Do not top evergreen trees. This destroys the growth habit of the tree. It is better to selectively remove limbs or remove the tree. When an evergreen tree is topped, most of the new growth is directed upward. After a few years the tree will become top heavy, then when a winter storm hits, it may become dangerous by breaking off and possibly falling through your roof or your neighbor’s. This is called the sail effect. See Five Reasons to Stop Tree Topping.
Good intentions, bad results. Most homeowners put this black, cloth-like material down and then cover the fabric with bark or mulch. What happens is fine particles of bark or organic material clog the pores of these mats. This prevents water and oxygen from getting to your soil. The soil becomes sterile and lifeless. Removing these mats is very labor intensive and expensive.
It is well worth a homeowner’s time to call a landscape consultant. The consultant will tell you about the plants you have, including growth habits, pests, proper placement, special nutritional needs, transplanting, botanical names, and additions you can make to your garden. It is best to record this consultation using a camcorder for later viewing. Ruth, Falaah or Crissy are recommended for this type of consultation on my Recommended Service Providers Page. Expect to pay $50-60 dollars an hour for this service.
Bark is usually applied to a garden for aesthetic reasons and to retard weed growth. Bark is composed of dyed wood pieces that require large amounts of nitrogen to be broken down. Bark takes nutrients out of your soil. It can also have high salt content, since the trees the bark came from might have floated in saltwater. For these reasons, I prefer mulch.
The two main reasons for mulching your landscape are to provide a barrier for shading out weed seeds, and to retain moisture for your expensive plants. After the mulch breaks down, organic material is also provided for your soil. Mulches reduce labor, pesticide and water usage. Mulches also help to encourage nutrient recycling.
This method is used to cover landscaped areas and discourage weed growth without chemicals. Lay down newspapers or cardboard (a biodegradable filter fabric) then cover with mulch. This provides a barrier between germinating seeds and the mulch. This is also used to replace current lawn area for future flower beds.
to reduce evaporation and stress on the plants during the summer heat. If you deadhead your annuals and perennials quite often, they will bloom again in summer.
Just because pests such as aphids or other chewing insects are present does not necessarily mean that you have to spray pest control immediately. It takes a while but predators lag behind pest infestation. In other words, something often comes along and eats your pests!
First decide how much pest damage you or the plant will tolerate and then decide if action is required. Put chewing tobacco in an old nylon, let it soak overnight in your sprayer and then apply it in the morning. This will repel many chewing insects. Reapply after rain or as needed. See Master Gardener Plant Clinics (PDF).
The hula hoe is a garden hoe with a pivoting blade that wiggles back and forth. It goes 1/2 inch below the surface of the soil and cuts the tops off the weeds. This stops photosynthesis which discourages further growth. This tool allows the gardener to cover large spaces quickly and saves wear and tear on your back.
hula hoe
I like Felco brand. They cost initially more but last many years. Almost all moving parts are easily replaceable. Felco pruning saws are world renowned for quality of cut and workmanship.
Felco pruning shears
A New Tree Biology, by Alex Shigo. A New Tree Biology, by Alex Shigo. Subjects covered: pruning, root rot, topping, wound dressings, injections, cracks, tree treatments and many more topics with plenty of examples.
A New Tree Biology, by Alex Shigo
Do not spray weeds growing on a hardscape such as concrete. Many herbicide sprays are built to dissipate in soil, but on concrete they just wash away (into creeks and rivers). Alternatives could be pouring boiling water on the weed or burning with a weed torch.
If you are going to put in a gravel path, I suggest 5/8 size gravel or a material you can later pave over if the need arises. Do it once and get a solid working base that you can add to.
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