It is important to take care of your landscape investment: by pruning trees and shrubs, and taking care of disease and pest problems quickly.

Weed Control

Should be addressed before planting, or it may become a problem again in the future. Creating a new planting bed stirs up the multitude of weed seeds lying dormant in the soil, and they may germinate and grow. Pre-emergents applied to the soil help to make sure that this doesn't happen. Most perennial weeds that are already in the bed have deep roots and need to be sprayed with a non-selective herbicide, or they will come back from any portion of the root that is left if they are pulled out. Mulch helps to keep down the weeds also.

Mulching

No Mulch VolcanosA two to three inch layer of mulch helps reduce water stress problems as it helps retain soil moisture and reduces competition from grass and weeds. "Bagel" mulch around trees, but don't create mulch volcanoes around trunks, as that smothers the tree.


Fertilizing

Feed your trees & shrubs anytime from late fall to early spring, starting the second year. Trees that are fertilized may have 2-3 times more growth then those that haven't. Cypress Group, Inc. applies fertilizer to planting holes and beds. Perennials should generally be fertilized in the spring when they are starting to emerge. Native plants can become too floppy and tall if fertilized. A 10-10-10 fertilizer works well.

Pruning

Pruning TreeWhen you prune is as important as if you prune. Flowering shrubs form their buds after they bloom. If you prune them after the buds have formed, you are cutting off next year's blooms.

Removing broken or diseased branches or foliage is important, so that disease and insects won't be attracted. Trees with a single trunk should only have one leader or main branch. Sometimes additional leaders will form, that need to be removed.

Spring Clean-up

Spring Bed CleanupCut back any perennials that you didn't do in the fall. Before the ornamental grasses start to emerge, cut them back. Cut off dead or broken branches on trees, shrubs, and roses. Wait until they start to bud out if you have a question of what died - especially with roses. This is also the time to trim the roses to a better shape, if needed. Be careful when the soil is moist not to compact the soil in the beds. Also watch out for perennials that are emerging from the soil. Some plants will be late to emerge, so be patient (i.e.: Rose of Sharon, Anemone, etc.).

Summer Maintenance:

Check your beds regularly for disease and insect infestations. Remove or spray weeds promptly. Reapply pre-emergent to the beds as recommended by the manufacturer. Remove spent flowers (dead head) if you want many of them to rebloom.

Fall Clean-up

Fall CleanupIf you are a neat-nick, you will want to remove the leaves in your planting beds in the fall. Leaves should be removed from your lawn, as they can smother the grass during the winter. However, leaves in your beds are not always a bad thing - as they decompose, they become mulch, and provide nutrients to the soil. They also can help to protect perennials and roses in the winter. Tougher or larger leaves may need to be chopped up to aide in decomposition (a mower works great for this - bag it, then you can dump it where you want it).

To cut back or not to cut back ornamental grasses? That is the question. Do not cut back ornamental grasses until early spring, as the foliage provides winter interest and homes for wildlife, and also prevents crown rot. Plants that are prone to disease, such as Peonies, Iris, Daylilies, etc. should be cut back. Plants that don't retain their shape, the foliage dies to the ground, or flop excessively in the winter (like Hosta) should be cut back. Some plants have seed heads that wildlife and birds love and need to survive the winter (like Coneflowers). These seed heads or berries can add great beauty & interest to the barren winter landscape. Zone-hardy Roses (like Knock Out or Flower Carpet) should not be cut back until they start to bud out in the spring. They die back from the tips, and if they are cut back severely, they can die back to the roots.

Dead Head

Dead Heading

Some perennials and annuals re-bloom if their spent blooms are removed or cut back - this is called 'Dead Heading'. Once a plant makes a seed after blooming, it thinks that it has done its job, and stops blooming. Dead Heading is a way to 'trick' the plant. However, some plants will not re-bloom (such as Peonies, Irises, or Liatris). Dead Heading also keeps plants more attractive, and can prevent disease (like in peonies). It can even cause the plant to become bushier, less floppy and can also increase the number of flowers. Of course this all depends upon the particular kind of plant.

Plants that benefit from Dead Heading are: Beebalm, Black-Eyed Susan, Bleeding Heart, Butterfly Bush, Catmint, Coneflower, Coreopsis, Daylily, Dianthus, Phlox paniculata (tall kind), Roses, Salvia, Shasta Daisy, Spiderwort, Veronica spicata, and Yarrow. Veronica and Salvia have spike-like blooms, that open from the bottom to the top. Remove the blooms when the spike is 70% finished blooming.

How to dead head - the first time, cut off the bloom to the first bud or leaf. Then the second time, dead head it to another lateral flower or bud, and so forth until there are not more lateral flowers or buds left. Then you can cut off the entire stem back to the basal foliage. For plants that grow on single, bare stems like Lanceleaf Coreopsis, just grab a handfull of spent blooms and cut them off. If you are really adept, use garden shears - it's much faster. Perennial Geraniums, Catmint and Fernleaf Coreopsis flowers are tough to trim individually, so cutting the entire plant back to 4-6"H can help encourage new growth and blooms.

Other plants that will not re-bloom, can still benefit from dead heading, because it makes the plant look neater, or it keeps them from forming a seed pod that takes energy away frm the plants. Examples are: Lady's Mantle, Brunnera, Coral Bells, Hosta, Iris, Lilies, Daylilies, and Lungwort (Pulmonaria). Lastly, some seed pods can reseed - which may be messy looking or not produce plants true to the originals: Black-eyed Susan, Saryopteris, Butterfly Bush, Rose of Sharon (older cultivars), Salvia, Sedum, and Yarrow.

Cutting Back

Trimming HedgeSome plants benefit from being cut back in the spring to one-third, to one-half to control height and form later in the season: Rose of Sharon, Aster, Coneflowers, Lobelia, Phlox (tall garden type), Obedient Plant (Physostegia), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Sedums (tall types), and Veronica. Some plants like Spiderwort (Tradescantia) or some Salvia start to look ratty in mid-summer, and they can be cut to the ground to start over.

Be careful not to wait too long to cut back, otherwise you may be cutting off next year's blooms.

Some plants that have bulbs or bulb-like growths, it is important not to cut back the foliage as it dies, as it continues to provide food for the bulb (like Lily, Daffodils, Tulips).