What's eating your landscape?

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What’s Eating at You? 

Better Yet - What’s Eating at Your Landscape?

Do you ever go through spells where something is bugging you and you just can’t seem to shake it? 

Well, that is exactly how a lot of landscape plants are feeing right now!

Before we jump into the bugs, let’s talk about the most important gift you can give your plants…

ATTENTION!
Healthy landscapes are a result of an Integrated Pest Management program. The first step of an IPM approach is maintaining healthy plant material with proper watering, feeding, and pruning. Insect activity increases on plant material that is already stressed. The second step is simply monitoring your plants. Weekly observation is critically important. Does the overall plant color look healthy? How do the leaves look?

Complete control is much easier when insects are noticed early and populations are small.

Here are a few of the things that may be eating at your landscape this week:   

Bagworms

  • ½-2” long spindle shaped bag wrapped in the foliage of the host plant.  Young bagworms are very hard to spot.

  • Favorite host plants are juniper, arborvitae, spruce, pine and cedar.  But, they can attach themselves to deciduous shrubs and trees. 

  • Females lay eggs in bags left on plants over the winter.  One female bagworm will lay as many as 500 eggs. The eggs hatch in the late spring and tiny larva crawl out and start feeding.  As they feed, they use silk and plant materials to protect and camouflage themselves.  Bagworms can strip a plant of foliage.   They are active from May through September.

  • Heavy infestations, particularly on the same plant year after year, can cause plant death.

  • When there are only a few, control is best done by hand picking.  If you have a large population an insecticide treatment should be made as soon as they are noticed.  Try to remove any bags left on plant material in the fall.  Bags left on the plant will serve as cocoons for females to lay more eggs. When removing bags, destroy them.  Do not pick and toss on the ground as the worm will crawl back to a plant.

 
Young bagworms are small and can be hard to see. They wrap themselves in the plant needles making them hard to notice.

Young bagworms are small and can be hard to see. They wrap themselves in the plant needles making them hard to notice.

If you notice a juniper or cedar starting to loose color, inspect for bagworms.

If you notice a juniper or cedar starting to loose color, inspect for bagworms.

Left untreated, large, heavy infestations of bagworms will kill mature trees and shrubs.

Left untreated, large, heavy infestations of bagworms will kill mature trees and shrubs.

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Aphids

  • A small, soft-bodied insect that is nearly invisible to the naked eye.  The honeydew, sticky substance they excrete is the easiest way to know aphids are active.  Colonies develop on the underside of the leaf and often are not noticed until the sticky substance starts to show.

  • They feed on the leaves, stems and buds of a wide variety of plants throughout the growing season.  Usually they attack the succulent new growth.

  • Aphids generally do not cause serious harm to mature plants, although they can be harmful to young plants.  Heavy populations can cause wilt and yellowing of leaves as the sap is removed.  Blooming trees and shrubs will see a reduction in flowers.  Aphids can promote sooty mold, a fungal disease, and spread viruses. 

  • Early detection is the key.  Aphids mature in 7-10 days and can produce 40-60 offspring resulting in population explosions in the thousands within a few weeks. 

  • When populations are small, a high-pressure blast of water can be used to wash the insects off the leaves.   Wiping the leaves with a soapy solution is also effective with early detection.  In most cases, once you notice the honeydew, it is best to treat with an insecticide.  A dormant oil application in the winter is helpful in reducing populations the following season.  Lady bugs can be used as a beneficial insect control when populations are small.

 
Aphids feed on the underside of the leaf and become noticeable as the leaf becomes covered with the sticky substance they excrete.

Aphids feed on the underside of the leaf and become noticeable as the leaf becomes covered with the sticky substance they excrete.

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Spider Mites

  • Very small (1/60 of an inch) that live on the underside of leaves and survive by sucking on the cell content of the leaves.  First shows up as stippling of light dots on the leaves.  Leaves then turn from bronze, to yellow, and then fall off. 

  • They get their name from the small silk protective webs they create. 

  • Because spider mite damage can look like many other plant problems, the best way to determine if it is spider mites is to shake the plant leaves over a white sheet of paper.  Spider mites will look like tiny moving black dots on the paper. 

  • They are active from early summer through fall, but the hotter and dryer the weather, the more severe the spider mite problem will become. 

  • Spider mites reproduce rapidly when conditions are perfect.  Spider mites can hatch in as little as 3 days and become mature within 5 days.  One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day during their 2-4 week life span.

  • The best control results from making two applications 7-10 days apart.

  • Adequate plant moisture during the hottest time of the year helps prevent population explosions.

 
Early signs of spider mites.

Early signs of spider mites.

Silk protective webbing formed by the spider mite.

Silk protective webbing formed by the spider mite.

To know if you have spider mites shake leaves over a white sheet of paper.    Spider mites will look like tiny moving black dots.

To know if you have spider mites shake leaves over a white sheet of paper.

Spider mites will look like tiny moving black dots.

 

Webworm

  • Caterpillars that weave a loose web around tree branches while they are munching on the leaves. 

  • Favorite trees include hickory, mulberry, oak, pecan, popular, redbud, sweetgum, and willow.  But, you can find them on most ornamental shade trees when populations are heavy.

  • There are typically two generations each season, but there can be as many as four.  First generation shows up in July and the last generation is in September or October.

  • Early generations won’t cause long lasting damage.  They are just unsightly.  The last generation can cause damage when the branch tries to re-bud just before a killing frost.  When this occurs, you can expect the affected branch to die.

  • The best control is to cut out any affected branches in the early generations when the webbing is small.  Completely dispose of the branch as the worms will exit the webbing and return to a tree.  If the population has increased to the point that pruning is not possible, an insecticide application will be needed.  The spray must penetrate the webbing to gain control of the caterpillars.  Dormant oil applications are a good idea as worms overwinter in tree bark.

 
The webworm caterpillar weaves a loose web around tree branches to protect themselves while they are destroying your tree’s leaves.

The webworm caterpillar weaves a loose web around tree branches to protect themselves while they are destroying your tree’s leaves.

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Inspect your plant material often.  Our landscapes represent large investments in both time and money. They add curb appeal and provide enormous benefits to the environment.  It is important that we do all we can to keep them healthy and growing.

Let us know if we can help you have any questions or concerns about your plant materials.

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873

Summertime = water time!

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The forecast is beginning to look like a typical July – temps in the 90’s, lots of sunshine, and only slight chances of scattered showers.     

All the abundant moisture this year is fading quickly from the soils.  In the last 10 days the soil moisture content has gone from 1.0 (saturated) to .2 (dry).  Other than a few scattered showers, it has now been two weeks since we received a 1” of rainfall.  


Good watering practices need to be your number one focus in the landscape for the next few weeks.

Good watering practices will have the biggest influence in the health and appearance of your landscape the rest of the summer.

Best Watering Practices…

Apply 1” to 1.5” of water per week.  

Your lawn and landscape need 1” to 1.5” of moisture per week when temperatures are consistently 85 degrees or higher. 

