Snow Warnings and Care of Landscape Plants

snow 3-10-17 3

March Snowstorm

The seasons have been shifting in the northeast, leaving many homeowners in much dismay when it comes to winter garden maintenance. Winter storms can hit late winter into early spring, causing more distress to plantings once they have experienced warmer than normal temperatures. As we await another winter storm, there are some precautions you can take to ensure the vitality of your landscape plants and protect them from possible damage.

SNOW WEIGHTED TREE BRANCHES: Most evergreen trees and shrubs can handle snow build-up on their branches, but in the instance of a heavy snow, the branches may become weighted down. Certain Arborvitae are susceptible to the weight of snow pulling down on them and may have already experienced sagging branches. Further damage can easily be avoided by wrapping the branches together with arbor tie. The cloth tie cannot be seen from the outside, will prevent future damage from another snow, and the tree will look unscathed.

arbs

Arborvitae and Snow Care

BROKEN OR DAMAGED TREE BRANCHES: Before an approaching storm, try to walk outside and inspect trees and shrubs on your property for any broken or damaged branches. If you do spot a damaged branch, tie the two split halves together by wrapping them tightly together with arbor tie. Start by wrapping the two halves tightly together and continue wrapping above and below the crack for extra support. If caught in time, the cambium (or growing layer) of the plant will repair itself and fuse the two parts of the damaged branch together. I have personally saved split branches on holly, azalea and arborvitae using this technique and the plants have recovered beautifully. Identifying these issues now and tending to them prior to the snow can mean the survival of your plant.

arbor tie

Arbor Tied Split Branch on Holly

SNOW REMOVAL: While it is tempting to go outside and start removing snow from weighted branches it is also a good time to exercise caution. Under the snow-covered branches could also be a frozen layer of ice.  Any manipulating of the frozen branches could result in easy breakage and permanent damage to your tree.  A helpful tip is to very carefully dig snow from around trapped branches and allow them to spring back up on their own. Never shake branches with ice.  It is best to let nature take its course and allow thawing to occur. The branches will gradually regain their shape as the ice melts preventing any harm to your landscaping.

snow

Snow Removal From Branches

SPRING BULBS AND SNOW:  Just as your spring bulbs are emerging, a late winter snow storm in March can cause much distress and uncertainty. Besides having to tend with the snow, there is some reassuring news!  While mulch protects dormant bulbs from cold, once they start blooming, a covering of snow will act as an insulator. The snow will help to hold in the natural warmth from the soil and provide protection. Once the snow is gone, you can continue to enjoy your bulbs!

11 crocus white 2

Spring Bulbs and Snow Cover

As mentioned previously, plants are very resilient, and with a little care can bounce back and recover nicely after a major snow. With a March snow on the way, warmer days may not look promising at the moment, but Spring is right around the corner!

Informational Links:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening on Facebook
Landscape Design by Lee on Facebook
A Guide to Northeastern Gardening Blog

NEGardening on Twitter

My Published Books: 

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer

Landscape Design Combinations

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2017. All Rights Reserved.page-divider-autumn

Protecting Broad-leaved Evergreens for Winter: Anti-Desiccant Spray

Broad-leaved Evergreens

The temperatures are dropping rapidly here in the northeast and it is time to apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens to protect them from winter damage.

What is desiccation?:   Certain broad-leaved evergreens are susceptible to winter burn and drying from harsh winter winds here on Long Island and anywhere where winter temperatures drop below freezing. Desiccation, or extreme drying is caused by moisture loss from the leaves by transpiration. A precautionary measure for this drying is the use of an anti-desiccant, which can help to prevent damage to your landscape plants.  Anti-desiccant spray is an organic based spray application that lasts for approximately three months throughout the winter, and helps to prevent water loss from your evergreens.

Which plants should be sprayed with an anti-desiccant?: Apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood when the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (around Thanksgiving here in zone 7 Long Island). Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.)

When to Apply: Apply anti-desiccant when the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (late fall/early winter). Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours.

Dangers: Be sure to read all directions on the label since anti-desiccants can cause photo toxicity on some narrow needled evergreens such as Arborvitae and Spruce that could cause more harm than winter burn.  Spraying in freezing temperatures will do harm to the plant.  Do not spray in freezing temperatures and allow time to dry before temperatures drop below 32oF or 0oC.

How often should I apply anti-desiccant?:  Sudden warm spells can trigger your evergreens to open their pores allowing for more water loss. If there is a winter thaw part way through the season it is recommended to re-spray your plants but only if the temperatures are to remain above freezing for at least 24 hours.

