Changing conditions

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A large Norway maple once shaded the shrub islands on my front lawn; it blew down this spring, and now a small oak replaces it. Those islands, planted with shade lovers, get too much sun now and are suffering drought stress as a result.

When conditions change, garden care must change as well. And changing conditions can make a sustainable garden less sustainable, at least for a while. When you put up an addition, or trees outgrow their site, or a tree comes down, conditions change drastically for plants. You may be able to adapt your plantings (plant more sun-lovers, for example); if not, you’ll certainly have to adapt your care routine. It will probably be 5 years or more before this swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) supplies much-needed shade to these islands. I’ll need to provide supplemental water during dry spells for the whole time. I had almost never watered these beds before. Now, during this very dry summer, I’ve had to water every couple of weeks.

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