Plants and trees are a long-term investment in the beauty of your yard. When properly taken care of, plants and trees can produce fragrant flowers, green foliage and delicious fruit; however, when trees and plants are neglected, they can become diseased and infested with insects, causing more problems for a yard than simply dead plants. Avoid permanent damage to soil and plants by following proper plant and tree care.
Every plant requires specific nutrients from the soil to effectively produce food. Citrus plants, for example require high amounts of nitrate and iron. Every plant also prefers a specific type of soil for growing. For instance the barrel cactus thrives only in sandy soil, a type that would kill most other plants. Plants and trees also require specific soil pH levels for efficient absorption. Soil pH can be ascertained through the use of a soil test kit.
Similar to how people require a haircut to keep their hair looking healthy and growing faster, plants require proper pruning to encourage vigorous growth. All plants should be pruned in early spring after there is no threat of frost. Typical pruning involves removing any branches that were killed in the wintertime by frost damage. With trees, avoid topping when pruning. Topping is the practice of removing main branches of a tree. This practice actually starves the trees and causes them to be susceptible to diseases and insect infestations.
Mulch is an efficient gardener's best friend. Mulch holds moisture into the soil, shades shallow roots and prevents weeds from spreading their roots into the garden. Mulch can be freely applied around plant beds, as long as it is kept clear of tree trunks because certain tree eating moths may use the area for winter housing only to demolish the tree in summertime.
Brush is anything on the ground other than mulch or dirt. Brush includes dead leaves, branches, bark and fruit. Built up brush poses both a safety hazard due to its flammability as well as a health hazard to the tree due to its tendency to spread mold, disease and insects. Clear brush away from garden plants and trees regularly to avoid any damage. To add an extra touch of efficiency to the garden, consider composting the brush for use as a soil additive once it has broken down.
Tree banding is essential for gardeners with any large leafed trees such as oaks and apple trees. Banding protects trees from cankerworms. Cankerworms are insects that climb to the tops of big leaf trees and lay their eggs on the branches. When the eggs hatch the young worms defoliate the entire tree, killing it in most cases. Tree banding prevents the worms from ever climbing up the trees by leaving them stuck onto an adhesive placed strategically onto a ring on the tree's trunk.