Monday, January 14, 2019

We Ready, We Ready, We Ready For Spring

Horticulture Hotline 01/14/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Are you ready for the 2019 season in your yard?

Here are a few things to do on the nice winter days (you know Charleston, one day nice next day not so nice).

·        Get soil tested – how do you know what to apply if you don’t know what you have in the soil already. Do you have a well that could be adding salt to the landscape? Have you been flooded with salt water? If yes, be sure to test for sodium.
·        Kill winter weeds now while they are young and your grass is dormant.
·        Get ready to preemerge in February. Kill small seeded summer annual weeds before they take over your landscape. If you didn’t use a preemergent product in the fall, go ahead and use one now to stop any more winter weeds from germinating and to get a jump on crabgrass and other summer annual weeds.
·        Brown Patch / Large Patch is still very active in the Lowcountry. The heavy rains and warm temperatures have helped this disease persist.
·        With all the rain, identify areas that you need to work on drainage issues. There are some products that can make this job very easy.
·        Do you have Sweetgum Trees? Would you like to reduce those nasty spiny gumballs? Now is the time to use Snipper. Snipper will greatly reduce the number of balls your tree produces. Timing is crucial and the time is now
·        Take mower in to have serviced to beat the Spring rush. With the new ethanol gas lawn mower engines and other engines have had issues. No one likes their mechanic to tell them, “pick it up in 4 weeks.”
·        Keep leaves off lawn areas. Keeps moisture from being trapped and if you or your lawn service are applying products, you will have a more uniform coverage without the leaves.
·        Move any shrub or tree now before it is too late. Root prune now, move before they start putting on new growth. Try DieHard Transplant to help survival.
·         Spray trees and shrubs with paraffinic oil (ultra-fine, Omni Supreme oil) as opposed to petroleum oils (Volck) to control over-wintering insects. Watch temperatures. If you have ongoing issues with scale, aphids, white flies, or other sucking bugs, try Safari or Dominion for long term control. I like Neem oil because it works on diseases as well as insects.
·        Have you tried Lime / Sulfur spray around the ground of deciduous plants that get diseased (do not spray foliage – just the ground)? Roses and blueberries or any plant that gets leaf spot disease are good examples of plants that benefit from this sanitation practice.
·        Sharpen pruning tools or purchase new ones.
·        If you haven’t already, get your bulbs in the ground.
·        Apply SeaHume to turf, trees, flowers, and shrubs. Adding organics now will help in the spring. Cotton Burr Compost?
·        Re-do bed lines to reflect maturing landscape.
·        Get bird house ready for nesting birds.
·        Have moles, get Mole Patrol – it really works. After you use Mole Patrol, use a repellent like Repellex monthly to keep them out.
·        Have deer, get Deer Stopper – it really works.
·        Check irrigation or get on professional’s list to check. Be sure the heads are pointed the right way. Can you eliminate (turn off) the zone watering the shrubs and trees? Have you tried wetting agents to lower your water bill (we hear between 30 and 60 percent)? Less water equals less disease.
·        Prune Crepe Myrtles – don’t butcher them. Remove crossing (rubbing) limbs, inward growing limbs and diseased limbs. Topping or reducing their height is not considered proper pruning.
·        Hold off on pruning plants damaged by the cold – we could still have freezing temperatures.
·        Test well for salt, if you own a well.
·        Attend meetings of the Rose, Camellia, Horticultural Societies and other like horticultural societies.
·        Get out and enjoy our County, State and City parks as well as our local plantations.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Gardener Resolutions

Horticulture Hotline 12/31/18
  Bill Lamson-Scribner

Here are a few New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener:

Take a soil test so you know what your soil needs are and amend the soil accordingly. I have been doing this for myself on landscape jobs since the late 1970’s and for other people since the early 1990’s. When people return to Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control after following our prescription for their lawn, they are happy, happy, happy. It is amazing how your grass will respond with a little tweaking of nutrients. A custom program is the best way to go, so you have a yearly calendar of what to apply and when to look at. What is the old saying, “if you write down a goal, your chances to achieve it go way up.” A custom program will give you a step by step formula for an awesome yard in 2019.  

Go through all of the old products you have in your garage and identify why you purchased them to begin with and if they are products that still can be used.  This will save you money and make room for new and improved products.

Use wetting agents this year.  Wetting agents have been shown to save approximately 30-60% of water consumption for a yard.  This would be a huge savings on your water bill.  By watering less, you will have less fungus problems and save money by not having to buy as much fungicides or water. At Possum’s we have noticed that a lot of people that use wetting agents save even more water because they are more in tune to their watering and their water bill. They are saving more like 80%, so if their water bill was $100.00 per month now the bill is only $20.00. A huge savings and water bills are usually more than $100.00. There are many other benefits to using wetting agents, and I was finally able to develop an easy RTS (connect straight to your hose) applicator.