A common question is “How long should I water?”  Every irrigation system is different – different head types, different size nozzles, different head spacing, different areas, etc.  

The best way to know how long you should water is to measure the amount of water your system puts out in each zone. Take a few cans and place them around your lawn in a random pattern. Run your sprinklers through a cycle and measure the amount of water in the cans. If the sprinklers ran for 15 minutes and you had .25” of water, you need 60 to 90 minutes per week.

Next determine how long you can run your irrigation before you there is excessive runoff. This will tell you how many times per week you need to water. If you can get away with watering every 4th day, you will have a healthier, stronger landscape. Unfortunately, with our tight soils, watering every other day on the required ODD/EVEN system during the hottest times is needed to get the correct amount of water on the lawn without excessive runoff.

If you don’t have the time to audit the amount of water your system puts out, start with these settings, monitor, and adjust: Fixed spray pattern heads with 10-15’ spacings – 15 mins per time. Larger rotor type heads on 10-30’ spacings – 40 mins per time.

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Set your controller to water with back to back run times. 

For most of our landscapes, if we run our sprinklers long enough to get the recommended amount of water, we end up with a lot of water running down the street.  Split your zone run time in half and set your controller to run through the zones back to back. 

Example:  Set the controller to run at 4:00 AM and 4:30 AM.  When the 4:00 cycle completes, even if it past 4:30, the controller will start the second cycle. 

I know from experience that moist soil will absorb more water than dry soil.  Soil is just like the sponge in your sink. A dried sponge repels water before it starts absorbing water.  Your landscape is the same.  The first cycle moistens the soil and the second cycle soaks in. 

Split, back to back, irrigation cycles are an old golf course trick.  In fact, large commercial irrigation controllers have a run/soak cycle setting that waters a short time, delays, and then waters a longer time.

I started this a few years ago on lawns with slopes and gradually have incorporated the concept to all lawns.  It makes a difference in watering efficiency.

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Water in the early morning. 

Evaporation is at the lowest point in the pre-dawn hours.  Also, wind is usually at the lowest point of the day in the pre-dawn hours.  I prefer to set most irrigation controllers to start at 4:00 AM with the goal of having the cycle completed by 8:00 AM. 

Avoid watering in the heat of the day when much of the water will be lost to evaporation.  Also, avoid watering in the evening. Watering in the evening promotes many turf diseases because the lawn stays wet too long.

This is critical for fescue lawns.  If fescue stays wet for more than 6 hours at a time and temperatures are in the upper 80’s or higher, brown patch is unavoidable.  Fescue performs best in the heat if it is watered deeply and grass blades are dry by noon. 

Earlier this week I reset a system on a fescue lawn that had brown patch starting in several areas.  The system was set to run at 4:00 AM, noon, and 9:00 PM every day.  They were creating the perfect breeding and spreading conditions for their lawn’s worst enemy.

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Daily watering is not needed.  

Unless you are trying to get newly planted seed to germinate or new sod to take root, there is not a good reason to water every day.  Always water deep and infrequent.  Daily, shallow watering creates a landscape that is shallow rooted and more dependent on constant moisture for survival. 

Fescue will benefit from a deep soaking, every other day, during the summer months just like Bermuda. Shallow, daily watering in the summer heat is very damaging to fescue. Remember - Brown patch symptoms look very similar to draught stress. Typically, the more you water, the worse the fescue looks, so you add more water, and the cycle of decline continues.

A common myth I would love to dispel is that fescue requires a lot more water than bermuda.  Yes, it does for a couple of weeks in the fall when you are trying to get newly seeded fescue to germinate, but mature fescue doesn’t require more moisture than bermuda

I water my fescue the same way I water bermuda – deep, infrequent cycles.

Aeration improves moisture absorption. 

You can’t beat aeration for improving your soil structure. A key benefit of improved soil structure is better water absorption.  Lawns that receive annual aeration (or at least every other year) do not experience as much runoff. 

Always pay attention to water need. 

If we receive .5” of rain or more, turn your controller off for a few days.  Install a rain sensor if you are not good at remembering.  A rain sensor will pay for itself easily in one season.  Just because it is summer, don’t assume you can leave your controller in automatic and forget it. 

Don’t stress if your lawn and landscape gets a little dry, it will rebound quickly once water is applied.  Remember, just as we have experienced this spring and early summer, too much water is more damaging than not enough. 

A good indicator that your lawn is needing water is the foot print test.  If the grass retains your foot prints instead of quickly springing back, it is time to resume watering.

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Watch for uneven water patterns. 

If you notice areas where the lawn color is fading, you may have uneven moisture patterns.  This could be the result of a broken head, clogged nozzle, or a head that is out of adjustment.  

Even if you don’t have an irrigation system, the concepts of good watering apply.  

It is important to learn how long you need to water when you are using a hose end sprinkler.  Next time you water, set out a few cans.  You will be surprised how long you need to water to get the proper amount of water on your lawn.  Invest in a digital hose water timer, such as the ones made by Orbit.  It will make it easier for you to control the timing and frequency of watering. 
 

If you need help in determining your lawn and landscape’s water needs, let us know. 

We can schedule an irrigation audit for your lawn and landscape.  We will inspect for even water distribution, measure water rates, adjust heads, make recommended irrigation changes, and set the controller for optimal operation. 

Give us a call if we can help – (405)367-3873. 

A healthy landscape is an important part of our environment.  A healthy turf helps clean the air, trap carbon dioxide, reduce erosion, improve groundwater quality, absorb noise, reduces temperatures, as well as, adds cub appeal and value to your home.  A key component to a healthy landscape is proper water usage. 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

July Lawn & Landscape Tips

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Shocker!  We have gone a whole week without rainfall in the Oklahoma City metro area.  This is the first week since mid-February that we have not had some precipitation. Normal annual rainfall in our area is around 35”, compared to 55” we have received in the last 365 days. 

If there is any practice that has been reinforced this year is important to plant a little high and make sure you have positive drainage away from your plant materials.  During periods of excessive moisture, plants with poor drainage, or ones that are planted too low, even if it was years ago, will be weakened by root damage.  Plants need the right balance of air and moisture in the soil.  When excessive water robs the soil of space for air, roots start to rot.  Rarely do know there is a problem until temperatures start to rise and the plant doesn’t have enough root system to supply the plant with needed moisture.  This week we looked at several plants that are struggling with root damage from the excess moisture. 

What is important for lawn and landscape now that temperatures are in the low to mid 90s and less rain is in the forecast?

Let’s take a look…

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Mowing – For warm season turfs (Bermuda and zoyia) gradually raise the height of your mower. Bermuda should be mowed between 1.5” to 2.5” during the summer heat. Fescue, cool season turf, should be maintained at its maximum height, 3” to 3.5” now. The more leaf space you have the more drought resistant your lawn will be. Mow often enough that you only remove 1/3” of the grass each time. For healthy, irrigated, and fertilized Bermuda, if possible, mow every 4-5 days for the best lawn. If you are mowing often enough you are only removing 1/3 of the growth, don’t catch the clippings. Grass leaves are mostly water and nitrogen and they break down very quickly into the soil. If your lawn has a brown cast to it after you mow, you are cutting below the leaves and into the stems. Stems do not break down quickly and can lead to thatch build-up, so if this is the case, it is best to bag when mowing.

