LongIsland.com

Winter 2005- 2006

Written by horticulture  |  14. January 2006

I hope that every one enjoyed their summer and fall. The weather was beautiful, the sun shined and the temperatures soared during the summer. It was a perfect summer for working on tans and having picnics. The only thing that was missing was rain. I say this from the standpoint of our landscape plants. The current drought that we are experiencing has caused many of our landscape plants to go into stress. This lack of regular rainfall had caused the root systems of the plants to shorten in order to save energy. Even plants that are irrigated regularly are weak. Most irrigations systems are designed for watering lawns, not your landscape. Landscapes need deep regular irrigation to promote deeper and stronger root systems. Normal sprinklers will soak the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches, tree feeder roots are down as far as 8 inches under the soil. To properly water your landscape, soaker hoses and drip irrigation is the preferred method. These types of irrigation will deliver the water in a slow and steady method into the root zones . The fall was a little bit better, once the cooler temperatures rolled in, the plants started to recover from the summer. What concerns me at this time is that the winter weather is fluctuating too much for the landscapes. The winter started off fine with normal temperatures, which caused the plants to harden off and go dormant the way they are supposed to. When these warmer than normal temperatures hit, many of the plants started to come out of dormancy as if it was spring. Once the weather goes back to normal, the plants that have already started to open their buds will try to go back into dormancy. The problem this will cause for these trees will be severe in some cases. If the buds have begun to emerge, any low temperatures will damage the tender young leaves, and more importantly, the flowers. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about these problems at this time. Once the Spring does officially arrive, fertilization is recommended for the ornamentals to help strengthen them from the damage that could be done at this time of year. I would also recommend that any newer evergreen hedges that were put in this past fall be shielded from the winter winds with burlap enclosures. This would also go for any older evergreen hedges that are exposed to harsh winds. Just a note about some other care, now is a great time to have pruning done to your larger trees. It is easier at this time to find and eliminate weak branches, and some structural defects in younger trees. When you contract a tree company, check their standing with the Better Business Bureau and try to hire ones that employ ISA Certified Arborists. When they are pruning, make sure that the climbers that are going up in the tree DO NOT USE CLIMBING SPIKES if you want to keep the tree healthy. Climbing spikes make small holes in the tree, which could allow insects and diseases to affect the tree. If you have any questions or need some advice, feel free to contact me at aplantdoctor@hotmail.com

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