SOURCE: TruGreen

May 09, 2011 05:00 ET

Beyond the Lawn With TruGreen

Caring for Trees and Shrubs

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - May 9, 2011) - (Family Features) A beautiful yard involves more than just a lush, green lawn. Trees and shrubs add beauty and value, and they need special attention, as well.

According to Ben Hamza, Ph.D., director of technical operations at TruGreen, the nation's largest professional lawn care service, there tends to be a public misperception that trees and shrubs take care of themselves. "Trees and shrubs add tremendous appeal to our home environments, but to thrive, particularly out of their natural world, they require regular care with added nutrients and protection against invasive pests," Hamza said.

Pruned Trees and Shrubs
Pruned trees and shrubs not only look more attractive, they are actually healthier and grow more vigorously.

  • Conduct corrective pruning of trees and shrubs to enhance plant appearance and vigor. Remove suckers, water sprouts, weak limbs and branches.
  • Thin rather than top-shear overgrown shrubs and trees to preserve their overall shape.
  • Make sure not to prune trees and shrubs that bloom in early spring, with the exception of removing dead branches.
  • Use the right-sized tool to make pruning cuts. Loppers are used to cut branches up to one inch in diameter, and pruning saws are used for larger branches.

Plant Placement
Making sure your plants are in the right place isn't just about aesthetics. Good placement helps ensure a healthy plant.

  • If you have existing shrubs or smaller trees that don't seem to be doing well, do a little research and find out about plants' light and soil needs. Before planting a new tree or shrub, make sure you know exactly where it ought to go.
  • Insects and diseases are harder to control when a plant is out of place. For example, growing shade-loving plants in the open sun invites pest and disease trouble.
  • Certain species of plants are prone to disease or pests. Before investing in new trees and shrubs, find out what problems are common in your area and avoid selecting plants susceptible to them.

Insect Control
Insects and mites hurt the appearance and health of ornamental plants. In many cases, management of pests is necessary to rid the plant of pests and to reduce damage. The keys to this control are:

  • Correctly identifying the pest.
  • Applying the proper material.
  • Correctly timing the application.

Consulting a trained professional is usually the safest and most effective option.

Proper Lawn Watering and Fertilizing
Most homeowners know about watering and fertilizing the lawn. But many neglect giving the same treatment to trees and shrubs. Or, they make one of these common mistakes:
Not enough fertilizer -- An inadequate fertilizer application will not improve color or growth, nor will it bring out the full potential of the plant.
Too much fertilizer -- Fertilizer applied at excessive rates is detrimental to plants and can damage or kill the roots. Above the ground, excess fertilizer shows up as leaf scorch and even branch dieback.
Unevenly applied fertilizer -- Fertilizer should be applied to cover as much of the root-growing zone under the plant canopy as possible. If it is misapplied to only a portion of the root zone, the fertilized area could respond differently from the unfertilized areas of the tree or shrub bed.

What type of fertilizer should you use? Liquid fertilizers can be injected into the root zone or applied to the soil surface above the root zone.

Non-turf areas, such as landscape plant beds, ground covers and natural wooded areas, are better suited for using a dry, granular fertilizer. Use a walk-behind push or handheld crank rotary spreader. Avoid spreading fertilizer by hand because it is difficult to distribute it evenly and consistently.

Keep fertilizer on target to prevent run-off and sweep fertilizer granules that may reach pavement back onto your lawn. Use a trained professional company, such as TruGreen, that offers customized solutions to lawn and plant problems based on your region's needs.

For more tips, visit TruGreen online.

Expert Lawn Advice
TruGreen's Hamza offers these additional lawn and landscape tips to help your yard thrive:
Clean Lawn and Landscape Areas -- Thoroughly clear dead leaves and debris that may impede new growth from flower beds and lawn.
Mulch -- When your lawn is actively growing, return grass clippings back to the soil for added lawn nutrients, and consider using composted materials to nourish plants. Apply three inches of organic mulch to base of shrubs and trees to help conserve soil moisture and to reduce weed pressure, but be mindful not to cover the flare of the tree base.
Right Plant, Right Place -- Plant the right type of grass for your lawn to ensure a green, healthy turf. Where grass has difficulty growing, plant shade-adapted ground covers for landscape appeal.
Check Lawn Irrigation System -- Follow the owner's operating manual to take an automated sprinkler system out of hibernation. Give your lawn a slow, steady watering about once a week, but adjust depending upon rainfall, grass and soil type in your area. Also ensure the irrigation system covers your landscape efficiently. Place a one-inch deep food can in the middle of the lawn area to measure the depth of water collected after each watering cycle to ensure uniformity.
Protect Plants Against Extreme Elements -- With an expected cold snap, cover flowering plants before the sun goes down to maximize heat trapped by the plants. Create a tent of warmth with plastic tarps, cardboard, bed sheets or special plant frost protection blankets available at your local nursery or home improvement retailer.

Chance to Create the Ultimate Outdoor Oasis
TruGreen is celebrating homeowners' real stories for creating their ideal outdoor living rooms by offering the TruGreen TruStories Sweepstakes. One Grand Prize winner will receive a $25,000 MasterCard reward card, perfect for creating a backyard oasis to share with family and friends.

In addition, 50 first prize $500 MasterCard reward cards and 38 weekly prize $250 MasterCard reward cards will be awarded. The sweepstakes is open to legal U.S. residents 18 years or older. Go to now through October 16, 2011, to enter and to obtain official sweepstakes rules. Entrants can also participate by printing their name, complete address, daytime and evening phone numbers, age, email address and "The TruStories Sweepstakes" on a 3 x 5 card and mail it to: "The TruStories Sweepstakes," P.O. Box 511215, New Berlin, WI 53151 or "The TruStories Sweepstakes," P.O. Box 511425, New Berlin, WI 53151. No purchase is necessary to enter or to win.

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