Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Here Comes the Sun! Post-Emergent Herbicide for Spring

Want to take out those evil weeds appearing in your lawn? Call CrabappleLandscapExperts for an evaluation of the property you manage to determine if any lawns require spot treatment of green growing weeds in turf areas. Crabapple LandscapExperts' maintenance philosophy has evolved over the past 20 years as a result of listening to our customers’ likes and dislikes and relying on the combined years of expertise by our knowledgeable team of LandscapExperts. This blend of science, technology and experience delivers targeted, quality landscape maintenance to our customers.

Weed Prevention
While fighting weeds is a year-round job, weed prevention is best practiced in fall and winter to take advantage of the growing season of turf grasses and the sprouting season of weeds. This window of opportunity allows some weeds to be killed before they even sprout.

After Spring arrives, we stop aggressive weeds from getting the jump on the season.  
  • A healthy, thick lawn is the number one defense against weeds 
  • Crabapple’s regular fertilization schedule ensures the individual grass plants will be growing well  
  • We watch mower height to ensure the grass is growing the most vigorously 

Although a well-maintained, densely growing turf typically crowds out weeds, occasionally the odd broadleaf dandelion or flowering onion will appear.

Keep in mind there are many ways that weeds can appear in a lawn: the wind can blow weed seeds from nearby lawns into yours, birds can deposit seeds, or weed seeds can ride along on the shoes of children running across the lawn.
Types of Weed Killers
 Targeted post-emergent herbicides are selective, killing only broad-leaf weeds and leaving narrow-leaf grasses alone

Other types of post-emergent herbicides are broad-spectrum and will non-selectively kill anything green, be it weeds, lawn, flowers or shrubs.

Weed Control
  • Small patches of weeds can be mechanically dug  
  • Carefully sprayed spot treatment of liquid post-emergent herbicide can accomplish a lot 
  • Crabapple works with our customers to provide organic methods when requested.

Herbicide Safety
As with any chemical product, Crabapple follows package instructions carefully and we only use when it is the ideal solution for the problem. Herbicides can affect surrounding plants when used improperly or in large quantities. By carefully selecting the correct product, we can get rid of those pesky weeds in no time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Liriope, to Trim or Not to Trim?

A versatile evergreen ground cover for Metro-Atlanta, Lirope (pronounced “lur-eye-oh-pee”) is used as an edging material for walkways, driveways, flower beds, and as a groundcover for shady spots in the garden. Liriope forms close mats of dark-green or variegated strap-like foliage and is a great landscaping plant that tolerates a wide range of soil types, performing well under a variety of landscape conditions.

Call it what you like, Monkey-Grass, Lily Turf, Border Grass or Lirop (common name is pronounced “leer-e-op”) is often used for shady beds. The well-behaved clumping Liriope is known as Liriope muscari.  It is so named because of its blue summer flowers that resemble grapes or blue grape hyacinths with the botanical name of Muscari. The running form is Liriope spicata and is much more aggressive, and while perfect for slopes or street embankments, it can overtake a landscape spreading by both runners and seed. A smaller relative is known as Mondo Grass or Ophiopogon.

Whichever Liriope grows on the properties you manage, Crabapple LandscapExperts will evaluate the necessity of trimming back the narrow, dark green leaves. University of Georgia researchers point out that it is not necessary to remove the foliage unless it is winter-damaged or diseased. With the mild winter we are having across Georgia this season, there has been no winter damage to speak of. Sometimes the plant is susceptible to a foliage blight ( Anthracnose fungus) which often detracts from its appearance during late fall and through the winter. Diseased leaves with fungus lesions are best cut off. They are not composted, but placed in the trash to be removed from the property to prevent the spread of disease. .

Crabapple LandscapExperts recommend that the removal of the old leaves should be done before the end of February, before new growth springs up in the center of the plant. A lawn mower set very high is a practical way to remove the old leaves, or sharp hedge shears can be used, based on the quantity of Liriope. Annual pruning is never recommended for Mondo Grass. At the same time, last year’s tall flower spikes can be pulled for a better appearance. For a blue ribbon appearance, call the LandscapExperts atCrabapple to care for your properties. 

Photo credit thanks to and  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Snap! Cold Damage to Landscape Plants

Warm Winter Weather
Landscape plants appropriate for the metro-Atlanta climate go through a cold acclimation process each fall to prepare for winter dormancy, but this year’s exceptionally warm winter has been counter-productive for in many plants. Until last weekend, warmer temperatures were enticing plant buds to break a month ahead of schedule. The 2012 Camellia blooms were spectacular, plus the response to the weather pushed many Saucer Magnolias into full bloom across the city.

