Setting up a sprinkler system holding tank

This system requires 30psi of air pressure gets charges into the holding tank before adding water from the well

Snow in the forecast

December 2013 has certainly been a little more “white” than we expected.  In preparation for the winter months, have you:

1) Prepared your broadleaf evergreens for the harsh winter winds and temperatures?

Your broadleaf evergreens prefer a winter coat for the winter. This can be accomplished Snow Covered Evergreenby wrapping the shrubs/trees with burlap….or  a more modern and esthetically pleasing technique is spraying your shrubs/trees with an anti-desiccant.  Some type of winter protection will help protect your shrubs/trees from drying out and burning over the winter.

2) “Winterized” your lawn care equipment?

It’s simple…..Change your engine oil first.  If you want to get a jump on the spring season, you can sharpen any blades your equipment may have.  Pop in a new air filter (and pre-filter if you have one) and check/change the fuel filter.  Then,

Blades Sharp?

Blades Sharp?

pour some fuel stabilizer into the fuel tank and run your engine (to get the stabilizer into the fuel lines).  If possible, shut off the fuel switch and let your engine run “out of gas” until it stalls.  Done!

3) Prep’d your snow removal equipment for the snowy months?

Snow is coming….get the snow blower out of the shed.  Check your engine oil…is it full? Is the oil clean?  Turn on Snow Removal Equipmentthe fuel switch and start the engine.  If you prepared your engine properly at the end of the winter last year…you should have no problem starting the engine up.  Lastly, check linkages, chains, any other moving parts.  Make sure they are functioning properly too.

 

Late Fall Fertilizer

Yes, it’s getting chilly out there and YES It is time to apply your final application of fertilizer to your lawn!  If you think it’s too cold to fertilize your lawn….think again.

Fall Fertilizer

Here are the many benefits to a late fall, early winter fertilizer:

  1. The grass plants will have better color going into the winter months
  2. And, the grass plants will green up earlier in the spring
  3. The grass plant foliage will be much denser going into the winter
  4. The grass plants roots will grow deeper and denser
  5. and the grass plants energy reserve will be increased going into the winter.

So break out the spreader and break open a bag of fertilizer and spread away!

 

Not too late for Spring Color

Spring Color

Nothing announces spring with as much color and life as the early blooms of crocus, the brilliant trumpets of daffodils and the elegance of tulips. Spring-flowering bulbs of all kinds are an important part of maintaining year-round color in any garden, and now is the season to begin or expand your plantings.

PLANNING THE BULB DISPLAY

It’s important to check the different blooming times of bulbs.. Tulips, for instance, can be broken into as many as five or six periods periods ranging over several months.

Mixing purple giant crocus and white mid-season tulips for instance, and then expecting them to bloom together can be disappointing. On the other hand, mixing early and late varieties in your plan greatly extends your blooming season.
HEIGHT CONSIDERATION
Besides keeping shorter growing kinds in front, avoid mixing plants with extremely different heights to maintain a balanced look. Also very tall varieties should be avoided in windy areas to prevent damage to the blooms and stems.

Another consideration in planning is the possibility of damage by rodents. Moles and ground squirrels (chipmunks) love to discover a bed of tulips and can virtually destroy your display before you get to enjoy it. Daffodils, on the other hand, are poisonous to rodents and will not be bothered. If your location is likely to attract these underground feeders, either protect the bulbs in baskets or stick with the variety’s they won’t eat.

 A final thought on planning bulb displays is maintenance!

Tulips must be dug up and separated at least once every several years or they will decline and produce fewer and fewer flowers.. Daffodils can continue to multiply and produce excellent displays without being replanted. This feature makes daffodils and narcissi popular for naturalizing. Another maintenance note is that the bulbs draw  their nutrients for the following year largely from the dying foliage, which, must be left in place until it completely withers. This is an especially important factor in rotating mass plantings.

Fall Color in the Landscape

Fall is here…

Lawn furniture is getting put away (slowly), snow blowers are being pulled out from the sheds and sent away for a quick tune up.  People ask me, “Joe…what can you possibly be landscaping in the fall?”

