Emerson Gardening Services
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much do you charge?
A: My 2022 rate is $70 an hour including tax for landscape design and guidance, installation, pruning, and general maintenance. I can provide names of others at lower rates ($30 to $40 an hour), and summer high school students at $15-$20 an hour. You would contract with them directly. They would do things like dig out shrubs, move rocks and sword ferns, edge the lawn, dig out blackberries, weed gravel driveways, dig planting holes for new trees and shrubs, and haul away the branches I prune.
Please note; I charge for the time I answer your questions in between visits. I am your garden consultant, and have many resources at my disposal, but it sometimes takes a little time to look them up, and be sure of my answer for you.
Q: Do you have a nursery, too?
A: Yes. My husband and I now have a small WA state licensed nursery. We grow native plants, medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, and perennial food plants. We sell our plants in person at the Vashon Farmers Market in April and May, and once a month in June, July, August, Sept and Oct. We also sell to my gardening clients, and through the Farmers Market Online sales site: www.sourcewhatsgood.com We will keep this site updated with current availability of our plants. You can order our plants there, and pick them up at the Farmers Market in Vashon Town.
Q: Can you trim shrubs the way I like them?
A: Absolutely. Most clients prefer a natural look. This requires going inside the shrub and finding the appropriate branch to cut, to reduce overall size without the shrub looking like it got a bad haircut. Sometimes a bush trimmed as a hedge needs to be rejuvenated to a more natural look. I can do that, but it is not done in one pruning. If a shrub has been sheared for a number of years, there is usually only dead branches in the interior of the shrub. It takes several years to open up the shrub and get new growth going inside the old shrub, before the oldest branches on the outside can be removed to reveal the beautiful new shrub inside the old one.
Some clients prefer some of their shrubs to look clipped, as a single shrub or as an even hedge. I can do that as well. It is important with hedges that they be trimmed so they are narrower on the top than the bottom. This allows the bottom leaves to get light, so the hedge has leaves all the way to the ground. If a hedge has gotten out of control, and is bare on the bottom, it can often be renewed through careful pruning and time to recover.
In addition, I have completed the University of Washington's Master Pruner classes, co-sponsored with Plant Amnesty. These are a series of classes and workshops covering:
- Rose Pruning: hybrid teas, climbers and landscape roses.
- Fruit Tree Pruning
- Tree Pruning I: The science and biology behind tree pruning with minimal injury to the tree.
- Tree Pruning II: The "how-to's" for making good cuts, structural pruning for trees of any age, pruning standards
- and crown restoration.
- How to Prune and Renovate the Overgrown Landscape: Basic pruning and creative solutions for the overgrown and over planted landscape.
- Five Easy Plants to Prune: nandina, evergreen azalea, lilac, camellia and yew
- Pruning Art or Pruning Atrocity? Three forms of mal-pruning compared with bona-fide examples of pruning art such as pleaching, pollarding and coppicing
- Difficult Plants to Prune: Basic pruning techniques, common mistakes, and corrective pruning for Rhododendron, Hydrangea, Callicarpa, Viburnum bodnantense and Abelia
- Vine Pruning: wisteria, clematis, Boston ivy, Virginia creeper, honeysuckle and trumpet vine.
- Japanese Garden Pruning: Specialized pruning techniques for Japanese maples, bamboo, cloud pruning of pines and tamamono
- The Shearables, Hackables, and Untouchables
- Rehabilitative Pruning: advanced class on how to restore mal-pruned trees and shrubs
Q: I need a lower maintenance yard or garden. Can you help?
A: Yes. Sometimes a garden becomes high maintenance because of how it has been designed: too many specimen plantings, for example, or no lawn edging, or it has tight corners not good for mowing around, or other reasons. We can work on re-designing your garden for lower maintenance.
Sometimes a garden is high maintenance because of summer watering needs. I can help design and install a drip irrigation system for you, and bring in mulch where needed.
Sometimes a garden is high maintenance because of weeding. I can remove weeds, replace them with plants you want, and also put down cardboard and mulch (called sheet mulching) to kill whole areas of the garden filled with weeds, with very little work. Then, after 6 months or so, you can plant through the mulch and cardboard.
Q: I want my garden/property to be managed organically. What is your experience there?
A: I have been gardening organically all my life. I subscribed to Organic Gardening magazine when I was 15 years old. More recently, my husband, Michael Laurie, and I have worked together to reduce the use of toxic pesticides on Vashon. We have created both a website: http://gardengreen.webs.com/ with lots of great resources for people, and a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OrganicPNW/
Q: My Laceleaf Japanese maple looks like a mop. I can see the trunk only in the winter. Can you fix it without hurting it?
A: Yes. The ideal is to be able to see the trunk through the lacy branches, without pruning too much, or too little. It usually takes three years to convert a mop-like laceleaf maple that looks like 'Cousin It' into a beautiful work of art. If you prune too much in any year, you can easily kill the tree. So it must be done over time.
Q: When should I prune my apple tree?
A: It depends. If you have an old apple tree with not much vigor, prune it in the winter when it is dormant. And never take off more than 25% of the live wood. You can prune deadwood off the tree any time of year, and don't need to worry about how much deadwood you take off. You can tell if a branch is dead by nicking the bark with your fingernail or a clipper. If it is green just underneath the surface, the branch is alive, and will count toward that 25% pruning budget.
If your apple tree has lots of vigor, and tends to put up a lot of 'water sprouts' after you prune it, then you should do some of the pruning in July, to reduce the number of sprouts it will generate the following year. There is more to this, of course, but this is a start...