Category Archives: Pruning

Choosing the Right Pruning Tools

Choosing the Correct Pruning Tools

Choosing the Correct Pruning Tools for California Plants (and other Pruning “ABC’s”)

Remember when you first planted your garden plants, trees, and shrubs? Every plant looked so lonesome at first. But now the space is getting crowded! So now what to do? You wouldn’t dare want to get rid of any healthy foliage or shrub, so it’s time to master your pruning skills!

When beginning to prune, always start with dead branches and stems. Next move on to damaged, then diseased branches. Last, remove any branches or stems that cross or break the natural pattern of the rest of the plant, shrub, or tree, such as a weeping or dropping stem or limb.

Remember your ABC’s; First anvil, then bypass, then clean cut! Use an anvil pruner to cut dead wood, or for removing material up to the point of the desired cut; The anvil pruner is much more sturdy, but it also can crush the plant. Complete the cut with the bypass pruners.  Bypass pruners are less stable, but give a clean and sharp cut.

If using a saw to prune, make sure it’s a pruning saw. The pruning saw works with a pulling motion,  whereas a carpenter saw requires the user to push the blade to make the cut. This can be very dangerous and difficult on a wobbly or diseased branch.

If you are considering pruning large trees, remember safety first.  Sawing limbs on trees is a risky job no matter how many precautions you take, but using saws attached to long poles increases the danger. Adding a ladder into the mix makes it even more of a risk.  If the job seems to big and you aren’t sure where to cut, call an Arborist. Save your self time, money, and possible harm to yourself or surrounding structures.

Here are some other favorite gardener and pruning tools, that you may want to pick up on your next trip to the home improvement store:

  • Loppers for large pruning jobs
  • Holsters that can clip into your belt (keep your pruning tools close and less risk of losing them).
  • Folding pruning saws (which have a cover on the blade, so you can safely carry in a holster)
  • A Hori Hori knife, to use as a trowel. It has a measurements on the blade, and one side is serrated for easily cutting roots.
  • A hand-held Hula-Ho (or Loop Ho) designed to pull weeds by the roots.

In closing, remember to always wear gloves and protective eye wear that also protects from the sides. Clean your tools with bleach or alcohol, and oil them after use. Sharpen your pruners with a carbide sharpening tool instead of a file. The carbide blade is stronger; files can actually dull your blades.

If you live in the Bay Area or Santa Clara County, California and need a professional & certified Arborist to prune your larger to reach trees and shrubs, we confidently suggest Arbortek Trees. Contact Arbortek today to schedule an appointment!

Pruning Rosebushes in Winter

Pruning 101: Step-By-Step Winter Rosebush Care

In the San Jose and surrounding Bay Area, roses never really go dormant, as our climate is mild. However, roses do rest and this is a very similar and vital process to their longevity and health. You may feel a strong urge to do something to rose bushes right after they have stopped blooming. Stop! Don’t do it! It is after they have done their work that they rest and collect starches and sugars and go into dormancy.

In the Bay Area, many debate on whether rose bushes should be pruned in spring or winter. You can try experimenting with both approaches. We’ve seen success both ways, but for this blog, we are going to focus on the most traditional time to prune rose bushes, in winter.

We never know how erratic the weather will be for the next two month up here in Santa Clara County and the surrounding Bay Area. Our advice in summary, once “dormancy” (ahem, actually rest) is safely proven – when you are sure there won’t be another freeze -this is when you need to prune ASAP.

First, Pull out the Correct Rose Pruning Tools

Pruning requires certain equipment to prevent injury to yourself, or the rosebush.
Rose thorns are vicious, particularly when winter has whittled them hard and sharp, so wear gardening gloves. We suggest leather gloves for rose pruning so the thorns can’t poke through the gardening glove. You will need gardening shears, the same you use for cutting and maintenance will do just fine.

Next, Strip the Rose Bush before Pruning

Never skip this step! Strip rose bushes of all foliage two weeks before you prune. You may need to keep an eye on the 10 day forecast to plan this out correctly. Once the leaves are removed, the rose bush is given a signal to rejuvenate the foliage process.

