It seems that our unseasonably warm spring has resulted in more than just an early awakening of our spring blooming favorites like daffodils, magnolias, and forsythias. Not surprisingly, some of the pests are emerging early this year too. Yesterday we had the first reported sighting of pine sawfly in the area. Pine sawfly normally emerges in May & June and can be extremely devastating to pine trees. Take a minute to review our previous blog post on European Pine Sawfly then head out and start scouting your landscape!
It’s almost spring, and at Field we’re hoping that our abnormally mild weather will continue into March and April. However in the back of my mind, the part I try to ignore, I think there is a chance that winter is waiting to release it’s pent up fury on us in March.
Spring is the one time of year that a lot of homeowners think about percent of impervious surfaces, surface water runoff, and soil infiltration rates. Well maybe they don’t know that’s what they are thinking about, but they are wondering why their basement is flooded as they check on the sump pump. Wet basements aren’t the only problem that water runoff causes though.
Infiltration Rates for Impervious vs. Pervious Surfaces
The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey, and decreased aquatic life and increased algae in our lakes and rivers are all a result of surface water runoff. In a modern city when it rains, around 40%-70% of the water that falls makes its way into the storm sewer systems by means of surface water runoff. The water carries with it a good deal of sediment and pollutants that become nutrients for algae in lake and rivers. The same fertilizer that helps your grass grow enables algae to grow. The algae uses sunlight to process the nutrients and when they die they fall to the lake or river bottom. The decomposition of these “algae blooms” takes a lot of oxygen out of the water and can in extreme cases, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, create an area that is hypoxic, or void of oxygen and thus cannot support marine life.
Brown Water in the Gulf of Mexico
This is why there is a strong movement to filtrate and infiltrate storm water onsite. Filtrating the water removes sediments and can also remove contaminants from the water before it enters a lake or storm water drain. Infiltrating the water involves collecting the water into a depression and allowing it time to naturally seep into the ground. Rain gardens can accomplish both infiltration and filtration, and so too can permeable pavers which we will look at in the next blog.
Rain Garden at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis
This past Sunday afternoon, I was treated to a surprise knock on my door by KSTP-TV reporter Jay Kolls. He was doing a story about our late fall dry weather and wanted to talk with me about tips for helping our plants get through the winter in these conditions. In the process they filmed some great shots of my new front yard landscape, designed and installed by none other than Field Outdoor Spaces! Check out spot which aired Sunday, November 27 on the 10pm news.
Leaves can provide additional winter protection for the garden
Customers often ask us when they should do garden cut-backs and general clean-up – spring or fall? Well… there are compelling reasons on both sides.
The arguments for spring clean-up:
* Many perennial garden plants offer structure and interest in the winter – especially ornamental grasses and plants with dark seed heads like black eyed-susan.
* Insects use the plant stalks and stems for habitat in the winter and early spring.
* Birds eat the dried seeds from plants like echinacea and black-eyed susan.
* The leaf-litter left on the beds provides insulation for the plants and the stems give plenty of nooks and crannies for the leaves to get caught it.
* Plants seem to overwinter more successfully with the stems on. Having cut stems close to the crown can lead to more drying out (this is probably really minimal).
On the other hand fall is a good time for clean-up, because…
Cleaning up fall leaves can make cleaning up around spring bulbs much easier
* Let’s face it, there is something really great about being outside in the fall doing work.
* It is easier to do the work in the fall when things are dried rather than in the spring when everything is mushy and soggy.
* If you have bulbs coming up, it is nice to not have to do a lot of work around them.
* Come spring you are really happy you don’t have all that work left to do.
In the end, if you have the time it is probably best to do a little bit of both. In the fall, clean-up anything mushy, mangly, and unsightly, but leave up the grasses and plants with structure or seed heads. Be sure to clean-out areas where bulbs will come up so that doesn’t need to be done in the spring. And in the spring clean-up the rest.
Running a thin stream of water from the hose is a good way to water new trees
The calendar has turned to September and the air is getting cooler. It’s easy to think that your “work” in the garden is done but don’t put those hoses away yet!!! Providing adequate water into the fall is a critical piece in assisting plants to prepare for our tough, Minnesota winters. Continuing to water until the ground freezes increases plant survival as well as improving year round plant health. Although Mother Nature often helps us out with rain in the fall, sometimes you will need to do a little supplementing to ensuring that your plants get 1-1.5 inches of water every seven to ten days. With that said, it’s important not to over water. Over watering can cause plants to send out new growth resulting in tissue that won’t be hardened off for winter. It also can simply result in too much moisture in the ground, causing the roots to rot. This is especially true in heavy, clay soils.
All of the plants in your landscape will benefit from fall watering, but it is especially beneficial to evergreens as well as trees and shrubs planted with in the last five years. Because plant roots cannot extract water from the frozen soil, helping them to be retain moisture in the fall will help prepare them to survive whatever Old Man Winter throws their way! So keep an eye on the weather and make sure your landscape gets that 1-1.5 inches of water per week. Next season your plants will thank you for it.
