Blog

Tree and Shrub Pruning

Many people confuse pruning with shearing or trimming of plants.
There are a few techniques associated with pruning that are not actually considered pruning.
Lets break them down:
Shearing consists of hand propelled models or long gas or electrically driven flat blades mostly used on hedges or anywhere you want a sculpted tightly growing manicured looking plant.Shearing usually causes dense outer growth and occasional hand pruning is necessary to let in needed light to enhance the plants vigor
Sadly I have seen many trees and shrubs sheared when they would have been better suited for hand pruning to maintain their natural form.
Pruning is a much more complex way of shaping trees and shrubs to maintain their natural growth and shape and requires a different set of tools.
Usually hand Pruners, longer versions of hand pruners called Loppers, and a small hand saw designed to cut on the pull stroke.
A few reasons we prune are:
1)Maintaining the plants natural shape. The way mother nature intended it.
2)Thinning the plant to allow air movement through the foliage or (crown).
This helps the foliage dry faster after a rain or watering and decreases the chances of foliar diseases like Scab and Powdery Mildew.
3) Improves branching structure which enhances strength of branching.
4) Eliminates crossing, rubbing, and redundant branches.
5) The best time to prune is just prior to the growth season. We like to get out in late February because you wont incur new growth immediately and the trees are dormant which means no leaves in your way and less disease pressure.
Pruning is an art. There are many great Youtube videos and books written about it.
If you would like more information on this please consult one of these resources.
BEFORE PRUNING
treeprune-before_0105-jpg
AFTER PRUNING
treeprune-after_0106-jpg

Why Organic?

When I try to explain my reason for using organic products I often think people get lost in the terminology or get bored with the gory details of organics.
Outside of the obvious reason that organics are good for the environment they also have a host of unseen benefits to your soil.
Replenishing valuable carbon.
Carbon has been disappearing from our soils at a pretty astounding rate over the years.
Not just from erosion, although that is a large cause. But from the release of carbon dioxide from soil  into the atmosphere.
Every day plants breathe and create oxygen and a small amount of carbon dioxide is released as well. Microbes in the soil also create carbon dioxide.
Some of the biggest offenders are humans.
Every time we till our gardens, dig a planting hole, aerate our lawns or in general disturb mother earth we are mixing carbon (soil) with oxygen and creating a release of carbon dioxide. All these processes together have been accountable for the loss of millions of tons of valuable rich carbon laden topsoil over the last decade just in Ohio alone.
Many years ago we started programs where we are adding back carbon rich organic materials like leaf humus, mushroom compost, poultry litter and bio solids to our soils as well as our customers soils via mulching beds, and topdressing lawns.
I have to admit we have seen some pretty amazing results with this program.
Anything from bountiful healthy crops to stunningly green drought tolerant lawns.
Keep in mind people will call just about anything an “organic soil amendment”.
Make sure it is black in color, has a fine loose texture, breaks apart easily, and has an earthy smell to it.
Leaf Humus waiting to go in the garden

whyorganic_0161-jpg

Compost lawn topdressing waiting to be applied

topdressing_0461-jpg

 

 

The Right PH: Good for your lawn, Good for your Soul

Unless your a farmer or a doctor you probably have no idea what PH is or why its important in life. The technical term is Potential of Hydrogen or Hydrogen Ions in the soil. PH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. For our purposes it is measured in soil. It can also be measured in the human body as our general chemistry make up is basically the same as soil.

rightph_0630-jpg

If we look at a PH scale it goes from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. But there seems to be a happy place right between 6.5 and 7 where the nutrients on the scale tend to be the most available to be used by plants and our bodies.
Lawns tend to be happy around a PH of 6.5 whereas your body prefers to be around 7.4.
Landscape plants tend to vary a bit in their range of PH.Before planting you might want to consult a good book or online source for the specific PH that plant prefers.
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting a soil test done on a regular basis and using corrective measures such as Lime to raise the PH or Sulfur to lower the PH.
I will go into greater detail on soil amendments in another post. Of course organic matter also helps to balance out PH by a slight amount.
Many lawn care companies arbitrarily do Lime applications to boost their sales quotas which usually does more harm than good.
A couple more things to think about when looking at your soil test are percentage of organic matter, Base saturation of Calcium and Magnesium and Cation Exchange Capacity.
All of these will be discussed in future articles.
 

 

Can I Do my own lawncare? Or should I hire a professional?

a90efa20-ae1c-4d3c-aa50-2b187138897f

Whether you just bought a home or have owned one for any length of time you may fit into one of a couple categories. The savvy do it yourselfer, or someone who values their free time and looks to others to solve home maintenance and repair issues for them.
Whichever category you fall into you should consider hiring a professional to apply your lawn care products for the following reasons.
Timing:  Most Lawn products have specific application periods for which they are most
 beneficial.
A few examples would be Crabgrass pre emergent and Grub preventor. I often hear complaints from homeowners when we take over for them that timing of applications was the trickiest part of doing their own lawn care and often is the cause of their failure.  Most professionals use sophisticated software and technology that keeps your applications on track for best performance.
Product Selection:   Which fertilizer or weed control product to use plays a big part in your lawns health and success. Professionals are constantly doing research to find the best and safest alternative to get you the greenest, healthiest lawn they can and apply it at the proper rates.
Insects and Diseases:  A trained professional can alert you to the presence of any insect or disease issues currently or potentially in your lawn and the safest, most effective way to treat them.
Proper watering and mowing:  Your lawn care professional can advise you on the proper amounts of water your species of grass needs per week and teach you the importance of proper mowing height and why you should  keep your mower blade sharp throughout the season.
Licensing:  Be sure to ask the person you call to service your lawn if they are licensed by the state agricultural board. Most states require this of any contractor or individual applying fertilizers or pesticides for hire. There is strict training and testing involved in getting their license along with certain insurance requirements before they can become licensed.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of their license and insurance documentation.
A beautiful lawn is a joy to behold. Please let us take care of yours.