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Watering – Your lawn and landscape needs at least 1” to 1.5” of moisture per week during the hottest periods of the summer. Water on an odd/even schedule early in the morning – before dawn. Avoid watering in the evening. Remember, deep soakings are always best. Shallow watering creates shallow roots dependent on more frequent watering. Monitor local rainfall and turn irrigation off when there is sufficient rainfall. Newer plantings will require additional watering until they have established roots.

Brown Patch – We are starting to see brown patch on Fescue. Brown patch occurs when there is excessive moisture, high humidity, and/or high due points when summer temperatures are in the 90s. Brown patch is worse in areas with dense shade and/or low wind movement. Anytime the leaf blades of your fescue stay wet for more than 6 hours at a time in the summer, brown patch is unavoidable. The temptation is to water fescue more frequently in the summer. It is common for us to find fescue lawns with the irrigation set to run morning and night creating the perfect conditions for the disease to spread. If you have heavy shade and/or low wind movement (most smaller backyards) water after sunrise and no more than every other day. Resist the urge to water more. Your fescue is not dying due to summer heat, it is struggling with brown patch. As a part of our 7 Step Lawn Care Program for cool season lawns, lawns with brown patch will receive a fungicide to help suppress the disease.

Fertilizer – Because warm season grasses are actively growing, they need feeding during July. We try to use a fertilizer with close to a 3 to 1 to 1 of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).  Most of our soils have plenty of phosphorous and potassium, but nitrogen needs to be replaced.  July is a great month for turf development and a thick, healthy growing lawn is the best defense to weeds. Do not fertilize fescue lawns now.  As a cool season grass, fertilizer in the heat of the summer on fescue will cause damage.

Weed Control – If you are on a regular lawn care application program, and if your first application was made prior to the first of March, you shouldn’t be experiencing many summer annual weeds.  But, with the excessive rain, we have seen some breakdown of pre-emergent herbicides, and a lot of nut sedge.  Nut sedge thrives in tight, wet soils – this year is the perfect storm for nut sedge.  If you didn’t get an early pre-emergent, you most likely have a good crop of crabgrass now. Controlling weeds in the heat of the year often can cause more damage to the turf than is beneficial.  It is important that label instructions are always followed when spraying for weeds.  Don’t over apply.  Again, what is most important in July is developing a thick, healthy turf.  If you are too aggressive on weeds now you will have weak spots that are more susceptible to weeds in the future.  

Shrub Pruning – Selective pruning and light shearing should be practiced during the summer heat. Major pruning needs to wait for now. Avoid any pruning or shearing on spring blooming plants because most likely you will be removing flower buds and reducing the show next spring. 

Aphids

Insect Watch – The first step to healthy plants is inspecting them regularly and then treating as needed. If you attempt to treat on a schedule, you will find that you often will miss the target pest. This year is a prime example. Bagworms and aphids have both been late to the game. With bagworms, by this time of the summer they are usually getting big and very noticeable. This week I noticed a few needle evergreens with very small bagworms aggressively feeding. Aphids also are late but are now aggressively attacking plants. Start watching for spider mites. They thrive in hot, dry conditions. They gather on the underside of your plant leaves and do damage by sucking sap from the leaves. They will leave small holes and eventually your leaves will look yellow and weak. They are very small and can be very hard to see. Take a white sheet of paper, place it below the leaf and lightly shake the leaf. If you see small specs of red, yellow and brown on the paper and they start moving around, it isn’t dust and dirt you are seeing, it is spider mites. Organic controls include insecticidal soap, predatory insects, and neem oil. If you subscribe to our Tree & Shrub Care program, we are inspecting each time we visit your landscape and treating as needed.

Bag worms

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Grub Worm Control – If you have experienced grub damage in the past, or if you have noticed a lot of June bugs around your landscape, July through August is a good window to apply an application for control. Grub worms are the larva form of the June bug. June bugs have laid their eggs and they are hatching now. Grubs are easiest to control when the new grub is small and feeding close to the surface in July and August.

Tree Leaves – Expect some leaf drop on deciduous trees in the summer heat.  Because of the abundant rainfall this year, trees are loaded with foliage and we may experience a lot of leaf drop should July and August turn out hot and dry.  Some leaf drop is a good thing as the tree naturally adjusts to the amount of moisture it is receiving.  The fun fact about most trees is they have a secondary set of buds.  If they are stressed, they naturally drop leaves to survive, and then re-bud as they recover.

If you have any lawn or landscape concerns, needs or questions, please give us a call – (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hall

Hall|Stewart

Crape Myrtle - Summer's Biggest Show!

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This week marked the longest day of the year, the first day of summer, and the start of Crape Myrtle season. 

Most blooming trees and shrubs last for only a few days or a couple of weeks.  But the crape myrtle holds the distinction of being our longest blooming shrub or tree.  Typically, the crape myrtle starts adding color to the landscape in mid-June and doesn’t stop until the first frost.  This year, due to the cooler than normal start to the summer, the crape myrtle hasn’t started to put on their summer show yet but will in the next couple of weeks.   

This past week, I was fortunate to spend a few days in Charleston, South Carolina, the first place the French planted crape myrtles in the United States.  One of our favorite activities of the week was a morning walk through Charleston’s crape myrtle lined streets. 

There are over 50 varieties of crape myrtles and new ones are introduced every year.  They are found throughout the southern US and perform well anywhere south of USDA zone 6. 

Crape myrtle Sizes    Standard Crape Myrtles  - When allowed to grow as a small tree will reach up to 25’ in our region and require little maintenance. Simply remove any dead wood from the tips of the branches in the spring and let the plant go for the season. They can be grown as a single trunk or a multitrunked tree.   Semi-dwarf Crape Myrtles  - Typically grow 8-12’ tall and make an excellent colorful screen when grown in a row.   Dwarf Crape Myrtles  - Grow only 2-4’ tall, are small and mounding, and ideal for a landscape bed where you want a splash of summer color.  Selecting the right sized plant is important. Crape myrtles are at their best when they can grow to their natural shape and size. Constant pruning on the wrong size plant to keep it in a space it was not meant to fit will reduce the summer blooms.

Crape myrtle Sizes

Standard Crape Myrtles - When allowed to grow as a small tree will reach up to 25’ in our region and require little maintenance. Simply remove any dead wood from the tips of the branches in the spring and let the plant go for the season. They can be grown as a single trunk or a multitrunked tree.

Semi-dwarf Crape Myrtles - Typically grow 8-12’ tall and make an excellent colorful screen when grown in a row.

