Bracing for Florence in the Landscape

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We have been watching the weather forecast with much interest over the last several days, and while it is still subject to change we wanted to give a few landscape-related items you may want to check on in addition to the recommendations we are all seeing on TV.   Though the chances have lessened, our main threat seems to be excessive rainfall and it is still possible that we will see localized flooding.  Check your gutters and downspouts to be sure that whatever water does fall can quickly move away from the house.  If you need to install a temporary pipe on a gutter, please do so.  Also, please make sure all catch basins and drainage areas throughout your property are clear of leaves and debris which may prevent water from going where its supposed to go.

Keep in mind that if there is damage to your landscape (shrubs, pipes, erosion etc.), we will be available after the storm to help with cleanup and repair if necessary.  In the case that you need large limbs or fallen trees cleaned up, we DO NOT have the equipment or the appropriate insurance to handle this kind of damage. Please reach out to one of the many local tree service companies that specialize in this or you can call us at 336-765-6340 for a referral. Again, we can help with smaller downed branches, removing excessive sticks and debris, resulting grading projects, and any needed removal or replacement of shrubs.

Our office will be CLOSED Friday for the safety of our employees and we will not be running our regular routes. If you have concerns over your disruption in service you can call our office and it will forward you to our emergency line. We will also keep our Facebook page updated for any relevant news. At this point we are still uncertain what the extent of the storm will be and because of this we are not sure when we will resume our regular routes. Check our Facebook page or call us for more information on when we will resume services.

Be smart and safe this weekend!

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Aeration and Seeding – The Ins and Outs

Aeration and Seeding

As fall approaches, you may be thinking that the growing season is finally winding down and focus can be taken off of the garden. When it comes to the health of your lawn, this really isn’t the case! We will begin aeration and seeding in September, when the temperatures begin to come down and will continue this service for several weeks. Watering your lawn after an aeration and seeding treatment is crucial, so we will begin with those of our clients who have an irrigation system first and we will move on to those who don’t in October. We have received a good amount of steady rainfall this summer, and hopefully this trend will continue to help support germination and establishment of grass seedlings.

Note that if you normally receive fall aeration and over-seeding you should be on the list for this year, but to confirm or to make a special request you can call the office or contact us by sending an e-mail to info@larmorelandscape.com

Why sign up for an aeration and seeding treatment at all? If you were to pick one treatment for your lawn this year, it should be aeration and over-seeding. Aeration is the first step in the treatment, where roughly one inch plugs are removed from your lawn by an aerator. While this may seem like a disturbance to your lawn, it has many benefits. In the Piedmont, our soils are typically a thick clay that is susceptible to compaction. Aeration helps alleviate this compaction and allows more nutrients, water, and air to reach soil roots. These elements also lead to a stronger stand of turf that is more resistant to periods of heat, drought, and disease. Once the turf is prepped via aeration, over-seeding is preformed. Seeding assists in replacing turf that is either thinning from environmental stresses or from turf that is reaching the end of its lifespan. Typically, turf grasses will begin to thin out after a few years, so seeding prevents this by promoting fresh turf growth each year. Also, most of our lawns are fescue, which is a clumping grass. Seeding will help fill in any patches of dead turf that have developed over the year from weed growth, stress, and disease.

A note on watering: Even if you have an irrigation system, you may need to raise the frequency of watering for several weeks after seeding. The grass seed will need to be kept consistently moist for germination and as the grass seedlings begin to establish. Freshly sprouted grass has a small root system and can dry out very quickly, especially if we go through a hot and dry spell. If you don’t have an irrigation system, consider putting out a sprinkler to water the treated areas. One idea is to water about 15 minutes a day per area for at least 7 – 10 days after seeding, perhaps longer if if you really want a certain area to get full germination. If the grass was spread over bare dirt, it’s best if you can water it 2 – 3 times per day, even if it’s only 5 – 10 minutes per watering. Once the grass begins coming up, it should also be watered occasionally. New grass is quite tricky and requires effort, plenty of water, and some luck.

