Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Time in the Lowcountry

The weather has been as nice as I can ever remember it the Lowcountry the past few weeks. Visiting the State, County, City, and Town Parks is a must this time of year. Walking through the peninsula of Charleston or other Lowcountry cities can be most enjoyable with the weather we have been having. The Plantations are another great place to spend a morning or afternoon. Shoot, Ol’Boy (my pound hound) and I have enjoyed just walking around the neighborhood. While walking, always keep an eye out for a cool plant, fountain, bird feeder, or other landscape item to bring into your yard or just enjoy in your neighbors.

As the leaves fall off the Crepe Myrtles and other trees, it is a good time to identify rubbing and crossing limbs. Pruning now can save you some work during the busy spring.

If you had aphids, white flies or other insect problems on Crepe Myrtles or other plants, now is a great time to get ahead of those critters with horticultural oil and Dominion Tree and Shrub drench. Dominion will be absorb into the plant and be ready to protect the new leaves in the spring.

Try to keep up with the leaves as they fall. Leaves on your turf can lead to disease by holding moisture on the grass blades. If you (or a lawn care company) are applying products, the leaves will prevent an even application. If you can, try to compost or mulch the leaves on site. Your soil will thank you and you will enjoy the money saved on fertilizer and water.

November and December are great months for planting bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers. If you have had trouble with squirrels in the past, try Squirrel Stopper.

The great weather has brought on Large Patch disease in many yards. With any luck an application of a good systemic fungicide (Cleary’s, Disarm, and Prophesy) should get you through these favorable environmental conditions.

Soil testing in the fall allows you to amend the soil over the winter and be ready for spring. The better soil testing facilities and the people who need to interrupt the results of the test (that would be me if you soil test with Possum’s) have a little more time in the fall to get your information back to you.

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Transplanting Trees and Shrubs

This time of year is a great time to transplant and plant new plants. Many people are asking me the best way to transplant shrubs and trees. Here are my guidelines for successfully transplanting plants or trees:

· Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. So if your tree is three inches in diameter your root ball should go in a circle one and a half feet from the trunk of the tree. You could tie a string around the tree leaving eighteen inches of string – then draw a line walking around the tree measuring with this string. Root balls can be very heavy so consider a hiring a professional. Be prepared to pay top dollar to move a plant because moving plants requires much more work than planting them out of containers. If your plants are way too crowded, get as much root ball as possible, and if they are so crowded that you cannot even get in there to work, you may have to sacrifice a few plants, so you do not kill them all. Always take as large a ball as possible.

· Spray the plant you are going to move with an anti-transpirant (Cloud Cover, Wilt Proof, or Transfilm). These products will hold moisture in leaves and stems.

· Drench the ground with BioRush and SuperThrive. These are bio stimulant products that encourage rooting. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.

· Root prune the plant. Go to the area that you determined your ball to go out to and push a shovel straight down – do not pry on the shovel – just cut the roots. Repeat this root pruning all the way around the plant. If the plant has been in the ground a long time, you may have to skip a shovel width each time you root prune to lessen the shock. Apply SeaHume granular (Humic acid and Seaweed bio stimulants) to decrease stress. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.

· Keep an eye on the plant for the next month. Be sure to water it as needed. When watering the soil, spray a fine mist on the foliage of the plant. Since the roots have just been severed, this will help the plant absorb the water through the foliage and water the roots as well.

· After thirty days or if you could wait until a cooler time (November, December, January, February), dig away from the plant in the area that you root pruned. Resist the temptation to pry up on the plant. You should have a ball in a mote when you are finished.

· Water the ball so the soil will stick to the roots.

· Severe the ball from the area underneath the plant.

· Always handle the root ball – do not grab the plant by its trunk.

· Move the plant onto a tarp or some burlap.

· Be sure when you move the plant to its new home, you plant it at or above existing grade. Plants buried too deep are the biggest problem I see in landscapes. A plant that is planted too deep is starved for oxygen which affects many other plant processes (ability to absorb nutrients or causes root rot).

· Be sure not to pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree or shrub as this will also kill the plant over a period of time. Consider using Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch to get the nutrition associated with these products.

· Spray the leaves and stems with anti-transpirant.

· Use Diehard Transplant (contains a friendly fungus inoculum, wetting agents, water holding gel, humic acid, Sea Kelp, root stimulating vitamins and beneficial bacteria) should also be added to increase the surface absorbing area of root systems with the back fill. Spray foliage with BioRush as it is a special blend of natural organic ingredients designed to help transplant survival.

· Apply the right amount of water. Be sure to spray the foliage.

· Apply the right amount of Cotton Burr Compost or Natures Blend mulch.

· Apply granular SeaHume after you have moved the plant to encourage new root growth.

· Stake the tree or shrub if needed.

· Good Luck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Projects

If you are planning on transplanting a tree this fall, now is the time to root prune. For root pruning trees, a good rule of thumb is for every inch in diameter of tree, you want twelve inches of root ball. Sometimes this is not practical because you are usually transplanting an over-crowded tree or a tree located too close to a house or sidewalk. If this is the case, outline the biggest ball you can possibly move and just dig straight down severing the roots without actually removing the soil. Come back in a month and dig away from the area that you severed leaving your tree in a little moat. Spray the tree with Transfilm (anti-transparent) and remove the tree.

