Posted by & filed under Lawn Care, post-emergent, Weed-control.

HenbitWeeds can be tough to control, especially in spring. And that’s why many homeowners in the Carolina area call LawnAmerica and depend upon us to help control weeds. Weeds that are growing now are mainly winter annual weeds, which germinate way back in fall and into early spring. They are hard to control now since they are going to flower and at the end of their normal life cycle. Post-emergent weed sprays are usually effective, but they are not perfect. There are things a homeowner can do to help with controlling existing weeds.

  1. Mow the weeds and lawn about 7 days after a treatment.
  2. Make sure to water in the pre-emergent applied to prevent summer weeds such as crabgrass.
  3. Be patient, as it takes time for weeds to die, especially in cool weather.
  4. Call LawnAmerica for free service calls if needed to spot-treat persisting weeds.

For more information on weed-control in spring, VISIT HERE.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Flowers, General, landscaping.

 

Annual FlowersWith the warm spring weather finally, it’s tempting to pick up some flats of those brightly colored flowers at the nursery and plant them into your flower bed. Annual flowers are just that….annual, meaning they survive just one season and do not come back year after year as perennials do. I like perennials for this very reason, that you don’t have to be continually planting new stuff every year. However, annuals do have a place in the home gardens of North Carolina, so here are some recommendations for those.

You’ll pay more for purchasing annual flowers in packs and trays that are growing rather than trying to establish from seed. It’s much easier and faster though, so this is usually the best route to take. There are some popular flowers such as Pansies that can be planted in fall or early spring, and they are really nice. With the summer heat though, they’ll be gone by June or July. So at this point in the spring, I’d recommend going with more of a summer annual that grows and produces flowers up until the first frost of fall. Proven and new varieties of Impatients, Periwinkle, Petunia, Snapdragon, and Begonias are hard to beat. Lantana and Melampodium will thrive in hot summers. And consider Ornamental Sweet Potato for an easy, fast-growing vine that fills in gardens with green foliage, just no flowers.

We are still two weeks away from the frost date of April 15th, so I’d wait until that and allow the soil to warm up a little more before planting annuals. And don’t forget that some old varieties such as Zinnia and Marigold can easily be established from seed, which is much cheaper than planting small plants rooted in cell packs. For more information on planting and caring for annual flowers in Carolina, VISIT HERE.

Posted by & filed under Environmental, Lawn Care.

ST. Patricks DayDid you know that there’s gold in your grass! Not just on St. Patrick’s Day, but every day your lawn and landscape is healthy adds value to your home and our local communities in the Charlotte and Asheville areas in North Carolina.

According to Smart Money Magazine, a nice lawn and landscape adds up to 11.3% to the value of a home. Money Magazine states that: “attractively landscaping your yard can be one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your home’s curb appeal.” And for businesses, greening of business areas increases price and draws customers to the businesses. A recent study in Boulder, Colorado neighborhoods showed that property values decreased by $4.20 for each foot away from a greenbelt.

LawnAmerica provides great jobs to many folks, so we have a personal vested interest in caring for lawns and landscapes in the areas we serve. We are just a small part of growing industry though with tremendous economic benefits. According to a recent USDA-funded research project, the green industry provided the following benefits:

  • $147.8 billion in output
  • $64.3 billion in labor income
  • $6.9 billion in indirect business taxes
  • $95.1 billion in value added

Green spaces and healthy lawns and landscapes benefit us in so many other ways also. Environmental benefits of healthy lawns and landscapes include oxygen generation, soil erosion prevention, cooling or urban areas, and carbon dioxide absorption just to name a few. And then there is the aesthetics and physiological benefits that green spaces can provide.

So if you’ve not done so yet, make an investment in your lawn, by becoming a partner with LawnAmerica, and allow us to help you find some gold in your grass.

Posted by & filed under Environmental, Lawn Care, Tree & shrub.