Dwarf Crape Myrtles - Grow only 2-4’ tall, are small and mounding, and ideal for a landscape bed where you want a splash of summer color.

Selecting the right sized plant is important. Crape myrtles are at their best when they can grow to their natural shape and size. Constant pruning on the wrong size plant to keep it in a space it was not meant to fit will reduce the summer blooms.

Crape Myrtle Colors – The color pallet ranges from white, pink, purple and red.  Bloom color is not the only attribute of a crape myrtle.  Their foliage ranges from dark green, wine colored, velvet and dark purple. The combination of the bloom and foliage colors is one of the things that attracts me to the plant.

I am most fond of the large, full sized, tree formed crapemyrtles.  It is hard to narrow my list of favorite crapemyrtles, and my list often changes, but these are just a few of my current favorites:

Pink Velour  – Large 12-15’ small tree form with dark wine foliage and bright pink flowers. The foliage and flower combination are very striking.

Pink Velour – Large 12-15’ small tree form with dark wine foliage and bright pink flowers. The foliage and flower combination are very striking.

Dynamite  – Also a small tree that grows up to 15’. Dynamite was one of the first red tree form varieties. New foliage is nearly crimson in color and changes to a rich green as it matures. Flowers are brilliant red.

Dynamite – Also a small tree that grows up to 15’. Dynamite was one of the first red tree form varieties. New foliage is nearly crimson in color and changes to a rich green as it matures. Flowers are brilliant red.

Natchez  – One of the largest tree form crape myrtles reaching 25’. Foliage is rich green, and flowers are white. The cinnamon brown bark puts on a show of its own as it exfoliates.

Natchez – One of the largest tree form crape myrtles reaching 25’. Foliage is rich green, and flowers are white. The cinnamon brown bark puts on a show of its own as it exfoliates.

Ebony Flame  – A great accent plant that grows 10-12’ with dark red blooms on intense black foliage.

Ebony Flame – A great accent plant that grows 10-12’ with dark red blooms on intense black foliage.

One of the nation’s leading innovators of crape myrtles is Oklahoma’s own, Dr. Carl Whitcomb. Dr. Whitcomb holds 32 patents and has authored five books including Know It and Grow It, a book every landscape enthusiast should own. You can see all of Dr. Whitcomb’s crape myrtles by following this link: http://drcarlwhitcomb.com/Patented_Plants.html

Crape Myrtle Bark  – One of the most overlooked aspects of the plant is the bark. The bark is smooth and ranges in color from pink to gray. As the plant matures, the thin bark exfoliates to expose a different color underneath. Too often, tree form crape myrtles are severely pruned every spring and we never get to enjoy the beautiful bark of the mature plant.

Crape Myrtle Bark – One of the most overlooked aspects of the plant is the bark. The bark is smooth and ranges in color from pink to gray. As the plant matures, the thin bark exfoliates to expose a different color underneath. Too often, tree form crape myrtles are severely pruned every spring and we never get to enjoy the beautiful bark of the mature plant.

Crape Myrtle Fall Color  – Another overlooked characteristic of the plant is the fall color. Varieties range from yellow to red. Much of our fall color is found in larger trees. Crape myrtles add fall color to the landscape below the color of the large trees.

Crape Myrtle Fall Color – Another overlooked characteristic of the plant is the fall color. Varieties range from yellow to red. Much of our fall color is found in larger trees. Crape myrtles add fall color to the landscape below the color of the large trees.

I would challenge anyone to find another plant that offers so many features to the landscape.  From the long bloom, the variety of colors, the many shapes and sizes, and the addition of exfoliating bark and good fall color, you can’t deny the crape myrtle a place in your landscape.

Lorne Hall

Hall Stewart Lawn + Landscape

Mowing... your lawn's most important activity!

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Most people fall into two categories when it comes to lawn mowing: 

1.     You mow because you want to have the best lawn possible, or

2.     You mow only because you have to

Unfortunately, there are too many who view mowing as a necessary evil.  If they only realized, how you mow your lawn is more important than the fertilizer you use, the weed control applications that are made, and the amount of water used, they would take mowing more seriously.

Getting mowing right comes down to three critical practices: mowing height, mowing frequency, and managing the clippings.  Let’s take a quick look at these three practices.

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Mowing Height

Grasses adapt well to various mowing heights, but there is a direct relationship between mowing height and a healthy turf.  As the height of the grass increases, the root system increases.  As the height is lowered, the root system decreases.  A taller turf yields a healthier root system and a lawn that will withstand more stress.  As the height and density increase, there is less room available for weeds to germinate and grow. 

Optimal cutting heights vary based on type of grass and the time of year.  All turf grass should start the season low and gradually increase in height over the course of the summer. The goal is to have your lawn at its thickest and tallest height during the heat of summer. 

Fescue is at its best when it is cut between 2.5” to 3.5”. 

Bermuda is best maintained between 1.5” to 2.5”, but Tiff type Bermuda should be maintained shorter, .5” to 1.5”.

If you overseed your Bermuda lawn with Rye in the fall, maintain the rye at 2” to 3” in the fall and spring.

Areas of shade need to be mowed at the maximum height.  The increase in leaf space will allow the plant the best possible chance to survive in the lower light.

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Mowing Frequency

Probably the biggest hindrance to having a great lawn is mowing on a schedule, not on need.  Most people mow their lawns once a week during the growing season. We all understand why.  We are busy and our only opportunity to mow is on our day off.  Or, you may have a landscape management company that mows the lawn once per week. 

But, for the absolute best lawn, mow based on the 1/3 rule rather than a set schedule.  For example:  If you desire to maintain your fescue at 3”, you should never let your lawn grow over 4.5”.  If you want to keep your Bermuda lawn at 1”, then you need to mow before it exceeds 1.5”, not just because it’s Saturday and you always mow on Saturday.

Whenever you remove more than 1/3 of the grass in a single mowing, you are cutting below the plant leaf and into the stem.  If you are seeing yellow or brown areas after you mow, you are cutting more than 1/3. Turf grass research shows when you cut into the stems the plant responds by using nutrients stored in the root system to regenerate leaves.  This reduces the strength, health and density of the roof system and results in a weaker turf.

What should you do when your lawn becomes too tall and you need to cut off 50% or more to get back to the desired height?  Cut 1/3 off, wait a couple of days and then cut another 1/3 off.  Repeat until you reclaim the height you desire.

There is no doubt that frequent mowing at a uniform height, whether short or tall, is the most important aspect of having a great lawn.

Managing the Clippings

When you are able to mow frequently using the 1/3 rule, I recommend not catching the clippings.  Turf grass leaves are 80-90% water and nitrogen.  Leaves decompose very quickly and add nutrients back to the turf. 

Not bagging your clippings is a major step in improving your lawn’s quality.

When you bag your clippings, you are throwing a little of your fertilizer away every time you cut the lawn. 

Most years, I bag my fescue lawn a couple of times per year, the first time each spring and in the fall when fall leaves cover the turf.  This year I have bagged a few more times because the rain has interrupted my 1/3 rule.

