Which is the correct way to apply Mulch?

mulch_shapeMulch should be applied in a "doughnut" shape in the drip zone of trees and shrubs, not a "volcano". Excessive mulching wastes money and eventually leads to distress of trees, encouraging surface roots to grow into the mulch as well as rot organisms and insects to invade the soften bark tissue covered by mulch.

The worst material you can use is fresh grass clippings, peat moss, sawdust, mulch that smells bad, ground up rubber, stones, pavers or black plastic. The best mulch choices include shredded hardwood mulch, organic mulch, recycled pallets, ground red pine bark and pine straw.

You should always be able to see the flare of the tree trunk. Our IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Certified Technicians at Exterior Image are here to visit your site and provide an analysis of symptoms/signs to give you the best recommendations. Please contact us at 410-956-1344 for more information.

Spring Pruning of Roses for Health and Beauty

As buds swell and growth begins in April here in Maryland, you should have a good idea of what tissue is dead and what is alive. Begin by pruning dead canes from a result of winter damage or fungal causing cankers. This wood will be white or tan and may have cankers with raised pimple like fungal spore structures present. Stems may be girdled and should be pruned well below the visible symptoms. Do not compost or chip these canes. Darker canes killed by cold temperatures are usually dark and can be pruned with debris composted or chipped.

Depending on the kind of rose, many species such as climbers and older hybrid roses bloom off side buds from the previous year's growth. Pruning can significantly reduce flower, so it is better to wait till the first flush of bloom to prune. Roses that have not been pruned regularly may need up to 20% of the oldest cane removed near the base of the plants. Ever-blooming roses which bloom on new basal canes can be pruned severely, thinned out to open up center and promote symmetry.

All pruning cuts should be above a swelling bud and at a 45 degree angle with the high side of the cut right above the bud. When possible, prune the can so the outward facing bud will direct new growth outward from the center of the plant. This allows for faster drying of canopy to reduce and discourage black spot and powdery mildew foliar diseases.

Perennial Plant of the Year - Baptisia Australis

BaptisaBlue false indigo grows three to four feet tall and three to four feet wide in an upright habit. This exceptional perennial grows across a wide range of zones and is one of the most adaptable native species.

Newly emerging shoots produce violet-blue, lupine-like flowers in erect 10- to 12-inch racemes atop flower stems extending well above the foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves. The spring flowers are present for three to four weeks. The flowers give way to inflated seed pods which turn charcoal black when ripe and which flower arrangers consider to be ornamental. The common name, blue false indigo, refers to the use of this perennial by early Americans as a dye.

Baptisia Australis is an excellent plant to anchor the back of the border. It is also valuable for cottage gardens, native plant gardens, and native area of prairies and meadows. It is best as a specimen or planted in small groups. Blue false indigo can be used with bulbs and other spring flowering perennials to make interesting combinations.

  • Light - Plants thrive in full sun. Plants grown in partial shade may require staking.
  • Soil - This North American native is easily grown in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant after establishment.
  • Uses - This spring flowering shrub-like perennial may be used to fill the back of the border or in the wild garden.
  • Unique Qualities - The combination of flower and leaf color is dramatic in the early blooming season. Flowers are followed by inflated seed pods that are useful for dried flower arrangements.
  • Hardiness - USDA zones 3-9
    (sited from Perennial Plant Association - http://www.perennialplant.org/.

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