in the spaces with blueberry bushes. For success follow the rule of thumb, “Right plant, right place,” and ask Woodcroft’s ARB committee for approval before planting. For information about planting a native evergreen hedge, follow this link: https://ui.uncc.edu/story/nc-piedmont-native-evergreens-better-invasive-plants
Nandina has been used as a landscape plant in the South since the 1800s. Once a staple of southern gardens and still widely cultivated, it has jumped the fence and is now invading woodlands across the Southeast, including Woodcroft.
One plant can produce hundreds of bright red berries that birds spread far and wide. The berries germinate, seedlings grow and multiply, and soon native plants that belong in our woods are displaced. Another good reason to eliminate nandina is that the fruits contain low levels of cyanide, which can kill birds who gorge themselves.
It’s easy to cut the berries off in the fall to prevent seed distribution. Just remember to do it before they’re a tempting bright red that attracts the birds! You can also find varieties that produce little or no fruit. Here’s a list: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/nandina/ .
Even better, plant a native shrub instead! Larry Mellichamp’s Native Plants of the Southeast is a fantastic guide to the 460 best native species for the Southeast. You can order it from Amazon or check it out at the Durham County Library.
How to Remove Nandina
Seedlings and small shrubs are easy to pull by hand. Waiting until after a rain makes the job easier. Larger shrubs can be dug up, although this can be difficult. The simplest way to remove full-grown shrubs is to cut them to the ground and immediately paint the stumps with concentrated Roundup (not the diluted form that is sprayed on leaves). Carefully painting it on with a small brush rather than spraying allows you to use only a small amount and limit it to a small area. Cover what’s left of the plant with a bucket for a couple of weeks until the herbicide breaks down. Cut or spray sprouts that recur.
Another good reason to remove non-native plants that produce berries: Native berries have the protein and nutrients for our native birds need; non-native berries do not. Migrating birds can starve to death with a craw full of non-native berries. Native bird superfoods include Virginia creeper, pokeberry, and viburnums.