Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stop Winter Weeds Now with Pre-Emergence Preventers!

Crabgrass in bermuda,
WikiMedia Commons
Fall application of crabgrass preventer now will prevent a lot of lawn weeds in Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede and St. Augustine lawns during the winter. Now is the time for Crabapple LandscapExperts to apply pre-emergence herbicides to the properties you manage in order to P-R-E-V-E-N-T the cold-season weeds from sprouting. In winter, Bermuda and Zoysia turf goes dormant and turns a light tan color. This makes the rapidly-growing, bright green chickweed, henbit, or annual bluegrass stick out like a sore thumb. Other times of the year, broadleaf and grassy weeds “blend in” with the green of actively growing lawngrass.

Pre-emergence herbicides eliminate mainly annual weeds by preventing their seeds from sprouting. They can be applied in granular or liquid forms, and do not typically damage shrubs, trees and perennials. Well-established turf is not noticeably affected by the pre-emergents, and it is pretty safe.  Once the application is complete, Crabapple will water-in (or if rain is predicted, so much the better) the pre-emergent herbicide to enable it to create a barrier to seed germinating on the soil surface.  

Purdue Cooperative Extension
The timing varies from year to year, but typically metro-Atlanta’s average best time to apply is the last week of September through the first part of October, coinciding with nighttime temperatures around 55 or 60 degrees F. It’s not a problem to apply the pre-emergence herbicide too early, except that it may wear off sooner. But if Crabapple puts it down too late, some of the weed seeds will have already sprouted, and be on their way to becoming an unsightly green interruption in the turf you manage.
One caveat is that if you have contracted with Crabapple to overseed with annual ryegrass over the top of your turf in order to maintain the green color all winter, then pre-emergence herbicides should not be used, because the annual ryegrass seed also will be prevented from sprouting. Another caution, Crabapple does not recommend Weed-And-Feed after about mid-September, in order to reduce both the incidence of disease and the cost to our customers. 

Pre-emergence herbicides are a great way to control winter weeds, but not a panacea. Crabapple will still need to spot-treat resistant perennial weeds such as dandelions and wild onions with a broadleaf weed killer during the winter. For more information, call your Crabapple Rep to discuss pre-emergent herbicide to keep the lawns in your community looking perfect at 770-740-9739.

Digging Deeper:
UGA has a Suggested Weed-Control Calendar. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leafy Air Filters: Moving Houseplants Indoors to Clean Indoor Air

In addition to enhancing d├ęcor, houseplants actually DO clean indoor air! A famous study by NASA scientists concluded that indoorplants remove several common pollutants from the air by absorbing them into the pores of their leaves, in the same way they take in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.  Although the experiment took place in a sealed chamber, today’s tighter, more energy-efficient homes are approaching this model far more closely than drafty, older homes. 

A 2011 article in The Wall Street Journal championsthe role of “The Mighty Houseplant” in purifying the air, citing several studies.   The story explains a growing body of global research shows plants can reduce pollutants including dust particles and contaminants such as formaldehyde and benzene that come from cigarette smoke, paint, furniture, building materials, cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener, carpet cleaner, and other sources.

The U.S. Green Building Council, which certifies buildings based on environmental standards, cautiously agrees, noting while "using plants to help clean air is a great strategy…we've had difficulty quantifying the results. 

The EPA notes that people spend more than 90% of their time indoors, where levels of a dozen common Volatile Organic Pollutants (VOCs) can be two to five times higher than outside. 

Also that year, University of Georgia scientists Bodie Pennisi and Mussie Habteselassie identified five "super ornamentals"—plants that showed high rates of contaminant removal when exposed in gas-tight glass jars to common household VOCs, such as benzene (present in cigarette smoke), and toluene (emitted from paints and varnishes). They are: the purple waffle plant, English ivy, asparagus fern, purple heart plant, variegated wax plant.  

purple waffle plant photo from
Wikipedia byTau'olunga
UGA aims to broaden these findings by developing a simple test kit homeowners can use to check for VOCs, as well as an expanded list of plants and their associated pollution-fighting abilities. The university also sees a potential market for enhanced potting soil and other media.
Deborah Brown from the University of Minnesota Extension suggests that the "liberal use of houseplants indoors seems like an easy way to make a dent in the problem".  Crabapple agrees. 

