In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
October, 2012
Regional Report

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4264

Pruning shrubs to widen paths and keep branches away from buildings is a good autumn project.

Clip 'em Back, Cut 'em Back

Autumn is THE BEST for gardening. Cool, crisp, often breezy weather. Few insects.

It's also the best time for easy, thoughtful garden and landscape improvements. I notice small annoyances ignored through summer heat and humidity. Our pace is slower now. We're more patient. We have time and attention to problem-solve.

For example, in May, we strategized to arrange a hose to water a corner property garden quickly and easily. The double hose stretched two buildings wide - from the far faucet around two corners and three walls. We serpentined the hose behind two sizable yews, a Pieris japonica, and a cluster of Carefree Wonder roses to both hide it and make it accessible.

As the shrubs grew this summer, the pathway to the hose narrowed. Heat and sun wore us down. We grew accustomed to the obstacles, pushing aside yew branches and dodging rose canes to reach the hose. That made watering more of a challenge and annoyance than it needed to be though.

Last week, the sunny, 70 degree weather made for relaxed gardening. Ahh. Here was an opportunity. I noticed, then pruned back the intruding branches from touching the house. That cleared the path. We'll continue watering newly planted crape myrtles and a David Austin rose there till the ground freezes. Cutting back was a simple way to ease that chore.

Take Charge!
How often do we walk around privet or boxwood branches extending over the sidewalk, at eye level, or just above our heads? The shrubs started out small so we initially enjoyed walking past them. As they grew and matured, we grew to habitually move out of THEIR way. We'd grimace and wince, sidestepping the problem. What's wrong with that picture?

This is YOUR property. Grab your gloves and the sharpened, disinfected pruners. Consider this permission to prune overgrown shrubs so they're no longer in your way!

English Ivy Control
English ivy seems to catch our eye in autumn. Climbing up tree trunks, covering brick walls, creeping onto sidewalks and steps. Ivy roots and tendrils can cause damage by pulling mortar from between bricks, staining and marking building materials, pushing their way into tree bark. At ground level, ivy in the wrong place can be a safety hazard, catching at and tripping our feet.

YES, feel free to clip invading ivy to make way for safe walking up front steps, along your driveway, around your home. Be careful removing ivy from trees, brick walls, and building surfaces. Cut stems at the base of the tree and up along the trunk. Leave the vines in place though. Pulling away live ivy will take the bark off with it. Let the vine die and the leaves and stems turn brown and crispy. This may take several months. Pull the dead vine away only when it comes off with a tug and you see there's no bark attached. Use the same technique for ivy on bricks and other building surfaces. It's fine to cut the vine in several places, let it die then pull it off.


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