Tree preparation: What to do before your leaves return

  • Thursday, March 13, 2014

With all the cold and ice, now is a great time to inspect your trees for torn limb remains that need to be properly pruned.

Many of my deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) are either just starting to put on new leaves or still naked. The green weeds are easy to spot in the lawn or beds (yes, I get weeds too).

Insect inventory, especially scale, is easy to evaluate at this time.

Any sooty mold left behind from last year indicates other insects.

With the recent rains, a search for any mosquito breeding areas was easy to do. I hate to ask this, but does anyone have moles?

Right now, before your deciduous trees put on new leaves, is an excellent time to take a close look at them. If your trees are larger, it is a great time to get a professional tree company to look at them.

Look for crossing and rubbing limbs or limbs that are growing towards the middle of the tree. Look for limbs that have died, been damaged by ice or look unhealthy.

By pruning these limbs now you can direct all the new leaves and growth to limbs you want to keep long term and not waste the energy of the tree to put on new leaves that you are going to remove later.

Dr. Shigo (the main man as far as early tree knowledge goes) found that trees do 85 percent of their growing for the year by May, so it is very important to have fertilizer available to your trees at this time.

Either hire a professional to soil inject your trees or use a granular.

SeaHume granular along with a granular product will get the tree headed in the right direction. A soil test is always the best way to determine your soil's needs.

When your tree is naked, vines growing up into the canopy are easy to spot along the trunk of the tree.

Since the tree does not have any leaves, these vines are easier to remove than when the tree and vine have leaves.

I pull these vines away from the tree, scrap off some bark and apply my “vine killer” to the open wound.

Weeds growing beneath the tree are easier to spot and deal with if you have a low-branching deciduous tree.

My fig tree has these big leaves, so once the leaves come out, it is very hard to spray a herbicide underneath the tree without hitting the fig tree's leaves. Spray now before the flush of leaves.

If you have any Asiatic Jasmine or Ivy that has grown into areas you do not want it, right now, while it is putting on young tender growth, is going to be your best time to control it.

Consider using a product like Brushmaster for these hard to kill vines.

If you have been plagued by black sooty mold in the past, right now, apply Dominion Tree & Shrub as a drench to these plants to control the insects that produce the black sooty mold. Get it out now to protect the new foliage from insect attack.

Like us, insects like that young tender foliage (cabbage, spinach, lettuce).

I'm hearing the Weed & Feed commercial (some guy named Scott) playing on the radio, and I think most people in the Lowcountry know it is too early to fertilize with a fairly high nitrogen-based fertilizer.

And spreading a root-absorbed chemical for killing weeds across your lawn where roots of desirable trees and shrubs might be is not the best idea either (their label does warn against this; however, it is difficult to tell where roots extend to).

With all the rain, look for drainage issues and potential fungus problems.

The cooler nights have given us a longer window for preemerge products.

Get them out now for less hot, gnatty, summertime weeding and competition for your plants.

Always read, understand and follow product labels.

The product label is a federal law.

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum's Landscape and Pest Control Supply.

Possum's mission is to help and service the Green Industry, Pest Control Industry and homeowners in a friendly way.

Possum's has three locations 481 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant (843-971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (843-760-2600), or 606 Dupont Road in Charleston (843-766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum's location, or visit us at www.possumsupply.com.

You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic,” Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m., on 1250 WTMA (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24/7 at www.possumsupply.com.

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