Monday, January 25, 2016

Spring is Coming

Are you ready for the 2016 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.
·         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.
·         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. Neem oil 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.

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 - A Little Wet

Wow, the start to 2016 has either been cold, rainy, or just plain nasty. Another multiple inches of rain since last Friday. I was driving on the interstate (I 26) and there were cars spraying out walls of water that would have made any professional water skier proud. Our landscapes are saturated!

The wet weather gives us a chance to figure out where the wettest areas of our yard are located and try to figure out how to increase the drainage in that area and not just create a new problem somewhere else.

Adding gutters to direct water away from the house is usually a good idea. Moisture underneath your house can certainly cause trouble. Mold and wood decaying fungus like high moisture areas.

Depending on how wet an area is, I like using Mule Mix (or Turface). You just spread these products over your yard with a fertilizer spreader. No digging or trenching needed. No disrupting the landscape or settling soil in the trenches. Another advantage is you do not have to have a lower area to direct the water. You can also be very creative on how you use this product. In areas where water collects you can use a posthole digger or auger and make columns of Mule Mix to manage the water. If you are lucky, you might penetrate through the clay layer, so the water can drain easier. In drier areas (higher) still put some Mule Mix so the water will penetrate the ground before all the water ends up in the low areas. Another benefit is the product lasts for 20 years.

Fungus loves this weather. The grass is pretty much wet all day long, giving the fungal spores an opportunity to germinate and spread. While going through neighborhoods, I see the large circles of brown (large) patch in St. Augustine and centipede.

Brown patch usually occurs in irregular circles. The good thing is that you do not need to treat your whole lawn, just the areas you see the discoloration. The areas under attack will be bigger than this, but if the area you see is the size of a penny, you would want to treat an area the size of a quarter. In reality the area might be 3 feet across and you would want to treat an area 5 feet across.

Camellia blooms also took a hit during the cold. Pull the damaged ones off your plant and pick up the dead ones from the ground (helps with petal blight and looks cleaner). There should be plenty of buds ready to explode and give you more color. The old damaged blooms will take away from the beauty of the new blooms.

The perennial furry friend in the landscape is certainly making his presence known. Yes, I writing about the dreaded mole. I still recommend a 3 prong approach when controlling moles.  These 3 steps are:
  1. Kill the mole (trap or poison)
  2. Manage its food source (Sevin)
  3. Repel other moles from your yard with monthly applications of a repellent (check the label of the product you choose).
The three prong approach usually controls moles for the longest period of time.

We are rapidly approaching the time for preemergent herbicides to be applied once again!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top Performers from 2015 Part 2

Here are some more top performers from 2015:

Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. It is not the holiday season around our house without several trips through the light show. To think it has been going on for twenty-six years and the excitement is still there (with some of mine I think it is because the smores are still there).
Considered one of the:
“Top 100 Events in North America,” American Bus Association
 “Top 10 Light Shows in the USA,” America’s Best Online
“Third Best Public Lights Display in the US,” USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice  Award. Just to name a few of the Holiday Festival of Lights recent accolades. When travelling during the holiday season, I know I have toured other light shows, and none of them hold a candle to the Holiday Festival of Lights.                         

Growth regulators helped out with plants and pests this year. Bed bug, fire ant, roach and flea control success has been greatly increased by the addition of growth regulators. Customers controlling fleas outdoors and indoors were aided by the addition of growth regulators. The addition of a growth regulator to a contact kill product greatly increased the success of managing a pest population by disrupting the insects life cycle. Once you kill the pest, there are no new ones to replace them.
With all the rain plant growth regulators helped many contractors and brave homeowners control the growth of their plants or turf with a control product instead of a mower or hedge trimmer. With all the rain this fall, some yards were hard to keep maintained with a mower because they were too wet. The right application of a plant growth regulator can easily cut your need to mow in half to even a quarter of the frequency that you usually mow. If you do not want to do your whole yard, consider doing the edges along your sidewalk, driveway, and bed lines. Less edging means more time for other activities.
The growth of your shrubs can also be controlled by plant growth regulators. Less hedging means more time for other activities. Just think no hedging (extension cord?), no clean up, no paper bag by street – priceless.

Surrender Fire Ant Killer still smells but still effective! The old 75% Acephate product (most people just called it Orthene back in the day) is still a big seller for mound treating fire ants. With all the rain and warm fall weather, fire ant mounds are prolific and the cooler weather might render a bait ineffective.

Invict Gold Cockroach Gel for roach control is one of those products that friends tell friends about. Customers will walk up to the counter and say, “my neighbor (substitute brother, sister, cousin, guy I drink beer with, girlfriend, buddy, mother, father, person I go to church with … you get the idea) says I need to try Invict Gold Cockroach Gel.Invict Gold Cockroach Gel is a great product to rotate with to introduce a new bait matrix and new active ingredient to avoid bait aversion.  Invict Gold Cockroach Gel is a very fast acting bait compared to other baits.