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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Other Fall Items

Posted by John Fulton -

You may have noticed a very large number of brown needles on evergreens this fall. That may even have translated to large piles of needles under your evergreens in the past few weeks, especially white pines. Not to worry. Evergreens usually only keep one to four years of needles (one to two years growth for white pines) on the ends of branches. Depending on weather, the old needles will turn brown and drop off. Usually this is a gradual process that isn't noticed too much. This year it happened all at once, mainly due to the hot and dry weather. If the buds on branch tips are plump and green, odds are your tree is fine.

Several calls have come in concerning the proper time to prune or cut things back. Let's start with some flowers. Keep in mind that perennials keep building their food reserves until all the leaves and stems are brown. For peonies and other similar flowers, you want to wait until all the above ground plant parts are brown. Then you can mow them off, or cut them at ground level. This same principal goes for most perennial flowers – wait until the above ground parts are no longer green. For trees and shrubs, pruning is best done at other times. Flowering shrubs should be done after they flower, high sap flow trees are best done in December, and most other trees are best done in February. The evergreen trees and shrubs are best done in late June.

Crabgrass is nearing the end of its lifecycle. It comes up from a seed about the first of April each year, depending on temperatures. Seed has been viable for several weeks already, and that is what will make next year's crop. The seedling germination inhibitors do the best job on the annual grasses, and they can stop the cycle anytime you apply them. For now, let nature run its course since you really don't have any options anyway.



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