In the Garden
Caring for your trees
With the arrival of fall, days will soon be getting noticeably shorter and nighttime temperatures will begin to fall.
Now, as your trees begin responding to the changing conditions, you can take a number of proactive steps to care for them and help ensure they will be healthy and beautiful for years to come.
“It’s a good idea to think about the health of your trees in fall,” says certified arborist Jason Anderson, co-owner of Arborscapes LLC. Anderson conducts the training on trees for Master Gardeners in Henrico, Chesterfield, and Goochland/Powhatan.
He advises starting by taking a good, long look at your trees. Notice whether there are dead branches – which are much easier to identify while the leaves are still on the tree. Some dead branches are normal, but if more than roughly 10% -- the amount varies by tree type – is dead, you may want to consider talking to a certified arborist.
Look again when the leaves start to fall to make sure all your deciduous trees of the same species are dropping their leaves at roughly the same time. “If one is dropping its leaves earlier, it can be a sign that the tree is stressed,” says Anderson.
Checking trees of like species again next spring to see if they bud at roughly the same time can also help you tell if you have a tree that is stressed.
“An important thing to remember,” says Anderson, “particularly if you have a mature tree is that the tree may not show signs of distress for two or three years following the event that causes the stress.”
After looking up, look down to check the mulch around your trees.
“Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your trees,” says Anderson, “provided you do it properly.”
Mulch around trees should be no more than 2-3 inches deep and should never be piled up against tree bark at the base of the tree. Make the ring of mulch as large as you can up to the dripline or end of the branches of the tree.
Good mulch materials include aged sawdust, shredded pine bark, or wood chips.
“It’s important not to over mulch,” says Anderson. “And you need to remember that mulch goes over the roots, but not on the trunk of the tree.”
Mulch adds organic matter to the soil around the tree and helps keep soil temperatures warmer, allowing tree roots to continue to grow later into the fall. Once winter arrives, mulch helps reduce alternate freezing and thawing that heaves soil and can cause damage to young roots.
Mulching also reduces water loss and helps maintain uniform soil moisture around tree roots.
“Grass roots compete with tree roots for water,” says Anderson. “Mulching eliminates the competition.”
Fall and winter when trees are dormant are also ideal times to do any pruning that may be needed. “Structural and formative pruning on trees less than ten years old can help eliminate problems in the future,” explains Anderson. “And older trees may need deadwood removed to improve their structure and reduce liability during bad weather.”
The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.
The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)
The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.
The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.
The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.
Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.
‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise
Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.
They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.
As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.
Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.
There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?
Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.
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