Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Mulching and Boxwood Trimming

We recently spent some time putting down mulch and thinning the base of the the boxwood at Crest Avenue. This area of the front yard was in dire need of attention.  The boxwood suffered this year from my carelessness in putting down ice-melt last winter that was not plant friendly.  As you can see below, this poor boxwood on the end is nothing but dead branches.  Or so it would seem.  I have a few spots along this one hedge that look like this.  To my surprise and delight, there is new growth showing up in these dead patches. So the ice melt did not completely kill the plant.

I sprayed grass killer on this small area of lawn a few weeks ago and it did a very good job of killing the grass.  Then I rolled out weed barrier and put down aromatic cedar mulch, which is the only type of mulch I use at Crest Avenue.  It has a nice aroma.  It is a nice color.  And it is a natural deterrent to creepy crawlers. You can follow my progress on the project below.


A sad looking area in the front yard badly in need of attention.


The grass killer I sprayed a few weeks ago did a very good job of killing the grass.  Of course the fact that we've had hardly any rain this entire summer also helped.  That is a dead boxwood you see on the ground beside the hedge.  Unfortunately it did not make it.  You can see in the upper part of the shot where there is a row of evergreens and it looks like one is missing near the right side.  That is where this poor boxwood was previously planted.  Sometimes you don't know why one plant doesn't make it when others around it, planted at the same time, in the same soil, and having received the same care, do.  The best thing to do is to cut your losses.  Take out the dead plant and replace it and move on.



After we bagged up the dead boxwood and raked up some of the dead weeds we pulled a few days prior, we set about getting the bags of mulch ready to put down.


The boxwood along this hedge had gotten unruly.  It was unkempt.  The lower branches which were at ground level needed to be removed.  This opens the base of this shrub to allow light and air to flow in and around the trunk which is beneficial.  There was also some English Ivy and other weeds and crabgrass which had taken over and needed to be removed.


You see here that I have rolled out the weed barrier.  There is already a layer of weed barrier down in this section of the yard.  With this additional layer, I think we can be assured that the problem of weeds and crabgrass should be kept to a minimum.  You can never completely eradicate them.  If only.  I wish.  Weed and crabgrass control is an ongoing battle.  But whatever you can do to help win the battle is worth it.



A wider view of the same area.  You can see in this shot, further up the hedge are a couple of the areas that are still suffering from the unfriendly ice-melt.  I expect they will come back into green in the spring, provided that the owner of the property doesn't pull another stunt like last year should we have snow and ice!!


Here we are with the new, clean look of this hedge.  It looks so nice with the overgrown branches off the ground.  The mulch  is beautiful.


We wanted to get this hedge cleaned up and the mulch down along the entire length, which we did.  To the right of the mulch bed, you see additional yard which has not been mulched.  We miscalculated by a few bags and did not have enough to finish the entire area as planned.  So, we will be taking a trip to Lowe's to pick up the additional mulch needed to finish the project.



Finally, a Baxter view of the newly trimmed boxwood hedge.  So nice and clean.

For those of you wondering about the timing of pruning boxwood - I spent all kinds of time on the internet researching this before I decided to start this pruning project.  Some say prune in spring.  Some say prune in late spring.  Some say prune in winter.  Some say shear in early spring and prune in late spring.  On and on and on until I was ready to tear my hair out.  So, I made my own decision based on my own thoughts and experience.  I pruned these over this past weekend.  And here is why.  Evergreens will soon go dormant for the winter season.  Pruning now, in the mid-Atlantic, will give the plant time to harden over before freezing cold weather gets here.  We do not usually get winter weather here until January.  January and February can be brutal.  But until then, we have temperatures which are at or above the freezing mark.  If you live above the Mason Dixon line, you should probably wait until late winter/early spring to prune your boxwood.  If you live further south, I would think you have a much larger span of time in which to do your pruning since you do not have to worry with harsh winter weather.
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