Winter Damage

Snow damaged Arborvitae can be tied back together using eye bolts and stakes with wire.  Make sure to use an old piece of hose so the wire does not make contact and injure the bark.  See us for details.

Snow damaged Arborvitae can be tied back together using eye bolts and stakes with wire. Make sure to use an old piece of hose so the wire does not make contact and injure the bark. See us for details.

No doubt this will go down as one of the worst winters for snow and deer damage.  I have already seen and heard of extraordinary amounts.  The snow this winter was not particularly heavy as it fell to from the sky to the ground or on your plants.  But as it slid or was raked off the roof it did significant damage.  Also with the snow line so high, the freezing and thawing action was not kind to plants.  The extreme cold, wind and extra reflection of the sun off the snow has caused some evergreens to be burned and dried out as well.  Also the snow cover left little vegetation exposed in the woods for the deer to eat.  It made them be more daring to enter your yard, especially as the snow line receded, deer found and devoured many plants that previous had not been touched.   The next question is what to do about all of the damage.

In many instances fertilizer will help plants recover by encouraging new growth.  Plant-O-Ganic 8-8-8 works great on most trees and shrubs.  So does Holly-Tone and Plant Tone.  Warm weather helps too and as things start to grow they will green up and push out new leaves or needles.  So basically spring can’t come fast enough!  And before things green up we

This would be a tedious fix to try to train all the branches leaning in various directions. Japanese holly grow fast so I would suggest pruning out the branches that are flopping out.  We will lose some height and shape, but in the long run the plant will fill back in.

This would be a tedious fix to try to train all the branches leaning in various directions. Japanese holly grow fast so I would suggest pruning out the branches that are flopping out. We will lose some height and shape, but in the long run the plant will fill back in.

are looking at things at their worst, kind of like what most of us look like the next morning after a late night.  Some plants may simply need to be cleaned up, straightened or pruned.  Many plants grow quickly so things like Rose bushes, Caryopteris and Butterfly bushes can be cut way back to give them a uniform shape and most of the growth will come back in one season.  Privet also recover fast from physical damage.

Most broadleaf evergreens, with maybe the exception of Euonymus, take more time to recover if at all.  Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Boxwoods, Hollies, etc. may continue to look worse before they get better.  Scratch the bark on the stems to see if there is green living tissue inside.  If not, in many cases, it maybe best to remove the dead or damaged stems and sections of plants with a sharp pair of pruners, loppers or a hand saw.  Prune them below where the break is and give it a nice clean cut at an angle.

Split branch temporarily zip tied, but notice the screw underneath is doing most of the work.

Split branch temporarily zip tied, but notice the screw underneath is doing most of the work.

If after pruning you are not satisfied with the aesthetic appearance you need to determine how much tolerance and patience you have for a poorly shaped plant.  We can help you determine if the plant is worth saving or if there are any additional steps you can take.  Put your smart phone or digital camera to good use and show us your situation.

Cracked branches might be able to be saved.  Japanese Maples seems to be at the top of the list of branches that were cracked but not completely severed over the winter.  In this situation, important limbs can often be saved with some effort.  The inside “rings” of a tree trunk are woody or like the “bones” of the plant.  With the help of screws or bolts they often can put back in place and will grow new rings or outside ring which will turn to “bone” and heal back together.  Zip ties can often be used to help secure and keep the break tight before the screws or bolts are inserted.  It is very important to remember to pre-drill any holes in the trunk or

We pre-drilled holes before inserting eye bolts.  Good to have a second person to hold the branch in place when getting the wire tight.     Essentially cabling two opposite branches together will help when it snows next winter.

