While it may be hard to believe, spring is on its way. Here are five tips to help you prepare your lawn and shrubbery for the growing season ahead.
Make sure you wear proper safety gear and make three simple cuts. Make your first cut at a slight angle, no more than two-thirds into the tree. Make a second cut to form a wedge. Then make a final cut on the opposite side, cutting into the wedge from above. Cut carefully, watch for the wind, and the tree will fall safely away from you.
Trees that lose their leaves in the fall (i.e., deciduous) are the most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. The height, growth rate, branch spread, and shape are all factors to consider in choosing a tree.
Deflect winter winds by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house; deflect summer winds by planting on the south and west sides of your house.
Pruning cuts should be made so that only branch tissue is removed and stem tissue is not damaged. At the point where the branch attaches to the stem, branch and stem tissues remain separate, but are contiguous. If only branch tissues are cut when pruning, the stem tissues of the tree will probably not become decayed, and the wound will seal more effectively.
Put a large mulched circle over the roots of new trees and shrubs, but do not mound bark mulch up around the trunk. Trees and shrubs grown under mulch develop stronger roots and are healthier. Be aware that mulch should be no more than 2-3 inches total or plant health can suffer.
Water new trees once a week, regularly, during the first season, with l0 gallons of water. More for large trees. Pour the water down the trunks so it goes into the root ball, not along the top of the ground. In addition, whenever the leaves droop down or it is very hot, water again and mist the tops with the hose. Do not fertilize the first year.
Water new shrubs once a week the first summer with 5 to l0 gallons of water for each depending on the size of the bush. Take care to get the water under any mulch, which absorbs a great deal of moisture and robs the soil below. Pour water right down the stems so it goes into the root ball, and does not run off on the ground. During very hot sunny days, spray the tops and water lightly in addition to the weekly deep watering. Do not fertilize the first year, except possibly for half strength liquid fertilizer at planting time, or plant rooting hormone additives one can use. Fertilize normally the second year in the spring.
Keep the trees and shrubs around your pool trimmed back to minimize the amount of leaves and debris that end up in the pool.
Wet snow that accumulates on tree and shrub branches can bend them over. Some may break and so must be removed. Bending damages the bark and cambium tissue, leading to cankers or death of the stem the following growing season. Shrubs that would collapse under heavy snow loads can be protected or supported. To protect small shrubs, place crates or wooden frames over them in the fall. The crate or the slats on the frame will support some of the snow load. Taller shrubs can be wrapped with cord. Tie the cord to the base of a stem and then wind it around the shrub. The tied bundle of stems will help support one another.