The Epic Summer Battle: Outdoor Fun vs The Mosquitoes. Coming Soon to Your Backyard!

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We want your days to be full of outdoor enjoyment and safety this year.

The key to more outdoor time is winning the battle with the all so annoying, potential Zika, and West Nile Virus carrying mosquito. 

Hall | Stewart believes in an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to mosquito control.  Success is the result of focusing on prevention and reduction.

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What you can do to win the battle  

Mosquito control is everyone’s responsibility when it comes to removing and eliminating larval breeding sites.  Standing water is a desirable breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes spend 3 of their 4 stages of life dependent on standing water.  This makes anywhere water accumulates from bird baths, flower pots, toys, poor draining gutters, a perfect playground for the insect.    

Mosquito eggs won’t hatch without water.  The newly hatched larva live in water and develop into pupae all before they emerge as an adult. Simply reducing standing water around your residence will have a significant impact on mosquito population. Even pet bowls can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Any object containing 5-7 day old water during the summer and fall is a potential playground for the pest.  Drain and refill pet bowls and bird baths every 5 days at the minimum. 

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Adult females are the only mosquitoes that bite. They typically attack in the evening, but occasionally are out during the day. Most afternoons you will find them resting in shrubs, trees and other shady areas. After they obtain blood meal from a person or animal they lay their eggs in water or a place where it will get wet. They prefer dark colored containers and shaded areas for egg laying.

The entire life cycle of the mosquito takes only 4-5 weeks.

What Hall | Stewart can do to help you win the battle

Barrier treatments are the most effective and proven method for managing the pest.  A barrier can be made by treating all vegetation, shrubs and trees, from the ground up to a height of 10 feet.

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Insecticides must be applied to both the top and bottom of plant leaves which is difficult to achieve with a traditional pump-up, handheld spray can.

Power backpack misters are the ideal equipment for barrier treatments as they force droplets into the vegetation and underneath leaves.  Other common resting sites, such as under decks, gutters, and other moist shady areas are included in the treatment areas. 

Hall | Stewart uses the Syngenta mosquito management program Secure Choice Assurance.  The program uses two control methods:

·       Demand CS is used to provide an initial quick kill and residual control of adult mosquitoes.

·       Archer, a growth regulator, adversely affects the reproductive cycle of the mosquitoes by preventing larval development resulting in fewer adult mosquitoes.  

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Due to the short life cycle of mosquitoes, regularly scheduled monthly barrier treatments will provide significant reduction in the number of insects.

The battle is a team effort. You can win by reducing the breeding grounds for mosquitoes and by subscribing to the Hall | Stewart Mosquito Control Program.

We want you to have peace of mind when it comes to outdoor enjoyment this summer.    

If you have not already subscribed to our mosquito control program, call or respond to this email. 

Now is the time to start!

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873


The Endless Summer Hydrangea

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Hydrangeas are known for their old fashion charm with their large mop-type blooms.

Unfortunately, traditional hydrangeas often underperform.  Because they bloom only on last year’s growth, and they often suffer freeze damage, it was common to not have any blooms at all.  Too often hydrangeas leave us only with the hope of next year. 

Fortunately, the world of hydrangeas was forever changed with the introduction of the Endless Summer Hydrangea in 2004 from Bailey Nurseries with the help of Dr. Michael Dirr from the University of Georgia.  Dirr was doing some consulting with Bailey, known for introducing new plants, in the 90s when he noticed a hydrangea that was blooming in mid-summer. Bailey had been propagating and testing the hydrangea for about 10 years. It was unique because it bloomed in the spring on last year’s growth and rebloomed on the new growth during the summer.  Dirr immediately knew it was a game changer for hydrangeas and quickly coined the name ‘Endless Summer’.

Endless Summer varieties:

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The Original — big round blue or pink blooms

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Blushing Bride - pure white blooms that mature to a pink blush.

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Twist-n-Shout — reblooming lace-cap in pink or periwinkle blue with red stems.


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Bloom Struck — purple or rose-pink flowers with red stems.

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Summer Crush — a 2019 introduction with raspberry red or neon purple flowers with a compact growth.

Other recommended Hydrangea varieties:

Oakleaf  – Instead of traditional mophead blooms, oakleaf hydrangeas have white clusters of cone shaped flowers.  It is named for the large oak like leaves that turn reddish-purple in the fall.  It is a large shrub that blooms in the summer on new growth.  It also requires less water than a traditional hydrangea.

Oakleaf – Instead of traditional mophead blooms, oakleaf hydrangeas have white clusters of cone shaped flowers.  It is named for the large oak like leaves that turn reddish-purple in the fall.  It is a large shrub that blooms in the summer on new growth.  It also requires less water than a traditional hydrangea.

Annabelle  – A smooth hydrangea with white blooms on the new growth. Because it is fast growing, it is common for this hydrangea to be cut all the way to the ground each spring.

Annabelle – A smooth hydrangea with white blooms on the new growth. Because it is fast growing, it is common for this hydrangea to be cut all the way to the ground each spring.

