Mid-Atlantic

April, 2008
Regional Report

Check Your Tree Branches

Look up ... into your trees. Are there branches near power lines, overhanging the driveway, touching the roof? See any broken branches, poorly attached branches, dead or damaged sections? Contact a certified, licensed arborist for professional pruning services. Interview and get estimates from three. Ask for recommendations. Compare their expertise as well as pricing. Pruning properly is crucial to a tree's healthy growth into maturity, so choose the best service, not the least expensive.

Prune Young Early-Flowering Trees

With a good pruning manual and sharp pruners, loppers, and saw, a gardener or property owner can prune young trees (two years old or younger) with feet on the ground. Lightly prune spring-flowering trees -- crab apples, dogwoods, Japanese maples, cherries -- and shrubs after they have bloomed. Dr. Bruce Fraedrich, ISA certified arborist and vice president of research at Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, warns against pruning severely. Rather the "homeowner should prune annually and lightly instead of pruning large portions at once. If a tree does become overgrown, the best thing is to reduce size over time instead of trying to solve the problem all at once."

Keep After Invasive Weeds

Garlic mustard, Japanese stiltweed, and mile-a-minute weed are early spring targets for preemergent application. Preemergent products applied on top of soil stop seed germination. Choose a low-toxicity product such as corn gluten. Garlic mustard insidiously displaces better and native plants. Its roots exude toxins to reduce competition. This "allelopathic" effect seriously threatens native flora.

Clean, Sharpen, Replace Tools

Are your pruner blades rusty? Is there a "bite" out of your shovel's metal blade? Is your spade handle cracked? Are the pruning saw teeth dull and twisted? Take a few minutes to check out your tools now, before garden season kicks into gear. Sharpen blades and replace splintering or cracked tool handles before they break and injure the user. If blade edges are too rough, dented or damaged, get a new tool. The better the tools, the easier and safer for you.

Celebrate Arbor Day

Be it your local school, community, or public garden; arboretum; girl or boy scout group; garden club; or recreation center, someone in your area will be celebrating Arbor Day with tree plantings. Join in and remember: tree leaves respire oxygen we breathe and transpire water. Tree branches shelter and cool us. Trees bring beauty and majesty, wildlife, nuts, and serenity. They increase property value. This year schools in Philadelphia, Long Island, and Richmond, Virginia, are among those chosen by Home Depot for the 2008 Trees for Success National Campaign. Grants support tree planting to restore urban and rural forests.

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