By Evie Baltzer, Staff Horticulturist
I’m sure many of you have heard the term, “Crepe murder,” so today I wanted to talk about how to trim Crepe Myrtles properly and how to avoid, “murdering,” them.
The best time to trim back Crepe Myrtles is in February or March, when they are just coming out of dormancy. While Crepe Myrtles do not have to be trimmed to leaf out and have blooms in the summertime, trimming will most effectively spur on leaves and blooms for the coming season.
Crepe Myrtles can endure a drastic amount of trimming and will even thank you for it. Here are some rules of thumb:
- Remove half of the branch length. For example, if the Crepe Myrtle is 6 ft. tall, cut it back to 3 ft. While this is optimum, it isn’t a requirement; cutting off any amount will help.
- If you pruned your Crepe Myrtle back the previous year, make your new cut about 2 inches above last year’s cut to avoid the gnarly claw like growth pattern that we refer to as, “Crepe murder.”
- Even Dwarf Crepe Myrtles will benefit from being pruned.
Be mindful of winter kill on Crepe Myrtles this spring. The extreme cold temperatures this winter may have killed parts or all of a Crepe Myrtle. Since they are Southern plants, they suffer severely when temperatures fall below 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also only see new growth on your Crepe Myrtles coming up from the base of the plant and consequently no new growth on any of the existing branches.
As always, when you are out trimming your Crepes, inspect the branches for scale. This insect will look like tiny round white dots stuck randomly on each branch. Scale is running rampant through our area right now, so it’s very possible your landscape is already affected. If it is, don’t worry! LawnAmerica has treatments available and suggestions you can do as a homeowner.
By Chris Segraves, Operations Manager of the Tulsa Markets
Pop Quiz – What is the process that combines severe dryness with super cooled air? If you answered, “freeze drying,” then give yourself a pat on the back! While freeze drying is great for preserving food, it is not helpful for the landscape. We are once again facing severe drought in Oklahoma this winter. Combined with the stretches of intense artic blasts we’ve received, our landscapes are in quite the silent struggle right now. According to the drought maps, nearly 100% of our state is currently experiencing drought; that’s over eight million people! Drought not only affects people, but also plants and animals of all kind as well.
So what does this mean for your landscape? The trees, plants and turf alike are experiencing stress on their root systems which affect their ability to come out of dormancy. If they have been able to hold on this long, any landscape plants that were installed in the fall, or fescue that was over seeded, are surely at a standstill. Even your drought tolerant species such as Crepe Myrtle, Juniper, Zoysia, and Bermuda are likely to have a tough time this spring. Bermuda and Zoysia may take quite a long time to recover. Juniper may be turning a pale off green color and Crepe Myrtles may come out of dormancy with nothing more than tufts of sprouts at the base. Just as we saw last year, winter kill, as it is known in the industry, is highly likely again this year. In some cases, it could be even worse because this is a consecutive year. The cumulative affects have everyone guessing and waiting to see what is in store in the coming months.
What can a person do to give their landscape its best chances of surviving winter kill? It is a good practice to leave warm season grasses, “tall in fall,” for some increased protection against cold winters. It also helps to reduce evaporation of its life sustaining water. The best defense is to water on some of the days that have temperatures above freezing to lessen their burden during dry spells. However, with this year’s drought combined with the severe cold temperature snaps, its protection can only extend so far. As frustrating as it is, the main ingredients for getting through this season are time and patience. As always, you can rest assured that LawnAmerica will be at the ready to give your landscape everything it needs to recover as we move into spring. Thank you for letting us serve you. We will see you soon!
Your trees and shrubs represent a major investment in your property, but with everything going on around the holidays, coupled with spending more time inside because of colder temperatures, it is easy to overlook some beneficial opportunities to show them some love. That’s why we are here to help.
