Tree & Shrub Maintenance
- Remove any weed growth around your trees and shrubs. The earlier you remove the weeds the less likely they will be to produce seed for next year.
- Amend the soil structure with organic matter such as composed manure or Fafard Shrimp and Seaweed Compost. If your soil is typically very wet or has a lot of clay wou can add Espoma GreenSand to help loosen the soil particles. (Be advised: Compost is primarily used to improve soil structure and typically does not have any fertilizer qualities to it).
- Monterey’s Florell is a great product to use to eliminate or lessen the production of unwanted fruit on crabapples, pears, sweetgum, etc.
- The first step to planting is to find the right location for what you’re planting. FOr instance, rhododendrons prefer more shade than sun whereas viburnums and forsythia prefer full sun. The location should be a well drained area. Plants need water, but soils that stay saturated for too long will cause root rot.
- When planting, be sure to dig the hole 1.5 to 2 times as wide as the root ball or pot and the same depth as the pot or root ball. If planting a B&B (Balled & Burlapped) plant be sure to completely remove the wire basketb if it has one and as much of the burlap as you can to ensure the roots go into the soil.
- When planting, use a good loam mixture such as Fafard’s Complete Planting Mix. This has 1/3 each of peat moss, compost, and top soil. Use this loam to back fill the hole.
- Add fertilizer, like Bonide Plant Starter, while back filling to ensure the fertilizer gets to aid the root system development; incorporate this product into the soil as you back fill. Use Scotts Osmocote or Espoma Cottonseed Meal and incorporate one of them into the soil as a slow release fertilizer.
- Soil Moist for Trees and Shrubs is a Mycorrhiza (beneficial fungus) based product that aids in the root systems uptake of water and nutrients and can also be incorporated into the soil when backfilling.
- Saturate the soil with water after planting to ensure the plant can begin the development of roots.
- Top dress with 2-3 inches of mulch to hold the water near the root system, making sure the mulch does not come in contact with the trunk of the plant. If possible, create a well with the mulch to catch the water and direct it to the root zone.
- Be sure to maintain a good watering schedule to keep the plant from drying out. Usually watering 2-3 times a week with a good soaking is sufficient. Lack of water is one of the leading causes of plant death in newly planted material.
When using any of the products listed below, follow the manufactures directions.
- After removing the dead and damaged material, use fertilizers such as Espoma’s Tree Tone, Plant Tone, and Holly-Tone to help supply your plant material with the essential nutrients it requires to survive year to year and produce new growth.
- Begin fertilizing your roses and keep them on a monthly fertilizing schedule. Roses are heavy feeders, fertilize with Espoma Rose-Tone to help stimulate new growth and assist in the production of blooms.
- Uses Epoma Garden Gypsum or Soil Logic’s Liquid Gypsum to help loosen clay soils by improving soil quality and helping with reversing the effects of salt damage from the winter months.
- As most plant blooms are beginning to open, use a fertilizer that has phosphate in it to help flower production and increase the amount of blooms. A product like Espoma Super Phosphate or Triple Phosphate will supply the essential nutrients the plant needs for flower production.
- When planting acid loving plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, blueberries, and hydrangeas use any one of the following: Espoma Holly-Tone, Espoma Garden Sulfur, Hoffman’s Aluminum Sulfate or Scott’s Mir-Acid to keep the soil at the acidic pH they thrive in.
- An application of Espoma Garden Manure will help supply the three primary nutrients plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These products are apprived for organic gardening and are derived from poultry (chicken) manure.
When using any of the products listed below, follow the manufactures directions and apply when temperatures are above 60 degrees to maximize effectiveness.
- Continue to apply All Seasons Oil Spray by Bonide to help with winter moth infestations occuring in April through mid-June, when the caterpillars are feeding on many deciduous and fruit bearing trees. If you havent already, apply Tree Tanglefoot Pest Barrier to the trunks of trees to create a sticky barrier that traps female insects and reducing egg production. Host plants for winter moth are including but not limited to deciduous and fruit bearing trees.
- All Seasons Oil or Lime-Sulfur Spray by Bonide can be used to help control cool season mites which become active in mid to late March. Apply the Lime-Sulfur Spray as the buds start to swell before they open.
- Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 Systemic Rose and Flower Care Granules, can be applied as a fertilizer which also will protect and fertilize up to six (6) weeks.
- Apply Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control which is available in liquid or Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect Control available in either granular or liquid form. These products help control a wide range of insects including adelgids, aphids, emerald ash and bronze birch borers, leafhoppers, leaf miners, and most scal insects. This product works systemically which means it needs tobe applied to the soil around the tree or shrub. Now is a great time to begin applying this product as the root systems of most plants are beginning to actively tke in water and nutrients.
- All Seasons Oil can assist in the control of Hemlock wooly adelgid. This insect has been active all winter and will remain active until the weather begins to warm. At this stage in the weather, the potential for the pest to begin laying eggs is likely, so continue to spray with oil and begin looking for a white cotton-like substance on the underside of the branches of hemlocks. If you see this substance, then spray with the All Seasons Oil to help control this pest.
- White Pine Weevil has become active with the warmer temperatures and is seeking new terminal (main shoot) growth for egg-laying. Continue to treat for this pest by using products like Bonide Borer-Miner Killer. This product is a systemic, so be sure to follow manufacturer’s directions when applying.