Cold SpringAfter enjoying a very mild late winter and early spring, it seems that winter has made a sudden re-appearance in the Carolina’s. This can affect plants that have already bloomed out or are sensitive to early spring freezes. Fescue lawns, being a cool-season turf, will be fine. Certain landscape plants or plants in the gardens though could be damaged. We are not out of the woods yet in dealing with cold weather, so VIsit Here for a link from North Carolina State University on how to deal with cold snaps.

One simple thing to do for all plants is to make sure there is good soil moisture before cold weather hits. Certain plants and flowers can be covered with a cloth cover, not plastic, on nights where temperatures are forcasted to drop into the 20’s. And if flower blooms are damaged, or new green foliage damaged, many plants will recover with time.

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Flowers, Insect Control, landscaping, Tree & shrub.

Crape MurderEvery year at this time of the season, I cringe at the sight of the “bad haircuts” on what should be large, beautiful Crape Myrtle shrubs. Homeowners, and even “professional’ landscapers whack back the stems on Crape Myrtles at the very same point they were pruned last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. All that’s left is an ugly, twisted clump of stem at the tops of the shrub. This picture on the left is really bad. It’s even worse because it was a bad pruning cut, looking like it was just ripped off with a weed-eater or something, rather than a clean, sharp cut.

We call this practice of pruning Crape Myrtles every year in the same place, just to give one something to do, as Crape Murder. It does not actually kill the shrub, but it it does take away from the natural growth, health, and beauty of the shrub. These shrubs can grow quite large, with colorful displays of flowers all summer, especially in the more southern states such as Carolina. With the warmer winters we are having, I don’t remember one where they were damaged by a hard freeze, which can happen. In that case, then yes, some pruning may be needed.

Otherwise, we recommend to just let them grow with minor pruning just to keep a nice shape and prevent from becoming too dense. If space allows, let them grow to 8, 10, even 12 feet or more. And if pruning is needed, don’t take out every stem at one time, but selectively prune for shaping.

For a good video on Crape Murder, and how to properly prune these shrubs, visit here. And if you really want to do something at this time of year to help your Crape Myrtle, apply a systemic insecticide and dormant oil. This will help prevent aphids and scale later on in the season, which are two pests which can harm Crape Myrtles.

Posted by & filed under Choosing a lawn care company, fertiliation, Fescue, Lawn Care, post-emergent, pre-emergent, Weed-control.

weed-n-feedWeed-control sprayPre-emergent

 

Where do I start?

I was at one of the big box stores recently, and noticed the big display of do-it-yourself lawn care weed-control products and fertilizers on display. So I checked them out to compare these to what we use at LawnAmerica, along with the pricing of their products. Even with 30 years of lawn care experience, I was confused as to which products to use, what was the active ingredients in each, and how to apply.

So here’s the breakdown if a homeowner wanted to duplicate our Early Spring Weed-Control Treatment in Carolina.  If I was a homeowner, I’d have to spend $65 to buy a 40 lb bag of this Scott’s Halt, which is fertilizer plus pre-emergent. This is enough for a 15,000’ lawn, but my lawn is 7,000’. So I either put out half of the bag, and have to store the rest to use in another year, or just apply the whole bag. Most homeowners would do the latter. Now in applying this, I’m also applying Nitrogen fertilizer, which would benefit fescue turf. Dormant bermudagrass does not need fertilizer now, so this is a waste of money, and not good for the environment with the nitrogen just leaching through the soil and not utilized by the plants.  And then, what about the weeds I have in my lawn? Those would need to be sprayed with a liquid post-emergent for best results, or I could apply another weed-n-feed with a granular broadleaf herbicide in it. These granular products just don’t work well at all, since it’s hard for the granules to actually stick to the weeds.  So I then have to sort through the various spray bottles of herbicide, and buy what I think may work, for another $18 for a bottle of this.

