Many landscape plants that are growing in your gardens and flower beds are plants that were brought in from other countries over the last 150 years or so. Being that many of these plants are not native to the US, they may require extra care to maintain them in a healthy and vibrant condition.
As we slowly move towards the cooler weather of the fall, most insect and disease activity starts to slow down except for the warmer parts of the country. In those areas, insect and disease activity can occur all year long. Here are the maintenance tasks and fall tree and shrub care that should take place during this time of year.
Watering Trees and Shrubs
Rainfall usually increases during the fall, but there are areas where drought conditions persist. Smaller trees and shrubs still need to be watered to survive the winter months. This is especially true for evergreen plants, like yews, junipers and pine trees. Broadleaf evergreen plants like azaleas, boxwoods and rhododendrons also need water in the fall. These plants will still lose moisture through transpiration, even when the ground freezes. The best way to water individual plants is to place a hose without a nozzle at the base of the plants and turn the water on at a slow trickle, leaving it in one location for 20 to 30 minutes. For plants growing in a cluster, use a sprinkler, but be sure it is elevated to provide water to all the plants.
After the plants have been watered, add 3 inches of mulch to the planting bed to keep the soil from drying out. Do not pile the mulch up around the base of the tree or shrub, forming what are called “mulch volcanoes.” This practice can lead to an increase in insect and disease development.
Inspecting, Shaping and Pruning Shrubs
Inspect your plants for damage from summer storms and prune out any broken or cracked branches. If you plan to shape any shrubs, remember this simple rule – if the plant flowers before June 15, prune it shortly after it flowers. If you shape spring flowering shrubs using a hedge pruner now, you run the risk of removing the flower buds that are already formed at the end of the branches. Cutting off individual limbs with a hand pruner to improve its shape will reduce the number of flowers for next year, but not to the same extent as using a hedge pruner.
Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs as it allows the root system of the plant to grow in the cooler, moist soil. It’s also an excellent time to root feed trees and shrubs, but be sure to wait until the plant begins to harden off in the fall. In other words, when the leaves start to turn color and drop is a good time to root feed landscape plants. Landscapes plants will look better next spring if time is taken now to make sure they are ready for their “winter nap”.
Contact your neighborhood lawn and tree care professional at Spring-Green to have your landscape checked for problems and schedule the important fall root feed service.