It is time for an update of Mike's Weather Garden. We are now at a transition
point berween the spring and summer seasons, and this is a good time to get
some things done around the yard.
Most spring flowering trees and shrubs are finished, and now is the time to prune them.
The flower buds for next year's blooms will form the next several weeks, and trimming
now will allow for the best and most even distribution of buds across the plant. Waiting
to trim these plants until later in the summer will actually remove the flower buds for next
Shrubs that bloom more through the summer (including potentilla, some spirea, rose of
sharon, etc.) can be trimmed any time, as new flower buds will develop as new growth
comes out. The best time to trim these plants is generally at the end of the growing
Of course, it is OK to remove dead branches and twigs from ornamental trees and
shrubs any time.
This is also a good time to do more intense reshaping and rejuvinative pruning for
those plants that have outgrown their space or just need to be reduced a bit. Such
trimming is appropriate for many types, inluding lilacs, viburnum, spirea (spring
and summer-flowering types), forsythia, etc. The trimmimg usually involves removing
the oldest branches down to the ground. For those plants that are really overgrown and
dense with branches, it is generally suggested to do the rejuvenation over a few years.
Evergreen shrubs (yews, junipers, dwarf pines, arbor-vitae, etc.) have also flushed-out
their spring growth by now, so this is a good time to trim them as well. For these
plants (as well as most ornamental trees and shrubs) I do not suggest shearing
(with the "hedge clippers"), unless you are trying to maintain a more uniform hedge
but a more natural approach is best which trims to maintain and enhance the more
natural shape of the plant.
The recent rains have been very timely, and we want to keep that moisture in the
ground, so check your mulch now. It is best to maintain about a 3" depth of wood
or other fiber-based mulches over planting beds. Stone or other hard-types of mulches
may not need to be as thick, especially if a landscape fabric is laid underneath.
Also, remember to keep an appropriately-sized ring of mulch around any trees
(flowering or shade) that are out in the lawn. The mulch will prevent mower
damage as well as keep the soil moist.
Ideally it is best to keep the mower height at around 2 1/2-3" during the summer.
The idea here is the higher the lawn is above ground the deeper the roots will
penetrate below. As you know by now, Wisconsin law now prohibits the inclusion
of phosphorus in chemical fertilizers, but the nutrient can still be included in
organic-based products. Since phosphorus is important to the growth and health
of the grass plants, you might want to change to an organic-type fertilizer.
Good luck and have fun out there!
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