Why You Shouldn’t Hard Prune Crape Myrtles

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A properly placed Crape Myrtle is a low maintenance plant needing little or no pruning. Problems with overgrown, misshapen, or misplaced Crape Myrtles can be greatly reduced with proper selection of Crape Myrtle cultivars, proper plant selection at the nursery, and proper plant placement in the landscape.

Crape Myrtle pruning started because there were only a few cultivars available, none of which were “dwarf” or smaller varieties. the only way to keep a Crape Myrtle to a desired height was by hard pruning “topping” on a regular basis. Topping leaves large branch and stem stubs that are not only unsightly, they can also weaken the plant. This practice, known as “Crape Murder” is no longer recommended.

Negative effects of hard pruning:

  1. Delays flowering in the Spring and can shorten the season of bloom.
  2. Stimulates sprouting from the roots of the base of the main stem which takes nutrients away from the tree.
  3. Removes large amounts of starches and other food reserves which weaken the plant.
  4. Dramatically reduces the size of the plant canopy, decreasing its ability to perform photosynthesis.
  5. Increase the risk of wood decay and insect infestations.

Generally, Crape Myrtle pruning of any kind should be avoided unless it improves the plant structure or removes dead or damaged branches and twigs. If pruning is necessary, tip pruning “tipping” is acceptable. Tipping removes small-diameter branches (typically one-year-old) on the outer edge of the plant canopy where the spent flowers and seed capsules are. However, tipping is very time-consuming and impractical on larger Crape Myrtles and has no real benefit to the plant.

 

Call Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. (850)897-3073 Niceville  (850)832-4212 Panama City Beach

 

November 9, 2015 Press Release

GRASS ROOTS LAWN & LANDSCAPE, INC. JOINS THE LANDSCAPE INDUSTRY’S NATIONAL STARS SAFE COMPANY PROGRAM

Niceville, FL. November 9, 2015 – Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. has joined the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ STARS Safe Company Program, the Nation’s top safety program for the landscape industry, which provides tools to assist companies in their efforts to reduce hazards and injuries and increase workplace safety.

Participating companies make a commitment to excellence in safe work practices by taking the active role in promoting safety throughout their companies and investigating and documenting every job-related injury, incident, or accident. STARS members help increase safety in the entire industry by complying with all OSHA postings and other regulatory requirements, participating in NALP’s Safety Recognition Awards Program, sharing best practices, and encouraging other companies to improve their safety practices.

For more information about the STARS program, visit landscapeprofessionals.org or call NALP at (800) 395-2522.

About the National Association of Landscape Professionals

The National Association of Landscape Professionals is the voice of 100,000 landscape industry professionals who create and maintain healthy green spaces. The association advocates on issues impacting its members and offers mentoring and education programs that inspire its members to excellence. Many members become Landscape Industry Certified, achieving the highest standard of industry expertise, business professionalism, and knowledge.

NALP-STARS

November/December Newsletter

Happy Holidays! As we come to the end of another year at Grass Roots we are thankful for all our customers and look forward to another great year in 2016! Please know that with the upcoming holiday season your service day may shift during the week leading up to, or just after, a scheduled holiday. Grass Roots will be closed December 23rd – January 2nd so our employees can spend the holidays with their families. Hope you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

Lawn Maintenance

As the grass begins to go dormant your lawn maintenance crew will continue to focus on removal of all those falling leaves and keeping your turf free of debris. With your November invoice, you also should have received a note about Crape Myrtle Pruning and its detrimental effects to the tree. If you still want your Crape Myrtle pruned, please notify us prior to the end of January so we have your request on file.

Irrigation

If you are an irrigation program customer, we will be coming out soon to shut down your irrigation system and winterize it. Our technician will put a tag on your system to let you know that it has been shut down. Those customers taking care of their own systems will want to make sure to shut down the system prior to the first hard freeze we experience.