Raking to loosen thatch & increase air & water circulation to soil
During those first few warm days of spring (yes, those days will actually come to us here in Minnesota) we all have the urge to get out into the sunshine and do some work in the yard and garden. As tempting as that is, your patience will pay off in the end. One of the first things people want to do in the spring is rake the yard. Raking is healthy for lawns. It helps to loosen matted down grass, allowing air and light to reach the soil surface. However, doing this too early when the soils are still cold and muddy can cause more harm than good by compacting the soil. As a rule of thumb, stay off the lawn as much as possible until it is has begun to dry out and is no longer muddy and soft under foot. The same rule applies to working in the garden. Each lawn and garden will differ on how long it takes to warm up and dry out. Keeping an eye on it and checking every few days will allow you to determine when it’s ok to begin walking on and raking your lawn.
Cutting back last year's foliage
Once the garden has dried out, it’s time to remove winter protection from tender perennials. Remove burlap from evergreens and tree wrap from tree trunks. Clean out remaining leaves from garden beds. This is a great time to pick up leaves, trash, fallen limbs and any other materials that have accumulated over the winter. It’s good to evaluate any structural changes you would like to make too. Now is a good time to take a look at the garden and think about what may need to be divided or moved and where you might have space for new plants. Spring is also the perfect time to cut back dead foliage of perennials and grasses before new growth starts and tangles with the old. The removal of dead foliage will improve your gardens chances of a healthy start. The chances of becoming susceptible to pests and diseases are greatly reduced. Finally, pruning dead branches promotes healthy new growth on trees and shrubs.
With a proper clean up, your garden will be well on it's way!
At Field our primary focus is the health of your garden. We want your garden off to a healthy start whether you do it yourself or call us to help. As always, we are available for questions so please don’t hesitate to call. Contact Carolyn at 612-554-8179.
Jason Rathe, co-owner, of Field Outdoor Spaces had the honor of being asked to contribute to our industry’s educational and informational trade show this past January. The Northern Green Expo is organized by the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association and is an opportunity for those in the green industry to interact with others and enhance their knowledge.
A "winning combination"!
Jason presented during a class entitled “Winning Plant Combinations”. Showcasing the Lily, Jason demonstrated how a garden could be designed around a particular lily, using its color to tie in other annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. As mail order catalogs begin to arrive in the mailbox, take a look and see what winning plant combinations you can build around the lily. Now is a perfect time to plan for a revitalization of your garden!
by Ann DavenportQuaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) has become a staple in many northern landscapes. We love its straight form, smooth gray-green bark, and the way its leaves quiver in the wind. Its strong presence is able to bring a little bit of the north woods to our urban landscapes. Sometimes despite our best efforts, pests and or disease can put a blemish on our otherwise well manicured space.The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has categorized Hypoxylon Canker, caused by the fungus Entoleuca mammata, as one of the most important diseases affecting Aspen in our area (Anderson, R., Anderson, G., & Schipper, A., 1997). The fungus enters the tree through wounds in the bark. Wounds can occur through insect damage or mechanical damage (pruning, mowers, etc…). Initial infections often occur in small branches. With age, the infection moves into the main stem of the tree. Unfortunately, the prognosis for trees infected with Hypoxylon Canker is grim. Once the cankered area reaches the main trunk it will girdle the tree. Most trees that reach this stage will die within five years.