Deciduous trees and shrubs have all lost their leaves, or at the very least have lost all the color in their leaves. Just before the leaf drop, these plants pull in all the nutrients from the leaves and store them in the roots for the winter. They also use the roots over winter to gather up and store available water so that next spring they force the nutrients that they have stored back up the trunk and into the branches next spring.
This cycle from leaves to roots and back up to the branches makes the timing of our Fall Deep Root Fertilization applications ideal. Using a probe, we inject a combination of water, soil amendments, and liquid fertilizers all around the root zone of the plants. The roots naturally uptake the water and extra nutrients and hold them in reserve until spring temperatures signal the time to bloom and leaf out again next year. With added nutrients, your trees and plants will have the necessary food to grow taller and stronger providing for an overall healthier plant.
Evergreen trees and shrubs function similarly, uptaking nutrients and moisture from their roots over the winter, but they differ from their deciduous counterparts in the fact that they don’t drop their “leaves” or actually needles in most cases. These plants rather than changing colors and dropping their leaves instead form a wax coating over the needles or leaves that helps to prevent moisture loss during the winter. They, however, equally benefit from a deep root feeding.
At LawnAmerica, we provide this service from now through the end of the year. Give us a call to make sure you are signed up and give your plants a fancy Christmas feast this season.
Here it is late November, and still, we have high temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. While it has made the job of decorating homes with Christmas lights much more comfortable, it is not what we would like to see as far as turf and landscapes are concerned.
I have been noticing many landscapes around town with confused plants due to the warmer temperatures. In my own yard, I have azaleas blooming, and even some of my daffodils are sprouting from the bulbs we planted just a month ago. While they are pretty to look at right now, it is a little disheartening because that means in the spring my azaleas will have fewer blooms and my daffodils likely won’t have enough energy reserves to push through the ground again.
Another challenge of our warm weather is that our grass is still growing, which means many of us are still mowing. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to put the mower to bed for a while. The good news is that we are looking at colder temps next week, so I am crossing my fingers that this weekend will be the last time I fire up the mower.
On that last mowing, I plan on having the mower deck set for about 3.5 inches on my bermudagrass. For the fescue in my lawn, I will be raising the deck even higher, up to the 4-inch mark. This will help to give the lawn a uniform look without removing too much of the canopy of the grass so as to protect the root system over the winter if we do indeed ever get cold. Many homeowners make the mistake of cutting their grass too short just before winter, leaving it more susceptible to winterkill and making it easier for weeds to germinate.
Once you finish mowing, there are a couple of things you can do for your mower to prepare it for winter and have it in good operating condition next spring.
- Clean off the top and bottom sides of the mowing deck.
- Empty any remaining fuel or add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank. With our ethanol-based gasoline, this is extremely important. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with the fuel stabilizer for best results.
- Change the oil.
- Clean or replace your air filter and spark plug.
- Sharpen your existing blade or replace the blade if it is too damaged. You might even find a better deal replacing it in the off-season as many stores need space on their shelves for other items.
With a little extra effort this weekend, your mower will remain in excellent condition over the winter and be ready to go next spring. We encourage you to call LawnAmerica with any questions or service needs you may have.
If your house is anything like mine right now, the parades are on tv, and the turkey is in the oven. The smell of pies, casseroles, and homemade rolls are filling the air. There are still a few hours before the Thanksgiving meal begins, giving us plenty of time to browse the Black Friday ads and see what retailers have that we cannot live without.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the food and online shopping, but because It is one of the few times of year where we as Americans collectively slow down and take a break from our crazy schedules. Our responsibilities and busyness sometimes prevent us from recognizing how blessed we are. Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to see through the clutter and express our gratitude.
Today as the meals are prepared, and families are gathering, I hope you can find time to reflect on the blessings in your life and express your thankfulness to those you hold dear.
We at LawnAmerica are thankful for every one of you who entrust us with your lawn care. We are thankful for the 65 employees and their families that make LawnAmerica. We are thankful for another successful year and for the opportunity to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
May God bless you and your family this holiday season.