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Articles

Hydrangeas and Soil pH

Not many plants get more traditional or southern than Hydrangeas.  They provide your landscape with very large and beautiful blooms for several months during the summer.  What you might not know however is why some plants bloom a different color than others.  It all has to do with the soil pH the plant is growing in.  When a plant is growing in an acidic soil where the pH is around 5.5 or lower  you will get blue blooms.  When you get a more basic pH of 6.5 or higher you will get pink blooms.  It is also not uncommon to see blooms with shades of Purple when you get pH’s in the middle.  You can actually change the color of your plants bloom by altering this pH.  Im sure you have heard about putting old rusty nails or other metal at the base of the plants.  As it rust the water will bleed into the soil and alter the pH and change the color of the blooms.  Also, remember to make sure these plants get plenty of shade.  They don’t like the afternoon sun very much and will wilt and get droopy.  Hope this helps!!!

Valve Box Covers

If you have a sprinkler system then you see some of these in your yard. Better yet, I bet you have chopped a few up with the lawn mower or had the dog eat one or two! The are valve covers and are a part of your sprinkler system. The green lid is a top for the total valve box that protects the valve underground. They are very important and you need to make sure they are clear and easy to find. The valve box keeps dirt and other debris from covering the valve up. This matters most when you go to perform maintenance on your sprinkler system. If they are covered up and start to have issues it could get pretty costly trying to use a locator to find them all. We buy ours at Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply on Lynbrook Ave. Hope this helps!

 

Using Good Fuel

Most people only ever use the cheapest gas possible for their lawn equipment.  Something to consider this year is the life of your mower.  Did you know something as simple as using the high octane or ethanol free fuel will help your mower to not only run better but last longer. Look at it as a cheap insurance policy to make sure your equipment lasts longer or need fewer repairs.  Fewer repairs and longer life means money saved!  Also, when it comes to your 2 cycle fuel, use a product like TruFuel50 that has cleaners, stabilizers and ethanol free fuel. You wont regret your decision!

 

Hawthorn Leaf Spot

Have you ever noticed Indian Hawthorns in your landscape getting very thin and losing all of their leaves?  You may even notice the leafs turning red and orange before they fall off.  Before long the entire plant looks dead and bald.  Chances are your shrubs are suffering from a disease called Leaf Spot.  It’s a fungus that attacks shrubs like hawthorns very hard.  Typically you will first notice dots or spots forming on the leafs then the plant starts to drop all of the leafs.  Once it forms in one plant it will also start to spread to the others nearby as well.  We typically see it in areas where there is excessive moisture or not much air flow.  It also is common in areas where the plants are planted very thick and form a hedge.  The good news is unless you have let the issue go on to long the plants can be treated using a fungicide.  The entire plant and surrounding plants will need to be sprayed at least once and sometimes twice depending on how advanced the issue is.  We also recommend removing all of the affected leaves that have been dropped.  Reducing the amount of water the plants get and allowing them to dry out is also a very good practice.  Here is a link to a effective product we recommend to use if you decide to tackle this project!

https://www.amazon.com/Propiconazole-Generic-Banner-Quart-nuf-010/dp/B004GTONG8/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1GT9LV4LRV54Z&keywords=propiconazole+14.3+fungicide&qid=1555950859&s=gateway&sprefix=fungicide+pro%2Caps%2C178&sr=8-3

Dethatching

Most people have heard of thatch in your lawn but do you really know what it is?  Basically it is a bunch of dead grass in your yard.  Some thatch is actually a good thing.  When it gets out of control and builds up a super thick layer is when you will start to see issues.  There are several ways you can get an unhealthy layer of thatch.  The most common is allowing the grass to get to0 tall in between the times you cut it.  Most lawns have a mulching mower used to help break down the grass into smaller sections.  This issues start when there is more grass to break down than time will allow.  It’s pretty easy to tell if you have a thatch issue in your lawn.  Is it hard to see the dirt below the grass?  When you walk across the yard does it feel very soft or like a cushion?  If you pull a rake through the yard do a lot of dead grass come to the surface?  These are all simple signs that you may have an issue to address.  When the layer is allowed to get too thick you will start to notice the lawn getting thin.  This thick layer prevents water from getting to the soil where the roots are.  It also makes it hard to fertilizers and other nutrients to get to the ground.  The solution can sometimes be as basic as aerating the lawn.  This can help break down small amounts of thatch.  Other times you need a more aggressive approach like using a power rake or de thatcher.  The de thatcher has several metal “fingers” that run through the grass and pull all of that thatch to the surface.  It usually surprises people when they see the amount of dead grass that gets removed.  We must warn you, don’t try this unless you have a way to haul off an excessive amount of trash and debris.  As you can see in the video there is a lot of old grass that will need to be raked up and thrown away.  If you try to take this on by yourself there are a few places to rent them like Tubbs Hardware in Bossier or Home Depot on Bert Kouns.  Bailey Bark and Material is a good place to consider dumping the trash when the job is done.  Hope this helps!

