DIY Yards and Health

DIY Yards and Health
Helping the Do It Yourself home owner in making themselves and surroundings healthy

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gardening into Fall and Winter

Hoop style garden covers do several things for us. One is they protect the plant from the desiccating fall winds. The second is that each cover will actually move your zone down one level south.

If you want to extend your garden time, this is an essential way to cover your plants.

So how can you do it inexpensively? It's actually pretty simple. Take electrical conduit and bend it into half hoops. To get the right bends this is the tool you will need.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Firewood contamination

Firewood can be very harmful to your landscape trees.

Last year I watched my neighbor across the street unload several cords of wood. The next day I was greeted by a long horn Asian invader, which I promptly disposed of but knew it was just one of probably many...

Your firewood can be a real problem in that it can bring in bores and invaders that can attack your trees and even your home.

Here is a video I took of an actual larvae caught while splitting fire wood. Click Here

The state wants to encourage us to get our firewood locally so we do not bring in invaders but sometimes that is not possible or you may already have wood that has been brought in.

Another option is to create a wood shed containment area and then spray the inside with a band as directed on the label of the product you chose, as you would for spiders, so a hatching larvae that flies out may be intercepted by the spray band. This includes Carpenter Ants, Termites etc., however with Termites you may need to do a ground application around the containment shed as directed on the label. Screens can be implemented in the shed as well to contain insects that may have crawled out of the wood.
Do not spray the actual wood with an insecticide in that you could release the active ingredient when you burn the wood affecting yourself.

Again, always follow the label and remember that the bore shown in the video will actual pupate into a flying insect which will lay eggs on your landscape trees so your containment area needs to control crawling as well as flying insects.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Correct Pruning Booklet

The Tree Guide for Landscapers and Back Yard Pruners is complete and ready to purchase just in time for this winters pruning season.

The booklet is a compilation of what I have taught in the field for over 20 years, explaining the basics of how a tree grows so you can make correct pruning decisions.

Brief and to the point, I would not let anyone touch your trees if they do not have this base of information.
Tools Needed
Proper Cutting Methods
Correctional Pruning
Dominant Leader Pruning
Pruning Difficult Trees
Pruning Fruit Trees for Ornamental
Quiz and Review Page for the Field

If interested, contact me through the email address

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Preparing your Trees for Winter

Getting your Trees ready for Winter

Last year we saw the loss of a lot of trees from a combination of the quick freeze in November, and a long desiccating west wind in the spring, with little rain.

Why did some trees get through while others died?

Trees do not do anything fast...they build up health over time or they go through decline which leads to a process we call the death spiral.

You can not wait until a tree is dying, and then, try to save it. You have to be pro-active in keeping them healthy so they can withstand weather events, pests, drought and mechanical damage.

Decidua trees need to be well hydrated this time of year in that they are going through a process called reverse sink. This is a time period where the tree uses both the phloem and xylem to store as much nutrients in the root system as possible for the big push in the spring. Next spring the tree will need a root nutrient amendment, (NOT a high nitrogen fertilizer though), to insure the natural organic process is happening in the soil. This can be done by adding composted material around the drip area or dong a liquid injection.

Evergreens will continue to transpire through the winter. So they need water during the winter months. If there is snow and rain the tree will be fine, but months of dry weather are very hard on Evergreens. Being aware of that, and know it may be necessary to actually hand water them or use water bags to insure a slow release of water during the winter.

I also recommend adding root nutrients during the winter for Evergreens due to the fact that this is often their most difficult time of stress.

The point is to keep the tree healthy, so it can call upon its reserve system when a weather event creates stress on the tree.

Even though flocking looks pretty on trees, the freezing and thawing while covered in frost, damages the cell structure of the protective bark layer. If it is extreme, I will often use a leaf blower and gently remove as much of the frost as possible. For young trees it is important to wrap or use a cardboard tube around the tree trunk to prevent the bark from splitting, a process called  sunscald.

For Junipers and Arborvitaes it may be necessary to wrap them with twine so snow load does not split them down, just remember to remove the twine in the spring to prevent damage during spring wind.

Any questions on your particular tree can be sent to

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tree's look sick in summer

This is the time of year my phone rings and rings with people wanting me to look at their trees - truth is, trees that are sick now are showing stress from a lack of health or improper watering.
With this in mind, I've put together a water testing page so you can know what is really happening with your trees water condition:

Water Check on your Trees
Purchase a couple of inexpensive water meters from Home Depot or Lowes

Go around the perimeter of the tree stabbing the meter into the soil at least 6 inches (you may need to use a screw driver to make the hole if the soil is hard)
Do this starting 6 inches away from the trunk on small trees, 2 feet on large trees, with the first stab.

On small trees go out 2 feet on the second stab, on large trees go out another 2 feet then a third stab clear out to the end of the drip line or where the limbs end on the outside of the tree canopy.

Use a grid pattern and record the results each day for a week under your normal watering process.

Probe down in the ground 2 to 3 time All around the tree in this type of hub and spoke pattern

 Go as deep as you can with the probe Do this every day for 7 days and record the meter readings

START with the first number being the North spoke and move clockwise around the tree

Monday ______________________________________________________________________






Water was set to run (# of days and which days)  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Amount of time running on each station


Your trees should be wet once a week and more toward dry the rest of the week. otherwise you are filling the macropores with water and suffocating the tree's roots system...see the section under trees if you need to do an airspade job for drainage. __________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Conclusion of straw bale gardening

Last year we experimented with straw bale gardening. Here are some conclusions...

