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Preparing your Trees & Shrubs for Summer

Mid-Spring 2024

Maple leaves are finally beginning to open. While lucky people know they don’t need to add organic debris around a big leaf maple, elsewhere in the planted landscape, mulch loves to be spread after the ground has a chance to warm up. If using wood chips, going for a measured 3-4 inches seems to be the way to go for not limiting precipitation from tree roots too much while still able to shade/ cool the soil. Top dressings of rich soil can be lightly applied around ornamentals before- or as an alternative to wood chips. These additions could be every year for the soil and every other year for the wood chips. You’re being careful around the emergent plants, right?Some are still just beginning to show.

Now would also be the time to start planning how to take care of your plants when droughts and heat events make the summer be a harsh growing time. Along with mulch (stone, bark, organic other), addition of a trellis (with or without a vining plant to grow up) can be a quick and decorative solution to offer shade to the soil surface. Shading and cooling down the soil surface will help retain moisture and cause a lesser need for supplemental watering, especially for ornamental trees. A good rule of thumb:the larger the tree, the larger the need for water.

With plant ownership comes plant management responsibilities. Remember to do maintenance pruning of your fruiting cherries, plums, and peaches after fruit set. Apples and pears can be pruned at this later time too, but before the heat of summer arrives. Up to quarter-inch cuts on an ornamental maple can be made throughout the year, other than when expressing or losing leaves. Hedges can be cut in late spring to slow down exuberant summer growth or wait until autumn’s arrival to avoid stressing the hedge plants.

And for goodness’ sake, please cut your tree-bound ivy at the base of the tree(s) to stop ivy maturation and seed production. Lack of this action will cause invasive ivy growth to expand exponentially across the landscape vs. already bad linear growth. If you care about healthy forests, please contact your legislator, and tell them you support the stopping of ivy plant sales in Washington State. You will be fighting against lobbyists from the plant sales and store corporations. Also, consider helping out and cut ivy away from trees in parks or forestlands you love. Be careful and don’t hurt yourself, others, or tender, native plants.

Yours In Trees


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