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Gardener’s checklist

This NOAA satellite image taken Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at 1:45 a.m. EDT shows Sandy over much of the eastern United States extending from North Carolina to Illinois into the Northeast with areas of rain. Snow is seen over the Central Appalachians and back into Ohio and Michigan. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

This NOAA satellite image taken Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at 1:45 a.m. EDT shows Sandy over much of the eastern United States extending from North Carolina to Illinois into the Northeast with areas of rain. Snow is seen over the Central Appalachians and back into Ohio and Michigan. (AP Photo/Weather Underground) Purchase photo reprints »

It’s Monday morning. Storm Sandy is bearing down on us and I face a deadline for this column. I have no idea what Sandy will bring but she will be gone by the time Gardener’s Checklist appears in print, and almost anything I write now may be irrelevant by then. This would have been a good week to go on vacation. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts:

 Carefully examine trees in your home landscape for damaged limbs. Prune those which you can reach easily from the ground. Never climb a ladder to prune branches nor use a chain saw above your head. Tree work can be extremely dangerous. Spend the money to hire a certified and insured arborist to do work you can’t reach. Your life is worth it. For corrective work on street trees not on your property but in front of your home, contact your town tree warden. Whatever you do, don’t ignore tree problems. We’re not far from the first snows of the season. These early snowfalls tend to be wet and heavy. Obviously, damaged branches and trunks are most vulnerable to breaking under the weight of wet snow.

 Reset any small trees that were toppled in the storm. The odds of saving a tree are high if the toppled tree is reset as soon as possible after the storm. Soils are still quite warm and some new root development will occur this fall. After resetting the tree, stake it. Start by placing two or three wood or metal stakes into the ground at least 18 inches from the tree trunk. Secure the tree to each stake using flat straps as opposed to wire, garden hose or rope. The flat strap will cause little or no damage to the tree bark. The straps should be about three feet above ground. The stakes and straps should be removed next year in late spring.

 Push aside mulches from around trees, shrubs and perennials to hasten drying of soil. I assume soils will be water-logged after Sandy moves on. Soil moisture levels were high even before Sandy and this additional moisture can cause some root rot, especially to newly planted specimens. Speaking of water logged soils, try to stay out of gardens and off lawns as much as possible. Stomping around on saturated soils will to soil compaction and eventually to reduced plant growth.

 Remove any silt and debris that was deposited on lawns by flood water. It’s likely that grass will continue to grow for a few more weeks and you don’t want the grass smothered by silt. It’s also been my experience that mowing is a lot easier when there are no branches, bird feeders, old tires or other debris on the lawn.

 Go to the National Storm Damage Center (http://www.stormdamagecenter.org/hurricanes.html) and click on the link to “Hurricane Damage Restoration Information.” I hope that you survived Sandy safe and sound!

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