Pruning Rose Bushes in Bay AreaThe first sign bushes are bouncing back is when you spot swollen eyes where new growth is to appear – at the joining place of leaf formations and stems. When rosebushes are resting (or dormant) the eyes are not visible, but when they begin to grow (accelerated by stripping the rose bush) they will turn red and swell. These are your incision spots for making cuts in the right places.

The vitality and strength of rose wood can be determined by examining the pith (interior wood) within the bark. Green or milky white is healthy. Brown or blackened wood is dead or very old and will not produce blooming roses. Fresh wood is also much easier to cut that deadwood. You’ll learn quickly the difference by the pressure on your shears, so be extra careful!

Remove all twiggy growth, unhealthy wood or deadwood, and weak or broken tall growth (if the tall growth is twiggy and waves in the breeze, it’s time for it to go). Split bark is also a sign of bark to be removed at this time.

Next,  Decide how Severely to Prune the Rosebush.

Depending on where you live, the space you have, and your gardening goals for this rosebush; this will guide you on how severe to prune your rose bushes. Light pruning requires a minimum of cutting, removing only twiggy or deadwood, and leaves the rosebush tall. Light pruning will result in short-stemmed blooms on a large rosebush. You may favor moderate pruning if you have garden display in mind your are attempting to design. Moderate pruning leaves 6 to 10, 1 1/2’ to 3 1/2’ canes per bush, depending upon its growth habits. Usually half the length of each cane is removed. Severe pruning leaves only three to four canes, sometimes less than 1’ tall.

Pruning height will vary by variety. Bushes don’t grow the same; they can not be pruned identically. Some grow tall, and no pruning technique you apply is going to make a difference! In fact, if you try to manipulate some of the natural growth patterns, they may spend their time during growing season to get back to the height at which they are most happy for blooming. Until they get there, they may not bloom at all (stubborn lil’ rosebushes!).

Now, Begin Cutting the Rosebush

Once you’ve pruned the rosebush to a height that suits you, look carefully for dormant eyes, which will be readily apparent to you if you’ve stripped bushes of foliage two weeks before pruning (see step #1!). Make cuts a 1/4″ above the eyes that point outward from the center of the bush (the direction in which you want new growth to develop). Angles formed by cuts are ideally 45 degrees, with the downward slope toward the rosebush’s center.

Lastly, Critique Your Pruning Techniques and Heed our Advice

Expert advice to remember: You can always take growth out, but you can never graft it back onto the rosebush. Well-cared-for rose bushes may last for more than 50 years, and the bud union will become big and gnarled. Remember that new canes are produced every year and are considered young only for the first two years, then middle-aged for one year. After that, they are old. How did the rosebushes make it through winter? Did they bloom as expected in spring? Note your techniques year after year, the results of your efforts, review them each fall or winter, and you’ll be an expert rose gardener in no time!

Frost Protection Tips for San Jose

Pruning During Frost Season? Stop!

It’s officially winter and many of us are off from work, kicking back, relaxing with some egg nog and sleeping off the holiday meals. But for us gardeners, there is one very important task you can’t skip over during your “off” time.

 

We are talking about FROST.

 

A cold hard frost can be devastating to gardens and trees. While some plants can come back and leaf out after the frost season, others may not be as lucky.

Before we get into how to protect plants from frost, let’s learn how to tell if frost is on the way:
 
1. Still air.
2. No cloud cover. 
3. Low humidity. 
4. Low temperatures (45 degrees or less by 10pm).

 

If you notice frost warning signs, do the following to protect plants against frost damage:

 

Before the frost hits, water plants, but don’t water succulents (a succulent stores water in its tissues and can develop ice crystals, which will damage the plant). Water only enough so soil around the plant is moist. Moist soil holds and releases more heat than dry soil, which creates a more humid environment around the plant.

Move potted or container plants near the walls of your home, where they’ll benefit from radiated heat. If you place in the garage, place near the shared wall to your heated home. You can also move to a closed-in porch, anywhere there may be some heat to spare!

