In the Garden:
Fertilizing in the fall can be the key to maintaining mature, vigorous hedges.
Longer Life for Shrubs
The evergreen shrubbery around your home represents a significant investment and can be the crowning touch in curb appeal. Here's what to do now to be sure your efforts pay off.
Shrubs in the ground less than two years are still in the active growth phase and can be encouraged with fall fertilizing. A winterizer formula, such as 0-20-20, will nourish the roots and prepare the plants for the seasonal oddities to come in the next few months. The label or your nurseryman will tell you how much to use depending on the size of the shrubs. If the organic mulch around the shrubs has decomposed (as it probably has), scratch it into the soil around them and add a new layer. A couple of inches of ground bark or leaf mold is plenty.
The fall-feeding routine can be the key to growing young hedges and maintaining mature, vigorous ones. It is especially important to fertilize young hedges in August or September. The branching that begins in the early years is the scaffold for the leaves to come. Shearing in spring does help to maintain thick hedgerows, but annual nutrition can make the difference between decent plants and truly robust ones.
If the hedge is mulched with pinestraw that has turned dark or is matted, remove it and place fresh straw to a depth of 2 inches around the base. Take the time to weed under the hedge before you spread the mulch.
Rejuvenating the Weak
There is still time this year to prune out dead or damaged limbs and branches from evergreen shrubs. If entire branches have died back due to disease or insects, remove the debris from the area immediately and do not compost any of it. Consider spraying large cuts with a fungicide/insecticide combination to suppress the secondary invaders lined up to have a bite. If older shrubs have not been fertilized this year, use the fall-feeding formula of your choice on them as well.
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