Gardeners are a reflective group, always looking back to see what worked for them and more importantly, what didn't. Like most people, as the New Year approaches, gardeners are thinking about ways to improve upon last year with garden resolutions.
To get fresh ideas for the 2014 gardening season, the professionally trained arborists at The Davey Tree Expert Company are weighing in. From urban foresters to entomologists, each has enlightening garden resolutions for 2014.
SCOTT MACO, manager of ecosystem services:
- Create a plan.
- Take advantage of the colder winter months to decide what changes your garden needs once spring arrives. And, resolve to make trees part of that plan.
- Shade trees reduce the need for air conditioning in summer, lowering summer's high energy bills and keeping your home cooler in those hot, sticky months. Even in cooler seasons trees still, give back. Trees located on a yard's windward side act as a windbreak, which can lower home heating bills up to 30 percent.
- Diversify your plantings. Diversity is the key to a successful urban forest. With a variety of species planted, no single disease or insect can wipe out an entire neighborhood forest. The rule of thumb is no more than 15 percent of a single type of tree or genus, and no more than 5 percent of a single tree variety. When in doubt, plant native varieties.
R.J. LAVERNE, board-certified master arborist:
- Stay on top of maintenance. Like a car, gardens need regular maintenance and occasional tune-ups to stay in tip-top shape. A maintenance plan will ensure trees, shrubs and flowers receive consistent and quality care to become established and reach maturity. Consult with a professionally trained arborist to determine the needs of your trees, and find a plan that fits your budget.
- Put the right plant in the right place. If you select the wrong plant for a particular location you could end up with a constant maintenance problem--and eventually a dead tree. Always remember that different plants have different requirements. Some prefer more sun, some more shade, some can tolerate wind and some cannot. Work with the conditions your tree or plant needs to thrive.
GRANT JONES, technical advisor:
- Inspect trees and shrubs for insects or disease. Mature trees increase property value by as much as 10 percent, according to the U.S. Forest Service. But a tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. By inspecting trees and addressing potential problems, you can protect your home, save lives and safeguard the investment that healthy trees add to your property.
- Prune in the winter. Winter is the best time to prune dead, diseased or broken branches to keep trees structurally strong and able to withstand damage from severe weather events.
SHAWN FITZGERALD, technical advisor:
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulch conserves water, inhibits weeds and provides an attractive ground cover. Spread a circle of mulch around trees to keep lawn mowers from damaging the roots and bark. Cover the "drip-zone" with 1-3 inches of mulch and keep it 2-3 inches away from the trunk to discourage rot. Don't over mulch the tree or "volcano" mulch.
JIM ZWACK, director of technical services:
- Be water-wise. One inch of rainfall equates to 625 gallons of water per 1,000 square foot, but we can't always count on the rain. To be a water-wise gardener, group plants with similar moisture needs together. Water only in the early morning when it's cooler to avoid evaporation, mildew, and rot. Most importantly, incorporate water-wise and native plants.
- Use preventative pest management. Prevention makes such a big difference in stopping the spread of disease. Take preventive measures by vaccinating your trees and shrubs as you would yourself, before they may be attacked by disease or pests.
Now is the time to think about garden resolutions for the New Year. Your trees will thank you later!