Maintenance Information

If you are searching for particular maintenance information, please see the blogs for the months that correspond to the time frame that you are searching. Also check the labels of the blogs (at the base of the blog page) for blog subjects that might be helpful.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Windy Surprise

We were caught by surprise a few weeks ago with gusty winds that blew down branches and even whole trees. It was a reminder to clean out the gutters, check the roof and put in all the stuff that could blow away.

In the garden its also a good idea to give your trees a critical eye and see if there are any heavy
branches that have elongated over the growing season and now have too much weight out at the ends. I also look at the density of evergreens in the garden that could get heavy with rain water and then blow over. These trees and shrubs should be thinned to allow the wind to blow through and balanced so the branches don't crack. For large trees I call in my arborist buddy- Dan Hoskins and the shrubs and small trees I work on myself over the fall months. If you use a gardener ask them to thin rather than shear the shrubs and small trees so that they are more open and allow the air to move through. This is probably easier said than done but its worth a try.

Garden Arches with vines on can be at risk also from strong winds. Our heavy 'Mermaid' Rose really catches the wind and tries to blow over every year. I think I am on my 3rd arch for that one. Vines need to thinned and cut back to the arch every year anyway so before the winter is a good time to start this.

Its starting to be cool enough now to start the winter pruning for the perennials (that are not blooming), shrubs and vines. For Deciduous Trees wait until they lose their leaves. I note this because it is helpful to do the pruning over a long period to be able to fit the trimmings in those green waste bins and for starting compost if you have the space. I get fairly sore and crickety these days so breaking up the garden work into shorter periods is easier on my body too.

Let me know if you have any questions on maintenance tasks and enjoy the fall coolness!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Perennial Color

With the cooler weather comes some amazing color. With the leaves turning and
less heat to wilt the flowers I thought I would expound on the virtues of some fall favorites.
Above are pictured the quintessential fall bloomer: the mum- chrysanthemums to be exact.
They are often used as potted plants but are great in the garden and bloom for a long period of time. They are great cut flowers and last well even with dry stems.
Other favorites in fall include Salvias or Sages which come in lots of colors and are great summer and fall blooming small shrubs or flowering perennials. Also a big favorite with hummingbirds!Asters which are not that common here but are wonderful for late summer and fall. They are medium to tall daisies.
Coleus which is largely a foliage plant and have amazing colored leaves all summer and fall.
These are used as annuals in pots mostly but will sometimes over-winter and last for more than one year. I actually miss these when I don't plant them for the summer because they are so lovely. Black-eyed Daisies and Blanket Flowers are really good fall colors. They last from summer to fall. Echinacea or Cone Flower is a tall purple daisy with a cone in the center. It blooms summer and fall with the added benefit of being medicinal.
So add some fall flowers to your pumpkin grouping and cheer up the front entry or patio area.
And enjoy the autumn weather after all the summer heat!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Trouble with Cobbles

In this case we are discussing the river washed stones or "cobbles" that are often used below trees and over exposed roots. An easy solution to a decorative solution for an area that plants cannot root due to tree roots and compacted soil. The problem arises as the cobbles get filled in with leaves and debris which breaks down and forms soil over time. This traps moisture at the crown (where the trunk stops and the roots begin) of the tree. The crown actually needs to breath and the trapped moisture encourages the growth of fungus and a place for insects to lay eggs.

This problem became apparent after a few years of installing these stones and enough accumulation of leaves and soil had filled in the crevices of the stones. Please pull the stones away from the tree crown by about 4-6". Use a blower to clean out the stones around the crown and over the exposed tree roots, which also have bark on them. I do this aobut once per month. It does not hurt to remove stones every 5 years or so and rake off excess soil that has been formed, and then replace the stones.

In general avoid building soil up over the crowns of trees and root masses as this can cause crown rot and kill the trees.

Just a heads up to protect our trees!