Where do I purchase anti-desiccant?:  The most commonly used brands of anti-desiccant are Wilt-Pruf, Vapor Guard and Transfilm that can be found in nurseries and garden centers. There is a new brand of anti-desiccant on the market which requires only one application. Ask your landscape professional for more information.

Informational Links:
A Guide to Northeastern Gardening on Facebook
Landscape Design by Lee on Facebook

NEGardening on Twitter

My Published Book: A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer on Amazon

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2016. All Rights Reserved.page-divider-autumn

Book Announcement! My First Published Book!

FotorCreated BOOK PROMO 2 600 pixAfter two years of working on my book I am excited to announce that it is finally published! A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer is a comprehensive guide to gardening in plant hardiness zones 3-9.  My goal for the book is to share information on a number of gardening topics based on my experiences as a landscape designer over the years.BOOK PHOTO

A Little Bit About the Book:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening is a comprehensive guide of valuable information on plants hardy in a range of zones from 3-9, and gardening techniques backed up by my own personal experiences as a professional landscape designer, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Learn about landscape design principles, butterfly gardening, deer resistant plants, long blooming perennials, globe and weeping evergreens, flowering trees and shrubs, native plantings, shade gardening and more. Whether you are a novice or experienced gardener, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening will help you to create your own dream garden. Come along on my journey into the world of gardening!

A Little Bit About the Author:

Lee Miller is a professional landscape/garden designer involved in the horticultural industry since 1996. Having started a gardening blog in 2010, she is the author of over 150 articles on general gardening, landscape design principles, gardening tips, planting, pruning, garden maintenance, feature plants and more. Her published book, “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening”, is an accumulation of information touching on a wide variety of gardening topics, all backed up by her own personal experiences.

Previews and further information are available on the following links:

Updated for 2016: Now in Amazon Softcover!

Amazon Kindle

Also here is a link to the full story behind the author and the book. I hope to share my gardening experiences with you!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

7b6fd-blog2bdivider2bbird

Dormant Oil Application in October: Protection from Insect Damage for your Landscape Trees & Shrubs

Dormant Oil is a known application that is sprayed on landscape trees and shrubs in fall to help protect them from overwinter damage from insects. Prepared from a mixture of highly refined petroleum oils combined with an emulsifying agent, dormant oil can be mixed with water and sprayed on trees killing exposed insects and mites by either suffocating them or destroying internal cells. These oils are effective in controlling most species of scales and mites that overwinter as nymphs or adults such as cottony maple scale, obscure scale, euonymus scale and lecanium scale which can do early damage. Dormant Oil is also effective on insect eggs that are laid in September and overwinter such as aphids, leafrollers, Spruce Spider Mite, Honeylocust Mite and European Red Mite. Dormant Oils are effective for both immediate and preventive care and have been developed to be less harmful to beneficial insects.   They are also safe for birds, humans and other mammals.

When to Apply:  Dormant oil applications should be applied in fall when temperatures remain in the 50’s at night (Early October) and must be done when temperatures stay above freezing for 24 hours. Dormant Oil is also best applied on a clear day with no wind and no threat of rain within a least six hours so that the oil can dry.  It is preferable to choose a time when no rain is in the forecast for a few days to ensure effectiveness.

Warnings:  Be sure to follow all label directions because oil sprays may damage certain plants, including Japanese maple, Eastern Redbud, sugar maple and Amur maple.  It can also cause the foliage (needles) of Colorado blue spruce to become discolored (change from blue to green) since the pigment is formed from the oils on the surface of the plant.  When in doubt consult with your landscape professional.

Dormant Oil when applied correctly will help to protect your trees and shrubs from winter and early spring harm from a variety of damaging insects and will ensure the health and vitality of your landscaping.

For more information on dormant oil application visit:  Colorado State University horticulture Insect Control

As Always..Happy Gardening!

blog divider blue bird

Browning and Needle Shed on Evergreens in the fall: A Natural Process

Needle Shed in Evergreen in Fall

          (Photo Left New Growth)                                      (Photo Right fall needle shedding)

If your evergreen’s inner needles are suddenly turning from a healthy looking green to shades of yellow, orange and brownish-red in late summer and fall there is little need for concern…it is all part of a natural process. Each year evergreens will produce new foliage in spring and they prepare by shedding their older foliage in the previous late summer and fall. Shedding of needles and foliage is a natural process that evergreens go through as a way of preparing for new growth once the weather warms.  As the days become shorter and temperatures lower evergreens go through a slight dormant period similar to deciduous trees and shrubs. Many evergreens such as pine, cedar, Chamaecyparis (Hinoki Cypress), Thuja (Arborvitae), fir, hemlock and spruce lose some of their needles every year and may go through a major shedding every three to five years.

fall foliage shed on evergreens

Fall Needle Shed on Hinoki Cypress and White Pine in late September-November-Shedding can be light or more pronounced. Lightly shaking the branches can help along the natural cleaning process.

