New England

June, 2007
Regional Report

Tool or Gardening Product

Beware Colored Wood Chip Mulch
If you like the artificially colored mulches, it's important to find out where the wood came from because some colored wood chips -- especially those made from construction and demolition debris -- may contain the toxic chemical, chromated copper arsenate, which used to be used in pressure-treated wood. This chemical is now banned. Ask your supplier about the source of the wood. The dyes that are commonly used are nontoxic.

Clever Gardening Technique

Pruning Lilacs
Now's the time when you can safely prune lilacs without sacrificing next year's blooms. If the shrub is newly planted, don't prune at all. To lightly prune an older shrub to promote more flowers next year, remove old flowers by cutting at a node. To rejuvenate the shrub, every year cut one-third of the oldest branches to within 6 inches of the ground, and shorten others to different lengths. For a major new lease on life, cut the entire shrub back to about 8 inches from the ground in late winter. The next year, choose several of the most vigorous stems to become the framework and cut them back to a node to encourage branching. Cut all the rest to the ground. This latter method sacrifices blooms because flowers are borne on wood that's at least three years old.

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