Then the thermometer fell into the teens this past weekend. Everyone has frozen a head of lettuce by accident, but what causes the change is ice formation within the plant cells. Water expands as it turns to ice and bursts the individual cells, causing plant tissues to become brown and mushy.

This cold snap wasn’t very severe and produced only limited cold injury to some plants. The hardest hit were the flowers, the most fragile all plant parts. Camellia petals and saucer magnolia flowers turned to mush, although daffodils, witchhazel and hellebore flowers held up. Leaves, stems, fruits, trunks, (but hopefully not roots) of borderline hardy plants experienced some problems, along with new transplants and container-grown plantings.   

We also had plenty of wind last weekend. Windy conditions that accompany cold weather can cause plant damage through desiccation (evaporative water loss exceeds water absorption) causing plants to dry out. Marginal leaf scorch on broadleaf evergreens or loss of buds are telltale symptoms. When possible, Crabapple LandscapExperts will provide a deep watering before a cold snap to help landscape plants weather the weather. The rains of the week before helped greatly with this.

Bark splitting can be a problem when tender new bark is exposed to the first rays of sunlight in early morning. The LandscapExperts maximize the chances that landscape plants will survive the winter by carefully selecting our planting sites. For example, locating Camellias with a little early morning and afternoon shade helps with bark splitting.

Although not common in Atlanta, vertical frost cracks on the trunks of woody plants can occur in sections of the state when plants are exposed to extremely cold temperatures. A frost crack is a long, deep, narrow crevice running up and down the trunk of a tree. As temperatures cool down, the temperature of the trunk drops quickly and the trunk contracts and may split.

Care of Landscape Plants after a Freeze
Crabapple LandscapExperts will not rush to prune or remove your damaged plants, because while some plants will look bad, they are not really dead. We wait until the full extent of the damage can be determined to start our corrective pruning.  

Flower damage is immediately visible, but doesn’t threaten the plants. Foliage and shoot damage is noticeable within a few days, but it may be a month before all the damage can be ascertained. We scratch the brown outer bark to see if the cambium layer beneath (greenwood) is still green, toggle leaf buds, and watch for live green foliage to emerge. Once the damage has been determined, we will prune to eliminate any damaged parts.

Late-winter pruning is best. P. Allen Smith lists 3 benefits: late-winter pruning invigorates the plants for abundant growth when Spring does arrive; the wounds are exposed for only a limited time before new growth begins; and it is easiest to see what exactly needs to be pruned before there are leaves on the shrubs and trees.

Trees known as “Bleeding Trees” produce a large run of sap in late winter, and are best pruned later in the summer. Some of these include maples (well-known Sugar Maple), dogwoods, birches and elms.

And for a great specialty video on pruning tree peonies, watch Felix with Gurney’s. 

Camellia photos thanks to Geri Laufer (white = Shiro Chan C. japonica, red = Bob Hope C. japonica, Cold Damaged Nuccios Pearl C. japonica)
magnolia photo thanks to 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When, What, Why + How; Tips for Planting Bare-Root Trees

“Lifeless looking sticks with roots” 
Bare-root planting is one of the basic ways to plant woodies. While the plants might not look like they are alive, dormant plants with their roots exposed will provide great success in the landscape. Bare-root plants are pre-dug and stored (refrigerated) while dormant, without any soil around their roots, and planted before spring growth begins. Typical subjects are fruit trees, ornamental trees, roses, cane fruit, perennials and berries.
  1. Only one time of year when bare-root plants can be planted, and that time is NOW. Dormant winter season 
  2. Few extra months in-ground give bare-root plants an edge on establishment before the heat of spring and summer 
  3.  Affordable! Low prices. Bare root is an economical way to purchase sizeable trees and shrubs. Best prices when buying bare-root 
  4. Simple to handle and light weight, with savings in time, labor and materials. Bare root plants are easier/cheaper to ship and transport 
  5.  Adapt more quickly and take off faster than plants bought in container soil and potting mix 
  6.   Roots aren’t jammed into too-small pots by a nursery and don't circle
  7. Trim off damaged roots, but do not clip healthy roots, even if that would make planting easier 
  8. Roots can extend out into the soil naturally; do not circle inside a pot