To examine, look at your tree carefully.  Older foliage is shed first so the losses should generally be from the inside out and not at the tips.  Prior to shedding the needles appear from green to yellow, orange and eventually brown, remaining on the tree until the process is complete.  The actual amount of needle shed on the tree or shrub varies depending on the growing season, temperature changes and amount of rainfall, and can sometimes be sudden.  Often the change is unnoticeable but generally the drier the season or more drastic the temperature change the more noticeable the needle shed, a natural cleaning process leading to new growth in the spring.

needle shed fall

 Fall Needle Shed on Evergreens Showing Previous Year’s Growth.  Older Growth is closer towards trunk.

Other species of evergreens in the broadleaf category can also shed their leaves.  Evergreens such as holly and laurel retain their leaves for only one year and rhododendron and azalea for one to two years.  Leaves will appear yellow before falling but at some times may go unnoticed if new leaves conceal old foliage.  This process usually occurs in spring when new growth is appearing but can happen at other times of the year as well.  If the whole tree or entire sections of your conifer are turning brown then there is cause for concern and you should have a certified arborist or landscape professional examine it.  Otherwise, fall yellowing or browning at the base or inner branches closer to the trunk seldom indicates a serious problem, but is more often part of the natural life cycle of the tree.

needle shed

Conifer Annual Needle Shed

 For more information visit the following horticultural link:  Cornell Cooperative Extension

As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

blog divider blue bird

Proper Mulching Technique and the Dangers of “VOLCANO MULCH”

volcano mulch

Volcano Mulching

Recently I have been noticing a rash of trees that have become victim to the dangers of “volcano mulching”.  Volcano mulching refers to the piling up of mulch around the base of trees causing moisture to build up around the trunk, rotting out the tree and leading to a slow death by suffocation due to lack of oxygen exchange to the roots.

mulch line

Photograph 2 (Mulch Line)

Proper mulching involves adding a protective layer of organic mulch approximately 2-4 inches thick, keeping the mulch about six inches away from the base of trees so to avoid build up.  Mulch has many advantages including the addition of organic matter to the soil, allowing moisture retention for the plant and helping as a weed barrier to keep weeds down as well as adding an attractive finishing touch to garden beds.

Signs of tree suffocation are indicated by a darkening of the trunk with patches of blacked spots going up the tree.  In Photograph 2 you can see where approximately six inches of mulch had been piled up on this tree causing the tree to already start rotting. When removing the mulch it should be to the level of the tree collar (where the base of the tree starts to flare out). Even routine mulching can gradually build up so it is recommended to remove some of the older mulch if necessary before applying a new fresh layer.  This tree should now be fine since the mulch was removed and the base of the tree will be allowed to heal and the health of the tree restored.

 As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

blog divider blue bird

Winter Damaged Hydrangea & Crape Myrtle-How to Treat

Winter Damage to Hydrangea & Crape Myrtle

This past winter has been recorded to be one of the worst for winter damage to foliage of plants in the past 25 years. I have witnessed winter damaged Hydrangea and Crape Myrtle on many properties I have visited and have been getting many inquiries as to how to remedy the damage that has occurred. Chances are that your plants will fully recover so I am passing on this useful information.

hydrangea winter die back

Hydrangea Winter Damage

If your hydrangea are sprouting new growth from the bottom only with no new sprouts on the upper stems and visible shoots on bare wood have a dark dried up appearance then they are not viable. To remedy cut back all dead wood down to where new growth is occurring.  If your variety of hydrangea blooms on old wood you may not get blooms this year but your hydrangea should fully recover.

crape myrtle winter damage

Crape Myrtle Winter Damage

In the case of Crape Myrtles most of them survived but have dead top growth. It is advisable to wait until the end of June/beginning of July to cut back branches to new growth in order to allow the plant to sprout as much new foliage as possible. Other plants showing winter damage besides hydrangea and crape myrtle include butterfly bush and roses.  Use the same practice to remove expired growth.

Butterfly Bush Winter Damage

Butterfly Bush Winter Damage

 Due to the unusually harsh winter plant growth is delayed by approximately two to three weeks this season.   New growth will have a slow start this spring but with some patience and proper care your plants should show full recovery.

  As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

blog divider blue bird