Of course, if you are going to invest in your lawn, we also have a seven step lawn care program to help support your lawn throughout the year. This will also help protect the investment of getting an aeration and seeding treatment. Below is a description of each service and the time of the year when it is applied:

Early-Spring: Pre-emergent crabgrass treatment, broadleaf weed treatment and fertility blend.
Late-Spring: Pre-emergent crabgrass treatment, broadleaf weed treatment and fertility blend.
Early-Summer: Summer mix of liquid fertility with broadleaf weed treatment, iron and other nutrients.
Late-Summer: Special blend of micronutrients and iron to aid the turf during the stress of summer.
Early-Fall: Balanced granular fertilizer with high analysis to coincide with our fall seeding program.
Late-Fall: Granular fertility with high phosphorus to promote winter root development.
Winter: Pelletized crushed dolomitic lime to help break down acidic soils.

Feel free to call our office at 336-765-6340 for more information on any of these services. We offer estimates for the year’s worth of treatments for your lawn or we can price out a single service at any time. If you are new to aeration and seeding, but would like to receive a treatment this season, be sure to call us immediately so we can add you to the list!

We’re All About Hydrangeas!

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We recently posted on Facebook about the different types of hydrangeas grown in our area, but we wanted to expand on that with information on a few varieties and even some pruning tips! We get quite a few questions (and a little confusion) about this southern classic, so we wanted to create this blog as an easy reference for our clients.

First, hydrangea types. Typically, in our area we will refer to panicle, mophead, lacecap, and oakleaf hydrangeas. Here’s a brief summary about each type:

Panicle Hydrangeas: These hydrangeas have large, white panicles of flowers that are unaffected by soil pH. While Limelight is the variety traditionally seen, its large size can be overwhelming in many landscapes. We like to opt for the dwarf variety Little Lime for its compact size, topping out at around five feet. Pinky Winky is another variety we love, due to the pink tinge its flowers develop and its moderate size of six to eight feet tall. All of these varieties can take full sun – meaning you can have hydrangeas on the south side of the house too!

Mophead hydrangeas: This is the type of hydrangea that changes color with soil pH and is the most popular type of hydrangea. There are many varieties, but a key feature to think about when selecting from this group is to choose one that blooms on old and new growth. This protects your bloom from late frosts and especially harsh winters that can kill the growth back to the ground. Some such varieties are Endless Summer, Bloomstruck (pictured above), and Nantucket Blue.

Lacecap hydrangeas: Lacecap hydrangeas come from more than one species, but they are affected by soil pH regardless. Locally, our hydrangeas typically lean towards the blue end of the spectrum due to our acidic soils. If you want to get pink blooms, make your soil more alkaline by adding lime. A couple of our favorite varieties are Tuff Stuff and Twist n Shout for their hardiness and delicate blooms.

Oakleaf hydrangeas: Oakleaf hydrangeas are most at home in woodland and naturalistic landscapes – but be cautious if you have frequent deer visits! We like using the regular species Hydrangea quercifolia when space allows, but we opt for the dwarf varieties Ruby Slippers and Pee Wee when space is limited. Ruby Slippers’ flowers are especially red-tinged while Pee Wee’s blooms remain a truer white. A bonus of oakleaf varieties – they all sport good fall color, giving you another season of interest.

Another group worth mentioning is the smooth hydrangea. Though not quite as common or diverse as other categories, this does include the popular white-flowering Annabelle hydrangea.

Pruning hydrangeas is a topic we are questioned over time and time again. We’ll keep it simple, as pruning a hydrangea isn’t an overwhelming task. We often prune hydrangeas minimally to remove dead growth, but spent flowers can remain for winter interest as personal taste allows. The key to pruning hydrangeas is that you don’t do so at a time that will cause you to loose the next year’s blooms. Again, this is where re-blooming hydrangeas are a great choice since they will bloom no matter when you prune them.

As a quick summary – panicle hydrangeas should be pruned in the winter (annabelle hydrangeas should also be pruned in winter), mophead hydrangeas, lacecap hydrangeas, and oakleaf hydrangeas should all be pruned in the summer after they bloom. If you have a twice-blooming hydrangea, they can also be pruned in the winter.

