You may be noticing that all of a sudden, the trees are beginning to sprout leaves; the lawn has to be mowed and flowers are coming up everywhere.
This is your signal to get out in the yard now and get started (or to continue to build on what you've already done), or you will never be able to
keep up with the ever-changing spring season. This week, let us talk a bit about pruning, transplanting and dividing plants in the yard.
Start by looking out your windows to see the outdoors. Is your view restricted with overgrown shrubs and trees? On the warm days can you open the
windows to get a breeze inside the house--or do the plants block the air movement? Looking at the house from the outside, can you see the windows or are
all the shrubs growing together like one big long plant? When was the last time you even pruned those plants that grow around your home? Do you even own
a pair of pruners or garden shears? If you are overwhelmed, then it is time to get help from your local nursery or garden center. Begin with a picture of
your house to show the nurseryman what your house looks like and ask for his advice. Some plants can be pruned and saved while others may have to be
removed and replaced. The nurseryman can help you to do the right thing and the time is now, so please do not feel embarrassed that you have neglected
your yard: that is what he is there for. As I state on my garden show ,"There is no such a thing as a dumb garden question.".Gardening is a hobby that
you acquire with knowledge and practice, so get ready to learn and have fun doing it.
I want you to remember this: "All evergreens that do not flower should be pruned at this time of the year before the new growth starts to develop on
the plant." Such plants as Yews, Junipers, Pines, Spruce, Hemlocks, Arborvitaes, Ilex, Boxwood and more, need to be pruned back to control their size so
they do not take over their own space and crowd out other plants. Prune to remove broken, dead or overgrown branches now, and when the new growth
develops in the weeks to come any holes that formed on the plant will fill in with the new growth. If you wait until the new growth has formed on the
plant and then prune, you will remove the new growth that formed and the plant will look like you just pruned it. Also, pruning late means that some of
the foliage will have cut marks on the new growth, which will turn brown where the cut leaf scabs over to heal the edge where it was cut by the garden
shears. Prune early for a more natural looking plant.
The same pruning principle for non-flowering evergreens should be followed for any non-flowering deciduous plant at this time of the year. Such plants
as Burning Bush, barberry, privet hedges, dwarf willows, and more need pruning. I want you talk to your local nurseryman, who will tell you how to prune
the plant. Grab your pruners, walk up to the plant and say out loud, " I am doing this for your own good!" and begin to prune. Do not be scared; it has
to be done and you can do it.
Burning bush can be cut in half at this time of the year to control size; just prune the plant so it has a natural look when you are finished. Plants
do not grow square in nature! If you have privet hedges that are getting too tall for you to handle or the bottom of the plant has no foliage, it is time
to prune. You can remove as much as 50% of the top of the plant now to control size. If the lower part of the plant has no foliage, cut the plant to 12
to 18 inches from the ground. Cut it down now, fertilize it and in just 3 years the plant will grow back to 4 to 6 feet tall with very thick foliage
right to the ground. Privet hedges should be pruned every year to control the size and help promote foliage right to the ground. Remember, "I am doing
this for your own good!"
Plants that flower should be pruned as the flowering cycle begins to finish. As soon as you see that the flowers are falling from the plant, or the
once brightly colored flowers start to fade, start pruning. If pruned as the flowers fade, rhododendrons will make new growth on old branches because of
dormant buds that are on the plant. The new growth always develops after flowering; if you can prune early, the plant will have time to make the new
growth and still have time to make flower buds for next year. As your forsythia begins to drop flowers, use your hand pruners to shape the plant.
PLEASE do not cut them in a round or square shape like some of these fly-by-night landscape companies do. Forsythia is a plant that is enjoyed for its
beautiful arching branches. When pruned properly, new shoots will develop from the base of the plant to help thicken the plant and replace older
If you have lilacs, I want you to look at the plant and cut back non-flowering branches to 4 feet from the ground. I cut back half of the
non-flowering branches each year to encourage flowering and to control the height of the plants. Make the cut with lopping shears or use a saw for thick
branches. What remains will look like a stick, but in just a few weeks small shoots will develop on the sides of this stick, making new growth that will
fill in the plant. In just two years the plant will make flowers that are now at eye level where you can see and smell them. If the ground around the
plant is covered with small shoots remove 50% to 75% of them so the energy helps the remaining shoots to grow better. You can also dig clumps of these
shoots and transplant them to start new plants. To encourage flowering, apply Limestone or wood ash to lilacs every spring.
