This guide is tailored for the western valleys of Oregon and Washington
YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by being a good steward of the spot on this earth, your garden, that you have been given the privilege of borrowing for a time. It is our hope that the following to-do list will help you to do just that.
Nathan, the Treevangelist, urges you to treat your spot on this planet like your own personal Garden of Eden. May it become your personal paradise. This is your divinely mandated responsibility. Your trees, shrubs, flowers and the wildlife in your yard will pay you back as they express their smiling appreciation to you and yours by radiating their love, joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Below is a to-do list to help fulfill this mission.
Despite the fact that last month was our driest on record, the April showers that did not happen still brought forth May flowers. The cycles of nature are amazingly irrepressible. At this time of the year, nature puts on her finest adornments to regale the pollinators with tasty enticements to ensure the survival of the species. The most dour personality is sure to have their spirits lifted just by stepping outside and imbibing in the bright blue of the sky, the multiple shades of green and crimson foliage, along with the fascinating and captivating array of floral colors. Get outdoors and immerse yourself in it all—get intoxicated with the sights and fragrances along with the sounds of the mellifluous birds. For a moment, let’s forget about the craziness of the world around us and say a prayer of thankfulness that sanity, consistency and predictable order still prevails in the garden. This can be great solace to the wearied soul, to be sure!
While you’re at it, take a few moments and scroll back through this same Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog and check out the archives for any tree and plant care articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw, our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoodNewsTreeService/ and our main website at www.goodnewstree.com. Please enjoy!
Readers’ suggestions on how to improve this list are gladly solicited. If you, the reader, have any suggestions for additions to this month’s list, please put them in the comments section of this article, and I will add them to the list. Thank you in advance! — Nathan the Treevangelist
Tree and Shrub Care
- Mulch. Apply two to three inches of mulch around all trees and ornamental shrubs. This helps to fertilize the plants and feed the soil, and also protects them against weed growth and loss of water when the warmer weather returns.
- Pine tree pruning. Don’t do major pruning of pine trees during the growing season, since this attracts sequoia pitch moth infestation.
- Pruning of large trees. Most trees in the temperate western valleys of Oregon and Washington can be pruned anytime of the year. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them do the pruning for you.
- Prune fast growing ornamental shrubs that are beginning to look shabby. You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look.
- Reparative pruning. Repair winter damaged to trees and shrubs.
- Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long.
- Trees. Have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year.
- Rhododendrons. Remove old blooms (called “dead heading”). Though it looks better aesthetically to remove the dead blooms, it doesn’t hurt the plants to leave them on.
- Water trees and shrubs as necessary, even before the summer heat starts. This geographical region has entered a period of erratic rain patterns, so even during the typically consistent rainy winter and spring seasons, due to the long periods of dry weather, some tree and shrubs will need extra water. Vigilance is the key. Watch your plants for signs of drought stress, and then give them a drink of water as needed.
Plant Health Care
Good News Tree Service, Inc. provides full plant health care services as listed below.
- Apple scab on ornamental crabapple and fruiting apple trees. The first visible symptoms occur on leaves in spring as pale, yellowish, water-soaked spots the size of a pinhead. These enlarge, becoming darker and smoky in appearance, later taking on an olive shade and ultimately a brownish black color. Spots may be any shape but are frequently circular. Young infections often show a radiating spread of fungal tissue through the leaf, and such areas later appear as irregular, brown-colored infections. Diseased leaves can be curled and distorted and often drop early. This fungal disease can also move into the fruit to produce a scabby effect, hence the name “apple scab.” Several fungicidal sprays are required to control this disease just prior to flowering and after flowering.
- Arborvitae Twig Blight: Spray in the spring and early summer when new growth starts at two week intervals.
- Bronze Birch Borer: Begin treating in mid-May through June. This is the only time of year that this beetle can be effectively controlled.
- Cherry Leaf Spot: Spray cherry trees for leaf spot. Apply first spray at petal fall and two weeks later.
- Cherry Tree Brown Rot Blossom Blight (Monilinia fructicola):Make 3 foliar applications starting at bud break and at 14 day intervals.
- Coryneum Blight (Shot Hole Fungus) or Cherry Leaf Spot: This leaf blight affects ornamental and flowering cherry, plum and prune trees. Spray at petal fall, shuck fall and two weeks later.
