okc lawn care

April Lawn & Landscape Tips

April Lawn & Landscape Header.jpg

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.

unnamed.jpg

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.

wr2.jpg

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.

unnamed (1).jpg

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

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

Crape Myrtle Header.jpg

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?

IMG_4080.JPG

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.

WMJ-2461 Crape_myrtle_severely_pruned.png

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.

photo-1.jpg

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.

IMG_3260.JPG

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.

IMG_2511.JPG

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.

IMG_0110.JPG

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.

IMG_0113.JPG

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

March Lawn & Landscape Header.jpg

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.

IMG_9412.jpeg

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.

IMG_2985.JPG

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. 

IMG_3248.JPG

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

It's time to dust off the lawn mower!

Time to Dust off the Lawn Mower.jpg

It is the first ritual of spring – firing up the lawn mower. 

Let’s cover a few of the questions we get asked every year at this time.

 

How low do I need to cut the lawn the first time?

Probably the most asked question we will get over the next few weeks.

The old rule was to cut the lawn as short as the mower would go.  Homeowners would brag about getting the lawn shorter than their neighbor.  The more dirt exposed, the better. 

But why?  What is the purpose of scalping your lawn?  Is it the best thing for your lawn?  Or, are you doing it just because you have always done it?  Or, since everyone is doing it, it must be the right thing?

Actually scalping your lawn in the spring on the lowest setting isn’t need.  And, it really isn’t beneficial for your lawn. 

But, there is something you should do every spring – the initial spring lawn maintenance

 
IMG_8306.JPG

It is common for Fescue to end up over 3” tall.

1.5-2” is a good starting height in the spring.

IMG_1693.JPG

Often Bermuda lawns end the season at 2-3” tall.

Cutting it down to 1” is a good place to start the season.

 

What is the difference?  Lawn scalping is setting your mower on the lowest setting.  Many use scalping to take the lawn as low as possible, often exposing some soil.  But, anytime you expose dirt in your lawn you are opening up the opportunity for more weeds to germinate.  Also, when you scalp as low as possible you run the risk of damaging the plant crown.  Damage to the crown will result in a weaker root system and a stressed lawn in the early spring. 

 

Spring Lawn Maintenance is the practice of setting your mower cutting height at or just below the height you plan to start mowing for the season. Common practice when mowing is to gradually increase the cutting height of your lawn through the spring and summer with your lawn reaching its maximum height during late summer. If you plan on starting your lawn off for the season on the second notch on your mower, then do the initial spring lawn maintenance at that same height.

Warm season turfs, Bermuda and Zoyia, go completely dormant during the winter, so removing the brown leaf blades is necessary.  The leaf blades (grass shoots) are actually damaged by the winter freezes and will not green back up.  In most winters, the crown, stolons, and tillers will green back up.  So, only leaf blades need to be removed, not the crown or stolons.

IMG_9154.JPG

Fescue lawn before Spring Lawn Maintenance has removed the freeze damaged grass tips.

IMG_4198.JPG

Fescue lawn after Spring Lawn Maintenance.

 

What is the right time for spring lawn maintenance?  The best time is between late February and the end of March as the temperatures start to warm.  The goal is to do it after the last chance for extended cold weather and before spring green up.  Use the bag on your mower or rake up the clippings.  Removing the clippings is always a good practice anytime you are removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade in one mowing whether it is dormant or green.

IMG_3232.JPG

Fescue lawn 3 weeks after Spring Lawn Maintenance

 

If I have a cool season lawn (fescue or rye), is spring lawn maintenance needed?  For the best spring green up, I would recommend mowing the lawn a little shorter than you left it at the end of last season.  Fescue leaf blades have brown tips left over from the winter cold.  If you remove the brown leaf tips soon, your lawn will develop better color quicker as soil temperatures warm.

 
Do I ever need to dethatch the lawn?  Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch. Thatch is the layer of under-composed grass clippings that builds up on the soil surface. When your lawn is healthy and you are mowing often enough, you should not have thatch build up. This is even true if you do not catch your clippings during the growing season. But, if you have a layer of more than 1” of thatch, dethatching is recommended. Use a verti-cutter, also known as a power rake, to remove the thatch before spring green up. Excessive thatch stops air, nutrients, and water from reaching the root zone and results in a shallow rooted turf.  Aeration, after spring green up, is also an effective way of removing thatch and also has the added benefit of reducing soil compaction.  In most cases, spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green up will cure the thatch on most lawns. In over 30 years in the lawn and landscape industry, I have only seen a handful of lawns with excessive thatch problems to the point that dethatching was required.