If the plant can not be moved, use frost cloth or sheets. Prop up the fabric in a tent-like structure, so the fabric does not come in contact with the plant. In the morning, remove the cover and allow the plant to breathe and, if it’s sunny, soak up some rays. If frost is predicted for the next night, cover them again and repeat until no more frost (if you have outdoor plants you are afraid of losing, take some cuttings now and root them indoors).

 

Frost has damaged my plants. How do I treat the plants?

 

Leave them be. Plants should unthaw naturally and gradually to avoid rupturing plant cells in the leaf tissue. Pruning away the damage can encourage the plant to produce new growth, which will be more frost tender than the older growth. You may also accidentally prune healthy growth, mistaken for frost damaged growth. We suggest you do not prune frost sensitive plants until danger of frost has past.

Need more advice? We have been maintaining landscape throughout San Jose and Santa Clara County for over 35 years and are standing by to assist you! Feel free to contact Bayscape Landscape Management.

 

Is it a Garden Snail or Slug?

Is it a Garden Snail? Or is it a Garden Slug?

Our January climate brings cool, wet weather which provides perfect conditions for slugs and snails to attack our gardens! Snails and slugs feed on the leaves of many plants. They also eat ripening fruits and vegetables (they aren’t picky, slugs and snails like the leaves and fruits of a wide range of crops such as lettuce, basil, broccoli, and strawberries).

If slugs are abundant one year, it does not mean they will be as common the following season; the relative number of slugs depends on how moist the growing conditions are, and if you employ preventative measures to control slugs and snails. Before we get to how to treat for snails and slugs, first we need to learn how to identify a snail, how to identify a slug, and how to tell if you have snails and slugs in your garden!

 

Chances are, if you have snails in your garden, it is the common garden snail…

 

…also called the brown garden snail. The common garden snail can be identified by its brown coiled shell and gray body. Shells on their backs and are 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. 

Slugs are best described as snails without shells. They are a type of mollusk, related to clams and oysters. Slugs are soft bodied, generally brownish or grayish, with eye stalks. They vary in size from 1/8 to 2 inches long (longer when stretched out). It’s cousin – the banana slug – may be up to 4 to 6 inches long

Most slugs and snails are dark or light gray, tan, green, or black; some have darker spots or patterns. Slugs and snails leave a slime (mucus) trail that they secrete as they move. Eggs are clear, oval, or round, and are laid in jelly-like masses.

 

How to find snails and slugs in the garden:

 

 To find slugs or snails, look after dark, before dawn, or on cloudy days. Check underneath plants, bottoms of boards and rocks, and on low growing foliage, especially in shady areas.
Look for colorless eggs, about the size of a BB, in clusters under dirt clods or on the underside of large leaves near the crown of plants. Egg laying occurs during warm months, especially in the fall.

 

How to identify slug and snail damage to plants:

 

Slug damage is apparent in irregularly shaped chewed out spots on leaves. Slugs are especially fond of lush or succulent plants like basil, beans, cabbage, citrus trees, dahlias, hostas, lettuce, and strawberries. Watch for the silvery trail they leave behind as they move. If you’re not sure what’s causing damage to your plants, this secretion is a telltale sign of slug or snail activity! Read our next article on how to organically control and treat snails and slugs.

Treating Slugs in the Garden

How To Organically Control Snails and Slugs in the Garden

A typical San Jose January brings cool, wet weather which provides perfect conditions for slugs and snails to attack your gardens – and they are especially damaging in shady gardens. The severity of the damage from snails and slugs could really depend on the type of slug or snail that you are dealing with. Be sure to review our previous article, how to identify a slug versus a snail.

Slugs are especially numerous during rainy seasons and in well-irrigated gardens. If slugs are abundant one year, it does not mean they will be as common the following season; the relative number of slugs depends on how moist the growing conditions are, and if you employ preventative measures to control slugs and snails. In this article, you will learn several effective methods to get rid of snails and slugs. We list many organic ways to get rid of slugs and snails and preventative measures to help control snails and slugs in the garden.

