New England

March, 2008
Regional Report

Finish Pruning Trees and Shrubs

The days are longer, the sun is warmer, and sooner or later the buds will start growing. Best to finish pruning just in case winter suddenly releases its grip. Remove dead, diseased, and rubbing branches, and do any thinning needed to open up the tree canopy to more air and sunlight. Cut broken branches back to a main branch or the trunk rather than leaving stubs. Wound sealer generally isn't necessary.

Check for Frost-Heaved Perennials

Take a walk around your yard to check for perennials that may have heaved out of the ground, exposing their roots to drying winds. Gently tamp them back into the soil or if the soil is too frozen, surround them with mulch as protection.

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

Before the new shoots emerge, cut back last year's stalks. Hand pruners will do the job for small plants, but electric hedge trimmers make quick work of large specimens with dense growth. If possible, chop the stalks before adding them to the compost pile or using them as mulch.

Spray Lightweight Oil on Houseplants

When the temperature climbs to 50 degrees in early spring and the wind is low, move houseplants with scale or mealybugs outdoors to a shady spot and thoroughly coat the foliage with lightweight or summer oil. Then move the plants back inside.

Spray Trees with Dormant Oil

If scale or aphids have been a problem on trees and shrubs, get the dormant oil spray ready for a day above 40 degrees with no wind. Coat the branches, and repeat if directed on the label. Early spring, when young scale are in the crawler stage, is the best time to control these pests.

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