okc landscape

August Lawn & Landscape Tips

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July was tough on lawns and landscapes.  Most of the metro went the entire month without receiving even a ¼” of rainfall.  Unless you are doing a good job of infrequent, deep watering, the soil moisture your landscape needs to survive the summer heat is missing. 

And…now comes August! 

Late July through August is typically the most difficult time of the year for your lawn and landscape.   August usually brings over 20 days of temperatures in the 90’s and 5 days over 100.  Nighttime temperatures don’t offer much escape from the heat either with lows that often don’t get below 80 degrees.

July’s lack of moisture followed by the thoughts of a typical August is enough to make anyone want to give up on having a great lawn and landscape the rest of the year.  But, don’t give up!  We are only a few short weeks from the cooler days of September.   

August is the month to stay focused so you will have an enjoyable landscape when outdoor weather returns.   

 

Mowing – Both warm season turf (Bermuda and Zoyia) and cool season turf (Fescue) should be mowed at the highest level this month, warm season 2-2.5” and cool season up to 3-3.5”.  At the higher level the lawn will have more leaf space resulting in more heat and drought tolerance. Continue to mow often enough that you are removing only 1/3 of the grass each time you cut.  If you are cutting frequently enough to pass the 1/3 test, don’t catch the clippings.  Allowing the clippings to decompose on the lawn will return moisture and nitrogen to the soil. Give no bagging a try.  You will be surprised at how much more color your lawn will retain even in the heat.  When you bag your clippings you are tossing out nitrogen and water your lawn could really use this month.

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Watering – Make sure your lawn and landscape are receiving at least 1 ½” of moisture per week.  All the soil moisture from the abundant April through June rainfall has vanished.  Your turf and plants need deep soakings to avoid showing signs of stress. Water in the early morning.  To learn how long and how often you need to water to get 1 ½” of moisture, place small cups or cans around your lawn.  Water a typical cycle and then check the cups.  Adjust watering times and frequency accordingly to insure 1 ½” is applied each week.  Trees planted in the last year will benefit from having a hose placed on a slow trickle for a few hours once per week. 

The number one problem we are seeing in the lawn and landscape is short, too frequent, watering cycles!

If you are unsure about your watering practices, let us help.  We can schedule an Irrigation Audit/Check to make sure your system is operating at its peak efficiency during the summer heat. 

Fertilizer – Apply fertilizer to warm season turf this month.  This time of the year, Bermuda and Zoyia benefit from a high nitrogen fertilizer that is low in phosphorus and potassium.  DO NOT fertilize cool season lawns until we reach the cooler temperatures of September.   Warm and cool season turfs react differently to the heat of July and August.  Bermuda and Zoyia, when well maintained and properly watered, will thrive.  Cool season lawns, although still green, are in their off season.  

 
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Weed Control – Spring pre-emergent herbicides are reaching the end of their effectiveness in your soils.  Should an occasional weed show up in your turf this month, it is best to go easy on weed control.  We have reached the time of the year that damaged turf may not have a chance to fully recover before fall.  Great weed control is about 80% the result of thick turf.  August is the month to focus on turf development going into the fall.

 

Inspect Shady Lawn Areas - September and October is the best time of the year to establish fescue in the shady areas of your lawn.  This month, assess the areas of the lawn where Bermuda has become thin due to increasing shade (Bermuda needs 6-8 hours of direct sunlight), areas of the lawn where fescue did not perform well because of very dense shade (Fescue needs at least some dappled sun), and areas of fescue that have been damaged by brown patch this summer (June’s moisture and warm temperatures were the perfect conditions for brown patch).   Because fescue does not spread you should plan on adding some seed every fall.

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Insect Watch – If grubs have been a problem in your lawn, now is the time to apply an insecticide.  Remember, the insecticide will kill desirable insects also.  Only treat for grubs if there is evidence of a problem.   Continue to inspect shrubs for aphids and treat as needed.  If you have experience bagworm problems this summer and treated for them, it is a good idea to also remove as many of the old bags as possible.  Watch for webworm in your trees in late August.  The second generation of webworm is the one that causes damage.  If noticed early when the webbing is small, simply cutting the branch out is the best control.  If spraying is required, you most penetrate the webbing to gain control.

 
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Landscape Color – Take pictures, make notes, of the plants that are doing the best in your landscape during the most stressful time of the year. 

·       Black-eyed Susan’s are the perfect perennial to add color to the landscape during July and August. 

·       Crape Myrtles are loving the warm days and rewarding us with abundant summer color this year. 