Truth be told, we are busy planting lawns, installing colorful hardy mums and getting our Spring bulbs into inventory for November/December planting.

Yes…Fall Color / Spring Color.

Hardy mums offer great curb appeal to a home.  They are bright, cheerful and continue to flower right through the first frost.  Unknown-17They accent halloween decorations, they are the centerpiece of Thanksgiving decorations….simply said they are just beautiful!!!

And what am I doing with bulbs you ask? Well, we install bulbs in November/December…they get cooled off and roots out during the winter months, and sure enough they welcome the spring season with a beautiful array of spring color……

Tulips...Spring Color

Tulips…Spring Color

You know ……Tulips, Daffodils,  Hyacinth, etc..

So just because the summer season has come to an end doesn’t mean your flowers and seasonal color has to also.  Spruce up your landscape with hardy fall mums and a display of spring blooming bulbs.  Trust me….you won’t regret it!

 

 

Aeration and Seeding

This is the BEST TIME to give your lawn a chance to thicken up!!!!

You’ve heard me ranting about Fall Lawn Care for years….so here it comes again.  Following a summer of heat, mowing and foot traffic, lawn soils may become compacted and end up in desperate need of help during the fall.  Aeration can provide just the pick me up that your lawn needs.  

Core Aeration Machine

Core Aeration Machine

Your lawn should be aerated regularly – as often as once every year.  Ideally, your soil should be made up of 50% solids, 25% water and 25% air.  When it becomes compacted, there is little room for the air or water.  So if you know you have a dense heavy soil like clay, or you  can see water pooling up or running off the lawn, chances are that you need aeration.

Aeration also reduces the amount of thatch buildup on your lawn by helping it to decompose more quickly.  Thatch is the dead material that builds up between the blades of grass on your lawn and the soil.  When thatch accumulates to more than 1/2″, it causes problems.  

The best time to aerate is when the grass is actively growing.  Fall is best for cool season grasses because turf roots grow more in the fall than any other time of year.  

Right after aeration is an idea time to overseed your lawn.   With the soil opened up the seed can make good soil contact which is critical for seeding success.  With still-warm soil and cooler fall weather, new seedlings can germinate and get established during this root-building period of the year.  Starter fertilizer and plenty of water (when it doesn’t rain) will speed up establishment for a much thicker lawn next season.

Aeration works with fall fertilization and watering to thicken the lawn and build up good food reserves in the roots through the fall months.  So plan on aeration for a healthier lawn this fall and thicker, greener turf next year!

Plants That Help You Garden

One of the great things about gardening is that in some way your garden can take care of itself. Now, that’s not endorsing abandoning garden chores completely, but there are a few things that you can do to make your work a little easier. One of these things is to select plants for your garden that will help control insect pests.

Certain plants contain properties that either invite beneficial insects or repel harmful insects. Beneficial insects prey on pests that cause damage in the garden. Ladybugs and praying mantis are good examples of beneficial bugs.

Using plants for pest control not only cuts down on your workload, but it also reduces the amount of insecticides that you use in your garden. And fewer insecticides means more good bugs, which in turn means help in controlling bad bugs.

Remember that what works in one garden may not work in another. Every garden is different with its own microclimate, soil type, and pest control issues. It is important to experiment to find out what works best for your situation. With this thought in mind, it also helps to choose plants that are native to your area. This way beneficial insects will already know what to look for.

Artemisia: This plant produces a strong antiseptic, although not unpleasant aroma that repels most insects. Planted in drifts it can also deter small animals. One popular variety is ‘Powis Castle.’ Probably best not to plant in vegetable gardens because it produces a botanical poison.

basil1-1Basil: The oils in basil are said to repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil alongside any tomato plants for larger, tastier tomatoes.

Bee Balm: This plant attracts bees to the garden. It is another plant that you can grow with your tomatoes.

