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

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

Introducing... the world's worst weed!

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If I asked you what weed gives you most difficulty, most would respond without hesitation: NUTSEDGE! 

Wikipedia claims nutsedge is the “the world’s worst weed!”  It is a problem in over 90 countries.  No other weed comes even close. 

Nutsedge is fast growing, has an upright growth habit and light green in color. Because it grows nearly twice as fast as your turf and is lighter, it ruins the best maintained lawns within a couple days of mowing.    

Nutsedge starts growing as soil temperatures warm up in May, and because it thrives in moist, tight soils, nutsedge is showing up with a vengeance in Oklahoma lawns this year.   

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What does nutsedge look like?

Commonly called nutgrass but is a sedge with a triangular leaf blade. It grows upright and is light green in color. 

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What are the best growing conditions for nutsedge?

Nutsedge thrives in moist, tight soils.  It is common to find it growing in areas of poor drainage, around irrigation leaks, and in lawns that are watered too frequent.  Once nutsedge is established, it thrives with normal irrigation and periods of drought.  Nutsedge prefers full sun and doesn’t grow well in shade.

Why is nutsedge so difficult to control?   Nutsedge is a perennial weed. Perennial weeds are always more difficult to control. But, nutsedge is one of the toughest because it spreads by underground tubers. The tubers grow 6-12” deep and are referred to as nuts - thus the common name of nutgrass. Nutsedge spreads by growing rhizomes which produces more nuts. Weeds that propagate through tubers and rhizomes are very difficult to control because unless you get control of the rhizome and tuber, the plant will sprout new growth within a few days. Also, tubers can remain dormant in soil for three seasons.

Why is nutsedge so difficult to control?

Nutsedge is a perennial weed. Perennial weeds are always more difficult to control. But, nutsedge is one of the toughest because it spreads by underground tubers. The tubers grow 6-12” deep and are referred to as nuts - thus the common name of nutgrass. Nutsedge spreads by growing rhizomes which produces more nuts. Weeds that propagate through tubers and rhizomes are very difficult to control because unless you get control of the rhizome and tuber, the plant will sprout new growth within a few days. Also, tubers can remain dormant in soil for three seasons.

What is the best way to control nutsedge?

Be proactive.  With the first sign of nutsedge, take action. Nutsedge is much harder to control once it has been allowed to spread and mature.  Weed killers labeled for use on nutsedge will be either a contact killer or a systemic.  A contact herbicide will kill only the leaves and the tubers and rhizomes will remain active if you make only a single application. Systemic products will translocate through the plant to the tubers and rhizomes. 

Remember, single applications of most herbicides labeled for nutsedge will kill the plant leaves but leave the nut ineffective.

Is pulling nutsedge a good idea?   Pulling nutsedge is only recommended when the plant is very small before nuts start to develop on the rhizomes. Once nuts start to develop, you must remove the nut when pulling the weed, which is typically 6-12” below the surface. If you pull the weed and leave the nut behind, new plants will emerge very quickly.  Research suggest that anytime the tuber is stressed, by either pulling the top off or by killing the top without killing the tuber itself (the result of a single application of an herbicide), the tuber multiples. Therefore, many people experience more nutsedge after they have pulled or sprayed.  Cultivating nutgrass, such as in landscape beds, is ineffective. All you are doing is redistributing the tubers and rhizomes.

Is pulling nutsedge a good idea?

Pulling nutsedge is only recommended when the plant is very small before nuts start to develop on the rhizomes. Once nuts start to develop, you must remove the nut when pulling the weed, which is typically 6-12” below the surface. If you pull the weed and leave the nut behind, new plants will emerge very quickly.

Research suggest that anytime the tuber is stressed, by either pulling the top off or by killing the top without killing the tuber itself (the result of a single application of an herbicide), the tuber multiples. Therefore, many people experience more nutsedge after they have pulled or sprayed.

Cultivating nutgrass, such as in landscape beds, is ineffective. All you are doing is redistributing the tubers and rhizomes.

What else can I do to be proactive in preventing nutsedge?

Aeration is a great way to reduce the chances of nutsedge starting and spreading.  Aeration reduces soil compaction and reduces the best growing conditions for nutsedge.  Our experience is that lawns which are aerated annually rarely have significant nutsedge problems. 

