GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2017 show52
GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
 
Visit our Sponsors!
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Past Shows:

GardenSMART Episode

Show #52/5013. Landscape Installation - Maintenance Tips

Summary of Show

Pruning Trees

Large trees can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for folks. Part of that uneasiness is due the PRUNING component, knowing what to do. We have a wonderful example, one of the red maples that is due for some winter pruning. Eric asks Kit to talk us through what we should be thinking about when pruning, how should we approach pruning a dormant tree?

For More Information Click Here

New Trees Need Plenty Of Water

One didn't survive the initial planting, so we have a beautiful replacement tree. Eric asks Pat what he thought happened there? You know it's not too bad to have lost one tree, it happens. More than likely it was an issue of the irrigation. The homeowner and installation crews had some growing pains. Getting the irrigation installed took some time. It's so important to have PLENTY OF WATER, more water than what you think you would ever need on these trees during the 1st year. We need to remember the fact this is a field dug tree so a significant percentage of the root system was cut away from it when removing it from the tree farm.

For More Information Click Here

Wind-Dancer Lovegrass Failed - Why?

As an example we can see that we didn't have great success with the WIND-DANCER LOVEGRASS. There are a few reasons, originally it was planted on the slope and James initially thought it was too dry but when looking at the soil texture which is heavy clay, it's really wet, then they mulched it really thick right up to the crown of the plant. James can look at a carcass of the plant pull it apart and see it's very wet on the inside, one can see the mold, it has crown rot, so we lost this plant.

For More Information Click Here

Create A Gardeners Calendar

James talked about some of the plants that are a little more established and some of their challenges and some solutions. We've just put in some new plants that were part of the latest phase of our landscape installation. Eric is interested in recommendations James might have for the homeowner as to how they should BEST MAINTAIN these newly planted plants?

For More Information Click Here

Tips For Hydrangeas and Boxwoods

We see a lot of HYDRANGEAS here, it's great to fertilize hydrangeas on Easter, 4th of July and Labor Day. With the schedule in place you then have three benchmark days to get your fertilization done. There are a lot of BOXWOODS installed here and they need to be sheared two, possibly three times a year. If one follows that schedule it will help develop into a nice, sturdy, stout plant.

For More Information Click Here

Annual Care

ANNUALS provide so many creative opportunities in the garden, they're a fun way to create beautiful focal points. Eric has has a few useful tips that homeowners can use to keep their annual plantings looking great. Annuals are an important part of this landscape design, they're used here to bring these dynamic pops of color. And we have a lot of evergreens and a lot of ground cover so the annuals are instrumental in bringing those really nice, really dynamic color spots.

For More Information Click Here

Soil Preparation For Sod

The contractor is putting in brand new sod in our landscape installation, the fescue has just gone down. What do we need to think about from a standpoint of SOIL PREPARATION? This area obviously has nice fluffy soil, they tilled in a lot of great topsoil and manure. But what kind of conditions do we ideally want?

For More Information Click Here

Organic Lawn Care

It's very important for the homeowner that their turf and this whole landscape is maintained ORGANICALLY. But that can present some challenges. Eric thinks generally people are more accustomed to synthetic fertilizers and just spraying something on their lawn. To grow something organically we've got to look beneath the surface, like what's going on with the root system.

For More Information Click Here

Treating Problem Areas In Turf

In the next area Eric notes that the turf is nicely establishing but we've got a few PROBLEM SPOTS. How do we go about evaluating what's going on here? Brian explains, this area is an example of an existing turf that was put in about a year ago. One can see some areas in the turf where it's a little patchy and has some open areas. A lot of his comments about this stem from conversations with the homeowner.

For More Information Click Here

Correct Time To Plant Turf

Eric next talks with Danny Miller to discuss more about grass. The homeowner has quite a few sections that need to be addressed, a number of different situations that we need take a look at - new preparation, some kind of rough construction areas and then some more compacted areas that need some patchwork. What do we need to be thinking about? Danny believes that timing is critical, in this case right now we're in an optimal planting season, fall, the temperatures are right, the soil is still warm and there is currently an abundance of moisture.

For More Information Click Here

Correct Time To Establish Grass Seed

Eric next would like to talk about ESTABLISHING GRASS SEED any time of year in any part of the U.S. Let's say we have some areas that we want to address. What do we need to be looking at from a standpoint of the type grass, when do we plant it, what do we need to keep in mind? That's a very important question. What you want to do is align the seeds natural planting environment and climate with the timing of when you're putting it out.