 

Organic treatments to control – or get rid of – slugs and snails:

 

  • Rake your garden to remove leaves, plant debris and slug eggs. Also remove boards, rocks, or anything that provides them shelter (they love hiding out in dark, shady places).
  • Do not place mulch any thicker than three inches, and avoid large wood chips. You get the benefits of mulching for your plants and trees, but also minimize a desired environment for slugs and snails.
  • – Introduce beneficial insects and pests to the garden. There are many types of beneficial pests that feed on slugs such as beetles, toads, turtles, shrews, starlings and other birds. Be sure to minimize the use of chemical pesticides, to maximize the effect of natural pests to the garden. You can reduce chemicals by using baits and avoiding unnecessary pesticides applications. Don’t worry, these natural pests won’t touch the valuable crops and plants.
  • – Gritty substances, such as crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, and sand make effective snail repellents, as they cut the snails and injure them. Sprinkle around plants that the garden snails seem to prefer, and grit will deter and eventually kill these pests (diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of sea organisms. Read more about it at diatomaceous.org).
  • – Certain plants deter slugs and snails. An effective way to deter the slugs and snails from roaming your garden is to grow these plants around and in-between your valuable crops and plants. Plants to consider include: sage, yucca, hydrangeas, lavender, rosemary, and mint. Plants that deter slugs in shaded areas include astilbe, dicentra, vinca, and viola. Plants resistant to slugs that grow in partial shade include phlox, mentha, and campanula.
  • – a vinegar solution is an effective organic home remedy to get rid of slugs and snails. This works with a snail trap method. Set up a wooden board at night so the slugs and snails gather. The next morning, check under (and on) board for any unwanted pests and spray with vinegar solution (don’t get any of the solution on the plants themselves).
  • – Who knew?! Slugs LOVE grapefruits. Cut a grapefruit in halves and discard the pulp (you can save this and enjoy later). Once all the insides are removed, place the grapefruit peels upside down in your garden and leave them overnight. The next morning, you should have hopefully captured some slugs and snails. 

 

There are chemical treatments for garden snails and slugs. A variety of slug and snail baits and poisons are available from a commercial provider, but many of them are highly toxic to humans and pets. For a safer solution, look for baits made of iron phosphate. Scatter baits evenly in slug prone areas in the early evening after watering.  We suggest  to call a professional, like Bayscape Landscape Management, to assist and advise with placing and using chemical treatments for snails and slugs.

 

Bayscape Landscapes Top 5 Blogs

Best of Bayscape: 5 Blogs to Prepare Your Landscape for 2016

In the midst of the holiday hustle, it can be easy to forget that landscaping needs and projects will be on you before you know it! Wise homeowners know that setting aside just a little bit of time to map out the year ahead can help them plan (and budget) accordingly.

Check out this brief recap of the best blogs from Bayscape and Arbortek in 2015, and think about what landscaping projects are on your 2016 docket.

Why Smart and Savvy Landscapers Plant in Fall

Smart landscapers know that this is actually the ideal time to start planning your next fall garden – especially with oxygen-producing, shade-giving, earth-loving trees! They also know that California-native and California-friendly trees can offer a surprising bounty of fall color. Read this blog if you would like to plant trees or shrubs in fall of 2016.

When Planting Bare Roots Sends You Running for Cover

Planting dormant bare-root plants and trees can help homeowners save money and establish them in new soil more easily. Check out this quick, easy primer for readying roots, priming soil, and introducing bare root plants early in the year!

Five Ways to Save 20 Gallons

The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s rebate funds may be depleting for the year, but it’s more important than ever to keep water usage in check. This blog contains several helpful ideas for saving water, from lawn removal to selection of California-native plants and installing drip irrigation systems.

Annual, Biennial, Perennial – Do I Even Care About the Difference?

There are lots of common landscaping and gardening terms floating around that some homeowners may not even know how to distinguish. Learn the difference about annual, biennial, and perennial flowers and plants with this easy reference.

