FLOWERS IN YOUR LAWN

No, I am not talking about dandelions. There is actually a lawn seed mix which contains flowers which will tolerate mowing at a 2 to 3 inch height. This is intended primarily for outer areas of the landscape viewed primarily from a distance. However, a few people have chosen to use it for a regular lawn. You get the best results if you mow infrequently (once a month or longer). A great choice for areas you want to “tame” but don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining. For more information go to protimelawnseed.com and click on “Fleur de Lawn”. We can install a fleur de lawn for you at a very reasonable cost.

HOW TO GET YOUR LAWN RENOVATED TO “LIKE NEW” AT 20% OF THE COST OF A NEW SOD LAWN

We have a system for lawn renovation that produces “like new” results for a fraction of the cost of replacing with new sod. It is a 5 step process which includes weed control, moss control, surface preparation, fertilization, and overseeding. It is only $150 for a 1000 square foot lawn and reduces to less than $100 per 1000 square feet at 4000 square feet. Call if you would like a free consultation on your lawn.

FRUIT TREE GIVEAWAY

Friends of Trees is hosting their annual Fruit Tree Giveaway on Saturday, April 23 at the Friends of Trees office – 3117 NE Martin Luther King Blvd in Portland. Gates will open at 10am for the general public. There is a limit of three fruit trees per person and there is a suggested donation of $5/tree. They’ll also be selling overstock street and yard trees at discounted prices. They can’t take reservations or orders over the phone – you will need to be there in person!

PLANTING TREES AND SHRUBS

Holes for trees and shrubs should be dug to the depth of the existing container or soil ball. Holes should be 1½ to 2 times the diameter of the container or soil ball. Plants in containers sometimes have several layers of roots on the sides and bottom of the soil ball. Loosen roots or slice through them with a knife to redirect growth downward and outward rather than around and around.

Do not cover the top of the roots with soil. It is better to have the soil ball an inch above the soil line than below it. If tree roots are wrapped in burlap and tied with twine, cut and remove twine after placing the tree in the hole. Fold the burlap back off the top of the soil ball. Tree trunks of large trees are sometimes wrapped to protect them during shipment. This wrap should be removed as soon as the tree is planted.

Do not add compost, bark dust or other amendments to the back fill soil for individual plants. Roots will spread into adjacent soil much faster when surrounding soil is uniform. A large area with multiple plants could be amended. Fertilizer can be added as you fill the soil around the roots. I use a general purpose fertilizer such as 16-16-16 or lawn fertilizer. A one to two inch layer of bark dust or compost can be added on top to act as mulch. Weed barrier fabric or chemical weed preventer can be applied before the mulch if desired.

Keep an area at least 3 feet in diameter around plants free from grass and weeds. This area should be increased in size as the plant grows. Trees and shrubs will grow at twice the rate without grass competing for water and fertilizer. This also protects the tree trunk from damage caused by mowers and trimmers. Trimming grass around young trees with a line trimmer can severely stunt or even kill them.

STAKING TREES

Trees less than 6 feet tall generally do not need to be staked unless you live in a windy area. For larger trees, use one or two tree stakes 2 inches in diameter and 6 to 8 feet tall. Pound stakes into the soil up to 2 feet deep. Do not use twine or wire to fasten trees to a stake unless you fasten them to a flexible tree strap. Twine or wire will cut into the bark as the tree moves leaving a weak area which can snap easily in a storm. Plastic chain link tree fasteners are safe and easy to use. Ties should be somewhat loose so the tree can move with the wind. If trees are fastened so tight that they can’t move, they will not develop the trunk strength needed to survive on their own.

Trees need to be staked for only one year. If you plant trees this spring, remove the stakes next spring. Occasionally stakes are left for 2 years in very windy areas. Check periodically to make sure fasteners are not becoming too tight as the tree grows. Loosen as needed to assure tree movement.

PRUNING AND IRRIGATING NEW TREES AND SHRUBS

The only reason to prune a newly planted tree or shrub is to remove a broken branch or correct growth defects. If a tree has two or more competing leaders at the top, shorten all but one. If small branches develop on the lower tree trunk, do not remove them. If allowed to remain for 2 or 3 years, they will increase the growth rate of the trunk diameter. Just shorten them so they do not become more than 6 to 10 inches long. New shrubs seldom need pruning unless they are lop sided and need a little shortening in one area to make them uniform

Trees and shrubs need frequent irrigation during their first growing season. Light sprinkling will not reach the full depth of the root system. Place a ridge of soil in a circle to create a saucer to hold water. Fill the saucer at least an inch or two deep each time you water. Water every 2 to 3 days for the first week and once a week for the first summer. If planted in an area with sprinkler irrigation, supplement with deep watering monthly during the first growing season. The saucer ridge can be removed when rains begin in the fall.

SPRAY NOW TO PREVENT LEAF SPOT DISEASES

Leaf spot diseases start developing on newly opening leaves of Rose, Photinia, Weeping Flowering Cherry, Dogwood, and Peaches. One way to reduce disease infestation is to clean up all dead leaves. Last year’s diseased leaves serve as a source for this year’s infection. Leaves of these trees and shrubs should be protected with a fungicide application as new leaves begin to grow in early April. Peaches and Nectarines must be sprayed as they begin to open to prevent peach leaf curl disease.

Most effective are the systemic fungicides such as Propiconazole, Myclobutanil and Tebuconazole. Propiconazole is available in Fertilome 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. Propiconizole and Myclobutanil are applied as sprays to the leaves. The Bayer products are applied to the soil and taken up into the leaves from the roots. Systemic fungicides are translocated within the plant and 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. Organic gardeners can spray with lime-sulfur (calcium polysulfide), copper sulfate or Neem oil. 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.

HARDY FLOWERS AND VEGETABLES CAN BE PLANTED NOW

Vegetables and annual flowers are divided into two groups: hardy or cool season, and tender or warm season. The hardy group likes cooler weather and will handle temperatures 6 or more degrees below freezing. It is safe to plant them now. The tender group likes warmer weather and can be damaged by frost. Vegetables are easily divided into two groups. If you eat the roots, leaves or flower buds (broccoli, cauliflower), it is hardy. If you eat the fruit, it is tender with the exception of peas and fava beans which are hardy.

Hardy annual flowers which can be planted now include pansy, viola, petunia, snapdragon, alyssum, carnation, dianthus, calendula, cosmos, African daisy, dusty miller, gazania, nasturtium, poppy, blue salvia and sweet pea.. All perennial flowers are hardy and can be planted now.

Tender annuals do not grow well until the weather warms—usually in May. Remember last year when the weather did not warm up until late June? That is why tender or warm season vegetables like tomatoes and squash did not grow well until mid summer. Hopefully this spring will be more normal.