Gardeners are a reflective group, always looking back to see what worked and more importantly, what didn’t. And like most people at the start of a new year, gardeners are thinking about ways to improve upon last year with resolutions.
Laying the groundwork for a healthy landscape is the key to success for those garden resolutions. To learn how to create a healthy landscape and to cultivate fresh ideas for the 2015 gardening season, try these tips:
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. Protect your home and save lives by inspecting trees and addressing potential problems now.
Prune trees in winter. Now is the best time to prune dead, diseased or broken branches to keep trees and shrubs structurally strong and able to withstand damage from severe weather.
Use 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. Use 1 to 3 inches of mulch over the drip zone — the area directly beneath the foliage and shaded by the tree. But keep mulch 2 to 3 inches away from the trunk to discourage rot. Tree roots need to breathe, so don’t mulch too deeply — create a “doughnut” instead of a “volcano” of mulch.
Be water-wise in your landscape. One inch of rainfall equates to 625 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet — but we can’t always count on rain. Be a water-wise gardener by watering trees and shrubs slowly once a week. Water only in the early morning, when it’s cooler, to avoid evaporation, mildew and rot. Remember: Tree roots are deeper than turf roots, so you need to water trees about three times longer than you would water your lawn to make sure enough moisture reaches the root zone. It also helps to water only the drip zone.
Want to add these garden resolutions to your list this New Year? Start by having a certified arborist inspect your trees this winter.