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Dead green ash trees (July 2013)

All through our (usually) dry winters, we’ve been beating the drum to get people to winter water their turf AND their trees. With our ongoing drought and irrigation restrictions, we find ourselves in the surprising position of having to remind people to “summer water” their trees.

Most of the trees in our area have been introduced and can have a tough time thriving even when we are not in drought. After several consecutive years of drought, super late hard freezes this year, and watering restrictions, our trees are having a tougher time than ever surviving. Many trees that have been on the edge of survival for the past few years have finally died this year and others are very close (like those trees in the downtown medians with about a quarter of their normal leaf cover). (more…)

With the surge in environmentalism, many people are trying to decide which is “greener,” a real Christmas tree or an artificial one. Both have their pros and cons. There is, however, a third alternative. You can decorate a still-living tree this year.

Most nurseries and garden centers sell potted Christmas trees. You bring them indoors for a brief spell (a week at most) during the holidays, then plant them permanently in the ground.

Still-living trees cost more. No one wants to pay a premium for a tree that still has roots, only to have it die after moving it outside. While planting a Christmas tree isn’t difficult, you should do the same research and preparation that you would do when choosing any tree for your yard.

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treelawn.jpgQ: Can I grow grass, flowering plants, or shrubs under trees?

A: Homeowners often dislike bare spots in a landscape and bare spots often occur under trees. However, growing grass or other plants directly under trees is challenging for a number of reasons:
• The amount of sun and shade will vary greatly throughout the day.
• This changing quality and quantity of light will affect photosynthesis which is necessary for healthy plant growth.
• Most lawn grasses prefer sun to shade.
• Tree roots compete for water and nutrients.
• Leaf litter can inhibit plants growing under trees. Rake and remove leaf litter on a regular basis.
• The extra shade under trees may create additional moisture which can lead to an increase in disease in some plants.
• Lawns benefit from yearly aeration, but aerating grass under a tree can damage tree roots.
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