Spray horticulture oils now to kill over-wintering insects, this will put you ahead of the insect game in the spring. Try Neem Oil this year and you will control some diseases as a bonus.

Yes, it is time to winterize your turf. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider SeaHume a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. The seaweed has over 60 minor nutrients, amino acids, and bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil. Both these products can be used together and will help your yard this winter and next spring.

Beware of the national ad campaigns talking about winterizing fertilizers. These products are usually formulated for cool season grasses (rye, fescue). I saw one over the weekend that was a 22-00-14. Not exactly what we want to put on our yard in mid-October in the Lowcountry.

When buying gas for your lawn mower, be sure to include a gas stabilizer to help prevent your carburetor from getting varnished over the winter. Try to purchase gas from a gas station that has ethanol free gas for your mower as well as your two cycle hand held equipment.

Hold off putting out pine straw or mulching the beds until the leaves in the trees have dropped, so the leaves do not mess up your new straw or mulch. If you recycle the leaves that drop in your yard instead of bagging them and setting them by the curb, you will gain some free nutrients and organic matter.

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Fall Happenings in the Yard

Have you noticed how loaded the pecan trees are this year? The branches are so heavy with nuts that they are breaking off the tree. If you like to grill with a little pecan wood smoke flavor, this is the perfect time to pick up some small limbs to add to your grill. If you have a pecan tree that has lost limbs, you might want to have an arborist inspect the tree after it loses its leaves for water collecting cavities and unhealthy rips in the bark.

Mosquitoes have been extra heavy the past few weeks after all the rain we had. Scout around you property for anything that might collect water. Fountains, tires, bird baths, saucers underneath potted plants, buckets, a tarp covering firewood or a boat and many other water holding areas provide the water for mosquito breeding. I had just a small dent in the lid of one of my trash cans that collected about three tablespoons of water, and I could see the larva swimming in it. The other place I found some larva was in the base of my basketball goal. These hoops are located in driveways across the Lowcountry. You fill the base with water to stabilize the basket, and the lid that goes over the hole that you put the water in disappears, making a great mosquito breeding area.

Mosquito Repelling Granular is an organic product that does a great job of keeping an area free of mosquitoes. I did not pick figs off my fig tree until I started using this around the area of the tree. We sell this product to people that cater parties and host outdoor events. The product really works. Cyonara is another product we sell a lot of to control many insects in the yard that works great on mosquitoes.

The fall rains also encouraged the fire ants to form mounds and become very visible. For your safety and the safety of others (Halloween is not far away), it is time to kill the fire ant. Fire Ant Killer with Conserve is a natural product. Fire Ant baits are still very effective (watch the weather) and considered to be safe. Cyonara will also do a number on these stinging pests.

Large Patch Fungus (Brown Patch) is very active in lawns right now. Disarm, Prophesy or Cleary’s are all good systemic fungicides. Disarm will give you longer control. Unfortunately, fungus prevention / control usually require multiple applications depending on the weather.

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

Monday, October 3, 2011


First things first, I want to congratulate Mike Williams of the Charleston Riverdogs for winning the South Atlantic League’s “Groundskeeper of the Year” award. Mike has won this award two of the last three years (my personal opinion is the powers at be do not want to give it to the same person year after year).

If you have been to “The Joe” in the last few years, you have witnessed the great job Mike and his crew do maintaining the field. Between The Citadel, the Southern Conference Tournament, The Riverdogs, and multiple other events “The Joe” has a tremendous amount of activity on it. It takes a lot of dedication to work the long hours in the Lowcountry’s heat to keep the field looking so good.

The knowledge of what to do when and the scheduling of those applications around the various events that take place requires great organization. Mike has super organizational skills to compliment his horticultural knowledge. He also has to consider the weather (especially wind and rain) when applying products at a very windy location near the water.

Groundskeepers are one of the most “thankless” jobs out there. They work in the heat during the summer and the cold during the winter. They work so hard to get a field perfect, and it rains during the game and wipes out months of hard work in an hour. Almost all fields in the area (recreation leagues, schools, professional stadiums, city fields, club fields) have way too much play on them. A groundskeeper works hard to make the field nice for someone else to destroy.

I guess it is like the housekeeper in a hotel. The bed is made up perfectly, and we destroy it. If it was not made up perfectly or it had bugs in it, we would call the front desk. Groundskeepers work hard to maintain the fields so they are safe for the people that play on them. Filling divots, adjusting irrigation heads that are not level with grade, lips on baseball / softball fields and controlling fire ants are big safety issues.

Groundskeepers need to be plumbers (irrigation), mechanics (equipment repair), inventors (rigging up something to do a certain job), agronomist (soils), entomologist (insects), plant pathologist (fungus and other killers of plants), horticulturist (plants), weatherman, surveyors (grade field), schedulers (coordinating applications around events)

Next time you see a groundskeeper you might want to thank them, and if it is Mike Williams, congratulate him on his award.