Every year when the cold weather arrives, and the last leaves are falling off your favorite tree, you may think to yourself: “My garden is done for the year!” Well, think again! Some of the most important and rewarding garden endeavors can only be initiated during the winter months. One of these is winter pruning, and it is something that will pay big dividends in your garden or landscape! Pruning your trees and shrubs during the winter months can greatly improve the look (Not to mention the health) of your plants, so that they go into spring looking fabulous! Here are some insights into winter pruning, and why it is so essential:
The single biggest reason that winter is a great time to prune is the fact that your plants will be in a
state of dormancy. When plants are dormant, they are far less susceptible to shock from pruning. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to pruning is that you should aspire to prune your plants as needed from a young age rather than having to do a bunch of drastic pruning later on. You can still prune many older plants, but they are far more likely to become “Frankentrees” if they must be pruned drastically.
Another great reason for winter pruning is that the lack of foliage on your deciduous plants makes
pruning cuts easy to see. This really helps when it comes to bringing out your plant’s best form. If you’ve never pruned ornamental trees and shrubs before, here are some of the things to look for when pruning for form:
- Prune off any dead or dying branches. These branches can harbor pests and disease, plus they just don’t look very good!
- Prune crossing branches or branches that are going towards the center of the plant. Ideally, you want the branching structure of your plant to radiate outward. This is the healthiest shape for your plant, because branches that cross or meet each other are more likely to split or break.
- Prune off any small interior branches that don’t really amount to anything. The goal is to allow good airflow to pass through your plant, and many trees and shrubs can get gummed up with unnecessary foliage on the interior that does nothing for the look of your plant but encourages potential disease issues.
- You’ll also want to selectively thin out the branching on the exterior of the plant so that it allows air and light to pass through the plant. Keep the healthiest, nicest looking branches while removing some of their neighbors. When you prune off these branches, take them back to a branch union (Where they attach to another branch) This helps to keep your pruning cuts from being obvious.
- If you are pruning a plant for size (Like a fruit tree or hedge), be sure to make your pruning cuts right above outward-facing buds. This will generally help future growth to grow in the right direction, and will avoid having long dead stubs at the ends of your branches.
One more great thing about winter pruning? Your plants will flush out lots of fresh growth quickly the
following spring, and you will get to spend the whole warm season enjoying the beauty of your plants rather than looking at chopped up looking trees and shrubs! Enjoy your beautifully pruned plants! Our Certified Arborists can help you get the job done right. Contact us today at 360-574- 8979 if you are interested in sprucing up your fine garden.
It looks like we’re going to get a week of sunny and dry weather so it’s a perfect time to tackle some of our top Winter Tasks to help you get a start on Spring. Then, curl up with a warm drink at the end of the day and outline the projects you want to accomplish next year. Here are our top tips:
- Skip a day at the gym and sweep regularly to keep sidewalks safe. Exercise clears the mind and lets you daydream about your goals.
- Be observant and keep on top of cool-season weeds like Lamium, Clover, and Chickweeds. Don’t know which weed? Check out Oregon State’s Weed ID Handbook.
- If the ground isn’t frozen, you still have time to plant bulbs for a beautiful Spring display. But if you’re smothered in snow? Call us for snow plowing or parking-lot de-icing!
- Is your lawn shaggy or does it have any bald-spots? Take your hairdresser’s advice and take only a little bit off the top.
- Send leaves from any plants that showed stress or disease to the Municipal Yard Waste; their hot composting system will break it down completely. Mow the remaining leaves and put them back on your garden beds as a protective mulch.
- Broken branches or other storm damage? Have our expert tree-pruning crew keep you safe.
- Grow your own? If you’re a home vegetable gardener, planning your seed order is both fun and challenging! The Oregon Extension office has great resources for growing techniques for our area, and the best varieties to help you narrow down your seed order.
- Ensure your new landscaping sails through a stressful summer and put in a water-saving irrigation system.
- Concerned about flooding on your property? Is it time to build that rain garden for year-round water management that is as beautiful, as it is effective?
- Dreaming about outdoor dining on our warm summer nights? Is this the year to finally build that patio? Pull out that stack of magazines and start marking pages, or visit our Houzz page and create your own idea book.
Check out our other winter maintenance services and give us a call.
In a year when winter has been particularly long, cold, and wet, it’s not unusual to enter spring with a distressed lawn. The high pressure produced by intense winter conditions creates a lot of opportunities for pests and diseases to move in and cause problems.
Here are a few common issues we observe in the Clark County and Portland metro area. If you’re seeing bare patches, brown patches, or circular patches of pink or white, you may be facing one of the following:
Red thread, or Laetisaria fuciformis, is an opportunistic lawn disease. Its name comes from thin red strands this fungus sends out from the tips of infected grass blades. If your lawn and soil isn’t well drained, a wet winter can throw the door wide open for problems due to this infection. Prolonged exposure to moisture is the primary cause of red thread in unhealthy turf.
