Posts tagged roots

Spring tree care

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

    March marked the start of our transition from winter to spring.  Now that the snow has melted  (we hope,)  it’s a good time to examine your trees for winter damage.  We often expect our trees to be self sufficient and  tend to neglect their well-being.  

     After the frost is gone, thoroughly water trees that have been subjected to de-icing compounds.  This will move the chemicals through the soil and away from the tree roots.   Watering before the ground thaws will create runoff and pollute soil and ground water. 

     If your trees need to be fertilized, wait until the ground has completely thawed.  Fertilizer run off wastes money and also contributes to groundwater pollution.

     If, and only if, an insect problem exists, dormant oil sprays can be used once the temperature reaches a constant 40 degrees.  Dormant oils are used to control some scale insects and overwintering insects. 

    Rabbits and voles girdle trunks at the base.  Damage will appear as a lighter area on the trunk, primarily as teeth marks.   The damage interrupts the flow of water and nutrients to the roots.   While you have no recourse for the damage, it is wise to monitor the health of the tree as severe damage can kill a tree.

    Tree wraps should be removed in the spring as the temperature warms.

    Complete pruning prior to trees leafing out.  Storm damaged branches should be removed as they occur. 

    If you’re planning on adding trees to your landscape, now is a good time to visit our local nurseries and greenhouses for suggestions and recommendations.        Personally, I’m going to find the shadiest spot under the big walnut to plant my chair and enjoy my favorite summer beverage.

 

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Waking the garden

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, who wrote this on a more pleasant day than today:

 

Yes, Mr. Rogers, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  And presentations by Master Gardeners Deb Walser on New Perennials and Becki Lynch on Grasses at the Lawn and Garden Show last weekend got me really, really motivated to work in the yard.  As I moaned about achy muscles, my favorite Granddaughter Catie, chided me for not stretching before grabbing the rake and nippers.  Now is a great time to commence waking your flower and vegetable beds.   If you have heavy concentrations of leaves and debris in the beds packed down by snow and ice, rake them out and fire up the lawn mower or shredder.  Fluff the mulch and add the shredded leaves to the top of it. Air, water and nutrients need to reach dormant roots and bulbs. Encourage drainage.  Poorly drained soil or standing water will cause roots and bulbs to rot.  Think soil amendments.  Add compost to your beds.  If you’re thinking of having the soil tested, now is a good time and you can pick up the test from the Extension Office.    I got about half my beds trimmed and raked out today before I ran out of energy.  During a break I enjoyed cold tea instead of hot coffee, and planned further for the new bed I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  I know where the old seeder wagon and garden gate can stand.  I know approximately how much mulch and grass cloth to purchase.  And, I know about how many Hostas to buy at the Master Gardeners’ Spring Plant Sale.  I’ll broach the subject of the stone erosion control area to my favorite son at a later date.  

                 Draw a diagram of your deck and create an interesting focal point using your houseplants grouped with potted annuals.   Several years ago another Master Gardener suggested moving house plants outside for the summer.  It’s amazing how they thrive.  Just remember to keep them out of the direct, hot sunlight.  Get them ready now by repotting, if necessary.  Begin watering and fertilizing lightly and gradually increase exposure to sunlight. 

                Achy muscles aside, the fresh air and sunshine were so welcome. I’m anxious to get back out and clean up the remainder of the gardens.

                P.S. Many of you will be receiving or purchasing Hardy Oriental, Asiatic or traditional white lilies soon.  Keep them healthy by placing them in a cool, bright location in your home.  Keep the soil moist but not wet.  Perforate or remove the decorative foil so the water doesn’t collect in the decorative pot or basket.  Remember to place the pot on a saucer to prevent spills.  Continue to care for the lily after the flowers fade because they can be planted outdoors.  The planting site should be in full sun with well drained soil.  Lilies create beautiful backdrops or vertical accents.

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Tree planting tips

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

Oh! The weather outside is delightful!   It’s so great to work in the yard now that it’s a bit cooler and less buggy.  The latest project is creating a stenciled board on the front of a new flower bed that says “Welcome to the Farm.”  Granddaughter Catie will be creatively adding flowers, leaves, butterflies and dragonflies. 

However, as I sat there painting, I couldn’t help but notice that the maple tree in the waterway looks pretty shabby.  We won’t be able to prune it until early winter. Some larger dead branches and some crossovers will need to come out.  The tree is a case of planting a wonderful tree in the wrong location!  Constantly soggy roots were not conducive to a healthy tree and we may need to replace this one.

