Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Annuals and Perennials

Heard the terms “annuals” and “perennials” and wondering about plants for containers or flower beds this summer?  

Annual Flowers: Annuals are plants that zip through a complete life cycle, from seed to seed, in one growing season, and then they die. During this brief lifespan, they must produce abundant showy blossoms for an extended time (all summer). Popular annuals include marigolds and zinnias. In gardening, some plants called “annuals” are actually tender perennials that die when cold weather arrives, like petunias and begonias. Still other annuals re-seed (a.k.a. “self-sow”) in place, giving the illusion that successive generations are actually long-lived plants.

Annuals are easy to use in containers planted for summer decks and patios, and easy to replace with pansies next fall, for winter color.

Perennials/Herbaceous Perennials:  Perennials are ornamental plants that do not die after one season of growth, but continue blooming and growing larger for a number of years. The root system and crown (level with the soil line) of the plant lasts through the winter, and fresh shoots re-appear each spring, returning like old friends. The term perennial is generally reserved for plants with showy flowers, but ornamental grasses and foliage plants such as hostas are also perennial. Perennials bloom at the same time each year (hellebore in winter, thrift in spring, mums in fall) rather than blooming continuously. Favorite perennials that are both tough and easy to grow include black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, Siberian iris and ferns.  

The term herbaceous perennial refers to plants with soft, green stems that die back to the ground in winter. This excludes woody ornamentals like trees and shrubs, despite the fact that they live for many years.  

Although they are called ‘perennial’, this does not mean that plants live forever. In fact, some plants are recognized for a short lifespan lasting only 2-3 years and are called short-lived perennials. Examples include columbine, delphinium, rose campion and tulip. Adventuresome gardeners prone to trying new and untested perennials joke that “A perennial is a plant that, had it lived, would have bloomed for a number of years”. 

On the other hand, some plants such as peonies, verbena and daffodil are known as long-lived perennials and last for decades.

Ask Crabapple LandscapExperts what is best for your property and try a few of each this season.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Benefits of Core Aeration to Lawns

There are many ways that Core Aeration benefits lawns. 

Watch a quick video demonstration of Core Aeration on the new CrabappleLandscape YouTube Channel. 

1. Core Aeration loosens up compacted lawns, improving resiliency and cushioning

2.  Increases soil pore space and oxygen needed for good growth of turf, improving air exchange between the soil and  atmosphere

3. Removes thatch, a physical barrier to nutrient uptake and water infiltration  

4.  Improves root growth, creating stronger turfgrass roots

5. Limits run-off or puddling of rain and irrigation water, with up to 25% water savings

6. Provides better fertilizer penetration, delivering it right to the rootzone 

7.  Increases effectiveness and distribution of lime and gypsum 

8. Stimulates new root development 

9.   Provides evenly spaced seeding holes for reseeding 

10. Enhances tolerance of the lawn to heat and drought stress

What is Core Aeration anyway?
Core aeration is the removal of small cylinders of soil called "cores" from compacted lawns to control thatch buildup, allowing the rain and fertilizer to soak in and the roots of the turf to breathe and expand. An aeration machine pops out ½ inch tubes of soil and deposits them on the lawn where they soon dissolve.

What is thatch?
Thatch is a build up layer of cut grass clippings, dead roots and miscellaneous debris that settles at the soil level  of the  individual grass plants that make up a lawn, and is most common with warm-weather creeping turf varieties such as Bermuda and Zoysia. 

When should I aerate? 
Crabapple LandscapExperts can evaluate your turf and recommend this procedure if needed:

1. If turf is only shallowly rooted

2. If the lawn is heavily used, causing thin areas

3. If the thatch layer is thicker than ½ inch   

4. If the soil is heavy clay

5. It is best not to aerate newly-seeded lawns

When is the best time to aerate warm season lawns?
Right now (March) and through June or July, when warm season grasses are coming out of winter dormancy and beginning a vigorous period of growth as the soils warm up. Lawns will recover quickly from aeration at this time.

