Category Archives: TimberPine

Urban Columnar Apples Are Hot!

Are you looking for an apple tree that is perfect for that small space?  You can grow this tree on your patio, deck or even in your flower bed.   The new Urban™ Columnar Apples are your answer to the problem.  Introduced to the market in 2011 by Garden Debut® these trees grow 8-10 ft tall and only 2 ft wide.  They have short branches and grow straight up.  The flowers are pink in color.  They are USDA zone 4-9. 

There are 4 varieties of the Urban™ Columnar Apples:

Tasty Red™ -Bright red with sweet flavor

Blushing Delight™-Red green fruit with sweet flavor

Golden Treat™-green gold apples that are tart but get sweeter with age

Tangy Green™- Lime green fruit with crisp tart flavor

You will need two for cross-pollination.  Supplies will be limited this year so if you are looking for these please come early.  

I am trying these in my garden and so far I have been impressed.

For more information on these and other great new plants you can go to



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Water New Plantings Well Before Winter

Hidden in the beautiful fall days we have enjoyed lurks a killer of new plantings.  We have had a very dry fall and the subsoil moisture is almost non-existent.  The cracks you see on the surface of the ground allow air to infiltrate the root zone of your newly planted tree or shrub.  Taking time to water  before the ground freezes will make your tree much happier in the spring.  Watering just an inch a week from now until the ground freezes solid may mean the difference between a live tree in the spring or one that looks like it belongs in a horror film.  For evergreen shrubs and trees watering is essential as they continue their search for moisture during the winter using up their reserves. 

Remember, healthy trees are happy trees and happy trees make for happy homeowners.


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Pumpkin Fest…Weekend Fun for the Whole Family

Pumpkin Fest has kicked off here at TimberPine.  Come on out and roast some marshmallows at one of our fire pits.  Take a hayrack ride to the pumpkin patch.  Let the kids play in the Fun Zone while you stroll through our nursery and check out all the beautiful fall foliage.  Play frisbee golf on our nine-hole course.  Saturday from 10-4 and Sunday 12-4.  Purchase your mums, pumpkins and other Fall decorations while you are here.


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Ewww, Japanese Beetles!

Is something chewing your hibiscus?  Has your linden tree been stripped bare? 

It seems that central Iowa has received a gift from the eastern states in the form of the Japanese Beetle.  This little guy is a voracious eater and can strip a plant bare of leaves in a matter of days.  They are very difficult to control because they spend their youth as a grub in the ground and then upon emergence they live in the tops of trees or on your shrubs mating and flying to the ground to lay their eggs.  The best method of control is to take a plastic grocery bag out to your garden and tap the adults into it.  I usually squash them and throw the entire bag into the trash. I recommend that you do this in the early morning while they are still sluggish.  The warmer it gets the more likely they are to fly away upon approach.

You can use chemicals to try to control them; but, because of their living arrangements it can be difficult to get good control.  Grub control, applied in July or early August and containing the AI Imidacloprid should help with the grubs.  Ortho Home Max Defence containing Bifenthrin as the AI will help with the adults but it will also take out beneficial insects as well so you should use it carefully.

You can spot the adult version of this little guy because of its metallic green head and bronze body but the most distinctive marking is the 6 white “butt” hairs on each side of the body.  An adult is about 5/16th of an inch long.

It is not suggested that you put out traps for these things as they will actually attract more of these beetles than you already have.


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‘Linesville Arborvitae’ Plant of the Month

This little gem is the very best in the line of small evergreens that handle our winter weather.  At 2’x2′ the ‘Linesville’ will make a very nice addition to your foundation planting or lining a walkway as a border.  We have had them growing out here at TimberPine for several years now.  They are in an area where they are subjected to a variety of conditions including salt from the sidewalk in the winter.  This plant has thrived in those conditions and wormed it’s way into the hearts of our designers with it’s no quit attitude.

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Growing Your Own Fresh Veggies

As a child, I remember walking through grandmother’s garden.  The whole thing was huge and ringed with marigolds to keep the bugs and rabbits out (not sure if that trick works or not).  The rows were neat and weed free and everything that the family would eat during the winter was growing there.  In my mother’s slightly smaller garden, I learned how to keep the rows weed free with a hoe and a lot of hard work in the hot summer sun.  As an adult, I live on a lot in the city where there is not enough space for a huge garden.   However, I still want to grow some of my own food.  Let’s be honest, it just tastes better than the produce you buy at the store.  I am going to give you some tips on how to grow your own veggies in a small space. 

Choose a good location for your garden.  This should be an area with 6-8 hours of sun light.  To prepare the soil remove the grass or sod growing in that area.  You can place this in your compost pile to break down for use in your garden next year.  Dig up the soil with a garden fork or tiller and add 2” of organic matter or compost.  Fluff the soil again until it is loose and crumbly.  Your “bed” is now ready.

When deciding which plants to grow you have two choices, either start them from seed or let someone else do the work and start with a small plant.  If you’re starting with a small plant, it is important to purchase your plants from a local nursery that you trust.  Though the box stores might have cheaper product you can never tell what diseases they might be selling as well.…/Plant_Disease_Threatens_Tomatoes_and_Potatoes

Great plants for beginners would be tomatoes, bush beans, peppers, and cucumbers.  You can grow early spring crops of leaf lettuce and peas. 