A common belief is that when you don’t bag your clippings you are increasing thatch buildup.  As long as you are only cutting the leaves and not the stems, thatch will not become a problem. 

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Two Important Bonus Practices:

  1. Mower blades should always be kept sharp.  Dull blades bruise the leaf resulting in frayed leaves and a duller lawn appearance. 

  2. Vary your mowing pattern throughout the season to reduce soil compaction.  Changing your mowing pattern will also improve turf appearance.  I recommend rotating through at least three different mowing patterns.  For example:  mow parallel to the street, the next time mow at a 45 degree angle, followed by mowing perpendicular to the street or at the opposite 45 degree angle. 

Lawn mowing is the most time consuming landscape practice.  It has to be performed more frequently than fertilizing, weed control, bed weeding, shrub trimming, and flower planting. It is easy to allow mowing to become just another task that has to be done.  But, a well properly maintained lawn is well worth the time and effort. 

Nothing adds more curb appeal to your home than a well-groomed lawn.

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

More perennials, please!

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We keep a tentative schedule for our weekly topics.  Today’s topic was to be “Watering Tips for the Summer.”  But that would be a very short, probably one sentence tip: “Turn the water off!” 

Our goal every week is to address issues we are seeing in lawns and landscapes as we are out providing lawn care services.  Most problems we are seeing are related to too much moisture and poor drainage.  The Oklahoma City area received, on the average, another 2” of rain this week.  Soil moisture readings are at 100%.  This means soils can not absorb any additional water and if you add any it will just run off.  By mid-week if we have not received any more rainfall, inspect your landscape and water only if needed.

So, let’s talk about something more interesting than “turn your water off” - let’s talk about perennials!

Traditionally a big believer in lots of annual color, I have been gradually reducing the amount of annual color in my landscape by adding perennials.   

My landscape has always included some perennials.  But, because they don’t bloom all season and often their foliage is unattractive after the blooms have faded, my style has been to keep them in the background.

I still believe that annual color provides the most season long impact.  Areas close to the front doors, along the front walks, and key areas around our outdoor living spaces still look best planted with pansies and bulbs in the fall, and replanted with various heat loving annuals in April and May.  You can’t beat the impact of bright annual color! 

But I’m glad I have been gradually adding more perennials to the landscape because this year perennials have been stunning. 

There are so many perennial choices. There are more perennials than you could ever cover in one writing.  Books and books have been devoted to perennials, but I have a few favorites.  Each of these have found a home in my landscape, although none of them last the entire season, as a group, they add interest from spring to fall. 

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 prefers full sun but will tolerate some 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 prefers full sun but will tolerate some 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 to early summer 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, prefer alkaline soils, but waterlogged soil will cause crown and root rot.   Heavy mulching near the crown of the plant can be detrimental. Late March through April 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 than 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 to early summer 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, prefer alkaline soils, but waterlogged soil will cause crown and root rot.   Heavy mulching near the crown of the plant can be detrimental. Late March through April 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 than 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.

‘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. Keep faded blooms removed 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. Keep faded blooms removed 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.

Cutting Salvia back after it has finished blooming for the season.

Cutting Salvia back after it has finished blooming for the season.

Daylily (Hemerocallis) .  With hundreds of cultivars there are too many colors to list.  Daylilies range from 10-36” tall and 12-24” wide.  Depending on the variety, blooms start in early summer and extend into late summer with a successive blooming habit that last 4-6 weeks.  Plant in sun to partial shade with no more than a half day of shade.  They are drought tolerant, pest resistant – an overall tough plant. With a clump type growth, they are dynamic planted in a mass grouping. Well drained fertile soil is best, but they are very adaptive to a wide range of soils.  Leave dormant foliage until new foliage emerges in the spring.  Fertilizer in early spring and again in early summer.  Clumps can be divided every 3-5 years in the fall.  Remove spent flower stocks to encourage more blooms.  The most common yellow daylily is ‘Stella de’ Oro’.  ‘Pardon Me’ is a great red daylily.  Planting daylilies behind liriope (monkey grass) will help cover up the unattractive foliage as it begins to fade in late summer.  Our daylilies started putting on their early summer show this week

Daylily (Hemerocallis).  With hundreds of cultivars there are too many colors to list.  Daylilies range from 10-36” tall and 12-24” wide.  Depending on the variety, blooms start in early summer and extend into late summer with a successive blooming habit that last 4-6 weeks.  Plant in sun to partial shade with no more than a half day of shade.  They are drought tolerant, pest resistant – an overall tough plant. With a clump type growth, they are dynamic planted in a mass grouping. Well drained fertile soil is best, but they are very adaptive to a wide range of soils.  Leave dormant foliage until new foliage emerges in the spring.  Fertilizer in early spring and again in early summer.  Clumps can be divided every 3-5 years in the fall.  Remove spent flower stocks to encourage more blooms.  The most common yellow daylily is ‘Stella de’ Oro’.  ‘Pardon Me’ is a great red daylily.  Planting daylilies behind liriope (monkey grass) will help cover up the unattractive foliage as it begins to fade in late summer.  Our daylilies started putting on their early summer show this week

Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum x superbum).   Classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow center.  They grow in clumps 1-2’ wide and 2-3’ tall.  Best if planted in fertile soil that drains well.  The more sun they receive the more they will bloom.  Shasta Daisies start blooming in early summer and can last until early fall.  They make great cut flowers.  We are enjoying an arrangement of white daisies and hydrangea blossoms from the garden this weekend.  Keeping the faded blooms cut will extend the color show.  After the foliage goes dormant in late fall, cut the stems back to 1-2”.  They respond well to light fertilizer in the spring.  Daisies perform best if they are divided every 3-5 years.  Considered as a low maintenance plant, aphids are about the only insect you may see.  ‘Becky’ is a favorite variety.

Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum x superbum).  Classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow center.  They grow in clumps 1-2’ wide and 2-3’ tall.  Best if planted in fertile soil that drains well.  The more sun they receive the more they will bloom.  Shasta Daisies start blooming in early summer and can last until early fall.  They make great cut flowers.  We are enjoying an arrangement of white daisies and hydrangea blossoms from the garden this weekend.  Keeping the faded blooms cut will extend the color show.  After the foliage goes dormant in late fall, cut the stems back to 1-2”.  They respond well to light fertilizer in the spring.  Daisies perform best if they are divided every 3-5 years.  Considered as a low maintenance plant, aphids are about the only insect you may see.  ‘Becky’ is a favorite variety.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia grandiflora).   Daisy like golden-yellow flower petals surround a dark brown or black center reaching 2-4’ and spreading 2’.   The large flower blooms (2-4”) will be arriving in the next two weeks and will continue into July.   And, if you keep spent blooms trimmed off, you will get a few blooms in the fall. Plant in sun to partial shade.  As a native prairie plant, you will find it to be low maintenance.  It tolerates most soils but prefers well drained. 