Limelight  – Blooms in mid to late summer on new growth.   Flowers start green, turn to white and then back to green.

Limelight – Blooms in mid to late summer on new growth.   Flowers start green, turn to white and then back to green.

Seaside Serenade Series by Monrovia  – A more compact form of hydrangea ideal for smaller areas that blooms on both last year’s growth and new growth. To see all the varieties in the Seaside Serenade series, visit Monrovia.com.

Seaside Serenade Series by Monrovia – A more compact form of hydrangea ideal for smaller areas that blooms on both last year’s growth and new growth. To see all the varieties in the Seaside Serenade series, visit Monrovia.com.

Hydrangea Planting and Care

Planting – Hydrangeas prefer rich, well drained soil in a location with morning sun and dappled to full shade in the afternoon and evening.  When planting in our tighter clay soil, start with a hole twice as big as the plant container.  Incorporate compost and peat moss into the existing soil, fill the bottom of the hole with enough soil that the root ball will be slightly above the existing grade.  Backfill around the root ball with the remaining mix of soil and amendments creating a ring out side the root ball creating area to retain moisture when watering. 

Watering – Hydrangeas require more water in the heat of the summer. They perform best in soil that retains some moisture but does not stay wet.  It is common for their leaves to wilt slightly on 90+ degree days and then rebound quickly when water.  A good deep soaking every other day in the summer is enough.  A two inch layer of mulch will help retain moisture.    

Pruning – Hydrangeas don’t require much pruning.  In the spring, wait until the dormant branches start to bud.  Prune any dead wood just above the highest green bud.  Spring is the only time you should prune a hydrangea.  If you need to prune to reduce size, avoid doing so after the end of July.  Leaving the last blooms on the plant protects buds over the winter.

Flower Color – Excluding white hydrangeas, soil is the greatest determinate to whether the flower blooms will be blue or pink.  Soil with a pH below 6.0 (acidic) will have blue blooms.  pH above 6.0 (alkaline) will produce pink flowers.  Adding lime to the soil will change blue blooms to pink and adding sulfur will change pink blooms to blue.  Endless Summer has a formulated product called Color Me Pink which adds lime to the soil to produce pink blooms and Color Me Blue which adds sulfur to encourage blue blooms.  Similar products are available from Bonide. 

Fertilizer – Hydrangeas respond well to fertilizer in the spring and early summer.  Select a slow release fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer label).  Phosphorus produces more blooms.  If you fertilize with a high nitrogen, the first number on the label, you will have more and larger leaves and less blooms.  

 

Hydrangeas require a little more work when planting, and a little more attention with water, but with the new reblooming varieties, and some of the older varieties that bloom on new growth, the color will be a great addition to your landscape. 

 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

Oklahoma's State Tree is really showing off this week!

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There are two things you can count on in early April – the redbud trees will be putting on a show and I will be talking about the them. 

Our goal for our weekly email is to discuss what we are seeing in the lawn and landscapes we visit.  The Oklahoma State Tree, Cercis Canadensis, Redbud, has been creating a lot of attention this week.

Michael Dirr, easily considered America’s leading woody plant expert, wrote in his textbook Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs about Redbuds: “No equal, no competitor, can be found among small flowering landscape trees – the stage is reserved for this native species.” 

I agree!



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Eastern Redbuds are native to the Eastern US from Massachusetts to Florida extending west to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  In the native landscape, you typically see them as understory trees in wooded areas.  In late March or early April, you can’t miss them.  Their pink to lavender flowers brighten the landscape before leaves bud on most trees.  They grow in full sun and partial shade.  They tolerate clay, loam and sandy soils.  They adapt to a wide range of soil pH as well as soil moisture. 
 
But, the native Eastern Redbud has it shortcomings.  During the summer, the leaves are a disappointment in Oklahoma.  The hot winds of July and August leave the native Redbud leaves tattered and bruised. 

Thankfully, Oklahoma has an answer to the Eastern Redbud – the ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud,  Cercis Canadensis  var.  texensis  ‘Oklahoma’. 

Thankfully, Oklahoma has an answer to the Eastern Redbud – the ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud, Cercis Canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’. 

The ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud has a deeper purple color bloom and a waxy, thick, dark green, heart-shaped leaf.  The ‘Oklahoma’ is far richer in color in the spring and carries beautiful foliage through the hottest of summers.  In the fall, the leaves turn golden yellow. 
 
‘Oklahoma’ Redbuds can be used in every imaginable landscape application.  They are excellent lawn trees.  They are dynamic in groupings.  And they add interest to landscape beds. 
 
Redbuds grow 15-18’ tall and have a spread of 15’ at maturity.  Their small tree nature tends to produce a low branching, rounded top-growing pattern. 
 
The Redbud rooting pattern can lead to difficulty in transplanting.  If selecting a balled and burlap tree, it is best if the tree is harvested and replanted during the dormant season.  A good size to start with is a 1.5” to 2” caliper tree.  If you are planting a Redbud during the growing season, I would recommend purchasing a container grown tree, as there is less transplant shock. 
 
