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Care For Your Trees Now
October 08, 2012

A crisp morning to you.

(Front of our house.)

I'm finishing this letter and sending it out early today.

If all goes well, We will be on the road Up North for a couple of days.

And why not?

Michigan has more species of trees than any other continental state or Canadian province.

90 species of indigenous trees alone.

Toss in all of the introduced species and you can see why colors can be so special.

Petoskey will be our home base, as we hope to take in some fall colors and I'm sure a Farmer's Market and possibly a store or two.

I can't forget the Lake Michigan views as well.

Not to mention, visit a dear friend of ours.

No killing frost as of yet, and flowers still look pretty good so I will share some with you.

My roses always bloom there best in September and the first half of October.

Sure temperatures are mild and cool, but it has more to do with the 12 hours (or close to it) of daylight and night time.

Yes, I have a hibiscus in bloom right now.

In fact that is the first flower on this plant.

'Luna' Hibiscus will bloom the first year from seed if planted early enough.

However, this is a three year old plant I transplanted last year.

It never came up this spring.

Some time in Mid July, I got around to digging it up and was going to place something else there.

Would you know it, there were green buds on the plant crown.

Back in the ground it went and a few days later there was growth above the surface.

I never figured it to bloom, not in October.

I like native grasses, as they add depth, color and seed for birds.

Many annuals are still looking good as are the season long and fall blooming perennials.

It is so nice to see and hear the robins once again.

They are coming back from the woodlands and swamps as they too begin to gorge on Nature's bounty.

The Red-Bellied woodpeckers have once again become daily visitors to the peanut feeder.

It is interesting, most of the woodpeckers around here disappear during the summer months.

Once fall arrives, the woodies come back to feed.

Yes, you have fall chores and a to do list, but make sure you take some time for yourself.

Autumn offers so much.

Take some time to enjoy God's pallet and paint brush.

Visit Some Farmer's markets.

Take a walk or a ride and breathe in some fresh air and spectacular colors that are short lived.

One of your fall tasks should be to make sure your trees and shrubs have some good drinks before winter sets in.

You do want to help protect your investments don't toy?

Fall care for your trees.



The high rise condominiums of our yards and gardens.

Homes to countless creatures.

They provide a cooling shade and provide us with oxygen.

They also take in Carbon dioxide.

Trees purify ground water and help against soil erosion.

Trees also drink and transpire copious amounts of water.

More than 90% of the water a tree takes in, is lost through transpiration (evaporation through foliage).

(This past summer was testament to that.)

Here is some food for thought............

A tree can lose more than 150 gallons of water a day, while drinking as much a 50 gallons an hour.

Indeed, a large tree can lose more than 110,000 gallon through transpiration in a growing season.

To remain healthy, it must take in more than that.

When the output is greater than the input, you will see trees showing signs of stress.

With the recent record hot summer, experts said this was common with most plants this year.

They simply couldn't drink enough.

With the arrival of fall and the leaves changing color, it is important to remember your trees.

Here are a few pointers.

Trees in autumn are in a state of serious change and reorganization.

The tree is preparing for winter and heading into dormancy.

Creation left nothing for chance.

A tree heading toward winter will sense the changing temperature and light and obey 'Nature's' controls built into the leaf.

The mechanisms, called "senescence", tells a tree to close down for coming winter.

This decrease in photosynthesis and transpiration begins a tree's dormant phase.

Trees may look inactive going into winter (like hibernating animals) but they continue to regulate their metabolism and only slow down some physical activities.

Hibernating animals fatten up for winter, trees still continue to slowly grow roots, respire and take in water and nutrients at a much slower pace.

Winter is a difficult time for a tree (a tree is 50% water).

A dormant tree still needs to be protected (winterized) to remain healthy and free from diseases and insects.

The bad news, ...... winter weather encourages destructive pests to snuggle in and wait for spring to revive their destructive life-cycles.

A healthy tree wards off such attacks.

Small investments in your time can pay off big come spring.

Mulch and Aerate:

Young trees are especially vulnerable to fluctuations of temperature and moisture and need mulching protection.

Transplanted trees are considered new for the first 2 years.

Mulch is good insurance that both conditions will be evenly managed during cold and drought.

Mulching is a good practice for both dormant and full-growing, vegetative trees.

Spread a thin layer of composted organic mulch to cover the soil several inches deep (no volcanos please).

If possible, cover an area at least as large as the branch spread.

In addition to protecting feeder roots, mulch also recycles nutrients directly to these roots.

Aerate soils and compacted mulch if they are water-logged or poorly drained.

Saturated and dense soil can suffocate roots (yes, roots breathe too).

It is critical not to damage tree roots in the soil as you do this so work only on those few inches at the surface crust.

(90% of tree feeder roots are in the top one foot of soil.)

I advise you to wrap your young trees with simple and affordable plastic tree wraps.

Tree wraps can save your young trees from sun scald and hungry animals.

Fertilize and Water:

Feel free to fertilize by top dressing over the mulch with a balanced fertilizer if the essential elements are in short supply within the soil.

Be sure to use nitrogen lightly, especially under large, mature trees and around newly planted trees.

You do not want a vegetative growth during late fall periods of warming.

Large applications of nitrogen cause this growth.

(Research shows, in most cases, it isn't necessary to feed trees.)

Dry spells in winter or hot daytime temperatures will desiccate a tree very quickly.

Watering may be needed where soils are cool but not frozen, and there has been little precipitation.

Winter droughts need treatment with water the same as summer droughts, except it is much easier to over-water in winter.


Prune dead, diseased and overlapping branches in late fall or into winter.

This will form and strengthen the tree, encourages new strong growth in the spring, minimizes future storm damage and protects against overwintering disease and insects.

Dormant pruning has another benefit, it is easier to do during winter dormancy than in
spring (you can see what you are doing).

Correct structurally weak branches and limbs.

Remove all deadwood that is clearly visible.

Properly prune branches that can touch the ground when loaded with rain and snow.

Foliage and branches that are in contact with soil invite undesirable pests and other problems.

Remove damaged and declining twigs, branches, and bark or any new sprouts that have grown at the tree base, or along stems and branches.

Young trees can be trained to have one main trunk and not a Y or crotch that can split during a storm.

What about your evergreens?

Evergreen trees and shrubs continue to take in water and transpire moisture, even in the coldest of winter days.

We often forget this and may ignore the plants needs.

If your evergreen doesn't get enough of what it needs, it will become stressed, weaken and possibly die a slow death.

Here is some advice for you.

Water newly planted trees at least once a week during hot weather.

Place the hose at the base of the tree.

If you use a soaker hose, lay it in a circle or semi-circle around the base.

Otherwise, turn on your garden hose only slightly, so a trickle of water comes out.

Leave it there for a few hours so the tree gets a good drink.

When watering established trees, place the soaker hose further out from the base of the tree (about a foot or so), .

This step is key if you fertilize the trees.

Fertilizer that touches the tree trunk can burn it.

Cut down frequency of watering during winter months, but do not cut it out altogether.

My neighbors probably think I am stranger than I really am, when they see me watering plants and trees in December before the ground freezes.

Yet, I am the one with the healthier greenery come spring.

A few simple tasks will do the same for you.

If you live in a drought stricken area or your summer was exceptionally dry this year, it is very important to give your trees and shrubs a few good drinks before the cold dry air of winter arrives.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

If success is not on your own terms - if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your own heart - it is no success at all.

Anna Quindlen

I Love It.

In all your ways acknowledge God, and He will guide your paths

Proverbs 3:6

Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established

Proverbs 16:3

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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