Lawn Care and Shrub Care

Your lawn has received its last application for the year, a pre-emergent to help keep winter weeds from germinating, along with liquid Potassium to help prepare your lawn for dormancy. It is still the time of year when your turf is susceptible to a fungus called brown patch, especially if your grass is getting too much water. Please notify the office if you suspect that you have brown patch in your lawn.

Landscaping

As the growing season has ended, our landscaping operations are on “pause” until springtime. If you are interested in having landscaping done in 2016, you are welcome to call the office to set up a time to meet with our landscape designer to plan and discuss projects in early spring.

KathyEmployee Spotlight

Merry Christmas from Kathy and Angelle (and Harley, too) at the Grass Roots business office! Please call or email us with any of your questions. We can be reached by phone Monday-Friday from 8:30 – 5:00. If we are on the other line and you have to leave a message, please be assured it will be returned as soon as possible.

October 30, 2015 Press Release

GRASS ROOTS LAWN & LANDSCAPE, INC. EMPLOYEE ACHIEVES RECERTIFICATION OF THE LANDSCAPE INDUSTRY CERTIFIED DESIGNATION

Niceville, FL. October 30, 2015 – The National Association of Landscape Professionals is pleased to announce that Douglas Simpson of Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. in Niceville, FL has achieved recertification of the Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Manager national designation.

The achievement of the Landscape Industry Certified designation demonstrates a distinguished level of professionalism. Certification is voluntary and it represents a professional’s dedication to exhibiting superior knowledge in his or her field. Only a select few, approximately 1% of landscape professionals working in the United States today, are certified.

NALP’s Landscape Industry Certified programs, supported and used internationally, offers seven different certifications that include expertise in lawn care, interior plant care, horticulture, landscape care and business management.

For more information about hiring a certified professional, visit www.loveyourlandscape.com

About the National Association of Landscape Professionals

The National Association of Landscape Professionals is the voice of 100,000 landscape and lawn care industry professionals who create and maintain healthy green spaces. The association advocates on issues impacting its members and offers mentoring and education programs that inspire its members to excellence. Many members become Landscape Industry Certified, achieving the highest standard of industry expertise, business professionalism, and knowledge.

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Soil pH and its Effect on Nutrient Availability

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There are 18 elements necessary for plant growth. They are Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Sulfur, Boron, Copper, Zinc, Molybdenum, Chlorine, Nickel, and Silicon. Soil pH directly affects the growth and quality of many landscape plants by influencing the chemical form of many elements in the soil and soil microbial processes. For example, landscape plants may exhibit nutrient deficiency or toxicity symptoms as a result of highly acidic or alkaline soils pH. In acidic soils, the availability of plant nutrients such as Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium is reduced, while the availability of potentially toxic elements such as Aluminum, Iron, and Zinc are increased. In alkaline soils, Iron, Manganese, Zinc and Boron are commonly deficient.

So what is soil pH? Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. On the pH scale, a value of 7 is neutral, a value less than 7 is acidic, and a value greater than 7 is alkaline. Florida soils can vary widely in pH, depending on the “parent material” from which the soil formed or on the management of the soil. For example, soils formed under pine flatwoods can be quite acidic. In contrast, soils formed from calcium carbonate-bearing materials like limestone, marl, or seashells are alkaline. Alkaline conditions are common in coastal soils and the mineral soils of south Florida. It is also common to encounter alkaline soils in the home landscape as a result of calcium carbonate-rich building materials (i.e., concrete, stucco, etc.) that may be left in the soil following construction.

Most common landscape plants are well suited to a wide soil pH range. For example, popular woody shrubs and trees (e.g., pittosporum, viburnum, oak, and pine) grow well in acidic to moderately alkaline soils. However, there are a few acid-loving plants like azalea and gardenia that do not grow well in soils with pH greater than 5.5. St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bermuda grass prefer a pH range between 6-7 while Centipede prefers a range between 4.5-6.

The best advice about dealing with soil pH is to choose landscape plants suited for the natural pH of your landscape soil. While some soil additives can raise or lower the pH of soils, the effects of these materials are often short-lived. In addition, if your soil pH is within 0.5 of a pH unit of the ideal range, adjusting the pH will probably not improve plant performance. However, if you want to try to change your soil’s natural pH to grow a specific plant, you have the following options.

