It is always fascinating to take a drive and see the many different ways Crape Myrtles are pruned. As you continue to expand your knowledge about this tree, you realize many people prune incorrectly and for the wrong reasons.
Before you prune, consider these tips:
The proper way to prune would include pruning the lower limbs for structure. The next step would be to remove any cross branching to allow for proper air-flow. The third step is for height and size control.
When we remove all the limbs, the tree will be more prone to insect and disease issues during the spring and summer. Most people believe in order to have blooms the following year, all limbs must be removed. This is not the case.
Other things to continue to monitor:
Leaf and pine straw debris: Continue to remove weekly or bi-weekly to allow plenty of sunlight and airflow for your plants and lawn. If the debris is allowed to collect, your risk of fungus is greater. This will show during the spring green-up process.
Keep your irrigation system turned off. We do not need to continue to water. Our saturation level of available moisture is between 26% and 31%. This will encourage the root system of all plants to move deeper to pull in this valuable resource.
Now is a great time to purchase a rain gauge and begin to monitor our rainfall.
How much sunlight does your turf require? How much sun do you receive? Every turf type requires a specific amount of sunlight to be healthy and happy. Check this list to see if you are providing one of the necessary requirements for a healthy lawn.
• Centipede and Bermuda: Full sun all day, all year
• Zoysia: Six-plus hours of sun, all year
• St. Augustine: Four-plus hours of sun, all year
If you are not receiving the volume of sunlight necessary, now is the time to limb up or prune selective branches to allow the most sunlight.
We will soon be at 6 to 6.5 hours of sunlight, so now is the time to get maximum sunlight for the lawn so you will have a better spring density.
If you are receiving the proper amount of sunlight and your yard still isn’t responding, there might be a problem with your soil nutrients. We can test your nutrient levels at any time with a soil sample analysis to ensure that you are using the right fertilizer blend and the PH is at a healthy level.
Drainage: After a heavy rain is the time to check and make sure you have proper drainage. Check all planting zones to ensure plants are not sitting in water, check all areas where the down-spouts are located and check lawn areas to make sure you have no areas under water.
If you find areas collecting water, you might want to consider having catch-basins installed, or perhaps a French drain.
Mark Deloach is the owner of Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.