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia grandiflora).  Daisy like golden-yellow flower petals surround a dark brown or black center reaching 2-4’ and spreading 2’.   The large flower blooms (2-4”) will be arriving in the next two weeks and will continue into July.   And, if you keep spent blooms trimmed off, you will get a few blooms in the fall. Plant in sun to partial shade.  As a native prairie plant, you will find it to be low maintenance.  It tolerates most soils but prefers well drained. 

Because of its height, plant in the middle of a bed or as a background to lower perennials, such as dianthus or salvia. The plant can be divided every 3-5 years.  Remove dormant foliage anytime in the fall or winter.  It can develop powdery mildew if in too much shade.  Minimal feeding is required.  Keep a watch out for occasional aphid problem. 

Because of its height, plant in the middle of a bed or as a background to lower perennials, such as dianthus or salvia. The plant can be divided every 3-5 years.  Remove dormant foliage anytime in the fall or winter.  It can develop powdery mildew if in too much shade.  Minimal feeding is required.  Keep a watch out for occasional aphid problem. 

Coneflower (Echinacea).   A native   prairie plant with purple or white blooms 2-4” in diameter.    Just like Black-Eyed Susan it reaches 2-4’ in height and spreads out 2-3’ and makes a good show planted in the back or sides of the garden.  But, it also works well as a single specimen.  Plant in sun to partial shade.  It is one of the longest summer bloomers with a show that last 5-8 weeks. The coarse texture of the leaves makes them well suited near softer-textured plants such as ornamental grasses.  It enjoys well-drained, fertile soil.  Removing faded flowers will encourage more blooms.  Remove dead foliage in the winter.  Coneflower is fairly disease tolerant and responds to feeding early in the growing season, and also likes to be mulched.

Coneflower (Echinacea).  A native prairie plant with purple or white blooms 2-4” in diameter.    Just like Black-Eyed Susan it reaches 2-4’ in height and spreads out 2-3’ and makes a good show planted in the back or sides of the garden.  But, it also works well as a single specimen.  Plant in sun to partial shade.  It is one of the longest summer bloomers with a show that last 5-8 weeks. The coarse texture of the leaves makes them well suited near softer-textured plants such as ornamental grasses.  It enjoys well-drained, fertile soil.  Removing faded flowers will encourage more blooms.  Remove dead foliage in the winter.  Coneflower is fairly disease tolerant and responds to feeding early in the growing season, and also likes to be mulched.

Hardy Verbena (Verbena).   This low growing (4-6”) spreading (2-3’) perennial thrives in summer heat while producing purple, pink, red or white blooms.  Verbena is not picky about soil type, but requires full sun.  When it gets more than 2-3 hours of shade per day, its biggest problem is powdery mildew disease increases.  The low growing nature makes it perfect for the front of beds, along walks and cascading over walls and slopes.  It also looks great in pots and window boxes.  Good drainage and fertile soils needed and with consistent irrigation blooms and spread will increase. Feed in spring and after first flush of heavy blooms.  Don’t fertilize after July.  Verbena likes mulch to insulate roots and hold in moisture.  Sheering the plant just below spent blooms will encourage growth and more flowering.  My favorite variety is ‘Homestead Purple’. 

Hardy Verbena (Verbena).  This low growing (4-6”) spreading (2-3’) perennial thrives in summer heat while producing purple, pink, red or white blooms.  Verbena is not picky about soil type, but requires full sun.  When it gets more than 2-3 hours of shade per day, its biggest problem is powdery mildew disease increases.  The low growing nature makes it perfect for the front of beds, along walks and cascading over walls and slopes.  It also looks great in pots and window boxes.  Good drainage and fertile soils needed and with consistent irrigation blooms and spread will increase. Feed in spring and after first flush of heavy blooms.  Don’t fertilize after July.  Verbena likes mulch to insulate roots and hold in moisture.  Sheering the plant just below spent blooms will encourage growth and more flowering.  My favorite variety is ‘Homestead Purple’. 

Garden Mum (Chrysanthemum x moratorium).   Typically thought of as an annual, but they make a great perennial for fall color with shades of pink, red, white and yellow.  Plant height and width are both 1-3’ resulting typically in a round shape.  They produce a wonderful burst of color for 2-4 weeks in late September and October.  Mums will tolerate light shade but prefer full sun.  To survive the winter as a perennial they need moisture and good drainage. Therefore, add an ample amount of compost when planting in our clay soils.  Dormant foliage can be removed anytime during the winter or in the spring when new growth emerges.  Mums will bloom a little in the spring or early summer.  Once the early blooms fade, keep the plant sheared to the shape and height you prefer.  Stop shearing after the first of July.  When you shear a mum during the last half of the summer, you are removing the flower buds for the fall.

Garden Mum (Chrysanthemum x moratorium).  Typically thought of as an annual, but they make a great perennial for fall color with shades of pink, red, white and yellow.  Plant height and width are both 1-3’ resulting typically in a round shape.  They produce a wonderful burst of color for 2-4 weeks in late September and October.  Mums will tolerate light shade but prefer full sun.  To survive the winter as a perennial they need moisture and good drainage. Therefore, add an ample amount of compost when planting in our clay soils.  Dormant foliage can be removed anytime during the winter or in the spring when new growth emerges.  Mums will bloom a little in the spring or early summer.  Once the early blooms fade, keep the plant sheared to the shape and height you prefer.  Stop shearing after the first of July.  When you shear a mum during the last half of the summer, you are removing the flower buds for the fall.

These are some of my favorites -- but, with so many types of perennials, I am always finding another one to try in the landscape. 

What are your favorites? 

One final thought – I have noticed a trend toward mixing herbs in perennial garden. Not only will herbs add different textures and tones to the landscape, but you also get the benefit of having fresh herbs, which are always better, on your dinner table.

Send us an email or give us a call (405)367-3873, we would love to hear what is working for you!

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

June Lawn & Landscape Tips

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Late May into early June is typically the turning point for your summer loving landscapes.  By the first of June, warm season turfs are looking great, shrubs and trees are full of foliage, and summer annual color plantings are bursting with brilliant color. With all the excess moisture in May, in Oklahoma this June should be great for our landscapes!

June is the month all your lawn and landscape activities finally settle into a predictable routine. Here are a few things to be thinking about:

Mowing –  For the best summer turf get into a routine of mowing often enough that you only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mowing.  For bermuda and zoyia, both warm season turf grasses, this may require mowing every 4 to 5 days.  If you can mow this often, don’t bag your clippings.  The top third of the grass leaf is 90% moisture and nutrients.  The best summer height for warm season turf is 1.5 – 2.5”.  Fescue, cool season turf grass, will continue to grow rapidly during early June but once we consistently have temperatures in the upper 90’s it will begin to slow down.  The best height for cool season turf in the summer is 2.5 – 3.5”.  Both warm season and cool season turfs, don’t respond well to being cut below their recommended height. Cutting the lawn too short discourages root development and having deep roots going into the summer heat is important for both warm and cool season turf.

