Important Summer Pruning

Many gardeners believe that pruning should be confined to the winter and spring. However, some of the most important pruning of the year is best done in the summer. And if you missed pruning something earlier, summer is a good time to catch up.

 

Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and Other Flowering Shrubs

There is about a 2 month window when Spring flowering shrubs should be pruned. After that, pruning will remove next spring’s flowers. That is because most flowering shrubs develop their flowers for next year in the late summer and fall. Summer flowering shrubs, such as roses, butterfly bushes, and hydrangeas develop their flowers on new spring growth, so they can and should be pruned in the fall and winter.

Do you have to prune Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and other flowering shrubs now? No, if you are happy with their size and shape, it is not necessary to prune. To improve their appearance, you can remove old, dead flower heads. But that is not necessary for plant health.

If you want to shape or reduce size, make pruning cuts individually with hand pruners or loppers. Cut those extra long branches back inside other growth so that you do not leave visible stubs. Wherever possible, cuts should be made just above a side branch or bud. When growth is too thick, branches can be removed entirely back to their origin.

I can prune your flowering shrubs for you or give you one on one instruction so you can prune them yourself.

 

Remove Water Sprouts on Trees Pruned in Winter and Early Spring Now

Early June is a critical time to remove those fast growing vertical sprouts that occur after trees are pruned in the fall, winter, or early spring. This is particularly true for fruit trees which have been heavily thinned so light can reach the lower fruiting branches. Sprouts can be quickly and easily snapped off with your fingers when they are soft and flexible. Snapping is preferable to cutting, because it removes tissue which can regrow another water sprout, sometimes in the same growing season. If you wait until fall or winter to remove those sprouts, new ones will grow to replace them next spring. Stop the sprout cycle now. And if you do happen to have more new water sprouts later, snap them off while they are young and soft.

If you also have large woody water sprouts from last year, now is a good time to remove them too. Wait until dormant season to prune large vertical branches more than 2 years old.

Shrubs Which Have Become Too Large for Their Allotted Space

It requires skill to reduce shrubs in size without ruining their natural shape and thickness. Some shrubs can be drastically reduced in size, whereas others should not. I would be happy to consult with you about what options are available.

 

Roses and Apples Need Repeat Treatments

To keep roses free of black spot and apples free of worms, repeat applications of pesticides are necessary. Fruit tree spray and rose disease pesticides should be applied at two week intervals. Three codling moth traps in an apple tree will reduce worms but probably not completely control them. A new organic insecticide called Spinosad is effective in controlling codling moth worms. Adding horticultural oil to the spray improves Spinosad’s effectiveness. Bayer All-in-One Rose Care only requires one application every six weeks. Neem oil is a good organic treatment for rose diseases and insects.

Thin Apples to Increase Fruit Size

Early June is a good time to begin thinning apples to increase fruit size and quality. By looking carefully as you thin, you can often eliminate apples which have already been entered by a worm. The holes are very apparent while fruit is small.

Apples have clusters of five flowers in a group. If all five flowers are well pollinated, they may all develop to maturity. More typically, three or four will continue to develop while one or two will remain small and fall off. The tree can only produce enough food to develop one large apple per cluster. If two are allowed to develop, most fruit will be medium in size. When three or more mature, they are generally all small, unless there are no other nearby fruit clusters within 6 inches.

In thinning, I generally only leave one fruit per cluster and remove the others. If there is more than six inches to the next cluster I leave two fruits. Leave the largest apple in the cluster, which is usually the center one. Of course those which have worm holes or other damage should be removed even if they are the largest so a better quality fruit can develop

Move Spring Flowering Bulbs While You Can Find Them

Do you have Daffodils, Tulips and other spring flowering bulbs which have become overgrown by shrubs? Or perhaps they have become so thick that they are crowded. Most spring flowering bulbs will have completed development of new bulbs for next year by mid June. As soon as bulb leaves start to turn brown, you can move them to a different location and replant them. If you wait until the leaves are gone, you won’t be able to find them.

Weed in Bites

I like to weed early in the morning. It is cool, and I can listen to the birds singing their morning songs. By weeding 10 to 30 minutes almost every morning I can keep ahead of the weeds. If you have a regular job, try setting your alarm 20 or 30 minutes earlier. There is something about being outdoors that invigorates you for the whole day. Then if you are gone for a week, it will not be an overwhelming task to catch up. If you are a weekend weeder, try working in the shade. Weed on the west and south sides in the morning and weed on the east and north sides in the afternoon. Weeding is easier when weeds are small. One chop with a hoe will remove a dozen or more small weeds. A big weed may take 3 chops with a hoe to get it out.

Lawn Renovation

Are you tired of your bumpy, thin, patchwork quilt of a lawn? Would you like to restore it to pristine beauty without the expense of resodding? We can renovate and upgrade your lawn to the quality of a newly sodded lawn at a small fraction of the cost of resodding.

The typical cost of removing your old sod, preparing the soil and resodding is typically $5000 or more for a 2000 square foot lawn. Our system costs $1000 or less. Our system kills existing grass and weeds and smooths bumpy soil as new channels for seed are created and thatch is removed. Seed is placed in these channels at just the right depth for optimum germination. A light layer of mulch helps hold moisture around the seed. The result is a new lawn equivalent to a sodded lawn in 50 days. We guarantee it if you will promise to keep the soil surface wet for the first 30 days.

March 7, 2015

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