In the garden

Choosing the right tree

Fall is the ideal time to plant a new tree. The right tree planted in the right place on your property can give you years of pleasure and enhance your property’s value should you decide to sell your home. The key is to make sure you choose the right tree for the place you want to plant.

“Begin with a site analysis,” says Henrico Extension Agent Lisa Sanderson. “The principles are much the same for any landscape design project.”

Start with the soil. It’s helpful to know the pH of your soil, so you may want to do a soil test. Remember that Henrico residents can get two free soil tests each year. Soil test kits are available at Henrico public libraries and at the Extension Office.

Look, too, at the texture of your soil. Is it clayey, loamy, or sandy? Is it compacted? And how well does it drain?

“You need to know what you’re dealing with,” says Sanderson. “Some trees like a tupelo can tolerate poor drainage, and some can’t.”

The climate in our area is another consideration. Henrico is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7 where the average extreme minimum temperature is 0-10 degrees Fahrenheit and in American Horticultural Society Heat Zone 7 where the temperature exceeds 86 degrees Fahrenheit from 60 to 90 days each year.

“Lots of trees will do really well in our area,” says Sanderson, “but some do better with our climate than others. River Birch, for example, seems to do better than White Birch in our climate.” Sunlight is another important factor. Not all trees do well in bright sun. Local favorites such as dogwoods, red buds, and sourwoods usually prefer a shadier location near the edges of forests or other stands of trees.

“It never fails,” says Sanderson. “People love dogwoods, and they plant them right in the middle of their yards where they get full sun and then wonder why they don’t do well.”

Trees need about an inch of water each week during the first year “establishment period,” so making sure you have access to water either with an existing irrigation system or a convenient water hose can save a lot of work.

And, of course, trees grow so you need to have enough space not only for the size of the tree today but to accommodate how large it will be in a decade. If you’re putting your tree near existing trees, you’ll also need to consider how large those trees are going to get, and make sure you have enough space to accommodate the needs of all the trees in your yard.

The other trees in the area that are doing well can serve as “indicator plants” to help you assess the conditions in your yard and choose a tree that will do well there.

Good checklists for accessing your site are available online and the Virginia Cooperative Extension has an excellent publication, “Problem-free Trees for Virginia Landscapes” on it’s website,, to help you choose the trees that best suit the space you have to plant. And you can call Lisa Sanderson at the Henrico Extension Office at 501-5160.

Patient First to offer free Halloween candy x-rays

Patient First will offer free digital X-ray imaging of Halloween candy at all neighborhood medical centers from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 29 through Oct. 31.

While an adult should always inspect candy before allowing a child to enjoy their trick-or-treating rewards, the free X-ray offer gives parents an additional precaution to consider and to provide peace of mind. X-rays may detect objects such as glass, metal or plastic; however, parents still need to provide supervision, since some foreign materials may not appear in x-rays. > Read more.

Reynolds CC to host sculptor Paul DiPasquale

Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.

Theme for this year’s Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter announced

The theme for the annual Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Lakeside has been announced.

This year's event, which opens Nov. 25 and will continue through Jan. 9, will explore "Living Color" and show how the world's kaleidoscope of colors speaks to people, impacts nature and influences culture, according to Garden officials. The event features more than a half million lights, botanical decorations, trains, holiday dinners, family activities and more. > Read more.


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Tom Leonard’s free Friday Night Movie at the Pumpkin Patch concludes with “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” at 7 p.m. in the outdoor haybale theater. There will be cider and hot chocolate. Friday night movies are held every Friday in October. Tom Leonard’s is located at 4150 Tom Leonard Dr. near Short Pump. For details, call 364-5800 or visit Full text

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