Tag: summer

Welcome to Summer

It looks like the summer heat came a little early this year. We are already experiencing some of the warmest and driest conditions that the are has seen in a few years this early in the summer season. Over the holiday weekend, while you are spending time with family and friends, take heed of the temperatures and make sure that you keep yourself and your lawn hydrated.

Your turf likely has not been able to put down deep healthy roots since the wet winter (yes, too wet is a bad thing for turf). Please keep an eye on your turf and if you haven’t already turn on your irrigation system. We haven’t really needed them until this week, but if you have one use it. If you are unsure how to operate your system, let us know and we can assist you.

Watering during periods of drought can help prevent many serious turf problems like dormancy, yellowing, bare spots, and some diseases. Here are some tips on how and when to water your lawn:

When to water

Using irrigation water to fill the gaps between precipitation events is critical to a healthy lawn, and efficient, responsible use of this natural resource will keep water bills lower. You should always pay attention to any local ordinances regarding water usage. Drought tolerant turf species, while they may go dormant during drought, will revive once precipitation occurs or watering restrictions are lifted

To be the most efficient when watering your lawn, you should always irrigate when:
 Winds are calm
 In the early morning hours, this minimizes evaporation loss and results in a more efficient irrigation event.
 Only when lawns show signs of drought stress.

Do not irrigate in the evening (increases disease pressure)

How to Water

There are two basic kinds of sprinkler systems available to homeowners:

  1.  In-Ground, automatic irrigation: This is the most efficient way to irrigate your lawn. A professionally designed and installed system will provide complete and even distribution of water across the lawn surface, should have a battery back-up for any timing devices, and a rain sensor to disable the system when precipitation occurs.
  2.  Above Ground, movable hose based sprinklers: These methods are less expensive than in-ground systems, however not as efficient or convenient. These sprinklers may either be a portable surface type, which needs to be moved from time to time in order to cover the whole lawn or a traveling sprinkler, which follows the path of the hose or a cable around the lawn.

Both methods require observation and effort on the part of the homeowner in order to avoid over watering and ensuring uniform coverage through out the lawn.

Knowing how to irrigate is one thing, but how much should you be watering your lawn?

  • A general rule for most turf species requires 1 inch of water per week in order to maintain a healthy status, this includes any precipitation.
  • Irrigation should be a supplement to natural precipitation, not the main source of water for your lawn.
  • Water once every 2-3 days in periods of drought (about a half an inch per application).
  • If one or more inches of precipitation falls in any given week, then supplemental irrigation is not necessary.
  • Soils that are primarily clay based (most around here) will require less water overall and fewer applications than more sandy soils. Clay has a very high water holding capacity.

Irrigation cycles should be run so that you are watering as deeply as possible into the soil profile, with causing runoff on the surface. Irrigation should only be applied to supplement precipitation deficits. Avoid hard and fast irrigation timer settings, be flexible with your times and days. Avoid standing water in your lawn.

To determine if you are applying the correct amount of water, place a rain gauge between a series of irrigation heads or midway between the sprinkler and the end of its coverage and check the depth of water in the gauge after a predetermined length of time. Use this information to calculate the amount of time that irrigation must be applied to reach ½ inch.

Things to keep in mind
When watering
• Water deeply and infrequently.
• Proper use of sprinkler water will result in a healthier and attractive lawn and lower water bills.
• Consider spot watering localized dry spots instead of the entire lawn.
• Water areas on mounds and berms and near buildings more often, where reflected heat dries the turf.
• Avoid irrigating until water runs off the lawn surface and on to walks and roads.
• Areas shaded from trees may require more water to support both trees and turf grasses.
• Avoid standing water for any period of time.

When Maintaining
• Make sure that you are mowing at the proper height for your turf species (not all grasses should be mown at the same height of cut).
• A sharp mower blade is essential if you want to maintain a healthy lawn through periods of stress. Dull blades tear the grass, resulting in a more stressful and jagged cut, making the turf more susceptible to fungal diseases.
• Avoid fertilization until fall for cool-season turf (fescues, ryes, bluegrasses).
• Spot spray only for weed control in cool-season turf.