For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

Show #52/5013. Landscape Installation - Maintenance Tips

Transcript of Show

One of the most important factors in having an amazing garden year round is having a well planned and thoughtful maintenance program. In this episode GardenSMART explores the nuts and bolts of what we need to do to make our landscape shine.

Our landscape installation in Louisville, Kentucky is finally complete and the homeowners love it. Neither of them are avid gardeners, yet, so we're bringing in some of our friends to help them understand what they will need to know to take care of their new landscape so they can enjoy it for years.

Eric wants to start with trees. Kit Shaughnessy from J. Frank Schmidt and Pat Carey from Riverfarm Nursery are here to share their years of experience with us on the topic of tree maintenance.

Large trees can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for folks. Part of that uneasiness is due the PRUNING component, knowing what to do. We have a wonderful example, one of the red maples that is due for some winter pruning. Eric asks Kit to talk us through what we should be thinking about when pruning, how should we approach pruning a dormant tree? This variety is called Red Point. The first step is to go to the central leader, top it, then prune off the side branches and prune it to a "A" up to the point where you topped it. So, with our initial cut at the very top we want there to be a bud, one bud that we can select to continue the central leader and then that height kind of establishes what our pyramid is going to be. Another thing to consider too is with many trees we ideally don't want crossing limbs or limbs that are growing into the interior of the tree. By removing those it allows more sunlight to hit more of the leaves on the branches that we know are going to keep. These are the structural stronger foundational branches, so it's also a good idea to thin some of those interior limbs out, especially those growing back into the interior. It takes a few minutes to prune each tree but in the long-term health of the tree it provides a huge benefit. And everyone gains a lot more confidence after you've done 2 or 3. But the first one is really the most frightening.

Pat, we've got several amazing parrotia that were installed on the circular turf area that was designed to be almost a vaulted viewing area for the homeowner. These are excellent standard trees that have been field grown. One didn't survive the initial planting, so we have a beautiful replacement tree. Eric asks Pat what he thought happened there? You know it's not too bad to have lost one tree, it happens. More than likely it was an issue of the irrigation. The homeowner and installation crews had some growing pains. Getting the irrigation installed took some time. It's so important to have PLENTY OF WATER, more water than what you think you would ever need on these trees during the 1st year. We need to remember the fact this is a field dug tree so a significant percentage of the root system was cut away from it when removing it from the tree farm. So with ball and burlap trees we need to give them a lot more water than one would think is needed. They are different from container grown trees. Eric would like to know more about the maintenance needed for these trees. Pat says that one would be looking for bugs, are there are odd bugs that are coming in and getting on the trees? Japanese Beetles, various other, different types of bugs, we need to keep an eye on that, as well as other diseases. Watch for signs of a trees decline which might happen rather rapidly. But for the most part these trees all came through very well for a 1st year planting.

There is a huge advantage with large in-ground trees or just large trees in general. At the nursery they've already set that nice standard central leader and worked the head, so these trees as far as the intent of the designer are extremely well matched for the site. The homeowner may have to do some light pruning but for the most part these are pretty maintenance free. Buying a tree that's already set up it gives you a huge advantage, a huge jump start, it's so important for an outdoor room like this. These trees have been in the nursery for 4 years, they've been pruned and maintained, they're ready to go, there's very little that the homeowner is going to have to do. If the homeowner had gone with a smaller tree, a smaller container tree, or something like that then they are basically trying to grow these trees here on site. Bring something in that's established and everyone can walk away knowing that it's going to take care of itself.

Shrubs are a very important part of this design and while most of them are carefree, there are a few critical things we should know to make sure shrubs stay healthy and strong. James Szadek from Monrovia Nursery is here to talk us through shrub maintenance on our established plants as well as the ones we have just installed. There are so many things that we learn in the process of gardening that helps us become better gardeners. Eric says that he and James didn't learn to be gardeners from a book, instead learned oftentimes from the things that didn't work out.

