Maintaining Gardens overgrowing and Controlling Late Season Growth Spurts In New York

Maintaining gardens to keep plants at manageable sizes is the greatest longterm challenge.

The emergence of life building upon that which has come before

Hi everyone. I hope you have all had a successful gardening summer. 2018 has been a challenging growing season here in the Northeastern part of the United States. I am here on Long Island in New York. The heat and the high humidity throughout August has challenged lawns, breaking down crab grass bariers, and certain plants perennials like cranesbill (other than “Roxanne”), woody ornamentals that require additional watering like Hydrangeas (Pee Gee and Tarda Varieties) and annuals like Coleus that prefer shady conditions. Here in New York, not even half way through September, the amount of rain that has fallen has began to push plant material to grow more then usual. Forecasts for cooler weather with more rain to come is going to create a great environment for a late season growth spurt. The problem with these conditions will be the maintenance and management going forward.

If these conditions continue into the fall plants will put on growth that may not harden off before the winter causing excessive winter dieback. If plants have ample time to acclimate and normalize they will go into the 2019 springtime larger then normal pushing plants as new growth occurs before the first official springtime prune. Before I proceed everyone should be on the lookout for the varieties that will overgrow. English Yews, Azaleas, Euonymus, Laurels and Ornamental Cedars are the most obvious examples to be at risk. So now the question is what is there to be done to protect the longterm value of these plants.

Pruning in September and October is not usually done heavy handed. Selective pruning and ornamental pruning to maintain work done earlier in the season is what is most commonly performed. To safeguard your valuable landscape investment everyone of us needs a dry day before the end of September to prune any long ends and overgrown material. The goal of this late season prune is to protect plant material from heavy winter snows and early springtime hard pruning. Your garden is unique and will needs it’s own care based on plant diversity and sun/shade exposures. Based on my experience most people don’t do much ornamental pruning after September twentieth. Normally I would agree, outside of pruning larger trees for deadwood and removals, but 2018 will be one of those years that just needs more care to manage and maintain value.

Gardeners, horticulturists, arborists, master pruners and landscape designers should be aware of this years special environmental condition and are educating their clients to most benefit their landscapes. If you are the gardens for your own paradise please consider being proactive walking into your plantings and doing what is needed before the first week of October comes to a close. Whatever you choose you will be more prepared for what is to come and how to care for it all. This is where I sign off… Find it, Cherish it, Share it. We all have the opportunity to make the space we occupy better for ourselves and each other. Till next time, when we come together in mind or spirit, be happy finding joy in each moment.

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