After a long wait, it looks as though summer has finally arrived in the Naperville area! We withstood an unusually cold winter, followed by a long, wet, cold spring. According to the National Weather Service, May 2019 was the wettest on record in the Chicago area since 1871. Many Naperville area homeowners are seeing the effects of the harsh weather on their trees and shrubs. Have you noticed dead or damaged trees and shrubs in your outdoor area? Some may recover, but you may have to replace some trees and shrubs. If you do, it’s a good idea to choose hardy species with time-proven track records for withstanding our temperature swings, precipitation swings, wind variations and other damage-causing factors.
Boxwood bushes have been hit especially hard this year. Throughout Naperville you will see beautifully landscaped homes except for their boxwoods. You may have read in April or May to be patient with them, and in some cases, they did show signs of life. But if your boxwoods still don’t show any green shoots, they are most probably dead and should be replaced. Similarly, species such as Japanese maples, rhododendron, peach trees and other less hardy trees are showing signs of damage. By now, it should be clear if the trees are alive or are worth saving.
Choosing replacement trees or shrubs can be tricky, and will depend on personal choice, the planting location, size, growth rate, and many other factors. Choosing replacement trees or shrubs can also be chancy because many have fungus and other diseases brought on by the wet, cool weather. It’s important to choose landscape materials from a reputable nursery to ensure your plant has received the best care.
Once you plant a new or replacement tree or shrub, be sure to give it the care it needs as it becomes acclimated to your outdoor space. Some tips include:
- Water trees and shrubs well, especially during the first few years. Continue watering well into the autumn months, especially if rain is sparse. Protect trees and shrubs with mulch to prevent disease, prevent weeds, keep the soil temperature steady and prevent water runoff and evaporation.
- Trees and shrubs can thrive on pruning, but it should be done at the right time of year. The Morton Arboretum advises, “A light summer pruning can be performed on most deciduous trees and shrubs. Heavier pruning should be performed when the tree is dormant, preferably in late winter. Trees such as maple (Acer) trees bleed sap heavily and should be pruned in winter. Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac and forsythia should be pruned within two weeks after flowering.”
- Take care in winter to prevent damage from salt to your trees and shrubs. Salt can damage the leaves, branches and roots of many species. Use salt sparingly around your trees and shrubs that may be damaged.
- Newly planted trees may be susceptible to girdling by animals such as mice and rabbits. Girdling occurs when the animals eat the bark either at the base of the tree or below the ground. The Morton Arboretum suggests wrapping young trees with wire mesh or hardware cloth at the base to deter animals from eating the bark.
Choosing the right trees and shrubs for your outdoor living space is much easier when you work with an expert. O’Donovan Landscaping has been creating and installing beautiful outdoor spaces for the residents of Naperville and surrounding areas for over 55 years. Our nursery in Plainfield has acres of mature trees, young trees and shrubs that will thrive in our climate. We also design and install hardscapes to create the outdoor entertainment area of your dreams. Visit us in Plainfield to view our selection (please call before you come – sometimes we’re out in the fields!) at (815) 436-6806 or call our Naperville Design Center at (630) 355-3370 to find out how we can make your outdoor space work for your and your family for many years to come.