To raise the pH of acidic soils, add a liming material like calcium carbonate or dolomite. Dolomite has the added benefit of supplying Magnesium, which is often deficient in Florida soils. Have your soil tested before applying any liming materials because many of Florida’s natural and urban soils have an alkaline pH. If a soil pH test indicates that your soil is acidic, it is important to test for the lime requirement before applying any liming materials to the soil. The lime requirement test measures your soil’s natural ability to resist (buffer) changes in pH. This test is part of the standard landscape and garden soil test offered by the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Laboratory. Results of this test will indicate the amount of agricultural limestone you should apply to a specific area to reach a target pH.

In established landscapes, lime can be surface-applied and watered in, but take care not to overwater (e.g., no more than 0.5 inches of water over the treated area).

Unlike liming, lowering the pH of strongly alkaline soils is much more difficult if not impossible. In fact, there is no way to permanently lower the pH of soils formed from high Calcium materials, such as marl or limestone, or soils severely impacted by alkaline construction materials. In these circumstances, it is best to select plants that are tolerant of high pH conditions to avoid chronic plant nutrition problems.

Soil pH can be temporarily lowered by adding elemental sulfur. Bacteria in the soil change elemental sulfur into sulfuric acid, effectively neutralizing soil alkalinity. However, the effect of elemental sulfur is localized to the area that was amended, and the effect is temporary. Soil pH will begin to rise shortly after soil bacteria exhaust the added sulfur supply. This effect prompts repeated applications of sulfur to ensure that the soil remains at the desired pH. Using sulfur to amend a soil is complicated. Adding sulfur at high rates or applying it too frequently can damage your plants. If you decide to apply sulfur, be sure to look for signs of plant response after the application.

Always consider the pH of your soil when selecting new plant material for your home landscape or garden. Take action to correct soil pH only when it is substantially higher or lower than the desired pH for the plants you are growing. To avoid damage to your landscape plants, always have your soil tested for pH and lime requirement (if soil pH is acidic) before adding lime or sulfur to the soil.

 

Call Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. for all your Lawn Care needs. (850)897-3073 Niceville  (850)832-4212 Panama City Beach

 

Large Patch

Large Patch also known as Brown Patch (Rhizoctonia solani) is a disease that occurs on all warm-season grasses, especially St. Augustine and Zoysia. This disease is most likely to be observed from November through May when temperatures are below 80 degrees. Infection is triggered by rainfall, excessive irrigation, or extended periods of high humidity resulting in the leaves being continuously wet for 48 hours or more. 

This disease usually begins as small patches (about 1 foot in diameter) that turn yellow and then reddish brown, brown, or straw colored as the leaves start to die. Patches can expand to several feet in diameter. It is not uncommon to see rings of yellow or brown turf with apparently healthy turf in the center. Turf at the outer margins of a patch may appear dark and wilted.

Large Patch

The best way to help avoid getting Large Patch is to irrigate on an As Needed basis during the early morning hours when dew is already present. Fungicides can be used once the disease is present, however, they only stop the disease from spreading they do not promote turfgrass growth.

The turf must be actively growing in order for the diseased turfgrass to recover. Symptoms do not disappear until new leaves develop and the old leaves are removed by mowing or decomposition. Since the disease normally occurs when the turfgrass is not growing very rapidly, recovery may be very slow.

 

Call Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. for all your Lawn Care needs. (850)897-3073 Niceville  (850)832-4212 Panama City Beach

 

September/October Newsletter

 

Interested in mosquito control? Grass Roots is happy to match competitor’s pricing of mosquito applications for our current customers.  Call today for more information!

Lawn Maintenance

Mid-October is the time when our crews begin servicing your yard every other week due to the slowing of plant and turf growth.  With increased leaf fall during these months your maintenance crew will be working to remove those leaves during your service visits. Please know that with upcoming holiday seasons your service day may shift during the week leading up to, or just after, a scheduled holiday.

