Posted by & filed under Gardens, Landscaping, Tree and Shrub Care .

Crape Murder

A bad case of “Crepe Murder” spotted after committed by “professionals”.

Every year at this time of the season, I cringe at the sight of the “bad haircuts” on what should be large, beautiful Crepe Myrtle shrubs. Homeowners, and even “professional’ landscapers whack back the stems on Crepe Myrtles at the same point they were pruned last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. What’s left is an ugly,  twisted clump of stem at the tops of the shrub. This picture on the left is really bad. It’s even worse because it was a bad pruning cut, looking like it was just ripped off with a weed-eater or something, rather than a clean, sharp cut.

We call this practice of pruning Crepe Myrtles every year in the same place, just to give one something to do, as Crepe Murder. It does not actually kill the shrub, but it it does take away from the natural growth, health, and beauty of the shrub. These shrubs can grow quite large, with colorful displays of flowers all summer, especially in the more southern states. Oklahoma is on the northern fringe of climates where Crape Myrtles will thrive. With the warmer winters we are having, I can’t remember one where they were damaged by a hard freeze, which can happen. In that case, then yes, some pruning may be needed.

Otherwise, we recommend just to let them grow with minor pruning just to keep a nice shape and prevent from becoming too dense. If space allows, let them grow to 8, 10, even 12 feet or more. And if pruning is needed, don’t take out every stem at one time, but selectively prune for shaping.

For a good video on Crepe Murder, and how to properly prune these shrubs, visit here. And if you really want to do something at this time of year to help your Crepe Myrtle, apply a systemic insecticide and dormant oil. This will help prevent aphids and scale later on in the season, which are two pests which can harm Crepe Myrtles.

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under fertilization, post-emergent, pre-emergent, Weed-Control .

Pre-emergent Weed-n-FeedLiquid weed-controlHELP……where do I start?

I was at one of the big box stores recently, and noticed the big display of do-it-yourself lawn care fertilizers and weed-control products on display. So thought I’d check them out and compare these to what we use at LawnAmerica, along with the pricing of their products. Even I, with 30 years of lawn care experience in Oklahoma, was confused as to which products to use, what was the active ingredients in each, and how to apply.

So here’s the breakdown if a homeowner wanted to duplicate our Early Spring Weed-Control Treatment. If I was a homeowner, I’d have to spend $65 to buy a 40 lb bag of this Scott’s Halt, which is fertilizer plus pre-emergent. This is enough for a 15,000’ lawn, but my lawn is 7,000’.  So I either put out half of the bag, and have to store the rest to use in another year, or just apply the whole bag. Most homeowners would do the latter. In applying this, I’m also applying Nitrogen fertilizer, which my dormant bermudagrass lawn does not need now, so this is a waste of money, and not good for the environment with the nitrogen just leaching through the soil and not utilized by the plants.  And then, what about the weeds I have in my lawn? Those would need to be sprayed with a liquid post-emergent for best results, or I could apply another weed-n-feed with granular broadleaf herbicide in it.  These are also a waste of nitrogen fertilizer, and the broadleaf weed-control just does not work well at all.  So I then have to sort through the various spray bottles of herbicide, and buy what I think may work, for another $18 for a bottle of this.

Then there is the little plastic fertilizer spreader in the garage, which I assume is not rusted and still works, so we’ll not even count that as a cost now. I’m still sitting at $83 just in products, plus the value of my time on the weekend. I’d rather be watching the NCAA basketball tournament, fishing, or just hanging out with my family, but what the heck? I”ll just call this exercise, and roll with that. I had to pick up some other stuff at the box store, so I won’t even count that time and gas expense in this equation. I’m still looking at $83 in hard costs for doing my own lawncare, compared to $68.30 if I’d paid LawnAmerica to do it for me. And, work by professionals such as LawnAmerica is guaranteed, so if things don’t perform well, we will return to do whatever may be needed to do the job. Try taking back your empty fertilizer bag and spray bottle to the box store, tell them your lawn does not look good, and see what they say!

So the choice is clear, that using professionals such as LawnAmerica is the best way to have a healthy, more weed-free lawn. More and more homeowners it seems are discovering this, which is why the lawn care display at the box store looked pretty full and looked to me like their stuff was not exactly flying off the shelves, and it’s almost the middle of March.

Posted by & filed under Gardens, Landscaping, Tree and Shrub Care .

