IT’S STILL PLANTING TIME

Fall is one of the best times to plant trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and lawns. Soil is still warm and air is cooler, providing ideal conditions for plant establishment. Mother Nature will soon provide all the irrigation we need. November through February is the best time to move trees and shrubs from one location to another.

CONTROL PERENNIAL AND WINTER WEEDS

It is tempting to forget about weeding this time of year, but perennial weeds will continue to grow for another month or two before going dormant for the winter. We also have several cool weather weeds which sprout and grow during the fall and winter. Herbicides such as Roundup, lawn weed killers, and brush killers are most effective when applied as weeds are translocating food to the root system. The herbicides make their way through the plant’s circulation system more quickly and completely at this time of year. It is very important to keep weed killer off the leaves of ornamental plants. Use a piece of cardboard to shield them. If you do happen to hit a leaf or two, just remove them from the plant immediately.

This is an excellent time to apply Casoron pre-emergent weed granules around woody plants such as trees, shrubs, roses, raspberries and blueberries. It will keep those cool weather or “winter” weeds from establishing themselves. Casoron is also very effective in keeping grass from growing into beds. It will kill existing grass and prevent most weed growth for up to a year, as long as the soil is not cultivated or disturbed. Preen (and similar products containing Trifluralin) can be applied around perennial flowers to prevent most of those winter weeds which begin to sprout about now.

If you have perennial weeds such as dandelions growing in your lawn, you can apply either liquid or granular lawn weed killer. Granular weed and feed products also contain fertilizer.

PRUNE TREES AND SHRUBS

Now through the winter and early spring is an excellent time to prune trees and shrubs. Wait until fruit trees have been completely harvested. Some people like to wait to prune deciduous trees until their leaves have fallen off. This allows you to see the branch structure better. Avoid pruning spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, lilac, heather, rhododendron, and azalea. They have already formed new flower buds for spring. You might as well enjoy the flowers before pruning.

Begin with the end in mind is a good plan to follow when pruning. However, the end to look for is not just when the pruning job is finished, but what the plant will look like after growth has taken place next year.

Reducing size is often one of the main goals when pruning shrubs. However, shearing every branch of a shrub which grows beyond the desired outline of a reduced size will stimulate an explosion of growth next spring. Several times as many branches will grow, producing a plant which is much thicker.

A much better pruning method is to prune one branch at a time, with the longest branches cut back inside surrounding growth so that stubs are hidden. If branch growth is too thick, remove some of the most vigorous branches clear back to where they began growing. Most branches should be cut back to a side branch. If no side branches are growing on a particular branch, prune just beyond a bud or remove the branch entirely. Don’t prune every branch to the same length. The natural shape of shrubs is not perfectly round or flat on the sides or top.

Needle evergreen shrubs such as juniper, arborvitae, pine, and yew have brown needles in the center where adequate light is no longer available. If plants are cut back enough that there are no longer any green needles, they will not regrow green growth. Rather than creating ugly brown areas, it is better to remove the plant and replace it with a new, smaller plant which will not outgrow the desired size.

In addition to removing dead branches in trees, other branches which are rubbing and crossing each other can be thinned. In most cases branches should be cut back to their origin, rather than just shortening. In choosing which branches to remove, leave the ones growing outward, and remove those which grow inward or straight up. If you need to remove a branch which is more than one inch in diameter, be sure to leave a slight bulge or collar (usually a fraction of an inch). The collar of a larger branch contains the healing tissue which will regrow new bark to cover the wound. Do not paint or apply tree wound dressing to pruning cuts. Research has shown that plants heal faster when left open and dry.

If you would rather leave pruning to the experts, give us a call or email. We will be glad to come assess your pruning needs and give you a free cost estimate.

APPLY LIME

Because of heavy rainfall, Northwest soils are quite acid. Many plants like acid soil but most prefer a more neutral soil condition. Most lawns, fruits, flowers, bulbs and vegetables will benefit by a yearly application of lime or similar soil sweetening products which contain calcium. Up to 5 pounds per 1000 square feet can be applied. Rhododendron, azalea, camellia, heather, mountain laurel, magnolia, holly, dogwood, andromeda, leucothe, blueberry and raspberry are some major plants which prefer acid soil and should not be treated with lime.

TAKE TIME TO ENJOY THE FALL COLOR

It is usually work that gets me out into my yard. But I do take time while I am there to look closely at the newly opened flowers or dew on the leaves. I like to sample my vegetables raw, even the ones most people never consider eating uncooked, like beans and summer squash. I like to pick little bouquets of flowers to bring inside. Even the short stemmed bedding flowers that only last a day or two can be enjoyed inside as much as outside.

We live in an area where we have an abundance of nature within easy walking or driving distance. I love to hike along the trails or stroll down the streets or through the parks. Wherever I drive, I have the habit of stopping to look at and take pictures of attractive trees, shrubs and flowers. The leaves have started to turn on deciduous trees. Take the time to stop and look closely at them.