September is still prime time for garden chores

By Tom Dominguez

Here are some items you can attend to and enjoy outside while the days cool down.

Dead Limbs
There’s no reason why dead or damaged tree limbs can’t be removed right now. Pruning out dead or damaged wood now can simplify it because you know exactly which limbs need to be removed. Summer pruning can also make the tree look better.
Cuts made this time of year are less susceptible to bacterial infections, and they don’t need to be painted unless they’re oak species. They need their pruning wounds 1 inch or larger in diameter painted as soon as the cut is made. If the limb is more than 11/2 inches in diameter, make three precuts before making your last target cut.
Pre-cuts give you the liberty to focus on making a good and correct final cut, which should be made just outside the branch collar. If a tree limb is damaged on the end or middle, then only the damaged part needs to be removed. If you plan to remove the damaged portion, look for a lateral branch to cut back too that is at least one-third the diameter of the limb being removed. This lateral branch will become the end of the branch.

Mulch
By this time of year the mulch you put into flower beds in the spring is now reduced to organic matter in the soil. Use this as a time to replenish mulch in flower beds and around the tree base. Remember for
a weed barrier and soil moisture conservation a good 4″ to 6″ layer will be sufficient. Use a good organic mulch like shredded tree limbs, shredded bark and other organic material. They will decompose where they touch the soil surface adding compost to the soil. Over time it adds humus and plant nutrients to the soil, which is a great way to improve soil texture without having to dig in compost.

Willows
Globe and weeping willows are now showing some troubles. Not only are they attacked by several insect pests they were also hit hard by April’s late freeze. Some symptoms to look out for is yellowing or
browning of the leaves, deaf drop, insects, froth from limbs, and uneven canopy color. Don’t confuse desert willow with these. While these trees are hard to resist, they’re not well suited to the home landscape. Salix willows are better suited where they have room to grow, plenty of moisture and no hardscaping, drainfields or underground utilities to tear up. Take recommendations from horticulturist or extension info. before planting a tree. There are several other trees that will provide shade, protection, without so many problems.