SEATTLE — If you're wondering what to do after winter weather has ravaged your garden, Ciscoe Morris is here to ease your worries.
Ciscoe goes over ways to bring life back to your foliage after snowmageddon.
The record heavy snow beat the tweedle out of quite a number of plants. Many were left with broken or bent branches, and in the worst case, trees and shrubs fell over completely. Broken branches can be cut back to a healthy branch or all the way back to the trunk. Bent branches sometimes can be tied back in place, but it’s easier to cut them off to healthy foliage at the point where the branch begins to bend. Don’t worry if pruning the branch leaves a hole. As long as the plant is healthy, foliage will quickly fill in. Trees and shrubs that fell over or are leaning can sometimes be pulled upright and permanently staked. However if roots are damaged, it’s usually necessary to dig and replant in order to get the plant to stand upright. When you’re digging the tree, if you find that the roots were severely damaged or the tree didn’t have much of a rootball to begin with, you’re better off replacing the tree. Otherwise, it will take so many stakes and ropes to keep the plant upright, it will end up looking like a hostage in your front yard.
If you decide to hire someone to repair the damage on your tree or shrub remember that just because someone starts a gardening or pruning company and leaves a fancy flyer on your door is not a guarantee that the person is qualified. Harm done by unskilled landscapers and pruners can be costly and long lasting. Before you hire someone to work in your garden, get references and check out the quality of their work. Better yet, hire a Certified Arborist (www.pnwisa.org) for tree work or a Certified Horticulturist (www.wsnla.org) for gardening and landscaping. These folks have passed tests to prove a high level of competency and are required to attend approved training seminars to remain certified. Plant Amnesty, a non-profit organization dedicated to stamping out improper pruning and gardening practices, has a referral service of highly qualified pruners and horticulturists with a proven work record at www.plantamnesty.org.
If your trees split in half at a 'Y' in the branching, if you act quickly you might be able to bolt it back together. Buy lag bolts with threads on each end that are long enough to go all the way through the trunk or branch, wide washers and nuts. If a small tree splits down the middle, call some strong friends to help lift and push the sides of the tree back together. While your friends hold the split parts together, drill 3 or 4 holes (not lined up in a straight line) through both sides of the split trunk or branch. Use the hardware to bolt the tree together. As long as you get it done within a few days of the break, your tree will not only survive, but in a number of years the trunk will grow right over the bolts and you won't remember where the break was.
Since it was so cold this winter, come spring many shrubs and evergreen perennials may resemble crispy critters. It's difficult to tell which ones are fatally damaged and which will come back. Often even if the top is killed, the plant may grow back from the roots. Patience is the best policy. Cut off anything that is obviously dead, but if it's a valued plant, wait until at least mid-June to dig it out.
Let's hope the snow is done with for this year!