Other varieties of Redbud include:

  • 'Merlot' is a new hybrid with dark foliage similar to the 'forest pansy' but has glossier leaves that take the summer heat similar to the 'Oklahoma' redbud.  

  • 'Lavender Twist' is a weeping redbud with rosy-pink flowers.  The umbrella branching pattern only reaches 5-6' tall making it a good specimen for a focal point in the landscape.  

  • ‘Forest Pansy’ which has a shimmering, reddish-purple leaf.  This Redbud is a real winner in the spring.  But, in the early summer the leaves fade worse than the Eastern Redbud leaves.  If you decide to try this variety, select a place in your landscape where the tree will be shielded from the hot west sun and southern winds.

  • 'Avondale' is a little smaller reaching only 10-12' in height and width.  It is one of the most profuse flowering redbuds with very showy dark rose-purple flowers.  It also has a glossy, heart-shaped leaf.

  • Texas Whitebud’ is a white blooming variety of the ‘Oklahoma’.  It also has waxy, dark green leaves through the summer.

One final reason why I think the Redbud is one of our best trees -  It blooms only on the old wood! Stop and look at one.  You will notice that the last 6-12” of each branch doesn’t have any blooms.  All of last year’s growth is void of color.  All the color is on the two-year and older wood, occasionally even the trunk will bloom.  Typically, trees and shrubs bloom on the end of the branches.  Early blooming plants bloom on the growth from last year.  Summer bloomers, such as the Crape Myrtle, bloom on the new growth from the spring.  The Redbud is unique in only blooming on old wood.     Jim Paluch in his book,  Leaving a Legacy , tells the story of seven senior citizens who discover the magic of the Redbud blooming only on old wood.  They were inspired to not spend their later years withering away.  They asked, “If a Redbud can bloom on its old wood, why can’t we?”  The seven men struck out to make a difference in their community during their elder years.

One final reason why I think the Redbud is one of our best trees - It blooms only on the old wood! Stop and look at one.  You will notice that the last 6-12” of each branch doesn’t have any blooms.  All of last year’s growth is void of color.  All the color is on the two-year and older wood, occasionally even the trunk will bloom.  Typically, trees and shrubs bloom on the end of the branches.  Early blooming plants bloom on the growth from last year.  Summer bloomers, such as the Crape Myrtle, bloom on the new growth from the spring.  The Redbud is unique in only blooming on old wood.
 
Jim Paluch in his book, Leaving a Legacy, tells the story of seven senior citizens who discover the magic of the Redbud blooming only on old wood.  They were inspired to not spend their later years withering away.  They asked, “If a Redbud can bloom on its old wood, why can’t we?”  The seven men struck out to make a difference in their community during their elder years.

Oklahoma couldn’t have selected a better all-around tree for the state tree.  There is no better small flowering tree than the Redbud, especially the ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud.

Take a walk around your neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or take a drive.  You are sure to find redbuds along your route adding a bright splash of color to the spring landscape. 

 

Lorne Hall

April Lawn & Landscape Tips

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April may be my favorite month in the landscape.  (I say that about a lot of months!)  April is the month the landscape finally comes all the way alive.  Cool season lawns are stunning and warm season lawns are turning greener every day.  By the end of the month, everything will be green!

April is the month that so many perennials, shrubs and trees add splashes of colors to the landscape.  Everyday, I notice something new bursting to life.

April is also a critical month for lawn and landscape activities.  It is a transition month between cool weather and warm weather and so many important tasks need our attention.

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Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda and Fescue lawns both need a good feeding between mid-March and the end of April.  If you subscribe to the full 7-step Hall | Stewart program, you will receive an application of fertilizer during this window of time.  If you subscribe to our 4-step weed control only program, it is time for you to fertilize.  Look for a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen and a small amount of phosphorus and potassium. 

Turf Weed Control – Application #2 not only focuses on feeding the lawn, but it also contains post-emergent weed control.  Our goal on Fescue is to clean out the broadleaf weeds and slow the development of Bermuda.  For Bermuda lawns, we want to suppress broadleaf weeds and get control of some grassy weeds.  But, while Bermuda is coming out of dormancy we have to be careful with herbicide applications.  We are limited in what we can do without damaging Bermuda.  Good turf development now is the key to a healthy lawn all summer and we don’t want to cause any harm while warm season turf is coming out of dormancy. 

Our promise to you is to take all the steps we can to remedy weed issues in a way that is safe for your lawn and the environment.

Our request is that you always let us know how your lawn is doing 10-14 days after an application. If the lawn needs to be retreated, results will be better if it occurs within 2-3 weeks of the initial application.

Irrigation – As the weather warms in April, your lawn and landscape will start needing more water.  This is the month you need start watering on a regular basis, if we are not getting sufficient rainfall.  Remember to follow the odd/even watering restrictions.  If you have a rain sensor, it will interrupt the cycle when we receive rain.  If you don’t, please remember to turn your system off when we get a good rainfall. 