Water only based on need and infrequently.  Overwatering, keeping your lawn too wet, promotes the best growing conditions for nutsedge.

Correct water leaks in your sprinkler system promptly.  Nutsedge will stake a claim to any areas that become waterlogged.  

Along the same line of thinking, correct poor drainage areas.  Often patches of nutsedge is an indicator of poor drainage. 

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If you find yourself struggling with nutsedge, give Hall|Stewart a call, (405) 367-3873.  Our 7-Step Lawn Care Program includes nutsedge control.  One of the benefits of subscribing to our full program is we do not charge extra for nutsedge control.  Because we know the presence of nutsedge can quickly tarnish a great looking lawn, we use the most advanced nutsedge control herbicides available to the industry.

Lorne Hall

May Lawn & Landscape Tips

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In all the years I’ve been in the lawn and landscape industry I don’t believe I have experienced two identical springs.  Everything we do is based on air and soil temperatures, as well as soil moisture. So, we make are spring service plans and schedule services all based on the average spring weather.    

But, does average ever happen when it comes to weather? 

This spring has been almost perfect when it comes to a good gradual warm up without the usual extreme temperature swings. We didn’t experience the typical above normal temperatures followed by a late freeze.  The result was an April with some of the best spring color I can remember.   All the spring blooming trees, shrubs and flowers put on a show! 

With one exception, this has been a perfect spring.  Both air and soil temperatures have lagged behind.  This has been a slow-to-get-here spring resulting in slow turf development.  Fescue was slower than normal to regain full color.  I mowed my fescue lawn less in March than I can ever remember.  Finally, fescue color and development came around in April.  Even warm season turf has also lagged a couple of weeks behind in green up and development. 

Now with the arrival of May and the abundant moisture we are receiving, your lawn and landscape is positioned to take off for the summer.   

Here are a few tips for May:

Pre-Emergent Application – Between late April and the end of May, it is critical you receive your second pre-emergent application of the year.  A pre-emergent creates a barrier over the soil that prevents weeds from germinating.  Routine activity, such as mowing and play, as well as heavy rains, all break down the barrier we created with our first application of the year.  Application #3 is a key step in strengthening the barrier and giving you season long control.  The effectiveness of all pre-emergent herbicides is increased when the product is watered into the top ½’-1” of the soil Please make sure you do your best to follow the watering instructions we leave when making your application.

Post-Emergent Application – Weeds that are not prevented, both grasses and broadleaf, require additional treatment to control.  Now that the warm season turf is coming completely out of dormancy, control of weeds can be stepped up.  Application #3 contains broadleaf weed control mixed with the pre-emergent for additional control.  Grassy weed control will continue on an as needed basis in a safe manner to limit turf damage. 

Nutsedge  often begins to show up in lawns in late May.  The pre-emergent herbicide we use will help with prevention, but it isn’t 100% and some spot treatments can be expected.  But, since Nutsedge is a result of tight, wet soils, annual aeration is the best practice.    

Nutsedge often begins to show up in lawns in late May.  The pre-emergent herbicide we use will help with prevention, but it isn’t 100% and some spot treatments can be expected.  But, since Nutsedge is a result of tight, wet soils, annual aeration is the best practice.    

Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda lawns need a good feeding as they start into their prime growing season.  For fescue lawns May is the last month to strengthen fescue before going into the most stressful time of the year for a cool season turf.  After May, excessive nitrogen can harm fescue and often results in disease issues. 

Anytime we make an application of weed control or fertilizer, please let us know if you have any concerns 10-14 days after our visit. If the turf isn’t greening up properly, or if weeds are not wilting, we want to know. If you are new to our program, we know it will take time to get your lawn to the healthy condition you desire. But we expect to make progress with each visit. We know this may require additional visits and if you are on our full 7- Step Program, we will make the needed extra visits.

Anytime we make an application of weed control or fertilizer, please let us know if you have any concerns 10-14 days after our visit. If the turf isn’t greening up properly, or if weeds are not wilting, we want to know. If you are new to our program, we know it will take time to get your lawn to the healthy condition you desire. But we expect to make progress with each visit. We know this may require additional visits and if you are on our full 7- Step Program, we will make the needed extra visits.