Borage: This plant is a real workhorse in the garden. It repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms and attracts beneficial bees and wasps. Borage also adds trace elements to the soil. This is an annual, but readily come back each year from seed.

Catnip: This plant repels just about everything, except for cats of course! Use it to keep 300_78968away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, and weevils. Use sachets of dried catnip to deter ants from invading your kitchen. A favorite variety of catnip is ‘Six Hills Giant’ because of its proliferation of sky blue blooms.

Chives: are great herbs. Not only do they have great flavor, but their grassy foliage and round heads also add so much interest to any garden. You can plant chives to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It has been said that chives will help prevent scab when planted among apple trees.

Chrysanthemums: When you do use an insecticide, use one made from chrysanthemums called pyrethrum. This all-natural pesticide can help control things like roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and ants. In the garden white flowering chrysanthemums are said to drive away Japanese beetles.

Garlic: A lot can be said about garlic. It’s really great stuff. In addition to its great taste and health benefits, garlic planted near roses repels aphids. It also deters codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly.

Marigolds: The marigold is probably the most well known plant for repelling insects. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to images-140offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well. If you choose marigolds for your garden they must be scented to work as a repellent. And while this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites and snails.

Nasturtiums: Plant nasturtiums with your tomatoes and cucumbers as a way to fight off wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow blooming varieties, act as a trap for aphids.

So, let some of these plants make your garden more interesting and share the work of pest control and of attracting pollinators to your garden.

Spring Feeding: Yes or No?

“Do my trees and shrubs really need to be fertilized?” We hear this question time and time again from our customers, and the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Construction activities when homes are built lead to soil that is heavily compacted, poorly aerated and poorly drained – not the best conditions for tree and shrub growth. Consider too that in their natural forest habitat, trees and shrubs have a constant supply of nutrientsimages-75 from decomposing layers of leaves and other organic matter on the forest floor. But in our lawns and landscapes, we regularly rake away leaves and other organic matter before it has a chance to decompose.

What Fertilizer Does

Fertilizer ensures that your trees and shrubs have the essential nutrients they need for healthy growth: nitro- gen, phosphorus and potassium. When they’re fertilized regularly, your trees and shrubs will exhibit deeper color, denser growth and better blooming. Plus, they’ll have an improved ability to fight off insects and disease. Fertilization also helps roots to branch out and grow in size, making it easier for your trees and shrubs to survive drought and other stresses.

What if They’re Not Fertilized?

Without fertilization, your trees and shrubs won’t be able to reach their true potential. And over time, they may begin to show signs of nutrient deficiency, including:

• Poor leaf color

• Reduced leaf size

• Premature fall coloration and leaf drop

• Reduced twig and branch growth

• An overall reduction in tree growth and vigor

By having your trees and shrubs fertilized regularly, you’ll be rewarded with healthier, more beautiful trees and shrubs that you can enjoy for many years to come.

Can Your Lawn Take the Heat?

Summer will be here soon, and it can be brutal on your lawn. But summer hardiness can be improved this year and in the years ahead. Here are some things to think about throughout the rest of the growing season:

Mowing: As temperatures increase, you should gradually raise your mowing height by 25% to 50%. Also, you should remove no more than 1⁄3 of the grass blade at a time. This will keep the soil shaded and encourage deeper roots. When summer heat starts to subside, you can gradually lower the mowing height again.

Watering: Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, since light, frequent waterings encourage shallow roots that can’t sustain grass plants. Your lawn needs from 1″ to 1.5″ lawn-hostasof water per week from rainfall or sprinkling, and you should soak the soil to a depth of 6″ each time. Early morning is the best time to water.

Core Aeration and Fertilization in the Fall: Core aeration opens up the soil, breaks
 up thatch and improves the flow of air, water and nutrients to the roots. By having your lawn fertilized after aeration, your turf will be less susceptible to disease while exhibiting improved recovery from the stresses of summer heat and drought. Fall fertilization will also lead to fewer summer weed problems and better fall-to-spring color.