If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider having one installed.  A sensor will pay for itself in water savings very quickly.

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Rain Bird Rain Sensor — they claim it will save 35% on your water bill!

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a Fescue lawn, April is the month that you will need to start mowing regularly. Remember the rule of 1/3 – never cut more than 1/3 of the turf off in a single mowing. Anytime you cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off you are keeping your lawn from looking its absolute best. Start mowing the Fescue taller in April. It needs to have as much leaf space as possible going into the summer months.

If you have a warm season lawn, you should have already cut the lawn short for the spring and can expect to cut the lawn every 10-14 days this month. Try to keep your Bermuda lawns cut short early in the season. You need to be in a position to gradually increase the mowing height later in the season.

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Seasonal Color – We all have the tendency to get a little antsy and want to plant annuals a little too early.  Who can blame you?  With all the colorful plants already in the garden centers, it is really hard to resist.  But, wait until after the danger of the last frost passes in mid-April.  Start with annuals that tolerate a few cool nights, such as begonia and impatient — wait until May to plant heat loving annuals, such as periwinkle, lantana, penta.   If you planted pansies last fall, they have come alive the past few weeks and will bridge the gap until time to plant.

April may be my favorite month in the landscape.  (I say that about a lot of months!)  April is the month the landscape finally comes all the way alive.  Cool season lawns are stunning and warm season lawns are turning greener every day.  By the end of the month, everything will be green!

April is the month that so many perennials, shrubs and trees add splashes of colors to the landscape.  Everyday, I notice something new bursting to life.

April is also a critical month for lawn and landscape activities.  It is a transition month between cool weather and warm weather and so many important tasks need our attention.

Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda and Fescue lawns both need a good feeding between mid-March and the end of April.  If you subscribe to the full 7-step Hall | Stewart program, you will receive an application of fertilizer during this window of time.  If you subscribe to our 4-step weed control only program, it is time for you to fertilize.  Look for a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen and a small amount of phosphorus and potassium. 

Turf Weed Control – Application #2 not only focuses on feeding the lawn, but it also contains post-emergent weed control.  Our goal on Fescue is to clean out the broadleaf weeds and slow the development of Bermuda.  For Bermuda lawns, we want to suppress broadleaf weeds and get control of some grassy weeds.  But, while Bermuda is coming out of dormancy we have to be careful with herbicide applications.  We are limited in what we can do without damaging Bermuda.  Good turf development now is the key to a healthy lawn all summer and we don’t want to cause any harm while warm season turf is coming out of dormancy. 

Our promise to you is to take all the steps we can to remedy weed issues in a way that is safe for your lawn and the environment. 

Our request is that you always let us know how your lawn is doing 10-14 days after an application.  If the lawn needs to be retreated, results will be better if it occurs within 2-3 weeks of the initial application.

Irrigation – As the weather warms in April, your lawn and landscape will start needing more water.  This is the month you need start watering on a regular basis, if we are not getting sufficient rainfall.  Remember to follow the odd/even watering restrictions.  If you have a rain sensor, it will interrupt the cycle when we receive rain.  If you don’t, please remember to turn your system off when we get a good rainfall. 

If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider having one installed.  A sensor will pay for itself in water savings very quickly.

Rain Bird Rain Sensor — they claim it will save 35% on your water bill!

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a Fescue lawn, April is the month that you will need to start mowing regularly.  Remember the rule of 1/3 – never cut more than 1/3 of the turf off in a single mowing. Anytime you cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off you are keeping your lawn from looking its absolute best. Start mowing the Fescue taller in April. It needs to have as much leaf space as possible going into the summer months. 

If you have a warm season lawn, you should have already cut the lawn short for the spring and can expect to cut the lawn every 10-14 days this month.  Try to keep your Bermuda lawns cut short early in the season.  You need to be in a position to gradually increase the mowing height later in the season.

Seasonal Color – We all have the tendency to get a little antsy and want to plant annuals a little too early.  Who can blame you?  With all the colorful plants already in the garden centers, it is really hard to resist.  But, wait until after the danger of the last frost passes in mid-April.  Start with annuals that tolerate a few cool nights, such as begonia and impatient — wait until May to plant heat loving annuals, such as periwinkle, lantana, penta.   If you planted pansies last fall, they have come alive the past few weeks and will bridge the gap until time to plant.

We look forward to every opportunity to visit about your lawn and landscape!

If you have any questions, please send us an email or call (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hal

What says, "it's spring!" to you?

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My definition of anticipation – waiting for the spring landscape to burst with color!

This week was the week I have been waiting for since the first cool freeze last fall.  Warmer days, fewer nights in the 30’s, and longer days have yielded fescue lawns turning greener every day, trees with swelling buds, and shrubs adding color to the landscape. 

I love spring!   

