- Author: Janet Hartin
Dear Community Members and UCCE Partners Throughout San Bernardino County,
I hope this finds all of you and your families well and staying healthy. Please note that, due to COVID-19 concerns, all UCCE San Bernardino County face-to-face program activities, classes, and other events scheduled through April 30, 2020 have been postponed, canceled, or converted to zoom meetings or other distance learning formats. However, our academics, program managers, and community educators remain on the job and available to assist you via phone and email. Volunteer Master Gardeners continue to address your home horticulture inquiries through their telephone (909)387-2182 and email helplines (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for your understanding and your flexibility as we continue to provide research-based information in new and novel formats during this difficult time. Follow us on twitter (@MGPSanBern and @UCANRJHartin) and visit our website http://cesanbernardino.ucanr.edu/ for more updates including our Fiscal Year 2019/2020 Annual Report.
Have you ever thought about the parallel between preventive health care for people and integrated pest management (IPM) for plants? Both implement specific measures that reduce the risk of exposure to disease-causing organisms. According to experts, implementing preventive measures such as ‘physical distancing' (I prefer that term over ‘social distancing'), washing our hands thoroughly and regularly, covering our mouths when we cough, not touching our face, etc. greatly reduce our chance of contracting COVID-19.
In the plant world, IPM practices and principles that promote healthy plants greatly reduce the chance of damage from diseases and other pests. With a little extra time on your hands, implement these IPM practices for a healthier garden and landscape: match plants to their preferred climates and microclimates; select disease resistant plant varieties; provide well drained, healthy soil amended with compost and other organic products when appropriate; apply the right amount of water and nutrients at the right time, etc.
A ‘silver lining' of adopting these practices is that the need for pesticides is greatly reduced which keep our waterways clean, and preserves (and even enhances) populations of beneficial microbes, pollinators and wildlife.
Here are some other ‘silver linings' that I want to share with you in hopes they will provide some inspiration for you to ‘landscape greener' during what I hope is some extra downtime.
• Fewer vehicles on the roads has temporarily improved our air quality. With some extra time on our hands, we can all contribute to a more permanent solution by planting a tree or two! Trees store carbon dioxide that reduces pollution, cool urban heat islands, provide shade, reduce interior energy use and costs, provide habitat, connect us with nature, and beautify our neighborhoods.
• Stay in touch with family, friends, and even co-workers at a distance via 'walking chats' that improve our physical health and even reduce stress by increasing the “feel good” hormone serotonin. Keep it up and it just might earn you a place in the “100 mile a month walking club.”
• With more time to catch up on reading, consider downloading free UC ANR publications such as: ‘Sustainable Landscaping in California' anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8504.pdf that provides tips on water savings, use of soil amendments and mulch, reducing pesticide use, and more.
• More time on our hands provides an opportunity to stock our ‘little free library' with vegetable and flower seeds for our neighbors. Don't have an official ‘library'? Build your own ‘seed sharing box!' Or, donate seeds and plants to a local food bank or other non-profit.
I hope that you and your loved ones stay well and healthy! We will get through this together.
- Author: Janet Hartin
Topping a tree is the process of giving a tree a virtual crewcut by making one or more horizontal cuts across the top of the tree (see photos below) to shorten it. Why is topping trees harmful? Topping trees results in unstable, unsafe, and unattractive trees. It also reduces the ability for trees to reduce high temperatures and provide adequate shade in urban heat islands, sequester (store) carbon produced by fossil fuels, and provide wildlife habitat.
In some cases, trees are topped because a tall tree that should not have been selected in the first place is growing into utility lines. In other cases, topping occurs due to a lack of knowledge about the dangers of topping and/or simply wanting to save money by going with the lowest bid. In all cases, topping should be avoided. The combination of improper balance and weak, poor-quality growth following topping creates a much higher likelihood of personal injury and property damage than occurs from properly pruned trees. (Top photo below: topped tree; Bottom photo below: untopped tree.)
Trees should be properly thinned and pruned rather than topped. Proper pruning involves maintaining the natural integrity and balance of the tree. Often this entails selecting a central leader and removing competing leaders, removing crossed branches, water sprouts, suckers and deadwood. In all cases proper pruning maintains the correct balance of weight and foliage in the upper, middle, and lower portion of the tree. (For more detailed information on proper pruning visit the International Society of Arboriculture's (ISA) consumer website: www.treesaregood.org). It may be useful to contact a Certified Arborist who is trained in tree health and care if you are in doubt about caring for your landscape trees. S/he will determine the proper pruning and thinning procedures and otherwise assess the overall health of your tree. Consult the ISA website for a Certified Arborist near you: https://www.isa-arbor.com/Credentials.
There are also several reliable and useful search engines to help you select the right tree for the right location. These user-friendly sites allow you to include several criteria in your search such as tree type (deciduous or evergreen), flower color, ultimate size, drought tolerance, pest resistance, and ability to attract pollinators among others. Grab a cub of java or tea and enjoy perusing such informative sites as: Urban Forest Ecosystems Institutes (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/); California Native Plant Society (https://calflora.org/); and UC's California Center for Urban Horticulture Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) (https://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/wucols-iv).
Do you have a home garden or landscape question? Contact a trained UC Master Gardener volunteer serving your county using this link: http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/. San Bernardino MGs may be reached at email@example.com or (909)387-2182.