Several people ask:
With fall and winter approaching, is there anything I should be doing for my trees and shrubs?
A: Good question! Many people believe that the only thing necessary to get ready for the upcoming dormant season is to rake up the leaves, and then break out the snow shovel.
Truth is, winter can be very harsh on our trees and shrubs, especially when you consider the type of summer we just had. With virtually no rainfall in July, and the several days of 90+ degree temperatures, many trees have started to show early fall coloration, and some have become almost completely barren of leaves.
Hopefully you were able to water enough to help your tree(s) through the most stressful periods, but the TLC doesn't stop there. Evergreens continue to transpire (lose moisture) into fall, and often during the winter, so it is very important to keep them well-watered if we don't receive adequate precipitation. You may need to water throughout fall - it just depends on the weather conditions.
If we have any warm, dry spells during winter, you may even have to get the hose back out and water again. Deciduous trees only need to be watered up until the first hard frost, which is typically by mid-October.
You can also apply an anti-desiccant to reduce the amount of moisture loss. Most evergreen trees don't benefit much from this application, although I would definitely suggest spraying young white pines and hemlocks.
Concentrate on evergreen shrubs such as rhododendrons, taxus, arborvitae, azaleas, and so on. Evergreens in windy locations and along roads that receive a lot of de-icing salt should receive first priority.
Next, fertilization in the fall is an excellent way to help root systems develop, especially those that may have been damaged. This is because roots do most of their growing in fall, and they continue to do so up until the ground freezes. If the ground doesn't freeze too deeply (and there have been some winters where this has been the case), the roots will continue growing.
But even if you don't have damaged roots, fall is still a good time to fertilize. You're providing the necessary elements to the roots at the time they will use it the most for "personal growth."
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