Irrigation

Grass will begin to go dormant as we see extended periods of temps in the low 80’s.  If you are an irrigation program customer, we will be adjusting your watering to prevent fungus (brown patch) which is common this time of year.  Those customers adjusting their own systems will want to decrease their watering from now until winter.

Lawn Care and Shrub Care

As the temperature cools, turf fungus called Brown Patch can occur, particularly if watering is not decreased. Our technicians will be on the lookout for this condition when applying your last scheduled application for the season.  This last application is a Pre-emergent herbicide to help keep winter weeds from germinating, along with liquid Potassium to help prepare your lawn for dormancy.

Landscaping

There is a limited amount of time left in this year’s growing season to complete landscaping projects.  Please contact us ASAP if you want work done prior to Spring 2016.  This is also a great time of year to install mulch to help moderate the soil temperature for your plants during the winter months.  Please call the office to schedule mulch installation.

2ba7f2df-d060-473b-8619-2a7ea3c39a55Employee Spotlight

Meet the Grass Roots Maintenance team: Front center, left side: Emigdio Back left (left to right): James, Donzell, Cesar, Roberto, Shaddi. Right side (left to right): Michael, Eugenio, Antonio, Victor, Martin.  They work hard to make sure your landscape looks its best.

Get a Quote Today

(850) 897-3073 (Niceville)

(850) 832-4212 (Panama City Beach)

Battling the Southern Chinch Bug

thb2HairyChinchBugAllStages02bThe Southern Chinch Bug is currently the most difficult to control and most damaging insect pest of St. Augustine grass in Florida. Nymphs and adults feed on plant fluids withing the leaf sheaths, down in the thatch, and this feeding kills the grass plants and contributes to weed invasion. Homeowners and lawn care companies seek to prevent this damage by repeatedly applying insecticides to keep Chinch Bug numbers low. However, numerous Chinch Bug populations have developed resistance to every major chemical class that has been used against them.

Southern Chinch Bug activity occurs from March through November in North Florida. It is estimated that 3 to 4 generations with overlapping life stages develop each year in our area. New damage may appear by May or June, depending on Spring temperatures, and any damage that existed in late Fall will become apparent in the Spring. Part of the difficulty in dealing with this pest is that one generation may develop in 4-6 weeks during the summer and any insecticides used to treat them will likely kill the adults and nymphs, but the eggs will survive. Then new nymphs will hatch, and the infestation will continue. Thus, damage may become visible again within 2-3 months of treatment.

Adult females may live up to 2 months, laying 4 or 5 eggs a day, or 250-300 eggs in a lifetime. Eggs hatch within 6-13 days, and nymphs mature in 4-5 weeks. Southern Chinch Bug populations tend to be clumped, rather than randomly dispersed throughout a lawn. Infestations generally occur in open, sunny areas near sidewalks and driveways, but also in the middle of a lawn. Infested plants have slower growth, turn yellow, and die. As their host plants die, individuals will spread to healthy turf and continue feeding.

The Southern Chinch Bug causes millions of dollars worth of damage each year in Florida. There is no way to fully prevent this pest from infesting a lawn, but with early detection and proper chemical applications, the damage can be mitigated. Proper cultural practices, like mowing, fertilizing and watering can also reduce the susceptibility of an infestation.

For more information visit EDIS IFAS Extension.

Call Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. for all your Lawn Care needs. (850)897-3073 Niceville  (850)832-4212 Panama City Beach

 

 

 

Nematode Management

Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that live in the soil and can be found in most lawns. Some nematodes are beneficial, feeding on bacteria, fungi or other microscopic organisms. However, other nematodes are harmful to plants because they feed on the plant tissues and cause plant damage. These plant-parasitic nematodes feed on the roots by puncturing the plant tissue and ingesting plant fluid. Some nematodes remain in the soil (ectoparasitic) while they feed and others (endoparasitic) crawl inside the root tissue to feed.

