The one thing that will make the biggest difference in your lawn...

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Don’t bag your clippings.

This is a lesson I learned early in my lawn and landscape career. 

The Tale of Two Very Similar but Very Different Lawns

In the late 1980’s, our company provided full service landscape management for two homeowners associations located directly across the street from each other in NW Oklahoma City. 

The economics of the two HOAs were very different.  The HOA on the south side of the street had a contract with two less fertilizer applications than the one of the north side of the street.  The one on the north side also required us to bag and remove the lawn clippings.  The south side HOA couldn’t afford the extra expense for bagging and waste disposal. The HOA on the north side also had an irrigation system with nearly perfect coverage that ran every other day while the one on the other side of the street had an old inadequate system that we struggled to keep operating during dry spells. 


Which HOA do you think always had the greenest grass?

Not the one with the most fertilizer applications and abundant moisture…

The one with the greenest grass was the one that couldn’t afford to have their grass clippings bagged and removed!


Why Does Not Bagging Your Clippings Make Such a Big Difference?

  • Grass clippings are 80-90% water and nutrients, mostly nitrogen.  Every time you throw away a bag of clippings you are throwing away moisture and valuable nutrients.

  • You can gain one pound of nitrogen per growing season by returning your clippings to the lawn each time you mow.  This is a significant amount considering most turf grasses require 4 to 5 pounds of nitrogen for optimal growth, density and color.  Research at the University of Missouri and Kansas State University confirms that 25% of your lawns needed annual nutrients are contained in your lawn clippings.

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NW OKC Bermuda lawn that is mowed regularly without clippings being bagged & removed.

Not bagging your lawn clippings is like someone offering to give you free fertilizer and you turning it down.

  • Decaying clippings will increase organic material in the soil.  As clippings break down beneficial bacteria increases.  Healthy soils contain at least 5% organic material.  Most lawns contain 2-3% organic material and research shows that consistently allow your clippings to return to the soil will increase organic material by at least 1%.

Not bagging your lawn clipping is like someone offering to top dress your lawn with compost for free, and you saying, “No thanks”!

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NW OKC Fescue lawn immediately after mowing on Thursday, May 9. Approximately 1” was cut off and of course the clippings weren’t bagged!

Keys to Successfully Mulch Mowing

  • Mow frequently enough that you only remove 1/3 of the grass per mowing.  For example: If your goal is to maintain your lawn at 2”, mow before your lawn grows past 3”.  This may require you to occasionally mow every 4-5 days instead of the traditional once per week. When only cutting 1/3 of the growth you are only cutting off the leaves. Grass leaves break down very quickly and do not increase thatch on the soil surface.

  • If you get behind with your mowing, raise your mower up and gradually lower it back down over the next couple of cuttings.  In the worst case, bag the clippings one time and then return to mulch mowing as you regain a more frequent mowing routine.

  • Don’t mow when the grass is wet.  Wet grass clippings clump and don’t breakdown quickly.

  • Mowers designed for mulch mowing work best since they cut the clippings multiple times.  If you don’t have a mulching mower, most brands have mulching kits and/or mulching blades you can add to your mower. There is nothing wrong with just mowing without the bag on most mowers, but you may need to take a minute when you are finished to spread out any clippings that are unsightly with your blower or a rake.

  • Keep your lawn mower blade sharp.  A sharp blade will cut the clippings finer instead of tearing the grass leaf.

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If you haven’t figured it out, I’m a big believer in not catching your clippings.  It makes a huge difference in the color of my turf and health of my lawn. When done correctly, you don’t even notice clippings on my lawn.

Fertilizer applications make a difference in the health of a lawn, but not near as big of a difference as the best lawn maintenance practices of which not bagging your clippings is the biggest.

So, the next time you drive past the guy down the street’s house who doesn’t seem to care as much about his lawn as you do and you shake your head wondering why his lawn looks so green, it’s probably because he doesn’t donate his valuable lawn clippings to the already too full landfill on the edge of the city.

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

Is your lawn good or great?

