Real Estate

Home front: Fall maintenance, bare roots and maples


UPCOMING GARDEN CLASS ... Santa Clara County Master Gardeners will offer a workshop on "Fall Maintenance in the Waterwise Garden" on Saturday Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden at 851 Center Drive in Palo Alto. Whether your waterwise garden is newly planted or has been in place for years, autumn is the time to give your landscape a check up and clean up. Join Master Gardeners Kathleen Heckler and Vera Kark to learn how to keep your low-water plants at their best as winter approaches.

WHAT TO PLANT NOW ... Master Gardener Roberta Barnes will hold a workshop on "Bare Root Planting of Roses, Fruit Trees, Berries, and Vegetables" on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Palo Alto's Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Road. Bare-root planting is a low-cost, low effort way to get many perennials off to a good start in your garden, and early winter is the right time to do it. Barnes will discuss what plants are available this way, why bare-root plants often catch up to and surpass older and larger plants transplanted from containers, how to get the varieties you want, and tips for successful use of this planting technique.

MAPLE HEALTH ... There are plenty of Japanese maples adorning gardens throughout the Midpeninsula. For healthy, durable, long-lived Japanese maples, experts advise moderation in all maintenance. As Matt Nichols of says, "The number one thing people do wrong with Japanese maples is they over-love them." Japanese maples need drainage. If you live in an area with heavy clay, plant the root ball slightly elevated. In general, plant them slightly raised and don't over water. Excessive water can be a death knell for maples. Don't stress maples by allowing the root zone to be parched or waterlogged. Don't use a lot of fertilizer. Low-nitrogen fertilizer in spring is good but stop after May or you will impede good fall color and winter toughness. On established trees, carefully remove any grass and replace with about an inch of composted bark mulch (avoiding the trunk) or small groundcover plants. Japanese maples do not require regular or aggressive pruning, so whether or not you prune depends on your aesthetic goal. For an airy look, thin out branches over time; for a tree canopy shape, remove a few lower limbs.

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