As you can see in the photo, this spring the bales had denigrated to a gooey mass.
Surprisingly the strawberries did very well even as the bales are half the size they were when we started.
1. There is definitely an odor all summer long as these bales break down biologically.
2. Held moisture well
3. Tomatoes loved them but Spinach and other crops did not do well.
4. Compost (worm) tea did help in July.
5. Nutrients were lacking without adding compost elements.
6. Real mess to clean up at the end of the year.
I would not recommend putting these on your patio as being suggested on many sites online.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Killing year for trees

What is happening to the trees in Boise, Nampa and Meridian areas?
Trees are dying in our area due to several stress factors.
1. November's sudden 50 degree drop did not allow the time needed for decidua (leaf) trees to go through the process called reverse sink. This is very important for the trees ability to store sugars and nutrients in their root system needed in the spring. As they call upon these reserves, this spring, they do not have the ability to put on adequate foliage. Evergreens develop a type of anti-freeze in their sap to stay green all winter; again this was not ready for that sudden freeze so we see browned out needles.

2. This spring has added to the stress by being so warm so early without adequate rains. Our water has just come on and the trees are suffering from two months of inadequate water. Combine this with these hot dry winds, which is defoliating trees just starting to put new leaves on, and we have a nasty combination to kill trees this year.

What to do?
Trees do not do anything fast, so reacting too late will not save them. The best action you can take is to get water on them using deep soaker hoses - and do it today!
The next thing is to NOT fertilize them with nitrogen. Nitrogen is for growth and they can not take the stress of trying to grow at this time. Thrive or Save A Tree; which I do as a deep root injection for about $5 for a tree like the above, feeds the mycorrhiza  in the soil which then feeds the tree without putting stress on the trees.

DO NOT prune off what you think is dead at this time. It may still push out latent buds so you want to wait until June to make that decision.

Watch for insect attacks; insects attack weak trees to finish them off in a forest environment. But we want to save these trees, so if you feel sticky residue when walking under your trees (aphid indicator) or any other insect attack, let me know and we will address that immediately.

I am going as fast as I can to get the deep root injections done. The trees that we have been doing deep root tree care for three or more years now, show no signs of damage, because healthy trees were able to recover. You have to be pro-active to have healthy trees.

I am getting a lot of calls asking me to come out and look at their trees. Looking at them is not going to save them. The only options we have are the ones stated above. Get the water on them and use our watering information about trees that is on this blog. Then email me at to get on the deep root tree feed list (minimum stop $39). The rest is dependent on how healthy the tree was before this stress hit.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hydrate your trees now!

Very important to hydrate your trees well right now as the first heat in spring hits us.

Trees are now pushing everything upwards to get foliage started - this is a time they really need water to help that process and to hydrate those leaves so the young tissue is not burned by the sudden heat that they are not used to.

Deep water soak is the best using those black soaker hoses for 24 hours of slow drip. Even in the lawn this is important because the lawn itself is trying to grab that water first.

A deep root feed should be done now. NOT nitrogen but a organic product like Save A Tree to help introduce more nutrients and minors the leaves may need to formulate and develop.

Your garden should be flooded before you plant so the soil is hydrated well too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Gardening Check List

We all get impatient to get those seeds in the ground and get started. However it is important to take the time to make sure all aspects of the garden have been taken into account.

Last winter the garden was supposed to be put to bed with fertilizers giving them time to break down over the winter. If that wasn't done, you still need to add the fertilizers but they need to be well aged and organically broken down.

The next important step is to review the watering practice last year. Sprinklers often cause powdery mildew issues and weeds throughout the garden. Soakers, drips and flood can be better options and now is the time to see if there is a way to engineer those different processes.

Tilling the garden to create soil with lots of macro pores (nice word for airspace) creates the environment the seeds will germinate in well. This is part of the reason for the composted materials added at this time. I also include worm castings due to the high biological microorganisms (if is fresh) and the fact that what comes out of a worm is better than what goes in.

Soil temperature is important too. Seeds do not germinate until soils have reached enough heat. So checking that temperature will give you a better idea of when to plant.

How we plant will effect the rest of the season so take a little bit of time to plan the design and final harvest from the garden. This includes trellis for beans and even squash.

Planning is everything, with a good garden plan it will help insure you stick out the process for your own fresh food this year.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spraying Horticulture Oil when trees are dormant.

We use the term "Dormant" oil when describing the Horticulture Oil sprayed in the spring to suffocate aphid eggs and scale.

This is a very important application in that it is organic, and does not harm beneficial insects.

Every spring I get the question, "my tree is in bud - isn't it too late to spray dormant oil".

Twenty years ago...yes,!

We still use that term "dormant" because it is far more practical to layer the bark with the oil when leaves are not in the way; however the new Supreme Oils are safe to spray over buds and leaves.
Article on newer refined oils we use.

The other question is rain, "will the rain ruin the oil application."

The oil is distributed with water as the carrier so a light rain is  not going to have an effect.

I strongly encourage using the organic oils and even warranty the tree if you have done a oil application and a systemic drench because these applications are so much more environmentally sound.

Boise area browned evergreens

Why are my evergreens brown and are they dead?

You may have evergreen trees that look like a blow torch was waved over them. This is from the sudden deep freeze we had around Thanksgiving last year. Normally these trees would be very cold hardy but they need a slower cold process to harden off for winter and last fall they did not get that.
Here is an article from the Extension office in Utah about the situation.

So are they dead and should you replace them?
Trees never do anything fast, so we should never had a fast reaction. Give them time and see if they recover. I am doing deep root feedings (Normally done in the fall) on these damaged trees. An interesting observation is that the trees I have been deep root feeding for two or more years did not show any damage. Healthy trees have a better ability to withstand strange weather changes and environments.

Cost to do a deep root is around $8 a tree with a $44 minimum.