Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Is For Planting 1

Man, what wonderful weather we are having! We need rain (I write these Monday mornings and it looks like we are getting a very small amount of rain), but the last few weeks have been most enjoyable.

Fall is for planting, so now is the time to get those plants in the ground. I have notice several people re-sodding areas as well. New annuals are adding fresh color to our Lowcountry landscape and rye grass is popping up on many lawns (and in some beds).

The many parks and public plantations the Lowcountry has to offer are a great place to get design ideas for your yard or just to spend some time alone or with families and friends.

Planting can take several forms. A random new plant, a small renovation, landscaping an area that was not planted in the past, and planting a whole new yard all require some basic skills and knowledge. Some people will do it themselves and others will hire a professional.

When planting new plants there are a few things you might want to consider. How tall and wide is the plant going to be a full maturity? If it gets too big, you might be transplanting it (last week’s article) in a few years. Is it going to grow into my house and ruin my paint? Are the roots going to tear up my sidewalk or foundation? Do I have overhead wires that the plant is going to grow into leading to a safety issue? Is the plant an evergreen or is it going to lose its leaves in the fall? If you have a bed of sun-loving shrubs, do you want to plant a live oak that will shade them out in a few years, and then you have to replace the shrubs? Is it going to shade my house in the summer, yet let light in during the winter saving electricity?

A landscape designer can help you through some of these questions. Choose a designer whose work you have seen and like. Some designers include lighting, irrigation, bricks, sidewalks, fountains, statues, walls and drainage in their designs and other designers stick more with the basics. If you like the more elaborate features but cash is a little tight, most designers can break the project into phases. Working in phases is nice because you are working toward a goal, and when you are finished, you have the landscape of your dreams.

When you choose your plant material, it is best to go to a local nursery / garden center. They have the varieties of plants that do well here in the Lowcountry. The local nursery / garden center is going to have an employee that works daily with local plants, knows the plant’s advantages and disadvantages, knows if the plant is susceptible to any insects or disease and might even know where you can drive by to see the particular plant growing.

If there are new varieties of a certain plant that are available and resistant to disease or insects, those are the ones you want to plant, and your local nurseryman (or woman) will be able to direct you to them.

So much to cover, so little space; however, I will be back next week (I hope). Will you?

Transplanting Plus A Few

There is a lot to do in the yard, while the air is cool, in the fall. Much of what you do now will affect your success in the yard come spring time.

Before I go another week without mentioning it, I have to say the Sweet Tea Olives smell extra good this year. My office window is flanked by 2 fifteen foot Tea Olives, and they smell great! The Tea Olive always symbolizes fall (football, hunting, fishing, NASCAR chase, volleyball, softball and shrimping) to me and the cooler weather. I do not know if the Tea Olives smell better or after all that hot weather this summer, the cooler weather is just extra nice.

If you plan to move any trees or shrubs this winter, root pruning now will help you increase your chances of a successful transplant. The rule of thumb for trees is for every inch in diameter at breast height you want to dig a root ball that is twelve inches. Since you are moving a tree, sometimes you just have to dig a ball as large as you can without damaging other plants in the area or hardscape features, and you also have to consider physically how big of a ball can you move.

Once you determine where the ball is going to be, it is time to root prune. Since most of our plants are shallow rooted, all you need to do is go around the tree with a shovel and push the shovel straight into the ground. Do not pry or try to dig the tree out of the ground, just sever the roots. A drench with Superthrive and Root Accelerator will encourage new roots to grow in this new ‘ball’ area. Spray the leaves and trunk with Transfilm or Wilt Proof to slow down transpiration. An application of SeaHume will also encourage root growth. Be sure to water since you just severed the roots.

After 30 days the tree will be ready to move. If you have more time, you can continue to root prune and encourage the roots to grow in that new ‘ball’ area. When you are ready to move the plant, dig away from the area that you root pruned, leaving the tree in a moat. Always move the plant by lifting the roots, not the trunk of the tree. Slide the tree onto a tarp or piece of burlap, and move it to its new home. Be sure to plant the transplant at the same level that it was growing before or a little higher. Do not pile soil on top of the root ball.

Drench with Superthrive and Root Accelerator, apply some SeaHume, mulch with flower bed amendment, spray some Transfilm or Wilt Proof, water the leaves and ground, and stake if necessary. Remember to water throughout the winter. The winds and low humidity during the winter can dry out a newly transplanted tree quickly. Good Luck!

Well, I guess I did what I was trying to avoid doing, and I got too in depth about one topic. Judging from the calls on the radio show this past weekend, many of you are thinking about moving plants this fall. Maybe this article will save a plant or two.

