January Tree Tips

Article by Greg Harris, owner of Leap Frog Landcare and Certified Arborist. Leap Frog Landcare is an organic based lawn, tree & shrub care company serving the Triangle area of NC, including Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Morrisville and Raleigh. 

Having lived in the Cary/Apex/Holly Springs area of North Carolina for the past 30 years I always think of 2 things when people talk about tree care. Big trees and small trees! We have some massive trees in this area and we have some trees that are considered Ornamentals which are meant to stay smaller and add a great accent to your landscape.

January is a great time of the year to inspect your trees. It may seem odd to inspect the trees while the leaves are off, but that is the best time to see throughout the tree without leaves blocking your sight. Now, it may be tough to see way up in the big trees and you may need the help of an arborist to identify what is safe and what should be pruned off. A good arborist will be able to identify dead or decayed branches that need to be pruned off because they will not have buds on the ends of the small limbs. You see it is actually the beginning of the new leaves that are coming on the trees in the fall that causes the leaves to drop at that time. As spring gets closer the buds continue to grow. Anytime is a good time to prune out dead or decayed branches. However, you have to be careful of when you prune out the live branches. With the mild winters that we have here in the triangle area of NC January is a great time to prune live branches. It gives the tree a little time to heal over those areas before the spring sap rises. In a way it is like we get a scab after we’ve had a cut. This allows the sap to run right past where that limb was when it starts rising in the spring. If you have ever seen a ton of sap running out of a spot on a tree where a limb was cut off it is because that area wasn’t able to heal over before the sap started running.

A good rule of thumb to consider when pruning is to remove any dead, diseased or crossover branches. Crossover branches are branches that cross over each other and rub. This rubbing will normally lead to a weak area in one of the branches and make it more susceptible to disease, insects or possibly snapping.

The most critical thing to remember when you are pruning trees is to make proper cuts or hire someone that is knowledgeable about pruning, preferably a Certified Arborist. Its hard to explain in a few words how to make a proper cut, but the thing we can tell you not to do with trees is to cut the tops off of them, (this goes for the same with Crape Myrtles!!) Topping of trees is one of the most harmful things that you can do to them. A lot of trees, especially Crape Myrtles can survive, but it weakens them and makes them more susceptible to disease and insect damage each time it is done. Just because your neighbors top their Crape Myrtles doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do!


Lawn care tips for January

We are in the heart of winter right now in Cary, NC and that can mean a lot of different things around here! Some days it can be cold and you feel like you are going to freeze and then you wait a couple of days and it feels like spring with temps in the 60’s. There’s an old saying around here that says if you don’t like the weather in North Carolina just hang around a few days and it will change. How true that is. With the ups and downs of the weather it leaves a lot of people wondering what should I do in my yard this time of year?

For most folks January is a big time for planning and new goals. It’s the same with your lawn. Just remember the 5 P’s for your lawn and for you personally. The 5 P’s are Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance! If you are going to come up with a plan for your lawn one of the 1st things you should do is to get a soil analysis done. You can take a sample of your soil and send it in to the NC Dept of Agriculture and they will do a free analysis of your soil. That analysis will help determine how much fertilizer, lime and other nutrients are needed.

Another big thing to remember this time of year is to try your best NOT to walk on grass that has frost on it. When a lawn is frosted, the grass blades are literally frozen, therefore causing the grass to lose its elasticity. Walking or mowing the lawn while it has frost on it will actually break the grass blade and damage it. With colder weather the grass grows much slower, so it takes a while for it to recover and you may end up with brown shoe prints through your lawn until spring.

Next week we will post some pruning tips to make sure your trees & shrubs are ready for that new spring growth that will be coming!!

Leap Frog Landcare is an organic based lawn, tree & shrub care company serving the Triangle area of NC, including Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Morrisville and Raleigh.