Plant at least 2 but no more than 3 plants of every plant; unless you have a huge family or plan on canning or freezing the excess.  Plant the plants with enough space to grow, 2 to 3’ spacing for tomatoes.  3’ space for cucumber etc.  I let my cucumber vine trail through the tomatoes to keep the weeds down.  After planting, you should water carefully and soak the soil at least 1” deep.  I place newspaper in between the rows and cover them with grass clippings to reduce the weed growth .  After all, who has time to weed a garden these days?  This will break down over time and you can till the organic matter back into the garden in the spring.

Keep an eye out for insects and disease.  If you remove the insect by hand, you can reduce the need for chemical control.  If you have to spray you should use an organic product.

It is always good to remember that any chemical product will leave a residue which you will then consume, not a good thing if you want to live a long life.  For fertilizer you have several organic options.  Cow or poultry manure can be applied to the soil and worked in before planting or you can use topdressing of fish emulsion or bone meal. 

With these tips you can grow enough food for fresh salsa, BLT’s minus the B of course, or a cucumber salad in a space as small as 10’x10’.  Pick and enjoy!

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To Fertilize or Not to Fertilize, That is the Question

To fertilize or not to fertilize; that is the question. 

At TimberPine we receive this question at least once a day and sometimes more.  I am going to walk you through the answers you should receive from any of our sales people you might talk to.

Customer, “When should I fertilize this new tree I just purchased?”

Sales Person, “All of our trees are treated with a slow release fertilizer early in the spring before the leaves come out.  Because this is an 8-9 month fertilizer, you will not need to fertilize this year.”

Anytime you purchase a new tree ask the sales person when it was last fertilized.  Over fertilizing can harm your tree and the environment.   You should use a root  stimulater to give them a little jump-start when planting and add water and mulch to help your tree get off on the right root 🙂

Customer, “When should I fertilize any existing trees I have?”

Sales Person, “Fertilization should be done early spring before the leaves start to shoot.  If you have very sandy soil you should apply half of the yearly rate in March and the other half in May.” If you live in Iowa the likelihood of you having sandy soil is very slim unless you live near a river.  Most soil here is a clay loam.  In new housing developments, you just have clay.

Timing is very important when fertilizing trees and shrubs.  This is the reason that we do not recommend fertilizing in the fall.  If you apply fertilizer too early in the fall you can cause new growth that will not be hardened off in time for winter, this will cause die back on your branches. 

You shouldn’t need to fertilize existing trees every year.  Fertilization is recommended every 2 to 3 years for deciduous trees and 4 to 6 years for evergreens.   There are several factors to consider before you apply any type of fertilizer.

  1. 1.        Do you fertilize your lawn?  If so your tree probably already receives enough nutrients.  Before you make an application to the tree you should take a soil sample.  Follow this link for soil sample info:
  2. 2.       Is the tree showing any symptoms of nutrient deficiencies?    ie

Yellow leaves with interior veins areas remaining green, marginal leaf browning, smaller leaves or reduced twig growth.  If we are seeing these things you may need to fertilize.  First take a soil sample as mentioned above.  Next, look at the shoot growth from last year.   How did it grow? Since you are probably doing this in early spring before the leaves are out start at the tip of the branch and measure back until you can see a bump and often a change in color, this is the new growth.  If the new growth is 6 inches + you probably do not need to fertilize.  If it is 2 inches or less and the soil sample recommends it you should go ahead and fertilize.  (This will not hold true with slow-growing trees such as Oaks.)


 On certain trees you might not notice problems until the leaves are on the tree and they are yellow.  You might see this on trees such as birch, pin oak, bald cypress, crabapple, elm, and London planetree just to name a few.   This is usually a sign of iron chlorosis. 

Please read more about chlorosis at:

To correct this problem you can:

  1.  Spray leaves with iron chelate.  This is a form of iron that can be taken up by the leaves.  This is only a short-term fix, only lasting one season.  It is ok to apply this during the year just follow the label on the bottle. 
  2. Decrease the soil pH by applying a powdered sulfur application.  Check the above link for suggested rates from Iowa State University or contact TimberPine.  We can help you green up your trees.  This is a more costly application, but it should last for 2 to 3 years.

Most of the information above was for deciduous trees.  Let me give you just a small shot on the evergreens.  They prefer an acidic soil.  Here in Iowa we have a more alkaline soil.  You will often see these trees showing yellow needles and having stunted growth.  They are reacting to the iron being tied up in the soil and not being able to take it up.  I would suggest using a fertilizer for acid loving plants when fertilizing any evergreen.

There are several methods to fertilize your trees.  I am going to touch on three.

  1. A broadcast of fertilizer is the cheapest and most efficient way to go.  It also takes the least time; just spread it and water it in.
  2. Fertilizer spikes work but in a slower fashion and they can be expensive.  You drill holes around the drip line of the trees and place the spikes.  The coverage is spotty with this method.
  3. The third method is hydraulic injection.  Fertilizer is injected into the ground on 3 ft intervals in a grid pattern.  This method is extremely expensive and often cost prohibitive.

For my money the broadcast method has never let me down.

Customer, “What type of fertilizer should I use?”

Sales Person, “After looking at the nutrient need recommended by your soil sample, choose the best fertilizer to fit your needs.  If you just want to shoot into the dark and skip the soil sample a good 10-10-10  fertilizer will work.”

Always remember to read and follow all label directions.  The old “if 1 tsp is good 2 must be better” is not the method to follow when working with any chemical.

Happy Growing.

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