From a distance, you may notice circular patches of pinkish grass ranging up to 8 inches in diameter. It’s important to take a closer look to see if ‘threads’ are present, though, as there are similar symptoms that result from other kinds of issues.
The good news is that red thread does not destroy grass roots and crowns. There is potential for full recovery if you commit to thorough treatment. The best way to ward off future infections of red thread is by conditioning your soil, providing good drainage, and sticking to a proven, consistent maintenance plan.
Pink Snow Mold
Pink snow mold, as its name implies, is associated with extended snow cover. Like red thread, it’s caused by a fungus, Microdochium nivale. Pink and white foamy fungal spores sit on top of infected grass blades, creating pink circular splotches across the lawn. In a prolonged wet and snowy winter, it can result in severe damage to turf.
The road to recovery begins with skilled thatching and aeration. Committing to best practices for fertilization, drainage, snow management, and pest control is the key to keeping damage from snow mold to a minimum, whatever future winters may bring.
Crane fly infestations are notorious for their potential to kill an entire lawn. While adult crane flies swoop and fly around the yard, it’s the eggs they lay down that spell serious trouble. Crane fly larvae (also known as ‘leatherjackets’) are 1-inch long and tan or grayish white in color. The hungry larvae wreak havoc on turf as they feast on grass roots and crowns.
Look for patches of damaged grass that may appear to grow together and spread. Peeling back the soil will reveal whether crane fly larvae are to blame. While a healthy lawn can handle a medium population of larvae, a teeming infestation means it’s time to call for help.
The encouraging thing about battling crane fly is the potential for treatment and full recovery. The crew at Frontier Landscaping has generated impressive results for lawn restoration and would be happy to work with you to save your lawn if you’re dealing with an outbreak this year.
Maintaining healthy turfgrass is the #1 way to prevent future pest and disease issues!
Lawn Rescues and Revamps
In the moist Pacific Northwest, especially after a very wet winter, it’s not uncommon to have problems show up if your soil and grass haven’t been regularly maintained for optimal health.
If you’re in need of treatment, the Frontier Landscaping crew is expertly qualified to help you back to a thriving, healthy lawn. The process we have developed through years of local experience consistently produces successful, healthy turf.
Aeration is a generic term for exposing soil to the air by removing plugs of soil from the turf. The openings created by aeration help water and nutrients move more easily through the soil.
While it’s common practice to leave soil plugs in a lawn after aeration, the crew at Frontier Landscaping has determined that the most successful lawns are created when we pick up and dispose of the hardened plugs. This additional step allows topdressing to better penetrate the new holes in the soil, enhancing the entire aeration process overall. While it is a greater effort, this step has consistently shown itself to be an effective key to helping sick lawns bounce back quickly and look better than ever.
Additional benefits of aeration:
- Limits fertilizer runoff
- Improves ability to absorb water
- Slows buildup of thatch
- Builds strong root system and layer of topsoil
Frontier Landscaping recommends aeration once each year for all lawns to maintain great health.
Reseeding and Fertilization
Once soil has been aerated, ¼ to 1 inch of rich soil conditioner is applied. This mix works down through the new holes left by aeration and sets the lawn up for improved future drainage.
Why does this matter? Good soil texture promotes healthy turf. In turn, healthy turf is significantly less susceptible to disease.
Once soil has been treated, your lawn will be ready to be reseeded and fertilized. It’s not uncommon to see new grass emerging within a month of completion.
Intense seasons of wet weather can result in significant pest and disease pressure on lawns, especially if the grass isn’t robust and healthy to begin with.
If you find yourself facing ugly bare spots, remember that many issues are treatable if caught in time. Give us a call to learn about treatment options for your lawn. We’ll help you through and are happy to design a custom care plan for the future based on the specific needs of your landscape.
Ready for a winter lawn rescue? Call (360) 574-8979 or send us an email to arrange a consultation today.
Dry creek beds provide attractive, functional relief, especially if your landscape is plagued by standing water. In the wet PNW, drainage problems are a common headache. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Flooded flower beds
- Pooling water below a deck
- Swampy places in the lawn
- Puddles around a foundation
Leaving drainage issues unaddressed has serious consequences, from dead lawn and plants to costly repairs and decreased property value.
The Good News
Frontier Landscaping has years of experience designing and implementing features that effectively carry water away from problem areas. Dry creek beds are star performers, particularly in sloped terrain. They work twice as hard for a landscape by running water from Point A to B, and standing alone as an attractive feature in drier months of the year.
“Even property owners with no drainage issues may choose to install a dry creek bed due to the elements of natural beauty in the way they look.”