Ornamental GrassMarch is a great time to remove dead foliage from ornamental grasses, before they begin to green up soon. Ornamental grasses are great additions to home and business landscapes, and are becoming more popular every year. They are very well-adapted to Oklahoma weather and soil conditions, very low maintenance, and provide a beautiful contrast to other shrubs, trees, and lawns. Some local favorite varieties are Pampas Grass, Fountain Grass, Maiden Grass, Mexican Feather Grass, Zebra Grass, and Japanese Blood Grass. Some stay smaller to moderate in size, while some such as Pampas Grass can become quite large, so care must be made in deciding where to plant these. Some ornamental grasses such as Liriope, Feather Reed Grass, and Northern Sea Oats are more shade tolerant than certain turfgrasses such as Fescue, so these may be a good alternative for extreme shaded conditions.

In late winter and very early spring, it’s important to cut back brown dormant vegetation to make room for new spring growth from the base of the plant. Sharp shears or a strong weed-eater will work in some cases, but larger more mature grasses can become large and difficult to prune back. If you live in the country as we do and the ornamental grass is away from your home, you can actually burn back the dead vegetation with fire, but do be careful with that. Right now, we are under a burn ban in Oklahoma, so don’t try this unless things improve.  And if you live within city limits, that’s not legal nor smart to do. You’ll have to cut back the vegetation in this case. But if you are a country boy, and with a water hose handy just in case things get out of hand, you can burn back the dead vegetation, after the burn ban is lifted.

Either way you do it, cutting back and eliminating the brown, dead leaves and stems from last year’s growth will help the plant spring back to life better later this spring and develop a better shape without all of the brown stems from last year.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Barricade, drought, lawn care, pre-emergent, weather, Weed-Control .

TBig Jakehe Tulsa HBA 2017 Home & Garden Show runs this Thursday through Sunday at the Expo Square. This will be the 18th Home Show that LawnAmerica has been in, but they never get old. It’s always fun to meet new people, sign up new lawn care customers, and visit with some of the many customers we have in the Tulsa area. We’ll be on the upper level along the main east-west isle in the middle. So stop by to see us and we’ll give you a coupon good for $20 Savings on any new optional service you are not currently on if you are an existing customer.

Spring continues to coming on way too early, which can be a challenge for landscapers. Pre-emeregent really needs to be applied soon, as crabgrass will be coming on strong sooner than normal it appears. We do switch to a different product, Dimension, later in March and into early April, which also controls small crabgrass already germinated. We’re still using Barricade now though until we see germination actually take place.

The weather is also very dry, so hopefully we’ll get a nice rain this evening as predicted. Keeping your lawn and landscape watered well even in winter is still important. It is still officially winter remember, although it sure feels like spring!

 

Posted by & filed under Landscaping, Photenia leaf spot, Tree and Shrub Care .

Before pruning.

Photenia After

After pruning.

 

Homeowners are eager to get out and do something in the landscape this time of year, especially with the early spring weather here in Oklahoma. One chore that needs to be taken care of now is pruning certain shrubs. Not all shrubs need to be pruned, such as Crape Myrtle, which we advise not to prune as most do. We call it Crepe murder, when landscapers and homeowners aggressively cut back these plants every winter to produce stubs.

Shrubs are pruned to maintain or reduce size, rejuvenate growth, or to remove diseased, dead or damaged branches. Deciduous shrubs are those that lose their leaves each winter, and some of these are ones that can be pruned now, along with certain evergreens such as Photenia. I have a group of Photenias at my home which had grown to be over 10’ tall, which they will if not pruned. So this past weekend I pruned them down to about 6’ so that I could keep it from taking over this area, and so I could treat it for Leaf Spot Disease this year, which had gotten ahead of me last season.

Pruning during the late winter and early spring allows wounds to heal quickly without threat from insects or disease. Pruning helps to stimulate new growth this spring, and there is no need to treat pruning cuts with paints or sealers.

There are two main methods used in pruning shrubs: thinning and heading back. Thinning is used to help thin out branches from a shrub that is too dense. To do this, remove most of the inward growing twigs by either cutting them back to a larger branch or cutting them back to just above an outward- facing bud. On multi-stemmed shrubs, the oldest stems may be completely removed. Heading back is done by removing the end of a branch by cutting it back to a bud and is used for either reducing height or keeping a shrub compact, such as with my Phonenias. In both cases,use a good, sharp pruning shear for a clean cut.

Shrubs that flower in the spring, such as Azaleas, should not be pruned until immediately after flowering in mid-Spring.  Pruning now will not harm the health of the plant, but the flowering display will be reduced.