Western Mountains and High Plains

February, 2008
Regional Report

Prune Fruit Trees

Now is the time to remove branches that are crossing each other and to open both old and new fruit trees to better light for the developing foliage and branches. This will encourage more colorful and sweeter fruit. Do not top the trees when pruning because this will result in suckers and witches broom.

Check Plants in South and Western Exposures

During the dry winter, west and south exposures can dry out more quickly when there is no snow cover. On warm, non-windy days, bring out the hose and frog-eye sprinkler to water dry areas for ten minutes or so. As long as the ground is not frozen, water will soak in to benefit the plants.

Protect Newly Planted Evergreens

Newly planted evergreens are more prone to wind and sun damage the first growing season. Protect them with stakes and burlap. Make a frame around the evergreen with wooden stakes and then secure the burlap to the frame. This will reduce wind damage, dehydration, and sunscald injury.

Clean Out Bird-Nesting Boxes

It won't be long before wild birds are getting ready to raise their young. Clean out birdhouses and nesting sites so the birds can begin to set up quarters to lay their eggs and hatch a brood. Cleaning out nesting boxes will help eliminate overwintering mites and other pests.

Divide Older Perennials

As perennials get older and begin to become overcrowded, it's time to divide and conquer. Plant new divisions at the same depth they were growing, or share with fellow gardeners. Use a heavy-duty spading fork to lift perennials to reduce severe root damage.

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