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A good lawn is a result of several key activities:

  1. Correctly timed pre-emergent applications to prevent weeds before they germinate.

  2. Applying the right amount of fertilizer to insure you have a thick and healthy turf.

  3. Regularly scheduled mowing that only removes the top 1/3 of the leaf blade each time.

  4. Infrequent deep watering based on seasonal need.

But, there is a 5th activity that will move a good lawn to a great lawn:

AERATION

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What is aeration? 

Aeration is the process of mechanically removing 2”-3” cores of soil, 4”-6” apart, from your lawn.

What are the benefits of aeration? 

  • Soil compaction is reduced. 

  • Air movement into the soil is improved.

  • Fertilizer can quickly reach the root zone.  

  • Water runoff and puddling is reduced. 

  • Roots grow stronger and deeper. 

  • Thatch is reduced.

  • Reduction of weeds that love compacted soils.

Compact soils prevent grass from establishing a healthy root system and prevents air, water and nutrients from reaching the root zone. Walking, playing, mowing (in other words everything you do on your lawn) increases soil compaction.

As Oklahomans, we are all use to having tight clay, compacted soils.  Our clay soils make growing a great lawn a challenge.

Have we accepted compaction as the status quo? 

Stop accepting the norm.  You don’t have to have tight, compacted soil.

Golf courses typically aerate their turf at least two times per season.  No wonder the fairways always have better turf than most home lawns.

Lawns with compacted soil also are more susceptible to weed development.  Many weeds thrive in tight compacted soil. 

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Nutsedge, one of the most difficult to control summer weeds, thrives in tight soils.  Our experience has shown that annually aerated lawns have far less problems with nutsedge.  

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When should you aerate?

  • Warm season lawns (Bermuda and zoyia) should be aerated any time after spring green-up and before the end of July.

  • Cool season lawns (fescue) should be aerated in the fall, September through October.  Aeration in conjunction with overseeding will not only improve the soil structure, but it will also improve seed soil contact resulting in better seed germination.

Should the cores be removed or left on the lawn?   Leave the cores on the lawn. As they breakdown and dissolve, they will refill the holes with loose soil resulting in improved soil structure. The cores will break up and settle back into the lawn within 2-3 weeks.

Should the cores be removed or left on the lawn?

Leave the cores on the lawn. As they breakdown and dissolve, they will refill the holes with loose soil resulting in improved soil structure. The cores will break up and settle back into the lawn within 2-3 weeks.

Nothing will take your lawn from good to great more than an annual aeration! 

Aeration, the most overlooked lawn practice, will give you a healthier, more vigorous, less weedy lawn. 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873

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

Oklahoma's State Tree is really showing off this week!

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There are two things you can count on in early April – the redbud trees will be putting on a show and I will be talking about the them. 

Our goal for our weekly email is to discuss what we are seeing in the lawn and landscapes we visit.  The Oklahoma State Tree, Cercis Canadensis, Redbud, has been creating a lot of attention this week.

Michael Dirr, easily considered America’s leading woody plant expert, wrote in his textbook Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs about Redbuds: “No equal, no competitor, can be found among small flowering landscape trees – the stage is reserved for this native species.” 

I agree!



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Eastern Redbuds are native to the Eastern US from Massachusetts to Florida extending west to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  In the native landscape, you typically see them as understory trees in wooded areas.  In late March or early April, you can’t miss them.  Their pink to lavender flowers brighten the landscape before leaves bud on most trees.  They grow in full sun and partial shade.  They tolerate clay, loam and sandy soils.  They adapt to a wide range of soil pH as well as soil moisture. 
 
But, the native Eastern Redbud has it shortcomings.  During the summer, the leaves are a disappointment in Oklahoma.  The hot winds of July and August leave the native Redbud leaves tattered and bruised. 

Thankfully, Oklahoma has an answer to the Eastern Redbud – the ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud,  Cercis Canadensis  var.  texensis  ‘Oklahoma’. 