Do I ever need to dethatch the lawn?  Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch.  Thatch is the layer of under-composed grass clippings that builds up on the soil surface.  When your lawn is healthy and you are mowing often enough, you should not have thatch build up.  This is even true if you do not catch your clippings during the growing season.  But, if you have a layer of more than 1” of thatch, dethatching is recommended.  Use a verti-cutter, also known as a power rake, to remove the thatch before spring green up.  Excessive thatch stops air, nutrients, and water from reaching the root zone and results in a shallow rooted turf. 

Aeration, after spring green up, is also an effective way of removing thatch and also has the added benefit of reducing soil compaction.

In most cases, spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green up will cure the thatch on most lawns.  In over 30 years in the lawn and landscape industry, I have only seen a handful of lawns with excessive thatch problems to the point that dethatching was required.

 

If you have any questions concerning the practice of spring lawn maintenance verses scalping, please give us a call. (405)367-3873.  

We would love to hear from you. 

Lorne Hall

Why is a Spring Pre-Emergent So Important?


Spring Pre-Emergent.jpg

There are many reasons for weeds.  Weeds can be the result of poor growing conditions due to lack of moisture, weeds are typically worse when soil is compacted, and weeds are always more prevalent in thin turf.   

But, there is one very important thing that will make the biggest difference in the amount of weeds you have this year – the early spring pre-emergent lawn care application.

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape has been actively applying the early Spring Pre-Emergent for the past few weeks.  Our goal is to make sure all of our clients have taken the necessary step to prevent weeds this year.

We get involved in a lot of conversations about weeds and wanted to share with you a few of the most common questions.

Why is the early spring pre-emergent so critical? 

Summer annual weeds come up every year.  They germinate, grow, reseed, and die all in one year.  They can be booth grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds.  A quality pre-emergent herbicide will prevent many types of weeds.  But, the most aggressive annual grassy weed is crabgrass.  If you had a single crabgrass plant in your lawn last year, or your neighbor’s lawn had crabgrass, or your neighbor’s neighbors had crabgrass, there is a real strong chance you will have crabgrass this summer if you do not apply a pre-emergent to your lawn this spring. 

IMG_9698.JPG

Why am I so sure you will have crabgrass if you skip the early spring pre-emergent application?

A single crabgrass plant produces thousands of seeds.  Because crabgrass is so prolific, even the nicest lawn in your neighborhood last summer can be full of crabgrass this summer if a pre-emergent is not applied this year.    

Mid summer lawn that did not have any pre-emergent in the spring.  

Mid summer lawn that did not have any pre-emergent in the spring.  

Because crabgrass is fast growing and spreads quickly,  it can have a dominant presence in your lawn by May without a spring pre-emergent.

Because crabgrass is fast growing and spreads quickly, it can have a dominant presence in your lawn by May without a spring pre-emergent.


What is the best timing of the first lawn care application?

With thousands of seeds laying dormant in the soil, as soon as conditions are right, germination will begin.  Germination of crabgrass occurs typically in mid March in central Oklahoma.  The key determination is soil temperature.  When soil temperatures consistently reach 55 degrees germination occurs.  This week, soil temperatures in the Oklahoma City area are in the mid-40s.  For the best prevention of summer annual weeds, your first lawn care treatment needs to be applied by the end of February.

IMG_3337 edit.jpg

Will one pre-emergent application per year be enough?

Crabgrass is one of the first annual weeds to germination each spring, but it does not germinate all at once.  Germination of seed will continue throughout the summer.  Other summer annual grassy weeds such as, goosegrass, foxtail, and sandbur will germinate soon after crabgrass.  Knotweed and spurge are summer annual broadleaf weeds that will germinate even later.  Summer annuals germinate from mid-March through early summer.  Most pre-emergent herbicides will not provide coverage the entire summer growing season.  The herbicide creates a blanket over the soil to prevent seeds from germinating. Rain, irrigation, foot traffic, all combine to break down the herbicide.  Therefore, full summer control is only obtainable if you repeat the application again in late spring: April-May, approximately 6-12 weeks after the first application.

Does a pre-emergent need to be applied as a liquid or can it be spread as a granular?

Pre-emergent herbicides come in both forms and for the best results the product needs to be applied evenly to the lawn to create a weed barrier.  With either product, watering the product into the root zone is important.  Always follow directions.  When doing it yourself never over apply a pre-emergent as it can stunt root growth. 

Why are pre-emergent sprays green?

Actually they are not.  Some lawn care companies add dye to their herbicide to use as a marking pattern.  We are not a proponent of using a dye.  Most pre-emergent herbicides have a light coloring that aid the lawn care professional in applying the product evenly to the surface.  We find dyes messy, they give the natural landscape an artificial look, and add an unnecessary chemical to your landscape.

IMG_6110.JPG

Most importantly, if you have not applied a pre-emergent to your lawn yet this year, please do not delay. 

If you need assistance in making sure your lawn is weed free and healthy this season, please call Hall|Stewart Lawn + Landscape at (405)367-3873.

 

Lorne Hall

IMG_9906.JPG