2016 Spring Newsletter

2016 Spring Newsletter

The big news this year is that we moved!

In mid-October, Cyndy and I moved to our family farm in Mazomanie township where Becky and Beau have dispatched our work force to your properties for the past five years. Settled by my great- grandparents in 1880, it has provided a wonderful home to base our family business. We are in the process of building a new shop and office so that we can better serve you.

2015 was a year of ample rainfall and overall high temperatures. The rising temperatures have brought some of our southern pests northward. In nearly 40 years in business I have never seen an outbreak of Scale insects on Magnolia as bad as this year. When Scale insects hatch in the spring, they are nearly microscopic. These crawlers move around the plant, pick a spot to their liking and settle down in that location for the rest of their life. Their needle-like mouthparts pierce the plant and begin a summer-long sucking process. They secrete a sticky material called honey-dew which covers surrounding branches, leaves, sidewalks and vehicles.  This sticky honey-dew can generate a sooty mold fungus which blackens and discolors the surrounding material.  Depending on the time of the year and the extent of infestation, this insect can be controlled with insecticidal drenches or injections.  I have also found scale on pines, pachysandra, periwinkle, euonymus and viburnums and I expect a lot more trouble from these pests during the 2016 season.

Needle Blight continues to degrade Blue and Black Hills Spruce trees in our area.  Spruce that are shaded by other trees or are growing in areas with poor air circulation are most severely affected.  Usually needle blight slowly advances over the course of several years but this fungus can kill entire trees in just one season with the right conditions.  Severely infected trees should be replaced by evergreens that are immune to this fungal parasite. A spray program can hold the fungus in check especially when caught early in the disease cycle.

The drought of 2012 decimated the Japanese Beetle Population but three years of favorable conditions have brought the population back up, especially in select areas. Insecticide drenches can control this pest of Linden, Roses, Birch, Apple and ferns.

The soil around newer homes can be especially poor. Modern development scrapes all of the native soil away from your home and very little is returned.  Poor soil conditions can greatly retard the healthy growth of plants. Soil amendment with compost or fertilization with VT can make a huge difference to the health and vitality of your plant material.

Emerald Ash Borer was discovered and our area quarantined in 2013. On average, all of the unprotected Ash Trees are dead, six years after quarantine. Your trees can be protected with injections of Treeage every two years. This would be a very good year to put your valuable Ash trees on a protective program.

You are the most valuable ingredient to our family business.  Please consider us this year to help you manage your outdoor world.

Thank you,

Tim

 

2016 Lawn Program

While working through my horticulture degree at the UW Madison I learned that you can have a nearly perfect lawn with just three properly timed applications.

 

Early spring crabgrass preventer will destroy the germinating seeds of unwanted annuals. Preventing these seeds from establishing while fertilizing the desirable turf will encourage the lawn to fill in. If over-seeding is an option, fertilizer without herbicide should be used.

 

A second application containing broadleaf control should be made in later spring. Once last year’s weeds are fully emerged, they will become vulnerable to herbicides. We use both liquid and granular products depending on conditions. If weeds are extensive we will apply a liquid application in late May to early June. This method minimizes the amounts of chemical herbicides used.

 

Turf grass becomes dormant during the heat of summer. Applications made at this time are a needless waste of resources and chemicals but once the cooler nights of August and September return, fertilization will thicken the lawn and encourage rooting and winter hardiness. Broadleaf control may be warranted at this time if weeds are present.

 

Three well timed fertilizations, weed control and sometimes some tree pruning to increase the amount of sunlight reaching the turf can provide you with a perfect lawn while minimizing the amount of pesticide use. A thick stand of turf grass maintained at three inches is the most effective way of preventing erosion and runoff as well as resisting drought and controlling weeds.

 

Call or email us today for a free estimate and  evaluation of your lawn’s health today!

Rhizosphaera Needle Blight of Spruce

rhizosphaera

Spruce Needle Blight is a relatively new disease.  It stretches in a line from Thunder Bay Ontario southward to Dane County.  From here it stretches eastward to New York.

 

This fungus disease spreads by windblown spores and first destroys the older needles on the inside of the trees.  Year by year it progresses, destroying the foliage until only the outer new growth remains.  As the photosynthetic surface area of the trees is reduced, they begin to starve to death. Colorado Spruce are the most susceptible although varieties of White Spruce may also be killed by this disease.  Norway Spruce seems to be resistant.

 

Trees can be protected by the applications of fungicide. Depending on weather, this spray will need to be repeated four times during the growing season.  Cleaning up the dead needles beneath the tree or burying them with a layer of mulch can reduce the source of inoculum and re-infection.

