Monday, February 18, 2013

Cleaning & Mending for the Home Landscape

Deer, voles, mice and rabbits were responsible for most of the root, trunk and branch damage.  Deer with their antler raking, cause much trunk damage, in addition to browsing on favorite landscape specimens.  Voles tunnel around throughout the landscape feeding on, and often girdling, trees and shrubs.  Mice are adept at climbing, seeking the higher and outer tree portions.  Rabbits, standing atop a constant snow cover, were able to reach greater heights, as they nibbled on trunks, also quite capable of girdling trees.  As delicate plants like threadleaf Japanese maples lay imprisoned and blanketed by storm after storm, they were subject to an excess of rodent destruction, besides the deer damage.  This Japanese maple exhibits a combination of storm, rodent (mice) and deer damage.....

Guess who came to dinner!

Pick up winter debris - leaves, twigs, branches - from garden and lawn areas.  Trim away torn and broken limbs that cannot be repaired.  Cut all dead wood branch tips to live tissue.  Scratching the bark with your thumbnail, will expose underlying green tissue.  Clean pruning cuts will heal much more quickly… eliminate jagged bark edges, with a sharp pocket knife.  Dressing any trunk wounds, to encourage callusing, includes shaping the wound elliptically for proper water drainage.  Eventually, the edges will callus, with the callus rolling inward to meet the inner wood.  An application of
Phytech 50® will prevent excessive drying, as wounds strive to heal.  Coat all edges and inner surfaces with this protective blend of oils and waxes.  With sap rising and the threat of insects and diseases looming on the horizon, this becomes an additional step, not needed with winter pruning.  

Obviously, the weakest point is where two branches converge, in a V-shape… such a crotch is always subject to moisture collection, freeze damage and snow-load stress.  While any specimen can fall prey to the ravages of winter, those causing the greatest concern are small ornamental trees, like dogwood, Japanese maples, etc.

First, eliminate any excessive top weight, so as they foliate, there’s less of a foliage load.  Trying to mend splits is an easier task with two people.  First step is to scrape away some of those dried inner cells, to expose live tissue.   I like to coat both halves with vaseline to keep the cells pliable and fresh during the healing process.  Bind them together with clothesline or stout twine, temporarily.  Do NOT use wire, duct tape, electrical tape, etc. to bind such branches back together.  These cut off air circulation, hold moisture and will girdle the area.  Galvanized or stainless steel carriage bolts, nuts and washers are countersunk (bark will callus over) when trying to guy two branches back to their original growth pattern.  The last step is to apply Phytech 50® across the top and along the sides of the mended area, to prevent water damage and to keep pests and diseases at bay.  Lastly, choose a warm spell to perform these tasks, with temps in the 50-60º range for several days.

This Kerria japonica displays many broken branches, needing 
immediate attention, by cutting back to live dormant buds.  And 
as soils become friable, start feeding those stressed plants with 
a granular, organic fertilizer.  
 'Robusta Green' juniper ~ partially uprooted, 
with major splits in several places...

 Sadly, this balsam fir succumbed to a needle cast 
disease that started late last fall.  All remnants of this 
diseased tree must be removed, to lessen the chance of 
this disease spreading to another fir, nearby.

The butterfly bush suffered many broken branches and 
has been the recipient of exceptionally early spring pruning.

 Surprisingly, the 'Blue Prince' holly in front 
sustained little damage, despite remaining in a prone 
position... buried under snow all winter.  The 
'Blue Princess' holly in the background has also 
recovered nicely.

 This holly disappeared after the first heavy snowstorm 
and had snow shoveled upon it, but seems to have survived.

 A closer look at the center, reveals a little pruning and guying 
are in order.  But, overall, not too bad.

 This was a nice reward at the end of my landscape 
inspection... nestled in a warm spot by the foundation, 
this hardy little crocus announces spring.

And, the last Amaryllis blossom poses, as I turn 
my attention to the indoor plants.

 Just a reminder ~ keep feeding those birds until they're 
able to start dining on insects, providing us with 
valuable insect control.

One good thing about all that snow?  Just last week, as the 
snow melted from my banking of cotoneaster, an abundant 
crop of berries on the Cotoneaster 'Perpusilla' came into 
view... much to the delight of my backyard birds!

First 6 Photos: ©S.R. Calef 2011
Remainder of Photos: ©Deb Lambert 2011

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Anonymous said...

taking down the deer fence this weekend ! hopefully everything will recover-Gail

GardenAuthor said...

Gail ~ Sorry for the delayed response, but just found your comment. For some reason, I received no email alert that there were comments pending.

I hope that your landscape recovered nicely with the great growing season we experienced this year. Speaking of deer fencing, it's about time to reinstall. Hard to believe that winter's just around the corner, once again. Much success with your end-of-season garden chores!