Expectations and Activities in your Early Spring Landscape

Posted 2/1/2024 in Plant Care | 2079 view | 0 comments

Expectations and Activities in your Early Spring Landscape

Follow these 8 tips for SUCCESS   

1. Animal Feeding During harsh winters: Animals such as rabbits, deer, and voles can do serious damage to your plants and lawns. Rabbits have the ability to cut plants such as hydrangeas and burning bush completely to the ground, while deer have a special affinity for the branches of evergreens such as arborvitae and yews. Sprays won't help once the feeding damage is done, but remember to fertilize to promote new growth (granular, liquid or mushroom compost are great). Next year try nylon mesh as a barrier to prevent feeding. In addition, during winters with heavy snow cover, voles (small, mouse-like creatures) feed on the roots of turfgrass and can cause massive damage throughout your lawn beneath the powdery protection. Apply mole/vole max to send them away and begin your fertilizing schedule with the Anderson's 4 Step program (http://www.jimmelkalandscaping.com/Resources/) around Easter.  

2. Insect Activity Early: Spring can be one of the most efficient times for insect control. As temperatures begin to rise, insects become active following their overwintering stage. Be on the look-out for various clues such as Bagworm nests on your evergreens shrubs. Promptly remove these "bags" from your plants and either burn them or place them in the trash. Remember never place insect remnants in a compost pile, as they will survive to feed again. A great tip to make scouting for insect activity easier: use plant flowering schedules as an indicator. For example, apply liquid insecticide to prevent Euonymus Scale when Bridal-Wreath Spirea is in full bloom or Spruce Spider Mite when Callery Pear is in full bloom (http://ohioline.osu.edu/sc157/sc157_16.html). Apply horticultural oil as both prevention and contact control from April-June on most commonly found insects. Oils and soaps are less harmful to the environment and are very effective when applied every 2-3 weeks.    

3. Heavy Snow Loads: Large amounts of snow, as we have seen this year, can have positive and negative impacts on the success of your landscape plants. At moderate levels, snow can help insulate plant roots from sub-zero temperatures as well as provide essential moisture during periods of un-seasonal melting. We always recommend packing excess snow around the base of plants for the aforementioned reasons, however snow mounded high above the plants top branches can be detrimental. When multiple inches of snow are piled on top of plants, the weight can be too much for their branches to handle causing them to snap. Broken branches can be a perfect location for insects and diseases to breed in the spring, while disrupting the shape and structural integrity of the plant itself.   

4. Salt damage: The application of salt on sidewalks and driveways is a common practice to prevent ice build-up and subsequent injury. However, salt can be severely damaging to plant material, especially evergreens, when over applied near planting beds. To prevent salt damage following a heavy application, use a soft brush or broom to knock off any residual salt particles from the leaves/needles (i.e. Boxwood, Yews, Spruce, Arborvitaes, etc.). If a large amount of salt has accumulated on a plant, water it in early spring to wash away the excess salt. You may see browning of the foliage due to salt-toxicity, so repeat waterings every few days and fertilize every 2-3 weeks to promote new growth. If salt has built up around plants with no winter foliage, soak the soil for 30 seconds every other day for 1-2 weeks to flush out the residual salt. Next year try magnesium or calcium chloride instead of rock salt as a safer alternative for plants.  

5. Pruning: Pruning can be a dicey subject because there is not a ‘hard and fast rule of thumb' on when to prune your plants. Certain plants produce their flower buds at certain times of the year, therefore if they are pruned too early or too late, the initiation of new flowers can be comprised. For example, plants that flower in the early spring should be prune immediately after they flower: Forsythia, Azaleas, Lilacs, Quince, Fothergilla, and Magnolia. Plants that flower later in the summer or fall can be pruned in the spring because they will have time to grow their new flower buds. These include Weigela, Rose of Sharon, Tardiva Hydrangea (‘Quick Fire’, ‘Pink Diamond’ & ‘Limelight’), Big Leaf Hydrangea ('Endless Summer' or 'Twist & Shout') and ninebark. Fortunately, many plants are very forgiving such as Knock Out Rose, Arrowwood Viburnum, Annabelle Hydrangea, and Nishiki Willow. We recommend spring pruning to clean off dead, winter wood as a trigger for new growth, however others recommend the fall for maintenance reasons and you can still have flowers at the proper time. Plants can be tricky, but it really depends on if they can initiate flower buds quickly enough following 'off-season' pruning. We are more than happy to answer questions about pruning and other plant care strategies.   

6. Hardwood Mulch & Blended Compost: Mulch and Compost have both similarities and differences. Similarly, they can both be used as a "mulching" product, meaning they can be spread around plants to hold moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth. Conversely, hardwood mulch is made when large trees and shrubs are ground down leaving a shredded mass. Blended compost is a dense, shredded mixture of mushroom cultures and fine leaf material such as hay and turfgrass. Therefore, the major difference is that blended compost is 'living material.' It is packed with beneficial micro-organisms that are ready to improve the health and quality of your soil. In the spring, cultivate blended compost into the soil around your plants and spread mulch in the open spaces (for moisture retention, weed suppression, and cost savings), and watch your plants thrive throughout the season. Blended Compost is a miracle drug for plants!  

7. When the Ground Thaws: Besides causing massive amounts of snow to melt in early spring, rising temperatures have a dramatic effect on the soil structure. When the soil begins to thaw, it expands, which can cause shallow rooted plants such as Coralbells and other perennials to rise above the soil level. Placing a thin layer of snow during the winter helps, but also add mushroom compost and push the base of all new plants and smaller perennials down following the first major thawing event. This will help drying out in the summer because roots will not be exposed from the spring ‘heaving.’   

8. A Tired and Hungry Lawn: Spring is a very important time to ensure the health and long term success of your lawn. Following these few easy steps will help build strength to you lawn and allow it to fight off stresses throughout the season such as drought and disease. First off, rack your lawn to clear any debris and remove dead grass blades to make it easier for new blades to emerge. Secondly, Sharpen lawn mower blades and give them a spring tune up, so they’re ready for the first cut. Next, check your fertilizer spreader and repair any damage to ensure uniform applications throughout the season. Purchase the Andersons’s 4-step Fertilizer Program, including Duocide Insecticide and Prophesy Fungicide for year-long pest prevention (http://www.jimmelkalandscaping.com/Resources/). It has been a long, hard winter without nutrients for your lawn, so apply your first fertilizer application around Easter and watch it thrive! 


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