Choosing Bare-root Trees
The caveat for bare-root plants is that the trees must be well cared for prior to shipping: NEVER let them  dry out. The cambium layer beneath the bark should be green and vibrant. To avoid problems that occurred before buying the plant, ask for a guarantee that the plant will leaf out this coming Spring. Selecting a tree: 
  1.  Roots are evenly distributed around the trunk 
  2.  Main roots strong and not broken 
  3.  Branches or canes nicely spaced around the trunk or graft union; good form 
  4. Roots and branches are not broken or damaged 
  5. No rotten smell (earthy smell is fine) 
  6. No mold, mildew or fungus growth 
  7.  Roots, crown, rhizomes should feel heavy, cool and damp 
  8.  No shriveled, dried-out roots

Bare-root Planting Season
Dormant plants are planted in winter
  1.   Plant before any signs of growth begin 
  2.   Dig the holes first, before purchasing the trees
  3.  Wide, shallow holes twice as wide as needed to accommodate the root system 
  4.  Snip off any broken roots (or branches) with sharp pruners 
  5.  Soak the roots of woody plants in a bucket of water for between two hours up to overnight; soak perennials an hour or less 
  6.  Add a growth stimulant, such as aerated compost tea, mycorrhizal inoculants or Superthrive rooting hormones to the water to kick-start root growth 
  7. When planting, build a cone of soil up from the bottom of the hole and spread the roots out evenly around it 
  8. Fill in completely with the backfill soil and pat with the back of the shovel 
  9. Water-in thoroughly to remove any air pockets 
  10. If staking is needed, pound stakes into undisturbed soil outside root zone 
  11. Soak at least once a week (if it doesn’t rain that week) for at least three months 
  12. Wait at least a month before applying any chemical fertilizer to avoid burning tender new roots and root hairs

Crabapple LandscapExperts can easily find and plant bare-root ornamental trees and shrubs, fruit trees and cane fruits for the properties you manage. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mild Winter has Implications for Early Lawn Care

Winter Weed Control in Lawns

The mild temperatures that metro-Atlanta has been enjoying this winter have implications for weeds in your lawn next summer, and Crabapple LandscapExperts are prepared.

Measuring Soil Temperatures
Weed seeds such as crabgrass ripen each fall and are dropped in lawns  where they lie dormant during the winter, and germinate when spring soil temperatures reach 50+ degrees F. Fifty weather stations across Georgia collect data for weed scientists at the Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences every year by taking temperature readings in the soil at one-half inch depth. When the temperatures reach 52 degrees F. or higher those crabgrass seeds will begin to germinate and it is the time to apply weed killer specifically to slow down that growth.

In typical years, March 1 is usually the date for application of pre-emergent herbicide, but this year, theLandscapExpert team will be on call a few weeks earlier to apply any weed killer they deem necessary. Dr Gerrit Hoggenboom oversees the network of weather stations across the state and releases the data to landscape companies who care enough to know the best. 

In metro-Atlanta we are careful to apply the pre-emergence weed killer while the lawn is dormant and BEFORE it is warm enough for the crabgrass seeds sprout. This group of herbicides controls weeds during the weed seed germination process, and refers to pre- (before)  emergence- (sprouting). If green growing weeds are seen in the lawn, it is too late to apply a preemergence herbicide. When applied in the late winter months, preemergence herbicides provide season-long control of summer annual weeds such as crabgrass, goosegrass and sandbur.The timing may seem like a little thing to property managers and HOA reps, but pre-emergent herbicide will not kill crabgrass seedlings that have already sprouted (or emerged) from their seeds.  Pre-emergent is another way to say “pre-sprouted,” before the seed “wakes up,” and the tiny root (known as the radical) begins to grow.

Crabapple recommends preemergence herbicides only for turfgrasses that have been established for at least one year, or preferably more, because severe injury can result if a preemergence herbicide is applied immediately after sprigging or sodding (zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass,  centipedegrass). Preemergence herbicides form the backbone of weed control programs. They do not control all weeds that may be present in a lawn, but they are effective for many of the most common lawn weeds that plague commercial properties during the summertime.
Advantages of Preemergence Herbicides
Some of the advantages of using preemergence herbicides include:
  • Preemergence herbicides are applied prior to weed seed germination and emergence.
  • Many preemergence herbicides are available in granular formulations. Granules are easier to apply than sprayable formulations. Additionally, granules are not susceptible to spray or vapor drift that can occur with sprayable formulations.
  • Most ornamental shrubs, trees and flowers are tolerant of and several are labeled for preemergence herbicides, while postemergence herbicides often can cause injury to ornamentals.  
  • Preemergence herbicides do not cause injury to established turfgrasses. In contrast, most postemergence herbicides will slightly injure or yellow turfgrasses for a short period after treatment. 
  • Preemergence herbicides are usually applied to an entire lawn area.
The LandscapExperts are keeping an eye on this unusually mild winter so you won’t have to worry.