NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 15, 2014

Tim's Tips: A good time to treat shrubs, fix damage

I was very surprised to see how much of the snow melted in the last week. I have been able to see the sad-looking grass in our backyard that was totally covered with snow a week ago.

While the snow was in the backyard, I could always see fresh deer tracks. A close look at shrubs in the neighborhood shows that the deer are indeed feeding on them.

This week appears to have some warmer temperatures. These temperatures will allow you to treat your shrubs with deer repellent. We don’t know how tough the winter will be on the deer population. Many of the shrubs we plant are ideal deer food. It always surprises me that deer will wipe out all of the leaves on a rhododendron. In many cases, they will even eat holly. If you live in an area where deer have been present, it would be a good idea to protect your shrubs with an application of deer repellent.

Now that a lot of the snow has melted, you will probably notice some broken branches on your trees and shrubs. This was probably caused by snow and/or ice buildup on your plants. Now would be a good time to prune out the damaged parts of your plants. Any damage will get worse in the next ice storm or snowstorm.

Many of your trees, particularly the maple trees, will soon begin to have sap running up into them. If you wait too long to prune these trees, the sap will “bleed” for a long period of time. This will slow the healing process. A little bit of cleanup now will save you more damage to your shrubs later in the winter.

I know that I have brought this up earlier in the season, but you really should be checking your houseplants for signs of insect attack. Over the past week, I have talked to many people in the store who are having problems with insects on their houseplants. Any plant that spent time outdoors this past season can bring insects into your home. The insects can then spread to the rest of your plants.

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