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2011-10-17 17:30:22
Root Cause

Trees and shrubs add visual appeal to any homeowner's lawn or backyard, but only when they're in tip-top shape.  Better Homes & Gardens and HGTV offer some key maintenance tips.


PRUNING:  To keep plants lush and healthy, prune dead branches or leaves regularly.  If a plant is already infected with a disease orpests, pruning can help prevent spreading and extend the plant's life.  Experts suggest dipping your pruning shears in bleach or rubbing alcohol in between cuts to further kill disease or pests.

When you prune depends on what kind of tree or shrub you have.  The basic rule of thumb is to prune plants when they are not in bloom or are on the verge of blooming.  For example, shade trees are best pruned in late fall, winter or early spring, when they're typically leafless.

And keep in mind that while light pruning is OK to do on your own, it's best to hire a professional if larger branches need to be cut.


WATERING:  Just planted a tree?  If the tree is in its first 2 years, water if more frequently, since the tree is expending energy to grow.  Experts suggest 30 seconds with a steady stream of water from an ordinary garden hose.  You can also add mulcing to your regular routine to try and retain moisture.

One note of caution:  Be careful not to water trees as frequently as the grass.  Too much watering can cause the tree roots to grow too close to the surface, which means that the water is actually soffocating the roots.


PEST CONTROL:  The most important thing you can do to maintain a pest-free environment is to check your plants thoroughly for insects and oddities-such as black spots on the leaves or holes in the wood-on a regular basis.  Anything amiss could mean the plant has been infested with pests.  Eperts suggest periodically blasting leaves with a hose to shake off any clinging pests.

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