Now is not the time…..

This time of year our customers often ask if it is a good time to trim thered treeir shrubbery.  After a fantastic growing season, many shrubs have “above normal” new growth and homeowners worry about their plants becoming too big.  Although this is true, there is really little additional growth after the middle of July (most plants will stay the same size until next spring’s growth flush).  When shrubs are pruned, new growth is stimulated.  By pruning shrubs in middle and late summer, we take the risk of this new growth not being hardened off and ready for fall frost.  If this happens, many shrubs will be damaged and will turn black after the first killing frost.

Remember these rules of thumb:  Flowering shrubs should always be pruned after flowering has ceased for the year.  Ideally, evergreens should be pruned just as they enter their growth flush in the spring.  It never hurts to “pinch” shrubs to encourage the more desirable shape.

Pesky Weed Control

Frequently, we run into homeowners who are frustrated in staying ahead of weeds germinating in their landscaping beds.  Because of this year’s great growing season with above average rainfall, like turf, weeds grow faster than ever.  Many homeowners try to combat this by hand pulling weeds out of the mulch beds.  Often this is anti-productive because breaking the weed roots leaves sections of root intact in the ground and merely serves to propagate the weed.  It would be much easier and more effective to spray undesired vegetation with Roundup (glycophosphate).   By using this systemic herbicide, the entire plant is killed.  The easiest and most economical way to handle this product for homeowners is to purchase a backpack sprayer and a 2.5 gallon container of Roundup.   This size container offers a great price advantage and is usually sold in more concentrated formulas.   Roundup has a long shelf life (several years) as long as it is not allowed to freeze.  By using a backpack sprayer, a person can work more efficiently because the weight of the pesticide container is spread evenly across their shoulders making it possible to carry more herbicide at a time.   The upright posture is much more comfortable and the sprayer can be pumped while walking, eliminating the need to stop and pump.

Spot herbicide spraying should become part of routine maintenance.  Every third or fourth time the lawn is mowed, the homeowner should selectively spray for weeds in plant beds.   As always, standard precautions should be taken regarding personal safety and avoiding spray drift.  Roundup is most effective at killing grass like weeds but does a reasonable job when sprayed on the foliage of most plants.  To avoid herbicide damage, hold the spray nozzle close to ground level pointed away from the desirable, ornamental plant material.  It is helpful to use the outside of your leg to hold shrub branches back and then spray inside your ankle.  Back pack sprayers and Roundup can make quick work of pesky weeds!

Do I continue to water after all of the rain?

and the answer is….YES!  With all the rain it may seem like watering is wasteful and unnecessary.  Yet, when the sun shines and the wind blows – plants, especially new plantings, dry out quickly.  The rule of thumb:  new plants should be watered twice weekly under normal summer conditions.  Evergreen plants typically require lesser amounts of water while large, flat leaf, deciduous plants require more.  In rainy conditions we often expect plants to have a greater water supply than they really do.  Remember that plants draw a water reserve from the 3, 5, 7, or sometimes 15  gallon container root ball they were grown in.  When the supply of water is consumed, the plant will begin to wilt regardless of how much available moisture is sitting beyond that root ball.   Consequently, new plants still require watering during rainy periods for maximum health and growth.  Established plants have roots that extend far beyond their original growing container,  therefore, supplementary water is not as critical.  Keep in mind that when plants are heavily mulched, it takes a lot of rain (more than an inch) to penetrate the surface and hydrate the root system.  The first signs of wilting appear in the form of soft, silvery, floppy leaves on the new growth.  Watching for this is helpful during the summer months.  Evergreens will not show this.    Hopefully this will help you  understand which plants need water and why shrubs and trees need supplemental watering, even during rainy periods.