Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Avoid Wasting Water or Money - Irrigation Tips from Crabapple LandscapExperts

To increase efficiency, Crabapple LandscapExperts suggest you have us overhaul the sprinkler systems on the properties you manage. Never again have the sprinklers konk out or waste water by running during a downpour or when the soil is already soaked. Crabapple will:

Check the timer settings against the water output with the twin goals of saving both water and money

Replace the backup computer battery – for maximum security

Clean all the filters in the irrigation system – to eliminate clogs

Evaluate all pressure regulators

Reposition all sprinkler nozzles to upright and fully functional – including those blocked by foliage growth, broken, tilted, sunken, or facing the wrong direction – to efficiently target lawns, trees and shrubs, color beds or transplants

pressure regulators (Clemson, Brian Smith) 
Check for leaks and breakage along the lines during the sprinkling cycle -- in order to save water

Let Crabapple suggest a renovation or upgrade to the irrigation system in order to increase water savings and decrease wasted water. Crabapple LandscapExperts can add water sensors, evapotranspiration controllers, or soil moisture sensors

Saving both water and money earns big results when reporting to management.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tomato Troubles Solved! Prize-winning Tomatoes

Everyone grows a couple of tomato plants each summer, right? Home-grown tomatoes hot off the vine are one of the joys of summer in metro-Atlanta. Crabapple LandscapExperts explain that tomato troubles can be caused by diseases, insects, and cultural problems/nutritional deficiencies.

Start Right! Best Practices
  • To avoid troubles and maximize tomato production, plant in a sunny spot (9 or 10 hours of sunlight) 
  • Choose a spot where tomatoes have not been grown before. 
  • Dig lots of compost and organic matter into the soil beforehand. 
  • Get several different varieties and plant them deep- up to their first true leaves, because adventitious roots will form along the buried stems. 
  • Water the roots thoroughly and mulch with a 2-3 inch layer of straw, wood chips or pine needles to maintain even moisture levels.

Fungus Diseases
  • Tomato blight- black spots on the lower leaves, yellowing and sunken gray spots on tomato fruits, or girdling of the stem causing plants to collapse at the soil line. 
    • Early Blight = Alternaria 
    • Late Blight = Phytophora
  • Gray Mold. Keep water off of the leaves, provide lots of sunshine and space for good air circulation to reduce Botrytis. Pick up diseases leaves from the ground and bag them.

Bacterial Diseases
  • Whole plants wilt quickly. If tomatoes keel over in the space of 24 hours, bacterial wilt is probably clogging up the vascular system. No cure; just pull them up and bag them, wash your hands, then plant fresh, new tomato plants in another location.

Tomato Hornworm
  • Chewing Insects chew holes in the leaves. Pick off Tomato Horn Worms or other caterpillars and destroy.
  • Sucking Insects like tiny aphids or thrips attach on the underside of the leaves. Wash off with soapy water (repeating if necessary).  

Blossom End Rot
Cultural Practices/Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Blossom-end Rot. Tomatoes turn dry and hard at the blossom end (the end away from the stem). Add calcium in the form of pulverized or pelletized lime and dig into the root zone around the plants.
  • Yellowing leaves. Add fertilizers high in nitrogen, like alfalfa meal, well-rotted manure or Epsom Salts. 
  • Yellow leaves with green veins.  Spray the plants with iron chelate to improve the iron content.
  • Splitting fruit. Uneven watering is the culprit here, or sometimes too much rainfall.
  • Sun scorch. Leaves are not shading the ripening tomato fruits. Allow more leaves to grow.

How do you like your tomato sandwiches? White bread or toasted? Mayo or Miracle Whip? 

Call your Crabapple LandscapExperts Rep if you have questions, or post your questions on our Facebook Page and we will get them answered!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Keep Plants Watered This Summer!

 Crabapple LandscapExperts offer some watering tips to residents of communities whose public grounds we manage. 

How to Water
Water the roots, not the leaves
Water deeply to the proper soil depth for the root ball
6 to 8 inches of the root zone should be moistened

Methods of Application
Open-ended hose directly on the soil
Watering can without the rose (sans the sprinkling tip) 
Soaker hoses

Plants Need Air AND Water
Too much water is as harmful as too little.
Automatic shutoff timers are very useful
Use over-ride on completely automatic systems if rain provides water

Plants in Special Need of Watering
Blueberries need water as they ripen
  • Plants with swelling fruits, such as blueberries, tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, zucchini 
  • Newly planted or transplanted plants – roots have not settled into the soil in the new location yet and dry out quickly. Supply extra water to transplants for 6 months to a year, depending on size (keep supplying water to large-calilper trees or shrubs for the longest period) 
  • After bloom- Cut plants back to remove the old flowers and eliminate the formation of seeds (dead heading). Then they may give a second wave of bloom as a reward!

When to Water? Timing of Watering

The Crabapple Team waters early in the day
Do not use an oscillating sprinkler over the lunch hour -- too much evaporative loss of water at high noon
Do not wet the leaves after work in the evening – fungus disease spores germinate in standing water on the leaf overnight, so make sure they go into dark dry

Sensible Water Use
Water Breaker Nozzle 
Use a water breaker nozzle or soaker hose
Apply organic mulch after planting, as this acts as an insulation and reduces water evaporation
Recycle milk jugs by filling them with water and setting next to new transplants or plants in small containers for emergency spot watering 
20-gallon Tree Gator
Outfit expensive transplanted trees with a water bag for trees such as the 20-gallon slow-release TreeGator or Oasis Watering Bag

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Tree, a Bush or a Shrub

Tree Forms
Trees and shrubs come in different shapes and sizes, and have different designations, although all are woody ornamentals. Crabapple LandscapExperts take advantage of this variation in our landscape planning. 

The word ‘tree’ brings to mind a tall, woody, permanent (perennial) plant with a main trunk and heavy branches forming a raised crown of twigs and leaves. Both gymnosperms (cone-bearing) and angiosperms (flowering plants) can grow in a tree form. Southern Sugar Maple is a typical example with a single trunk and a rounded crown.  Southern Magnolia offers evergreen color and fragrant flowers in spring. 

Contrast this with a bush or a shrub. Scratch that; the term ‘bush’ is strictly non-scientific and colloquial, and although in conversation people use the words interchangeably, it is shrubs we wish to discuss.
Shrub forms 

The gestalt or overall concept of a ‘shrub’ is a low, woody, perennial plant with several woody stems coming up from the ground, and is very different from a tree. An extreme example is a dwarf Helleri holly with a characteristic mounding or pillowing habit, making this compact, multi-branching shrub with its mushroom shape distinctive in the landscape. Perhaps a more typical example of an upright, multi-branched shrub would be a boxwood.

But as Crabapple LandscapExperts know, Nature does not like black and white but prefers countless  shades of gray. And so there are multi-trunked trees like Birch and Willow, and also low-growing "bushy" trees that branch near ground level such as dissected-leaf Japanese maples. 

Multi-trunked, low-growing Dissected-leaf Japanese Maple 
Tall single-trunked trees
As well, there are shrubs that can be grown with only one trunk like tree-form Hydrangeas or even Crape Myrtles. Some shrubs are very tall  such as the lily-flowered Magnolias or Serviceberries (Amelanchier) 

Trees are permanent fixtures that define the landscape and offer shade, windbreak, ornament and even fruit. Shrubs anchor the landscape with their multitude of sizes, forms, leaf- and twig-colors and flowering habits. Evergreens in either category provide stability and winter color. Each has an important role and Crabapple can help you care for them so that they will increase in beauty over time. 

Digging Deeper 
There’s a mind-blowing discussion at