We hope that this article will help you enjoy your hydrangeas to their fullest potential! If you have further questions about hydrangea care or if you would like to arrange for us to plant hydrangeas in your landscape, call our office at 33-765-6340.

Garden Trend – Forcing Bulbs

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It’s the end of winter and with that has come an onslaught of dreary weather. We’re watching the tender daffodil stalks emerge, but it seems like months before they’ll be in bloom. Remember that cabinet with your extra vases collecting dust? Maybe you need to re-purpose the vase your Valentine’s Day flowers came in? We have the perfect winter project: forcing bulbs.

Forcing bulbs has become very trendy in the past couple years and it’s a trick that florists use to obtain hyacinths and tulips before their time. Fortunately the process is easy, you can do it in your own home, and it won’t seem like a garden chore. The first step is to figure out if your bulbs need chilling or not. Better Homes and Gardens has a great article that includes a chart for how long different types of bulbs need to be pre-chilled. If you already have spare bulbs stored in the refrigerator or in the basement, now is the time to put them in action! Otherwise, this may be a project to refer back to for next spring, when there is more time to chill the bulbs.

Once you’ve determined if your bulbs are ready to go, you only need simple materials and a small amount of space. You can force your bulbs in a container with potting soil or, as in the photo above, you can use a glass vase with small rocks or pebbles. There are also forcing vases that allow you to place the bulb on top, water, and go.

If you choose to use soil and a container: pre-soak the roots of the bulbs for a few hours. Place them in the pot and gently cover with soil. You can even layer different types of bulbs with larger bulbs close to the base of the pot and smaller bulbs near the top. It’s never a bad idea to include a layer of rock on the bottom on your pot for better drainage. Place the pot in a warm, sunny area.

If you choose to force the bulbs in a vase or glass container, the process is nearly the same. Soak the roots, line your vase with an inch or two of rock, and water up to the top of the rocks. Place your bulbs in a warm, sunny area and enjoy watching your flowers emerge!

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Spring Bulb Planting.”

We’re Wrapping up Hurricane Season…With One More to Go?

 

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Though North Carolina Preparedness Month was in September, it’s never too late (or too early) to think about safety in the face of a natural disaster. Despite our cooling temperatures, we still have over a month left of hurricane season which doesn’t end until November 30th. North Carolina does have a history of being impacted by hurricanes in October, so it’s best to keep disaster kits and emergency plans at the ready. Visit Ready Forsyth for more tips on disaster preparedness.

Regardless of the fact that the season is not yet over, we’ve seen an immensely active season so far this year. The frequency and intensity of storms has been propelled by warm ocean temperatures and a lack of wind shear that can be destructive to a developing hurricane. This September was also the 4th warmest September on record and ocean temperatures also placed 4th warmest on record, contributing to our unusual season. Hurricane Ophelia was a record-setting storm that pushed farther northeast (to Ireland and the UK) than any other hurricane. The pattern was so odd that the National Hurricane Center never thought an Atlantic hurricane would track so far.

Hurricane Irma ranks as the most deadly and destructive hurricane so far this season, with Harvey and Maria not far behind. For Winston-Salem, these storms did contribute to higher than average rainfall, but this was welcome after our drier than average July.  We’ve seen 15 named storms and 5 major hurricanes so far this season, pushing the upward range of predictions for this year as well as being higher than average for an active season. However, it is still predicted that we will see at least one more named, damaging storm.

In regards to temperatures, so far 2017 is stacking up to be the second warmest year on record, but check back to see if that becomes official!

Sources:

Caribbean360

Weather Underground – Ophelia

Weather Underground – 4th Warmest

USA Today

Miami Herald

See our Pinterest page for photo credit.

 

 

Turf Talk – A Turf Newsletter

Turf Talk …. From Bill & Brandon                                                               fall edition – 2017

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Hi’s response to Lois makes us think that they live in the Piedmont.

We are all too familiar with this frustration. Every year in early to mid-spring, our excitement rises as we see our lawns turn lush, thick, and deep green.  Then the reality sets in by late July or August as it begins to look sparse, patchy, and filled with brown spots. While this can happen to any of our yards, it’s especially true with those without irrigation systems or with freshly sown yards.

