You can’t just leave them there. They may look stately for a while but eventually, without care, they become anemic looking, maybe infested with vermin and all around not pretty.
So that’s why Ken Hutz, a certified arborist, wants to teach you, the home gardener, about how to care for trees and bushes to make them last a lot of years. Hutz will be at Medford Leas on Route 70 from 10 a.m. to noon on Oct. 1 as part of the Pathways to Learning program. The event is free.
He will cover a lot of topics like selection and purchase of plants and trees; how to plant them; what kind of fertilizer to use; when to water or not; and how to winterize and prune.
Hutz works at the famous Barton Arboretum Nature Preserve of Medford Leas as an arborist. He has more than 20 years experience in expert tree and plant care.
Trees and shrubs are an important part of a homeowner’s property. In addition to the beauty, trees and shrubs help to clean the air while they consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. They reduce noise pollution and provide security. They also control traffic and provide security. It’s really important to figure out why you want to buy trees or bushes, he said.
Is it for privacy; should they flower; will it serve as a buffer? These questions should be answered, says Ken, so you know what you’re looking for.
“Choosing the right plants is critical. If the plant doesn’t fit the environment, then the plant or the bush is not going to survive,” Hutz said.
Once you figure out what the goals are for new plants, the next step is the trip to the nursery to pick out healthy plants with no obvious blemished, he said. Planting them requires the right soil, cutting off the burlap and wire basket to allow the root system to grow. And mulching is important — two to three inches but never up the trunk of the tree or shrub. Watering is one of the most frequent mistakes. The first year or two they don’t need a lot of water and too much can be harmful. Fertilize only after a year.
He follows the Integrated Pest Management treatment for insects. Pests run in cycles, he said. Some may not be present for 20 or 30 years and then re-emerge. Pests like cotton chamilia and mold need to be eliminated or the plants/trees will die. Treatment does not necessarily mean spraying.
Squirrels can also be a nuisance as they nip off ends of branches. If it’s a harsh winter, some animals will feed on bark of trees especially dogwood trees.
For more information or to learn more about other Pathways to Learning programs, visit medfordleas.org.