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Entries in irrigation (4)

Thursday
May082014

Summer Plant Protection

Gazania blooms best in hot, sunny areas. Can't wait for summer to see these beauties!

It's still hard to believe summer is finally here to stay. So after a plant friendly and cool spring it is time to get ready for the hot weather. Our lawns and plants fared well so far and now it is time for all of us, plants and people, to make that seasonal adjustment.

Water is a plant's best friend during the high heat of summer under the blazing hot sun. Right now  your irrigation system should be set on a summer schedule. Maybe it is time to evaluate what type of system you have. Is it as efficient as it could be? In spring you don't need a lot of supplemental irrigation but when the temperatures begin to climb and rain isn't on the horizon, that system will be getting a lot more use. It is better to water less frequently and more deeply than every day for only a few minutes. You want to make sure the water penetrates through the mulch layer and can reach the roots. A drip system lays under the mulch/soil and uses less water than a traditional mist or rotary heads.

Early in the day is the best time to irrigate. If you water in the middle of the day, most of the water will evaporate before it has a chance to penetrate through the soil. If you water late in the day fungus will develop, especially in your lawn. Avoid letting water collect on leaves in the middle of the day; like ants under a magnifying glass, the leaves will fry. Leave your lawn 3-3.5" high in the hottest months. This will help keep the roots cooler by providing some shade. Cutting too short can contribute to browning out. When mowing your lawn, remove no more than 1/3 of the lawn's height at one time. 

Healthy, vibrant lawn. No weeds, well irrigated and maintained.

A few organic choices for the garden that will help your plants thrive include mulch, compost and pruning. Incorporating compost into your soil adds organic matter and will give your plants a boost in nutrients, minimizing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Mulching around your plants keeps the soil cooler in summer and helps with moisture retention. Also, you can mitigate potential damage from poor air circulation or low light penetration with proper pruning.

When it gets hot and humid, there are certain pests and diseases that thrive. Scale, Black Spot, Powdery Mildew and Fungus Gnats are several  to watch out for. Call us if you see small, fuzzy white things that jump on and off of your plants or if you see black spots or a white film on any leaves.  If you see clouds of tiny flying insects, most likely around a wet area, it could be fungus gnats. While they are harmless to humans (they only feed on rotting organic matter) this could indicate you have a standing water issue, which will attract a much worse insect: the mosquito. Our sister company, Tree Care Long Island, has several treatments including horticultural pruning, beneficial insects and liquid and granular applications (including organic options), to treat these issues.

More insects to watch out during the summer include Aphids and Leafhoppers, Grubs, and Spider Mites. Aphids and Leafhoppers can spread scale and powdery mildew between your plants. Grubs eat the roots of your lawn, creating bare patches and holes in your lawn from predators like crows and raccoons digging for dinner. Spider Mites suck the juices out of a plant's leaves and/or needles and cause the plants to defoliate and die.

Is your landscape ready for the heat of summer? If you see any of these conditions, or would like our advice, just contact us and we will be happy to help.

Click here for a Newsletter version of this post.

Thursday
Mar132014

Spring Cleanup and Startup

Spring is here.

The following are 20 things you should know about spring.

Who's ready for tulips, pansies and Dwarf Fothergilla flowers?

1. March 20th is the first day of spring. Before long the first day of summer (June 20th) will be here!

2. Assess winter damage to plants and the landscape. 

3. Apply pre-emergent to lawns and beds before the forsythia finish blooming.

4. Prune back hydrangeas and roses now. However, other plants are just waking up, so don't do any heavy pruning on other trees and shrubs. Have a certified arborist evaluate your fruit trees.

5. Cut back liriope and perennials. Now is a good time to divide perennials.

6. Watch for settlement from freeze/thaw cycles around new pools and drywells.

7. Review photos from last year's vegetable and annual plantings.

8. Add organic amendments like compost to the soil in early spring.

9. Rotate crops, especially vegetables. Organically add nitrogen back to the soil by planting soy beans or peas.

Contrast bulb flower colors for the biggest bang in the landscape!10. Mulch NOW while the beds are open so you don't have to dance around emerging perennials. Pull back winter compost from tree and shrub root crowns. Avoid mulch volcanoes!

 

11. Plant summer annuals after May 15th (wait for danger of frost to pass). Having a summer party? Plan your annuals now for robust color and lush beds. Get your tubers ready. Dahlias and Canna Lilies are ready to go in soon!

 

12. Monitor your irrigation system. DO NOT overwater. Adjust the watering schedule as summer approaches.

 

13. Experiment with alternatives to impatiens. DO NOT plant Impatiens walleriana! They have a problem with downy mildew all across the United States and they WILL disappoint you. Try something new!

 

 

14. Bring in your bird feeders. Birds have plenty of food now. Clean and store them for next winter.

15. Spray horticultural oil to smother insect egg cases. Check your lawn for divots. Does it look like a really poor golfer has been there? Those holes are from squirrels, raccoons and birds looking for food.