Controlling Water Flow
Dry creek beds are an excellent choice for addressing places in the landscape that are hard-hit by heavy rains. While a flat place in the yard may benefit more from a simple lawn drain, gradients and hillsides need the water capacity and speed that a dry creek bed can provide during extreme conditions. Effectively redirecting the flow of water saves you from ongoing erosion and long-term damage.
When property owners are looking for a greener way to landscape, dry creek beds play an exciting role. Different-sized rocks, boulders, and choice plantings give eye-pleasing texture to outdoor spaces, but require much less water than an expanse of lawn. While bark dust alone can look flat, a dry creek bed introduces definition and contrast. It’s aesthetically pleasing and earth-friendly — a winning combination.
Dry Creek Beds for Natural Beauty
We regularly install dry creek beds to add natural beauty to a landscape. Expertly balancing a few key ingredients (a natural shape, native plantings, multiple sizes of stone) brings a natural, organic flow to an area. The results are breathtaking in any season, wet or dry.
No two landscapes are exactly alike, and the solution that works for one may not work for another. While dry creek beds are particularly suited to slopes and hillsides, they aren’t usually the best choice for flat ground.
Other elements, like French drains, catch basins, and lawn drains also have a part to play — and that’s just the beginning. Frontier’s installation team has years of experience solving drainage problems for local property owners.
French drain pipe (L), installed as a garden path (R).
French drains are a functional solution for flat terrain and less water. They often have a part to play in designing an overall solution for moving water in a landscape. Read more about them here.
Ranging in size from 6 to 24 inches, catch basins can be square or circular. These grated drains are typically placed alongside a driveway or in a low or sloped spot in the yard or hardscaping, like a patio. This is a straightforward fix for diverting water away from wet spots. A blend of rocks around it allows the catch basin to blend in with the landscape.
From basic to beautiful, there are many combinations of elements we can put to work that provide an effective long-term solution for drainage issues in your landscape.
Ready to learn how can we help you solve your standing water problems? Call (360) 574-8979 or email us for a consultation. We’ll work with you to protect your landscape with the right drainage solution to meet your needs.
Find more inspiration for dry creek beds and landscape design by visiting us on Houzz!
We tend to think or decide that there isn’t much to do in the yard once fall rains and winter cold arrive. Some figure their yard won’t look too hot again until next spring – and that only after a good deal of work.
The good news is, whether you’re a commercial enterprise or a homeowner, several tasks done in the off season make it possible to have a healthy and attractive landscape year round. The steps you take to winterize your landscape will become visible throughout the spring and summer. Which projects apply to you?
Paths & Patios
Anywhere you end up walking through mud when you would prefer not to is an opportunity to solve a problem and beautify your surroundings. One solution is the use of paving stones. They drain well, can be configured to an area of any size or shape and offer endess possibilities in creating attractive, affordable walkways, patios, retaining walls and more.
Most pruning is done in the winter. It’s important to check trees every year for dangerous, damaged or unattractive limbs or odd growth habits. There may be trees you’d like removed, whether for safety or aesthetic reasons. Whether a tree has outgrown its space, is poorly placed, poses a threat or otherwise just bugs you, doing away with it makes a huge difference in your yard’s appearance.
Winter’s a favorable time for hedge trimming and tree and shrub thinning. Your plantings will look all the better for it next season.
Don’t batten down the hatches until you’ve clear the decks of weeds, fallen leaves and other debris. They spread disease, smother the lawn and increase next year’s slugs and weeds! Watch for hidden nooks and crannies where leaves tend to congregate or weeds go unnoticed. Steps, sidewalks, driveways, decks and patios have been subjected to abuse over the past year and if not tended to now may grow slick and slimy come winter. Moss treatment and/or pressure washing may be in order.
If a water feature is large enough, it may be best to keep it running all year, not only for the pump’s sake but for that of the fish. Smaller features should be drained and properly protected for the season.
Irrigation Systems & Drains
It isn’t until the weather gets really wet that we remember that spot in the yard where water always pools or runs in the wrong direction. Let us help you remedy the situation with a free assessment to discover whether you’d benefit from the installation of a drain or culvert. Irrigation systems vary, but most require expressing air through the system to blow out any remaining water.
Need we say more?
Stroll around to make sure all outdoor lighting is firmly secured and in working order. You may see areas where you could use more lighting. For information on low-voltage landscape lighting, see our recent blog!
Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing; the entire plant should be removed. Perennials may die down, but they will be back bigger and better next year (there’s also time to divide and transplant them). Any dead foliage and surrounding debris should be removed. If you mulch, keep it back from the root crown by a few inches. If a hard frost threatens, it may be a good idea to heap some protection over them such as pine branches, straw or cloth for the duration.
Be Wise: Winterize! Frontier Landscaping has a systemized weatherization program adaptable to any property. Our professionals are well versed in the best practices for every aspect of landscape design and installation, maintenance and expert tree service. Contact us today!