- Deep Root Fertilization: Trees and ornamental shrubs—deep root fertilize to promote lush, healthy-looking and vigorous crown growth. Urban soils tend to lacking in many of the nutrients that trees and shrubs need to survive. Many are malnourished or are starving to death, which is why they don’t look radiantly healthy are struggling with pest issues. Deep root fertilization helps to promote healthy-looking and pest-resistant trees and shrubs. The best time of the year to do this is in the spring and fall.
- Dogwood Anthracnose: Spraying with a fungicide at bud break and continue at 10 to 14 day intervals.
- Lawns: Fertilize lawns.
- Leaf Blights: Spray trees and shrubs for fungal leaf diseases (e.g. powdery mildew, leaf blights, dogwood anthracnose, needle blights, etc.).
- Monitor trees and shrubs for insect pests. Piercing and sucking plant pests (e.g. aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, mites, etc.) are now out and active. If major infestation occurs, plan a course of action to treat your trees and shrubs against these pests. Small numbers of piercing and sucking insects are not harmful to plants. In fact, they provide food for the beneficial, predatory insects that feed on them. To control harmful insects, one can apply systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). If applied according to label directions, this will kill only the harmful and not beneficial insects.
- Photinia Leaf Spot: Spray with a fungicide as new shoots are developing at 30 day intervals.
- Pine Dothistroma Needle Blight: Apply fungicide at just before bud break and a few weeks later according.
Powdery Mildew: Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear. Best efficacy occurs if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at 7 to 14 day intervals, or more often if conditions warrant it. If a plant is known to have had powdery mildew previously, apply as buds start to open.
- Spider mites will start to become active as the weather warms. Systemic insecticides are available against this pest.
- Tent Caterpillar: Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.
- Verticillium Wilt: Soil drench in the spring. Maples are especially susceptible to this fungal root disease as are cherries and plums.
- Willow Twig Blight (scab): Apply two or three applications beginning when new leaves first appear at 10 to 14 day intervals.
Elsewhere in the Garden
- Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like primroses and hostas.
- Apply two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all of your shrub beds. Covering bare dirt areas in your yard with mulch helps to prevent soil compaction from rains, and weed growth, and helps to enrich our heavy clay soils.
- Continue planting annual and perennial flowers.
- Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
- Feed the birds. Don’t stop feeding the birds even during the spring and summer seasons. Why? Even though we’re now past the winter season and there is more food available for the birds, having these feathery friends frequent your garden serves several purposes. First, they bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. Second, your singing friends will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs.
- Start making plans for your vegetable garden. Once the soil has dried out, you can begin working it for planting our veggies. Usually this will occur in late April or early May and sometimes later depending on the weather. The earlier you plant, the sooner you’ll be feeding on delicious veggies from your own garden!
- This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs. Visit your local nursery and select your favorite ornamental shrubs and shade trees. After planting your new shrubs, just make sure that you water them well immediately and regularly subsequently for the first two or three summers until their roots get established. During warm weather (in the 60s to low 80s), deep root water once per week. During hot weather (mid-80s and higher) deep root water at least twice per week.
- Water and fertilize annuals and perennial flowers. The hotter the weather, the more water they will need. Flowers in pots and hanging baskets dry out especially quickly, and so need watering every day or two.
- Fertilize your ornamental shrubs with a slow release fertilizer. If the shrubs have a layer of barkdust or other mulch around them, rake the mulch away and apply the fertilize to the bare dirt, so that it actually reaches the plant’s root zone.
- Plant new lawns. Fertilize your lawn. Aerate and dethatch.
Care of Roses
- Dealing with rose pests: Spray or treat roses with a fungicide as needed preventively to insure protection against fungal pathogens such as black spot, powdery and cottony mildew, rust and spot anthracnose. Apply a fungicide only after the rose has put out several inches of new growth. Excellent choices of both organic and inorganic fungicides are available at your local garden center or nursery. Some fungicides require spraying in the early spring as the new growth is emerging. Major plant pests include mites, aphids, thrips, rose slugs, leaf rollers, rose midge, spittle bug and sawfly. Determine what pest or disease your rose has, do some research online if necessary to ascertain this, and then visit your local garden center or nursery to find the right product for the job. Always read and follow all label directions. It’s the law!