Thinking ahead?  Before you bring houseplants indoors for winter you may want to inspect, clean, and prune or repot them. Seeour Crabapple Blog from last fall to get all the tips. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cutting Garden Flowers Brings the Outside Indoors

Calendula, Godetia and Bachelor Buttons in the Higgledy garden.

Planning a cutting garden or just want to bring the outdoors inside? Crabapple LandscapExperts say there are plenty of benefits from bringing freshly cut garden flowers indoors. 

Flowers from the yard:  
1. save money 
2. are very fresh
3. last a long time
4. are homey
5. can be selected for a color scheme 

Getting Started
  • Disinfect a deep bucket with detergent or a bleach solution (1 part bleach : 9 parts water)  
  • Fill with warm (not hot, not cold) water and 
  • Add a cut flower preservative. 
  • Commercial "Cut Flower Food" provides: 
    1. elaborated sugars that are normally supplied in the growing plant by the leaves and
    2. a disinfectant to reduce the growth of bacteria that clogs the vascular (water-conducting) tissues
Rosie Lerner and Michael Dana of the Perdue Department of Horticulture offer three recipes for make-your-own preservative solutions that will prolong the life of the flowering branches in Forcing Branches for Winter Color

Homemade Flower Life
2 C lemon-lime soda (with sugar)
2 C Fresh Water
½ teaspoon Chlorine Bleach

  • Use disinfected, sharpened bypass pruners or a clean, sharp knife to harvest garden flowers 
  • Know what stage of growth to pick
a.    Zinnias full grown
b.    Sunflowers just opened to prevent petal damage
c.    Roses in loose buds
d.    Black eyed Susans and purple coneflowers fully opened
e.    Salvia in bud to flower
f.     Hydrangeas and Hellebores older, mature flowers prevents wilting
g.    Fennel, plug up the tubular stem w a wet cotton ball
h.    Early Spring- forced woody branches (forsythia)
i.    Tulips
j      Holiday evergreens

  • Immediately plunge the flowers into the bucket of water and floral life  
  • Re-cut each stem UNDERWATER on an angle to increase the surface area and ensure that it won’t sit flat on the bottom of the vase. Trim off any buds or twigs that will be submerged under water so they won’t rot 
  • Split or score the bottom inch or two of each stem if woody (like Hydrangeas) to expose the conductive tissues (cambium layer) and encourage maximum water uptake and plunge them into the waiting vase
  • Some plants with soft stems and heavy flower heads like Gerber daisies or tulips will droop, so wrap the bunch in newspaper and stand them in deep water overnight
  • Arrange them in a decorative vase, positioning with:
a.    Floral frog
b.    Chicken-wire mesh
c.    Pebbles at bottom of vase
d.    Oasis Floral Foam
e.    Needlepoint holder
f.     Criss-crossed tape over mouth of tall vase
  • Enjoy them in your home, but out of direct sunlight                                                                                                 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Leyland Cypress Swallowed the House

2 Leylands planted too close
are "swallowing" this house. 

Leyland Cypress is a fast-growing evergreen tree that is often used for privacy hedges, windbreaks, and screens, but Crabapple LandscapExperts cautions that its mature size is often overlooked.

Leylands actually grow 50 feet tall in 15 years (!), and the rapid, thick growth produces a dense, dark shade. Young shrubs are almost irresistible because they can be purchased so inexpensively at big box stores. These plants quickly outgrow most residential landscapes unless regularly and severely trimmed, sheared and/or topped. Leyland Cypress grow in both part shade and full sun, and tolerates many soil types, drought conditions and is salt tolerant, however this is an unusually shallow-rooted variety, and can topple in wet soils. 

Photo credit, Boing Boing
from the Guardian
When planting young 3-gallon plants, it may seem overly optimistic to plant them on 30-foot centers, but planting more closely will simply result in overgrown plantings. 

Check with your Crabapple Rep for appropriate plant selection.