Tree & Shrub Care –  May is the month to watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. We subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for bagworms and treat as needed.  Bagworms are very easy to control when they are small.  But, they are very hard to see when they first start to develop.  If you notice bagworms, or have a concern about your plants, please let us know

Tree & Shrub Care – May is the month to watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. We subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for bagworms and treat as needed.  Bagworms are very easy to control when they are small.  But, they are very hard to see when they first start to develop.  If you notice bagworms, or have a concern about your plants, please let us know

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Lawn Maintenance – Both warm and cool season turf grasses need frequent mowing now.  One of the most important things for good turf health is to avoid removing more than 1/3 of the grass in one mowing.  Not only does it not yield you the best looking lawn when you cut below the leaf and into the stem of the grass, it also weakens the root system.  Try to maintain your Bermuda on the middle setting or just below the middle setting in May.  For fescue, raise the setting one notch this month and cut around 2.5”.  At the end of the month it is best to have fescue at a maximum height going into the summer. 

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Seasonal Color – Now time to install your summer annual color.  Most landscapes look best with a splash of bright color creating a welcoming environment near the front door.  Impatiens and Caladiums are great choices for full shade areas.  Begonias, petunias, and geraniums do well in sun to part shade.  Periwinkle, lantana, and penta are good at handling the heat and full sun.

Irrigation  – The average rainfall in the Oklahoma City area in the last 7 days is over 2 ½”.  All the Mesonet sites in the area are all reporting ample soil moisture.  Please conserve water and leave your irrigation off or put it on a rain delay for the next 5-7 days.  If you have subscribed to our Irrigation Management program with the Rainbird Wi-Fi Link, we have been delaying your irrigation the last few weeks based on rainfall and soil moisture measurements.   During May your lawn and landscape needs 1 -1 ½” of moisture per week as temperatures start reaching into the 90s. Remember to always water based on need.  

Irrigation – The average rainfall in the Oklahoma City area in the last 7 days is over 2 ½”.  All the Mesonet sites in the area are all reporting ample soil moisture.  Please conserve water and leave your irrigation off or put it on a rain delay for the next 5-7 days.  If you have subscribed to our Irrigation Management program with the Rainbird Wi-Fi Link, we have been delaying your irrigation the last few weeks based on rainfall and soil moisture measurements.   During May your lawn and landscape needs 1 -1 ½” of moisture per week as temperatures start reaching into the 90s. Remember to always water based on need.  

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Azalea Care  – Wow!  What a show they put on this year.  After Azalea’s bloom it is time to fertilize and prune.  Prune between bloom drop and the end of June.  Pruning after mid-summer will result in less blooms next year.  Azaleas look best when minimally pruned and allowed to retain their natural shape.  Prune by removing longer shoots by reaching down and making cuts where they come off a larger branch.  This will improve air moment and promote healthy growth.  Avoid shearing azaleas. Fertilize now with a controlled release azalea food.  Now is also the best time to add a fresh layer of mulch.  As temperatures rise the mulch will keep the soil cooler and retain moisture.  The best mulch for azaleas is pecan hulls or pine bark.  

Azalea Care – Wow!  What a show they put on this year.  After Azalea’s bloom it is time to fertilize and prune.  Prune between bloom drop and the end of June.  Pruning after mid-summer will result in less blooms next year.  Azaleas look best when minimally pruned and allowed to retain their natural shape.  Prune by removing longer shoots by reaching down and making cuts where they come off a larger branch.  This will improve air moment and promote healthy growth.  Avoid shearing azaleas. Fertilize now with a controlled release azalea food.  Now is also the best time to add a fresh layer of mulch.  As temperatures rise the mulch will keep the soil cooler and retain moisture.  The best mulch for azaleas is pecan hulls or pine bark.  

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If you have any questions, please drop us an email or give us a call at (405)367-3873.

Our mission is to make sure you have a lawn and landscape that improves the appearance, enjoyment and value of your surroundings.

Lorne Hall

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

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

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

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

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What you can do to win the battle  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now is the time to start!

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873


The Endless Summer Hydrangea

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

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

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

Endless Summer varieties:

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The Original — big round blue or pink blooms

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

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


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

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

Other recommended Hydrangea varieties:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hydrangea Planting and Care

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

April Lawn & Landscape Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lorne Hal

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

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

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

I love spring!   

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

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

PERENNIALS

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


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

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

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

SHRUBS

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

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

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

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

TREES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favorite spring plants?

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

Lorne Hall