Growing moss on a rock wall... good idea?
We just had a rock wall installed in the back yard. While we originally wanted moss rock, it was twice as expensive as standard granite. I've been toying with the idea of mixing up some moss and buttermilk and trying to grow it on the wall. Is this a good idea, or should I leave well enough alone, because the wall really looks good now?
The wall looks nice to me. Be sure you are not trying to do too much. You might just want to see what nature has in mind?
Introducing some moss should not hurt anything though. Just be careful with the nutrient mixes and their composition so you do not discolor the stone.
They sell fi fi foo foo faux faux lichens and mosses. Search online. You cannot tell with some they are not real until you are on them. Some say that of silk flowers too though and to me they are not the same as real ones and never will be.
I used to plant and specify a lot of Scotch and Irish moss in landscape design days. It is not really moss but has a similar texture. Either (difference is really the shade of green) might do well in some potting soil crammed in between your stones.
Folks that know a lot about moss are with natural advertising agency out of London. They do corporate logos in moss on sides of buildings, stamp logos into snow and sand, grow luminescent bacteria with ad slogans, arrange for custom logos in the middle of crops, and all sorts of fun stuff. I can remember the name if interested.
I just did a Google search using the string, "How to Grow Moss" and found lots of useful information as well as suppliers. You might replicate my search as better answers than I can offer probably hide in those pages?
Do be careful introducing things that would never be in the environment naturally. We all know of two many problems that have arisen from the practice. And I offer again that I think your wall looks really, really nice as is.
By the way and I know people freak at the suggestion of pruning a young tree (first thing that should be done when planting is its first pruning). But yours really needs some attention. It will respond with a nice growth spurt. It is much easier to fix some of the structural problems yours has when branches are young and easy to cut then later with a chainsaw and tree company!
Generally when I planted trees I carefully shaped and cut about 1/3 away first thing. Pruning is a great way to direct the energy of the tree and remember, trees cannot prune themselves so they need you!
I know this sounds radical but pruning early on starting with when you plant will allow you to establish the future shape of the tree, encourage strong branches, and just the process of pruning will send energy into the stem and root systems to help speed the transplant process.
The first pruning also lets you correct any structural problems that will come to haunt you as the tree grows and that will later require chainsaw work so let's start there. As you read, you will realize most of this first pass pruning is just common sense.
1. First cut any water shoots growing from the base of the tree or from branches. Water shoots tend to grow straight up and look like anomolies (for lack of a better word) than real branches. They suck lots of energy from the tree and will never turn into nice structure.
2. Next look for small branches growing from the underside of major branches. They will just weigh the limbs down later so get rid of them now (and with your annual pruning when they appear).
3. Look for branches that are trying to grow inward toward the center of the tree or that are crossing each other too closely, forming dangerous v-crotches, etc. Imagine the problems they will create when they all get heavier and you will realize why you want to get rid of them now? And branches growing inside the tree will not be healthy later on because they are likely to be starved of sunlight.
4. Air out the tree. Take a look at the tree and see if their are areas of growth that are just going to crowd and compete severely for sunlight and thin them out so the tree gets lots of even sunlight and fresh air (trees do need to breathe or you get problems with insects and fungus later on). If one side of the tree looks unbalanced with growth from another the situation will not get better as it ages and pruning early can fix this.
5. Finally cut back all the remaining branches about 1/3. Look to cut back to buds or smaller lateral branches, noting that new energy will be sent in the direction of the buds. By trimming this way you will encourage less lanky and stronger branches that are more able to support the weight on them and as mentioned, since you just transplanted, pruning will divert energy into branch and root development. Your tree will actually look better in a shorter amount of time---I promise.
6. Also prune the trees so that there is one dominant leader up near the center if you are wanting it to gain further height.
Now then, it would still be a good idea to buy (or borrow from the library) a book on pruning and specific to your species of tree. Your local arborist may publish guides too.
Fruit and flowering trees generally do their thing on new spurs so pruning back to them just makes for more flowers and fruit and is a good thing.
Do use sharp pruning tools. It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of dipping and wiping tools in Clorox or other disenfectant between cuts and especially when switching to a different tree.
The landscaper or nursery that planted the trees should have tossed some nice time release granulated fertilizer or pellets in the planting hole. If not, you should invest in a soil auger and do so yourself. Drill a number of holes into the root area around the drip line of the tree per instructions on the fertilizer product. Put fertilizer sticks, pellets or granulated fertilizer recommended by your nursery down the holes. Water long and infrequently to encourage deep root growth.
As to when to prune annually? Fall or early spring through about now, before trees have fully leafed out or before flowering or fruiting trees have blossomed are the typical times. Pruned branches of flowering trees can be nice addition to spring home decor though. In areas prone to heavy frosts or freezes if you wait until spring you can prune out any permanent weather damage.
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