Tuesday, December 27, 2022

2023 - Another Year On the Horizon


Horticulture Hotline 12/27/22

  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 1980’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 2023. 


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. If you kill them now, you won’t have to pull out the mower to mow the weeds.


Treat fungus proactively – you will save money. There is a lot of disease out there waiting for conditions to get right for another attack. Our ground stays warm enough for grass to absorb nutrients or systemic fungicides. Keep your eyes out for the next warm spell because the large patch / brown patch we had in the fall will explode again.


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. Your roots will grow deeper and you will be able to capture more nutrients, so you will get more out of your fertilizer.


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?  If you need help, get the irrigation person over now before the spring rush.


In 2023 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. You will also avoid that nasty staining.



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 2023, 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 20 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. Many people feel their fungicide use has gone down after using cotton burr compost.


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 year’s supply of product now, so you will have the product handy when it is time to apply. 


In 2023, 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. Take your mower to the shop for a tune-up before the spring rush.


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


Plant a plant for a pollinator – like milkweed, butterfly bush, bottlebrush, bee balm, salvia …


Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Saving Money

                                                                        Henbit  - Kill Now

                                                                    Chickweed - Kill Now
                                                           Enough Said!


Horticulture Hotline  12/19/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


A Few Ways to Save Money on Lawn Care for 2023


·         Test your soil and find out the exact amendments that your soil needs to feed your plants.  Some amendments like lime and sulfur are fairly inexpensive, yet can make a big difference in your overall appearance of your lawn.  Lime and sulfur adjust the pH of the soil which makes the other nutrients that are already in the soil more available to the plant. By applying phosphorous and potassium that your soil test recommends, you are only spending money on the nutrients you really need.  A healthy lawn is less apt to have disease and will recover from any insect damage quicker. 

·         Kill winter weeds now while they are young and easy to kill. The longer you wait, the harder they will be to kill, and often will take more applications to kill them. Extra applications mean more time and money on your part.

·         Read the fertilizer bag carefully.  The less the bag price does not necessarily mean the better deal.  If you have a bag of 16-00-00 for $20.00 and a bag of 35-00-00 for $40.00 with the same nitrogen source and the same amount of slow release, in the same size bag, which is the better deal?  The 16-00-00 is going to cost $2.50 per 1000 sq.ft. to put out a pound of nitrogen.  The 35-00-00 is going to cost $2.29 per 1000 sq.ft. to put out a pound of nitrogen.  On a 10,000 sq.ft. lawn, you could save $2.10 by using the 35-00-00.  Don’t be fooled by the bag price, look more at the content of what is in the bag and how much will be needed to get the job done. 

·         Look for fertilizers that are high in slow-release nitrogen.  Plants can only eat so much nitrogen at a time.  What they don’t consume goes back into the atmosphere as atmospheric nitrogen or leaches down into the ground past the root zone of the plant.  Organic forms of nitrogen are slow released and help the soil food web as well as the soil structure.  Slow-release forms of nitrogen cost more; however, they can feed your grass over 3 times the length of time of a fast release product.  Slow-release fertilizers reduce problems of disease, thatch, and insects if applied correctly.  Some examples of slow-release nitrogen fertilizers are: Organic, Nitroform, sulfur coated urea, methylene urea, IBDU, XCU, and other coated forms of nitrogen.

·         Manage your water sprinkler system to best conserve your water use.  Over watering can cause problems with fungus and lead to a weak, shallow root system for your plants and turf.  Over watering is considered one of the top problems in homeowner landscapes.

·         When buying a fungicide or insecticide, be sure to look at the required rate and interval of application.  Some products may have a lower price, but if you have to apply more product, more often, you really haven’t saved money—not to mention your time.

·         Now more than ever, it pays to get good solid horticulture advice from local professionals.  Putting out the correct products for your situation, will save you money over just willy-nilly buying products at stores and hoping for the best. 

·         If you don’t want to take care of your lawn, hire a professional.


Monday, December 12, 2022



Horticulture Hotline 12/12/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner 


Little did Joel Poinsett know that when he brought the first Poinsettia back from Mexico that it would become the United States most popular “flowering plant”.  Joel Poinsett, a South Carolinian, was the first ambassador to Mexico. There is a Historic Marker for him in Otranto, SC (an area in North Charleston).  In 1825 he introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.  These plant sales top over 70 million each year.  The dollar value is much greater.  If you ever have a chance to visit a whole sale nursery while the Poinsettia crop is being grown, it is a site you will not forget! 


How can you force the Poinsettia to “bloom” before next Christmas? I have bloom and flowering in quotes, because Poinsettias are mainly grown because of its colorful bracts, not flowers.


After Christmas in the Lowcountry, you can put the plants outdoors as long as the weather is not going to get too cold. In the early days of “The Garden Clinic”, Lowcountry radio legend Dan Moon used to boast how he kicked his Poinsettia off his back porch by his A/C and how it grew into a monster Poinsettia. Dan would give us weekly updates. Poinsettias do not like to be in direct sunlight, so place them in a protected area. Some people like the garage. Filtered light is good.


To force the bracts to change color beginning in early October, keep the plant in total darkness for 14 hours straight.  After the 14 hours of darkness, the plant must receive 6-8 hours of bright sunlight daily for 8-10 weeks.  Depending on the variety of Poinsettia you should see the bracts change color.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to place the plant in a dark room with a grow light and a timer. This way you don’t have to adjust your schedule to care for the plant.  My little secret is to support the local nurseries and buy new plants each year!


Unfortunately, this cool (not cold), wet weather is bringing out the Large Patch in our turf.  Be sure to treat the areas before your grass goes into dormancy.  Now is also a good time to apply horticulture oil or Neem Oil for over-wintering insects. Neem oil will control certain fungi too. Problem insects. Try Tree and Shrub drench for long term control. Winter weeds are visible now. Control them now while they are young and actively growing. If you have not applied a preemergent, apply one now to stop future winter weeds. Your results will be much better. 


Judging from our sales at Possum’s, fleas seem to still be an issue for our pets, and the rats, roaches and mice are seeking shelter from the rain and cold. I’m sure you don’t want any uninvited guest for the holidays! Fire ants and mole crickets are terrible (Charles Barkley)!


Great Holiday gift ideas? Maybe a pot or gift certificate (for the gardener with everything)? Soil test and custom program?


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