Mowing – For the best summer turf get into a routine of mowing often enough that you only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mowing.  For bermuda and zoyia, both warm season turf grasses, this may require mowing every 4 to 5 days.  If you can mow this often, don’t bag your clippings.  The top third of the grass leaf is 90% moisture and nutrients.  The best summer height for warm season turf is 1.5 – 2.5”.  Fescue, cool season turf grass, will continue to grow rapidly during early June but once we consistently have temperatures in the upper 90’s it will begin to slow down.  The best height for cool season turf in the summer is 2.5 – 3.5”.  Both warm season and cool season turfs, don’t respond well to being cut below their recommended height. Cutting the lawn too short discourages root development and having deep roots going into the summer heat is important for both warm and cool season turf.

Fertilizer – Bermuda lawns should be fertilized this month with a higher nitrogen, slow release fertilizer.  The goal in June is to create a healthy bermuda lawn that will thrive in the summer heat.  Fescue lawns should only receive low nitrogen, organic, root stimulating fertilizer during June to prepare them for the summer.

Weed Control –  If you subscribe to  Hall | Stewart’s Lawn Care Programs  and have not skipped any applications this year, you have received two spring pre-emergent applications.  This has given you a good barrier to prevent summer annual grassy weeds.  But, if not, you may have some grassy weeds, most commonly, crabgrass, showing up in your lawn.  June is a good month to control grassy weeds while they are still young plants.  Once they mature, stronger products will need to be used which can cause turf damage.  If nutsedge is making an appearance in your lawn, it is best  not  to pull it.  When you pull nutsedge and do not remove the nut below the surface, the plant becomes stressed and multiplies. 

Weed Control – If you subscribe to Hall | Stewart’s Lawn Care Programs and have not skipped any applications this year, you have received two spring pre-emergent applications.  This has given you a good barrier to prevent summer annual grassy weeds.  But, if not, you may have some grassy weeds, most commonly, crabgrass, showing up in your lawn.  June is a good month to control grassy weeds while they are still young plants.  Once they mature, stronger products will need to be used which can cause turf damage.  If nutsedge is making an appearance in your lawn, it is best not to pull it.  When you pull nutsedge and do not remove the nut below the surface, the plant becomes stressed and multiplies. 

Tree & Shrub Care –  Start watching for spider mites.  If you notice pale and specked foliage, shake the leaves over a white sheet of paper.  If you see tiny specks that start to move, you have spider mites and should schedule a treatment.  Also, be on the watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. With all insect and disease issues, we subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for these issues with each visit.  Most problems are easier to control the earlier you notice them.  If you notice any issues with your plants, please let us know.

Tree & Shrub Care – Start watching for spider mites.  If you notice pale and specked foliage, shake the leaves over a white sheet of paper.  If you see tiny specks that start to move, you have spider mites and should schedule a treatment.  Also, be on the watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. With all insect and disease issues, we subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for these issues with each visit.  Most problems are easier to control the earlier you notice them.  If you notice any issues with your plants, please let us know.

Watering –  This may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of landscape management.  May was very wet…too wet.  Currently, soil moisture is enough for mature lawns, shrubs, and trees. If you have new plantings, or annual color, you may need to water.  Develop the practice of watering based only on need.  Anytime we go a week without receiving a 1” of rainfall, start watering.  When you walk on the lawn, if grass doesn’t spring back up, start watering.  Remember, deep soakings are always better than short, frequent watering.  Shallow, frequent watering results in lawns with less roots and more dependent on water.   

Watering – This may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of landscape management.  May was very wet…too wet.  Currently, soil moisture is enough for mature lawns, shrubs, and trees. If you have new plantings, or annual color, you may need to water.  Develop the practice of watering based only on need.  Anytime we go a week without receiving a 1” of rainfall, start watering.  When you walk on the lawn, if grass doesn’t spring back up, start watering.  Remember, deep soakings are always better than short, frequent watering.  Shallow, frequent watering results in lawns with less roots and more dependent on water.   

Mulch  – Add mulch to your landscape plantings this month.  A 2” layer of mulch will retain moisture, cool the soil, and reduce weed germination.  We prefer premium shredded all bark cedar mulch because it doesn’t float as much and aesthetically looks great.  For acid loving plants such as hydrangeas and azaleas, pecan hulls or pine bark mulch is a great choice. 

Mulch – Add mulch to your landscape plantings this month.  A 2” layer of mulch will retain moisture, cool the soil, and reduce weed germination.  We prefer premium shredded all bark cedar mulch because it doesn’t float as much and aesthetically looks great.  For acid loving plants such as hydrangeas and azaleas, pecan hulls or pine bark mulch is a great choice. 

Brown Patch – Be on the look out for brown patch in your fescue lawn.  Anytime nighttime temperatures are 70 plus and the turf remains damp for over 6 hours at a time, brown patch will develop. Areas where there is little air movement and/or heavy shade are more prone because the turf stays wet longer.  Brown patch will make the lawn appear it needs more water, but watering will just make it worse.  So, before you water more, think about the site, the amount of shade, the air movement in the area, and the amount of moisture the area has received.  The best thing you can do if this problem occurs is to stop watering.

Aeration – Mechanical aeration is a “best” practice for any lawn.  Aeration reduces soil compaction, promotes root development, and thickens the turf.  May and June are the best months to aerate bermuda.  This one practice will make a big difference in the quality of your turf.  The stronger the turf, the less weed problems you will experience.

Insects  – Regularly scheduled treatments for fleas & ticks, mosquitos, and perimeter insect control around your house should continue during the summer.  The goal is to make outdoor living for your family, friends, and pets the best possible.

Insects – Regularly scheduled treatments for fleas & ticks, mosquitos, and perimeter insect control around your house should continue during the summer.  The goal is to make outdoor living for your family, friends, and pets the best possible.

Tree Trim – Early summer is a good time to do minor tree trimming.  If you have tree branches that are hanging a little lower now that they are full of foliage, go ahead and remove them this month. 

 Get outside and enjoy your landscape this month! 

We look forward to every opportunity to visit your lawn and landscape! If you have any questions, please send us an email or call (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

When rain is no longer helpful...

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Our goal is to keep you informed of lawn and landscape issues we are experiencing each week as we visit sites in the Oklahoma City area.  I’m sure it is no surprise to you that we are starting to see plant problems related to the excessive amount of rainfall we are receiving.

Normal annual rainfall for the Oklahoma City area is 36.5”.  In the past 365 days, the metro area has received nearly 54”.  In the last 30 days, 12.5” has fallen with 6” in the last week.

It is common for us to be discussing watering tips as we head into the summer.  I have only one watering tip today – turn your irrigation system off!  Early this morning I witnessed 3 irrigation systems running in my neighborhood alone.  Established plant materials – lawns, shrubs, trees, flowers – are showing signs of over watering stress.

