Thursday, February 24, 2011

Un-Stake Trees & Remove Guy Wires to Avoid Damage & Help Trees Thrive

Most young trees planted six months to a year don't need to remain staked. Staking is like training wheels; they are best taken off quickly.

After planting in fall, trees are typically staked to ensure that they stay upright and straight while their root systems get established in the new location, and that they remain standing without support and don’t blow over during windstorms. This requires that the roots grow an inch or two into the surrounding soil.

How do Crabapple LandscapExperts determine if a tree needs to be staked?

If a tree has a small root ball, it is good to stake
If a tree has a large crown that may act like a sail, catching the wind and causing the tree to blow over, it is staked.
If a tree is in a windy area where it might blow over before its roots become established, it's worth staking.
If a tree is in a heavily used area, where people might lean on it or children will play on it, staking is worthwhile.
If a tree is located along a busy street or parking lot where it is likely that cars will bump it, or in an area where heavy equipment is used, it is best to stake.

But staking is not forever. Staking has probably killed as many trees as it has helped because half of them were never unstaked. Crabapple LandscapExperts check about once a month to make sure the guy wire isn't digging into the bark of any newly planted trees. If it seems too snug, they loosen it slightly.

When to Unstake? 
After several months, when the young tree is established in its permanent location, the stakes have served their function and need to go. If a tree can't stand on its own by then, there's a problem that staking can't fix. Wires can bite into the rapidly growing trunk and cut into the cambium layer, girdling or strangling the tree to death.

Support roots and flexible "reaction wood" of the newly established tree will allow the tree to reach its maximum potential in a landscape maintained by Crabapple LandscapExperts

Illustrations courtesy of Orange Garden Supply and Missouri Extension Service

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Control Weeds in Lawns with Pre-Emergent Herbicide in Late Winter

To ensure lush green lawns without unsightly weeds, the key is to apply a pre-emergent weed killer. “Pre-emergent” means that a weed is stopped cold before it can sprout or emerge from the seed. “Herbicide” means weed-killer.

How is this possible? Certain lawn chemicals prevent seeds from germinating and/or prevent seedlings from growing to maturity. They control certain enzymes needed for germination.

Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS choose the right kind of pre-emergent by matching both the type of weed that needs to be controlled as well as the type of turfgrass in the lawn. Most pre-emergents contain synthetic chemical ingredients (benefin, isoxaben, pendimethalin, atrazine, dithiopyr, trifluralin and others), and the only organic pre-emergent available at this time is corn gluten meal.

Pre-emergent weed killers have little effect on full grown lawns, and especially on dormant Bermuda or Zoysia lawns. Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS select the best pre-emergents for Fescue lawns as well.

Pre-emergents must be matched to the type of weed that needs to be controlled.  Some pre-emergents kill grassy plants (like crabgrass, poa annua or goosegrass) while others control only broad-leaved plants (like dandelions or chickweed).

Rest assured that Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS provide safe and effective weed control by identifying the types of weeds at hand, the type of turf and by following the herbicide label application directions exactly.

Birdhouses, Nesting and Early Spring Cleaning

At a recent community club meeting, my friend explained she was buying an Owl Box to install in a tree near their home at 15-18 feet above the ground, just about at “deck level.” They had enjoyed screech owls raising a family in their backyard for several years running, and decided to encourage them to nest where it would be easier to follow their progress.

Plenty of people enjoy watching, feeding and learning about birds. Birding offers an easy opportunity to connect with feathered inhabitants of the natural world and to enjoy their songs, beauty and behavior. Use a simple field guide to find out what species are visiting the backyard. Wild birds need food, water and shelter, so to attract them to the backyard, supply these requirements. More than 60 million Americans of all ages put out bird feeders to attract birds, but an even more laid-back way to participate is to install a bird house.

Different styles of bird houses attract different types of birds, and each needs to be sited correctly. For example, robins like an open shelf under an eave and avoid closed-in boxes. Bluebirds nest in birdhouses about five feet above the ground and like a clear meadow area (think open lawn) where they can hunt for food and watch out for predators. Install a new bird house in late winter to give avian couples a chance to find it before spring. Hopefully a pair will move in and raise a family this spring.

Birds prefer to build fresh nests each spring. Once a year in late winter is the time to check and clean last year’s bird house before the nesting season.  Many birdhouses have a hinged wall for easier cleaning.
1.    Wear rubber gloves
2.    Open the hinged floor, wall or roof of the bird house wall and dump out the old nest
3.    Scrub out the inside with a 10 percent bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) using a brush to get into all the corners
4.    Dry out in the sun
5.    Reinstall

Good luck attracting some feathered friends! An interesting site I came across is Cornell’s Nest Watch . This site includes a Nest Cam and shows hatching eggs.