What are the best practices for Core Aeration?
1. Soil is moist but not wet

2. The aeration machine is run in two different directions over the lawn for good coverage

3. Lawns can be aerated once a year, especially under heavy use

4. Soil cores are are best left on the lawn surface; they typically work back into the
      grass in 2-4 weeks

5. Lawns may be fertilized and seeded immediately following aeration with or  
      without further soil top dressing 

6. Crabapple LandscapExperts will mark sprinkler heads, shallow lines from
      sprinkler, underground utilities, cable, and septic lines before aerating to make sure
      they will not be damaged.

To get the lawns on your properties looking lush and green without shelling out a lot of money, the answer is core aeration. It only takes a day or two to complete and the results can be staggering! 

Don't miss any of the new  short landscaping demos and best practices on the CrabappleLandscape YouTube Channel. Subscribe now to be notified when a new video comes online!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pansies and Colorful Landscapes

People have an emotional response to color, and while this is recognized in fashion and interior design, color in the landscape also beneficially affects residents’ moods. An interesting post explores color meanings and perceptions around the world. 

For example, it's well known that pansies and violas are the perfect choice to add color to the winter lanscape, because they survive cold temperatures, laughing at sleet and snow. Now that Spring is here, clients that had color beds installed last fall are enjoying riotous color from mature pansy plants. 

Because pansies are greedy feeders, Crabapple LandscapExperts have fertilized the color beds to produce the maximum display. For example, the entrance flower bed at Fox Creek (managed by Tammy Weniger of Douglas Properties) demonstrates the bonus of color. LandscapExpert Crescensio Hernandez ensures this landscape is in top form 24/7. 
To add color to the properties you manage and then harvest bushels of complements from your residents, Crabapple LandscapExperts can recommend appropriate plants for each season of the year, taking into account the conditions on the specific property and the effect you want to achieve. We analyze conditions of sun or shade, wet or dry soils and season of the year and help you choose the best flowers for the situation. 

Colorful plants like the ones at left and below photographed at the InterContinental Hotel, Buckhead, can function to direct inhabitants through the property or to attract them to a specific  destination such as the main hotel entrance, the sales office, community meetinghouse or pool. 

Additionally, LandscapExperts can also create colorful containers for landscape emphasis.  

It’s not too late to contact your Rep at Crabapple LandscapExperts to discuss the costs and benefits of adding color to produce happier residents this summer. Pansies will be changed-out for heat-loving annual flowers for the summer in mid-April, so call 770.740.9739 to set up a review of how colorful flower beds can enhance your properties and earn welcome recognition. 

Photo credits: Fox Creek, Bond Morgan and InterContinental Hotel, Buckhead, Tim Loveday

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crabapple Trees Bloom Pink and White in Metro-Atlanta

You may not be surprised to learn that Crabapple LandscapExperts are partial to flowering Crabapples!

Puzzling over the clouds of beauty you are seeing throughout the greater Atlanta area right now? This springtime display is provided by blooming Pear trees, Cherries and flowering Crabapples. These are all members of the botanical Rose Family of plants, with five petals and a cluster of yellow stamens in the center. They generally begin blooming on bare branches before the leaves appear in early March. In particular, Crabapples usually have pink or rose buds that open to white and paler shades, creating beautiful pink and white billows of apple blossoms that last several weeks.

Few ornamental trees offer the variety of tree shapes, sizes, flower colors and ornamental fruit in autumn as flowering crabapples. With more than 35 species and 700+ named varieties of crabapples there’s a lot to choose from! Ask Crabapple LandscapExperts to guide you in choosing a flowering ornamental tree for your landscape. Asian crab apple specimens are usually preferred because their fruits are more colorful and last into the winter, providing food for over-wintering birds.

With that much variation, tree height can vary from 6 to 50 feet, however, the majority are small ornamental trees in the 15 to 25 foot range. Habits include vase-shaped, weeping, spreading, columnar or pyramidal, providing many opportunities for use in landscapes maintained by Crabapple LandscapExperts. Some cultivars are better suited to our hot, humid Georgia climate, and withstand disease and insect attack better than others. Extensive breeding programs have resulted in numerous tree selections that are resistant to these problems, providing carefree beauty.

Photo Credits: Tammy Parker