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Winter Injury on Rhododendrons

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We’ve been observing wide spread winter injury on Rhododendron and Holly in the Lakes Region this spring as the snow and ice begin to recede. Cold drying winds over the past several months are partially to blame for the damage, but there are other factors which have certainly contributed to this plight.

Rhododendron Winter Damage

Desiccation is the evaporation of water in vapor form from foliage and plant stems. Although this is a year-round and daily occurrence, winter desiccation (also called winter burn) can be particularly stressful on broad leafed evergreens which are the most susceptible because they have a greater surface area through which to lose water compared to deciduous plants. When the ground is frozen solid and freezing temperatures are accompanied by high winds, the exposed plants continue to lose moisture without being able to replenish the supply.

In the two pictures, you’ll see that the foliage at the bottom of the plants is unaffected due to the snow cover protection from the wind. Evergreens that have suffered from winter desiccation typically have beige to brown leaf edges that are curled, or they may show red or purple discoloration.

Rhododendron Damage

The stage was set last summer with drought conditions, so broad leafed evergreens went into the winter with a major disadvantage. Younger plants with shallow root systems and plants that have suffered injury in prior years are the most vulnerable.  The plants survival is based on the moisture reserve stored up in the roots, branches and leaves.

We recommend delaying pruning chores a bit this spring so that the toll of winter injury can be properly assessed.  Dead tissue can be removed anytime, but cutting into live tissue leaves the remaining stem more vulnerable to further drying.  Be sure to wait until after shrubs leaf out if you are unsure whether or not a branch is still living. Corrective pruning along with recommended fertilization and proper watering will often help these plants recover.

Rhododendrons do not like soggy soil, so be careful not to overdo it on the watering.

Be on the Lookout for Emerald Ash Borer Damage

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We have been noticing damage on White Ash trees (Fraxinus americana) over the course of this winter, particularly in the southern lakes region. In the picture below, you will notice the light bark discoloration on the tree trunks. This discoloration is called ‘blonding’ which is the result of woodpeckers feeding on the Emerald Ash Borer larvae in the bark.

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The Evolution of Mowers: Interview with Belknap Landscape’s Andrew Morse

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Landscape Management released their February edition, which features articles about maintenance contracts, beautiful landscapes, types of fertilizers, and lawn mowers. These articles help prepare the top industry professionals for a busy spring season by releasing information about the latest in landscape technology. On the topic of the evolution of lawn mowers, Landscape Management asked landscape professionals, including our own Andrew Morse, for their knowledge about the topic. Over the years mowers have gotten faster, more efficient, and more accurate. With today’s technology, landscape companies can cut through most any lawn evenly and in only one or two runs. Years ago, this was not possible. Read More

Perhaps a Landscape Renovation is in Your Future?

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Winter time can be a great time to sit back and think about renovating your landscape or garden.  Visualize how you and your family use your outdoor space. Perhaps the patio isn’t quite large enough for entertaining 6-8 of your friends.  Perhaps the plantings along your walkways are overgrown and lack color. Perhaps the foundation plantings haven’t seen a refresh in 10-15 years or you inherited them with changes in ownership.

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The GREEN SnowPro Initiative – Road Salt Reduction

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The New Hampshire Certified Green SnowPro Program is a first-in-the-nation certification program that is helping to substantially reduce wintertime road salt applications, improve water quality, and provide valuable liability protection to local New Hampshire companies. The Program was developed to mitigate chloride pollution of watersheds (lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater) in New Hampshire through the reduction of salt used in winter maintenance. Read More

Belknap Landscape Attends The 26th Annual Turfgrass Conference & Trade Show

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Several members of the Belknap team recently travelled to West Lebanon, NH to attend the Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show held annually by the Vermont Greenscape Association.  This popular northern New England event features exceptional industry-leading speakers along with vendors and exhibitors that are leading the industry in technology and best practices. Read More