Then there is the little plastic fertilizer spreader in the garage, which I assume is not rusted and still works, so we’ll not even count the cost of that now. I’m still sitting at $83 just in products, plus the value of my time on the weekend. I’d rather be watching North Carolina in the NCAA basketball tournament, fishing, or just hanging out with my family, but what the heck? I”ll just call this exercise, and go with that. I had to pick up some other stuff at the box store, so I won’t even count that time and gas expense in this equation. I’m still looking at $83 in hard costs for doing my own lawncare, compared to $68.30 if I’d paid LawnAmerica to do it for me. And, work by professionals such as LawnAmerica is guaranteed, so if things don’t perform well, we’ll return to do whatever may be needed to do the job. Try taking back your empty fertilizer bag and spray bottle to the box store, telling them your lawn does not look good, and see what they say!

So the choice is clear, using professionals such as LawnAmerica is the best way to have a healthy, green, more weed-free lawn. More and more homeowners it seems are discovering this, which is why it looked to me like their stuff was not exactly flying off the shelves, and the lawn care display at the box store looked pretty full and it’s almost the middle of March.

Posted by & filed under landscaping, Tree & shrub.

Ornatmental GrassMarch is a great time to remove dead foliage from ornamental grasses in the landscape, before they begin to green up soon. Ornamental grasses can be  great additions to home and business landscapes, and are becoming very popular. They are very well-adapted to Carolina weather and soil conditions, very low maintenance, and provide a beautiful contrast to other parts of the landscape and lawns. Some local favorite varieties are Fountain Grass, Pampas Grass, Maiden Grass, Mexican Feather Grass, Zebra Grass, and Japanese Blood Grass. Some stay moderate in size, while some such as Pampas Grass can become quite large, so care must be made in deciding where to plant these. Some ornamental grasses such as Liriope, Feather Reed Grass, and Northern Sea Oats are more shade tolerant than certain turfgrasses such as Fescue, so these may be a good alternative for extremely shady conditions.

In late winter and very early spring, it’s important to cut back brown dormant vegetation to make room for the flush of new spring growth from the base of the plant. Sharp shears or a strong weed-eater will work in some cases, but larger more mature grasses can become large and difficult to prune back. If you live in the country as we do and the ornamental grass is away from your home, you can actually burn back the dead vegetation with fire, but do be careful with that. Right now, it’s pretty dry, so don’t try this unless things improve.  And if you live within city limits, that’s not legal nor smart to do. You’ll have to cut back the vegetation in this case.

Either way you do it, cutting back and eliminating the brown, dead leaves and stems from last year’s growth will help the plant look better, while springing  back to life better later this spring and develop a better shape without all of the brown stems from last year.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Choosing a lawn care company, Lawn Care, pre-emergent, spring weed control, Weed-control.

 

Pre-emergent performanceWith the early spring we are enjoying here in Carolina, it’s more important than ever to have a timely pre-emergent herbicide applied to stop crabgrass and other summer annual weeds. Germination usually begins in late March to early April here in Carolina and on into April, May, and June. So as long as the pre-emergent is applied before then and watered into the soil, crabgrass should not germinate. Unless the weather turns cooler soon though, we’ll have early germination it appears.

There are differences in pre-emergent products, and there can be big differences in how and when those products are applied, that will greatly effect the results. At LawnAmerica we use the very best product available, prodiamine or Barricade, which is the trade name. We apply this between late January and late-March for our existing customers, at the rate of 28 oz. per acre, which will provide about 6-7 months of good crabgrass control according to the chart in this article. IF you have a fescue lawn, the Round 1 pre-emergent should last all season long, and break down by the time fescue seeding is done in fall.

Other lawn care companies in Carolina may apply a lesser rate of products, and apply them in what is called a “split application”, with some applied in their step 1, and the rest of it with their step 2 a few weeks later. Their customers are paying twice for what LawnAmerica does in ONE treatment! As long as Barricade is applied at the proper time, with the proper rates, by an experienced and good technician, one treatment is all you need.

All pre-emergents need to be watered into the soil to be be activated, so we’ll need help either from Mother Nature or from an irrigation system, which could be you with a water hose! The newer pre-emergents such as Barricade do not break down in the soil or leach out of the soil nearly as fast as older products, so that’s good. The biggest factor is still how and when they are applied as to why one lawn looks great, and another may have a crabgrass problem.