In an effort to conserve water, it is time to get that hose that leaks at the faucet, a new gasket. Check your irrigation. Are all the zones necessary or can you turn some off? Shrubs and trees should be established after one year or before. Are the heads spraying the way they were intended to spray?  

In 2019 try to remove fertilizer and other control products from hard surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, pool decks, and streets before these products are washed into the storm water.  This will help protect the beautiful area in which we live.  Since a lot of storm water ends up in our marshes and waterways, this will also help protect our natural resources that we use for recreation, food, and jobs. 

Buy a 100 pack of disposable nitrile gloves.  These things are great!  You can use them when handling control products and fertilizers, when changing the oil in your lawn mower, while taking down your Christmas tree to keep sap off of your hands, while painting or taking out the trash, cleaning, picking up after your dog and yard work….  These gloves are very inexpensive and can save you lots of hot water while trying to remove things from your hands.  These gloves are also good at keeping the human scent away from mole, mice and rat bait.

In 2019, add organic matter to your lawn and beds.  Organic matter will also help you lower your water bill while adding many other benefits to your soil.  Cotton Burr compost has been improving Lowcountry soils with great results for the past 15 years.  If you want to see for yourself the benefits of cotton burr compost, measure a 100 square foot area in your turf (10 feet x 10 feet) and spread one 2 cubic foot bag

In order to combat weeds, plan to put out preemergents in your lawns and beds according to product label.  This will make your life a lot less stressful and your yard will be looking a lot better without weeds.  If time is a big issue, consider buying a years supply of product now, so you will have the product handy when it is time to apply. 

In 2019, always apply product according to the label’s directions.  No more, “if one ounce is good….two ounces will be real good”. Many of our fire ant products, less is better. On the pest control side of our business, roaches and rats can be repelled with too much product. Follow the label that has cost the manufacturer millions of dollars to get approval from the EPA and you will have better results. This will also save you money - not to mention the product label is a Federal Law. 

For those pet owners out there whose animals have a history of flea problems, be proactive by applying growth regulators.  Ultracide, Nylar, or Precor applied every three months, should keep your pet free of fleas. 

Always mow the grass with a sharp mower blade and prune the bushes with sharp pruning blades.  You will have cleaner cuts and less chance of disease. .

Read a good book about gardening.  Reading is how we learn and it will motivate you as a bonus. 

Happy New Year!

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Money and Water Saver

Horticulture Hotline 12/19/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Top ways to save money in the landscape:

Wetting Agent – a product that helps water move deeper into the soil. Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants will help soften clay and get rid of those localized dry spots in your lawn. Wetting agents have shown to reduce watering needs from 33% to 66% in Arizona and other areas where water is limited. If you could go from watering three times a week down to once a week or not at all, think of the savings!

 The benefits of using a wetting agent would be far greater than just the savings with the water company. Since the water would penetrate deeper into the soil, the root systems of your grass and plants would grow deeper. As the roots of your grass and plants slough off and are replaced by new roots, organic material is increasing in the area were these roots are shed, creating a deeper topsoil area.

 A deeper root system will help in times of drought and can collect more nutrients from the soil. If you use fertilizer, a deeper root system can absorb more nutrients before they leach away; therefore, you can use lower fertilizer rates. If you use root absorbed systemic fungicides or insecticides, a deeper root system will also “catch” these products more efficiently giving you more “bang for your buck”.

When it rains, a yard treated with a wetting agent has less runoff. The rain penetrates the ground much easier, keeping the rain in your yard and not in the storm water drains. If you have ever poured water out on a dusty dirt road, and watched the water bead up and not penetrate the road, you have witnessed a hydrophobic soil condition. If you add a little wetting agent to this water and poured it on the same road, the water would penetrate the dusty dirt road. By keeping the water in your lawn, you will have the benefit of the water and we will have less runoff into our marshes.

The biggest savings from using a wetting agent will come from reduced use of fungicides. Fungicides are expensive to use and by watering less, fungus populations should decrease.

There are many different wetting agents available. I mentioned Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants specifically because it is packaged as a ready to spray (RTS) product that can be connected to a hose and sprayed without mixing. This packaging makes it very easy to use for the homeowner. Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants is also available in many other sizes (quarts, gallons, 2.5 gallons, 30 gallons, 55 gallons) in a concentrate formulation.

Here is a little teaser for the next installment of our series on how to save money in the landscape. “Possum’s tested the soil and furnished a printout that offers a monthly schedule of specific amendments to improve the soil’s condition. Best garden money ever spent!”  Cynthia Webb

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at