If you have always wanted to move plants that have grown large from their present position, NOW is the time to move them. Rhododendrons, azaleas, and
most evergreen plants are easily moved at this time of the year. These plants have a fibrous root system so the roots are numerous and the soil ball will
hold together better for you when you move the plant to a new location. Dig a circular trench around the plant and keep as much of the roots as you can
handle. Wrap the roots and soil with burlap and tie it up with rope to move it to the new location. Plant with compost, soil additives and keep moist for
the next couple of months.
If you have property with wild-growing birches and pine trees, now is the time to transplant them into your yard from the wild. The plant is still
dormant and will adapt to the move much more easily now than when the new growth develops and the weather gets warm. With less stress, the plant can
adjust the amount of new growth to the amount of roots still attached to the plant. The first year you move the plant, expect little to no new growth,
as the plant is putting all its energy into developing new roots in the new garden. The following year you will see normal growth develop on the plant.
When you dig plants at this time from the wild, expect a 75% or better survival rate.
This also the best time to divide your perennials in your garden. Such plants as hosta, daylilily, phlox, lupine,lily of the valley and more love the
move when small and the weather is cool and wet. Less stress and they will quickly adjust to the move. This is a great time to dig and swap plants from
your garden with friends and neighbors. If you have plants that have taken over your garden, it is now time to clean them out are replace them with new
and exciting plants. Iris are best divided and cleaned now to prevent borers and increase the flowers that develop. Big clumps of ground-cover-type
perennials like Ground Phlox are best divided as soon as they finish flowering. Use a garden spade and split them into clumps and dispose of any dead
parts of the plant. If you are dividing multi-stem plants like hosta or dhaylilies, dig them up from the garden and pull them apart with your hands. A
plant divided in groups of 3 to 5 plants per division will develop and flower much faster.
This also the best time to move rose bushes to a sunny location and clean them. Kneel on the ground to examine the plant for shoots that develop below
the graft or the swollen growth on the stem that looks like a fist. Almost all hybrid roses are grafted; at times, the rootstock that it is grafted on
will try to take over the rose that you actually want. These shoots, called suckers, will rob your plant of all food, killing it. Any shoots below the
graft should be removed from the plant any time you see them. If you have not yet pruned your roses back this spring, do it now. Remove any dead or
broken branches and then cut the plant to 18 inches from the ground. This cleaning and pruning will stimulate new growth and more flowers for you this
year. Roses love to be fertilized; the most productive rose is fed every month.
Some bugs that terrorize your garden need to be treated now with insecticide. Hemlocks, for example, have a white cottony insect that will live on the
underside of the needles near the tip of the branches. This bug is called Wooly Adelgid and if not controlled, it will kill your trees in just 3 to 4
years. Use Bayer Tree and Shrub now. If you have hybrid lilies and you have noticed small bugs that look like the lady bug on them, eating holes,
you have a problem and must act now. This is the Asiatic Lily Beetle and has several generations that will first eat holes in the
foliage, then drill into the stems to feed on the bulb below ground, killing it quickly. Treat NOW with Bayer Tree and Shrub at the rate of one
tablespoon per gallon of water. Use a quart of product for every 3 to 5 lily plants in the garden. To prevent Birch Leaf Miner on your birch clumps,
also use Tree and Shrub at this time. The same product will control the leaf Miner on Columbine when applied now to keep the plant clean. Look for
directions on the bottle label for each of these insect problems.
If you find ticks on yourself when working in the garden, treat your garden and lawn with the new all Natural Flea and Tick Organic spray from Eco
Smart. This Organic control product is recommended by the state of Maine Disease control center after many tests in all type of conditions.
If you have asparagus growing in your vegetable garden and grass is a problem, now is the best time to kill the grass, ask for a new product called
Over the Top 2. Your local Garden Center can get this product for you if they do not carry it already. After a wet spring, you may have moss or mold
growing on your fence, patio, walkways, or on the shingles on the north side of the house. While the problem is just starting, treat with the all organic
Wet and Forget Moss and Mold Killer. Just spray and forget it and it will clean the surface in just a few weeks, keeping it mold free for up to a year.
It also works on your roof if moss is growing up there. Moss on the roof is slowly digging roots into the shingle and soon water will get into your
home, so kill it now.
A little bit of work now will give you hours of enjoyment later. Enjoy!