This time of year it is common for me to see a plant bursting with color and declare it to be my favorite plant.  Only to declare a new favorite the next day. 

Since I don’t have the time to write about all my favorites and you don’t have the time to read about them, I have narrowed the list to three spring favorite perennials, three shrubs, and three trees.

PERENNIALS

Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) . The first to welcome spring each year. Creeping phlox produces a spring-like carpet in pastel hues of white, lavender, red and pink. Creeping phlox is a moderate grower that can spread up to 2’ but only reaches 4-6” in height. It requires full sun, but will tolerate a couple hours of shade each day. Borders, walls, and around boulders are where it looks best. In my garden, you will find it cascading over a rock retaining wall. It tolerates most soils as long as it is well drained. The plant requires little maintenance. Mites are about the only insect problem it will have.


Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
. The first to welcome spring each year. Creeping phlox produces a spring-like carpet in pastel hues of white, lavender, red and pink. Creeping phlox is a moderate grower that can spread up to 2’ but only reaches 4-6” in height. It requires full sun, but will tolerate a couple hours of shade each day. Borders, walls, and around boulders are where it looks best. In my garden, you will find it cascading over a rock retaining wall. It tolerates most soils as long as it is well drained. The plant requires little maintenance. Mites are about the only insect problem it will have.

Dianthus (Dianthus).  It works well as a border, in small groupings, around boulders or as a single plant reaching 10-15” tall with a spread of 12-24”. They bloom in late spring in rose, pink, white, red. They like full sun but will take some dappled shade or afternoon shade. Just like creeping phlox, they are a cool season lover. They will grow in most soils, but prefer alkaline soils — waterlogged soil will cause crown and root rot. Heavy mulching near the crown of the plant can be detrimental. Late March and into May is the peak bloom time. Light feeding in the spring with a complete fertilizer of phosphorus, potassium and low nitrogen is recommended. Other an occasional aphid or powdery mildew issue, they do not have many problems. There are more than 300 varieties of dianthus to choose from. My all-time favorite is ‘Firewitch’. It has a silver-green foliage and with a vibrant pink bloom.

Dianthus (Dianthus). It works well as a border, in small groupings, around boulders or as a single plant reaching 10-15” tall with a spread of 12-24”. They bloom in late spring in rose, pink, white, red. They like full sun but will take some dappled shade or afternoon shade. Just like creeping phlox, they are a cool season lover. They will grow in most soils, but prefer alkaline soils — waterlogged soil will cause crown and root rot. Heavy mulching near the crown of the plant can be detrimental. Late March and into May is the peak bloom time. Light feeding in the spring with a complete fertilizer of phosphorus, potassium and low nitrogen is recommended. Other an occasional aphid or powdery mildew issue, they do not have many problems. There are more than 300 varieties of dianthus to choose from. My all-time favorite is ‘Firewitch’. It has a silver-green foliage and with a vibrant pink bloom.

SHRUBS

Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood’).  Best grown as a specimen shrub where it can show off its naturally stunning shape. Forsythia’s brilliant yellow flowers are the first to welcome spring. It performs best planted in full sun and will grow in partial shade, only with less spring blooms. It is considered a fast grower. Forsythia adapts well to most soils but prefers well drained. It rarely has an insect or disease problem. Pruning should only occur after spring blooms fade. If you prune later in the year you will reduce blooms the following spring. The best way to prune this shrub is to remove older wood all the way to the base of the shrub. Traditional forsythia will grow to 6-8’ with an 8’ spread and are well suited for large lawns. If you have a smaller yard, look for one of the newer varieties, such as Gold Tide (Forsythia ‘Courtasol’), a dwarf variety that only reaches 2’ high and spreads to 4’.

Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood’). Best grown as a specimen shrub where it can show off its naturally stunning shape. Forsythia’s brilliant yellow flowers are the first to welcome spring. It performs best planted in full sun and will grow in partial shade, only with less spring blooms. It is considered a fast grower. Forsythia adapts well to most soils but prefers well drained. It rarely has an insect or disease problem. Pruning should only occur after spring blooms fade. If you prune later in the year you will reduce blooms the following spring. The best way to prune this shrub is to remove older wood all the way to the base of the shrub. Traditional forsythia will grow to 6-8’ with an 8’ spread and are well suited for large lawns. If you have a smaller yard, look for one of the newer varieties, such as Gold Tide (Forsythia ‘Courtasol’), a dwarf variety that only reaches 2’ high and spreads to 4’.

Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea x vanhouttei).  A medium sized shrub with arching branches covered with an abundance of white cascading flowers in mid spring. It is a very hardy, heirloom shrub, with no specific pest issues that thrives in well drained soils. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. To preserve the natural arching shape, avoid sheering — but if pruning is needed, it is best done in the spring after blooms fade. It looks stunning planted in full sun to partial shade in front of darker structures or large hollies. Spiraea nipponica ‘Snow mound’ is another great variety.

Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea x vanhouttei). A medium sized shrub with arching branches covered with an abundance of white cascading flowers in mid spring. It is a very hardy, heirloom shrub, with no specific pest issues that thrives in well drained soils. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. To preserve the natural arching shape, avoid sheering — but if pruning is needed, it is best done in the spring after blooms fade. It looks stunning planted in full sun to partial shade in front of darker structures or large hollies. Spiraea nipponica ‘Snow mound’ is another great variety.

TREES

Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texenis ‘Oklahoma’).  My all-time favorite “Welcome to spring” plant.  (You can expect me to dedicate an entire email to this tree every spring!)  Reddish-purple blooms appear on branches before leaves appear. The ‘Oklahoma’ variety was discovered in the Arbuckle Mountains and know for its glossy, heart shaped, green leaves in the summer. It grows to 15’-20’. Prefers full sun but does well as an understory tree in dabbled shade.

Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texenis ‘Oklahoma’). My all-time favorite “Welcome to spring” plant. (You can expect me to dedicate an entire email to this tree every spring!) Reddish-purple blooms appear on branches before leaves appear. The ‘Oklahoma’ variety was discovered in the Arbuckle Mountains and know for its glossy, heart shaped, green leaves in the summer. It grows to 15’-20’. Prefers full sun but does well as an understory tree in dabbled shade.

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‘May Night’ Salvia (Salvia x sylvestris).  Sage type flower spikes of deep bluish-purple that will add color in April, May and early June. The best flower show will be in full sun, but it will tolerate a little dappled shade each day. The plant grows 12-18” tall with flower spikes reach 24”. The plant looks great in the middle of the garden planted behind creeping phlox or dianthus, and in front of Shasta daisy or Black-eyed Susan. The leaves often become tattered later in the summer and dormant over the winter. Remove faded blooms to maximize bloom period and pruning the plants after blooming may result in a few fall blooms. In the early spring, before new growth emerges, remove the dormant foliage. Salvia tolerates clay soils but will struggle with root rot if the soil stays saturated.

‘May Night’ Salvia (Salvia x sylvestris). Sage type flower spikes of deep bluish-purple that will add color in April, May and early June. The best flower show will be in full sun, but it will tolerate a little dappled shade each day. The plant grows 12-18” tall with flower spikes reach 24”. The plant looks great in the middle of the garden planted behind creeping phlox or dianthus, and in front of Shasta daisy or Black-eyed Susan. The leaves often become tattered later in the summer and dormant over the winter. Remove faded blooms to maximize bloom period and pruning the plants after blooming may result in a few fall blooms. In the early spring, before new growth emerges, remove the dormant foliage. Salvia tolerates clay soils but will struggle with root rot if the soil stays saturated.

 
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica “Texas Scarlet’).  Another early bloomer known for adding splashes of red to the landscape. It also performs best in full sun and tolerates partial shade but with fewer blossoms. Considered a moderate grower and mid-sized shrub, most varieties reach 4-5’. It does best if planted where it can grow to its natural size and shape. If pruning is required, only prune in the spring after blooms have faded. Flowering Quince is loved by butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant is very draught tolerant once it is established and it will tolerate most soils, but like most plants would enjoy well drained areas. Another variety, Chaenomeles speciossa Double Take Series has blooms that resemble camellias.

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica “Texas Scarlet’). Another early bloomer known for adding splashes of red to the landscape. It also performs best in full sun and tolerates partial shade but with fewer blossoms. Considered a moderate grower and mid-sized shrub, most varieties reach 4-5’. It does best if planted where it can grow to its natural size and shape. If pruning is required, only prune in the spring after blooms have faded. Flowering Quince is loved by butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant is very draught tolerant once it is established and it will tolerate most soils, but like most plants would enjoy well drained areas. Another variety, Chaenomeles speciossa Double Take Series has blooms that resemble camellias.

 
Crabapple (Malus ‘Prairifire).  There are many varieties of crabapples, but ‘Prairifire’ is one of the best. It was the Oklahoma Proven Tree of the Year in 2007. It is disease resistant and not phased by most of the problems with crabapples. Flowers of rose-pink cover the tree as soon as leaves emerge. Young leaves go from purple-red to dark green as they mature. Branches have red fruit in the winter. Mature, 20-25’, trees have a rounded top. Plant in full sun as a specimen tree or in a grouping. Water extra during periods of extreme heat or draught.

Crabapple (Malus ‘Prairifire). There are many varieties of crabapples, but ‘Prairifire’ is one of the best. It was the Oklahoma Proven Tree of the Year in 2007. It is disease resistant and not phased by most of the problems with crabapples. Flowers of rose-pink cover the tree as soon as leaves emerge. Young leaves go from purple-red to dark green as they mature. Branches have red fruit in the winter. Mature, 20-25’, trees have a rounded top. Plant in full sun as a specimen tree or in a grouping. Water extra during periods of extreme heat or draught.

