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Fall landscape preparation

Written by horticulture  |  25. September 2001

Fall is upon us and it is time to think about putting our landscapes to bed for the winter. One thing that you may notice, and this is a common concern at this time of year is natural needle drop on evergreens. This is a normal occurrence as the weather turns colder. Most of the evergreens will drop their second and third year growth in preparation for new growth next year. There is nothing to be alarmed about if the growth on the inside starts to brown out. However, if the terminal growth begins to brown, then there is a definite problem that has to be corrected. To prepare the landscape for the winter, certain steps need to be taken to ensure that the landscape is properly protected. A through application of horticultural or dormant oil should be applied to certain plants (some plants are sensitive to oil and can be damaged) to suffocate over wintering adults and their eggs. Fertilization this fall should be done to any trees and shrubs that suffered any kind of disease or heavy insect damage or were newly planted within the last 5 years. Fall feeding will enhance the root growth over the winter as well as provide nutrients that the plants the plants may not have been able to produce on their own. MeritInsecticide treatments should be done in October and early November to control Birch and Arborvitae leaf miner, scale and Hemlock adelgid since Merit takes up to 6 months to work its way through the vascular system of the plants, applications now will control these pests next year. Pruning is essential to remove weak and dead branches as well as inside sucker growth that has developed through the year. Thinning the crowns of trees, as well as opening up any tightly pruned shrubs, will provide better airflow through the plants and help reduce insect and disease activity next year. Some plants may need to be thinned twice a year. Shaping is not essential in the fall, since most of the new growth is in the spring. Planting projects should be done at this time of the year to ensure that new plants survive. Remember when doing any new planting to include a starter fertilizer in the hole and mychorrizae to help new root systems establish themselves. All burlap and wire baskets should be removed or cut down as far as possible and any container grown plants need to have the root ball cut and spread to prevent them from becoming potbound. October and November are also the months that nematodes should be applied to bed areas to control black vine weevil adults and their larvae as well as any white grubs that are there. Nematodes will seek out their prey in the soil, enter through pores and begin feeding. Death is caused by the build up of bacteria from their feces entering the insects' blood stream. Late November to mid December is the time when an anti-desiccant should first be applied, with a second treatment 4-6 weeks later (January-February 2002). Anti-Desiccant will protect all of your broad leaf evergreens from winter desiccation or water loss. Plants most effected by desiccation are: Accubbas, rhododendrons, azaleas, andromedas, boxwoods and hollies. Needled evergreens such as white pines and hemlocks are effected to a lesser extent. As always, if there is anything that I can help you with or look at, I would be glad to assist free of charge. Call my office at 631-691-2381 or E-mail me at aplantdoctor@hotmail.com and I will strive to do my best to help.

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