Most everything at this site is doing great but there are a few things that are struggling a little bit. Eric would like to talk about a couple of those items. James says there are successes and there are failures in gardening or landscaping. But when you do have a failure you definitely want to learn from it, it will make you a better gardener. As an example we can see that we didn't have great success with the WIND-DANCER LOVEGRASS. There are a few reasons, originally it was planted on the slope and James initially thought it was too dry but when looking at the soil texture which is heavy clay, it's really wet, then they mulched it really thick right up to the crown of the plant. James can look at a carcass of the plant pull it apart and see it's very wet on the inside, one can see the mold, it has crown rot, so we lost this plant. We can replace these plants but it's important to remember if you do something more than twice you're doing something wrong, you need to move to a different area. There are microclimates on the property, so a plant might do well in this area and not well in another area. And that's an important thing to keep in mind. Don't feel badly if you use your shovel to fix the situation sometimes. Maybe this plant just needs to be relocated to an area that's better suited for it. Eric does that in his garden all the time, he starts with some plants that he really, really loves, if they start suffering he then attempts to figure out if there is maybe a better site for that plant. So moves it. With this site if we wanted to continue with the same grass is there anything that we could do to make the site more suitable for it? Absolutely, we could amend the soil much more to get better drainage, we could plant the plants up higher so the crowns are exposed and they'll drain off, the water won't sit on the crowns, then not mulch nearly as deep, still a nice layer of mulch for aesthetics but not 2 to 3-inches and certainly not up on the crown of the plant. And that's a very important thing to remember, for most plants, outside of plants that really like wet feet, if you plant it low you're going to lose it. The area or site could otherwise be proper for that plant, but make sure you don't dig the hole too deep, dig a hole about two thirds of the depth of the root ball and then kind of mound up to it where you don't bury the crown. If you bury the crown on most plants they're going to pass. Many people who are not experienced with plants get nervous about packing the soil around the root ball, when they plant it, if you go too loose you will get settling of that plant. So, even though you might have crowned it up but you didn't really pack in the dirt very tight you had air space in between the root ball and the existing soil. When that happens the added plant will sink in a couple months and you can lose it that way.

James talked about some of the plants that are a little more established and some of their challenges and some solutions. We've just put in some new plants that were part of the latest phase of our landscape installation. Eric is interested in recommendations James might have for the homeowner as to how they should BEST MAINTAIN these newly planted plants? James biggest recommendation would be to set a schedule, to develop a gardeners calendar, really map some hard dates out so you have a plan for the future months and years ahead.

We see a lot of HYDRANGEAS here, it's great to fertilize hydrangeas on Easter, 4th of July and Labor Day. With the schedule in place you then have three benchmark days to get your fertilization done. There are a lot of BOXWOODS installed here and they need to be sheared two, possibly three times a year. If one follows that schedule it will help develop into a nice, sturdy, stout plant. So, instead of just thinking I'm going to prune the boxwoods 2 or 3 times a year, get a calendar, make a gardening journal, set a firm day so you know when to prune, do it during the growing season and follow that schedule. Gardening requires some work, one really needs to have a map, a schedule. If you just think you're going to do it when you do it you're not going to have the best garden. It's easy to forget things, we've got a lot of different things going on with different plants, they need to be pruned at different times of the year and not all plants want to be fertilized at the same time of the year. By planning ahead it's also a way of spreading the workout over a range of weekends, instead of trying to get a million things done in one weekend. If you have a calendar just write in the dates when things need to get done, that way you won't forget something and you have a much better chance for success. A blueprint or a garden business plan that you really follow diligently will help ensure a wonderful garden.

ANNUALS provide so many creative opportunities in the garden, they're a fun way to create beautiful focal points. Eric has has a few useful tips that homeowners can use to keep their annual plantings looking great. Annuals are an important part of this landscape design, they're used here to bring these dynamic pops of color. And we have a lot of evergreens and a lot of ground cover so the annuals are instrumental in bringing those really nice, really dynamic color spots. An important thing to remember, annuals are fairly easy to work with. Some are super durable plants like the Supertunia. But, when selecting annuals at the garden center make sure you look at every single plant. Don't bring home a plant that already looks weak, has disease or maybe it's not grown well enough to grow successfully in the landscape. Instead select plants that already look really, really nice and healthy. That will be a big help in the long run. Once we get the plants home take them out of the pot and kind of rough the roots up a little bit ensuring you will get really nice soil contact. Don't plant any plant into soil that's hard or that's not well amended. Till in some really nice soil amendments, work those in with a shovel, add some nice manure, things that are going provide nutrition and also provide some air space. Then dig a hole roughly the size of the container, put the plant in there, gently move the soil around, make sure you have really good soil to root contact. That will ensure success as the plants grow out. Then add a slow release fertilizer around the plant. Then water it in really, really well. It's important to remember we don't want pockets of air. When the roots hit a pocket of air those roots are basically pruned back or they're going to die. So, make sure to get good soil contact, water in well so we don't have pockets of air and put a nice mulch around the annuals. Especially in the early days of establishing the plant make sure they get plenty of water, water every single day. As they get more and more established slow down a bit on the water regimen. Kind of observe when the plants need the water, keep them healthy, keep them strong.

Outside of that there are many annuals that you're going to want to deadhead. When the flowers die back you're going to get a lot more bloom power if you go in there and pick off the dead flowers. Deadheading will stimulate more blooms and keep a plant healthier because it doesn't invest as much energy in producing seeds. Those are a few tips that will hopefully help everyone succeed with their annuals at home.