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana).  A specimen type tree that reaches 15-20’. Large blooms put on a spectacular show on multi-trunk spreading branches. Blooms range from white to pink to purple. Best if planted in full sun. Plant away from radiant west or south heat where warm spring days may cause buds to develop too early only to be killed by a late freeze. They require regular deep watering in the summer months when leaves become tattered looking. It is best if their roots are protected with a layer of mulch to conserve water in the summer.

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana). A specimen type tree that reaches 15-20’. Large blooms put on a spectacular show on multi-trunk spreading branches. Blooms range from white to pink to purple. Best if planted in full sun. Plant away from radiant west or south heat where warm spring days may cause buds to develop too early only to be killed by a late freeze. They require regular deep watering in the summer months when leaves become tattered looking. It is best if their roots are protected with a layer of mulch to conserve water in the summer.

What are your favorite spring plants?

Send us an email or give us a call (405)367-3873, we would love to know what says “spring” to you!

Lorne Hall

Don’t let your Crape Myrtles fall victim to Crape Murder

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Crape myrtles are a must have plant for nearly every landscape.  They are one of the longest blooming plants in our region, have attractive branching and bark, and provide great fall color. 

Crape Myrtles require some pruning every spring, but way too often Crape Myrtles are trimmed incorrectly, too severely, in late winter to early spring. 

Why do so many cut crapes back to 4-5’ every year?

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Three Reasons for Bad Crape Myrtle Pruning

  1. It is simply what everyone does to their Crape Myrtles in the spring. Have you ever wondered if it is the best practice?  It pains me to see so many beautiful Crapes cut back to ugly stubs every spring.  This practice ruins the natural form of the plant.  Southern Living termed the practice as “Crape Murder” decades ago, but yet it continues as the common practice.

  2. The wrong variety was selected for the location and pruning is needed to control the size. Varieties include large tree types that grow 20’ or larger, medium varieties 12-18’, 6-12’ small varieties, and dwarf varieties.  When you select the right size for your planting area and are not forced to prune heavily to contain the plant, you will find you will have a healthier plant resulting in less disease and more blooms. 

  3. They believe the myth that crape myrtles bloom more if they are severely pruned every year.  Flowers are produced on new growth every year even if they are not pruned. Actually, without heavy pruning you will have more branch area resulting in more summer blooms.

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Crape Murder destroys the natural beauty of the plant. Mature crape myrtles have wonderful smooth and molten bark with graceful shapes. You will never experience this quality if you murder them every spring.

This Crape Myrtle fell victim to Crape Murder.

Best Pruning Tips

  1. Know what your goal is before you start.  You can always prune more, but once you have pruned, you can never prune less. 

  2. Remove last summer’s seed pods from the ends of the branches with hand pruners.

  3. Remove all the smaller branches growing toward the center of the plant.  This will allow more air and light to reach the center of the plant which will increase blooms and reduce disease.

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Great pruning… this Crape Myrtle didn’t fall victim to Crape Murder.

4. Make cuts back at the main branch and don’t leave stubs.

5. Remove any unwanted branches from the base of large shrub or tree from varieties.  Typically 5-7 trunks, free of any branches for the first quarter or third of the plant results in an attractive landscape plant.

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First leaf buds on a pruned Crape Myrtle in late March.

 

Crape Myrtle Insect and Disease Issues

Scale – The last two years many Crape Myrtles in central Oklahoma developed bark scale.  This problem is relatively new to our area, but has been a nuisance in Texas for a few years.  The insect is invasive and results in a black mold along the branches and trunk.  Although the scale is rarely fatal to the plant, they are responsible for stunted growth, reduced flowering and loss in aesthetics.  Best control is achieved with a dormant oil in the spring followed by contact insecticide applications in late spring and early summer when pest populations increase.

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Powdery Mildew – Best identified as a power-like dusting that develops in late spring and early summer on new leaves.  It will result in reduced blooming and misshaped leaves when untreated.  Warm days, cool nights, low wind circulation, and excessive moisture on the leaves are the culprits.  Best practice is to plant Crape Myrtles in areas where they will receive plenty of light and air movement.  If you notice powdery mildew, fungicide applications will be required to control the spread of the disease.

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Aphids – Traditionally, they have been the major pest for Crape Myrtles. A few aphids are not a problem and do not require treatment. But, if populations increase they can cause damage. Application of a dormant oil in the late winter or spring is the best preventive step to control aphids and is recommended. If aphid populations become a problem during the season, repeated applications of an insecticide will be required to gain control.

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Please let us know if we can help you with any Crape Myrtle issues — from plant selection, proper pruning, and care.

To insure you have a summer full of wonderful crape myrtle color, call (405)367-3873 to schedule a dormant oil application this week!

Lorne Hall

March Lawn & Landscape Tips

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The below average temperatures have me longing for spring!

Our current early March cold snap is sure to slow the arrival of spring.  Usually by now you can expect to see a few shrubs, bulbs and trees to start bursting with color, but this year we are going to have to wait a few more days, maybe weeks, for the first signs of spring. 

Even though there is a delay, it is time to get up to speed with your March lawn and landscape activities.

