Protect Your Trees & Shrubs This Fall
For the reasons you fertilize and water your lawn going into winter, you should supply the same treatment to trees and shrubs that have similar needs and requirements.
Before winter sets in, there are just a few things you should do to give your trees and shrubs the best chance of surviving another cold, harsh winter.
Apply composted mulch (shredded bark, pine straw, etc.) around the trunk of the tree. Do not apply more than a couple of inches, spreading the mulch evenly under and around the trunk and under the drip line. It helps to scoop out a small moat next to the bark, forming a well which will catch and help retain rainwater near the trunk.
Avoid mechanical damage. Ice and wind can lead to cracks, and bumps from lawn mowers and rakes can damage tender bark, especially on younger plants. String trimmer damage on young plants is one of the most common and damaging issues. You may want to protect your trees with a wire or hard plastic wrap around the lower section of the trunk.
Fall is the perfect time to fertilize your trees and shrubs. Nutrients applied in the fall, even late fall, will be taken up by feeder roots and stored as carbohydrates needed not only to build strong cell walls, minimizing disease intrusions but helping prepare the plant for maximum healthy growth next spring.
Water all trees and shrubs. As temperatures fall and outdoor activities come to an end, it’s easy to forget watering. Your trees, like your lawn, still require water. Place the hose under the drip line of each plant. Turn the water on so that a slow stream of water soaks the area not only next to the trunk but throughout the dripline, where root development is important. To be sure the root ball is saturated, let the water run for at least five minutes.
Prune dead, crowded and unnecessary limbs in the fall. After trees have stopped growing for the season, you should selectively remove limbs or branches and reshape your trees and ornamental shrubs. With the seasons growth over, you will not damage your plants in any way.
Importantly, late fall is the very best time to install new plantings. Be sure to dig the hole several inches larger, wider and deeper than the root ball. Plant the tree so that the top of the ball rests just above the level of the site soil. This will allow for proper drainage and help avoid the possibility of rot. Loosen burlap or any binding and install a protective stake, attached midway up the trunk of the newly planted tree. Leave the stake in place for at least the first six to eight months of growth, then be sure to remove it.
For more information about protecting your trees & shrubs this fall click here.
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