Celebrating the Seasons

Gabby Gardeners

Question: We moved into our home last spring. On the property is a 9-foot-tall arborvitae hedge. It's very lovely and I want to make sure I take care of it properly. It appears to need some pruning. What can I do to keep it healthy?

Rebecca says: Mature arborvitaes are a lovely asset to any home landscape. Caring for them is easy because they don't need much attention. Continue watering them throughout the fall until the ground freezes. Arborvitaes don't go fully dormant so they need water reserves to get them through the winter and prevent burning (turning brown). A 2- to 3-inch layer of bark mulch around the trees will help conserve moisture. Spread it in a circle around each trunk so that the mulch layer is thinner toward the trunk. The mulch should not touch the trunk. Don't fertilize or prune them now — wait until late next spring. And when you do prune, don't overdo it with your hedge clippers — just prune the trees to shape. When the plants are actively growing, apply fertilizer. For plants the size you have, look for spike-type applicators — long spikes that you drive into the soil around the trunks. Most garden centers carry them.

Question: How do you keep rabbits and deer from eating everything in your garden?

Rebecca says: I've been battling deer and rabbits for more years than I care to count and I've tried and tested as many products with varying results. This year I found what I think are the best products so far for keeping rabbits and deer from dining in my garden. The products come from a company called Messina and are called Deer Stopper and Rabbit Stopper. These are natural products that smell great, and a single spray lasts about 30 days! I used the Deer Stopper on most of my tomato plants (purposely leaving a few untouched). The unsprayed ones became someone's midnight snack! Same with my hostas — those I did not spray got chewed down. This stuff really works!

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