April Gardening Tips – Trees and Shrubs

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,368
    Mitch Baker, Horticulturist with American Plant Garden Center, talks about trees and shrubs.

    Mitch Baker: Hi! I am Mitch Baker with American Plant and we are talking about great April Gardening Tips. We will start first by inspecting our trees and shrubs. Some winter damage may have occurred, we want to prune that out as necessary. The ice and the snow may have caused some breakage that should be pruned out as needed. We are also seeing some localized tissue damage to some of the foliage, that's going to recover on it's own but we may want to trim out some of that, just make it look a little better, so we will take a few of these branches out. This is really minor damage, doesn't require a lot of work. But we can improve its appearance just by taking out some of this dead wood. That opens up the interior to better air circulation and more light, and that's always a benefit. So check all of your broadleaf evergreens, all of your deciduous shrubs, any pruning that's necessary, this is a good time to do that. In fact, most of your trees and shrubs will benefit from that pruning, and fill in as the season progresses. Let's go have a look at some of the roses and see what they need now. So, we have got a rose here ready to be pruned. Now this happens to be a shrub rose, a knock out rose, but the same pruning principles apply to a hybrid tea or any grandiflora rose or any other shrub rose. So, I am going to put safety glasses on because we are dealing in tight quarters here with some sharp thorns. Now don't be afraid to prune a rose like this. This is really critical to producing great flowers for the whole season. So, we are going to take some of these branches down, as much as 50 percent, we are going to prune out of this rose to stimulate good, strong growth for that first flush of flowers. So, after I have finished pruning the whole rose down to the appropriate size, we are going to fertilize and mulch. Fertilizing is an important step for roses. They tend to be heavy feeders. You want to maximize their development by feeding them frequently through the season. So we will start with a low-fertility organic fertilizer, and right now that first feeding should take place. So we are just going to sprinkle the correct amount around the base of the rose, not too close to the stem, not too far away from the dripline. And we will repeat that application every four to six weeks. Now because we have put fertilizer on the soil surface, we want to cover that with mulch. And mulch does a number of things, it is not just decorative, we are going to use shredded hardwood, and shredded hardwood does a number of things. It helps retain moisture, moderates soil temperatures, and suppress weeds. As long as it's properly applied, not too thick, we are going to get all the benefit without causing any problems. So don't over apply mulch. That's not necessary and can actually create problems. So, a thin layer spread around the base, an inch to an inch-and-a-half deep is all that's necessary to get the full range of benefits. When it comes to trees, you want to inspect them for winter damage, but now is a good time to do a little interior pruning as well before they leaf out. So, we have got a couple of branches here that can be trimmed, these are cross branches, it's usually a good idea to get rid of them before they get any further along in development. That's all you need to do. So, now we have some Liriope, an ornamental grass that we are going to cut back. This is the time of year when we want to cut these back hard to stimulate a good, strong flush of new growth for the season. So don't be afraid to take these back, just like we were talking about pruning the roses, the Liriope also needs to be pruned basically to the ground, and you need to do it early in the spring like this before there is any sign of new growth. So, we are going to prune this back hard, all that material that we prune away, we can put on the compost pile for next season. So, those are some April Gardening Tips for trees and shrubs. Next, we will talk about annuals, perennials, and bulbs.