One-on-One With Rob Diehl


Getting Your Yard Ready for Spring


By Gina Dostler


It’s that time of year again. January has hurdled over December and landed in beautiful Southern California with sunny days and mild temperatures.

Despite a few chilly nights and foggy mornings where beach inhabitants have to temporarily give up flip-flops for jackets and shoes, the coastal desert shines with sun. Pinks, reds, and oranges create jaw dropping sunsets over the indigo ocean.  No snow or black ice. No shovels to handle or de-icing of car windows. Instead of curling up inside the home for warmth and comfort as a storm rages, coastal residents drive Coast Highway with the top down or have lunch outside on the patio.

Fun is always nearby in Orange County. And to prepare for spring and summer, so the fun continues, January provides the perfect season to trim the trees and fertilize the fruit trees, flowers and grass. It’s also time to plan for the new backyard patio and barbecue.

Rob Biehl, director of operations for Prunin Arboriculture and Maintenance, can make all that happen. Since 1994, he has designed, built, beautified and maintained properties to perfection. The staff consists of International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborists, award-winning landscape designers and Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture-certified tree workers.

Rob provided information and several course of actions to maintain your outdoor living and beautiful landscapes.


Q:  Why prune?

A:  Pruning produces strong, healthy and attractive plants. Trimming lets light and air into the plant and removes dead, diseased or damaged wood. It also rejuvenates old and neglected plants by increasing the strength and longevity of plants. And by pruning, limbs and branches that interfere with utility wires, gutters, roofs, and chimneys are removed before they become a safety hazard.


Q:  Right now is the perfect time to prune, correct?

A:  That’s right. Winter is a good time to clean up the landscaping and prepare the plants for the warmer seasons. Most trees need to be trimmed in the dormant season to maximize wound closure for the growing season. This reduces the chance of disease taking hold and discourages excessive sap flow from wounds. Also it gets the citrus trees ready for their spring blossoms. Right now is also a great time to plant bare root trees that are wrapped in burlap, not planted in containers, such as roses or blueberries. That’s correct, blueberries right here in Orange County. There are several varieties that do not require the heavy frost and produce delicious berries.


Q:  What other yard maintenance needs attention?

A:  Right now is a good time for lawns. Preparing lawns in a proper manner is a good weed maintenance program to keep those pesky growths at bay. Lawns need to be cleaned up by ripping up all the dead grass that builds up over time (thatching). It’s good to repair bare or weakened areas by over seeding and placing soil on top to keep the weeds from taking hold. A good watering system is also a key to any landscape health.


Q:  Ah, let’s not forget about sprinklers.

A:  Yes. This is another good time for irrigation tune ups. We like to clean out the filters, replace damaged heads, and adjust nozzles and timers for less watering since they are probably still set for summer action. For water saving techniques, changing out to rotary head nozzles saves you 15-20% in water usage a month. Another way to reduce water usage is to install mulch around planter beds. Winter rain and winds make for wear and tear in the yard and by mulching you prevent water evaporation from the soil and therefore less water usage needed overall. Mulching also reduces the need for added chemicals due to less weed growth and because it replenishes the soil with nitrogen as it breaks down.


Q:  You mentioned winter rains. That brings to mind gutters and drainage.

A:  Preventative maintenance is always a good thing and cleaning out the drainage system that allows rainwater to flow from your patio to the street is always an advantage. A lot of older homes do not have drainage pipes that spill out to the street, so it might be a good idea to install a new system. If one is already in place, cleaning them at this time keeps them free from clogging and making a muddy mess of your yard.


Q:  Becoming more “green” is big. Besides water usage, any other way to reduce energy costs through landscaping?

A: Have your outdoor lighting replaced with LEDs. Those Malibu lights in your front yard are sucking up electricity compared to the low voltage lights now available. You can cut your energy bill by 70-80% with LEDs and they carry a 10 year guarantee by the manufacturers. In the past, the fixtures were a bit costly, but now are very reasonable in price and worth installing with all the energy savings they provide.


Q: With spring as the goal to getting the outdoor part of the home ready, patios are part of the maintenance focus, yes?

A:  Redoing the patio whether it is to provide an extra living area as in the popular outdoor kitchens and living rooms found so prominently in California these days or putting a built-in BBQ is something to start thinking about. Patio projects take about 2-3 months to design and install, so to be ready by April or May it is a good time to start. We have a lot of clients wanting new paver, flagstone or colored concrete patios installed to add more seating and entertaining space. Fireplaces and firepits are also something to consider at this time to have ready for spring and summer outdoor fun. We also have more and more requests for retaining walls and raised edible gardens. Last year we used strawberry plants for ground cover. What a great way to not only provide edible fruit, but to prevent water runoff and weed prevention.



Rob Biehl

Director of Operations

Prunin Arboriculture and Maintenance

Phone: (714) 236-9887