Landscape tips from Home & Garden Television

November 02, 2008

Get rid of the deadwood

Not all gardening tasks are glamorous. In fact, most of them aren't. They range from the mundane, such as weeding and spreading mulch, to the downright laborious, such as digging trenches and hauling stone. One of the least glamorous of all gardening chores is dealing with deadwood.

If you have a lot of trees and shrubs in your yard, chances are you often have deadwood. That's because the branches of trees, even the healthiest ones, occasionally die, sometimes for no apparent reason.

Often the lower branches of a tree or shrub die first, often because their leaves can't capture any sunlight through the thick canopy above. However, deadwood can appear just about anywhere on the plant.


Deadwood can also be a sign that the plant is already in trouble due to a variety of reasons, including drought, disease and pest damage. Upon careful inspection, you may determine that the plant needs to be removed completely.

It's best to prune out deadwood because it may eventually harbor pests or become ravaged by disease. Both can threaten the health of an otherwise healthy tree.

Learn from nature

If you want to mimic nature in your garden, take a hike. What better place is there to find inspiration and cues than out in the woods?

Mother Nature has plenty to teach:

If there is plenty of moss in your neck of the woods, why not just let it naturalize in your garden? It provides a beautiful and lush environment and requires virtually no maintenance.

Each year gardeners spend billions on bagged mulch products made from various woods. Fallen, rotten logs provide mulch for the forest floor, and when combined with leaves and other kinds of litter, help create the ideal environment. The forest plants are doing just fine without any supplemental fertilizer.

Many homeowners love having their grass growing right up to the edge of their trees. This isn't a very natural look at all, and you won't see this very often in the wild. Plus, string trimmers are a common cause of damage to young trees. Spread mulch or grow shade-loving groundcover under trees.

Consider throwing in at least a few conifers with your deciduous trees or shrubs. Landscapes that lack evergreens look dull in the wintertime. A few choice conifers will add nice color year-round.

One of the most important lessons you can learn from a walk in the woods is how critical plant diversity is to the survival of all the plants. In the woods there can be 20 to 30 plants or more represented in one area, all looking reasonably healthy without pesticides. It takes only one insect or disease to come in and wipe out the entire population of a monoculture, like a field of corn. With diversity, you're naturally protected.

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