We pre-drilled holes before inserting eye bolts. Good to have a second person to hold the branch in place when getting the wire tight. Essentially cabling two opposite branches together will help when it snows next winter.

branch of a plant.  This will reduce the likelihood of further splitting or damage. It is also import not to leave zip ties or wire around the truck very long.  In fact, wire and tape can be very damaging the bark and if it cuts off the circulation all the way around the truck it can kill the tree.  Because wire is thin it can cut into the bark and where the wider zip ties are less damaging.  But leave them on l no longer than a year.  New ones can be reapplied, preferably in a slightly different place.  Eye bolts can be inserted into the inside branches so that you can tie or cable branches together so they brace each other and prepare them for the weight of snow next winter.  Some of these things need to be explained in person or need to be seen to understand.  I found a video produced by a garden center from the Mid-Atlantic that is excellent in showing how to repair a cracked Japanese maple branch.  Here is the link.  I will tried to update this post with some photos too.

Deer damage.  In some situations plants will recover by putting out new leaves and needles as mentioned above.  However if the damage is so severe, the plants may need to be replaced.  From experience the best defense against repeated deer damage is to choose plants that deer will not eat.  For example, they eat some Rhododendrons but not others.  They do not eat Andromedas (Pieris).  They don’t eat Daffodils, but love Tulips.  They will eat most Arborvitaes (Thuja occidentalis) but not the Western Arborvitae (Thuja plicata).  They love Yews (Taxus) but not Plum Yews (Cephalotaxus).

The next best thing is not to let them reach your plants.  This means making a physical barrier. The most common form is fencing or netting.  Fencing is expensive, more permanent and must be at least 7-8’ tall to be effective.  Netting is cheaper and fairly easy to install.  Black netting is hardly noticeable and can be tacked to trees and can block where the deer enter your yard.  It can also be put around plants seasonally to keep deer away from just the plants they go after.  The netting is typically most important in the winter and early spring and can be removed when the leaves start emerging in the woods and the deer have more options for food.  Kennedy’s carries deer netting year around.  Lastly repellents can be used.  Kennedy’s has a few

different deer repellent solutions.  We get good feedback on the products we carry.  But from all accounts you have to apply it regularly.  Meaning if possible try the first two solutions first and use repellents as a last resort.  Don’t expect great results if you do not spray often enough (at least monthly) or if the deer are so hungry they eat even the things they don’t like the smell or taste of.  Another solution people have told us about is several products that contains urine.  There are repellents that contain Coyote urine and there is a fertilizer called Bay State that is made in Boston that contains sewage sludge.  It makes a good fertilizer for ornamental (not edible) plants and it has the added benefit of making deer not feel welcome.

Again if you have specific questions please take a photo and bring it so we can discuss it.

Rhododendron split in half.  A zip tie was used to get the split back tight.  We then inserted some deck screws to secure it.  The zip tie will need to com off.

Rhododendron split in half. A zip tie was used to get the split back tight. We then inserted some deck screws to secure it. The zip tie will need to com off.

To take the weight of the split trunk, we cabled two branches together using eye bolts & wire.

To take the weight of the split trunk, we cabled two branches together using eye bolts & wire.

This branch split and was hanging down.  We sued a zip tie to get it tight and a deck screw.

This branch split and was hanging down. We sued a zip tie to get it tight and a deck screw.

This boxwood is split and has not recovered it's shape.  Because of the the quantity of branches and relatively poor health this is a candidate to be replaced.  Fixing this is not practical.

This boxwood is split and has not recovered it’s shape. Because of the the quantity of branches and relatively poor health this is a candidate to be replaced. Fixing this is not practical.

Fall is for Planting in Massachusetts!

Warm days & cool nights are perfect conditions to grow many plants. Acer palm sangu kaku fall - compressedFall is a great time to plant trees & shrubs.  Take advantage of the next few weeks by getting a garden project accomplished this fall.  Kennedy’s can help you design a garden bed for you or just help you pick out a few plants.  Lean from our decades of experience in the garden.

grass-natural.jpgFall is also the best time to grow grass.  Weeds start to slow down while lawns continue to green up from a dry summer.  You can apply lime and fertilizer to lawns now.  If you have bare spots, Kennedy’s experts can guide you in selecting the correct type of grass seed for your conditions.  We have a no pressure team of plant experts here to help you 7 days a week.