November Landscape Activities
12 November 2007
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Charlottesville/Albemarle County Office
460 Stagecoach Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
phone: 434.872.4580 fax: 434.872.4578
November is a time for thanks for the many things we appreciate. It is also a time to think ahead about the holiday season ahead and the ways our landscapes contribute to our well being. Stop for a minute before the holiday rush and take time to appreciate your landscape as it settles into fall and consider some of these activities to improve or make use of your landscape.
If you are an early Christmas tree shopper looking for a live tree for the holidays, be sure to select a Christmas tree that will survive in your climate and soil. In Virginia, white pine (Pinus strobus), Norway spruce (Picea abies), and blue spruce (Picea pungens) are good choices for live Christmas trees that can also be planted outdoors after the holidays.
To protect an upright evergreen from snow damage, drive a strong stake into the ground near the trunk of the tree. Tie a rope to the bottom of the stake and, using the rope, wind up the branches in a circular pattern around the tree. This is a two-person job on large trees. At the top, secure the rope to the stake.
Check guy wires around newly planted trees to be sure hose sections still cover the supporting wires or ropes so they will not damage the trunks in windy weather. Remember that most trees do not need support after the first year.
Continue deep watering of evergreens until freezing weather occurs.
Cut away suckers from the base of lilacs, forsythia, and crape myrtle.
Erect wind breaks to protect newly planted evergreens, especially tender, broad-leaved types, such as Japanese holly and camellia.
If roses are to be planted, do so before the ground freezes, and water well.
Roots of woody ornamentals used as container plants may be killed if soil temperatures get very cold. Among the least hardy are aucuba, English boxwood, camellia, pampas grass, bearberry, cotoneaster, English holly, Japanese holly, star magnolia, and nandina. Their roots are killed when the soil temperature is 20 to 25F.
Clean up rose beds. Be sure all diseased leaves are raked up and destroyed. Spring (before the plants start active growth) is the preferred season for pruning roses. Do not cut off canes in the fall. It is better to stake and tie extra long canes in fall to prevent winter wind damage.
Fertilize wisteria after leaves have fallen to avoid excess top growth and lack of bloom.
Select accent plants for your landscape that will provide interesting autumn colors. Trees that turn red include dogwood, black gum, red maple, sweet gum, and red or scarlet oak. Shrubs with red fall foliage include viburnum, winged euonymus, and barberry.
Leaf fall makes renovation of overgrown deciduous shrubs easier. Begin this year by removing all diseased or broken stems. Next, remove 1/3 of all remaining shoots, eliminating the oldest and tallest. If the bush is still too tall cut the remaining stems to a side bud or branch. Repeat the process a second or third year to complete renovation.
Trim hollies and other evergreens, such as magnolia, aucuba, boxwood, and pyracantha, to furnish material for Thanksgiving decorations.
If you are planning on having a live, balled and burlapped Christmas tree, dig a planting hole now before the ground freezes. Fill the hole with straw or hay to keep it from freezing. Store the soil in a garage or shed so you will have workable soil when you need it for planting the tree.
Inspect trees and shrubs for spindle-shaped silk bags camouflaged with bits of foliage, bark and other debris that are the homes of bagworms. Remove and destroy them to reduce pest populations for next year.
If there is any evidence of scale on trees and shrubs, spray with dormant oil in late fall and again in early spring.
Nurserymen and landscape architects may be less busy over the next few months and be more available to help you with plans for improving your landscape.
Where circumstances necessitate very late planting of trees and shrubs, remember to mulch the area heavily to keep the ground thawed so roots can become established.
Registrations for Master Gardener Volunteer training classes are being accepted in Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Louisa Counties. Please call your local Extension office if you are interested.
For more information about this and other landscape topics contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. The local Virginia Cooperative Extension office numbers are Albemarle 872-4580, Fluvanna 591-1950, Greene 985-5236, Louisa 540-967-3422, and Nelson 263-4035.