Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
Let’s Talk: About Spring and Landscaping
From the CCI Review 2021/2022-4 June 2022 issue of the CCI London Chapter
As spring sets in and another winter is behind us, visuals of tiny plants starting to emerge in the garden indicate that the warm season is finally here. Spring is the time to begin seasonal maintenance for all hardwood trees and shrubs. Maintenance is beneficial to the overall health of the plants; it will promote longevity by reducing stress to deter potential pests and diseases that could become problematic over time, in addition to keeping the plants in the garden looking its very best for the entire growing season. A plan for the season is the best way to guarantee all garden investments will be taken care of at any property. Whether a homeowner takes care of the gardens themselves or a professional landscaping company is hired to assist with the spring, summer and fall related tasks, by following the basic guidelines outlined in this article will ensure garden success each year.
During the period between March and April where the risk of cold and snow in forecast is decreasing is a good moment in time to unwrap any burlap from any trees and shrubs that were being protected from the harsh winter winds, ice, and snow buildup. Evergreen trees and shrubs are typically wrapped, most commonly in burlap to prevent damage to branches from the weight of ice and snow, foliage drying out and turning brown as a result from long winters, wind exposures and salt damage along roads or sidewalks. Removing these covers in a timely manner will be paramount to a healthy start to the season, if left on to late this could delay buds from opening and a wet spring in combination with warm weather may encourage mould, mildew, fungus, and insects.
In early spring when temperatures are around 5°C it is time to consider treating your deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs with Dormant oil. Dormant oil is a mineralbased oil used in the landscape industry as a fungicide and insecticide. It can prevent many common insects including mites, aphids, beetles, caterpillars and scale, and fungicides including powdery mildew which is very common in the wet months of April and May. This treatment is applied as a mist, evenly casted over the trees and shrubs before the buds begin to break. This timing ensures maximum coverage on the insects that overwinter on the bark before they become more active. As a result, the oil blocks the breathing openings on the insect’s abdomen and may cause the insect to suffocate or interfere with egg development. This is a great control method to keep your plants healthy and looking great, and more importantly the best option for residential use as it is safe to apply around people, pets, and wildlife.
With the snow gone and the gardens exposed this is the time for a spring clean-up. By scheduling a thorough clean-up to be completed first thing in the spring helps set the bar for the season ahead. Remove old leaf litter, including any perennial foliage left over from the fall, and remove anything that may act as a breeding ground for insects and diseases, this could include garbage or food. If debris is left in the garden bed this could potentially put your trees shrubs and perennials at risk of attack or invasion, not to mention it also doesn’t look very tidy. Removing deadwood from hardwood trees and shrubs will also be done at this time and will promote healthy growth by allowing the plant to focus on putting its energy into growing.
Once April showers are here to stay it is time to consider installing mulch to the garden beds. Mulch is aesthetically pleasing, it deters weed growth and seed germination, it promotes cooler soils which assist in retaining water longer resulting in less frequent watering. Choosing natural, un-dyed mulch vs synthetic mulch brings several other benefits to all your plants in the garden many that you cannot see from the surface. Composted pine mulch (as an example) will restore nutrients into the soil as it breaks down acting as a natural fertilizer, giving trees and shrubs available micro and macro nutrients for each season. Additionally, as the mulch breaks down it turns into an organic soil-like composition which can improve soil structures over time and may help to balance pH and improve dense clay soil types, this process happens faster with composted pine as opposed to cedar chips because the manufacturer has already started the process before purchasing for installation.
The growing season can be difficult to navigate through especially when it comes to pruning deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. Plant requirements vary from species to species therefore having a knowledgeable landscaper will pay off in the end. As a rule of thumb, deciduous plants such as Lilac, Forsythia and Viburnum are spring flowering plants, they flower on old growth (growth from the previous growing season), these shrubs should be pruned in summer after the flower heads have died off, this will also deadhead at the same time. Deciduous plants such as Hydrangeas, Spiraea, Ninebark and Rose of Sharon are summer flowering plants, they flower on new growth (current growing season), these shrubs should be pruned in fall, but can be pruned the following spring before the growing season. Evergreens such as Mugo Pines, Yews and False Cypress may be pruned in spring up until the end of June before the heat and drought of the summer set in and can be done again in early fall to shape before the end of the season. Nonflowering shrubs including Barberry, Dogwood and Burning Bush can be pruned in the same timeline as the evergreen schedule.
Having a plan for maintaining a garden is a smart course of action for a project of any size. Do not hesitate to contact a reputable landscape professional to help build and/or execute a plan to assist in all stages of maintenance. The points made in this article are only a few but are very important in establishing a healthy plant ecosystem which will help protect investments in landscape and increase visual curb appeal of the property.
The staff at TLC Landscaping started in 1986 as a property maintenance company. Today, the company continues to provide reliable condo care services. The employees are expertly-trained professionals, committed to the care and well-being of the condominium properties they serve.
TLC has been a very supportive member of the chapter since 1993, always being very generous in their contributions by articles for our CCI Review, presented at education events and a major sponsor at our golf tournaments.
They have been awarded Best of London for 10 years, including 2022, as well as numerous awards of Excellence from Landscape Ontario.
Dave Leff, one of the owners at TLC, first served as a director on the CCI Board rom 2009-2017 and assumed the role of President in 2016/17 . He was returned to the board at the AGM of 2021
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