Posted by & filed under landscaping, Tree & shrub.

Photenia

Photenia before pruning

Photenia after

Photenia after pruning.

Homeowners are eager to get out and do something in the landscape this time of year, especially with the early spring weather here in North Carolina. One landscape chore that should be taken care of now is pruning certain shrubs. Not all shrubs need to be pruned, such as Crape Myrtle, which we advise not to prune as most do. We call it Crape murder, when landscapers and homeowners cut back these plants every winter to produce stubs. We recommend in most cases to just allow them to grow.

Shrubs are pruned to maintain or reduce size, rejuvenate growth, or to remove diseased, dead or damaged branches. Deciduous shrubs are those that lose their leaves each winter, and some of these are ones that can be pruned now, along with certain evergreens such as Photenia. I have a group of Photenias at my home which had grown to be over 10’ tall, which they will if not pruned. So this past weekend I pruned them down to about 6’ so that I could keep it from taking over this area, and so I could treat it for Leaf Spot Disease this year, which had gotten out of hand last year.

Pruning during the late winter and early spring will allow wounds to heal quickly without threat from insects or disease. Pruning also helps to stimulate new growth this spring, and there is no need to treat pruning cuts with paints or sealers.

There are two main methods used in pruning shrubs: thinning and heading back. Thinning is used to help thin out branches from a shrub that is too dense. To do this, remove most of the inward growing twigs by either cutting them back to a larger branch or cutting them back to just above an outward- facing bud. On multi-stemmed shrubs, the oldest stems may be completely removed. Heading back is done by removing the end of a branch by cutting it back to a bud and is used for either reducing height or keeping a shrub compact, such as with my Phonenias.

Shrubs that flower in the spring, such as Azaleas, should not be pruned until after flowering in mid-Spring.  Pruning now will not harm the health of the plant, but it will greatly affect the flowering display by the removal of many flower buds.

Posted by & filed under Fescue, Lawn Care, pre-emergent, Uncategorized.

BermudagrassIt’s February 21st, and it still should be winter here in Carolina. Most homeowners do have fescue turf in the Carolina’s, but some do have bermudagrass growing in the sun. This is a picture of dormant bermudagrass, but with little green leaves sticking up through the turf. It is normal to see a little green bermudagrass in areas that warm up sooner, such as along south-facing walls or along street edges in February. But this picture was taken in the middle of a lawn, where the turf should still be totally dormant now. And as you can see, green leaves are showing as the turf is starting to come out of dormancy.

Is this another sign of climate change, or just another of these warm winters we’ve experienced in Carolina? Who knows. It does seem to me that spring is coming on way to early again. So how does this affect your lawn?

If the soil temperatures continue to heat up, it’s more critical to have a pre-emergent herbicide applied and watered into the soil to prevent crabgrass germination. At LawnAmerica, we typically have all of our existing customers Round 1 Weed-Control Treatment serviced by mid-March, which should be plenty of time to beat crabgrass germinating. I’ve never seen crabgrass germinate in Carolina, even along edges or in “hot spots” in the turf, earlier than mid-March. If these winters keep being so mild here though, who knows.

The other concern is the bermudagrass greening up too soon in March, only to have one of those late spring hard freezes strike in early April. This can cause serious setback to bermudgrass, even killing the new tender green growth, and delaying then the complete green-up of bermudagrass. So we discourage pushing the greening up of bermudagrass too soon in March. We can’t control the weather and soil temperatures however. We do recommend to hold off on scalping bermudagrass in March though until mid-April, when risk of a hard freeze is gone. By scalping too soon, one exposes the soil to the sunlight, further warming the soil, and stimulating bermudagrass to produce new green shoot and leaf growth. And then if a hard freeze hits, it can do damage to the turf.  With fescue, you’re fine, as warm temperatures actually help get it green and growing sooner.