Spring Lawn Maintenance – If you have not cut your lawn for the first time, please do so at soon as the weather starts to warm.  It is much easier to remove the winter damaged leaf blades before the turf begins to green-up.  Remember, scalping on the lowest setting isn’t required and actually isn’t recommended.  Simply mow the lawn at the height you plan to start the mowing season.  For most Bermuda lawns, the second setting is recommended.  For fescue, start on the second or third notch on your mower.  Many still inquire about dethatching at this time of year.  Dethatching is the removal of excessive thatch that builds up on the soil surface by using a vertical power rake.  But, unless you have a thick layer of ½-1” or more of thatch, dethatching causes more damage to the crown of the plants than it does good.  So, with only a few exceptions, the best method for reducing thatch is an initial spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green-up.

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Fescue lawn one day after Spring Lawn Maintenance

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a fescue lawn as soon as we string together a few 60+ degree days it will be time to start mowing on a regular basis.  Start your cool season lawn off right by maintaining it at 2 ½ - 3”.  Mow frequently enough that you are never removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per cutting.  So, if you plan on maintaining a 3” level, don’t allow the lawn to grow past 4.5” without giving it a trim.  If you have warm season turf, Bermuda or zoyia, you can put off regularly scheduled lawn mowing until April.

Lawn Weed Control – If you have not applied a spring pre-emergent to your lawn yet, do so immediately.  Summer annual weeds begin germinating when soil temperatures consistently reach 55 degrees.  On the average, this occurs by mid-March in central Oklahoma.  But, often weed germination will occur before around concrete edges and next to structures where the soil warms sooner.  So, for the best control, don’t procrastinate.  Always follow instructions.  Watering in the product within a few days is best as the herbicide needs to move into the top ½” of soil to be effective.

Bed Weed Control – March is an excellent month to apply a plant safe pre-emergent to your landscape plantings.  Use caution in selecting the product to make sure it is safe for your plants.  When possible, select a granular pre-emergent mixed with a fertilizer containing approximately 20% nitrogen. Doing so will give your plants a good spring feeding while preventing weeds at the same time.

Lawn Fertilization – This month is a good time to start fertilizing your cool season lawns.  Use a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen.  Cool season lawns need to be feed more in the spring and fall when they are actively growing, and less in the summer.  If you have a warm season lawn, timing the first fertilizer application with spring green-up in March to early April is best. 

Mulch – Spring is a great time to mulch your landscape plantings.  Maintaining a 2” layer of organic mulch will reduce weed population, retain soil moisture, and provide a more consistent soil temperature for plant roots.  I find adding mulch an easier task in the spring when I am cleaning my landscape plantings for the first time.

Irrigation – Start monitoring your landscape moisture weekly.  Anytime we have received less than ½-1” of rainfall in the previous 7 days, run your irrigation through a cycle or string out the water hoses.  Dormant lawns don’t require as much moisture, but they shouldn’t be left dry either.  For the best spring color, do not allow plants to become too dry when they are putting on buds.  As for your evergreen plant materials, a late spring cold spell could cause damage if your landscape is allowed to remain dry.  It is too early to leave your system on automatic and forget about it.  Monitoring and watering as needed is the best practice for March.

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Flowering Quince will be one of the first shrubs to announce the arrival of spring later this month


Spring Seasonal Color – Bedding plants will begin arriving in garden centers this month.  Resist the temptation to plant summer annuals too early. If you do, there is a good chance you will be replacing them. Later this month will be a good time to plant annuals that enjoy early summer – impatient, begonia, geranium, etc.  Avoid planting lantana, penta, periwinkle, etc. until late April or early May as they need much warmer soil temperatures to flourish.  Remember, most plants will do much better in well drained, organic soil.  So, add compost when planting.  A good way to avoid the temptation to plant too early is to plant pansies and bulbs in the fall. 

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Creeping phlox puts on a brilliant show in March

Seeding Fescue – March is the second best time to overseed fescue. But, it is a very distant second to seeding in the fall.  Spring seeded fescue will come up very well and look very good till the summer heat arrives - then it fades quickly.  Fescue, being a cool season grass, will not establish a sustainable root system when planted in the spring.  So, if you have bare areas in your turf that need to be addressed now, go ahead and seed this month and make plans to redo it in the fall.  Do not apply a pre-emergent this spring if you are going to seed as it will prevent the fescue from germinating.  Whenever possible wait until fall to seed.  Fall seeding allows you to focus on weed prevention and turf development in the spring and turf establishment in the fall when it is best.

Pruning – Early March is the time to do heavy pruning on your roses just before growth begins. Early March is also the best time to make major reduction in the size of hollies.  Before spring growth arrives, you can successfully remove all the foliage taking the holly back to the central leader if needed.

Wow!  There are a lot to tackle in your landscape during March.

If you need help with any of your lawn and landscape task, or just have a few questions, please don’t hesitate to give Hall|Stewart Lawn + Landscape a call at (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hall