mulch, matthews landscape

Water Bubble

Have you ever seen a lawn pimple! HaHa…actually it’s just a massive build up of water under ground. It’s very common this time of year when your sprinkler system has been turned off during the winter. Sometimes there will be breaks and since they are underground you can’t see them. In a situation like this one, the root system of the grass is thick enough and the soil compacted to the point the water stays under ground. It then forms a water bed like situation in the lawn and the water builds up there. The issue ends up being you have punch a hole in the ground to let all the water out then dig around to find the break. It’s very important to find these types of breaks because it is usually a major one that is letting lots of water out. Considering how much the city charges for water you want to get it fixed! Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any questions!

aeration

Do I Need To Aerate?

To aerate or not to aerate?

Wait what do you mean aerate?

Our area is no stranger to clay soil.  That along with all of the rain and high heat can cause for very compacted soil.  To combat this soil compaction problem there is a process called aeration.  This is the process of physically removing cores of dirt which helps loosen the ground.  When the ground is not as compacted it allows for better absorption of water, proper air flow and better ability for nutrients to get to the grass roots.

The real question is how do you know if you need it?  We suggest getting it done at least once a year.  If you have never had it then lets just assume you need it!  A simple test is to take a normal screw driver and try to stick it into the ground.  If you can not get it into the ground relatively easy then you need to consider getting this done.  You should not have to lean into it and put a ton of muscle and body weight into getting the screwdriver into the ground.  The benefits are huge.  If you have any questions about how or where to do this feel free to ask any questions!

Cleaning Your Irrigation Pipes

Each Spring we get calls about peoples sprinkler systems smelling!  Let me explain…during the winter when you winterize your sprinkler system you are actually only draining water from the vacuum breaker.  In a lot of homes there is still water left in the pipes.  It’s been just sitting there stagnate for 4-6 months now and will develop a foul smell.  When you turn your sprinkler system on for the first time it will start to flush all of this water out of the lines and also spread the bad smell.  The good news is it will go away pretty quick.  The bad news is if there was a lot of allege or dirt build up you may need to flush your lines out.  Trash as fine as sand can cause your vales and heads to not function the right way and prevent the sprinkler system from spraying the lawn in the right way.  The easy way to clean these line out would be to remove a nozzle on each zone and let the water flow freely until it becomes clean and clear.

 

Boxwood Dieback

As if there was not enough to worry about…the one plant we all thought was virtually impossible to kill has a new disease that is attacking them. The LSU Ag center is actually the lead agency in discovering the fungus and running test. It’s got the most original name you have ever heard of, Boxwood Dieback disease. And as you would guess it, it causes the plant to die back. The first tall tell sign is you will notice random die back in the plant. Some limbs look well and alive while others are dead. The cause of this is a fungus. The cure at this point is going to be a fungicide however it is so new we are still running trials on how much and what kind works the best. Send us pictures if you have any questions!
Here is a quick link to learn more information.
https://www.ncipmc.org/action/alerts/boxwood.pdf

Don’t Trim Your Loropetalums…yet

If you start cleaning up your flower beds early this year be careful about trimming certain plants to early. One of those are Loropetalums. This is the purple shrubs you have seen all over town. They have a wispy natural look to them and are very hardy. One benefit is they bloom several small pinkish purple flowers in the Spring. However if you trim them to early you will actually be removing most of these blooms and will not get the full effect. Typically by May they are done blooming and can be cut to shape and size you were hoping for. Hope this helps!