Here are some things to look for when monitoring Aspen for signs of infection:• Leaves on the infected branch(s) appear smaller than normal, turn yellow, then brown• Cankers usually begin near wounds, branch stubs, or at the base of branches• New infections are marked by sunken bark which is initially yellowish-orange, turning black at the center with yellowish-orange margins as the infection ages• During early infection, the bark of the canker has a blistered appearance• With time, the blistered area breaks apart and falls off revealing blackened woodUnfortunately, there is no chemical treatment for Hypoxylon Canker. Trees with main trunk infections should be removed to prevent further spread to nearby Aspen. Routine monitoring of trees in the landscape can help identify early signs of the disease. Removal of infected braches before the cankered area reaches the main trunk may delay infection. This should be done during dry periods to minimize spread of the fungus. In general, pruning cuts should only be made when necessary and sterilization of equipment between cuts is recommended to minimize risk of spread. The best way to protect your Aspen from this disease is to provide an environment that encourages tree vigor; appropriate fertilization, and adequate water to prevent drought stress.Source:Anderson, R., & Anderson, G., (1997). Hypoxylon Canker of Aspen. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Forest Insect & Disease Leaflet 6. Retrieved August 1, 2010 from http://na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/fidls/hypoxylon/hypoxylon.htm
Do you have that itch to get out in your garden yet? I know your garden is filled with snow and that it is falling as I type, but there are some things you can do right now to get your garden off to a great start for the 2010 landscaping season.Deciduous trees and shrubs need regular pruning than other plants, but fortunately, it is relatively easy. Dormant pruning is done to produce strong, healthy, and attractive plants that are safe to be around. Proper procedures should begin when the plants are young to produce a strong structure and to eliminate potential problems when plants are young and small. Listed below are a few reasons to prune: Safety
Eliminate dead or dying branches that are injured by disease
Remove branches that cross and rub against each other
Encourage flowers and fruit
Shape limbs that could damage people or property
Eradicate branches that have poor angles resulting in their susceptibility to snapping in high winds or ice
Eliminate branches that obscure intersections or cross with power lines
Shape, i.e. a hedge
Remove suckers and water sprouts
Trees and shrubs that bloom later in the growing season should be pruned when they are leafless and dormant, just before the new growth begins for the season. This is typically in February when new tissue develops rapidly in response to spring. Another reason to dormant prune is to see the overall architecture of the plant you want to prune. The leaves aren’t there to muddle your views. Dormant pruning also prevents the spread of oak wilt disease. It is a disease that is dispersed by spores between the months of April to June. Do NOT prune an oak tree during these months.One exception to dormant pruning involves trees such as maples and birches. The tendency for them to bleed in the early spring can be unsightly. It is best to prune those types of trees well after the trees have leafed out in the summer. Below is a diagram depicting a proper pruning cut on a tree:
(from Colorado State website)
There are two primary pruning methods, renewal and rejuvenation. Renewal pruning cuts out older stems near the base. This stimulates the growth of younger stems and keeps the shrub flowering and fruiting. Subsequent pruning may need to occur to maintain the shape of the shrub. Understanding the natural shape of shrubs will help you determine how to prune. Shrubs that respond well to renewal pruning include lilacs, red twig and yellow twig dogwood, some species of viburnum, forsythia, mockorange, and weigela. Most of these shrubs are pruned within two weeks after they flower in the spring. The second type of pruning, called rejuvenation pruning, involves cutting stems down to the ground. This method is useful when a shrub has become overgrown with many stems growing together. Some shrubs that respond well to rejuvenation pruning include Anthony Waterer spirea, honeysuckle, snowberry, and privet. Early spring is the best time to initiate this type of pruning. There is a rejuvenation program that takes three years to complete but the overall attractiveness of the plant is maintained.Year 1: Remove 1/3 of the oldest canes that are not productive anymore.Year 2:Remove one half of the old stems.Year 3: Remove the remaining old branches. New stems will quickly grow to fill in where the old wood was thus creating a more lush plant. A lot of cuts are made on suckers which are vigorous vertical stems that are unsightly. The best way to get rid of suckers is to rip them out of the ground early in the spring while the stems are still small. Opposed to pruning, this method removes the bud and will discourage the growth of new suckers. Finally, recent studies have shown that applying a paint or wound dressing to the cut will not prevent decay like it was previously thought. The tree or shrub will form a callus on its own that will close over the wound and protect itself. You also need to disinfect cuts between each cut with a product such as Lysol. This will prevent passing diseases on to the next plant.With these pruning tips and methods you will be armed with the knowledge to make thoughtful and decisive pruning cuts in your landscape. Remember that if you make a mistake, you can always try again next year.
Watering trees is incredibly important. The drought this summer has left a huge number of our boulevard trees looking like this.
This is the season to get to your local garden center and start to plant! There are so many fabulous sales going on right now and this is a great time of year to get back in your garden and plant. It’s just a warning, but frost will arrive this month. The question is when and how hard will it hit?
Divide and transplant plants such as iris, daylilies and hostas
Plant peonies now, but make sure the crowns are buried only one and a half to two inches below ground level. Planting them deeper than two inches may keep them from blooming.
Perennial phlox can be divided about every third or fourth year. Divide big clumps of perennial phlox into thirds. Early fall or early spring are the best times to plant or transplant them.
Purchase plants and get them in the ground so their roots can become established before winter. Replace any plants that did not survive the summer and fill in the spaces in your garden.
Prune arborvitae bushes
Destroy any yard waste that is diseased
Rake up leaves, twigs and fruit from crabapple trees and dispose of them in the trash to help control apple scab disease.
Fall is a good time for improving your garden soil. Add manure, compost and leaves to increase the organic matter content.
Be sure to keep strawberry beds weed free. Every weed you pull now will help make weeding much easier next spring.
Keep watering. It’s important to provide adequate moisture going into winter to help prevent winter damage.
Select accent plants for your landscape that will provide autumn colors. Trees that have red fall color are flowering dogwood, red maple, sugar maple, Norway maple, red oak and scarlet oak. Shrubs with red fall foliage include sumac, viburnum, burning bush and barberry.
Stop fertilizing plants so plants can begin to rest before shutting down for winter
After a hard freeze, dig up dahlia and canna tubers and store in a cool place inside for the winter
Later in the month, plant tulips, daffodils, and other spring flowering bulbs