As a landscape company, we wanted to examine this issue a little more closely. And what we found proves that the cartoon is correct! In March of 2017, LLA created three test plots at our office.

  • In the 1st one we installed a fescue sod with a well-established root system
  • The 2nd area was sowed with a blend of three fescue types.
  • In the 3rd area we planted Zoysia sod.

We watered the 3 plots regularly and all beds received the same treatments during the year. From mid-spring through mid-July, all 3 beds looks great – lush, healthy and deep green. But then the lingering effects of summer’s heat and humidity started to take its toll. And by now, late August, the proof is in the pictures.

When the heat of July and August hit us, the sod was able to establish a root system strong enough to get through the stress of high heat and humidity. Unfortunately, the plot sowed with fescue seeds was suffering by late summer. It simply had not been able to establish a deep rooting system to help sustain it. We’ll comment on the Zoysia below.

As you know, “Turf Grass” is a 4-year degree at most state universities. It may not be rocket science, but it is tricky.  We have learned a lot about it ourselves in our long careers dealing with turf grass and Mother Nature. Some key thoughts:

  1. In the Piedmont region of NC, we primarily use blended fescue – a cool season That means it does well in the cool seasons of fall, winter, and spring but it loses its vitality in the heat and humidity of summer.
  2. When fescue grass seeds are sowed in the fall, it has 3 seasons to (fall, winter, and spring) to become established – greatly improving its chances for survival. When it’s sowed in the spring, it’s much more difficult to get the root system established before going through the rigors of summer; some of it will survive certainly, but not all – even with an irrigation system. Installing sod definitely helps, but its costs are not for everyone.
  3. You cannot grow grass under trees that have top feeding root systems. These suck up too much of the available water – which is even less available in the summer. Examples are Maples, River Birch, Dogwoods, Beech trees
  4. As trees grow and expand their canopies, the root system expands – you’ll need to also expand the mowing ring.
  5. Shade is great for your home, but not for your turf. While there are decent seed blends that will handle partial shade, no grass does well in deep shade. If you see lots of moss, don’t think you’re going to get grass to grow.
  6. Air circulation is critical to the health of turf. That is why you see fans on golf courses to move air to prevent fungus from attacking turf greens.

That brings us to the 3rd test plot, planted with Zoysia sod. Zoysia, Bermuda and others are considered warm season grasses and are well adapted to hot humid weather.  However, since everything has a “catch” the big drawback of warm season grasses is that they turn brown soon after the first hard frost in the fall and remain that way until early spring.

As our long-term temperatures continue to rise and our seasons become less pronounced, we may have to alter the turf we have here in the Piedmont and use more of the “warm season grasses.”

Please call upon us to discuss the turf issues and options for your property. We want to help your grass thrive.

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Ghost Forests – An Accelerating Phenomenon

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Ghost forests is a general term used to describe stands of long-dead trees that have typically been submerged in ocean water. Sometimes these forests and generated by sudden catastrophic events such as earthquakes, but scientists are beginning to focus on the stands of trees slowly dying by encroaching salt water. As sea levels rise, saltwater is drifting into freshwater areas and creating marshland. There have also be incidences where storms bring in salt water, such as in the case of Hurricane Sandy, but it is not receding as quickly as the norm.

Scientists are now using these ghost forests as an indicator of climate change and  they are becoming very prevalent along the eastern shore board, all the way down to Texas. the main focus on the growth of these ghost forests is the rate at which they are accelerating, which is currently very debated. Studies are being conducted that show the forests are spreading at an accelerated rate, but the findings are still inconclusive. According to one study, 100,000 acres along the Chesapeake Bay have been lost in the past 100 years, but photos show the rate of losses is currently four times higher than it was in the 1930’s. The transition from forest to marshland does come with a variety of pros and cons, including less habitat for migratory birds, but more habitat for saltwater fish. Tree species that are being affected include Atlantic white cedar, cypress, loblolly pines, and Eastern red cedar.

Find the original article here.

Photo credit and information on how this phenomenon is affecting North Carolina’s coastline here.