Monday, December 30, 2019

Gardener Resolutions

Horticulture Hotline 12/30/19
  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 apply it. 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 2020. 

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 can still be used.  This will save you money and make room for new and improved products.

Manage winter weeds now while they are young. The bigger they get the harder they are to control. Treat fungus proactively – you will save money.

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 2020 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 2020, 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 17 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. Check out the progress over a month.

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 2020, 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. Pivot Ultra Plus, Ultracide, Nylar, or Precor applied every three months, should keep your pet free of fleas. Rotate products with different active ingredients.

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.

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). Saturday's show is replayed Sunday from 11:00 - Noon.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Winter Weeds and Pruning

Horticulture Hotline 12/23/19
  Bill Lamson-Scribner 

Last week I ran short on column inches so I figured I would start where I left off with my observations. This observation takes a little action on your part. Winter Weeds have popped up and are very visible in the landscape. These weeds are young and in their vegetative stage. This is the time to kill them, ideally in 2019.

Chickweed, henbit, lawn burweed, Florida Betony, Carolina Geranium, Hairy Bittercress, Dandelion, and many more weeds are coming up from seeds or tubers now. If you control them now while they are young you will be able to use lower rates of herbicide and have better results. If you prefer to pull weeds, the young weeds will be easier to pull because their root system will not be as well established.

If you used a preemergent herbicide at the correct time, weeds might not be an issue in your yard. Spot spraying with a pump up sprayer with Weed Free Zone might be all you need to do. If you have weeds everywhere Weed Free Zone in the RTS (connect to a hose) formula or a granular product might be your best bet. Some granular products you put out on wet grass and try to keep dry for 24 hours – others you put out on dry grass and water-in lightly. Always read and follow product label!

The other observation I made was a lady properly pruning her Crepe Myrtles in early December – not topping, just removing rubbing limbs and interior growth. Her trees now look great and will continue to look great throughout the winter / spring. I guess from my commercial maintenance career, I always did my pruning of Crepe Myrtles after the New Year and before they put on new leaves. No reason for those limbs to be rubbing for an extra few months, now that I have four to prune and not hundreds to prune. Crepe Myrtles have a beautiful branch structure, might as well enjoy it all winter instead of the tangled mess of crossing branches they grow during the growing season.

I made my annual trip to The Holiday Festival of Lights. It gets bigger and better every year. I couldn’t believe how they have added so many attractions and the night I went they even had a four piece brass band playing seasonal music. If you have never been this is a must see. It is like no other light show in the nation – and the lights are just part of the attraction.

Holiday gifts? Pots, pruning saws, professional pruners, custom programs, soil tests, and what I like best so Santa’s Sleigh doesn’t get overloaded with Cotton Burr Compost – gift certificates!

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

Monday, December 16, 2019

Tea Olive

Horticulture Hotline 12/16/19
  Bill Lamson-Scribner 

While enjoying the beautiful Lowcountry weather yesterday, I observed a few things going on in the landscape. One was my favorite smell in the Lowcountry. Another thing I observed is going to require some action soon for best results, and the third thing I observed was one of those things that make you scratch your head and think that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

The Osmanthus fragrans or Fragrant Tea Olive has always been one of my favorite plants because of its sweet smell. They bloom starting in October with a very sweet fragrance. The flowers are very small. In Charleston with the way the temperatures vary the smell seems to go away on those cold days. Then all the sudden a beautiful day comes and so does the sweet fragrance. I have been told the sun volatizes the oils that give the plant its signature smell on warm days.

The Tea Olive grows fairly upright and likes sun to part shade (sun brings out the smell). They do not like shearing with hedge trimmers or shears. Horticulturally speaking, I don’t know of any plant that does like shearing. Tea Olives do not like a lot of wind or salt air. I remember after Hurricane Hugo I was involved with replacing the landscape at 1 King Street – The Fort Sumter House (the big white building by the Battery aka White Point Gardens) – and we built a trellis with a confederate jasmine on it to block the wind and salt air, so the tourist and others could enjoy this Lowcountry jewel!

I have Tea Olives spread throughout my landscape. By my front door and front porch, by my sidewalk and driveway (multiple), three by the street for walkers enjoyment, and I even planted one by an area that school traffic backs up near my house so that people could enjoy the sweet smell while they wait in line to pick up their children!

Tea Olives are considered to be pest-free. I know I have never encountered any insects or diseases. They grow tall. I have some over 12 feet tall and have seen some that look like trees at some of the local plantations. There are some new varieties on the market that could be worth taking a look at if you are considering adding this plant to your landscape.

Well, I can see I’m going to run out of column inches (newspaper lingo), so I will cover the other two observations next week.

Holiday gifts? Pots, pruning saws, professional pruners, custom programs, soil tests, and what I like best so Santa’s Sleigh doesn’t get overloaded with Cotton Burr Compost – gift certificates!

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