Arbor Day Sale 30% off all trees* Friday, April 25-Sunday, April 27
Mother’s Day Sale Monday, May 6- Sunday, May 11 30% off all trees and shrubs*
*Sale plants are not covered under the one year guarantee
Will we see a lot of winter injury this spring?
MSU Landscape Alert Newsletter
Vol 23 No 1 March 21, 2008
Written By Dr. Bert Cregg, Horticulture and Forestry
Next to “Will we have good fall color this year?” this question on winter injury is the one I dread the most. In both cases, we usually don’t know the final answer until the event is actually upon us. So far, the winter of 2007-2008 has been the closest thing we’ve had to an “average” winter since I moved to Michigan in 1999. Granted, things have been chilly the past couple of weeks, but we’ve not had any record-setting cold temperatures this winter.
This winter has also been relatively free of wide temperature fluctuations that are usually associated with winter injury to our landscape plants in Michigan. We had some sub-zero weather right after New Year’s, which is not unusual and shouldn’t cause any freezing injury. We had a warm-up the second week of January, but this was followed by a gradual cool-down that should have resulted in a “soft landing” for most of our plants. Based on temperature patterns so far, we wouldn’t expect to see major issues with freezing injury. Heavy snowfall, on the other hand, could raise some concerns. This raises the possibility of several other forms of winter-related problems including broken limbs on trees and shrubs from heavy snow loads, salt damage and animal damage.
Most trees and shrubs are best pruned when they are dormant so snow-broken limbs can be pruned whenever weather permits and it’s safe to do so. Large, hanging limbs are extremely dangerous and may best be handled by a professional arborist. Remember that trees such as maples and birches are “bleeders” and will produce a lot of sap from the pruning wound. The U.S. Forest Service has a nice “how to” guide on pruning trees at: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/howtos/ht_prune/prun001.htm
Salt damage to trees and shrubs may also appear this spring. Studies have shown that salt spray can travel over a quarter of a mile, especially from roadways with high-speed traffic. For conifers, look for scorched or dead needles, mainly on sides of trees facing roadways. Eastern white pines are particularly sensitive to salt exposure. For broadleaved trees and shrubs, salt damage often appears as stem or branch die-back. In some cases, trees may also form “witches’ brooms” or clumps of adventitious shoots near the branch terminals.
A variety of mammals such as deer, mice and rabbits can cause browse damage. Because of the greater snow depths this year, you may be surprised at the height of plants where damage occurs. Physical barriers (fencing, netting, wire cages) are the best way to prevent animal browse damage. Reducing weeds and eliminating cover can help to reduce damage from mice and rabbits. Deer repellants vary in effectiveness from very effective to not at all. This bulletin from Colorado State University provides tips on reducing deer damage and effectiveness of repellants:http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06520.html
Late winter injury (freezing injury that occurs in late winter/early spring) is probably the most common form of winter damage that we see in Michigan landscapes year in and year out. In mid-Michigan, late winter injury usually occurs in late April or May once trees and shrubs have begun to break bud and then temperatures dip back below freezing. For most landscape plants, late winter injury is usually mild and plants are able to resume normal growth. In some cases, flowers may be lost from magnolias and other early-flowering plants or terminal shoots may be damaged and require corrective pruning to maintain tree form.
So, will we see a lot of winter damage this year? We will certainly see some. How much? Ask me again in June.
“Symphony of Homes Tour- Gull Lake”
We are excited to be a sponsor of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League event this year, being held May 16, 17 and 18 on the island. We are proud to announce that we will be a ticket sale site. Tickets will be available beginning the week of April 21.
MSU Kellogg Bird Sanctuary Presents: Landscaping Series
Several informative courses are being offered this spring and summer. They are held at the Bird Sanctuary from 6:30 to 8 pm. Class topics and dates are listed below, with more information available at www.kbs.msu.edu/birdsanctuary or by calling (269)671-2510
Rain Gardens April 29
Invasive Species May 20
Birdscaping July 22
Uninvited Garden Guests August 19
Product Spotlight: Going Organic
-Organic Preen -safe for vegetable gardening, it is made of corn gluten
-Espoma Organic Lawn Food- 25 lb bag covers 5,000 sq ft.
-Espoma Organic Weed Preventer and Fertilizer-prevents both crabgrass and broadleaf weeds. Safe for pets and people
-Bonide Lightning Fast Grass and Weed Killer-this ready to use product contains the active ingredient clove oil
What a winter! Every time I looked out the window, it was snowing, but it was so cold, I couldn’t even make a snowman. I heard that it is officially spring, and I want to add a beautiful spring flowering tree to my yard. Do you have any suggestions?
Madilyn and I understand your pain. We have a terrible case of cabin fever! But the best medicine is watching the lovely flowers of spring emerge, and I have several trees that I want to tell you about. Come in during our Arbor day sale to get a deal on your favorite tree!
Ivory Silk Lilac Tree- beautiful white flowers in the spring, They grow to about 25’ tall and 15’ wide. They flower later than common lilacs, and have a nice dark shiny bark
Flowering Horse Chestnut- growing up to 40’ tall and 30’ wide, these trees can have 6-8” pink, white or red flowers on them
Kousa Dogwood-A bit more hardy than other flowering dogwoods, their white flowers appear later as well. The trees are vase shaped and have bright red fruit for birds
Kwanzaan cherry- stunning in bloom with an upright shape, double pink flowers, and reddish copper fall color, this tree is a looker. It can grow to be 20-25’ tall and 15-20’ wide
Flowering Lilac on a standard- this is a great option for smaller spaces. It is a lilac shrub grafted on to a lilac tree stem. Mature height is approximately 5’
Crabapples- My Mom says there is nothing like a crabapple in the spring, and my dad agrees. With all the foliage, color and size options, you can’t go wrong.
Our Field Reporter (and my sister) Madilyn adds:
Don’t forget to water and fertilize those new trees. Trees prefer long slow drinks of water versus a 5 gallon bucket of water being dumped on them. thanks friends!