16. Watch for frosty nights and protect newly planted and tender annuals and vegetables.

17. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. They're popping up all over. If you have a small piece of property or too much shade, this is a great way to contribute to a cooperative garden and reap the benefits in fruits, vegetables and friendships.

18. Test your lawn's pH. Let the soil and our trained horticultural experts tell you what it needs.

19. Check the garden shed for old and outdated fertilizers and chemicals. Dispose of them properly.

20. Last, but certainly not least, consult with your favorite landscape designer. Now is a great time to contact us. Or you can call to set up an appointment with Sal Masullo, senior landscape designer, at (631) 271-6460 to discuss your ideas.

Soon pansy faces will great us from pots and daffodil manes from the beds.

Written by Ashley Palko and Sal Masullo

 

Wednesday
Oct162013

Drought: A Cautionary Tale

It is fall and we are in a drought. While it may not seem so because the weather has cooled off, our plants need water now more than ever. Stressed trees are turning colors earlier than normal. If you notice that your plants have brown or wilted leaves, early leaf drop or stem dieback, your plant is calling for help. When stressed, plants are more susceptible to pests and disease.

Stressed hydrangeaShocked viburnum

 

 

 

 

 

We are used to seeing this in the high heat of summer, but drought can happen any time of the year. A deciduous (drops leaves for winter) plant can mitigate the damage because it will have no leaves to lose water through and essentially go dormant. It may also drop its leaves prematurely in defense during a drought. This winter will be especially harsh to our broadleaf evergreens due to moisture loss through their leaves. Conifers and broadleaf evergreens will drop some needles and leaves every year routinely, but substantial leaf drop means something may be seriously wrong.

Drought stressed boxwood

Windburned skip laurel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An anti-desiccant spray can help. However, irrigating before the ground freezes will give them a much better chance to survive a dry fall and winter. A leaf with a bigger surface area will transpire faster than a leaf with a smaller surface area; therefore, broadleaf evergreens are more at risk. Even conifers such as pine, spruce and fir will lose water through their needles. If the plant loses too much moisture through its leaves, it can't stay healthy, and a unhealthy plant will fail. A plant will keep expelling water unless something is in place to stop it whether by the plant shutting the stomata by itself or with our help. An anti-desiccant (anti-transpirant) application can help protect the leaves by reducing the stomata openings. This application will also help protect the leaves from wind burn (see above right). The root system will be compromised if there is not enough water in the soil and if the soil is too dry it can erode away. If the roots are damaged severely, the plant could die. Protect your landscape investment!

From a recent interview with Long Island Pulse magazine, Tom Rodler, our president, says, "A good rule of thumb is to give a new plant about one inch of water per week throughout the fall." We are down 5 inches from our normal rainfall since June. You must be extra diligent, especially with new planting, to ensure your plants survival through the fall and winter.

Avoid stressing the plants even more during drought by refraining from pruning and transplanting. Mulch can help prevent water loss by evaporation from the soil around a plant, but if the soil is dry to begin with it is a futile gesture. Once the ground is frozen a plant can't take up any more water so protecting it now is important. DO NOT water at lower temperatures. Heaving will lift and damage root systems if not properly mulched, especially as the ground freezes and thaws throughout winter. We offer a winter mulch application to protect your plants against heaving damage, but don't apply it too late or clean it up too early. Some animals stuff themselves before hibernating in the winter and we need to prep our plants in a similar manner. A dry, windy winter could be the last nail in the coffin.

Tuesday
Oct092012

Just A Few More Things About Fall

Skimmia: Broadleaf EvergreenAs the weather turns chilly you might think it's time to give up on the garden. Not so! There are many things left to do before bunkering down for the winter. Plants, furniture and utilities need special care.

Protect your broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendron, cherry laurel, andromeda and others. Some anti-desiccant/anti-transpirant applications can be made by yourself, liquid kelp is a popular homeowner's application, though one feature of our Plant Healthcare Program is an anti-transpirant application in the late fall. This application helps lock in moisture for the winter and decreases the likelihood of wind and frost damage.

Another idea to consider for your landscape is a deep root fertilization for your trees, which can be applied in the fall or even in the spring. This fertilization gives your trees the help they need to get through the winter and come out swinging when the temperatures warm up.

Iced WaterfallPlants aren’t the only item in your landscape to protect. Winter can do a number on your outdoor furniture. Secure it in a safe place, such as a garage or shed, or have a professional shrink wrap it for you. Even your boat can be shrink wrapped.

Remember to have a professional blow out irrigation and pool lines to prevent damage from water freezing and thawing in the lines throughout the season. Drain and cover any fountains. Talk to a professional for pond care and winterization if you have animals in the pond. Hungry birds and raccoons can make a meal out of unsuspecting koi and goldfish when the weather turns nasty.