Mosquitoes are terrible right now because of the recent rain and the extra high tides. Try treating an area (like your back yard) with Mosquito Beater or Mosquito Repelling Granules. They both work great and you do not have to spray yourself.

One of the guys I work with, Matt (General Manager Possum’s West), has a horse farm in Huger where the mosquitoes are the size of hummingbirds. He treats the area around his grill, his daughter’s swing set / play area, his picnic area, his patio, his front porch, and the area where he mixes his horse feed. Matt says he prefers the Mosquito Repelling Granules because the product is easy to spread and is lasting over three weeks (last month at three weeks we got several inches of rain and he had to reapply). Matt says there is a big difference in the mosquito population where he scatters this organic product and where he does not treat.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October around the house

This week I will continue my list of things to do in the fall along with a brief description of why, and I will mention a product or two that will help solve the issue.

Last week I wrote about large patch, sod webworms, rats, mice, amending flower beds and vegetable gardens, feeding the birds, and winterizing your grass with 00-00-25, Possum Minors, or SeaHume instead of the heavily advertized national name brand fertilizers that are designed for Fescue grass.

Bulbs are a great addition to the landscape. Look for big bulbs when purchasing bulbs. If you have two of the same variety of daffodil bulbs and one bulb is larger, the larger bulb will usually produce the larger flower when the bulb blooms. Be sure to fertilize your bulbs at planting (a tablespoon of 04-04-04 Sustane, 04-00-10, or 03-03-03) and after they bloom. After a daffodil blooms, spray the foliage with Messenger and let the foliage completely die to the ground. Messenger will help the leaves collect more sunlight and produce a bigger bulb for the next spring. As with most purchases, it is better to spend a little more up front and get what you want than save a little money and be unhappy with the results.

As the weather cools, mole damage is more visible. The grass grows slower, so any mole damage does not get repaired as fast as when the grass is actively growing. The mole’s food source is also deeper in the ground, meaning that a mole must displace more soil for a meal. Remember a mole eats 85 to 125 percent of its body weight everyday to stay alive, so he or she will be tunneling. Mole Patrol, Talprid, Mole Repellent, and Revenge Smoke Bombs should help keep this nasty pest out of your yard and in your neighbor’s yard.

The grass has slowed down and is transitioning to dormancy. Some herbicide labels recommend that you not use their product while the grass is in transition. The end user should always read the product’s label. The label supersedes any recommendation from anyone else.

Dormant oils and Neem oils are great to apply to kill overwintering insects and mites. The Neem oil will also control certain fungus diseases. Watch the weather to be sure it is not too hot or too cold to apply these products.

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall time is a busy time in the yard and around the house. I’m going to start with a list with a brief description and expand on the individual topics in other columns. There might be other products that will work; however, in the interest of space, I’m going to just list a few products.

Large Patch Fungus (aka Brown Patch) flared up big time with the recent rains and sudden drop in temperature. BioRush, Crab Shell, Nature’s Blend, and Serenade are a few organic controls. Cleary’s 3336, Prophesy, Dual Action Fungicide, and PCNB are all good control products. Try to get fungicides out preventively when conditions are right for the disease instead of curatively after the disease has damaged the lawn.

Sod webworms are hatching and munching on leaf blades. Bt and Spinosad are two good organic controls. Tirade and Sevin are two good control products. Again, if you can treat for these insects before they eat half your yard, you will be better off. With the cooler weather any recovery will be very slow, allowing weeds to move into the weakened areas.

The cooler temperatures will bring rats and mice into your house. Snap traps and lures for rodents have come a long way in recent years. Glue boards and baits also do a good job.
Using bait boxes outside your house might save your duct work and wiring.

Amending beds for fall vegetable garden or annual color will pay big dividends. A great one two punch is SeaHume granular and Flower Bed Amendment. For a sandy soil, use three inches of Flower Bed Amendment and till three inches down. For clay soils use two inches of Flower Bed Amendment and till four inches deep. Then top dress the area with the SeaHume. People across the Lowcountry have had great success with this simple recipe.

A simple bird feeder, a bag of high quality bird food, and a bottle of squirrel stopper can provide you a lot of entertainment for the whole family at a very low price. We are lucky to have many different types of birds that can add a new dimension to your landscape.

Stay away from the nationally advertised winterizer fertilizer. Most of the national name brand products are designed for Fescue or other cool season grasses. Try 00-00-25 with 10% iron, Possum Minors, or SeaHume, your grass will thank you in the spring.

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