As mentioned previously,  fall is a good time to plant a tree.  Choose wisely when purchasing one.  Avoid those amazing bargains.  Use a reputable nursery’s stock and investigate the guarantee prior to writing your check.  It’s a good idea to plant a balled or burlap wrapped tree in the fall.  Even a container tree should be o.k.  and will experience less stress than an open rooted specimen.  Ask about the tree’s adult height:  perhaps a dwarf model would better suit your location than a tree that may reach a height of 50-60 feet.  Plant the tree as soon as possible.  Dig the hole two to three times the diameter of the root ball.  The burlap will rot in the ground but remember to remove any rope or stakes. Water the tree well and keep the tree moist even into the winter.   Your tree needs to adapt to the soil in which you’re planting it so don’t amend the soil.  Amending the soil may create unwanted air pockets and prevent water from penetrating onto the roots.  Three or four inches of good organic mulch around, but not up against the trunk, will help to retain moisture

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Exposed roots

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

Ouch!  Ouch, again!   Oh! The sound is definitely not music to my ears.  How much damage did I do to the blades that I didn’t want to replace until season’s end?  Have you ever inadvertently mowed over a tree’s exposed roots?  Those are the surface roots growing just a little above the soil.  They are important to the support and health of a tree.  Continual wounds from a lawn mower blade or weed whip create entryways for insects and diseases. 

Here are some hints for easily eliminating a stressful situation:

§  Do not try to correct the situation with an ax!

§  Use mulch (one of my favorite items).  A two or three inch layer is attractive and provides a good environment for the roots.  Prevent smothering the tree trunk by keeping the mulch two or three inches away from the trunk.

§  Plant a shade loving perennial ground cover around the base of the tree.  The plants will insulate the roots but won’t out-compete the tree for water and nutrients.   Try some of the hundreds of varieties of Hosta that are just waiting to be chosen.

§  If you like some grass under the tree(s), strategically space plantings. 

§  Plan for a bit of elbow grease as weed control is critical. 

§  As a last resort, you could eliminate all of the grass by covering it with layers of newspaper.           

§  Do not build a raised bed around the tree.  Burying the tree roots will kill many species of trees.  And, the roots that don’t die will eventually reach the surface again.

§  Do not rototill or add soil to the planting area.

§  Amending the soil with organic materials such as peat or compost is very acceptable. 

There is still time to plant this summer. Change the landscape under the tree and save that mower blade and weed whip string for necessary areas. 

 

 

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Stressed out trees

The following, from a brochure issued by Iowa State University Extension Service on “The Effects of Flooding on Trees” comes from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith, along with a message from Coordinator Bev Lillie, about becoming a master gardener:

  

Mature, well-established trees are more tolerant of flooding than over mature trees or seedlings of the same species.  If flooding is recurrent or uninterrupted and keeps soils saturated, serious damage to trees may occur. 

Flooding during the growing season typically is more harmful to trees than flooding during dormant periods.  Flood-stressed trees exhibit a wide range of symptoms including yellowing leaves, defoliation, reduced leaf size and shoot growth, crown dieback and sprouts along the stem or trunk.  Symptoms may progress into tree decline and death, reoccur for several years and then eventually disappear, or subside by as early as next year indicating rapid tree recovery. 

Flooding reduces the supply of oxygen to the soil and roots and usually results in growth inhibition and injury to flooded trees.  Deposits of silt or sand as shallow as three inches can be injurious, especially to newly planted trees.  Tree roots also must contend with high concentrations of toxic compounds that accumulate in waterlogged soils.  Strong currents and soil particles suspended in flood waters can erode soil from around the base of trees exposing tree roots.  Exposed roots are vulnerable to drying and mechanical injury and their occurrences may make trees more vulnerable to windthrow. Flood-stressed trees are prime candidates for attack by secondary organisms.  Several opportunistic disease-causing fungi and insects invade trees that are weakened or stressed.  Minimizing additional stress or injuries should be a priority on high value trees for one to three years after flooding to reduce the chance of attack by insects.

            “The best approach to managing flood-stressed trees is to enhance their vigor by following proper tree-maintenance practices and eliminating additional stresses.  Dead or severely cankered branches should be removed as soon as possible.  Aerating the soil, mulching and watering during extended dry periods are recommended tree-care practices that can help enhance vigor, but they are not rescue treatments for severely injured trees.  Trees developing substantial dieback and decline symptoms or those possessing defects that prone to windthrow and structural failure should be removed from the landscape immediately.                                                    

Questions regarding flood damaged or stressed trees, flowers and vegetables can be directed to the Linn County Master Gardeners Horticulture Hotline at the Linn County Extension Office at 319-447-0647.

 

Contact the Linn County Extension Office at (319) 377-9839 or e-mail Bev at lillieb@iastate.edu for more information about becoming a Linn County Master Gardener.  Information as well as applications may be picked up at the office, mailed to you or accessed by going to:  www.extension.iastate.edu.linn/news, then click on Yard and Garden. The deadline for returning completed applications is July 25, 2008.

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