·       Lantana, Penta and Periwinkle are at their best now. 

Go ahead, knock on the door of the house with great summer color and ask them about their plants.  Pick a nice summer evening just too slowly stroll around a public garden for the purpose of seeing what plants are loving the summer warmth. 

If you need assistance or have questions concerning your lawn and landscape, give us call.  (405) 367-3873. 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart

What can your lawn do for you?

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In the race to reduce carbon output and conserve water, many have forgotten the long list of benefits of a healthy lawn.  Concerns over water supplies, herbicides, pollutants, and your carbon footprint have caused some to race toward a more minimalist approach to landscapes and lawns. 

Over the past few years the media joined the war against the landscape with articles such as “The Life and Death of the American Lawn.  Grasses – green, neatly trimmed, symbols of civic virtue – shaped the national landscape. They have now outlived their purpose.” 

One of the hottest trends is the replacement of natural grass with landscape gravel or artificial turf.  Both have their place, but not at the expense of a healthy landscape of plants, trees, and turf.   

Is it good for the environment when living plants are replaced with artificial materials? Yes, water will be saved.  Yes, there will be less fertilizer used.  But, is there more to consider?

Can replacing a living plants with artificial materials really be a net positive for the environment?  

When it comes to the benefits of turf grass most people don’t give it much thought.  The environmental benefits of a healthy lawn are seldom considered. Most would have a hard time answering the question, “What is your lawn doing for you?” 

Let’s explore a few reasons why a healthy landscape is important to our environment:

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Turfgrass captures carbon.

Healthy lawns absorb carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen.

The average, managed lawn, captures more carbon than a lawnmower produces. The average lawn captures 300 lbs. of carbon per year and has a net positive impact on our environment. 


A 2,500 sq. ft lawn, half the size of the average lawn, provides enough oxygen for a family of four. 


What is a managed lawn?  A lawn that receives regular mowing, and some fertilizer and weed control applications.  Maintaining a healthy turfgrass environment provides us with a critical component of a healthy world – less carbon.  An Ohio State study found lawns that received only an occasional mowing and no fertilizer or weed control captured far less carbon.   

Maintenance habits have a big influence on whether turfgrass helps or hurts the environment. Lawns cut too short typically create a negative carbon exchange.  Weedy lawns, nutrient deficient lawns, and drought stress lawns result in thin lawns that have a negative impact on the environment.    

 

Actively growing and healthy landscapes can provide benefits of heat reduction.

Trees, shrubs, and lawn areas around homes can reduce air temperatures on the average 15 degrees compared to concrete, asphalt or gravel.

Studies estimate that improved planting and maintenance of lawns and landscapes could reduce total US air conditioning requires by 25%.  Grass cools the air by absorbing solar radiation and through evapotranspiration.

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A healthy turf slows water runoff reducing erosion and therefore reducing sediment build up and improves the quality of streams, ponds, and lakes.

Less runoff increases infiltration of water into the groundwater supply.  A dense root system traps and removes pollutants moving through the soil and into the water supply.  The natural filtration system of healthy turfgrass improves water quality.

Turfgrass is more effective at stopping erosion than any other plant.  Grass naturally slows runoff and allows more water to be absorbed.  Also, grass is a natural water purifier.

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Lawns are a major component of higher home values.

Smart Money reported consumers value a home with a well maintained lawn and landscape on the average 11.3% over the base value. 

Healthy lawns improve air quality by trapping dust and allergens.   

Dense turf reduces the blowing of soil particles.  Also, it only takes 25 sq. ft. of turfgrass to provide enough oxygen for one adult for one day.

Great lawns benefit the community and human health.

Green areas enhance community pride, provide places for people to come together and promotes outdoor activity.  Research shows the result is improved physical and mental health and reduced stress.

The belief that well maintained lawns are an environmental liability are short-sighted.  Water concerns are legitimate.  Overwatering lawns and excessive use of fertilizers and herbicides drive much of the concern.  Education on proper watering, maintenance, fertilizer, and herbicide use is important.

A scientific study “The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefits to Humans” concluded that there is no valid scientific basis for water restrictions of turfgrass.  The report stated, “the main cause for excessive landscape water use in most situations is the human factor.”

James Beard, Professor Emeritus of Texas A&M, said, “The environmental benefits of turfgrass are the most sensible and economically feasible approach to counter the greenhouse effect.”

So, what has your lawn done for you lately?  “More than you can imagine!”

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn & Landscape

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