Building Ponds and Planning Landscapes

Building Ponds and Planning Landscapes….

Dear DownEast Gardener;

      I have about 2-3 acres that was farmland that I want to landscape next to a simple old shotgun-style house that I am remodeling. I have let it grow up in weeds because I do not know where to start. I am a do-it-yourself person, but am lost on this one. I know I want; nut, fruit trees, blueberries, pond, dogwoods, lots of trees, but fairly low maintenance.  There is clay not too far down, low land, has a drainage pipe crossing the property.  Will the drainage pipe prevent a pond from being a possibility?  There is one area that water stands? Is that the best place for the pond or does it matter? Janice


Answer: You are asking a lot of great questions. First, we all recognize the importance of planning the design of a house: deciding placement and size of living space, sleeping areas, eating areas, and recreation areas but folks tend to forget that a good landscape requires the same planning. Landscapes are more than plants, they include public, private, and utility areas, as well as, hardscape features than increase the enjoyment of the environment, enhance the beauty of the land, and your home. Landscape architects are trained licensed professionals that will help you determine the design that best fits your budget, lifestyle, and needs. In the long term, you will be better off to request and pay for professional help to design the area and then install or subcontract the installation yourself.

For free advice on pond feasibility contact the Natural Resource Conservation Service (910-253-2830) and Ag Extension (910-253-2610), they can advise you on soil suitability and provide publications on construction and design.


Dear DownEast Gardener;

     I love your show on Saturday. Last year, I planted two Burbank Plum trees and two Pineapple Pear trees. The card with each tree suggested fertilizing in spring before new growth. I noticed today that the new buds are already popping out (I guess it's because of the unseasonable temperatures we have been having). Should I wait until March/April to fertilize? Also, is any pruning necessary for the new plants or should I just let them grow for a while? The plum trees have really stretched out 2-3 feet. What type of fertilizer do you recommend? You mentioned a product (Oil) that smothers insects and fungus etc. but I cannot remember the name. Will it work on the worms that build in Pecan trees too? Thanks D.L.


Answer: Thanks for watching the show. The best time for fertilizing fruit trees is several weeks prior to bud break in the spring. Plant roots stay active all winter long and will absorb nutrients when ever water and temperature are favorable. For backyard fruit trees, consider using slow release type fertilizer products (like Osmocote18-6-12, fertilizer stakes, or equivalent) for optimal growth and fruit yield. More important than fertilizing is proper pruning. Without proper pruning, plants will never develop the stem architecture or flower wood needed to produce a healthy crop. Plants should be pruned at planting and EVERY year after. The following publication can be downloaded and will describe in detail how to prune your trees (

     Dormant oil (e.g. Volck Dormant Oil) is great stuff if applied properly to the plant during the winter for control of scale insects, attached eggs, and hibernating critters. The product coats the insect with oil and smothers it. Dormant oil is not effective on pecan worms since they spend the winter pupated in the ground beneath the pecan tree. The product is only effective on those pests living on the stems of the tree.


Dear DownEast Gardener;

I live in a subdivision near Snows Cut Bridge.  What is the last frost date for our area this year?  I need to know for vegetable planting reasons. Thank you. Susan

Answer: The closer you live to the ocean, the longer your growing year. In New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick Counties, properties within a mile of the ocean will get the last killing frost in the third or fourth week of March. The official last killing frost is April 10 based upon weather data collected from the Wilmington International Airport. The best time to plant vegetables in the coastal Carolinas begins in January. Plant potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, collards, broccoli, and related in late January and early February. Snow peas, sweet corn, pole beans, lettuce, and edible pod peas can be started planted in mid-February or early March. Protect young seedlings with plastic tunnels or cold caps.  Most cold sensitive crops (tomato, beans, etc...) can be easily planted by early April. Late planting is certain failure in this area.

     In order to grow vegetables through out the summer, special cultural techniques and routine pesticides schedules must be followed. Plant early and avoid pests and disease problems.


Dear DownEast Gardener;

Once I have sprayed the weeds in the lawn, how long do I need to wait until I can spread grass seed? Along with the killing of weeds, will my bulbs be alright if the weed killer gets on them? April


Answer: Depends on many factors, bulbs species, grass species, soil type, and pesticide product used. Most postemergent herbicides will not affect the germination of grass seeds or bulbs although enough exceptions occur that will require you to be very cautious.  Read the label. If a product will inhibit seed germination, then it will say so on the label. Most products have a toll-free telephone number on the label you can call for additional information. You can also call the local cooperative extension agent for specific recommendations about the product you are using.


            For the curriculum program and or gardening questions, write Dr. Bruce Williams, Brunswick Community College, PO Box 30, Supply, NC 29462 or email