- Western Conider Seed Bug and the Ladybug become house invaders in the late fall and winter months. They go dormant unil the early spring. As the weather starts to warm up, the insects become active again. At this point they are probably already in the home, only dormant. They don’t bite or sing and can be removed by vacuuming them up and destroying the vacuum bag after use.
- Check your plants for brown-black branches, a sign of fire-blight. Fire-blight affects such plants as crabapple, apple, pear, firethorn, hawthorn, and cotoneaster. Prune and destroy dead branches to reduce inoculum (bacterium that causes infection). Be sure to disinfect the pruning tools used to remove the damaged branches. The spread of fire blight can be reduced by applying organic products which contain sulfur and copper as their active ingredients, such as Bonide’s Fire Blight Spray. Begin application when the tips of the buds begin to turn green to ensure proper timing.
- Cedar-apple rust galls are probably visible on eastern red cedars and some juniper species as helatinous orange masses protruding from pea to golf ball size. The time to protect the primary hosts, apples, hawthorn, quince, and pears is now. Use Bonides Infuse when the buds are opening. This is systemic product to be taken up by the plant.
- Collect and remove any leaves you missed in the fall clean up to help reduce over wintering inoculum that could reinfect the plant material in the spring.
- Apple scab: The first symptoms are water soaked lesions on leaves that turn olive green to dark gray and develop a velvety appearance. Eventually, infected leaves turn yellow and drop from the tree early. Bonide’s Infuse can help reduce the infection.
- Dogwood anthracnose: The first symptom is leaf spots which are round to blotchy and have tan centers with reddish purple margins. During wet years, multiple spots on leaves combine to form irregular, tan blotches or blight entire leaves. Bonide’s Infuse will assist in the reduction of infection for this disease.
- Clean up any beds that have weeds remaining to prepare for mulching in the spring.
- Be aware that many diseases will over winter in the soil or on plant debris and re-infect plants when they come up the following year. It may be necessary to plany new specimens in another place if the problem is severe.
- Instead of dragging out the hose to water, use a watering can. Companies like Dramm and OXO produce many styles and sizes for avid gardeners.
- When planting annuals or perennials this time of year use Espoma Flower-Tone to help stimulate flower production and root growth.
- For rich dark green growth use the organic product Espoma Dried Blood for a great source of nitrogen
- Use Luster Leaf’s Gro-Through Grids for perennials that flop over when they mature or Peony Stakes for your peonies that can’t support themselves alone.
- Start planting your cool season vegetable seeds like peas, lettuce, etc. Livingston Seeds and Botanical Interests offer a wide varitey to choose from.
- Livingston Seeds and Botanical Interests also offer a wide variety of perennial seeds which can be planted in the next month or so.
- Be sure to have a nice pair of gloves while working in the garden. Boss and West County offer attractive durable pairs of gardening gloves.
- Apply a Typar Weed Barrier when starting brand new flower and vegetable gardens to help suppress weed growth.
- Instead of lugging out a clunky wheelbarrow, use Gorilla Tubs for storage and hand weeding. Gorilla Tubs are available in many bright colors and are useful for more than just gardening.
- Keep those deer, moles, and other animals from eating your graden with products like Shake Away, Bonide’s Repels All, Liquid Fence, or Bonide’s Mole Max.
- Begin a routine mowing cycle as the lawn shows signs of new growth. If your lawn is primarily Kentucky bluegrass mow at around 2 inches, whereas Tall Fescue should be around 2.5 inches. If you;re not sure what type of lawn you have, the general height should be around 2.5 to 3 inches from the soil level.
- April is the best month to apply pre-emergent herbicides, which prevent weeds from growing. Products like Monterey Weed Stopper (Surflan) or Preen (treflan) are some examples. The signs of actual weed control will not be seen for at least 3-4 years becuase the product needs to be applied at a continuous rate to be effective.
- This month, apply a spring fertilizer that is high in nitrogen like Greenview Seed Starter Fertilizer Plus Crabgrass Preventer for new lawns or Greenview Crabicide Green 19-4-4 for existing lawns. (Tip: When the forsythis start blooming the product should be applied)
- Amend your soil with lime to help keep the pH at a comfortable level for lawns. Jonathan Green Mir-A-Cal is a great product to use to achieve the growing conditions your lawn needs.
- Feed large aquatic plants by inserting slow-release fertilizer tablets like PondCare Aquatic Plant Food Tablets well below soil level around the base of the plant. Water lilies are big feeders and the food tablets will help with blooming throughout the season.
- Check and clean pond filters before using them for the season.
- Test your water quality (if you have fish) and correct if necessary. Avoid any arbitrary water changes and work with Mother Nature.
- Add some Organica Pond Clarifier, Clean-Out or Pondzyme to head off subsequent water quality problems.
- Continue feeding the fish lightly to prevent algae development from excess food. Use a Spring/Fall food like PondCare Spring & Autumn Floating Pond Sticks with low protein and high carbohydrates formulated for water temps from 42-70 degrees. Follow the manufacturers directions on times and quantities of feeding.
- Prepare your walk and patio pavers for the summer barbecues and parties by using Muriatic Acid to strip the pavers of dirt, any road salt, and debris from the winter. Muriatic Acid is highly corrosive and toxic so make sure to read the label and use proper care.
- After using Muriatic Acid apply Paver Guard by Paver Renu to restore the pavers to their original color.
- Use Polished or Mexican Beach Stone for a dry creek bed or other decorative purposes.
- If you’re planning on creating a paver walkway or patio or just need to make some repairs from the winter use Polymetric Sand in the joints to ensure the pavers won’t move.