Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Desperate Measures

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, Comfrey in the Garden, Pruning, Reasons to Prune, Aphids on Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Leatherleaf Viburnum

Hello fellow readers,

I’ve always thought the reasons to prune are similar to the reasons of caring for ourselves and our families. Improving appearance and health, training the young, controlling size, preventing injury or damage, rejuvenating the old, and influencing bounty.

Darren from Hackettstown is digging in a new foundation planting and asked about pruning. With proper plant selection and placement, he won’t have to prune for years. Choose plants appropriate in size for the area; allowing space to grow. It’s a common mistake to plant young plants too close to the foundation. Find out the mature widths and heights and space accordingly. For example, a shrub that matures to 10 feet high and 5 feet wide should be planted 5 feet apart from the center of the plant. For trees, spacing them by half their width at maturity is a basic rule of thumb, but not a catchall as there are variables such as growth rates. For a fast growing tree you may wish to space further. Or, if you are seeking a quick screen, plant closer together.

So while Darren won’t have to control size for a while, he’s smart to think about the other reasons to prune. Its best to train while young rather than have to rejuvenate when old; which parallels the adage of keeping fit. In general, once your plants reach the desired size you can prune the new growth every year right after bloom to maintain its size. Wish it were that easy for us!

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, Comfrey in the Garden, Pruning, Reasons to Prune, Aphids on Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Leatherleaf Viburnum

Aphids on Leatherleaf Viburnum

Then there’s desperate situations that call for desperate measure. My Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Leatherleaf Viburnum, have gotten beyond desperate in terms of invaders sucking the life out of their leaves. Over the last few years, aphids have caused severe leaf curl disfigurement and the plants look bloody awful. I’ve treated them with Neem Oil, a natural alternative to synthetic pesticides, but the leaves curl tightly. If you don’t intervene early enough, the oil won’t successfully suffocate the suckers. It’s true I didn’t apply the oil often enough either; they say every five to seven days. After the bloom, I cut each stalk down in varying heights from one to three feet, removing all remaining lower leaves. Yes, a desperate measure, but I think there’s enough storage in the root systems to rejuvenate the plants. Next week I’ll share my interim solution to camouflaging the ‘uglies’ while the plants recover.

The topic of pruning can’t go without mention of one of the top pet peeves – sheering shrubs into meatballs or hockey pucks. I think meatballs are far more appealing in pasta bowls, not along a foundation. Garden Dilemmas? askmarystone@gmail.com

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, Comfrey in the Garden, Pruning, Reasons to Prune, Aphids on Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Leatherleaf Viburnum

Before Desperate Measures

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, Comfrey in the Garden, Pruning, Reasons to Prune, Aphids on Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Leatherleaf Viburnum

After Rejuvenation Pruning; next week we’ll chat about camouflage

 

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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