Can I do my own lawn care? Or should I hire a professional?

2831aca3-7617-47f8-913d-bfa28686f311

Whether you just bought a home or have owned one for any length of time you may fit into one of a couple categories. The savvy do it yourselfer, or someone who values their free time and looks to others to solve home maintenance and repair issues for them.

 

Whichever category you fall into you should consider hiring a professional to apply your lawn care products for the following reasons.

 

Timing:  Most Lawn products have specific application periods for which they are most

 beneficial.

A few examples would be Crabgrass pre emergent and Grub preventor. I often hear complaints from homeowners when we take over for them that timing of applications was the trickiest part of doing their own lawn care and often is the cause of their failure.  Most professionals use sophisticated software and technology that keeps your applications on track for best performance.

 

Product Selection:   Which fertilizer or weed control product to use plays a big part in your lawns health and success. Professionals are constantly doing research to find the best and safest alternative to get you the greenest, healthiest lawn they can and apply it at the proper rates.

 

Insects and Diseases:  A trained professional can alert you to the presence of any insect or disease issues currently or potentially in your lawn and the safest, most effective way to treat them.

 

Proper watering and mowing:  Your lawn care professional can advise you on the proper amounts of water your species of grass needs per week and teach you the importance of proper mowing height and why you should  keep your mower blade sharp throughout the season.

 

Licensing:  Be sure to ask the person you call to service your lawn if they are licensed by the state agricultural board. Most states require this of any contractor or individual applying fertilizers or pesticides for hire. There is strict training and testing involved in getting their license along with certain insurance requirements before they can become licensed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of their license and insurance documentation.

 

A beautiful lawn is a joy to behold. Please let us take car of yours.

 

What’s this tall yellow grass in my lawn?

 th

Mature Nutsedge with seed head

If you have a thick bladed yellow grass in your lawn that seems to outgrow every other grass and most weeds, chances are you have Yelow Nutsedge.

Here are some fascinating facts about this incredibly hardy grassy weed.

1) Yellow Nutsedge was introduced into the US in 1854 as a vegetable crop.

2) It is the 16th worst weed in the world.

3) It is used medically and as an alternative protein source.

4) It is actually a tuber and 1 Tuber produces 1900 shoots and 6900 more tubers making it very hard to control.

5) It lives in the top 6″ of soil.

6) It can spread as far as 3′ from the parent plant via rhizomes.

7) It germinates at a soil temperature of 60 degrees.

 Identification:  Yellow Nutsedge is greenish yellow in color. It has shiny triangular shaped blades and develops seedheads in fall.

 Control Methods: Cultural controls are as simple as removing the bulblike nutlet.

 Chemical Controls: There are several good chemicals that will have post emergent qualities to control this invasive nuisance.

We highly recommend consulting a professional lawn care company to help control this invasive grass.

Scary Old Snow Mold

I often wonder why people make such a big deal out of snow mold?

It seems like every year I’m fielding questions from a few of my lawn fanatics asking what they can do to prevent it.

I have done extensive research on the causes and cures of both Pink and Grey snow mold over the years and have come to my own conclusions.

So as the name states snow mold needs a couple key components, one of them being snow cover. The other is Mycelium or spores of the two different varieties of this disease.

When we have extended periods of snow cover, especially early snows before the ground freezes the Mycelium that have survived the summer in the soil layer incubate between the insulating layer of snow cover and unfrozen ground in the turf causing wilted, discolored straw like turf.

The damage from both varieties of this disease can bee seen well into the spring as temperatures rise well into the 40’s and 50’s.

The general rule of thumb is the longer the lawn stays covered with snow the greater the chance for damage.

Let’s face it, it’s not a pretty thing to see on the first sunny day of spring.

But there are several things that you can do to help prevent and fix it once it becomes an issue.

Cultural control:

If you take a preventative route some say to avoid high nitrogen fertilizers right before winter.

There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this.

1) In my opinion lawns need carbohydrates going into winter so they can make food once they come out of dormancy.

Organic sources of nitrogen fertilizer would be a better option for pre winter feeding than synthetic sources.

2) Mow the lawn shorter! That’s what dad used to do right?

The shorter the lawn the slower it will come out of dormancy.

More foliage = more photosynthesis. More leaf surface will photosynthesize at a greater rate then short grass and the lawn should recover faster.

3) Rake up all those leaves in the fall!

In reality mulching leaves back into the lawn would be a much healthier option and would give the microbes in your lawn a wonderful snack.

4) Spread out any remaining snow piles to help dry out the lawn asap.

I compare lawn diseases to athlete’s foot disease. Dry feet are happy feet. Your lawn feels the exact same way. Excess moisture can be a terrible thing.

Lightly rake out the affected areas to help them breathe and dry faster.

Chemical prevention:

I personally would not recommend this option, but if you think you want to try to chemically prevent snow mold there are a few fungicides that are labeled accordingly.

The biggest issue with these is timing. You want to apply it just before the first snow fall event.

Too early or too late and it won’t be effective.

I would really recommend balancing or fixing the soil based on a soil test and keeping it healthy before ever considering a fungicide alternative and give it some organic probiotics.

Fungicides are antibiotics.

It’s the age old controversy of probiotics VS. antibiotics.

Probiotics are the good guys and antibiotics kill the good guys.

The bottom line is snow mold wont kill your lawn, it’s only a minor setback until warmer temperatures arrive.