 

Large trees that have been infected for more than three or four years cannot be effectively cured.  It may be more prudent to remove these trees and replace them with evergreens that are resistant.  Newly infected trees can be easily protected with a spray program.  

 

If you are concerned about your spruce trees, please call or email for a free evaluation of your trees’ health today.

 

Pruning

 

The best time to prune is when the coldest part of winter has passed. Now is the time to remove dead and interfering branches. A tree is a photosynthetic factory that can be fine-tuned for efficiency by encouraging an even spacing of branches throughout the crown. If a branch is densely shaded, it may not contribute as much energy to the tree as much as the energy it takes to remain alive. Remove branches that are weak or shaded by healthier, more vigorous branches.

Another important factor to consider is how the branch is attached to the trunk. Narrow crotch angles may become structurally weak if bark is included or pinched as the branches grow thicker each year. Branch angles between 45 and 90 degrees are strongest and resist storm damage.

Finally, increasing air circulation throughout the crown will decrease the time that the leaves remain wet after a rainfall. Decreasing the humidity can reduce the amount of fungus that can grow on the foliage. Thinning the crown can reduce the need for pesticide use to control leaf spot and scab diseases.

Formative and preventative pruning can ensure a long and healthy life for your trees as they produce oxygen and filter the air you breathe. They are the backbone of our landscape, making our lives so much better as they frame the view of our outdoor world. This is the very best time to prune, now that winter’s back is broken and spring is on the way.

MAKING THE CUT

When removing a live branch, pruning cuts should be made just outside the branch bark ridge and collar (Figure 3). This location of cut is in contrast to a “flush cut” which is made inside the branch bark ridge and collar. Flush cuts should be avoided because they result in a larger wound and expose trunk tissues to the possibility of decay. If no collar is visible, the angle of the cut should approximate the angle formed by the branch ridge and the truck.

When removing a dead branch, the final cut should be made outside the branch bark ridge and the collar of live callus or woundwood tissue. If the collar has grown out along the branch stub, only the dead stub should be removed; the live collar should remain intact (Figure 4).

If it is necessary to reduce the length of a branch or the height of a leader, the final cut should be made just beyond (without violating) the branch bark ridge of the branch being cut to. The remaining branch should be no less than ⅓ (one third) the diameter of the branch being removed, and with enough foliage to assume the terminal role. On large trees this type of cut is commonly called drop crotching (Figure 1).

Figure 3. Pruning cuts should be made just outside the branch bark ridge (top of cut) and the collar (bottom of cut).

pruning pics0002Figure 4. On a dead branch that has a collar of live wood, the final cut should be just beyond the outer edge of the collar.

Figrure 5. Remove a large limb by making three cuts. First cut on the bottom of the limb about 12 inches (30cm) from the branch attachment (left). Make the second cut on the top about 1 inch (2.3 cm) from the under cut. The final cut is just outside the branch bark ride and the outer portion of the collar (right).

 

RENEWAL PRUNING
Renewal pruning is the annual or semi-annual removal of a shrub’s older stems to ground level. This exposes the more productive young stems to full sunshine, while controlling the plant’s ultimate height. First, determine the natural look or growth habit of the shrub to be pruned. Then determine the ages and remove the older or damaged limbs. Place your loppers as low as possible on each older limb and cut. Remove all of the older stems possible without damaging the plant or causing it to look out of balance.

Renewal pruning not only removes older libs but it also lowers the shrub’s height. When this pruning method is used with the heading back pruning technique, the shrub can be reduced drastically without destroying its natural appearance.

 

HEADING BACK
pruning pics0012After renewal pruning, the remaining branches may be too tall and limber. Head back by cutting at the nearest limb to the height desired. Cut as near to the side branch as possible and at the same angle as the limb.

 

 

 

 

TIPS ON PRUNING HEDGES
pruning pics0018Prune hedges wider at the bottom than at the top. This allows light to fall directly onto the lower foliage, keeping it actively growing and replacing the older leaves.
New growth starts at or near the cuts and forms a solid cover of new growth. Each time you shear a hedge, leave ½ to 1 inch of previous growth—the shrub needs this new growth to keep the plant healthy with the ability for regrowth.

 

 

 

 

REJUVENATION PRUNING
pruning pics0010Rejuvenation pruning is the cutting back of all stems to a height of 4-10”. This technique is used to revitalize multiple stems, leggy overgrown or diseased shrubs. It is particularly appropriate on the following shrubs: Butterfly bush, Dwarf Bush honeysuckle, Hibiscus, Hydrangea Annabelle, Potentilla, Spirea (except Bridal wreath and Snowmound).