Roots are the foundation to a healthy plant.  They are the primary source of water, nutrients, and oxygen.  Yes, oxygen.  Plants breath through their root system.  Plants, just like humans, can drown when water replaces air. 

So, why is it common for so many to water more when a plant is struggling because of too much water?  Plants respond in very similar ways to draught and too much water.  The first symptom of too much water is yellowing leaves followed by wilting.  The wilting leaves, whether it is too much or too little water, look nearly the same.  When you see wilting leaves, you must stop and think about the conditions and check the soil.

For example:  A couple of weeks ago I planted a tropical hibiscus in a patio pot.  This week I noticed it was wilting, grabbed a pitcher full of water and headed out the door to water it, all the while wondering why it would be dry.  What I discovered was a plant sitting in water because of clogged drain holes.  Either way, the hibiscus was wilting.  The same is true about your lawn, your flowers, your shrubs and your trees.  It is just a lot easier to diagnose when it’s in a container.

Here are a few problems we noticed this week:

Photinia Leaf Spot – A fungal disease that is common on photinia even in dryer periods but is rampant in cool periods with a lot of rainfall. It is hard to control and requires repeated applications of a fungicide in the spring and the fall. Once a plant develops the disease, it typically returns each season. Photinia are best planted in full sun areas with good air circulation. Many seasons in Oklahoma we can get away with planting them in partial shade and tight areas, but then you have a May like this year, and you remember why the experts said not to plant it where you did. Or, it could just be that your landscape has matured and now it finds itself in a less than ideal spot.

Photinia Leaf Spot – A fungal disease that is common on photinia even in dryer periods but is rampant in cool periods with a lot of rainfall. It is hard to control and requires repeated applications of a fungicide in the spring and the fall. Once a plant develops the disease, it typically returns each season. Photinia are best planted in full sun areas with good air circulation. Many seasons in Oklahoma we can get away with planting them in partial shade and tight areas, but then you have a May like this year, and you remember why the experts said not to plant it where you did. Or, it could just be that your landscape has matured and now it finds itself in a less than ideal spot.

Yew – A plant that is notorious for quickly yellowing and dying in wet or waterlogged soil.  They can be temperamental, but given the right conditions with moist, but well drained soil, they do well.  They won’t tolerate waterlogged soils and this spring many are finding they are in just too wet of soil.  As with many shrubs, the first signs of yellowing suggest too much water.

Annual Color – It is always best to wait until May to plant seasonal color varieties that thrive in the summer heat. May is the month when soil temperatures are warm enough for them to establish roots for the summer. But, the best annuals for surviving the summer heat don’t like saturated soils. We are seeing periwinkle (annual vinca) with yellowing leaves. Penta, known for its tough nature in a draught, struggling to get established because of root rot. Lantana, maybe the best in hot, sunny, draught prone locations, struggling in wet soils.

Annual Color – It is always best to wait until May to plant seasonal color varieties that thrive in the summer heat. May is the month when soil temperatures are warm enough for them to establish roots for the summer. But, the best annuals for surviving the summer heat don’t like saturated soils. We are seeing periwinkle (annual vinca) with yellowing leaves. Penta, known for its tough nature in a draught, struggling to get established because of root rot. Lantana, maybe the best in hot, sunny, draught prone locations, struggling in wet soils.

Xeriscape – Selecting more draught tolerant plants has become more and more popular. Overall, I think it is a good idea - in the right location. But, yucca and many other xeriscape favorites, are having a rough start to the year. These plant selections don’t need particularly great soil, but they do need to have good drainage and be soil that stays on the dryer side.

Xeriscape – Selecting more draught tolerant plants has become more and more popular. Overall, I think it is a good idea - in the right location. But, yucca and many other xeriscape favorites, are having a rough start to the year. These plant selections don’t need particularly great soil, but they do need to have good drainage and be soil that stays on the dryer side.

Bermuda Lawns – Large patch is a fungal disease that is a problem in cool, wet spring weather. This has been a perfect season for it to develop with the excess rainfall and temps that have lagged. It starts as a small area with leaf blades that appear light in color with some orange-bronze spots, and it gradually spreads to larger patches. We have noticed it more in poor drainage areas and in tight soil conditions. The best solution is for temperatures to consistently stay in the 70’s at night. After the lawn has improved in June, aerating would help with soil structure and drainage.

Bermuda Lawns – Large patch is a fungal disease that is a problem in cool, wet spring weather. This has been a perfect season for it to develop with the excess rainfall and temps that have lagged. It starts as a small area with leaf blades that appear light in color with some orange-bronze spots, and it gradually spreads to larger patches. We have noticed it more in poor drainage areas and in tight soil conditions. The best solution is for temperatures to consistently stay in the 70’s at night. After the lawn has improved in June, aerating would help with soil structure and drainage.

Fescue Brown Patch – This is fescue’s biggest problem. It is closely related to large patch, but only it causes problems on cool season turf instead of warm season. Also, the disease starts when it is hot and wet, instead of cool and wet. When nighttime temperatures are consistently in the 70’s and the fescue leaves stay wet more than 8 hours per day, brown patch grows. It is almost a given that your fescue will struggle if you have poor soil drainage, low air movement because of structures or landscape plantings, dense shade, heavy morning dew several days in a row, over watering or too much rain, or if you water in the evening. If you have a fescue lawn, the best thing that could happen until we dry out is for temps to remain mild – the exact opposite of what we need for bermuda. Don’t help the disease out by watering – leave the irrigation off. Mow your lawn around 3-3.5”. Too short and too tall will promote the problem. When it is time to start watering again, water in the early morning only, and not every day. Leaf blades must have time to dry completely. Aeration every fall on fescue lawns will improve soil drainage.

Fescue Brown Patch – This is fescue’s biggest problem. It is closely related to large patch, but only it causes problems on cool season turf instead of warm season. Also, the disease starts when it is hot and wet, instead of cool and wet. When nighttime temperatures are consistently in the 70’s and the fescue leaves stay wet more than 8 hours per day, brown patch grows. It is almost a given that your fescue will struggle if you have poor soil drainage, low air movement because of structures or landscape plantings, dense shade, heavy morning dew several days in a row, over watering or too much rain, or if you water in the evening. If you have a fescue lawn, the best thing that could happen until we dry out is for temps to remain mild – the exact opposite of what we need for bermuda. Don’t help the disease out by watering – leave the irrigation off. Mow your lawn around 3-3.5”. Too short and too tall will promote the problem. When it is time to start watering again, water in the early morning only, and not every day. Leaf blades must have time to dry completely. Aeration every fall on fescue lawns will improve soil drainage.

Much of what we discussed today are climate issues we can’t control.  But, the excessive rainfall has reminded me why a few things are very important:

1.     Water based only on need.  Too much water damages plant roots.

2.     Always plant a little above grade so that excess water will move away from the plant.     

3.     Select the right plants for the right location.  This is more than just sun or shade.  It includes soil type and water requirements.

Remember – the most common problem of plant stress is unhealthy roots.  This applies to lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs.

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873