Thankfully, Oklahoma has an answer to the Eastern Redbud – the ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud, Cercis Canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’. 

The ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud has a deeper purple color bloom and a waxy, thick, dark green, heart-shaped leaf.  The ‘Oklahoma’ is far richer in color in the spring and carries beautiful foliage through the hottest of summers.  In the fall, the leaves turn golden yellow. 
 
‘Oklahoma’ Redbuds can be used in every imaginable landscape application.  They are excellent lawn trees.  They are dynamic in groupings.  And they add interest to landscape beds. 
 
Redbuds grow 15-18’ tall and have a spread of 15’ at maturity.  Their small tree nature tends to produce a low branching, rounded top-growing pattern. 
 
The Redbud rooting pattern can lead to difficulty in transplanting.  If selecting a balled and burlap tree, it is best if the tree is harvested and replanted during the dormant season.  A good size to start with is a 1.5” to 2” caliper tree.  If you are planting a Redbud during the growing season, I would recommend purchasing a container grown tree, as there is less transplant shock. 
 
Other varieties of Redbud include:

  • 'Merlot' is a new hybrid with dark foliage similar to the 'forest pansy' but has glossier leaves that take the summer heat similar to the 'Oklahoma' redbud.  

  • 'Lavender Twist' is a weeping redbud with rosy-pink flowers.  The umbrella branching pattern only reaches 5-6' tall making it a good specimen for a focal point in the landscape.  

  • ‘Forest Pansy’ which has a shimmering, reddish-purple leaf.  This Redbud is a real winner in the spring.  But, in the early summer the leaves fade worse than the Eastern Redbud leaves.  If you decide to try this variety, select a place in your landscape where the tree will be shielded from the hot west sun and southern winds.

  • 'Avondale' is a little smaller reaching only 10-12' in height and width.  It is one of the most profuse flowering redbuds with very showy dark rose-purple flowers.  It also has a glossy, heart-shaped leaf.

  • Texas Whitebud’ is a white blooming variety of the ‘Oklahoma’.  It also has waxy, dark green leaves through the summer.

One final reason why I think the Redbud is one of our best trees -  It blooms only on the old wood! Stop and look at one.  You will notice that the last 6-12” of each branch doesn’t have any blooms.  All of last year’s growth is void of color.  All the color is on the two-year and older wood, occasionally even the trunk will bloom.  Typically, trees and shrubs bloom on the end of the branches.  Early blooming plants bloom on the growth from last year.  Summer bloomers, such as the Crape Myrtle, bloom on the new growth from the spring.  The Redbud is unique in only blooming on old wood.     Jim Paluch in his book,  Leaving a Legacy , tells the story of seven senior citizens who discover the magic of the Redbud blooming only on old wood.  They were inspired to not spend their later years withering away.  They asked, “If a Redbud can bloom on its old wood, why can’t we?”  The seven men struck out to make a difference in their community during their elder years.

One final reason why I think the Redbud is one of our best trees - It blooms only on the old wood! Stop and look at one.  You will notice that the last 6-12” of each branch doesn’t have any blooms.  All of last year’s growth is void of color.  All the color is on the two-year and older wood, occasionally even the trunk will bloom.  Typically, trees and shrubs bloom on the end of the branches.  Early blooming plants bloom on the growth from last year.  Summer bloomers, such as the Crape Myrtle, bloom on the new growth from the spring.  The Redbud is unique in only blooming on old wood.
 
Jim Paluch in his book, Leaving a Legacy, tells the story of seven senior citizens who discover the magic of the Redbud blooming only on old wood.  They were inspired to not spend their later years withering away.  They asked, “If a Redbud can bloom on its old wood, why can’t we?”  The seven men struck out to make a difference in their community during their elder years.

Oklahoma couldn’t have selected a better all-around tree for the state tree.  There is no better small flowering tree than the Redbud, especially the ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud.

Take a walk around your neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or take a drive.  You are sure to find redbuds along your route adding a bright splash of color to the spring landscape. 

 

Lorne Hall

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