As nematodes feed, they cause damage to the roots reducing the ability of the plant to obtain water and nutrients from the soil. When nematode populations get high enough, or when environmental stresses such as high temperatures or drought occur, symptoms may become evident. These symptoms include yellowing, wilting, browning, thinning or plant death. The damage usually occurs in irregularly shaped patches that may enlarge slowly over time. Similar conditions may be caused by other factors such as soil condition, fungi or insects as well.

Here are the most common nematodes that damage southern turfgrasses.

Lance- St. Augustine, Zoysia and Burmuda

Sting- Zoysia, Burmuda and Centipede

Stubby-Root- St. Augustine

Root-Knot- Zoysia

Ring- Centipede

What can I do if my lawn has nematodes?

Many of the highly effective nematicides used in the past are no longer available because of their risk to humans and the environment. There are a few “organic” products that claim to suppress nematodes in home lawns. However, there is no field effectiveness data conducted by credible scientists that indicate they work.

There is one product that is labeled for home lawns and it uses a bacterium to help suppress nematodes. This bacteria (Bacillus firmus) colonizes the root system and produces compounds that protect the root system from nematodes. However, timing is critical to achieve good results with this product and repeat applications, 4-8 weeks apart, are necessary. This bacteria does not kill nematodes, it only protects the roots, and should not be used to “fix” an existing nematode problem.

The best way to manage a nematode problem is by improving overall plant health and avoiding other stresses on the grass. Grass that is given proper water and fertilizer can often withstand higher levels of nematode infestation. Depending on what nematodes are present, replacing with a different turf type might also be an option or replacing turf with an alternative groundcover could be beneficial.

 

Call Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. for all your Lawn Care needs. (850)897-3073 Niceville  (850)832-4212 Panama City Beach

 

July/August Newsletter

Have you heard about the new services we are now offering? Our licensed pest control operators can now apply treatments to your yard to help control mosquitoes and fire ants. Call for a free estimate today!

Lawn Maintenance

As we are in the hottest part of the year, major cutbacks of shrubs are generally not recommended. The combined stress of a cut back and the heat can be too much for shrubs. However, the hot weather makes it a great time for treatment of the weeds in your beds, and your lawn maintenance crew will be applying chemicals to take care of these. Also please make sure to return the completed storm letter which you should have recieved by email. If you need another copy, please let us know- it is important that we have your preference for storm cleanup on file prior to any work being done.

Irrigation

During the hottest part of the year hot spots may occur in your turf if your coverage is inadequate. Often, there is a difference between your irrigation simply “working” and working properly to ensure appropriate coverage. If you aren’t currently a Grass Roots irrigation customer, call for an irrigation check/adjustment if your lawn shows signs that your system isn’t functioning effectively.

Lawn Care and Shrub Care

Your lawn care team’s goal this time of year is to strengthen your lawn so that it can out-compete weeds. At the same time, extreme temperatures prevent application of post-emergent weed control. Your lawn care team is aware of the issues in your lawn and will treat them as soon as it is safe to do so. Tropical sod webworms are prevelant this time of year. Feel free to notify the office if you see the tell-tale patches of dull green turf. Upon closer inspection you will see notching along the side of the leaf blade, or dramatically shorter blades of grass. You may even see the worms out feeding on the grass in the early morning. Webworms can do damage quickly so it is important to treat them as soon as possible.

Landscaping

Call the office now to reserve your spot on our landscaping schedule before the end of the season. Our team is happy to do the hard work of making improvements to your yard. Check out our “Employee Spotlight” to see our landscaping team.

21aa914a-7def-49a0-9948-dacca073c6c3Employee Spotlight

Meet the Grass Roots Landscape Team: Jason, Daniel, Arturo, Francisco, Gerardo, Jorge and Marco.

Whether you need new sod, a landscape design or just sprucing-up, they can make the yard of your dreams a reality.

Get a Quote Today

(850) 897-3073 (Niceville)

(850) 832-4212 (Panama City Beach)

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