48February 8, 2018

As I write this column, the ground is pretty much free of snow. There is a forecast for snow on Wednesday but that is supposed to turn to rain. And warmer temps are expected this weekend. If we do indeed get back to no snow on the lawn, you probably will get antsy to get outside and do something. Here are a few things you can do now if we get a warm day and you want to do something outside.

Did you get all the leaves cleaned up in the fall? Many of them may be frozen but if you work at getting the leaves off the lawn, it may prevent fungus diseases from starting in the late winter. A disease called snow mold can occur when the blades of grass are matted down and the blades of grass stay constantly wet.

The lawn not being cut short late in the fall may cause part of the problem. It’s doubtful that you are going to get the lawn mower out now, but if the leaves can be raked up now, then there is a chance to minimize any occurrence of snow mold in the early spring.

We have had a lot of windy weather this winter. Twigs and branches have broken off of the trees and they are scattered around the yard. Now would be a good time to start cleaning up these downed twigs and branches. If you start on a little clean up now, it will save you a lot of time in the spring.

While you are outside, take a look at the trunks of the trees. You may find that the rabbits have chewed at the bark of the trees. If you allow the bunnies to eat the bark all the way around the trunk of the tree, the tree will likely die this spring. If you see some chewing damage, you should apply a product called tree wrap around the trunk of the tree. The tree wrap will cover the wound and it will discourage the rabbits from eating more of the bark.

While you are looking at the trees, take a look and see if there is any storm damage to the branches. If the damage is high up in the tree, you may want to get a tree service to come in and prune out the damage. If the damage is low enough that you can do the work standing on the ground or if you need the help of a stepladder, then you should be able to do the pruning.

If the damage is to branches that are smaller than your little finger, you can use a pair of hand-held pruners to prune out the damage. For larger branches, a handsaw is a handy tool to have. If the damage is on the upper part of a limb, prune back to undamaged wood.

If you have a branch that has broken off but is still attached to the tree, you need to cut the branch off in segments. It is best to remove 2 to 3 feet at a time. If you try to cut off (for example) an 8-foot branch all in one cut near the trunk of the tree, the weight of the branch will pull off a lot of bark on the trunk of the tree. This will just make the problem worse.

As I said, you should prune off small segments of a damaged branch – and when you finally are left with about a 1-foot stub, cut the remainder back as close to the trunk as you can, without cutting into the bark of the trunk.

If you need hand pruners or a handsaw, we carry them in our store.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

You may also like