Trees and shrubs add beauty and value to your property, if you take care of them. Follow these tips to keep them healthy and handsome for many years to come.
1. Choosing what to plant
- Before you invest in plants and landscaping costs, make sure the trees and shrubs you choose are right for your yard.
- The first step is knowing your hardiness zone, a climatic zone determined by average annual minimum temperature. Websites that special in hardiness make it easy to pinpoint your zone.
- When selecting a tree, calculate its ultimate height, spread, and root mass. Also, weigh its susceptibility to splitting from storm damage (poor choices include Bradford pear, mulberry, and weeping willow), as well as potential annoyances, such as messy or unpleasant-smelling fruit and flowers (for example, female ginkgo, black cherry and umbrella magnolia).
- Avoid planting the tree too close to your house, or where it may interfere with power lines, pipes, driveways or walkways.
2. Take care around roots
- When surface roots appear above ground, cover them with a shallow level of topsoil or plant a ground cover to conceal them; never pile up soil over roots or around trunks.
- Don’t garden aggressively directly beneath a tree as the constant digging can damage roots, and avoid driving or parking your car over a tree’s root zone.
3. Make a drip irrigator
- Young trees and shrubs need a good amount of water during their first growing season.
- Keep them hydrated by giving each its own watering system: Use a thin nail to pierce holes in a large plastic jug. Bury the jug away from the plant so that the spout sticks out just above soil level. Fill the jug with water, which will slowly seep out to the roots.
4. Prune your roses
- Prune your bushes in early spring using a sharp pair of bypass or scissors-type shears.
- Remove dead or damaged canes and suckers (shoots from the roots or the lower part of the plant’s stem).
- Tear or pull out suckers at the base; cutting them will only result in more suckers.
5. Don’t top trees
- “Tree topping” will leave trees looking deformed and more prone to disease and decay, and the tree will ultimately grow back taller and bushier.
- Always prune a tree with care, and never remove more than one-third of the crown in a single pruning.
6. Avoid girdling injuries
- Bumps from lawnmowers and lashings from dog chains can cause damage around a tree’s circumference. Such “girdling” injuries can destroy a tree’s transport system, and ultimately kill the tree.
- Prevent mishaps by laying mulch around the tree or by installing shallow edging around the root ball of the trunk.
7. Safely trimming trees
- Never use a chainsaw above waist height; use a bow saw or pruning saw.
- For accessible limbs, make the first cut from underneath, halfway through the limb, about 30 centimetres (one foot) from the trunk. Make a second cut from the top, about five centimetres (two inches) out from the first cut, and remove the first section of the limb.
- Remove the remaining stub with a single cut from top to bottom just beyond the base of the limb (essentially flush with the trunk). Use a pole saw or long-handled lopper for large or high limbs, and remove them in two or more sections. Before cutting, fasten a rope around the sections and loop it around a lower limb to control the speed and direction of their fall. Such jobs require two or more people.