Q: I live in Corona and planted a Japanese Bloodgood Maple Tree sapling about a year and a half ago. It gets full sun. Last summer the leaves got burned to a crisp, even with an umbrella covering. Fortunately, the tree survived and all the leaves came back this spring. I have been deep watering it twice a month (on the 15th and 30th) but now in the hot temps we’ve been having I’m wondering if I should water it more frequently? Any other care I should be giving it?

A: Japanese maple trees are happiest in partial sun locations (4 hours full sun per day). Southern California’s full sun can become a bit too much for these beauties, but you can do some things to make your tree happy.

Japanese maples are shallow-rooted, so maintaining a thick 4-6-inch layer of organic mulch will protect the roots from overheating and drying out. Remember to keep mulch away from the trunk to avoid the risk of fungal diseases like armillaria.

Regular, moderate watering is especially important in hot dry climates. These are a bit thirstier than most landscape trees grown in Southern California and will need watering at least once per week in the hot summer months. The soil shouldn’t dry out between watering, but it shouldn’t be soggy either. Heavy mulching should help in keeping the soil moisture constant.

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If possible, you may want to find a way to provide more shade for your tree. The red pigment in leaves enables the plant to absorb a larger amount of the sun’s light spectrum, but this also means that most red plants are less tolerant of full, intense sunlight exposure.

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Avoid heavy fertilization since the new growth it causes is especially susceptible to sunburn. Fertilize more frequently with small amounts of fertilizer or add compost or worm castings to the mulch to ensure that the tree is getting enough nutrients without causing a big growth flush.

Q: Can you heavily mulch over grass and weeds to prep for planting the following year? In other words, instead of digging it all out or laying ground cloth?

A: I learned this the hard way—the answer is no. There is an alternative to digging everything out, however. Cut the grass and weeds down as short as you can, then cover the area with cardboard from boxes that have been broken down. One or two layers should be sufficient. Cover the cardboard with a thick layer of mulch. The cardboard will eventually break down, but by the time this happens the weeds and grass should have died.

I don’t recommend using weed cloth because it eventually will pop up above the mulch and become unsightly. The weed cloth doesn’t block all weeds, so when you weed you are going to dislodge the weed cloth. Plastic sheeting is even worse, since it blocks water …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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