A beautiful, lush, green lawn adds so much to the look of a landscape as well as making you the envy of your neighbors. Danny Miller and Brian Storz have spent years studying the finer points of growing great turf. Both join us and share with us what we need to know to have the perfect lawn.

The contractor is putting in brand new sod in our landscape installation, the fescue has just gone down. What do we need to think about from a standpoint of SOIL PREPARATION? This area obviously has nice fluffy soil, they tilled in a lot of great topsoil and manure. But what kind of conditions do we ideally want? Brian tells Eric that he hit the nail right on the head. One typically needs to till in some kind of amendments to the soil. If you have a really nice kind of fluffy top soil one can just go with good aeration and start putting sod down. But if you have a really hard, compacted clay you might have to till it up, incorporate some amendments, add some compost and some quality topsoil before putting the sod down. This step is really important for the roots to actually penetrate into the existing soil.

It's very important for the homeowner that their turf and this whole landscape is maintained ORGANICALLY. But that can present some challenges. Eric thinks generally people are more accustomed to synthetic fertilizers and just spraying something on their lawn. To grow something organically we've got to look beneath the surface, like what's going on with the root system. Absolutely, the most important part of organic lawn care is really what's below the grass. And that is based on the microorganisms in the food web that's below the soil. Grass needs standard aeration and over seeding as well as a slower release fertilizer, like all turf, but with organic lawn care it's really about the microorganisms that live below the soil. The mycorrhizae that penetrate through the soil work in symbiosis with the plant and the bacteria that break down your lawn clippings and turn them into fertilizer. The mowing habits of the client are important too. If they mow their lawn at 3.5 to 5 inches and keep their lawn a little taller, it keeps the soil moist and it keeps weeds from being able to germinate because they can't get enough sun to stimulate them to germinate which keeps weeds down. Those are all things that we can't see, but we can see the green part of the grass. We don't see the mycorrhizae which is a fungus that grows on the roots and it increases the water absorption capabilities and works in symbiosis to bring nutrition to the roots. Brian also mentioned the bacteria breaking down the clippings, they also break down nitrogen that not is as available to the roots into more useful forms of nitrogen that the plant can uptake. There are a lot of forms of bacteria that are called nitrogen fixers that actually will pull the nitrogen out of the atmosphere and feed the existing plants in the surrounding area. Also keep in mind that every time we use synthetic chemicals on the lawn it kills off these microorganisms. There are hundreds of thousands of microorganisms that live in the soil that all work in a very complex soil web and also in symbiosis with the plant. Without those microorganisms one then has a lawn that's more susceptible to disease and other issues that make it unhealthy.

In the next area Eric notes that the turf is nicely establishing but we've got a few PROBLEM SPOTS. How do we go about evaluating what's going on here? Brian explains, this area is an example of an existing turf that was put in about a year ago. One can see some areas in the turf where it's a little patchy and has some open areas. A lot of his comments about this stem from conversations with the homeowner. This is common for Brian he talks with homeowners to figure out what's going on with the situation. One do they have a dog, because dogs using the bathroom on a turf can cause a high concentration of nitrogen and that can cause patchy bald spots or two it could be a product of not enough watering which means that the grass would be going dormant, or three it could be too much watering which can cause a fungal infection. In talking with this homeowner Brian has learned that this area hasn't had an irrigation system in the past so it wasn't watered heavily. Number two they don't have pets and so we know this is not a dog issue, and number three the homeowners said that they are not the best at watering their grass, so this is kind of a classic example of the turf not getting enough water. So the grass is starting to go dormant in particular areas, it starts getting patchy and those patchy areas will grow and grow. This doesn't necessarily mean that this fescue grass is dead, it's just going dormant from low water at times and that's what you see here. So, we figured out what our problem is. What would be the best way for us to fix that? The first way to fix it is a regular watering regime. For existing turf during dry weather you want to water once or twice a week for about 15 minutes in the evening. You want to do a deep watering but infrequent watering because what happens is if you do too much watering the roots of the grass become lazy and will stay towards the surface because that's where the water is. That means the roots are more susceptible to drying out and will die. So, you want to force those roots to go deep and get the water that's deeper, that will then give you a healthier sod. Another thing that you need to do for existing installed sod is to regularly aerate. In the midwest that should be at least once a year and in this particular area of Kentucky, in the midwest, Brian recommends twice a year because they have so much clay in the soil. By walking around this sod you feel how hard it is and that's because there is really thick clay underneath. Regular aeration opens up pockets for the water to absorb down into the soil which then can be picked up by the roots of the sod.