Traditional Southern Shrub Installation

This was a fun little project for a maintenance client of ours. They had non-flowering shrubs that were struggling and wanted to replace them not only because they were unsightly but because they wanted to add a little color to the yard. I decided to keep all the shrubs evergreen, except one and to go with a more traditional southern shrub aesthetic.

Here’s the before:

To start with the more traditional look, I decided to go with Encore Azaleas that don’t grow more than about 3 feet tall in front, giving the client flowers from Spring until Fall and since they are evergreen, they won’t have drab looking shrubs in the winter. The azaleas are also pretty hardy, drought tolerant and handle more sun than a traditional Azalea. They had a smaller budget to work with and these are perfect all around.

Lining the steps up, and in front of the existing Pencil Boxwoods, I added two Encore Azaleas that grow to about 4.5 feet tall to give the sidewalk leading up a little more drama. I also decided on white to off-set the pink colors of the smaller azaleas.

Behind the Azaleas I decided on a Gardenia that grows to about 5′ tall to give the client height and to border the porch with a little privacy. The flowers are also fragrant, making a moment on the porch that much sweeter. As well, the Gardenias are also evergreen, but their leaf color is a darker green than that of the Azaleas making them a really nice backdrop.

On the left side of the house, I decided on a smaller camellia that grows to about 8 ft tall and 6 ft wide with pink blooms in the winter. The dark glossy leaves of the Camellia will also create a pretty backdrop.

Finally, on the other end of the front of the house, I added a Hydrangea that won’t be noticed in the winter, but will be dramatic through the summer.

Here is the after:


Want to Plant Something In This Heat? Here’s What To Do.

It’s almost the middle of what is quickly becoming a sweltering, never-ending summer. As you look at your landscape everyday, you feel something is missing and you have an idea of what it is. Color.
After the rush of color during the spring, June can often seem very green. It’s beautiful, but its also like a pause for a couple of weeks while we wait for the summer bloomers to take over.
That is if you have your landscape figured out. But maybe you never got around to planting any summer blooms and you have no color to look forward to. Or perhaps your landscape sits in the shade and it seems like everything that blooms needs full sun.
Believe me, I’m feeling it all right now. I’m always moving plants, propagating, dividing and adding and right now that’s all I want to do.
When we took over our 100 year old house all we had in the front was green. Nothing that flowered. Four years later, I am on the edge of my seat as my summer bloomers make themselves known. It happens so slowly because shade dominates my yard, except in the late afternoon heat (not exactly friendly to most shade plants).

Even I want to fill my landscape with color right now. But it’s not the time to shop for perennials and put them in the ground as you see holes in your landscape. The heat (and lately lack of rain) would make an otherwise stressful situation even more stressful, and not just on the plants. It’s almost too hot to even be outside. So how do we get color this time of year, especially as it becomes less ideal to put perennial plants in the ground?

Plant Annuals

Yes, the most obvious but it’s also the cheapest option. You can tell it’s that time because garden centers are full of them. You might notice landscapers planting masses of annuals at neighborhood and shopping center entrances. Even though many of these heat loving plants can withstand a drop in the ground right now, it’s still super important you water them and water them deeply in the morning. Also plan on planting them when the sun is not touching the planting area – this will give them a moment to settle. And water immediately after planting.
Some of my favorite annuals for color that you can pick up at any garden center are:
Shaded Yards – Begonias, New Guinea Impatiens, Fuschia, Lobelia, Coleus, and Caladium.
Sunny Yards – Dahlias, Daisies, Petunias, Zinnias, Geraniums, Calibrachoa, Marigolds, Impatiens, Mandevillas and Bougainvilleas.

Try Containers

Plant perennials in containers of varying heights for color. Choose colorful containers to add a bigger boost of color too! Place the containers throughout your landscape to fill the voids where you want color.
You can also add perennials to containers and when fall ushers in some relief from this heat, transplant those to a more permanent place in your landscape. Be sure though to keep containers well watered no matter what you put in them as they do dry out faster.