Press-Republican

Columns

November 4, 2013

Take steps to avoid unwanted visitors

This time of year, we all start thinking about how to best protect our landscape plants and trees from harsh winter temperatures. 

During the spring and summer, we use mulch to keep weeds down and to keep the soil from drying too quickly. In winter, it’s a whole different story. Winter mulch is used to help maintain the temperature of the soil.

Note that I said maintain the temperature, not keep it from freezing.

The danger to perennials and landscape plants is from the alternate freezing and thawing of soil, which can result in heaving. Heaving is when the plant is pushed up and possibly even out of the soil because of temperature fluctuations. Small feeder roots can be broken during heaving, leaving the plant unable to absorb all the moisture it needs. Mulching around landscape plants after the plants have gone dormant and the soil is freezing helps to hold the soil temperature constant.

A common mistake is piling too much mulch around your plants, especially trees, creating a mulch “volcano.”

Woody shrubs and trees should not have mulch touching their trunks. During most seasons, this mulch keeps the trunk constantly moist, which can make it susceptible to disease. During the winter, this thick layer of mulch creates the perfect place for mice and voles to nibble on the outer layer of bark without being seen by predators. Since the nutrient and water needs of trees are met via the area of the tree just under the bark, this kind of girdling damage can easily kill a tree.

This is also the time when we need to take precautions against unwanted guests coming into our homes. I don’t mean that “favorite” family member that you have an obligation to entertain; I mean the mice that will be looking for a warm, cozy place to spend the winter.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time