Preparing Your Trees for El Nino

As El Nino is predicted to last well into 2016, homeowners should be preparing their trees and maintaining their health all year long! Large trees (especially those near roofs) should be pruned, and newer trees should be fortified. Check out this blog to make sure the trees on your property are weather-ready.

Why Gutters Could Be the Demise of Your Winter | Bayscape Landscape

Why Gutters Could Be the Demise of Your Winter

California isn’t exactly known for blankets of snowfall in the winter, save for some mountain towns. Even so, residents of the sunshine state often cherish winter’s milder temperatures and the opportunity to indulge in “sweater weather.”

Unfortunately, the season can also be rough on homes if residents don’t take the appropriate precautions before temperatures drop and precipitation arrives- especially with a record El Nino on the horizon. Make sure that your winter remains happily full of hot cocoa, warm boots, and cozy sweaters by tackling one very important part of home maintenance right now: rain gutters.

There are a few reasons that rain gutters can be a threat to your home’s well-being in winter:

1. They are out of sight, and out of mind.

Unlike major aesthetic parts of your home – a huge stone fireplace, for example – gutters are a part of the house that most people don’t spend much time looking at. The problem is that, much like a healthy heart, things that you can’t see or just don’t look at still need to be maintained so that they can keep functioning. Gutters need to heave a clear path in order for rain and snow to work their way through the system, and fallen leaves and other debris can cause substantial blockage in that system.

2. El Niño is coming.

As meteorological coverage of El Niño events increase, it’s clear that this winter has a higher chance for much, much more precipitation in California – even some deluges. This isn’t standard winter fare for the state, so thinking “I didn’t have problems with gutters last year” could be a big mistake. If those gutters are backed up with debris, in any state of disrepair, or not the appropriately sized or fitted, those downpours could equal extensive, expensive water damage outside and inside your home very quickly.

3. California is still in a drought.
Sometimes the fall is just still hot in the Western states, and when people are looking at parched creek beds and brown or nonexistent grass, it’s easy to think rain gutters are not important right now. But this is actually the perfect time to inspect and clean them, or even better, have it done professionally. Don’t fall for the “it’s bone dry” line of thinking – get ahead of the weather and save yourself a huge amount of time, money, and effort when those gutters are needed

If you are ever in doubt or need a hand on your property to help maintain the landscape, never hesitate to contact Bayscape Landscape Management!

Quick Answers on Pruning Shrubs and Bushes

If You Read One Article About Pruning Bushes – Read This One!

 

 Hollywood actors often talk of “disappearing” into roles, where they aim for a performance so natural it looks effortless to those taking it in. They don’t want their method to be overly apparent, and it’s the same for many forms of art. It certainly applies to landscaping: you do want your garden to be enjoyed by visitors, but probably don’t want them noticing every cut on your freshly pruned bushes or shrubs. Like all artists, you’ll need to consider some fundamentals before your diligent shrub and bush pruning efforts are so well-executed that they appear … well, effortless.

 

  • First, understand why pruning is healthy for the plant itself. Both natural styles and more formal topiary pruning can add beauty and visual interest to a landscape. Pruning gets rid of dead or injured branches and – whether using the more severe “heading back” method or “thinning”– allows more light into the inner canopy of the shrub and can encourage health and growth in the desired areas.
  • Second, know that proper pruning is a safety measure for your home and property. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) says that “during the 2003 ranging California fires, a number of homes were saved as a result of the owner’s careful pruning and landscaping techniques that protected their homes.” The USFA offers many prevention tips on smart pruning for defensible space and a fire-safe landscape.
  • Third, learn how to prune correctly. Understanding how to properly prune bushes or shrubs requires that you know or research a host of issues: the kinds of shrubs planted, which pruning method they best respond to, the natural form and shape of the plant itself, which tools to use (and whether they need to be sanitized between cuts), and when a shrub may need to be replanted in a better-suited location.

 

With some research and preparation, you can have beautiful, healthy shrubs that look like a million bucks. And if you need some guidance from a landscaping professional, contact us a call today!