Over 50 articles on new Web Site

There are over 50 landscape and garden articles arranged by topic now on the web site: naturalpruningnw.com. As I promised, the primary purpose of the web site is to provide reliable landscape and garden information for the Pacific Northwest. There is also space to leave questions or comments below individual articles.

Leaf Diseases

Roses should have their first application of fungicide soon to protect against black spot, mildew and rust leaf diseases. Flowering cherries, peaches, photinia, and dogwood are also plagued by their own leaf spot diseases. It is important to clean up and dispose of old leaves of these plants because they are a source of spores for reinfection. The ideal application time is just as new leaves are developing. Peaches and nectarines must be sprayed when new leaves are just emerging to prevent peach leaf curl. Organic gardeners can use lime-sulfur (calcium polysulfide), Copper Sulfate or Neem oil. Three systemic fungicides are Propiconazole, Myclobutanil, and Tebuconazole. Propiconazole is available in Ferti-lome Systemic Fungicide. Myclobutanil is in Spectracide Immunex Fungicide. Tebuconazole is in Bayer All-in-One Rose and Flower Care and Bayer Disease Control for Roses, Flowers and Shrubs. These 3 systemic fungicides stop disease development in already infected leaves as well as protecting new uninfected leaves. Daconil and Chlorothalonil are also widely available and effective, but are not systemic and therefore protect only new uninfected leaves. In most cases you will have to look at the list of ingredients to find the technical, chemical names. We can apply any of these fungicides for you.

Improving Soil with Organic Matter

Before you plant new lawns, flowers, vegetables or shrubs, improve your soil by adding organic matter. No matter what kind of soil you have, you can make it better by adding organic matter. Use your own compost made from grass clippings and leaves. The least expensive and most readily available organic material is bark dust. Peat moss, coconut fiber, and sawdust can also be incorporated into the soil whenever you plant. Sawdust can cause nitrogen shortages if you do not add extra nitrogen when it is applied. Organic matter should be added to the entire planting area. Scatter one to three inches over a bed and spade or till it into the soil. This mixes it with existing soil uniformly instead of leaving pockets of amendment. More bark dust or chunks can be applied on top of the soil around your plants as a mulch.

Row Covers and Wall-O-Water for Heat Loving Vegetables

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons, and cucumbers do not like our cool spring temperatures. However, Wall-O-Water and row covers raise temperature around the plants by 10 or more degrees, and they really start to grow. They make it possible to plant some of these tender, heat loving vegetables a month or so earlier than normal. Wall-O-Water is a circular jacket with water pockets which you place around individual plants. The water absorbs heat during the daytime, and gives it off at night. The extra warmth at night is particularly effective in stimulating faster growth. Row covers or plastic tunnels are often made from clear polyethylene. Pieces of heavy wire, bent into hoops, can be used to support the plastic. Floating row covers need no support. They are woven like cloth and are light in weight, so they use the plants for support. They also have the advantage of porosity, allowing rain and irrigation water to flow through. If you do not find these growing aids at local stores, try territorialseed.com and johnnyseeds.com.

Individual Pruning Lessons

Most of you know that I specialize in natural pruning. Many may not remember that I also teach natural pruning on an individual basis on your own plants. So if you like to do your own pruning, but would like to develop some better skills, give me a call or email. I also do “renovation” re-landscaping, where I replace old overgrown shrubs with dwarf new ones.

Expanded Lawn Care Services

In partnership with Randy Riley, who has worked with me for several years, we are now offering complete weekly lawn and yard care services including mowing, trimming and edging. This can be expanded to include lawn aeration and thatch control, fertilization, weed control, pest control, moss control, pruning, flower planting and maintenance and bark and mulch application. You can now get the same high quality of care for all your landscape maintenance needs. For more information visit naturalpruningnw.com.

Seed New Lawns

Lawns can be planted from sod almost any time the soil is not frozen. However, spring and fall are the best times to plant lawns from seed. The top of the soil should be kept constantly moist after grass seed is planted. During hot weather that means sprinkling several times a day. Natural rainfall will take care of most of your watering in the spring, especially if you cover seed with bark dust. Last year I planted a new lawn with Pro-Time Supreme Mix which contains Julius Kentucky Bluegrass. I am pleased with the result. Most varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass do not thrive in the Northwest. However, Julius is adapted to our mild winters and makes a beautiful lawn combined with perennial ryegrass.

Control Blackberries Now

The wild Himalayan blackberry is one of the most difficult weedy plants to control in the Pacific Northwest. Blackberry vines are so difficult to control because established plants spread by nodes – or small underground buds – that grow off established blackberry vine roots. No matter how much of the plant you remove, you’ll miss a few nodes that will soon develop into new vines. Blackberry vines are able to root from the tips of stems at certain times of the year. In early autumn, near the end of the spring-summer growth period, long vines arch over and wherever they hit the ground the tips of the vines take root, creating new plants that will sprout up the following spring. Blackberries are also spread by seeds. Birds eat the fruit and the seeds pass through their digestive tract and are deposited in their droppings.

So how do you control a plant that has so many ways to survive? Cut the vines back to ground level, especially during the spring when the plant is most actively growing. Removing the aboveground part of the vine keeps the plant from manufacturing the sugars it needs to sustain vigorous growth. Cutting vines back continually will eventually kill the plant, although it may take some time.

Brush killer containing Triclopr is readily absorbed by blackberry leaves. The herbicide is translocated through the stems to the roots and kills the entire plant. One application is never enough to completely eliminate blackberries. Some regrowth will occur and repeat applications will need to be made as new growth develops.