Eric next talks with Danny Miller to discuss more about grass. The homeowner has quite a few sections that need to be addressed, a number of different situations that we need take a look at - new preparation, some kind of rough construction areas and then some more compacted areas that need some patchwork. What do we need to be thinking about? Danny believes that timing is critical, in this case right now we're in an optimal planting season, fall, the temperatures are right, the soil is still warm and there is currently an abundance of moisture. They take a look at the landscape, there's an area that's ready to prepare, it has loose soil which means there will be really good seed to soil contact. Another area is a little more roughed up, it will require different seed, different attention. What kind of grass seed should we use? We're in Kentucky thus looking for something a little more cool season as we tend to have more cold months and super-hot months here. What would Danny recommend? Given this particular environment, this particular location, you're looking at an area that's full sun so it's tall fescue. Kentucky bluegrass, is popular in this area. Because this area has full sun, all day sunlight we want tall fescue, but we have a little bit of slope, a little bit of grade so we want to integrate a little perennial rye grass so we get some early set up to prevent any kind of erosion. Eric thinks that's a great tip. The rye grass is going to germinate quickly it's going to root really fast meaning it can help hold the soil in place while the fescue gets established. Then the rye grass in the hot months is going to burn out and the fescue will eventually take over. That's a great tip from a standpoint of establishing a new area, blend those two seeds together. Danny has decided to go with a perennial ryegrass which is a turf type perennial grass as opposed to an annual which is going to grow a little taller, it's a little more unsightly, kind of like a pasture grass but for the homeowner the perennial ryegrass is the way to go, it's got that nice turf type look to it that's going to blend pretty transparently with the tall fescue. So, now we're ready to plant. How do we get the seed out and then what do we need to think about from standpoint of preparation and then how do we keep our seed safe? Most import is seed to soil contact, so choose the best conditions you can provide your seed. In this case we have loose soil already so we want to follow the spreader settings that one finds on any bag of grass seed. It will specify exactly the level of seeds that need to go out to the soil. Once it's out you want to cover it up, keep it watered daily until it germinates and at that point you should have a nice lush lawn coming in 14 to 35 days. Sounds good.

Eric next would like to know what Danny would recommend from a standpoint of maintenance? Most importantly in the care of the grass, is making sure that no weeds are integrated into that lawn. You want to fertilize to keep it nice and healthy, that could be organic or synthetic fertilizer but also utilize weed control. Weeds can be a real setback to your lawn in the way that it looks. Applying a selective herbicide can take care of some of those unsightly weeds and will go a long way in the establishment and maintenance of your lawn.

Eric next would like to talk about ESTABLISHING GRASS SEED any time of year in any part of the U.S. Let's say we have some areas that we want to address. What do we need to be looking at from a standpoint of the type grass, when do we plant it, what do we need to keep in mind? That's a very important question. What you want to do is align the seeds natural planting environment and climate with the timing of when you're putting it out. For example, this being a cool season grass you're looking at basically 45 days prior to the estimated first frost. This means the summer soil is still nice and warm, you're getting some nice daytime temperatures, nice evening temperatures and at this time of year the chance of moisture retaining in the soil is a lot more likely. With warm season grasses spring is the most optimal, as opposed to fall, that way the soil is warm. Bermuda grass, Centipede grass, zoysia all love that nice hot, moist environment. So, spring is most optimum for your warm season grasses. With many of those grasses, the seed won't germinate below certain temperatures, so we have to make sure that the soil temperature is warm enough to get good germination. As well with cool season grasses if the soil is too cool you might be putting seed out on the ground at a time that will make it more difficult to get good germination. Absolutely, having a feel for the timing of the first frost is important. Ideally what you want to look at is daytime temperatures between about 60 and 75 degrees and nighttime temperatures between 50 and 60. That's ideal for fall cool season grass growth. If you line it right there you're in pretty good shape for an outstanding fall. Eric thanks Danny for sharing his knowledge with us.

In this episode we discussed many of the broader issues that homeowners face when learning how to care for their new landscape. We hope you've picked up a few tips that you can use in your own garden. But there is always more to learn so join us next week as we GardenSMART.

LINKS:

Top


   
 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

By InstantHedge, Photographs courtesy of InstantHedge

We have a new sponsor - InstantHedge. InstantHedge is unique, they utilize precision agriculture techniques that make purchasing a clean looking, square hedge, that has typically required years of waiting and work, possible in a single day. Thank you InstantHedge for your support of GardenSMART. Underwriter dollars make GardenSMART possible. To read more about InstantHedge and an interesting article click here.


  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
   
   
 
   
   
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.