summer

Fescue in the off season!

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All turf grasses have an offseason.  A season when they are not at their prime.  For warm season grasses, it is the winter.  No one expects their bermuda lawn to be green and actively growing in January.  Everyone understands that it is dormant.

What about a cool season turf?  When is fescue’s off season?  

Fescue is at its best in the spring and fall, often has greenish-brown freeze burnt leaves in the dead of winter but goes through an off season during July and August when temperatures average 90 plus.

One of the advantages of fescue, when best practices are followed, is it will keep good color during its off season, unlike bermuda.  Bermuda will always have more color than fescue in July and August, but March through early June and September into December, you can’t beat the greens of a fescue lawn.  

Bermuda is the dominate turf in our region, but it doesn’t grow in shade.  Fescue is the preferred turf for shady areas.  Gracefully aging neighborhoods in the Oklahoma City area are full of mature trees and lawns that have transitioned from bermuda to fescue.  Every homeowner eventually must face the need for fescue in their landscape. 

How do you keep a fescue lawn looking its best in the summer heat? 

Let’s run through a list of best and worst practices for fescue during its off season.

Best practices for keeping fescue looking good during July and August:

  • Mow fescue at 3” – 3 ½”.  The more leaf space the better color and the more draught tolerant the lawn will be.

  • Water deep.  Water infrequent.  Water in the early morning.  Fescue lawns that are receiving 1 ½” of moisture per week, on an every other day schedule, only in the early morning, look the best in the heat of summer. 

  • Fescue lawns that receive at least some dappled sunlight look the best during the summer heat.

 
Fescue lawn with dappled sunshine.

Fescue lawn with dappled sunshine.

 
  • Fescue lawns that are aerated in the fall have stronger root systems and can better withstand hot, dry days.

 
Fescue when watered and mowed properly in full sun in the heat of the summer.

Fescue when watered and mowed properly in full sun in the heat of the summer.

 

Worst practices for fescue during the summer heat:

  • Fescue cut too short.  Remember leaf blades store moisture the plant needs to withstand the summer heat.

  • Stop watering twice per day, morning and evening, every day.  Short and frequent watering does far more harm than good.  It is a myth that fescue needs to be kept wet during the summer heat.  When temperatures are hot and fescue stays consistently wet for more than 6 hours at a time, brown patch will damage the turf.  When brown patch starts spreading in a fescue lawn it looks like the lawn needs more water.  The natural response is to water more which makes the problem worse.  On most site visits I made in the past two weeks where customers were concerned about their fescue, I discovered brown patch was the problem.  In each case the homeowner had increased watering to two times per day, morning and evening, every day.

 
Brown patch in fescue.

Brown patch in fescue.

Fescue with a mild case of brown patch.

Fescue with a mild case of brown patch.

 
  • Heavy shade and low air circulation.  Fescue performs best if it receives some light every day.  Fescue will tolerate more sun than most realize and does well in full sun when it is watered and mowed properly.  Air circulation plays the important role of drying the leaf blades between watering cycles.  Small backyards, with wood fences, and heavy shade are the hardest on fescue in July and August.

 
Drought stressed fescue.

Drought stressed fescue.

 
  • Tight clay soil that has never been aerated result in shallow rooted fescue that will struggle in the heat.

 
Fescue seeded over Bermuda in full sun in the heat of the year.

Fescue seeded over Bermuda in full sun in the heat of the year.

Fescue in full to dappled sun in July.

Fescue in full to dappled sun in July.

 

During fescue’s offseason take a stroll around your lawn and start planning for the fall.  The cooler days of September will be here soon.

Do you need to make some changes to how you are mowing and watering your fescue?

Are you trying to grow fescue in full shade, in a location where there is little wind movement?  If so, can you improve the conditions, or should you consider transitioning to a shade tolerant ground cover?

If your fescue didn’t perform well due to the excessive moisture and high humidity of the early summer, or if it has struggled with brown patch in the heat, start making plans to overseed this fall. 

Do you have areas of the lawn that are becoming too shady for bermuda?  Bermuda starts to thin anywhere it does not get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day.   Is this the fall to start establishing fescue in those areas?

Whether you have a full fescue lawn or just some fescue in shady areas, don’t fret, fescue’s best season is just a few weeks away!

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

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

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